The Buchanan Letter

In the days of Esther, God’s people were pushed to the very brink of destruction. Today, the United Church of God stands at just such a critical juncture. Satan was behind the attempt to destroy Mordecai and God’s people, and make no mistake, he is behind the events of the last three years – events that have come dangerously close to tearing the very fabric of our Church apart.

For three years we have had constant problems, so much so that using the word United in our name seems hypocritical. To understand how we arrived here we only need to look back three short years. In 2006 – 2007 we were on the verge of implementing a project that would have served as a springboard for the Church’s future. That project was stopped when five men on the Council of Elders sought a re-vote on moving the Church headquarters to Denton Texas. The re-vote resolution and subsequent changes in membership on the Council of Elders marked the beginning of a rapid decline. Whether you believe the re-vote was legal or illegal is not the main issue for today.

Today, we should look at what occurred since that time, and the fruits of the Council of Elders (COE). Roughly three years ago it came to light that there was a secret, exclusive, alternate Elder’s Forum and there were allegations that block voting affected the outcome of Council elections.

The COE conducted an investigation and issued a report to address the secret Elder’s Forum and other discussion groups. That report contained egregious “mistakes” even though the Council was alerted to the inaccuracies prior to issuing their report. I am confident that not all Council members supported the reports findings. Since there were allegations that the secret Elders Forum affected the voting process that resulted in some council men having their positions, you would think the ethical thing to do would have been for the Council members to recuse themselves and ask for an investigation of the matter by an independent committee. That was not the case.

Some members of the COE have vehemently denied there was any evidence of block voting for Council candidates three years ago. Would you consider the following items as evidence?

• The creator of the Alternate Elders Forum was subsequently elected to the Council of Elders.

• The move to Denton, Texas was rescinded during the time when the Alternate Elders Forum was active.

• An anonymous letter from a person purporting to be an Elder in the Church indicated those involved in the Alternate Elders Forum agreed to vote for a certain slate of men.

• A letter written by an Elder in 2007 was sent to certain members of the General Conference of Elders. That letter openly solicited votes for specific candidates some of which were subsequently elected.

Although some COE members, Ministers, Local Elders and members requested numerous time that these matters be properly investigated their requests were quashed.

The secret Elders Forum and allegations of bloc voting are only two of the many issues that have clouded our recent past. There are many others. Recently, Clyde Kilough, as a duly authorized officer of the Church, in accordance with Church Bylaws (Bylaw item 7.9.2) requested the Council Secretary submit a resolution to the General Council of Elders calling for the formation of a task force to evaluate our current form of governance and determine if there is a better system. After Elders on the forum began a heated discourse on the merits of evaluating our form of governance, the moderator of the Elders Forum archived certain communications related to Mr. Kilough’s resolution, thereby preventing Elders from continuing those original discussions. The moderator of the Elders Forum is a member of the COE – this is clearly a conflict of interest, probably unethical. While claiming to support transparency and open communications the COE is now in the business of deciding what the Elders can and cannot discuss. I you are an Elder don’t be confused about what you are seeing on the Elder’s Letter to the United Forum, the content is being manipulated and you are only seeing what certain members of the COE want you to see. What happened to the idea espoused at a COE meeting that “a Christian has the right to speak to whomever he or she chooses, and on whatever topic at the time, in the manner and at the place he or she determines” (July 16, 2009 and July 21, 2009 Council of Elders Reports).

Mr. Kilough’s resolution was illegally removed by the COE. Certain members of the COE claimed the resolution intended to change our system of governance – that is not the case. Furthermore, the COE’s action appears to be grossly inconsistent, since at least one other resolution to change our system of governance has been submitted to the Secretary for consideration by the GCE and it was not removed; that being the resolution recently authored by Mr. Jack Hendren. Any legal opinion that states the resolution was illegal is not worth the price of the paper it is written on. Is there such a lack of wisdom and understanding that some members of the COE must rush to an attorney when they feel their power is being challenged? If there is a better way to execute our current system of governance, or a better system, wouldn’t we all desire to have it?

What happened to unity? In the wake of changes to the membership of the COE approximately three years there has been precious little unity. Ask yourself why we had two men resign from the COE last year and why was the Council Reporter removed. I hope members of the General Conference of Elders will take it upon themselves to find out why Mr. Kilough and Mr. Thompson resigned. Now is not the time to be squeamish about asking tough questions. Now is the time for answers. Do you think they resigned because of differences of opinion, or they had something better to do? I think not. Ask them!

I hope the members of the General Conference of Elders take it upon themselves to find out why Mr. Kilough and Mr. Franks were forced to resign (fired) from their positions and why Mr. Salyer felt compelled to resign. Do you think it was simply a time for a change in administration? I think not. Call and ask them why!

There is a spiritual problem at the head of our Church. Who will stand up for truth and ethics? Aren’t the members of the General Conference of Elders the stewards of God’s Church? I ask each and every member and Elder to consider our Church’s plight – this organization is on the verge of failure. Please consider the division and strife that are the fruits of the last three years of Church leadership. I hope you fast and pray about these issues. If you are an Elder, you have an opportunity, no an obligation to act responsibly to the office you hold as a member of the ruling body of the Church, and more importantly toward the covenant you made with God – judge the Council of Elders’ fruits, and render a change at the annual Conference of Elders.

The words Mordecai once spoke to Esther were powerful beyond belief. The implication and urgency of those words apply to members of the General Conference of Elders this very day and to the United Church of God.

For if you are completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance shall arise to the Church from another place, but you and your congregations shall be destroyed. And who knows whether you have come to the Church for a time like this? Esther 4.

God be with you,

David Buchanan

Member, Houston North Congregation


author@ptgbook.org said...

UCG was founded based on the authority of the General Conference of Elders to set the overall direction of the Church by electing members of the Council of Elders, which would then appoint members of the management team.

Is this system working or not? If this is the system that the ministry approved in 1995, and if the will of the majority of the ministers voting in the GCE is being followed, why would those who have agreed to this system of governance in 1995 object if the majority of the ministry wants a new direction?

Richard said...

Hmmmm -- is either side showing a repentant spirit here?


No, not good.