Jan. 14 Letter from Dennis Luker
January 14, 2011
We are told to “let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). Despite the sore trial of recent weeks and months, we have much to be thankful for.
We here at the home office are indeed thankful that you have bonded together in love, continuing with your fervent prayers and support. We are truly thankful for the many ministers who have recently stepped into the breach and gone above and beyond to ensure that all of you have ready access to spiritual shepherds. We are also thankful that we can now have Sabbath services conducted in peace!
As you know, the Council of Elders called for a special ministerial conference that will take place later this month. We are busy finalizing the agenda for those meetings, which will be packed! The work of the Church has been hindered in some ways over the past year or so, and we expect—following the direction of the living Head of the Church, Jesus Christ—that we will emerge from these meetings refreshed and energized, eager to tackle the work that our loving and faithful God has set before us.
As the work of God advances, I expect to communicate with you ever more frequently. As you likely now know, about 30 percent of the ministers formerly associated with the United Church of God have formed their own separate organization.
In that regard, I want to bring a critically important point to your attention: Similar to other organizations that formed from the prior association in the 1990s, some of those formerly associated with us are actively seeking to draw members away from the United Church of God. Let me speak plainly: Some claim a “superior” form of church government. Some say that they are doing a work “more effectively.” Others profess to be some sort of apostolic heir. These challenges, of course, have no basis in fact. But we must warn you, lest their enticing words lead you astray.
Based on what we have already seen in current trends, we expect the United Church of God to go forth with renewed strength, energized and ready to humbly yield to the power—and to the growth—that God provides! James teaches us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (chapter 1:2) because these trials refine us. We have all felt that refining fire, but we have also remained steadfast! We know that he who endures to the end—he who overcomes—will reap the reward that God has in store for us.
To keep this short, I wanted to briefly address a few items. Planning for the 2011 Feast of Tabernacles is well underway, and as before we will provide information to you on our members’ site (members.ucg.org) and in an upcoming issue of United News. You can begin to confidently make your individual plans. As many members have written us, we all look forward to a real Festival of peace and unity!
Our summer camp schedule and locations are also being finalized, with additional camp planning meetings scheduled to take place shortly. That information will also be available online and in print. We expect to return to most of our traditional popular camp sites, all staffed with ministers and volunteers as before.
Many have asked how the income of the Church is faring, given the recent breakaway of ministers and members. Despite the recent recession, the income of the Church—reflecting your faithful tithes and offerings—has held within a few percentage points of projections up until last month. The breakaway of ministers and the subsequent confusion that resulted in some quarters has now led to a drop in current income of about 12 percent year-to-date. We know that both the breakaway organization as well as other organizations are trying to encourage brethren to divert at least some of their tithes and offerings away from the United Church of God. We ask for your continued prayers that God will protect us and provide our needs to do His work and care for our brethren.
Jesus Christ, the leader of His Church, promised that He would never leave nor forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5). Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul also declared the promise that “my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). We have humbly claimed these unbreakable promises on behalf of all of us, the members and ministers of the United Church of God. And we entreat you to pray fervently for the Church and work of God.
I would also be remiss if I did not remind you that the Council of Elders has called for ministers and members to set aside a day of fasting and prayer before the special ministerial conference begins on Jan. 31. If you have not already done so, I humbly and respectfully remind you here of this request. Through a right attitude in fasting, truly seeking God’s will, we are promised that “your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you… Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer” (Isaiah 58:8-9).
Let us together humbly claim these promises and go forward to do the work of God!
In Christ’s service,