Gone With The Wind: Joel Meeker

Joel Meeker, in his recent letter, makes three references to the UCG constitution, bylaws and rules of association.

Emphasis mine: 

Joel Meeker
Regional Coordinator

21 December 2010

Mr. Melvin Rhodes
Chairman, Council of Elders
United Church of God, an International Association

Dear Melvin,

I write to you in regard to the seat on the Council of Elders which has come to me following the recent resignations from the Council. It is my privilege to have served on the Council for about a third of our 15-year history in UCG. This service was for me a time of growth and learning, often challenging, and just as often rewarding. Sometimes I found myself in a majority, and sometimes in a minority on a variety of issues, but almost all the time those with whom I served on the Council were able to work respectfully with one another, and in respect of our governing documents, in what we believed was the best interest of the Church of God.

In considering whether to accept this charge once again, I have meditated on my own observations, sought counsel from men who have recently served on the Council and have considered this carefully with prayer for divine guidance.

As you know, accepting to serve on the Council would require, according to the Council Code of Ethics that I first signed in 1998, that I “uphold the consensus of the Council.” I take this very much to heart. Regrettably one need not be especially observant to see that the consensus of this Council has repeatedly violated, both in the letter and the spirit, our governing documents. These violations include:

  1. Our corporate Constitution (for example Article 2.1.10.)

  1. Our corporate Bylaws (for example Article 9.7.2.)
  1. Our rules of association (for example Rules 3-110, 3-120, 4-120, and 4-140.)
  1. Established internal policies (for example several of our Human Resources policies, and the policy that doctrinal material must be reviewed and approved by the Council Doctrine committee prior to publication.)

Several men attempted to bring many of these violations before the Council for discussion in both open and executive session a year ago – but, tellingly, many on this Council voted against such critical items even appearing on the agenda. A pattern has become clear: when such ethical issues have been raised to the Council its response has uniformly been “we are in charge” as if that answer puts an end to every concern and discussion. The Council is “in charge”, but only to United Church of God, an International Association, P.O. Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254-1027 the extent allowed by our governing documents. It may not lawfully exceed that authority. To our corporate shame, this Council has done so time after time.

More importantly, this Council has repeatedly violated fundamental principles of Christianity.
Commandments have been transgressed: the truth is regularly spun and twisted, the Sabbath command has been compromised, and even the sixth commandment has been violated, in the spirit, through violent verbal attacks on faithful elders and lay members who have dared stand on principle against the will of the Council.

In interaction with both members and elders, the Council has not acted in the spirit of Ephesians 4:2-3 “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” but rather with the spirit of gentile domination that Jesus condemned in Luke 22:24-27, fixated on who has power and who does not; who commands and who must be silent and submit.

This state of affairs places me in a conscientious dilemma. As stated above, the Council Code of Ethics would require that I uphold the consensus of the Council. But the same Code of Ethics would require me to “consider first the well-being of the Church and contribute to the needs and growth of the Church.” It is clear to me that what the well-being of the Church most urgently requires at this time is a substantive change in the grossly misguided and extra-legal consensus of the current Council. In the light of all this, it has begun clear to me that I cannot in good conscience serve on this Council of Elders. I must therefore decline the seat offered.

Joel C. Meeker
French Regional Coordinator

The section in the UCG constitution Meeker specifically referenced is about the Sabbath doctrine:

UCG Constitution
2.1.10 We believe that the seventh day of the week is the Sabbath of the Lord our God. On this day we are commanded to rest from our labors and worship God, following the teachings and example of Jesus, the apostles and the New Testament Church.

Next, the section in the corporate bylaws deals with the office of Treasurer, but he specifically refers to 7.9.2. Why exactly, is hard to determine, except that "an account of all transactions as chief financial officer and of the financial condition of the Corporation," could be the problem in the manner or methods of accounting used to portray the transactions and financial condition. 


9.7.1 Books of Account

The treasurer, as the chief financial officer, shall keep and maintain, or cause to be kept and maintained, adequate and correct books and records of accounts of the Corporation's properties and business transactions, including accounts of its assets, liabilities, receipts, disbursements, gains, losses, capital, retained earnings and other matters customarily included in financial statements. The books of account shall be open to inspection by any Council member at all reasonable times.

