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Sabbath and Holy Day Observance Statement by the Council of Elders


Seventh-day Sabbath and Holy Day Observance

January 4, 2011

After studying the material that has been provided from a couple in Chile, the Council of Elders, after full review and rendering due diligence, is prepared to issue the following statement in regards to observing the Seventh-day Sabbath and Holy Days in a proper manner to uphold the Fourth Commandment.

The United Church of God, an International Association, has a long-standing teaching on the subject of owner-operated businesses in relation to the observance of the Sabbath and biblical Holy Days. If a business is solely or majority owned by a Church member, then the business should close on the Sabbath and the Holy Days.

There are some exceptions, as Jesus Christ gave Sabbath-keeping principles in Scripture in this regard, which would apply to healthcare and retirement facilities and dealing with dairies and farm animals. But, day-care centers and schools do not fall under these categories. Therefore, the Council of Elders stands by the authority of Scripture in our lives and the consistent position of the Church which requires that such businesses, as long as they are solely or majority owned by a Church member, be closed on the Sabbath and the Holy Days.

We deeply appreciate the sincere request of the members in Chile in asking for the Council of Elders to render a judgment.

Melvin Rhodes—Chairman, on behalf of the Council of Elders

January 4, 2011 - Posted by | Council of Elders |


  1. This is as I expected it to be all along, but I am pleased to see such a decision rendered anyway.

    Comment by nathanalbright | January 4, 2011 | Reply

  2. Thank you for the announcement.

    Comment by Jenny | January 4, 2011 | Reply

  3. AMEN! AMEN AMEN!!! There are no other words!

    Comment by Michele Bortree | January 4, 2011 | Reply

  4. Amen! Amen! Amen! There is no better word for it! Praise God!

    Comment by Michele Bortree | January 4, 2011 | Reply

  5. I am glad to see the decision has finally been made “official” but it’s too bad it wasn’t done months sooner. Some might have not been able to use the “they are changing doctrine” argument to further division.

    Comment by Marc Cebrian (Oakland Congregation) | January 4, 2011 | Reply

  6. Soo good..

    Comment by Mario Higueros | January 5, 2011 | Reply

  7. Praise the Lord!!

    Thank you!

    Comment by Sharon | January 5, 2011 | Reply

  8. What other decision could they have reached?

    Comment by kevinhadley | January 5, 2011 | Reply

  9. Wake up and smell the coffee boys.
    Bright day in the morning.

    Comment by Tim Hemry | January 5, 2011 | Reply

  10. Thank you COE for making this statement and hopefully this will put this issue to rest and you can move forward “Being About Our Father’s Business” as we all should be. Many prayers are being offered up on your behalf.

    Comment by Suzanne | January 5, 2011 | Reply

  11. There is actually no changing of Jesus Christ’s or Herbert Armstrong doctrines from the start of Luker’s administration here. Elders who have reason to split and form COG,awa have really “who’s in charge here” issues. Hope they would reconsider for the sake of the good news and be beyond today’s laodicean attitude.

    Comment by dave | January 5, 2011 | Reply

    • To say that Herbert Armstrong had his own doctrine is a false statement. To judge the elders for leaving and assuming that they would just leave over something minor is not only determining that the elders can’t think for themselves but is defamation of character to those who have served God’s people so faithfully over the years. And your statement about a laodicean attitude is not even worth commenting on.

      Comment by jjw | January 5, 2011 | Reply

      • What he’s saying is that Jesus Christ and herbert armstrong’s doctrines are one and the same. Look at the examples of Korah, Dathan and Abiram in Numbers 16 for faithfulness?

        Comment by igd | January 6, 2011 | Reply

      • I think it would be safe to say that he meant the doctrine Herbert Armstrong believed and taught.

        Comment by Jerald Jennings | January 6, 2011 | Reply

      • Human reasoning and logic is not always reliable when we are motivated to answer or comment on a matter out of our feelings and emotion. Likewise, the bible admonishes us to think before we react on something without thorough understanding and evidence (Prov.18:13). Excluding this carnal tendency,the comment should be understood saying: 1.) Jesus Christ and Mr. Armstrong’s doctrine are the same, 2.) our allegiance and faith in God’s church and most importantly on the TRUTH should not be weakened by human leader’s unintentional imperfections, and that 3.)we should focus ourselves on the coming Kingdom of God and should be found doing God’s commandments – not being Laodicean.

