To Whom It May Concern:
Today [December 17, 2010], I resigned from the corporate body of the United Church of God.
The reason I was asked to resign is because I have supported the good faith efforts to address and to solve the divide and conflict in which UCG now finds itself. The administration of the United Church of God considers my stand as not supporting UCG management. This is a sad irony. Unless I am allowed to use the exact same criteria I have used for over 44 years in the ministry—following and supporting leaders as they follow Christ’s example, I have no other recourse except to resign.
Examples of my conflict with promising unquestioning loyalty to the administration is laid out in the three documents, What Really Happened in Latin America?, What Are The Real Issues? and What Were The Real Efforts To Seek Reconciliation? (available on request).
My responsibility as a shepherd is to feed and protect the flock. If I remain silent about tainted food being distributed to God’s flock in order to promote peace and harmony in God’s congregation that I pastor, I prove myself to be a hireling and only interested in peace among men. Truth sometimes brings conflict. Despite the uproar caused by Christ when He spoke the truth, true disciples had peace with God.
We are reminded that in April of 1995, a leader tried to intimidate those he called rebels by stating, “In congregations where the pastors have taught faithfully the focus on Jesus Christ…there is little discontent and turmoil. But in congregations where pastors have avoided following headquarters…there is turmoil.”
As we all learned then, living in peace with a contented but deceived congregation was not our main goal. We chose contentment with godliness. Thus we parted ways.
The apostle Paul chose truth over harmony when writing to the Corinthians about immoral behavior. He incited godly disharmony when he later corrected them for accepting and putting up with a different spirit, those whom he defined as deceitful workers.
Dealing with disharmony and standing up for what is right is a necessary part of growing in the character of Jesus Christ. In fact, there must be divisions among us so that those who are approved are recognized (1 Cor. 11:19).
In all this, I do not claim perfect behavior or excellent wisdom in my every approach. I ask for forgiveness for any less than fitting demonstrations of the mind of Christ in me. I can truly say with the apostle Paul that I have not already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid on me (Philippians 3:12).
I will continue to labor in God’s Work until the mind of Christ is formed in all of us (Gal. 4:19) in order that God’s Spirit will give life to our mortal bodies and an inheritance into the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ.
In Christ’s Name,
Gregory L. Sargent