Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dennis Luker on Melvin Rhodes Resignation

Dear Brethren,

The warning in Holy Scripture is plain. Writing across time to members of  the precious Ecclesia—literally “the called-out ones,” who are given the priceless gift of the Holy Spirit—the apostle Peter deeply cautions us: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking those whom he may devour” (1 Peter:5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:). That warning is for member and minister alike. There is no distinction. Both can fall prey to the deceiver who never sleeps if we neglect full use of God’s power. If we stumble, most of the time we can correct our spiritual course privately with God’s help. In other situations, for the spiritual health of the Church, we must acknowledge some transgressions publicly.

Such is the situation today. It is with a great deal of sadness and a heavy heart that I must inform you that Melvin Rhodes has resigned from the Church’s Council of Elders. He has also resigned as an elder and as an employee of the United Church of God, an International Association.

The apostle Peter also taught us that “love will cover a multitude of sins” (1 Peter:4:8And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.), and it is my fervent hope and expectation that Mr. Rhodes and   all those involved in this situation will receive this divine love in abundance in the coming days and years. Forgiveness is a godly miracle, and as we are forgiven, so are we expected to forgive (Matthew:6:12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors., Matthew:6:14-15[14]For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:[15]But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.).

The personal repentance of sin is generally a private matter between God and the individual Christian. However, the nature of this situation (including the importance of the position that Mr. Rhodes previously held and the regrettable fact that those against the Church may seek to twist this tragic condition for harm), requires that we provide you with additional information. This is painful, but it is necessary to be transparent and honest. Simply put, a number of years ago Mr. Rhodes engaged in unchristian behavior that was unbecoming an ordained minister and in violation of both biblical standards and our established policies.

This occurred a number of years ago, but it only came to my personal attention   a week ago. In conformance with established Church policy and biblical standards, Victor Kubik, operation manager of Ministerial and Member Services (who also   was without any previous knowledge this matter), and I immediately set about   to investigate the serious claim against Mr. Rhodes. He was overseas at the time, but he quickly came to Cincinnati at our request on his return.

In meeting with Mr. Kubik and me earlier this week, Mr. Rhodes admitted this unchristian behavior and offered to resign from the Council, even though he   had privately repented years ago. We accepted his resignation, and based on our responsibilities and scope of authority, relieved him of ministerial duties   pending notification of the Council of Elders. Mr. Rhodes also offered to resign as an employee and elder if so requested by the Council. Since the behavior in question is prohibited by scriptural standards, the Church’s code of conduct and other policies, the Council promptly and rightly directed us to request the resignation of Mr. Rhodes from the ministry and as an employee of the United Church of God, an International Association. He did and is fully cooperating with the Council’s directive and the investigation.

As I noted in an earlier correspondence to our elders and employees, if additional information comes to light the Council and administration will take further action as needed.

It is obviously extraordinarily painful for all, and Mr. Kubik and I—together with the entire Council of Elders—request your prayers for the healing and   forgiveness of everyone involved in this situation. We also request your prayers for the protection and shielding of the Church from “the fiery darts of the   wicked one” (Ephesians:6:16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.) who doubtless would like to use this situation to harm the Church.

Whenever a situation like this occurs, our faith can be shaken, and we will feel that our trust has been betrayed. All people are fallible, and leaders   too often let us down. That is why we must always, and I mean always, look   to the true Leader of the Church, Jesus Christ (Ephesians:1:22And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,), and to God   the Father and His Word as our example of godly leadership and for our salvation.   The United Church of God has a structure that preserves and protects our doctrines, provides checks on abuse of power, and has policies in place for the investigation   and appropriate application of disciplinary action against ministerial misconduct once discovered. When these policies are not followed there are also consequences for those failing to do their duty.

Lest we or others outside of our fellowship be quick to judge wrongly, we must also all humbly remember that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans:3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;, emphasis added). While we may be forgiven by God of our sins, our sins may still have serious consequences.

The Council has already begun the process of selecting a new chairman. I sincerely invite you to pray with a solid and renewed sense of urgency and resolve that God would direct and bless His Church through our Elder Brother and soon-coming King.

While asking you to remember the Church—the spiritual Ecclesia—in your daily prayers, I also hope that you are fasting regularly as Christ directed   us to do (Matthew:6:16-18[16]Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.[17]But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;[18]That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.). Over the past year or so all of us at the home   office have developed the tradition of fasting one day during the last week   of the month. The point is for us to draw closer to God so we can more effectively   do His work. We have not publicly talked about it because God tells us to “not appear to be fasting” (verse 18).

However, given the present circumstances, I invite you to join with us this   month and choose a day to fast for the Church, that we may all collectively   offer ourselves as “living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans:12:1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service., New International Version). That way, as Paul instructs us, we will be better   able to “test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (verse 2, NIV).

Thank you from my heart for your continued prayers and support. May God be with us all as we humbly submit to and serve Him.

In Christ’s service, Dennis Luker


Anonymous said...