        It is very clear that the comment did not imply that Mr. Armstrong’s doctrine is different from Christ’s. Rather, the two are one. Notice that the word ‘OR’ is a conjunction that is used to link two similar words or alternative, hence, “Jesus Christ’s or Herbert Armstrong” was mentioned.

        Comment by iyar | January 7, 2011 | Reply

  12. Thank you for posting this decision. All the lies, rumors, and controversy about the Sabbath are put to rest.


    Comment by Beth Williams | January 5, 2011 | Reply

  13. This final decision is too late, it should have been done instantly in light of some many examples in Scripture and UCG’s own doctrinal papers.

    Comment by Robert V Zamora | January 5, 2011 | Reply

    • Robert – I agree with you!

      Comment by Don Ballo | January 5, 2011 | Reply

    • Why was this not done in the very beginning?

      Comment by Tracy | January 5, 2011 | Reply

      • I think the right decision was apparent to most of us almost from the time we learned about the Chile situation. However, let’s not forget there is a process which has to be followed to ensure all the facts were considered and and the decision wasn’t hastily made. Better to take some time and make the proper decision than to have to retract and modify it, thus providing more ammo for those who want to find fault. In retrospect, I do not think the rendering of this decision prior to the split would have swayed any of those people who have left. For the ministry who left, their agenda had already been set and they were not going to abandon it, and many, if not all, of the brethren who left were easily persuaded by the ministry or were poorly informed on the issues. Would I like to see them return, yes! Do I think that will happen any time soon, no! We must now use this time to redouble our efforts to preach the gospel. If we don’t, God will find someone who will. KEEP THE FAITH!!

        Comment by Kenneth Brannen | January 5, 2011 | Reply

        • I agree. In fact it shows that people were willing to leave on rumor instead of fact. God needs to work with people that will not be swayed.

          Comment by Jenny | January 5, 2011

    • Perhaps it was God’s will to delay the “official” decision so that the true character of so many be revealed.

      Comment by DLT | January 7, 2011 | Reply

  14. I am impressed that the Council kept its priorities intact and rendered its decision after giving the matter full consideration. The nay-sayers are put to silence as we can now be about our Father’s business.

    Comment by Cathy Martin | January 5, 2011 | Reply

  15. Thank you for letting us know your final decision – and for considering it so very carefully and according to the due process it deserved with so much at stake. I will be praying for the family in Chile that their faith can be built up to meet this difficult trial along the road to God’s Kingdom. God never fails us when we obey and believe He can accomplish all things.

    Comment by Jennifer Ledbetter | January 5, 2011 | Reply

  16. If my business has a website, should it be removed for Sabbath as well?

    Comment by Richard | January 5, 2011 | Reply

    • Have you ever used the meditation to answer questions as simple as that you are making now?

      Comment by Richard answer | January 6, 2011 | Reply

  17. Should this decision have been made earlier? Possibly. Or should people have refrained from spreading rumors and refrained from acting on lies when there was no proof?

    Comment by Joe | January 5, 2011 | Reply

  18. God posted His decision on this from the beginning. Situational ethics should never change that.

    Comment by Lisa | January 5, 2011 | Reply

  19. Because the “very beginning” was only a few months ago. The Sabbath whitepaper was released in September, right before the FOT. So we need to discount 2-3 weeks right there. They needed time to study the case, including the acquirement of several items/documents they needed from the couple. However, had they been allowed to actually review the case peacefully without having to deal with all the other many attacks they have been under, this would’ve been resolved sooner. Also, Mr. Franks, who who left UCG last month, was the head of the doctrinal committee. This was resolved in less that 15 weeks. I don’t think that was a long time at all.

    Comment by Natalia | January 5, 2011 | Reply

  20. Mr. Zamora,

    It is never too late for the truth. It takes time to gather all of the necessary information to make a good, true, and accurate ruling on such an important question. Patience is a virtue.

    Comment by Milan Bizic | January 5, 2011 | Reply

    • Very well said!

