The Untied, Unraveling, Ungodly, Churches of
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August 23, 1999
From Living COG:
TO BE ANNOUNCED IN ALL CHURCHES AND VIDEO GROUPS
A recent letter from the current Council of Elders of the Global Church of God, made public on the Internet and mailed to members of the Living Church of God and others, has been addressed to you as "brothers in Christ." Please understand that Global did not have permission to contact our membership.
In our judgment, Global's letter is intended to create division within our fellowship. The letter purports to give the facts regarding loans that were outstanding when a faction of Board members seized control of the Global corporation. In removing the Presiding Evangelist, this faction of the Board usurped authority vested in the Council of Elders, contrary to the will of a majority of that Council and of the vast majority of the membership.
Subsequent to that action, the majority of the membership chose to support Dr. Meredith. Among those were a number of members and ministers who had loaned substantial sums to the Work. When Dr. Meredith was dismissed there was in excess of $500,000 in reserves in the Global corporation-s accounts. Dr. Meredith and those who followed him were shorn of all monetary and physical assets of Global. In addition, Global refused to reimburse many of Living's ministers for legitimate business expenses previously incurred on Global's behalf. The Board members who performed the corporate takeover in November were made aware that, by seizing those assets of Global, they were assuming the liabilities of the corporation including its outstanding debts.
In good faith, Living Church of God made a generous offer to assume debts in exchange for assets. Global rejected that offer. The individual lenders who are now members of Living Church of God have unanimously voiced their support of Dr. Meredith and Living in those efforts.
With their letter, Global seeks to place a sense of responsibility on members of the Living Church of God for the indebtedness which that Board assumed upon seizure of the Global corporation.
We strongly urge our members to reject Global's allegations and assumptions. Dr. Meredith will very soon write a letter further clarifying this matter.
Some time ago, members of the Board of Global marked Dr. Meredith as disfellowshipped from Global. Sadly, we must now make the following announcement:
"We regret it is now our duty to inform you that, based upon biblical instruction (Rom. 16:17), an ecclesiastical determination has been made to mark the following members of the Board and Council of Global, Larry R. Salyer, Raymond F. McNair, J. Edwin Pope and Norbert Link, as enemies of the Church, for the protection of our members. Therefore, for your own spiritual wellbeing, you are advised to refrain from contact with these individuals or their representatives.
The Living Church of God bears them no ill and we should all pray that God would grant them repentance."
In Christian Love,
Dr. Roderick C. Meredith, Presiding Evangelist
Carl E. McNair, Director of Church Administration
Global Church of God
August 20, 1999
Dear Brethren and Friends,
We are writing to you as brothers in Christ requesting you take the contents of this letter to God in prayer and fasting on the Sabbath of August 28, 1999. All members and co-workers of the pre-split Global Church of God are receiving this letter.
To understand the critical nature of this situation, you must carefully read your Bible alongside the facts surrounding this matter. This crisis requires your fervent prayers, beseeching God for His miraculous intervention. Further, we ask your immediate consideration of financial support for some well-meaning people who have generously loaned large sums of money to God's Work.
Some time ago, the Global Church of God, with Roderick C. Meredith then serving as presiding evangelist, found itself in deep financial trouble because of zeal to restore the Truth and the Work of God. When the Church's financial situation became known to certain ministers and other members, a number of them volunteered to make substantial loans to the Church from their personal savings. A few even borrowed money themselves, using their homes as collateral, to then forward these funds to the Church.
The Church, with Roderick Meredith acting as the president and CEO, was then committed to paying back these loans over a period of several years, in annual installments, with an amount of $266,792.00 due in November of this year. Global's pre-split budget planned for a financial reserve to pay back the debts as they became due, and included a financial schedule to achieve those results. Furthermore, at the time of the split in November 1998, the Church was on track to fully paying all financial obligations as they came due. However, events in November 1998 and thereafter led to a financial shortage of almost 80% of Global's prior income, thereby seriously jeopardizing the Church's ability to fully pay down these loans.
