Saturday, January 29, 2011

Please Don't Tell Me How to Live My Faith

(Sheepeople Speak Up)

Please Don't Tell Me How to Live My Faith

I will determine how much, when and if I can tithe considering my family and personal needs...Don't tell me how to live my faith.

I will participate in assembling together as my finances and need for quiet time in my live calls for...Don't tell me how to live my faith.

I will attend the Festivals as able and not feel I have to spend 10% of my income as if it were merely play money in 8 short days...Don't tell me how to live my faith.

I will "turn in" excess and unspent tithe if I wish to but also may need to buy groceries...Don't tell me how to live my faith.

I will learn from your sermons if they contain real information from which I can benefit and grow, but won't tell you it was wonderful when it was boring...Don't tell me how to live my faith.

I will look at my watch as often as I want without retribution, during your two hour sermons... Don't tell me how to live my faith.

I will notice your sermons are over even if you are not finished...Don't tell me how to live my faith.

I'll attend extra Church activities IF I have time and am not exhausted from my other responsibilities or concerns...Don't tell me how to live my faith.

I will agree with you about how you see any particular portion of scripture applies to me, us or them if I really agree...Don't tell me how to live my faith.

I will screw up my nose and forehead as I feel I should during any bold statements you make during your sermons...Don't tell me how to live my faith.

I will laugh when you didn't intend me to and be serious when you think I should be laughing as I feel fits the occasion...Don't tell me how to live my faith.

I will leave services when they are over as soon as I wish or even stay after as long as I wish talking with friends...Don't tell me how to live my faith.

I'll include or not include  you as Pastor in my life as I am comfortable and trusting of you and your perspectives and views...Don't tell me how to live my faith.

I'll study and research whatever Biblical topics I choose to even if is not spot on with your view of the view of the organization...Don't tell me how to live my faith.

I'll come to any conclusions outside of the demand to "all speak the same thing," injunctions from those over me...Don't tell me how to live my faith
I'll feel free to say, "that's your/their opinion" whenever I feel mine differs and my real life may be effected by such opinions...Don't tell me how to live my faith.

I'll not push back if you don't push me/us/my family into all or nothing situations or positions...Don't tell me how to live my faith.

I promise not to tell you how to live your faith if you promise not to tell me/us how to live or express ours...or else.

I promise not to think of you as a "false minister or hireling" if you don't refer to me as a "dumb sheep"  Don't label me or tell me how to live my faith
I promise if you say such things as "And brethren, I am an Apostle," "I am that prophet," "I am the Watcher," "I am in charge," "I am God's minister," "I am one of the Two Witnesses,"  "My wife is the other witness because God works in families,"  "Send it in..." God told me," "Jesus caused..." "When God tells us to go to the place of safety," or that "Singles should bring a watermelon to the potluck,"  I will react according to that niggly little feeling in my stomach as appropriate...Don't tell me how to live my faith.


Friday, January 28, 2011

A Reader Responds To Dennis

Homer said...
Stick To the Trunk of the Tree?

Through the years encouragement has been given to stick to the trunk of the tree and to avoid going out on a limb. The idea behind this has been to stick to what that trunk has to offer. If the trunk we are clinging to has all that we need to know, then maybe that is good. However, if that trunk doesn’t have everything we need or everything that is offered, then there is a void. If we are to cling to the trunk of the tree, how can we see the forest? How can we know what the forest has to offer? As the following is read, consider the trunk of the tree as the truth as we know it and the forest an expansion of truth and understanding.

By sticking to the trunk of the tree, we can't even get to all the fruit that the tree has to offer, unless it falls to the ground close to the trunk. If we wait for the fruit to fall, it may be rotten by the time we get to it. If we do eat some rotten fruit we can regurgitate it and rid ourselves of it. It isn't pleasant to "throw up" but we are better off than to leave it inside where it can putrefy and make us sick. We shouldn’t have to experience that more than once.