I have no idea what Melvin Rhodes has done to be asked to resign, but I wonder how many skeletons are in the closets of the other UCG council members that are just as bad or worse. This makes me wonder if there are not other reasons not related to his moral conduct that resulted in him being forced to resign.

Anonymous said...

What I heard at church this past week was that some of the perfect ministers and elders at COGWA were behind this somehow.

If he supposedly "repented" of this years ago, then why did Luker drag it up? Luker does not have the best track record either with chruch members.

Byker Bob said...

Well, you've got to give them kudos for not branding Melvin by graphically describing the behavior involved. Considering the ways in which old school WCG broke such news, Dennis has handled this matter in a really benign manner.

I thought the church (not an ACOG!) that I currently attend had an enlightened way of handling such situations. In one case, we were simply told that a minister had suffered a moral failure and needed to be replaced. In another case, a former minister told the congregation what his sin had cost him, his family, the church he had pastored, and the charitable organization he had set up to help inner city at risk kids. He shared this voluntarily to help others. He accepted the church's judgment, got involved in a new occupation, and never made any effort to start his own ministry.

It will be interesting to see what develops in the aftermath of this UCG situation. It appears somewhat unique in several different ways.


Douglas Becker said...

And 2012 continues.

Anonymous said...

So much for the whole 'repent and forgive' thing. I thought repenting wiped the slate clean. Oops.

Head Usher said...

I'd be willing to bet this "letter" was drafted by another ambitious "minister" possibly someone in his own council.

DennisCDiehl said...

The ministry, with all it's should nots, must nots and better nots, biblical or otherwise is one of the most unrealistic and stupid positions any man or woman could be put in and expected to never ever ever mess up in.

Every minister and member I ever knew well wore a mask or two. There was what they believed publically and what they believed privately. Outwardly they had to act like Jesus and inwardly they were just folks warts and all.

The COG never knew how to handle the realities of life and human "failings" or shortcoming.

I can give you a short list of current ministers who are probably shaking in their boots in UCG.

They could drive you to putting a gun to your head with the phoney guilt and shame inflicted on some pretty normal thinking and acting people.

Two decades ago when the pressure of being a WCG pastor was getting, at least for me, unbearable and the rumors and scandal were about all I could keep to myself, I ended up in depression counseling . I got a visit from one of the men mentioned in the Melvin Rhodes "case" who when I was answering his "what have you learned" question, told me, "we think you are just hiding here." (Here being a counseling center).

I smiled and thought, 'you bastard, go to hell and leave me alone.' ( and no, I haven't repented of that yet)

I NEVER again trusted or would trust anything that I may have wished to share for personal "help" with another minister or administrator . My life was none of their business as far as I was concerned. I had no intention of ever again sharing one personal thought with any of them.

They need to throw the stupid Bible advice away and catch up on 21st century understanding of human behaviors, needs and what it really takes to grow through life's ups and downs.

Mr. Rhodes, you are forgiven when you can forgive yourself. You don't need any other human being to validate your life. You are better for the experience and You don't need them.

Keep it all in perspective. Remember, according to the fairy tale, Peter killed a couple of church members for not forking over all the money and Paul supposedly killed lots of fine church people before they let him into the ministry.

You'll be fine.

Anonymous said...

Details? What more light can someone shed on this?

Head Usher said...

"I NEVER again trusted or would trust anything that I may have wished to share for personal 'help' with another minister or administrator. My life was none of their business as far as I was concerned. I had no intention of ever again sharing one personal thought with any of them."

Back in the day, they always used to advocate to the members to go to the minister to counsel about anything and everything, and then the minister would, I guess, be expected to channel god's own advice, handed down to you direct from on high or something. I always thought this was a bad idea. It's like going to the police station for psychological help regarding a felony you've committed, or going to the SS for advice on how to live in Nazi Germany as a secret Jew.

Beyond that, if you did share, ministers were terrible at confidentiality. On more than one occasion, I've asked a minister if there was any news regarding someone I considered a friend who was not able to attend for whatever reason, only to have them dish all kinds of private details, which was obviously shared with them in confidence, which he was obviously expected to keep confidential, and which I neither needed to know nor did I want to hear from a third party! I felt that such breaches of professional conduct communicated a complete lack of respect for a member of his congregation. I figured that would about the same level of respect he would have for me if I chose to come to him for help about any area of weakness I might have. Obviously not a good move. I just felt that ministers as a group were poorly trained, without much self-discipline, and routinely violating the professional standards that have been established by the "pagan, carnal" world for the job functions they claimed they were supposed to be performing. Nut then, high standards only pertained to the qualities of material goods ministurds were expected to surround themselves with. It never applied to the qualities of the ministurd himself.

Over it! said...

"...and the regrettable fact that those against the Church may seek to twist this tragic condition for harm..."

Too late! Besides Luker you don't need any help from those you deem "enemies" of your "church" when you're all doing a fine job of screwing each other over all by yourselves!