      Comment by Debbie | January 5, 2011 | Reply

  21. The Sabbath Command and “Ox in the Ditch” issues never were difficult to understand from the Scriptures. It’s one thing to have a genuine “Ox in the Ditch”and another to imply that it is scriptural to have an Ox in harnase waiting for Sabbath deployment. We ought be thankful for the {available}care givers, Medical, Police,Military and utility people supplying Electrical power and water for us on the Sabbath Day.These issues with COE guidelines are between the individual and God ultimately as the veil of the Temple was torn so long algo allowing direct access to God in Heaven.

    Comment by Jim Lapp | January 5, 2011 | Reply

  22. Rather than have an argument about how quickly we were able to come to this conclusion versus how long the Council took to arrive at it, let’s focus on the two key responses we should have in light of this announcement:

    1) We should praise God that the Council has finally arrived at a judgment which, following the example of the Bereans, we can (and should) open our Bibles and verify as a correct application of scripture.

    2) We should also implore God to help the affected brethren through the difficulties that the future holds for them, and to the extent possible, be willing to personally aid them in that process.

    If we can focus on these two roles, rather than just engaging in unproductive bickering in the comments section of a church blog, then God will be far more pleased with us as a people and we will position ourselves to be blessed accordingly.

    Comment by Peace Maker | January 5, 2011 | Reply

  23. To my Brethren in Chile: Corporate structure with its majority and minority ownership is a fully modern invention.

    It saddens me that you have been caught up in this leadership fiasco whereby the COE have been compelled – though with sincerity – to rule in this way.

    It reminds me of the time when the WCG, many years ago, “ruled” that a man had to give up his job servicing vending machines because a couple of machines on his route were located at a military facility.

    As I understand it, this involves a situation whereby children need to be picked up on Friday evening. I suggest you use this modern advent ownership to your advantage and sell a 50% or more interest to you non-Sabbath-keeping partner. Owner finance it if necessary.

    If this is not feasible, sell “units” of the business that are specifically designated for the time period in question.

    Of course, you could always go a step farther and have nothing to do any non-Sabbath keeper; close the business and remove your Light from the lives of these children. Let them be cared for by some worldly someone that is just in it for the money.

    Until then, leave the kids unattended on Friday nights and make sure they are locked outside your facility while you are at home being a good Christian. After all, children are not dairy cattle.

    Comment by wrw | January 5, 2011 | Reply

    • wrw,
      This line of reasoning seems to be breaking both the letter and the spirit of the law.

      Comment by Nathan Wetmore | January 5, 2011 | Reply

      • This kind of reasoning is exactly what every single person in the cog’s who works for a non-Sabbath keeping employer relies on for religious accomdation. It is the same as working for a business in which you own stock like GM.

        If they sell a majority share of the business, the non-Sabbath keeper has controling interest and has the right to dictate all working conditions (make sure there is legal protection from beging forced to work on the Sabbath and Holy Days) just like GM. At that point they become just plain old employees with no power to do good beyond the realm of their specific job.

        Comment by Gary Jacques | January 5, 2011 | Reply

      • Nathan,
        Based on your response, I must assume that you too would have told the man to give up his vending machine route.
        I must say again, a corporation is a modern construct. The word means body or legal person. It would seem that a similar business prior to 70 AD would have the Gentile partner handle the Friday evening duties and that would be the end of it.
        (Even though everyone would know who the Jew was and who the Gentile was, I also know that a Jew would not avail himself of a Gentile partner but that’s another subject).
        As I understand it, these Chileans are not staying open on Friday evening nor charging for it but are staying to make sure those children in their charge are safely handed over. This is doing good.
        Should Jesus have healed the blind man on the Sabbath – whom he did or the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath – whom he did?
        As to the spirit and letter, I disagree on both counts. As to the spirit, at what point does one not turn on a light on the Sabbath or mail a letter on Friday? If you mail a letter on Friday, a person working on the Sabbath is going to be handling it. What about mailing a hundred letters on Friday? A thousand?
        Such are matters of degree and, as is apparent, these children are going to be somewhere on Friday evening and in need of adult supervision from someone in the business of daycare. But, you may say, these are not Sabbath keepers working at the electric plant or the post office.
        However, the letter of the law states no one shall work on the Sabbath: “not your man servant nor you maid servant nor your cattle nor the stranger within your gate”. How about a waitress serving your table at a Sabbath meal? For the record, I don’t eat out on the Sabbath like I used to. (Unless my men and I are really hungry and all we can find is the showbread, but I digress.)
        How about a large group of Sabbath keepers going out to eat and the restaurant owner calling someone who was off that Sabbath to come in to work due to the big crowd?
        I know most of us agree that it is THE GATE that is the line of demarcation – the determining factor of control. Therefore, the gate – in this case, the ownership of the daycare – is the determining factor that connotes liability in keeping the law.
        Thus, if it is incumbent to keep the law based on the degree of corporate ownership of the business gate, then it is incumbent on the owner to purge ownership of the corporate gate thus putting it in the realm of the post office, electric company and restaurant. I still find it hard to see why we don’t ask dairy farmers to sell their dairy business.