Sometimes we have to go out on a limb or venture away from the trunk to get to the fruit. If we venture out on a limb we may fall. If we fall, we don't float away into space. We fall to the ground. Sure, it may hurt. But we become "grounded" and we learn from the experience. But unless we venture out on the limbs of the tree or get away from the trunk we will never benefit from all the fruit that the tree has to offer or see what the forest has to offer. Should we never venture out on a limb for fruit or back away from the tree for a better view of the forest? If so, we can become very nearsighted because we are not exercising our vision.

By sticking to the trunk of the tree where we are, we only see that one tree and what it has to offer. If that tree has been infected with disease, parasites or worms, we will be affected by that infection. That problem will be removed from the tree in one-way or another. If the tree survives the problem, it will be scarred in one way or another. That is OK. Scarring indicates that healing took place. If the tree does not heal, it will die. Some trees in the forest die for various reasons. They fall to the ground and decay and return to ground. Even though a tree may die, it's base elements will return to the earth.

When a tree in the forest is cut for lumber, the logs are milled into lumber for different purposes. The parts of the trees that have been damaged are cut away and discarded. The good wood is then used to build homes, make fine pieces of furniture or fine pieces of art. All trees have something to offer to the forest and to mankind. Even if that tree provides nothing more than taking in carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen. But that of course is a very important function. Mankind can't survive without oxygen.

This doesn't mean that the trunk we are clinging to isn't a part of the forest. Nor does it mean other trees are more perfect than the one at hand. Actually, there is no perfect tree in a forest. How can we know whether or not there is another tree that also has something to offer? Another tree, or several trees, that may have "good" roots, "good" wood, or "good" fruit. Some trees offer more than others. Each individual must choose if a tree in the forest offers a root system for good growth, which wood is best for the purpose at hand, and which fruit is good to eat. That choice must be made after careful and thorough examination of the instructions given by the Maker of the forest.

Just a thought, Homer


Bible Translations

Phrenologist Fred Coutler has some Bible competition.   Fred reorganized the Bible according to his interpretation and Armstrongite mythology to produce one expensive Bible for $128.50.

Fred now has some stiff competition!  The LOLCat Bible is nearing complete translation!  Forget the Message Bible or that old Living Bible that you have on your bookshelf gathering dust.  This one rocks!

Genesis 3

From LOLCat Bible Translation Project

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Old Testament
Sneeky Snaik trikz Boi an Gurl
1 Sneeky snaik is sneeky. Teh snaik sed to teh gurl, "'No eat froot,' Ceiling Cat says? 'Or u die,' Ceiling Cat says?"
2 An teh gurl sed, "We can has froot.3 But we no can has froot frum teh tree in teh middl of teh gardn. Ceiling Cat sez, 'If u tuch it or nom it, ull die. So pawz off.'"
4 Teh snaik lol'd an sed, "U wont die frum froot, srsly.5 Ceiling Cat just sed dat cuz teh froot will maek u guyz smart. U guyz wud be ceiling catz, cuz u wud has morulz!
6 Teh gurl saw teh froot had a flavr, an it lookd yummy. It wud giv her sum morulz, too. So she nom-nomd teh froot. She gaev sum to teh boi, an he nom-nomd teh froot too.7 Then thay got morulz, so it didnt taek too long to figgur owt thay wuz naked. Boi an gurl maded sumfin owt of leevz to keep teh praivits praivit.8 Wen thay heerd Ceiling Cat chasin buttrfliez in teh gardn, thay jumpd in a bush to plai hide-an-seek, xcept thay hopd Ceiling Cat wud frget bout teh "seek" part. He didnt.
9 Ceiling Cat sed, "Boi? Boi?? BOI!!!"
10 Boi sed, "O hai. I heerd u ovr thare, but ai freekd owt cuz ai wuz naked, so ai hid in teh bush."
11 Ceiling Cat sed, "Wayt a minit! How did u fynd owt? U didnt nom teh bannd froot, did u?"
12 Boi said, "Rmembr teh gurl u mayd for me? Ai onli eated teh froot cuz she gaev it to me."
13 Ceiling Cat sed to teh gurl, "U did WUT?" Gurl said, "Teh snaik playd durty trik on me, an ai eated teh froot. It taystd gud, but dat not poynt."

