Updates on UCG

Ancient Laodicea


Since some have asked for more information on what is going on with UCG, I thought I would post additional reports from some in UCG.

First of all, since sometime on Monday, the letters are no longer on Mike Bennett’s website.  So, here is the portion of one letter from Roy Holladay that I did not post about when I first reported this:

Over the years the Council has made several administrative changes in the office of president. We very much appreciate the work of Mr. Kilough, as well as that of Presidents Les McCullough and Roy Holladay before him, in laying foundations upon which we continue to build. We are also grateful that we have a system of governance and leadership supportive of that system and unity that allows for such transitions or changes in administration in a peaceful and brotherly manner.
Decisions of this nature are difficult but sometimes deemed necessary. The Council asks everyone for patience and appropriate consideration in discussing this change. Moving forward together in our mission is vital. The unity, peace and healing of the ministry and Church is uppermost in everyone’s mind.

The rest of the letter information is in the post Another UCG Shakeup.

Second, here is some of what UCG minister Ken Treybig sent out about it:

I am disappointed at this turn of events, but encouraged at the gracious nature of the resignations. Many have known there have been differences of opinion between the administration and some on the Council, which has been evident in the reports of Council meetings in the last year or two. I pray always that God will bless us and help us grow in His will in all the challenges we face.

Third, here are some comments from a UCG blogger John Carmack:

First of all, what was handled correctly?

1. The entire membership was notified much at the same time (or, it apparently was planned that way). It is when people learn of events at different times that the truth gets corrupted, much like in a game of telephone.So, let’s try to objectively look at the recent UCG changes. Are there leadership lessons to be drawn from them? I believe that there are.

2. A public announcement was made. The unofficial UCG blog posted the letters from Roy Holladay.

3. No criticism of individuals “on the other side” was made. In fact, praise and thanks for their work was included.

4. Reassurance that the work will continue on, that replacement plans are being put into place and the implication that all will continue onward.

OK, so what didn’t go so well?

1. There was nothing at all concrete in the announcement as to why. You would think that after months of things brewing, you would at least have something you could hang your hat on. At least in the corporate world, you get some line about someone wanting to spend more time with their family.

2. As there was no concrete reason as to why, there is no concrete new direction being pointed out. What is going to be different, and how is it better?

3. Transition of power to one that previously held the post of president. Frankly, I don’t remember anything negative when Mr Holladay was president before. He’s given some fine messages in the past, and he seems like he has a genuine concern for the church. Maybe Mr Holladay is the best choice, but you have to admit that it seems questionable on the surface. There is no explanation as to why he was chosen given the circumstances.

4. Shutting down a blog article after it had already been posted. Given the size of UCG, this actually might have been the best way for the membership to vent. It could have been used as a way to defray hurt feelings as well, but that opportunity was lost. In the end, shutting it down is probably worse than if it had not been posted in the first place.

No matter how you slice it and dice it, the end result makes it look opaque, not transparent. It does not engender trust as a result. An organization can make all sorts of excuses for various miscommunications during a reorg, but the bottom line is that it erodes trust.

As reported before, UCG also posted something for its membership which is shown at UCG Mentions Its “Administrative Changes”.

And yesterday, UCG posted the following from Roy Holladay:

While it may not have been evident to the membership at large, in recent months a serious level of conflict existed about certain issues between the Council of Elders and some administrators. It is one thing to have simple disagreements that arise in the course of choosing a way of action. But when the levels of conflict and disagreement escalate to the point where the Church’s critical work begins to suffer from inaction and it becomes clear that the necessary working relationship and rapport between the Council and its management team has broken down, then it is the direct responsibility of the Council of Elders to act swiftly. That we have done.

During these past months, certain administrators severely disagreed with the oversight and direction that the Council was providing, even though they are bound by the bylaws of the Church to support it. During that same time, the basic work of the Church continued and the level of conflict was unseen by most of you. Given that latter fact I believe you deserve an explanation. However, as I explain where we have recently been, I don’t want to belabor any points because the past is the past. Reconciliation, unity and love are more important than organizational justification. For your review, here are some details.

As part of the General Conference of Elders meetings in 2008 and 2009, the ministers balloted in the established way for a number of new members of the Council of Elders, replacing several members who were part of the administration. As time went on it became apparent that the priorities and perspectives of the existing management team were quite different from those of the Council as chosen by the ministry of the United Church of God.

As collectively established in the beginning of our fellowship 15 years ago, the Council of Elders is directly and solely responsible for oversight and setting direction and policy for the Church. This is quite a different structure from the one we experienced in our former church affiliation where only one or two people at the top made all of the important decisions. We learned through painful experience where that led. The United Church of God, we collectively decided, would be different. We adopted as one of our primary governing principles Proverbs:24:6: “In a multitude of counselors there is safety.”

To put in perspective the now-past situation, allow me to review a few more points of important history. Fifteen years ago we collectively chose a very different structure of governance on the physical level, emphasizing and recognizing of course that the living Head of the spiritual Church is Jesus Christ Himself. The highest authority in our physical organization is the General Conference of Elders, which is all of the nearly 500 elders of the United Church of God who choose to participate. This group is responsible for, among other things, authorizing changes to our governing documents, approving any doctrinal changes and selecting a 12-person Council of Elders. As our Constitution states and openly authorizes, the Council of Elders is to “provide oversight and guidance within the Church for the service and care of local congregations, the preaching of the gospel and the administration of God’s tithes and offerings,” making it “the duly appointed corporate board for the Church and [the] equivalent to a board of directors.”

Functioning under the direction of the Council of Elders is the management team comprised of certain officers (president, treasurer and secretary) and operation managers for finances, media and ministerial services, and a home office staff. These are “selected, approved and directed by the Council.” The Council of Elders is also specifically responsible “to provide direction and oversight to ensure the proper management of the day-to-day affairs of the Corporation, the United Church of God, an International Association.”

During the past few months, disagreements—however well-intentioned—among certain administrators and other ministers about the Council’s direction and priorities mounted up. Without getting into specifics of those disagreements, I will simply say that the situation and stalemate had grown very frustrating to all. Matters finally came to a head with the introduction of a proposed resolution that was outside of the Church’s established means for proposing changes in the Church’s governing documents and structure. Without even the traditional review of the full Council and our legal counsel, the proposed resolution was placed in the formal mailing to all ministers with the idea that it would be voted on at the upcoming General Conference of Elders next month.

As chairman, I can tell you that the Council intensely sought a variety of expert counsel to address our differences, including this issue. It was not taken lightly. Based on this variety of counsel, both from within and without, the Council determined that the resolution was harmful and against the protections and principles of this Church’s governing structure. To prevent potential harm to the Church, the Council determined that the resolution should be withdrawn.

However, the larger matter that remained was the underlying differences that gave rise to that improper resolution in the first place. As is pointed out in Amos:3:3, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” To end this long stalemate and achieve a fresh start with a Council and administration working together, I and other Council members met with the president, one of the sponsors of this resolution that we were obliged to withdraw. The differences that had led up to this situation were well known by all in the meeting, even though they were not well known to the general membership or most of the ministry of the Church. He agreed to resign his position at the Council’s request. In a spirit of harmony, he also openly agreed to help effect an orderly transition. Shortly after the meeting with the president, the operation managers for the Church’s ministry and media both offered to resign. All of the resignations were accepted.

UCG has had a lot of governmental changes and shake-ups. My observation is that it never truly has been that “united”.

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.

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