United Church of God COE on Bloc Voting, Finances, and Doctrinal Changes

Pantheon of Rome: A Symbol of Unity Among Confusion 


The United Church of God recently posted the several items from its minutes of its Council of Elders’ meetings–which were mainly held last week.

One item concerned what it calls “bloc voting” and is dated 3/2/08:

Bloc Voting and the Proper Approach to Balloting

One of the agenda items listed for this quarterly round of Council meetings was to have a discussion on what constitutes bloc voting and the proper approach to balloting.

Mr. Dick presented a historical review of this topic. During the 1998 GCE meetings in Louisville, Kentucky, the Council ran into the only verifiable incidence of attempted bloc voting. A group of elders determined they would vote as a bloc for an agreed-upon group of candidates. It was brought to the Council’s attention at that time, and the chairman of the Council and the chairman of the Ethics Committee were instructed by the Council of Elders to talk with the elders involved. The elders were informed that evidence of bloc voting would invalidate their ballots. No evidence of follow-through was found, and the issue went away for nine years.

In 2007, another charge of bloc voting was brought to the Council. Again, the chairman of the Council and the chairman of the Ethics Committee were asked to investigate the charges…

Leon Walker then mentioned that he is concerned about any clandestine action in the form of alternative forums, in which an elder sends out a list of men suggesting they should be selected to be on the Council. Since there is a desire for transparency coming from the Council, there should also be transparency coming from the GCE.

Richard Thompson stated that bloc voting challenges the principle of seeking God’s Spirit to guide our actions. We need to go back into the rooms to pray before we ballot because we really do want to have God’s involvement. Richard Pinelli said that we all try to nominate the best man for the Council, but there should not be an alternate forum that promotes “their” men for the Council.

Bill Eddington, Bob Berendt, Aaron Dean and Roy Holladay each pointed out that there is a lack of understanding among the elders as to what can be discussed in relation to the choosing of elders for Council service. Bloc voting needs to be defined, and it must be stated why it is wrong. Larry Salyer stated that any form of influencing an elder by another elder is breaking the spirit of proper balloting. There should be no influence from one elder to another. Victor Kubik mentioned that we are not here to represent various constituencies, but we are here to represent the will of God…

Mr. Walker then mentioned the term lobbying. Sending out a list of men for nomination is a lobbying effort. It is true that we need to educate and take the “high road,” but the Council can’t hide its head over this problem. We can’t take 1 Corinthians out of the Bible. Problems were there in Corinth, and they had to be addressed. Mr. Dean also commented that this activity may involve just a few of the GCE, but that it needs to be communicated that wrong is wrong whether it is done by just two or by 100.

While it is opposed to voting in national elections, UCG using voting to elect its Council of Elders and to make various doctrinal changes.  It always seems to be concerned, however, when any group of its elders discusses ways to vote for people that the elders not at its headquarters may want. 

And the above “bloc voting” report is another such example. 

As a rule, UCG seems to advocate that its elders pray about who to vote for and not discuss their votes among themselves.  However, since most of the field elders have had little or no contact with those that they vote for and are not normally given much information about those on the ballot, sometimes they prefer to discuss them on the internet as well as to discuss the possibility to support a bloc of elders in order to affect some type of change within UCG.

Both such actions have historically been discouraged by UCG’s Council.

Related to finances, the February 29 report states:

Financial Update

Tom Kirkpatrick, treasurer, was unable to attend the meetings, so Mr. Kilough presented information about the financial condition of the Church. There have been no major changes since the December 2007 Council meetings. The February income was slightly up, but we are not tracking at this point to hit the 7 percent budgeted increase. As a result we are on pace to meet the operational budget this year, but not the $1.5 million “set aside” for the relocation budget. However, this would be addressed later in this conference in a financial proposal.

Related to doctrine, the March 4th report states:

Doctrine Updates

Leon Walker updated the Council on doctrinal issues. First, he presented an edit to the Passover ceremony. The edit sought to replace the phrase “Christ’s broken body” with the phrase “the scourging that Christ endured.” Mr. Walker mentioned that some manuscripts don’t have the term broken in 1 Corinthians 11:24, though other manuscripts do have broken. Luke 22:19 states, “This is My body which is given for you.” Also, the Scriptures tell us that none of His bones were broken. Mr. Walker explained that “to break bread” is an English idiomatic expression and does not imply that Christ’s body was literally broken. We should emphasize the healing aspect of Christ’s sacrifice. The edit was unanimously approved by the Council.

The next question discussed was whether women could be Feast choir directors. The determination of the Doctrine Committee was that this was not a doctrinal issue but an administrative issue. Mr. Walker stated that there is no need for a resolution on this question because it is something for the administration to deal with. Richard Thompson asked how choir directors are chosen. Mr. Franks responded that Doug Horchak is the overall Feast coordinator and that he has asked Steve Myers to be the overall music coordinator, who then proposes individuals to direct Feast choirs. The names of the choir directors are then approved by the Ministerial Services Team.

Perhaps I should add the the terms “to break” and “bread” are in the literal Greek in Acts 20:7 (thus “break bread” is not simply an “English idiomatic expression”) and if this was brought up by UCG’s Council it was not in the reported minutes.

UCG has previously made other changes related to Passover and the Holy Days (please see the articles UCG and Its Unleavened Bread Study Paper and Last Great Day study paper). 

The United Church of God is the largest of the COGs, but has a different approach to governance, gospel proclamation and a variety of doctrinal points than the Living Church of God does.

Articles of possibly related interest may include:

The Laodicean Church Era was predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. Non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG.
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.
Should a Christian Vote? This article gives some of the Biblical rationale on this subject. This is a subject Christians need to understand.
There are Many COGs: Why Support the Living Church of God?This is an article for those who wish to easily sort out the different COGs. It really should be a MUST READ for current and former WCG members or any interested in supporting the faithful church. It also explains a lot of what the COGs are all about.

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