Ceiling Cat banishiz Boi an Gurl frum teh gardn of Eden.
14 Ceiling Cat sed to teh snaik, "Cuz u did dis, ur cursd aboov all teh moocows an farm animulz!!! Ur gonna moov on yur belly forevah, cuz ai gonna taek ur legs an giv dem to teh Chinese to eat!!!! Ur gonna havta eet durt forevah!!!!!15 Im gonna maik gurlz afrayd of snaikz, an teh macho boiz will skwish u on teh hed to impress them, an u will nom thair foot. Srsly."
16 Ceiling Cat sed to teh gurl, "Ur gonna hav sum srs hurtz wen u giv birfs to yur kittehs. An frum nou on, yur hubs iz gonna rool ovr u, an u hav to do wat he sayz.
17 Ceiling Cat sed to teh boi, "Cuz u listnd to teh gurl insted of me, teh grownd iz cursd, an ull b wrkin ur buttz off ur hol life. An makin cheezburgers will be vry hard now.18 Ull hav to get rid of weedz to grow stufs, an ull hav to eat teh farm plantz.19 Ur gonna hafta swet leik crazee if u wantz cheezburgerz. An itll b leik dat until u die an turn bak into durt, cuz datz ware u caim frum anywai."
20 Teh boi naymd his gurl Eve cuz she wuz teh mothr of all ppl (an also cuz if he naymd her Bertha he woulda been lol'd at all da tiem).21 It wuz gettin rly awkwurd, so Ceiling Cat mayd sum clothz for dem.22 An Ceiling Cat said, "Lookie, thay iz leik us, cuz thaye has morulz! Letz do sumfin so thay wont taek teh cheezburgerz of teh tree of happee, cuz then thay wud liv forevah! Dat wud b bad."23 So Ceiling Cat kicked teh boi outta teh gardn to be a farmr. An it stinkd cuz ther wasnt no farmwurkor yooyun yet.24 Wen thay wuz owt, Ceiling Cat put sum birdkats an a rly sharp buttrnaif at teh welcom sign, so no kittehs wud get to teh tree of happee an nom teh cheezburgerz. Evah.

Song of Solomon 6

From LOLCat Bible Translation Project

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Old Testament


1 Where iz ur luvr,
 pretti ladi?
 Which wai did he go,
 so we canz look for him?

2 Mai luvr wented down to teh gardin,
 where teh plantz iz growin,
 to hang around
 an pick flowrz.
3 I am hiz an he iz mien;
 he iz hangin out wif teh flowrz LOL.

4 U iz as pretti as Tirzah,
 as pretti az Jerusalem,
 liek an armi marchin around.
5 Doant look at me,
 itz too much LOL.
 Ur hair iz liek goatz
 comin down teh mountn.
6 Ur teeth iz liek sheep
 dat just hadded abaff.
 Dey iz all twinz,
 bcz u haz all ur teethz.
7 Ur butt
 is liek a peach.
8 Dere is sixti queenz,
 an eighti othr ladiez,
 an lotz of virjinz
9 but u iz wun of a kiend,
 ur motherz only dauter
 ur motherz favrit.
 Teh ladiez sez "She haz cheezburgr";
 teh queenz iz liek "U iz so cool."

10 Who is this shini cat,
 shini an pretti,
 liek teh starz?

11 I wented down to teh nut treez
 to look at teh babi plantz,
 to see if dere wuz budz
 or flowrz.
12 Befor i knowed what wuz happenin,
 i wuz so horni i gotted in teh car LOL.

13 Com back, Shulammite;
 come backso we can look at u!

Why wud u look at teh Shulammite
 liek teh dansin of Mahanaim? (srlsy)

"...I am supposed to submit to him no matter what he does..."

James Malm (Shining Light) has set himself up as an authority on marriage, divorce, contentious women, bullying husbands and Godly childrearing.  All of his admonishments boil down to one directive...unless you rule your house in a godly manner you will NOT be ruling over nations/world's in HWA's so called kingdom.