In addition, Global was suddenly faced with unexpected and unscheduled expenses. For example, when many of its employees left Global, the Church had to pay them for accrued vacation time. (It should be noted that we were required by law to issue checks for unused vacation pay within 48 hours of termination.)
Many other expenses committed to before the split had to be met as well, thus reducing the Church's cash reserves by more than 50% in just a few days. Before going further into these matters, please consider the scriptural principles of borrowing and repaying money:
A. Lending and borrowing are permissible (Matt. 25:14-27)
B. Being in debt is not a desirable or ideal situation (Rom. 13:8; Prov. 22:7)
C. Once a debt is contracted there are several options for dealing with it in a godly way
Some of those options are:
1) Borrower repays the debt (2 Kings 4:7)
2) Borrower and lender renegotiate the debt (Luke 16:5-8)
3) Lender forgives the debt (Matt. 18:23-35)
4) Two parties indebted to each other forgive each other's debts (cf. Eph. 4:32)
5) Borrower declares bankruptcy (cf. Deut. 15:1-2) The principle of lending and borrowing is set in the broader principles of doing no harm to one's neighbor (Rom. 13:8, 10).
At this point, the Global Church of God has chosen to follow option 1, by continuing to pay the monthly interest on all interest-bearing loans. In the meantime, it has also tried to pursue option 2, by working out a settlement with Roderick Meredith and the Living Church of God, but so far this attempt has not been successful.
This is in spite of the fact that:
(a) Roderick Meredith and the LCG state that their newly-formed church is receiving approximately 80% of the tithe money that formerly had been coming to Global;
(b) Roderick Meredith promised on several occasions before the split that he would not jeopardize Global's ability to repay the loans and, at the time of the split, he promised that he would help in paying the loans back (cf. Num. 30:2; Deut. 23:21-23; Ps. 15:4; Eccl. 5:2-6; Prov. 25:14); and
(c) most of the lenders have followed Roderick Meredith to the Living Church of God.
In spite of legal and business advice to the contrary, Global does not plan to pursue option 5 when the debt comes due, knowing full well that if we did, it might mean that none of the lenders would receive any further repayment of their loans. We believe bankruptcy to be, by far, the worst of all the options. We want every lender to be repaid in full.
We have not given up hope that Roderick Meredith will choose to accept his and the LCG's responsibility to help pay back these debts.
Effective immediately, the Global Church of God has set up a special trust account to receive restricted donations to be used solely for the purpose of paying back the loan amounts given to the Work. (This account will ensure that all monies directed here can only be used to pay back these loans. Therefore, those who are not members of Global can be assured that by contributing to this fund, they are not supporting the Work that Global is doing if that is a concern to them. Rather, they are helping individual Church members in both Global and Living to have their personal loans repaid to them.) Those donating to this account should make their checks payable to Global Church of God Trust Fund.
To ensure that this money is not spent for any other purpose, also specifically note on your check that you want it restricted for the purpose of repaying these personal loans to the Church.
We ask that you all pray for God's will to prevail in this matter, and that you then respond as you feel led by God. We also ask those of you to whom money is owed to consider making at least part of it a tax-deductible donation to Global to help reduce the liability. Further, we ask that you extend the deadline for the balance to be paid to allow sufficient time for funds to collect in the trust account.
Brethren, please understand Global's position that, from a spiritual standpoint, these loans should be paid back if it is possible. Please also understand that some of the lenders might be tempted to seek recourse in civil courts in fact, some have already threatened to do so. If that were to happen, this entire matter would then be thrust into the "hands of men" to resolve. Furthermore, if that should occur, the Global Church of God would then be forced to act within those courts to defend itself (cf. Acts 24:10-21; 25:6-12; 26:1-32).
What a terrible spectacle this would be and what a shame for the Church of God. We sincerely pray to God that He will not allow this to occur. Let us all pray, then, that God will cause His will to prevail upon the hearts and minds of those who are able to affect the outcome of this matter. If God moves you to help financially, please do so in whatever way your situation will allow. Sincerely, in Christ's service, The Council of Elders of the Global Church of God
PS Again, please set aside the Sabbath of August 28, 1999 or another day that works out better for you as a time of fasting, prayer and study, beseeching the Great God for His inspiration in this urgent matter. Ask our Heavenly Father to inspire all of us to resolve this problem in a way that is pleasing to Him.