        Comment by wrw | January 5, 2011 | Reply

        • If your ox falls into a ditch, pull it out. If it continues to fall in the ditch, either sell the ox, or fill the ditch.

          Comment by The Ox | January 6, 2011

    • Very well said.

      Let me add one important point that appears to be overlooked. The Friday night Sabbath question is about 20 minutes (at most) between sunset (by astronomical calculation) and the closing of the business. When, BY SCRIPTURE, does God consider the Sabbath BROKEN? At the first sign of pink, the bright reds (opps! Time has passed! Minutes even!) The deep reds? (More minutes have passed! 20 yet?) How about the beautiful purples? (Tick, tick, tick) How about as it lingers in the clouds? (20 minutes are now long gone) And then disappears toward the horizon. What I would like to know the exact nanosecond God considers the Sabbbath broken. When is it? In Gen 1, God defines a day as evening to evening. Evening is a period of time that ends at night when the stars are out. He doesn’t say a specific point to be called evening.

      Let’s remember that Christ set the principle that in some things that were condemned as Sabbath breaking, Christ judged his disciples as BLAMELESS. If we judge them differently, then are we any better than the Pharsees? Is our approach to make God’s way as big a pain in the butt as possible and far beyond what is necessaryn to please God?

      I have a great idea. Why don’t we try a little patience and love. Why don’t we try trusting God’s Spirit in His children. It is a needed approach.

      Again, well said.

      Comment by Gary Jacques | January 5, 2011 | Reply

      • What about on the Holy Days? They are open all day.

        Comment by sabbathgirl | January 6, 2011 | Reply

        • That is a very interesting question. I have not attempted to answer it or address it in any way.

          What I addressed was a very specific issue dealing with the Sabbath. Primarily, I wanted to put some food for thought out there so that maybe people would be a little less judgemental against the family. Christ has a great deal to say about that. And, I believe, many come accross as far to judgmental and that is just as much against God’s way of life as is the breaking of the Sabbath which we all do on a regular basis. After all Christ says it is a weighter matter of the law. Let’s show a little fear of God and not condemn as many have.

          Comment by Gary Jacques | January 6, 2011

      • Can the moderator not see that many “little ones in Christ” who are reading this blog may be deceived by comments such as these? I am appalled that comments advocating Sabbath breaking, not to mention contradicting the council’s ruling, are being approved.

        Comment by Mary | January 6, 2011 | Reply

        • I don’t believe ANY of us advocate Sabbath breaking even though we may have some differences of understanding of the details of how to handle some circumstances.

          I also believe ALL of us fail to keep it perfectly as Christ did.

          Rather than attack and judge each other, let’s pray that ALL can come to a better understanding. Then everyone can benefit.

          Comment by Gary Jacques | January 6, 2011

        • All I can say; in my life keeping the Sabbath has been easy when it comes to employment. On occasion I’ve had to take a lesser paying job but for me that is no biggie. I am thankful for the choices placed on my plate, where I have not and am not presently being tested in this area.

          But I am also of the mind not to peer pressure, subtly hint at, shame or force another person by using scripture to give up their job for the Sabbath. Such a thing has to be done FREELY and voluntarily without being commanded to do so.