If we can’t even lead our own families properly and in a godly manner; do we really expect God to give us authority over the nations?

People expect to rule nations and they cannot even rule their own families in a godly manner.  Of course this is a very broad generality and there are many exceptions, but there are far too many problems that really NEED to be overcome in this matter.

Part of the reason that we were given families is so that we could learn to rule; So what is godly leadership and ruler ship?

He then lays the admonition for ministers to set a godly example (which I agree they should).  However, in Armstrongism the ministry was/is still filled with adulterers, wife swapping, wife beating/abuse, child abuse, alcoholics and drug addicts, etc., etc.,etc.  The ministry of the COG is not capable of being examples of Godly behavior when their founder was a sexual deviate himself!  When HWA bragged about 'spanking' women because he was upset with their make-up, short dresses, or plunging necklines, you know the guy has a problem!

Hey, that's what Herbert W. Armstrong suggested in his "Women's Dress Ruling concerning too short and too tight skirts, and extra-low-neck dresses" in the September, 1962, Good News, pp. 9, 16.

In this infamous article HWA states that seeing inappropriately dressed makes him so mad he feels they deserve a "sound spanking" or to be called a "common prostitute." (p. 9, middle column, paragraphs 4-6.)

Well, there you have it. No wonder his attitude struck us the wrong way. He is talking like Herbert W. Armstrong. Living Armstrongism

Diehard Armstrongites will find this link useful to bone up on their Biblical spanking skills:  How to Discipline Your Wife
Malm writes:

In your relationship with your wives you are to NEVER EVER strike, push, shake or otherwise physically assault your wives.  Anyone who does so, should be immediately disfellowshipped until he has counseled and repented; such bullying and brutalizing should NEVER be permitted.  Everything you do should be for the good of your wife and family.

Wives: Do not provoke your husbands.  

This admonition follows on HWA's and GTA's understanding that wicked little Eve provoked her husband into sinning, therefore wicked, rebellious, and contentions wives still provoke their husbands....

He then includes a letter from a woman about the abuse she is suffering with her husband.  Note not once in her letter did any minister or ministers wife, nor did Malm, tell her that the next time her husband shoved her she should have him arrested! The shoving and pushing will eventually lead to something far more dangerous either to her or her kids.

I have gotten some very useful and helpful information from reading your blog. However, today I feel l must comment on your response to “anonymous”. Unless you have lived in a situation where you are constantly in fear of doing something to “cause” a spouse to give in to a fit of rage, you have no idea what you are talking about!

I am married to a man who attends church with me. He knows the scriptures and uses them constantly to judge everyone except himself. We have been married for many years and in that time, he has used me as his “whipping boy”.  He hasn’t physically assaulted me, but he has come close (shoving and pushing). He has a fearsome temper and takes out his anger on me usually – and on our children when they dare to cross him. He has alienated our children by his domineering attitude and anger displays. If you don’t see things HIS way, well you are asking for a verbal assault.  I have been called every name in the book and told how useless and worthless I am – AND what a hypocrite I am! As if I think that I can deceive God about any of my personal sins!

He has actually said to me, that I am supposed to submit to him no matter what he does, because I am “converted”! He is very charming to other people – he can talk to anyone and people think he is wonderful! He would do anything to help others but has admitted that he with-holds things from me because he can (spite).

A few years ago, HE actually spoke privately in a meeting he requested, with our local minister and two local elders about me and my lack of “submission”. He was told by all three that he was wrong – therefore, they have no credibility with him! We have counseled with my local minister and his wife in our home and because I wasn’t told how terrible I was, he now has zero respect for the minister. I have asked for him to go with me to marriage counseling only to be told that if I want to go, I can go by myself (he won’t pay for it) since I am the one with the “problem”!

I have been a member of a COG for decades and have struggled with my “problem” all that time. I have felt unforgiven by God and hopeless because I have been unable to “overcome” my sins and faults – all the while being told how much of a failure and hypocrite I am, by my closest “neighbor”. I sit in services beside someone who is judging ME by every word he hears from the speaker.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New Company to Help UCG Recoup It's Lost Members

Lil' Joel Throws Another Temper Tantrum

Dear friend,
Thank you for your note and your questions about what has been happening in the United Church of God (UCG), and why I left.

