Leon Walker on UCG’s Sabbath Controversy

Ancient Laodicea


Abigail Cartwright posted an open letter from Leon Walker about the United Church of God (UCG)’s Sabbath ruling.  Here is some of what it states:

In mid September, 2010 Mr. Dennis Luker and Mr. Melvin Rhodes approved and posted a document entitled, “How do Members of the United Church of God Observe the Sabbath Day?” Though I do not go to FaceBook or any other similar Internet sites, it is my understanding that this document has generated a considerable amount of negative as well as supportive commentaries.

It is not surprising that this document would receive such a negative reaction. Many members are sincerely troubled and appalled that such a document would be issued, as it cannot have any other interpretation than a liberal and permissive approach toward the Sabbath. However, labeling those who are sincerely upset as “Pharisaical” and judgmental is in itself judgmental and intolerant.

I have to ask myself, Why was this document issued at this time and in this way? The document itself, quoting from the Roig family, states: “We have submitted our case to the Doctrine Committee, but the chairman of the Doctrine Committee indicated the right procedure is to first present our case to our pastor and then to the regional director… We have started the process to review our case in the appropriate manner and with the right authorities, and ask people to refrain from passing judgment on our situation.” That being the case, why was this document released before the correct procedure had been followed to its conclusion? It makes no sense that Mr. Luker and Mr. Rhodes would render a judgment on this issue before a final decision was issued which possibly could reverse the judgment reflected in this document.

Furthermore, the conclusion by Mr. Luker and Mr. Rhodes that this family is properly keeping the Sabbath directly contradicts a Council of Elders decision to the contrary on December 13, 2002. A letter approved by the Council at that time states clearly, “Running a business on the Sabbath, even if you as the owner do not work on that day, creates several problems for a Christian.“In light of God’s law, as a business owner we should not employ people to work on the Sabbath and/or the Holy Days…

“Due to your ownership and your position as an employer, you would be the responsible party in a business that operates seven days a week and therefore on the Sabbath and Holy Days. Since it is the view of the Church that this would be a violation of God’s law, a Christian should not be involved in such business ventures unless he is willing to close on the Sabbath and Holy Days.”

This teaching was also explained in a United News article in February, 2003 (page 9).

Therefore, the official teaching of the United Church of God is that “a business owner…should not employ people to work on the Sabbath and/or the Holy Days.” Why then would Mr. Luker and Mr. Rhodes issue a document that takes a position contrary to the official teaching of the UCG, as approved by the Council of Elders? Do Mr. Luker and Mr. Rhodes believe that the Council decision of 2002 was “Pharisaical” or “legalistic”? A concern that many have is that UCG indeed is changing doctrines when it issues a document contrary to the official teaching of the Church. It should also be understood that the Council did not review or approve the paper by Mr. Luker and Mr. Rhodes. Is this the correct procedure for papers dealing with doctrinal issues?

UCG has made various changes to doctrine.  But last month denied that it had any “secret plan” to change the Sabbath or Holy Days (see UCG Denies Secret Plan to Change Doctrine).

As a small business owner, I agree that we are not to have our businesses open on the Sabbath.  Actually, this year, I had to have my office closed on Trumpets, the First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day (which all fell on Thursdays this year–we are never open on Saturdays).

Because of how this current world operates, there are simply certain types of businesses that are not appropriate for members of the COGs to run.  And while day care does not have to be one of those, members who own those type of facilities need to figure if they are appropriate and what should be done.

Anyway, because of Leon Walker’s comments on the Sabbath matter, it does not seem that he intends to be part of UCG.

Here are some comments from another on the UCG Latin America problems:

The Truth Shall Prevail…

I want to make it absolutely clear from the beginning that I have no interest in the politics of the United Church of God.  I am a medical scientist living and working in Cuenca Ecuador and a member of the United Church of God.  I believe in unity and accept God and His son Jesus Christ as the ultimate authority for His believers.

It is upsetting to me to have the understanding I have about the truth and watch the ungodly behaviors of people who are suppose to be our church leaders.  I am in the middle of it all and wondering why it is that 2000  Latin American members of UCG know the truth but the Board of Elders in the USA seem to be oblivious to it all, or are they?  I pray the Board had nothing to do with what transpired.

First of all, the problem does not appear to be Leon Walker. Of course he is not perfect and he may have made a few mistakes in all of this.   I do not know Mr. Walker and I have never met Mr. Walker.  What I do know about Mr. Walker is that members here tell me he has never, in the many years of service to Latin America, been disrespectful to authority nor to anyone in Latin America.  It appears to me that Mr. Walker only got caught up in a terrible political issue while doing his assigned duties.