So why don't they specify exactly what Rhodes was alleged and admitted to have done? I don't recall anyone's sins in the Bible, like King David, for instance, being covered up. Are they afraid they'll lose more members or funds or that the reputation of the "church" might suffer? Again, too late! By not being transparent and stating exactly what was done they'll let people's imaginations run wild and that'll probably be even worse than the reality.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:48 said: "I wonder how many skeletons are in the closets of the other UCG council members that are just as bad or worse"

Yep you could probably fill an entire cemetary with all the skeletons UCG council members have locked away in their closets!

Lake of Fire Church of God said...

Why is it in the Armstrong Churches of God that every time there is a major scandal, the dumb sheep are asked to fast for the Church as if it is their fault? Why does anyone in the WCG and its many splinters thinks God is going to give a rats ass about people forgoing their morning coffee and donuts, lunch and dinner all because some moron minister did something stupid described as “unchristian like behavior?


Anonymous said...

Mr. Rhodes may very well come out on top. He apparently has a very repentant spirit, and is willing to give up everything.

Anonymous said...

Aaron made the Golden Calf.

If one sins then repents he is forgiven so move on. (But if your sin is a crime like murder, theft or pedaphilia there will be additional consequences and rightly so.)

Smells like politics and insurance to protect against losing members and money to competitors. Shameful for making it public. A simple reignation due to personal reasons would have sufficed.

ED said...

How could the UCG do this to Mr. Rhodes and at the same time not state that HWA should have been put out because of his imoral life style decades earlier. I know the man has been deceased for a long time and what he did happened in the 1930's and 40's but if they are so concerned about being on the moral high ground wouldn't they be totaly honest about the serious moral problems of the men that started Armstrongism, Armstrong himself.

Anonymous said...

Re ED's comment about Armstrong. That's exactly why I left UCG a fair few years ago. I couldn't believe they were upholding the error-ridden teachings of a man who was hypocritical in his lifestyle and looked to as the moral authority in all matters--even though he was wrong so many times about so many things that it still beggars belief that there are people still following him or his warped theology!

Anonymous said...

Aaron Dean is probably praying for Melvin's forgiveness even as he prepares his next sermon extolling HWA's virtues.

Byker Bob said...

I guess that, hereinafter, exposing the sins of a high ranking minister from one's new ACOG mini-splinter will be referred to as "giving someone the Melvins".


Anonymous said...

I'll make a guess-

People in positions of power at COGAWA had the "goods" on Melvin Rhodes, and tried to blackmail him into joining their side.
Because of his refusal, the info was released to council members of UCG, leading to his resignation.


Anonymous said...

Just ran across this one on another blog.

I am sure by anyone's reckoning we have at least one bingo.

Anonymous said...

Dennis, I appreciate your candid comments here. I remember you well---I was in your '72 AC class. I finally left WCG in '95 disgusted & nearly ruined. Monnie Matthews

Anonymous said...

Why do the dumbass so called leaders think they are bleeding members and not growing any new converts! Because they keep pulling National Enquirer stunts like this public smear campaign against one of their own. If you know something about your brothers sin - KEEP IT TO YOURSELF Denny Luker, and take it to God in prayer. Take the plank out of your own eye before conducting a public smear campaign on a brother. God measures all sin the same way. A sin is a sin is a sin to God. All sins are EQUAL to Him! There is no such thing as a BIG sin versus a LITTLE sin to God. So, Dennis Luker, since you sinned TODAY in some way as we all sin EVERY day, you need to resign your position and suffer the same public smear campaign you conducted against your brother Melvin Rhodes.

You people make the youth of the world sick and others watching this ongoing strife and public Entertainment Tonight show you've made of yourselves and Gods churches. You started this jockeying for position of leadership up the ladder and sick church politics way back in 1978 when you leaders pitted HWA versus his own son GTA. The church has been in a downward spiral ever since.

Grow up and let the teens take over if you want to salvage "The Work". They are the ones plugged into the minds and conscious of the youth, trends, social media for advertising the truth - and are more forgiving and LOYAL to friends outside and inside the church who sin.

Get all these old stale unforgiving hypocrites out of leadership and board member positions and seat the board with 16, 17, and 18 year olds with fresh ideas and youthful enthusiasm that has been sorely lacking for many years with these old timers like Luker and his gang of misfits.

Anonymous said...

First, from what I gathered Rhodes did this "unchristian" act some time ago. If he has already repented and is no long engaged in this behavior then it's between him, the person or persons he offended and god.

Second, Christians engage in all sorts of unchristian behavior like judging others, looking down their nose at others suggesting the other person's going to hell while they will be basking in the presence of god forever. Or they look at someone who is having troubles in their life and assert that person must have a sin god is getting them for but when they have troubles it's "woe is me, how could this be happening to me".

This myth of a monarchical god is a load of nonsense anyway. It has lead to the destruction of more lives and has actually put us further away from the one spirit of the universe than it has ever brought us a greater understanding of it.