As you have visited, you have access to much of the pertinent information in the form of primary documents. I will respond with my own perspective here.

First of all thank you for your trust in asking for my thoughts in this difficult time. I need to let you know in the interest of transparency, that I was fired from UCG a few weeks back for being open with members of the French association, and warning them of spiritual danger I see in remaining with UCG under its current leadership. You will want to know why I felt it important to do that when it would obviously lead to my dismissal and the removal of my credentials by the leadership of the United Church of God.

The question I and others are often asked is “Where is the smoking gun?” in what's wrong in UCG. That is usually assumed to be of necessity “doctrinal,” as if a compromise of some theoretical type with a doctrine is the only valid reason for leaving a church association. In other words someone would have to teach that we will officially change a doctrine (the Sabbath is obsolete, the law of God is done away, God is a Trinity, etc.) before there would be a really serious issue. Everyone makes mistakes, we are told, therefore wrong and damaging behavior or decisions from our leadership are not reason to take the drastic step of leaving a church association. The president and the Council would have us believe this, and they repeat that the current crisis is not about doctrine, therefore there is no reason to take any action. They claim this is just a disagreement among men with no spiritual overtones. So trust them; they’re sincere and they’re in authority, so trust them. However, we must remember that doctrine is more than a theoretical belief, and more is required of Church leadership than simply thinking proper thoughts and teaching proper theory.

I will first give a short answer as to why I felt I had to be open about the danger of staying with UCG, and then give a more detailed explanation.
The short answer is first of all,  this present Council and administration are acting as if they’re “above the law” – both the governing documents in UCG and the law of God. Of course they repeat that they have high regard for and obey all proper rules and laws. But in reality they have repeatedly broken those laws, and continue to do so. Some of this is unethical (violations of men’s laws or rules); some of it is outright sin (violations of God’s law). As God does, we are to forgive sins against us when the sinner repents, but there must be repentance.

This brings us to the second point: when confronted with evidence of their unethical and sinful behavior, this Council and administration have refused to repent. They refuse even to call themselves into question. They will generally admit “we all make mistakes; I make mistakes” but they don’t admit to any particular violations of any rule or law. Rather, their answer is always to quote the UCG constitution or bylaws to claim “we are in charge, and we interpret the rules.” That is almost the only part of the UCG governing documents that they quote: the Council is “in charge,” the Council has oversight, the Council interprets, the Council decides. I believe everyone agrees that the Council is “in charge” and “decides” but only to the extent allowed by the association’s governing documents and the law of God. The Council and administration cannot lawfully exceed those limits. But they have done so and continue to do so.

The Rules of Association, for example, that must guide relationships between UCGIA, the US corporation, and national associations in other countries have been completely junked; there is no longer even a pretense of abiding by that document, the respect of which is required in the UCG Constitution and Bylaws. Constitution article states clearly “The Council of Elders shall conduct itself in accordance with Scripture, this Constitution, the duly adopted corporate Bylaws, the Rules of Association of the UCG and applicable law.” But the Council has not and does not.

They seem to want us to accept the idea that in UCG there is government of men directly under God, in the mold of a Pastor General with unlimited authority. The Council of Elders, goes this reasoning, are the men that have either been chosen specifically by God or at least have been duly elected with God’s permission, and therefore to dissent from their decisions is rebellion against God’s government. The president appears to believe this, and says so often in his letters. The Council repeats this in its various communications.

One should note that the men who make up the current Council did not hold this point of view about our Church government before they were in power. They actively worked against previous Council and GCE decisions, and several of them admit to having criticized their predecessors on the Council and in the administration. That was acceptable back then, but they would have us believe it is now rebellion against God.

But more importantly, UCG was not and is not organized to have a government of “special” men directly under God. We didn’t feel when we organized that God had led us to see any particular men as directly chosen by Him to be our leaders. Rather we were to govern and be governed collegially, and so set up a framework of rules, under which each elder would have certain abilities and authorities and also certain responsibilities.
All elders in UCG are part of the General Conference of Elders which has certain responsibilities and prerogatives, within certain limits.
Some are chosen to serve on the Council of Elders, which is given certain responsibilities and prerogatives, within certain limits.

