The Union is DISSOLVED! Part 2

The Council question and answer session held at ABC on December 8th, 2010 appears to have been used in a deliberate way for the entire Council to get on the record and put their spin control on the current crisis. Whatever it was, it was not intended solely for the benefit of the students.

Present were President Dennis Luker, Chairman Melvin Rhodes , and current council members Robin Webber, Roy Holladay, Bill Eddington (Australia), Aaron Dean, Victor Kubic, Mario Seiglie, Bob Berendt (Edmonton), Scott Ashley, and Darris McNeely.

This is intended to be just a quick summation by Ambassador Reports of the ABC Q and A session audio recording.)  It is not totally comprehensive, not official, nor a verbatim transcript. AR is not affiliated in any way with the UCG. It appears no expletives were intentionally deleted. None were intended. If you absolutely must have a verbatim transcript of the meeting audio, phone UCG and get one. 

Dennis Luker opened the session and turned the floor over to Melvin Rhodes, who solicited "any questions you might have".

The first question posed by a student asked why so many people have recently resigned from the Council. Rhodes answered of three resignation letters he received, two cited health reasons and two stated the reason being they could not support the consensus of the Council. Rhodes compared the situation to a parliamentary form of government, in which there is a majority opinion and a minority opinion. Some in the minority may resign if they can't support the majority opinion.

Another question attempted to elicit details about what isssue(s) are dividing the Council.  Bob Berendt took the question. He noted the Council must review sometimes sensitive and personal information, but must eventually decide an issue one way or the other. He said he was one of those on the Council who felt there was not enough overall support in UCG for a move to Texas, and in view of the state of the economy. He said that he personally supported the Council motion to rescind the move to Texas, through putting the move up for another vote before the General Conference.

Ashley (6:37) framed the issue as a question of priorities on what to focus on, on the use of resources and the allocation of resources. He estimated it would cost $10 to $12 million to build a Texas facility, or that money could be put into more of a media effort of sowing and reaping- future possible growth and hopefully "generate more media", and more churches.

Darris McNeely (9:31) brought up the issue of how the legitimacy of the Council is viewed. He then discussed the UCG voting process. He said balloting in the UCG is done in a private matter.  The name of the individual voter is removed from a ballot when votes are cast in  an election to ensure privacy. Since 1998, block voting has been alleged in UCG elections, although elections are audited. The Council investigated some alleged instances of block voting. In general, he said block voting   has not been condoned or encouraged. The belief is block voting fosters disruptive partisan politics in the church. He said that the legitimacy of the last three elections have been questioned, and block voting is still an issue in the mind of some men. 2008 (McNeely, Webber, and Dean were elected to the CoE), 2009 (Ashley, Rhoads elected) and 2010 (Trebig, Blackwell elected).  Three letters were sent out by the Council to admonish GCE members not to block vote, but he said the issue continues to plague the legitimacy of the Council.

Another question posed wondered how many more terminations or resignations were expected.  Kubic (?) said there have been two terminations. One minister held a meeting after services and spoke "against" the Church, without remorse who was terminated. A second man he said could not support the organization that was paying him and was therefore terminated. He concluded his comment saying he had no idea of how many more terminations or resignations should be expected.

Robin Webber then took the floor, who remarked about the precept of being "ethically bound" to support the the UCGia bylaws and constitution, While the documents were important to uphold, he maintained the Church was first a foremost a spiritual organization.  The bylaws do not necessarily equal ethics or spirituality, but that as Darden reminds him, process is very important.  He said that Council members are "ethically bound" or "duty bound to uphold" (uphold, not necessarily agree with) the consensus of the General Conference of Elders and the Council of Elders. After careful deliberation and multitude of council, Council members are to put their own opinions aside and form a spiritual consensus for the good of the whole.  He said legal processes and hoops are in place to protect the individual employee from unjust employment termination by the UCG.

The next question raised the issue of why men of integrity with years of service were leaving. Aaron Dean responded that's a difficult question to answer - how can you really know anyone? He raised the issue of the takeover of the WCG in the receivership- just what did God have in mind? He said in human resource law, you aren't allowed to say certain things. People can parrot things, but it comes down to "what you do in the dark". He said he offered to resign from the UCG 12 years ago himself, but the chairman implored him not to resign. He said he again offered to resign 3 years ago, but Dean's second offer to resign was again rebuffed. He then said not everything you read out there is truth, citing the story about the yacht that got twisted. He said that Israel demanded a king - to follow a person - but putting the person in place of Christ is the danger.

Bob Berendt says he came into the church in 1962 and has been a pastor since 1970, mentioning that he probably should be retired by now. He brought up the issue of David Hulme, saying that he had a different vision than the UCG and had to be removed. He said that in the seventies, some of the  ministry were not faithful and took members away with them when they left, but that the Council has a duty to protect the organization.