UCG members need to know that a very serious conflict of interest has occurred in South America that has set this problem into motion.  It does not appear to me that there are any ministers in South America trying to divide the church.  It does not appear to me that Leon Walker is trying to divide the church.  Sr. Saul Lanarica, minister of the Chilean congregation does not appear to be trying to divide the church.  It is just not true nor does it make sense.  To divide the church means to cut off needed help for ministerial salaries and expenses. There are many extremely poor people here in our congregations and the last thing any minister would do is to try to break away from the united effort here…

No one has ever mentioned Mr. Seiglie’s family connection which appears to be the principle cause of conflict in South America.  Ethically and morally, Mr. Seiglie should have never accepted the position to replace Mr. Walker.  Did he set the Board up to place him in the position of authority to protect his Chilean family?  Did he play politics to try to destroy Mr. Walker who has had a near perfect record in helping the Latin America effort? The question comes to mind, therefore, what was the real reason for the replacement of Mr. Walker and why was he replaced by Mr. Seiglie who obviously presents a conflict of interest in his relationship with this family who blatantly defy God’s law. The next question is why did the President and the Board attack the many ministers that only wanted a peaceful solution by denying a simple request for a non-biased individual to come to South America to discuss this problem.  Of course the ministers were adamant about refusing to talk to the Board’s newly appointed South American representative (Mr. Seiglie)—they wanted nothing to do with an individual who used his new power to violate God’s law concerning the Sabbath.

Should we not investigate Mr. Seiglie’s relationship with the Board of Elders and his direct connection to his disciplined family in Chile?  To refuse to do so creates further questions that need to be answered, one being, was the Board of Elders involved in all of this?  Be assured, the truth shall be known in time.  God will not permit these issues in His church to go unresolved.  If the United Church of God can permit those who violate the Sabbath in Chile (because they are wealthy and influential) to remain members of its congregation, who can say that this cancer will not spread to other UCG churches throughout the world?   God forbid and He will.

Dr. Robert Dowling
Cuenca, Ecuador

So, once again UCG has issues.  But it has had many since it began in 1995.

On other UCG matters, late yesterday, UCG itself announced:

As a consequence of the solid results on WGN America, we are now in a position to ask our dedicated member-sponsors if they would like to end their participation in airing Beyond Today programs on cable-access television in their areas. We realize this may come as a surprise, but by bringing cable-access to a close the Church can save considerable production, labor and postage costs—and our video editors at the home office can shift into advancing more the visual and graphic elements of our programs…

So for these reasons we are moving in this direction. However, if our sponsors would like to continue airing Beyond Today on cable-access stations in their areas they are certainly welcome to continue to do so. We mentioned this to them in a personal message yesterday. Our plan is to discontinue cable-access television for all others during the week of December 26, 2010 through January 1, 2011.

The above is supposed to be a cost saving move.

The main reason that I chose not to be part of UCG is that when I learned how it intended to govern itself (which I disagreed with), I told someone at that time (1995) who went with UCG that its governance form meant that UCG would not be effective in proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom to the world as a witness.  And in its 15 years of existence, it has not proven to be highly effective in that area, though by going on WGN it has made a recent effort along those lines.  We will see how long it lasts and what its fruits are.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad Was the seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observed by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church?
The Dramatic Story of Chinese Sabbathkeepers This reformatted Good News article from 1955 discusses Sabbath-keeping in China in the 1800s.
Is God Unreasonable? Some have suggested that if God requires Sabbath-keeping He is unreasonable. Is that true?
Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, and Roderick C. Meredith on Church Government What form of governance did the early church have? Was it hierarchical? Which form of governance would one expect to have in the Philadelphia remnant? The people decide and/or committee forms, odd dictatorships, or the same type that the Philadelphia era itself had?
Unity: Which COG for You? Why so many groups? Why is there lack of unity in the Churches of God? Has it always been this way? What can/should be done about it?
Differences between the Living Church of God and United Church of God This article provides quotes information from the two largest groups which had their origins in WCG as well as commentary.
There are Many COGs: Why Support the Living Church of God? This is an article for those who wish to more easily sort out the different COGs. It really should be a MUST READ for current and former WCG/GCI members or any interested in supporting the faithful church. It also explains a lot of what the COGs are all about.
Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work? Some say the Church should mainly feed the flock now as that is what Herbert W. Armstrong reportedly said. Is that what he said? Is that what the Bible says? What did Paul and Herbert W. Armstrong expect from evangelists?
The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. These a

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