          I believe one prime goal of teaching ‘little ones in Christ’ is not to give out a list of does and don’ts, to work out another person’s salvation for them. Rather to help them to reach a point where they can examine themselves.

          And that takes something more than just advice whether it’s watering down or not. It takes faith for both a teacher and a little one to believe, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go: I will guide you with My eye.
          Be you not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near to you.
          Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusts in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, you righteous: and shout for joy, all you that are upright in heart.” (Ps 32:8-11)

          Comment by Norbert | January 7, 2011

  24. What have we all learned from these past few months? That our faith, knowledge and words can be empty when we do not apply what we know to be right in our own lives.

    In the future, we should allow private matters to be handled privately, listen more and judge less, and focus more on our own sins than on what others may be doing.

    What good can come from all of this? We each have a chance to re-examine ourselves and improve our walk with God. This is certainly harder to do but far more productive and unifying than discussing the lives of others.

    We all believe pretty much the same thing. Now let’s demonstrate our faith. That goes for me and my wife. We have asked ourselves a few questions lately. How well have we been keeping the Sabbath? Have our lives been any better than any of those recently condemned publically? Probably not. Is it the churches fault? Should our sins (or any members) be examined publically?

    We must all indivdidually align ourselves to God as we will all be answering to God in the end.

    Comment by David and Carolina | January 5, 2011 | Reply

  25. Thank you for clarifying this subject. Joyfully let us keep God’s Sabbath holy.

    Comment by Armida | January 7, 2011 | Reply

  26. I only have one question: What business is it of the church’s how adults with the Holy Spirit operate their own businesses? Such a decision is between the Christian and God and the church has no place in it.

    Comment by Randy Karnes | January 7, 2011 | Reply

    • Correct me if I am wrong, but the couple in question asked the COE for counsel on how they should operate. It is between them and God what they do with that counsel, and nobody should worry about it.

      Comment by Alina | January 7, 2011 | Reply

  27. thanks for coming up with the resolution.

    Comment by Changwe Chirwa | January 8, 2011 | Reply

  28. ”By mercy and truth iniquity is purged.” That’s one of my favorite scriptures to remember. ..especially the -mercy- part because I need to always remember to be merciful. i trip up on it-alot. I think mercy is a composition of love, patience, and compassion with a whole lot of hope thrown in. Let’s be merciful to one another..instead of being always ready to get out the branding iron and scarring people with a brand for life. Sometimes it take years for full understanding in any given area. and i wonder how many of us are perfect in our understanding of each and every thing. We -grow in grace and knowledge-We learn to live it that way and fully make it a part of us. There are scriptures that tell us to help one another in overcoming..Gal 6:1 for example. I love the word ‘restore’ it means to mend. mend. what a beautful, tender word. …in a ‘spirit of meekness'(to be mild). Also James 5:19-20. and I’m sure there are others. Meantime, I must get the beam out of my own eye first. Hope all have a joyful Sabbath. Cindy

    Comment by cindy aulabaugh | January 8, 2011 | Reply

  29. I am very glad the council rendered a decision

    Comment by Mark Monsivais | January 10, 2011 | Reply

  30. Thank you for reviewing the issue, it reveals that the church is one that shows mercy and kindness. The resolution also indicates that we adhere to God’s commandments at any cause.This is why I stayed with United,the rebellion ran off with this issue as part of their reasons for dividing the church of God. I truly thank God for giving us true ministers who care for, us the sheep. United we stand.

    Comment by Neftali DeLeon | February 2, 2011 | Reply

  31. Those dealing with ‘healthcare and retirement facilities and dealing with dairies’ can take needed action on the sabbath.

    And also ministers who have to work.

    But not child care operators as they deal with government during certain periods of the year.

    My heart totally goes out to those child care operators who have become the attention of so many, and who have to handle such a lack of compassion.

    I hope they now are not totally disturbed, and without financial backing.

    Yes we do all need a sabbath rest, but none need what has transpired.


    Comment by Rod | February 5, 2011 | Reply

  32. Hiya, I am really glad I have found this information. Today bloggers publish just about gossips and web and this is really annoying. A good website with exciting content, this is what I need. Thanks for keeping this website, I’ll be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can’t find it.

    Comment by | March 20, 2012 | Reply

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