The United Church of God recently finished another Council of Elder's meeting. This has been going on for 19 years now and every single year they say the exact same thing. "This was the most productive and spiritually energizing meeting ever!" "We are more unified than ever as a church" "The ministry is more unified and excited than ever in preaching the kingdom of God"....on and on the platitudes go. YET, for 19 years the UCG has been a church filled with turmoil and division. Bitterness and resentfulness has always been roiling around in the background when all the positive platitudes are announced.
Robin Webber writes:
All the elders sat around the table talking bout the spiritual struggles they all endure in their walk as ministers. They had this to say:The Council of Elders of the United Church of God met in Milford, Ohio, from Dec. 7 to Dec. 11. We started on Sunday with a retreat at a nearby facility where we could collectively appeal to God for His direction. When we approach God on our knees and surrender our good ideas to His perfection, things happen!Our four days of formal meetings followed. It’s always exciting to share a “good report” (Philippians 4:8).I am now in my seventh consecutive year on the Council, and I believe that this has been the most spiritually productive series of meetings that I have yet experienced.
The deeper desire they have to center their thoughts is more law and more Old testament rules and regulations. Law always trumps grace in the Church of God. Why should I ever expect otherwise?We concluded: We all—every Council and administration figure, pastor and member—need to seek an even deeper and exhaustive desire to center our thoughts, actions and underlying motivations in light of this “lamp unto our feet” (Psalm:119:105Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.) and this decisive instrument designed to discern our thoughts (Hebrews:4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.)—the Bible!
Webber then brings his version of Jesus into the mix:
It can be guaranteed that when the UCG Council says it will go "deeper" in understanding God's Word it will be about the law. The things that they feel are required for one to make it to Petra. Grace and justification will get short shifted to law keeping.Beyond our personal needs as individual Christians, we also affirmed our God-given responsibility to not only “tend” (John:21:16He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.), but also to “feed the flock” (John:21:15-17So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.). That is, to feed the flock directly and correctly from the living Word of God. It’s the Council’s resolve to go even deeper in establishing the Church’s mooring and understanding on the Word of God. Just like the deer described in Psalms, panting for the water brooks, we too must pant for the Word of God (Psalm:42:1As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.).
Its a shame that the members of the UCG or any Church of God for that matter, does not feel empowered to do their own study of the Scriptures. They always have to rely upon the theologically bankrupt ministers making personal decisions on what to believe and to do. 99% of the men in the UCG have never studied the Bible without an HWA booklet or UCG article in hand tell them what to believe. Whey never have dealt with biblical criticism, metaphors, or real church history. They mock and frown upon anyone that studies in a seminary were truly educated men and women have more research and understanding under their belts than any COG leader will EVER have!Recent attendee surveys speak to the brethren’s desire to go deeper into God’s Word and have our ministry draw out the rich meanings underneath the surface in God’s Holy Word—be it doctrine, Christian living or prophecy. And to that end, based on multiple comments from the recent surveys, we are moving forward as soon as personnel and resources allow to engaging our membership once again with the Bible Commentary (also called the Bible Reading Program).
Webber then announced that the UCG is dropping the name of the Good News magazine for a new name. It has been a bone of contention in many of the COG's because several of the personality cults are using the same name for their own use. Every single one of them stole it from WCG without asking because they thought it brought warm fuzzy memories of HWA into the nix. Have a name he chose made them feel their magazine was more legitimate in the church members eyes. They problem that has arisen over the almost three decades after HWA's death is that no one remembers who he was or CARES! Not matter how hard they plug the guy's name or hang pictures on their walls, people no longer respond to his name.
Given the massive failure the UCG suffered with its latest media campaign using the Beyond Today program, I wonder what is going through their minds thinking that with a new name change it will increase readership? No one in the "world" cares to be lectured about paganism, being burdened down with numerous laws and regulations all the while Jesus is ignored Empty platitudes about a "soon coming kingdom" do nothing to help alleviate pain and suffering in the hear and now. Blabbering on and on about HWA and Old Testament rules does nothing to promote peace and unconditional love and grace.I’m also pleased to bring exciting news regarding our major publication The Good News.The Council and the administration have discussed for nearly a two-year period how to: 1) simplify the pathway for people to access our various media outlets, 2) while at the same time magnifying the ongoing impact of what we can share in their spiritual journey. The Council members (11 were present) unanimously decided to approve the administration’s proposal to change the name of The Good News to Beyond Today, which coincides with the title of our television program.
Why? Currently, no one can have full rights to the “Good News” name—which multiple organizations use every day. There are multiple Good News magazines used by a variety of organizations. It’s in the public domain. But we do have the trademark (service mark for non-profits) to Beyond Today. The subtitle is projected to read: “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow,” which defines our writing and engages the audience in the wide framework of our calling to be followers of Jesus Christ today, while looking towards the ultimate hope of God’s Kingdom.
Like everything else in the COG these "new"ideas will not bring in new members or increase their funds. UCG is doomed to rot away into oblivion just like all the other COG's currently are. For 19 years now they have been saying the same phrase. For 19 years NOTHING has changed.