Some are chosen to be officers or operations managers, to whom are given certain responsibilities and prerogatives, within certain limits.
We were to all work together within that framework. Because of the abuses we witnessed in the final months we were part of the Worldwide Church of God, checks and balances were put in place in the structure of UCG to insure that no man or group of men could dominate and commandeer the organization and exert a destructive influence. But these checks and balances are not being respected or obeyed by the Council and the administration. Ongoing violations have destroyed the trust that is prerequisite for us to work together, and have negated their legitimacy.

Here are some examples of the violations under discussion:

1. When concerns were raised about the existence of a secret Internet forum which was conducted by some ministers to specifically allow them to criticize the Council and administration, and work to overturn decisions such as the relocation to Texas, the Council felt compelled to officially investigate. The result was a paper issued about “Private Discussion Groups” which cleared those involved of any wrong-doing. But the paper did not disclose that it was a member of the Council who originated and run the secret forum, and that other Council members participated. The paper was written in such a way that it gave the impression that the Council was completely impartial in the matter. This was a violation of the 9th commandment, in the spirit if not the letter. Two Council members, Clyde Kilough and Richard Thompson, resigned rather than have their names associated with such a dishonest paper.

2. Ephesians 5:11 states “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” When I informed the members of the GCE, through a posting on our Elders Forum (open to all elders), that Council members had originated and participated in the secret forum, the response from the Council was not explanation or repentance but punishment. I was threatened by the Council that my job was in danger for leaking “executive session” information (even though there had been no executive session meeting of the Council), and was placed on an “improvement plan” which was originally to have lasted for six months, but which was never lifted at all. This started almost 2 ½ years ago. I was further punished by being forbidden to fulfill any ministerial duties in English. I was forbidden even to give an opening or closing prayer in church services in any English-speaking areas though I was expected to quietly continue making trips to unstable parts of Africa. This open-ended punishment continued until the termination of my employment. This arbitrary punishment in order to cover the Council’s own dishonesty does not show a proper Christian approach to say the least.

3. Mr. Leon Walker, an elder of over 50 years of faithful service, was fired and replaced as Regional Director in a most abrupt manner without due process being followed, and in violation of a number of provisions in the Rules of Association. The Council then attempted to destroy Mr. Walker’s reputation through the publication of long papers claiming to publically document his guilt of all sorts of violations. The papers contained much material that was either totally false or severely distorted. The Church of God has never before published such offensive diatribes aimed at destroying the reputation of an individual minister and it is extremely shameful conduct. These actions violated the 6th and the 9th commandments.

4. Nearly 10 percent of our church membership, almost the entirety of the ministry and membership in Latin American were abruptly cut off from UCG with no explanation. This action violated not only our Rules of Association, but also basic Christian tenets of love, concern and providing needed assistance to fellow Christians. Some members were so disillusioned by the treatment their area received that they have stopped coming to services altogether. This is a serious responsibility according to Matthew 18:6-7: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!”

I realize that those of us who have left UCG are being accused of causing offense to little ones, but that is a different scenario. The Council took direct action against the members and ministry in Latin America: they cut them off with no explanation. This is what caused the offense there: aggressive action. We who leave UCG now are taking no action against anyone, we’re simply saying “This is offensive to God and man; I won’t be a part of it any longer.” We refuse to accept the exclusion of innocent brethren and ministers, which the Council attempted to require of us.

5. When church pastor Jack Hendren explained to members in his area the false nature of the accusations against Mr. Walker, he was ordered to appear before Council delegates. He was informed that he had to support the Council in what it had done in regard to Mr. Walker and to agree to the suspension of an elder in his area who also maintained that Mr. Walker had been unfairly treated. When he stated he could not do so in good conscience, he was fired. This is the Council demanding that ministers violate their consciences or face termination.

