Friday, January 26, 2018

UCG Goes Into Damage Control Over Elder Stephen Allwine Murder Case

Church of God News is reporting:

Public Statement re the Trial of Stephen Allwine a former lay minister of the United Church of God, an International Association

Posted on Jan 26, 2018 by Peter Eddington, Victor Kubik:

“The Church strongly follows the biblical command that murder—even the mere thought of murder—is condemned as sin and can never be justified.

In the coverage of the January 2018 trial of former lay minister Stephen Allwine, some media have included inaccurate comments about the United Church of God, an International Association. They attempt to link Church beliefs regarding divorce to a possible motive for the murder of Amy Allwine.
Here are the facts about the United Church of God and its beliefs: We highly value Scripture and regard the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. In respect to marriage, the Church positively teaches it involves a lifelong commitment of mutual love, respect and selfless service. Marriage is a Holy covenant that reflects our relationship with Jesus Christ. The Church also strongly follows the biblical command that murder—even the mere thought of murder—is condemned as sin and can never be justified (Matthew 5:21-32). Unlike what some may have insinuated, our ministers are called to be humble servants—as stated in the New Testament: “These pastors must be men of blameless lives because they are God’s ministers. They must not be proud or impatient; they must not be drunkards or fighters or greedy for money” (Titus 1:7, Living Bible).

The United Church of God is transparent and regards our mission, in part, to be a light to this world (Matthew 5:14). As humans, we are all subject to missing the mark and stand in need of a Savior. We have a glorious Redeemer—our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ—who died for all of us that our sins and shortcomings may be forgiven (Acts 4:12). That selfless act of Jesus results in marvelous reconciliation to God our Father and subsequently in “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10). As the Bible authoritatively and positively declares, it is the fervent desire of God for “everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4, New Living Translation).

The United Church of God is deeply saddened by this tragedy and urges all to pray for the families and those involved.”


Anonymous said...

How can Christ's sacrifice be selfless if consequently the payoff is 'bringing many sons to glory.' A 'sacrifice' that results in a benefit is a contradiction.

Anonymous said...

Nice, pretty words from UCG. It's the usual 'do as I say, but not as I do' thingy.

Connie Schmidt said...

The term "Lay Minister" is not one that I have ever seen used in the COGs before. I understand what it means , of course, but curious on why the term was not used in the past, and why it suddenly appears now.

Anonymous said...

There are a number of scriptures that say we were "purchased" with Jesus's blood.

Anonymous said...


Calling Allwine a "lay minister" is an act of distancing, as if he is somehow less of a real minister because he doesn't receive a UCG salary, but instead receives only reimbursements for legitimate expenses incurred doing ministerial business.

Of course, with the use of that term, UCG has just driven a wedge between its many "lay ministers" and its salaried insiders.

Let's also remember that UCG believes that God gives its leaders special divine powers of discernment, which led them to ordain Allwine and thus judged him to embody the characteristics of a minister as listed in Scripture. Is it that Allwine met those criteria and God was surprised to see him change and murder his wife? Or is it that the UCG ordainers really don't have any special God-given powers of discernment?

With that in mind, I also found it interesting that in the midst of a statement about a minister accused of murder, the UCG press release found time for the following aside:

Unlike what some may have insinuated, our ministers are called to be humble servants

What does pride or humility have to do with the fact that UCG ordained a man who seems to have committed a murder? Are they implying that Allwine was actually a humble servant and shouldn't be picked on? Or are they acknowledging that some of their ministers in fact fail to uphold their calling to be humble servants? Would humble servants take offense at being called prideful, or would they shrug it off and continue to pursue humble service? Parts of the UCG statement come across as if from prideful men who fear that their cozy little world is being challenged by people who won't succumb to the usual ministerial fear tactics.

TM said...

Re Connie 8:09. I had the same thought. When I am talking to COG people I use the term Local Elder or Local Church Elder (I think one of those categories gets paid by the Church and the other is unpaid; is that correct?) When I am talking about them with non-COG people I call them Lay Ministers. So when I saw this, I thought the intended audience for this announceent was non-COG people.

Anonymous said...

GTA was revealed to be a "lay" minister...

Retired Prof said...

Connie, "Lay Minister" is the right term for a preacher who found paramours on the Ashley Madison site, no?

Anonymous said...