December 15th, 1998
The purpose of this letter is to announce publically that as of this date Linda and I no longer have any affiliation with the Christian Biblical Church of God and the corporation that embodies it. Neithe will we be fellowshipping with any "official" Christian Biblical fellowship group. In addition we do disavow ANY affiliation with any corporation claiming to bear authority as a legitimate Church of God. We are strongly convicted by the visible fruits that ALL corporate COGs have corrupted themselves and thus stand revealed as being part of the religious (Babylon) system of this present evil world.
Our decision is not in any way meant as an offense to those brethren we know and love who are affiliated with that corporate COG or any other corporate COG organization who have indeed shown by their fruits that they are both Christian and Biblical in their approach to God the Father and Jesus Christ and their brethren. We seek no conflict with the leadership of the CBCOG corporation but feel it would be best for all concerned if we tend to our spiritual business and they tend to theirs.
I (Dorian) take full responsibility for my actions, words, articles and other service to the scattered brethren of the true Church of God and state publicly that the Christian Biblical Church of God leadership has no voice or other influence in the commission of same nor authority to prevent or otherwise censure that service.
Linda and I ask nothing more than that we be regarded as Holy Spirit begotten children of God the Father and members of that invisible organism, the True Church of God. We claim no specialprivilege, publicly ordained ministry or any office, rank or any other role of leadership among God's people. It is, however, fully our intention to continue to seek the will of God the Father in learning to be led by His Spirit and to do that which He gives us to do.
Should God choose to use us to serve any of His people - our brethren, according to His will within the Church and it displeases any one naming the name of Jesus Christ than that is a sorrow we will have to bear. They have the recourse of using the process for handling offenses defined in chapter 18 of the Book of Matthew in the Bible by Jesus Christ, himself.
For any in CBCOG who feel they cannot fellowship with us because of this decision we will respect your wishes and look forward to a future time when we may continue the friendships already begun.
Our immediate plans are to continue work on the third issue of Endtime COG Magazine and continue fellowshipping by whatever media that is appropriate with our fellow independant COG brethren of like mind and COG related friends around the world.
We gratefully acknowledge the sound spiritual teaching we found in many of the older sermon tapes of Fred Coulter but express our profound regret that the newer ones have not measured up to the same level of spiritual edification.
Sadly, this has been a pattern of every corporate COG leader we have been aware of in the 34 years plus we have been associated with the Church of God in any of its corporate formats. We have also observed the pattern that when brethren attempt to point out the backsliding to any of them their response has ever been to reject the criticism and surround themselves with sychophantic or otherwise corrupted counselors and those who will give them blind approval (See "Saul syndrome" described in I Samuel 15:17 - 23).
Thank you for giving this necessary public statement of our decision your attention and understanding.
Written from the heart and in clear conscience before God the Father and Jesus Christ,
Dorian and Linda Cook
Larry Salyer's Letter to the GCG ministry.
Hello to All,
This is a very difficult message to write, and I know that many of you have somehow come to believe such accusations and rumors about me that you may not even care to read what I write. Nevertheless, it is my duty to write, and I will.
This message is from the Board.
I am truly sad to say that after a full day of discussion and guts-out "negotiation," Dr. Meredith has separated himself from the Global Church of God, and as a consequence the Board had no choice but to terminate his employment with the Church. In spite of the rancor apparent in the letter Dr. Meredith mailed to all members on Monday, today's meeting ended amicably, with handshakes and hugs. We bear Dr. Meredith no ill will, and told him we would continue to pray for him. He hoped we could have friendly contact in the future.
We, the remaining Board members, must respectfully but categorically deny the long list of charges and accusations contained in Dr. Meredith's letter. We consider the letter extremely libelous. Particularly alarming is the fact that Dr. Meredith revealed in his letter that he was already setting up a competing corporation and that he was asking members to send all their tithes and offerings to his personal address, while still in the employ of Global and drawing his paycheck from Global. In addition, we consider this to be a breach of his fiduciary duties as an officer of the corporation.
