Journal’s Focus: UCG


Even though it is now late July 2009, the latest issue (May 31, 2009) of The Journal just came out.

This issue discusses United Church of God governance and its council meetings, CGI’s Ian Boyne, musician and hymnist Ross Jutsum, “Pastor” Dianne McDonnell challenging an article related to an interview from WCG/GCI’s Sheila Graham concerning biblical interpretation, Feast of Tabernacles’ sites, complaints, letters, and sadly as usual various points of view that sometimes differ from historical COG doctrine (like unitarianism and military service).

While The Journal is available only by paid subscription (though some subscriptions are free to those who cannot afford it), you can view the pdf. of its front and back page is available at:

Some articles at the COGwriter site that discuss those issues include the following:

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.
Teachings of the Church of God, International This article focuses on where CGI differs from the old WCG.
Praises to Jesus Christ or Biblical Hymns: Which Should Christians Primarily Sing? This biblical article on music is in response to an advertisement critical of WCG’s 1974 The Bible Hymnal. It also address early church practices here.
What is the Appropriate Form of Biblical Interpretation? Should the Bible be literally understood? What do the writings of the Bible, Origen, Herbert W. Armstrong, and Augustine show?
Women and the New Testament Church Were women important in the New Testament Church? Which women and how were they involved?
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today’s Christians? What is the Last Great Day? What do these days teach?
LCG 2009 Feast of Tabernacles’ Information Here is information on many Feast of Tabernacles locations for this year.
The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now basically the Living Church of God.
The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. These are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG.
Was Unitarianism the Teaching of the Bible or Early Church? Many, including Jehovah’s Witnesses and some once part of WCG, claim it was, but was it?
Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare? Here are current and historical perspectives on a matter which show the beliefs of the true church on military participation. Is war proper for Christians?

The focus, however, in the May 31st issue was clearly UCG and its May council meetings.  And while their council meetings were covered here in early May (see UCG Council Highlights), here is additional information that The Journal reported from a couple of different articles:

Micromanagement happens

Clyde Kilough, a council member who also serves as church president, read a question: “It appears the council is beginning to micromanage through the media and strategic-planning committees. Do you feel this is occurring? Please explain your point of view.” Mr. Kilough replied: “Well, it’s a pretty direct question. How do I feel? Well, yeah, I believe so. That’s my feeling. “I believe there is a change in direction [of the council] in certain ways. There is written into our governing documents a word called oversight . . . The council has the prerogative to interpret [the concept of oversight] and apply it . . . “My feeling about that: I think I offer that opinion without being adversarial . . . If the degree of involvement in that aspect of oversight is more hands-on at one time than at other times, these things will happen . . .”…

What about the move to Texas?

Back to the UCG elders’ Q&A in 2009 in Cincinnati: Council members next fielded several questions asked orally by elders in the audience. Elder Mark Mickelson of Spokane, Wash., wondered about the proposed, and controversial, move of church headquarters from Ohio to Texas, which
would make available an expanded and improved “facility for training” church leaders, including ministers. Mr. Mickelson wanted to know what he could tell his congregation back in Washington about the move. “What can I say we did as compared to this is what we hoped to do?” he asked. “We’ve lost 21⁄2 years. We can’t lose 21⁄2 more . . . “Can these decisions be made so that I can go home or at least say that in a process we’re going to decide these things, we’re going to go forward in this way, that is what we’re going to do?” Mr. Dick responded: “Thank you, Mark . . . Comments from the table, gentlemen? My dog is no longer in this race.” (Mr. Dick’s mention of his dog apparently meant that, because he had declined to run for reelection to the council, immediately after this general conference he would no longer be a member of the council or its chairman.)

Votes to move and not to move

Mr. Holladay responded to Mr. Mickelson’s question about the proposed office move: “This is a topic that was remanded to the strategicplanning
committee: Where do we go from here?” Mr. Holladay (who a few days after the Q&A assumed the office of council chairman, replacing Mr. Dick) recounted the history of the office-move discussion. The general conference of elders in 2007 narrowly voted to begin preparing for the move to Texas. But in 2008, because of a measure brought up by elders who disagreed with the move, the elders as a body voted again. At that time they narrowly decided not to move, throwing the discussion and plans into confusion and disarray. “We as a committee have come up with six or seven various suggestions on how to proceed,” Mr. Holladay said. “Those have not yet been discussed with the council, although the paperwork has been submitted to the whole council.”…