Very thoughtful comments anon 10:33 which I agree with. The UCG statement is too long winded and should have been more precise and quicker to the point. There are remarks which sound out of place and do UCG no favours.
The fact coming to light that Allwine became aware of the Madistone adultery website through counceling married couples using it too, will badly damage UCG. It's a mess and UCG has been for awhile.

Silenced said...

This statement is a mess. It starts by inferring that the media has UCG's doctrines about marriage and divorce wrong. But because the media actually has that right, they then launch into how they don't approve of or teach murder as acceptable, which zero people have accused the church of in the first place and doesn't contradict media reports at all.

They also try to separate Allwine from the paid ministry, which is bullshit because he was ordained, giving sermons, performing marriage counseling and other work that the paid ministry also does. Whether he got a regular paycheck from UCG is immaterial when describing the impact, authority and influence he wielded in the congregation. And the prosecution and the media know that very well.

This is weasel-caliber damage control by an organization that has been desperately trying to improve its public image and profile in recent years, one that realizes this case is a damaging blow to its plans. It's sad to consider that PR is their primary focus here instead of words of comfort and concern for the victim's family.

Anonymous said...

8.59 AM
That's exactly my point, a purchase is not selfless. I am not aware of the term selfless appearing in the bible, and it seems uniquely American. It should not be projected into the bible as the parable of the pouring of new wine into new skins teaches.
And who preaches selflessness? Why the same ministers who stay at 5 star hotels at members expense during the FOT. Staying at fancy hotels is the cashing in part of teaching this lie.
Again, it's the wolf talking to the lambs.

Anonymous said...

Silenced, the UCG statement makes the problem clear. UCG considered Allwine fit to be a minister, just as many Roman Catholic bishops ordain murderers and pedophiles. The problem is that UCG can't maintain its authority over its members while telling them, "Our spiritual leadership has no more discernment than the Roman Catholics."

UCG's statement can be boiled down to, "We are not a weird cult; we are Christians like all the other Christians whose ministers fall short of the ideal. You can't expect us to do any better, but at least we share the same ideals as all the other Christian groups that ordain murderers. Also, our ministers are very proud of their humility."

The other "elephant in the room" is that Allwine reportedly got the idea for his murder scheme while counseling a member familiar with the Ashley Madison adultery website. Before this trial is over, it is likely that observers will learn about the uneven way in which UCG trains its ministers to counsel members. Many have had no more than a day or two of training in the art of professional counseling, and only a relative few have gone through extensive training that would prepare them to a standard that would be acceptable "in the world." UCG members are taught that "God's ministers" receive God's guidance as counselors. God either allowed or arranged Allwine's behavior. How will this affect future UCG counselees who may wonder whether their minister may be the next Allwine?

Retired Prof said...

Jan. 28 at 6:53 reminds us that UCG members are taught that ministers depend on divine guidance rather than formal training, implying that "God either allowed or arranged Allwine's behavior."

This is another example of the intellectual framework that caused me to reject Armstrongism. Since the ACOG god is in control, he must have either allowed or arranged the behavior of *everybody*. He caused citizens to vote for each of our presidents, and if the majority voted for the wrong one, he distributed them into those voting districts that would bring about his will, as in 2016, or else he allowed or arranged for the Supreme Court justices to tip the balance his way, as in 2000.

Armstrongites are always attributing outcomes they dislike to Satan. They seem to forget the book of Job, where it is clear that the two competing deities conspire to wreak misery on human beings just to make a point, and that YHVH, who grants Satan permission to perform the dirty tricks he thinks up, is ultimately responsible. We mere humans are not to question the miseries that capriciously result from this system, but meekly acquiesce.

Reminds me of my late father-in-law, who faithfully checked the weather forecast. He was fond of saying, "If you don't do that, you just got to take it like it comes!" Whether it's the weather or some other topic, In your heart of hearts you already know that,

I know it too, of course. But it doesn't mean I'm going to acquiesce meekly. Last summer I was unhooking a fish I had landed, and it thrashed around so energetically that it impaled my ring finger and forefinger past the barb on two separate points of the same treble hook. It was gratifying that my middle finger was still free so I could raise it to the sky to express my dissatisfaction with the way the Universe is organized and operated.

Hawkeye said...

I noticed in reading about Allwine that he attended Ambassador University. The leadership of UCG, to this day, highly values those men who have attended there, and considers them more highly than others when it comes to ordination. The same is proving to be the case with Ambassador Bible Class (now College). Why graduating from any bible school would make one qualified is demonstrated by the Allwine case as the folly that it is. Will UCG learn a lesson here? I remain skeptical.