9.7.2 Deposit and Disbursement of Money and Valuables

The treasurer shall deposit, or cause to be deposited, with such depositories as the Council may designate, all money and other valuables in the name and to the credit of the Corporation, shall disburse the Corporation's funds as the Council may order, shall render to the president and Council members, when requested, an account of all transactions as chief financial officer and of the financial condition of the Corporation, and shall, insofar as is consistent with the Constitution, these Bylaws and applicable law, have such other powers and perform such other duties as the Council or the president may prescribe.

9.7.3 Annual Budget

The treasurer shall prepare an annual balanced budget to be approved by the Council and ratified by the General Conference at its annual meeting.

9.7.4 Execution of Corporate Documents

The treasurer shall sign, execute and deliver in the name of the Corporation, all other instruments incident to the office of treasurer that are not specifically reserved for the president, the chairman or General Conference, and which are not prohibited by the Constitution or these Bylaws. He shall perform other duties, insofar as they are consistent with the Constitution, these Bylaws and applicable law, as delegated by the president, and hold such other powers as may be prescribed by the Council or General Conference, insofar as such are consistent with the Constitution, these Bylaws and applicable law.


The Council shall adopt a compensation policy for all employees, independent contractors or consultants, which shall be administered by the appropriate officers of the Corporation.

Then, Meeker cites four aspects of the rules of association he believes  were violated: 

Rules of Association

Rule 3-110 Administration
Each National Council shall maintain its own legal and administrative structure and direct its own affairs in accordance with its legal documents, these Rules of Association, the Constitution of the UCGIA and other applicable law. Each National Council will be, in its own country, the official representative of the UCGIA. In turn the UCGIA shall have, or be represented by, only one duly constituted National Council or equivalent body in each country, area of incorporation or geographical responsibility.
All congregations located in nations outside the United States, in areas where there exists a duly recognized National Council, shall be administered by that National Council, its legal documents, appropriate national law, the Constitution of the UCGIA and these Rules of Association. Therefore, such congregations are ineligible to seek direct oversight as a local congregation, or as a separate entity answering to the Home Office and Management Team or a neighboring National Council. Any conflict or dispute in this respect, which cannot be resolved, shall be referred by any one or all of the parties concerned to the Council of Elders, or those it designates, for resolution.
National Councils (or their equivalents) exist outside the United States, but there is no requirement to form a National Council in order for congregations or individual Church members to have membership in the United Church of God.
Rule 3-120 Establishing a Legal Structure
Each National Council is responsible for choosing the legal structure that most effectively enables the Church to accomplish its mission within its particular location and provides the maximum protection for the members of the Church and the Church's assets. These structures may consist of separate corporations, unincorporated associations or, if permitted, by registration of the UCGIA as a foreign corporation doing business in that country. Each National Council shall consult with the attorney(s) designated by the Council of Elders, in cooperation with local legal counsel, in determining which structure is best. To the extent possible (unless prevented by national or local law), the legal documents of each National Council shall establish the UCGIA as the general association of which that National Council and its congregations are members.
Local congregations in countries where there is no National Council may choose to set up a legal entity for the purpose of serving the Church and protecting the Church's assets.
Rule 4-120 Conflict Resolution
Conflict resolution is important for the well-being of each member of the association. The Council of Elders has developed policies for the resolving of conflicts among the Church membership and the ministry. These policies may be adjusted, but shall be applied in principle among all local congregations and National Councils in this association. The Council of Elders may adopt other policies and procedures regarding conflict resolution as needed. All such polices are available upon request from the Home Office or the Council of Elders.

Rule 4-140 Position of Home Office and Management Team
The Home Office serves as corporate headquarters for the United Church of God, an International Association. The Home Office staff and Management Team are charged with both serving and providing administrative oversight for all U.S. congregations. They will assist and cooperate with the National Councils (or equivalents) when requested and wherever possible. Local congregations outside the United States, without a National Council (or equivalent), are directly administered from the Home Office or their designees, or they may choose to operate under the administration of a National Council in a nearby country.

Anyone who wants to read the UCG Constitution, Bylaws, and Rules of Association of the UCG may do so at the UCG Council of Elders website link here. How a man such as Meeker can write such a scathing indictment of the organization he works for and remain employed by that group is way beyond the pay grade here at Ambassador Reports. 

Update:  I just learned Meeker HAS been fired! Will the last man on the UCG Council of Elders, please turn the lights out? 

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