Another on the COE then talked about the "accept it or leave it" one-man government of the WCG. Some now in the UCG were forcibly fired, or terminated by the WCG. He said the Bible does not specifically spell out one form of government for today, such as one-man rule. UCG has a participation and consensus type of governance. Some 470 or so members of the General Conference wield the power. It is impractical for all General Conference elders to run the day to day operations, so a representative Council of Elders of twelve men is chosen to represent the General Conference. In turn, the Council elected chooses who will be the UCG president. Operations managers report to the UCG president (Dean, finance; Eddington, Media; and Kubic, Ministerial Services),  who reports to the Council of Elders, which is ultimately responsible to the General Conference for any Council actions taken.

Some people have a different perspective on the issues. If a number of elders disagree with the UCGia form of governance, and may try to undermine or actively promote another form. That is why problems can arise.

Eddington remarked that it's not necessarily a matter of integrity or faithfulness, that different points of view can arise where separation is the only way for peace to be restored. He said the decision to relocate to Texas was passed "on the barest of margins". He reveals he was one of five Council of Members members in 2008 to sponsor a COE resolution for the General Conference to reconsider the move the Texas,  by having a second vote again taken on the issue.

The next question asked if Latin America was getting the same amount of funding. Mario Seiglie (46:00) took this up, saying one of the issues is "who removed themselves from what". UCGia funding goes to those who back the UCGia governmental structure. When ministers signed on they were credentialed by the UCGia. "We have not cut them off, they have cut themselves off," he said.

Dean next responded, saying the Latin American budget of $500,000 has not been moved, but that another website organization has been collecting funds for the Latin American brethern. He speculates, would that amount to double-pay from UCGia  members? The budget was never changed, he said, remarking that it costs money to send people down there.

A question is raised about the large card of support sent to the UCG Council which states,  "We are on your side". Is there two sides, a line drawn in the sand?

A remark is made that majority opinion and minority opinions can change after an election. While not publicized, there can be very deeply held beliefs or philosophies. We have met several different times over the last three years and spent hundreds of hours trying to reconcile with those "on the other side". Some refuse to accept, as McNeely has said, the "legitimacy of the Council". The bylaws are a mutually agreed upon set of rules, and must not be undermined for the good of the church. Not advocating any separation, but the reality is a peaceful separation may be necessary.

Webber (57:00) says that the idea of two "sides" may be an oversimplification of the philosophical issues.  He reminisces about HWA in the early 80s in the Auditorium. After a sermon HWA made an issue of, "not the many who have left, you are the many who are here today".  How you look at life, how you frame equations, will allow you to make the right decisions.

Rhodes (62:00) says "I was against Texas" for some of the same reasons mentioned, but never once got up and attacked it from the pulpit. In that sense we have to draw a line in the sand. Six times - and one of the letters said the door is always open.

The next response said we made several efforts to reach out to the Latin American ministry. It's a two-way street. We tried to call, they would hang up the phone. They didn't respond to emails. Their position was unless you agree to all our demands, we will not meet with you. Only one of these men ever made an effort to contact us. That's the unfortuate reality.

A questioner asks, Would an impersonal mediator help to solve the crisis?
Mediation might be of possible value, but that would depend on what starting point and what are the conditions. 

(67:00) Thank-you for being here and for listening. (End of recording.)

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All that remains to be seen are how many UCG ministers will desert the frozen Milford, Ohio campus, regroup in Big Sandy, or seek to wrest control of the new headquarters land in Denton, TX from the UCGia.

With the UCG crisis going into full swing, and perhaps a split to occur in the not too distant future,  another question presents itself. Who, or what is actually behind the founding of International Ambassador Outreach (IAO)? Besides the pictures of degreed financial directors (with actual degrees, from accredited colleges) in plain view on the website, and other formalities designed to inspire financial  trust, just who in the UCG the ministry was really responsible for setting up the IAO operation?  

 The fairly new, somewhat mysterious, UCG  money machine, located in Plano, TX (a suburb of Dallas) is a few miles from the new UCG Denton headquarters. Still hidden from public view,  IAO bylaws were promised on the website, but are yet to be published. Ostensibly, IAO was created as a charitable organization, upon the basic premise that COG charity begins at home.  Over $150,000 dollars has already been handed over in good faith to IAO,  undoubtedly much of it drained from the wallets of three-tithe paying UCG members. Could IAO actually be merging into a new “charitable” church association for maverick ministers, leaving their UCG employment?

From the very start, IAO and the LA crisis may have been a trial balloon to see just how much of the 20 million dollars in tithe money flowing to Milford could be siphoned off from sympathetic UCG tithe-farming families. Leon Walker first, and now Larry Salyer are now publicly onboard with this Ambassador “charity”. Could IAO really be just the opening pawn gambit in a chess game, for ultimate control of the finances and membership of United Church of God?

1 comment:

NO2HWA said...

I have never read so much hypocritical bullshit from a group of men who claim to be ministers! Especially reading Robin Webber's comments made my blood boil! I know the fool, really well too!

He talks about being 'ethically bound' to UCG's rules. What hypocrisy! Webber was not bound tot he rules of WCG when he sat in 360 apartments with Kubick planning their new breakaway splinter cult! He did it for months while still on WCG's payroll. Where were the ethics in that?

These men are crooks and liars still following in the ideal Armstrongite taking tithe money to fund their lifestyles while the general membership suffers.