Leon Walker Fires A Broadside

Leon Walker tries to maneuver in response to a letter by the United Council of Elders.  In this letter, he makes the representation that the Council has not made"genuine" efforts to reconcile with the ministry in Latin America.  

But just what does Walker mean by no "genuine" efforts? No efforts at all would be one thing, but adding "genuine" to efforts in the wording gives him some additional "wiggle" room. The claim that no "genuine" efforts were made at all by this time sounds a little dubious. It is specifically contradicted by several statements on the record made by COE members, and that they have documented e-mails, phone calls, and other efforts made by the COE to make genuine efforts resolve the crisis. 

Mr. Walker then tries to put forward a sympathetic case that the council's actions in removing him as regional director and other related actions are in conflict to the UCGia's Rules of Association and other governing documents. Unfortunately for his scenario, he does not show the necessary and sufficient legal grounds in church association law to support his claim that his removal as director would be overturned and that he would be reinstated.  The United Church of God, an International Association, was incorporated May 10, 1995 as a California corporation. 

From: Leon Walker
Date: 12-10-10

On December 9, 2010 the Council of Elders sent out a letter addressed to the members of UCG entitled, “Efforts to Reconcile With the Latin American Ministry.” This document begins with a statement that the Council “continues to seek resolution of the situation in Latin America regarding former ministers and members.” This statement is absolutely untrue. All 15 of the ministers as well as the members in Latin America will confirm that no genuine effort has been made by the president or the Council to seek a resolution of the issues regarding Latin America. On the contrary, we can cite numerous examples of actions by the president and Council that have treated us with disdain, hostility, indifference and abuse.

The document then states that “numerous direct attempts have been made by the Council to meet with ministers and brethren in the region over the past six months.” Once again, this is completely untrue. There haven’t been any attempts, let alone “numerous” ones. And then the document adds, “Some efforts have achieved at least partial success.” Really? We in Latin America have seen no success at all.

Speaking of Mario Seiglie’s visits to Latin America, the document states that “Despite the fact that these ministers continued to receive a salary and support at the time from the United Church of God, an International Association, none of them would meet with Mr. Seiglie.” This statement also is totally untrue. First of all, only two ministers in Latin America received a salary directly from the U.S.—Leon Walker and Larry Roybal. However, their salaries were cut off on July 2. The other ministers received their salaries from their local income. None of them was salaried by the U.S. Even if one considers that their salaries indirectly came from the subsidies sent by the U.S. those subsidies were cut off on July 1. Therefore, none of the ministers was receiving a salary or any kind of support from the United Church of God, an International Association at all when Mario Seiglie was traveling to Latin America.

The document laments the fact that the ministry in Latin America did not wish to speak with Mario Seiglie. However, considering the aggressive and hostile manner that Mario displayed in Chile, as well as previous unpleasant experiences that the ministry have had with Mario it is little wonder that they did not wish to speak with him.

The document then states that “Mr. Walker continues to deny the fact that he has been replaced as director for UCGIA affiliated entities in the Latin American region.” However, the UCG Rules of Association (1-130 and 3-110) state clearly that areas outside of the U.S. will establish and maintain their own legal and administrative structure and they will administer and direct their own affairs. The legal boards and ministry in Latin America only recognize Leon Walker as their regional director—as is their right. Nowhere do the Rules of Association (nor the Constitution or Bylaws) give the president or the Council the authority to impose a legal or administrative structure in Latin America or elsewhere outside the U.S. where national councils/boards exist. Therefore, the supposed removal of Leon Walker as regional director is not recognized by the legal boards in Latin America and that removal, as well as the naming of Denny Luker as regional director, is simply illegal.

The document then states that last August the Council invited Mr. Walker to meet and try and find a basis for reconciliation. There was really no genuine attempt for reconciliation in that meeting. When Mr. Luker telephoned Mr. Walker and asked him to come to Cincinnati he made it perfectly clear that it was not for the purpose of finding a way to restore him as regional director. Initially Mr. Walker questioned why he should go to Cincinnati if there was no positive result to be achieved. Nevertheless, in the interest of cooperation he went in order to answer questions that the Council might have. However, nothing was achieved by the meeting. It was a complete waste of time and actually just a “photo op” so the Council could pretend that positive talks about reconciliation were taking place.

The document also states that it is Mr. Walker’s continued stance that he must be reinstated as regional director over Latin America. That is not true. It is the boards and ministry in Latin America that decides who (including Mr. Walker) is to be the regional director, or even if there is to be a regional director. That is their right and their choice according to UCG’s Rules of Association. Mr. Walker has made this point several times, including before the Council in August. This decision is not Mr. Walker’s—it rests with the boards and ministry.

Reference is then made to Mr. Luker’s letter of November 11 to the Latin American ministers. This letter was an ultimatum, demanding that the ministry choose either to recognize Mr. Luker as their regional director or Leon Walker as their regional director. The ministry did not respond to the letter since they had already made it clear in previous communications that they did not recognize the legality of removing Mr. Walker as regional director and the appointment of Mr. Luker as regional director, which was against their wishes and without consultation with them.

The document then states that phone calls were made to these ministers asking whether they wished to be affiliated with UCGIA or if they desired to support Mr. Walker. The document states that the ministers declared that they wished to be affiliated “with the emerging organization rather than UCGIA.” The ministers did not make such a statement, nor could they do so since an “emerging organization” simply does not exist. This statement is putting words into their mouths, which they did not say. Furthermore, the ministry and members in Latin America did not leave UCG nor have they formed another church organization. It is the Council which has disenfranchised the ministers and members, cutting off financial assistance, expelling ministers, removing all areas from UCG’s websites, etc.

Yet the document begins to conclude, “As demonstrated in this letter, the Council and administration have reached out repeatedly.” The letter demonstrates nothing of the sort. The Council’s efforts simply do not exist and the letter does not demonstrate that they existed.

Then the document states, “During the past six months the Council and the administration provided opportunities to those aligned with Leon Walker to make overtures to the Council and to the administration. Only one chose to do so.” There were rumors that the president and/or Council were going to invite Spanish pastors to come to Cincinnati for discussions. With the exception of one individual (Eduardo Hernandez) no other minister ever received a phone call or email message from the president or chairman of the Council inviting them to come to Cincinnati for discussions. Eduardo Hernandez did go to Cincinnati in September and he was assured that the other pastors would be invited to come after the Feast. However, no such invitation was made. Absolutely no overtures were made by the Council and/or administration to the Spanish ministry.

The document concludes, “We cannot unethically overturn the Church’s governing documents and pretend they don’t exist in order to accommodate other organizations with different leaders under the same name.” What an incredible statement. This is in fact what the president and Council have done—they have unethically violated the church’s government documents (including the Rules of Association) by illegally removing Mr. Walker as regional director and by Mr. Luker illegally taking that position. Mr. Walker and the Latin American ministry have not violated the church’s documents, but the president and the Council have done so.

Once again, the Council has chosen to issue a document that attempts to describe the Council as righteous and just, while Mr. Walker especially and the Latin American ministry are portrayed as unethical and uncompromising. Sadly, the Council once again resorts to declarations that simply are untrue as well as distortions of the facts. Once again, the Council refuses to address the real issues that face the Church.

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