6. The behavior of a family in Chile became an issue when it was learned that their family-owned school remained open for business on the Sabbath (Friday evening after sunset) and on certain Holy Days. This is the family of Mrs. Mario Seiglie, wife of a current Council member. The church President and the Chairman of the Council published a “white paper” titled “How do members of the United Church of God observe the Sabbath Day?” In claiming to give doctrinal instruction on the topic, the paper stated the family did not violate the Sabbath by having their employees work on the Sabbath and Holy Days. This paper did not go through the required doctrinal review prior to publication, and repeated protests by the Doctrine Committee of the Council were ignored for three weeks. The Doctrine Committee by policy must review all material of a doctrinal nature. The paper was finally withdrawn from the Church website, with the explanation that it had been posted too quickly. Months later, the Council finally did state that members should not have employees work for them on the Sabbath, but the white paper has never been repudiated and no statement of rejection or apology has been issued for it.

7. A similar “white paper” was published, titled “Fasting, Prayer and the Will of God.” This paper was written to defend the behavior of elders, including Council members. After the initial decision to relocate the office to Texas, which was preceded by a Church-wide day of fasting and prayer, these elders almost immediately began an effort to overturn the decision. This caused concern and upset among quite a number of elders who felt they had asked, through fasting and prayer, for God to guide the decision. The white paper was a rather muddled defense of the effort to rescind the decision to move, by claiming that fasting and prayer don’t really allow Christians to know God’s will. This represented a substantial change in our teaching about fasting. It is still posted and public in spite of not having been reviewed by the Doctrine Committee, and in spite of protests by the Doctrine Committee.

8. When Mr. Larry Salyer, a respected minister with over 40 years of experience, explained to members in his congregations that there were doctrinal problems in the two white papers, he was suspended and ultimately, fired for “speaking against the Council.

9. It has been documented that the Council has excluded some of its members from discussions and decisions. Some Council members were not informed that discussions would be held, and decisions were reached outside of official meetings without the participation of all members. This is highly illegal.

10. All three corporate officers placed an item on the General Conference of Elders agenda for 2010. The item was the proposal of forming a GCE task force to examine our governing structure and possibly suggest improvements to the GCE for its consideration. Bylaw 7.9.2 states that any one officer may place an item on the agenda, but the Council intervened and removed the item, claiming it violated the Bylaws and the Council’s authority. Several lawyers have stated that it did not violate the Bylaws but the Council removed it anyway.

There are many other issues and violations of internal rules and the law of God. As stated above, where there is repentance there is forgiveness. Groups of elders have gone to the Council and administration numerous times to bring to their attention violations of men’s law and God’s law. But in every case, these pleas for action and redress have been rejected out of hand. We have gone to the Council and administration numerous times in the spirit of Matthew 18.

Matthew 18:15-17 states “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

In response to brothers in the ministry coming to them humbly with sincere concerns over sin, they have not responded in a spirit of humility and receptiveness, but rather in a spirit of “exercising dominion” (i.e. Matthew 20:25), claiming that their authority as Council members precludes them having to attend to these concerns. Paul told Timothy “we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully” (1Timothy 1:8). Laws and rules can either be used properly or they can be misused and distorted. The Council and administration have been misusing rules and laws to the point of outright violation. And they suspend, expel and fire those who will not support their abuses.

I have reached the conclusion that the attitude and approach displayed by the current Council and administration is not that of seeking the will of God in submission to His law, but rather seeking their own will, and using selected provisions of human documents as justification. This will be a spiritual danger to any who continue to follow them. 2 Corinthians 6:14 warns “For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?” I believe the above examples among many others prove that, though they claim otherwise, the current leadership of UCG is practicing lawlessness. This is why I’m convinced it is no longer fitting or right to remain part of the United Church of God, an International Association.
I hope this clarifies why I have taken the actions I have and why I believe it is time to leave UCG. Of course each of us must act on his or her personal conviction and conscience, and we will all give account before our Maker, so I certainly think no
ill of those who wait or make a different choice. I'm glad you're investigating for yourself so you can make an informed decision.

Very sincerely,
Joel Meeker