Efforts in many countries

Council member Bob Berendt of Edmonton, Alta., Canada, said he disagreed with Mr. Mickelson that the council has done nothing on the matter
of the move for 21⁄2 years. Mr. Berendt said Richard Pinelli, who works with leadership training, has been “very busy,” and “efforts have been made in every nation, every country, including the United States, for the selection and development of the ministry.” Facilities, plural Paul Kieffer of Troisdorf, Germany, one of three international council members, noted that Mr. Mickelson had asked about a “facility,” using the singular rather than plural form of the word. One of the plans on the table, Mr. Kieffer said, would be to “develop a comprehensive program for ministerial candidates, including facilities”—plural—“to be made available to achieve this purpose.”

Does God vote?

Herchial Fisher, an elder from Jamaica, asked three questions of the council. “Will there be another vote [on]whether we relocate or not by the general conference?” he first asked…His second question: “Are you gentlemen satisfied with the growth of the church for 15 years?…Mr. Fisher’s third and last question concerned “the vote to rescind the move last year.” How could it be that, with God inspiring two votes after much praying and fasting on the part of elders, the votes contradicted each other? “Have we now created a situation where there is doubt as to whether the praying and fasting is inspired by God,” Mr. Fisher continued, “and, if we believe it is, did God change His mind about relocating and rescinding the vote? “I want some answers to determine if prayer and fasting does matter, or [if] it’s really our decision.”

Unsatisfactory growth

Mr. Dick invited his fellow council members to reply to Mr. Fisher’s questions. After a pause he quipped: “Nobody wants to answer your question…

Contention and disharmony

As Mr. Dick mentioned, many elders in the mid-’90s wanted to move the UCG’s headquarters away from Southern California. But there was little
agreement on where the office should end up. Some wanted to move to Ohio, but others were rooting for Texas or Georgia or even Oregon.  Mr. Dick said the various versions of the “relocation issue” have “raised the most contention” and “caused the most disharmony throughout the church” since its founding 14 years ago…

Ohio move a fluke

“But it’s a fluke that we’re here” in Ohio, he said. Speaking “as the keeper of the records, as the person who had all the internal documentation,” he characterized the location discussion as “the biggest brouhaha in this organization since 1998.” (That year was one of controversy and tense moments for the UCG that saw the council’s firing of the president, David Hulme, which in turn prompted several elders and other members to leave the UCG at about the same time. (Along with friends, Mr. Hulme then helped start up the Church of God an International Community. See “Why Would Council of Elders of United Remove David Hulme From Presidency?” and “Two Council Members Report on Arcadia Meetings, Firing,” THE JOURNAL, Jan. 30, 1998.) “I don’t think it’s a mystery to you that the [Hulme] administration between ’95 and ’98 had absolutely no desire to leave Southern California, zero desire, nada,” Mr. Dick continued. “As we moved structurally up to the place where we had finished all the haggling over whose survey was the survey—[some said] the first survey that came out . . . was so rigged there was no way we will accept that—the council threw it in the wastebasket and said we’ll assign our own surveyor.” After surveys and discussions and interminable meetings, the elders finally decided that “now it’s time to vote,” Mr. Dick said…

Budget information

The annual budget, calculated by treasurer Jason Lovelady, listed the expense amounts for the more than $24 million allocated for fiscal year
2009-10 as follows: Salaries and related expense, $8,726,072 (36 percent of the budget); grants and charitable support, $6,292,543 (26 percent); travel and lodging, $2,477,259 (10 percent); contracted services and fees, $2,349,805 (9.7 percent); printing, media, advertising, $2,166,750 (9 percent); postage and shipping, $1,097,724 (4.5 percent); supplies and miscellaneous, $630,130 (2.6 percent); telephone and utilities,
$183,318 (0.76 percent); rentals, $146,400 (0.6 percent); facilities fund, $130,000 (0.54 percent); and u n a l l o c a t e d , $50,000 (0.21
percent).  The total budget amount for the year: $24,250,000 (a decrease of $250,000 from last year’s figure).

UCG’s has long had governance issues and seems to spend a lot of time on that.  Public proclamation of the Gospel has never been its top financial priority.

Some articles of related interest may include:

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?
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?
Should a Christian Vote? This article gives some of the Biblical rationale on this subject. Would Jesus vote for president? Is voting in the Bible? This is a subject Christians need to understand.
Church of God, an International Community (COG aic) This is the group led by David Hulme. It seems to minimize parts of biblical prophecy.
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.

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