UCG’s Roy Holladay on Priorities

Ancient Laodicea


The following is from Roy Holladay, UCG’s Chairman and interim president, and was recently posted by UCG:

Dear Fellow Ministers,

Are we today properly prioritizing the work that God has directed His Church to do? If not, how can we refocus our efforts to better achieve this?

Since the Council of Elders effected a change in the Church’s administration a few weeks ago, I and other Council members have received numerous letters, e-mails and phone calls…

As the Council of Elders moves to achieve the dual objectives of the Church—preaching the gospel and preparing a people—the answers to those questions are paramount. In providing those answers, I’ll touch on a number of points here, both past and present.

Some people and administrators in the past have thought that we ought to essentially reverse the order of our dual stated purposes…

But what’s most important? Preaching the gospel to all nations or constructing buildings to train new ministers and young people? Toward what objectives should the Church devote its physical resources now in order to quickly achieve results?

These are complex questions. Over the past 15 years the Council has tried to balance the means to advance on both fronts, all with a fraction of the physical and financial resources that we had in our former fellowship. It’s a classic dilemma, and one that Council members since 1995 have sought answers to urgently.

If we use the New Testament and the first-century Church as a guide, we quickly see that the preaching of the gospel is first and foremost. There is virtually no mention of building programs or physical church construction in any of the activities recorded about the early Church…

The leadership of the Church is committed to seeking the best balance in which to apply our resources, both physical and—most importantly—spiritual. To achieve this, we daily seek a multitude of counselors. We lay our plans before God that we may be in alignment with His divine will. Even as God told the Jewish captives in Babylon, the same holds true for us today: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah:29:11, New International Version).

Fellow ministers, let us not frustrate those plans. We are doing the work of the living God! Let us now go forward, actively seeking His will and the plans that He has in store for us.

The above is interesting, but what does it mean?

Is Roy Holladay implying that the three officers/adminstrators who resigned this month–Clyde Kilough (its president until earlier this month), Larry Salyer (who pledged to increase UCG’s gospel proclamation reach), and Jim Franks–did not agree on the priority of gospel proclamation?

This is quite curious as from the beginning, this has simply never been UCG’s top priority.  And Roy Holladay has held important positions in UCG for most of its existence.

It seems, since it is the UCG eldership/ministry that votes in the Council of Elders and approves the budget for UCG, that the letter from Roy Holladay is part of a campaign intended to gain the support of UCG’s elders (and yes, I know that officially, UCG says that campaigning is not allowed).  But that is how the above letter struck me.  But my position on governance (Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, and Roderick C. Meredith on Church Government) has remained the same and I have seen various forms of “campaigning” by top officials in UCG before.

In its first full year of operation, UCG clearly showed that “public proclamation of the gospel” was not a “priority” for it at all.  Notice what UCG published the following back then:

“Broadcast Media and Advertising. No budget is projected in this area at this time. The new Council of Elders will develop strategic and operating plans. Broadcast media and advertising will be addressed at that time.” (Notes to Proposed Fiscal Budget. New Beginnings. December 18, 1995; p:11)

“Israel sat on the bottom of Mount Sinai for nearly a year (Exodus 19:1, Numbers 10:11). Why? Because this is how God decided to start a church…God took time to teach Israel how to worship Him. He took time to organize and train their ministry and to write their ministerial manuals. He took time to teach them how to conduct worship services. All this was done in Exodus. God then dedicated the entire book of Leviticus to teaching Israel how to worship and walk with Him–a repetition and expansion of the book of Exodus. Is there a lesson in it for us? Yes. Some get overly anxious about doing a work…Some would like to see us do it right this time.” (Dick, Bob. From the Chairman: How Would God Start a Church? New Beginnings. March 4, 1996).

UCG’s top financial priority has always been the ministry and administration of UCG.  And this is based upon what UCG has reported each year in its published financial statements.  And while the trend has been to increase funding of “public proclamation”, to suggest that this is, or ever has been, the top financial priority for UCG simply does not square with its spending priorities.

Notice the following (based upon the last received audited financial statements from UCG and LCG):

If you gave $100.00 to the United Church of God or the Living Church of God, here is where your money went:

.......................................United Church of God....Living Church of God
1st Commission to Proclaim the Gospel to the World....$22.84........$43.53
2nd Commission to Feed the Flock (and Field Ministry)..56.89.........45.92
Headquarters/Home Office...............................17.08..........6.66
Change in Reserves......................................3.19..........3.89

Thus, $73.27 of every 100.00 that UCG received (56.89+17.08) went for the ministry and administration of UCG.  Do people in UCG really realize what this means?

Recall that Jesus taught:

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).

And based upon that, those in UCG really should ask themselves if the top priority for UCG is public proclamation of the gospel, why does it spends so relatively little to do it?  And why it simply has not obtained the quantity of quality result (fruits) from its efforts (especially in television) to date?  To put this into perspective, LCG recently reported about its weekly telecast responses:

Responses to Tomorrow’s World television programs during the month of April ranged from 3,100 to 5,294 per program.

Although UCG is nearly three times the size of LCG, its telecast responses are only a small fraction of what LCG’s are (I believe that LCG’s television responses for 2010 alone, exceed all that UCG has brought in throughout its 15 years of existence).

It has been my opinion for nearly 15 years now that UCG’s form of governance was always going to be an impediment in its ability to make public proclamation its top priority.  Furthermore, even if some day UCG pours more money into it for some time, I have long had concerns that it will hold back on covering various areas of public proclamation.  But since most UCG members have stayed with UCG for this long, most will probably continue with a group whose public proclamation focus never has been “hot” (cf. Revelation 3:15-16).

Some, however, may wish to re-examine the scriptures as hopefully the crisis affecting UCG this month will wake some up to the reality that UCG has really not been “united” and never has made public proclamation its top financial priority.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

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?
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 are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG.

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