It should also be understood by all that the aforementioned letter was written and mailed during an interim period in our discussions, which we had agreed to so we could all pray about these decisions. Let me amplify that. We held 8 hours of Board meetings on last Thursday and Friday without reaching a successful reconciliation. Both "sides" had proposed certain actions and neither was able to bend enough to solve the conflict.
Dr. Meredith had posed the possibility that he would "leave Global," which he had also mentioned during our recent Council meeting. We recessed the meeting until Tuesday, at Dr. Meredith's request, so that he could have time to pray about it. We asked him directly if he would "try to stir up the Church this weekend." He said "No, I won't do anything this weekend." Nevertheless, during the weekend we heard that he made many phone calls to field ministers asking for ministers to "stand with him."
Then, late Monday afternoon, in what could have only been miraculous intervention, we learned that more than a quarter of a million dollars had suddenly been drained from Global's bank account, through the use of unauthorized checks, signed by Dr. Meredith and another individual who had no power to sign any checks. Further, one six-figure check was payable to the very person who signed it without authority. Thankfully, this miraculous intervention allowed us to stop payment of those unauthorized checks. But we learned that fully one half million dollars was moved from our investment account to the operating account to cover the checks. The only conclusion we can draw from this even larger unauthorized transfer of funds is that even more unauthorized checks were planned to be written later. A logical conclusion considering that all of this was done in secrecy!
By the way, these actions were justified by saying that the money was being used to pay back loans to individuals. Maybe so, but that process always involves authorization and is done according to strict agreements and payback schedules agreed to by all parties. In this case, the loans were not due and payable, and the checks were hand-written, apparently outside office hours, and not through the person who is responsible for such checks. The immediate effect would have been to put the Global Church of God in financial jeopardy and on the verge of bankruptcy. When pointed out that this action, in our opinion, might potentially constitute criminal activity, Dr. Meredith suggested that we could just tell the bank that the signer was a 68-year-old man who didn't quite know what he was doing.
Meanwhile, rumors of a letter being mailed from outside the office gave us reason to be suspicious of the "prayer" interval. By Tuesday morning, several of us, including Dr. Meredith, had received phone calls from concerned ministers and others, pleading with us to do everything possible to avoid a "split." We all agreed that this was urgent and important and went into the meeting with that in mind. Dr. Meredith mentioned it right up front, but had concluded that a recommended "third-party" consultant would not understand our problems and that our relationship had deteriorated too far for this to be practical.
Generally speaking, all agreed, though all parties still wanted to reach a settlement. Shortly after the meeting began, Dr. Meredith produced copies of his 4-page letter and told us that he had had it mailed to the members on Monday. This was, of course, not only contrary to rules regarding the use of the mailing list, but was also done during the previously agreed upon "prayer period."
Reading the letter in the meeting, we were appalled at the distortion of facts, imaginary incidents, and the invective with which they were presented. All four additional men on the Board had been accused of everything from rebellion to conspiracy, and even a cancerous attitude.
We all stated our sincere desire to come to an amicable solution to our problems. But Dr. Meredith's opening suggestion was that we resign, receive generous severance and/or retirement, and go wherever we wanted to.
After meeting from 10:00 am til 2:30 pm, we took a two hour break and reconvened. We insisted that since the well had been poisoned so badly by the unauthorized letter to all members, there would be no way to go forward unless Dr. Meredith would recant what he had written and acknowledge that it was a terribly divisive act to send the letter out.
Eventually, after much discussion, he went so far as to say that he would be willing to write a letter that would mollify what he had said. Nevertheless, Dr. Meredith would not retract the basic, libelous content of the letter.
We asked if he still felt that he would have to leave. He said yes. We then told him that we had to consider his actions over the last few days and the content of the letter as a decision already made by him to leave this organization. Therefore, to fulfill our ministerial and Board responsibilities, we had no choice but to formalize the dismissal of Dr. Meredith.
As stated earlier, the meeting ended on a friendly note. We are fully aware that this tragic situation will make life difficult for you as well as us. We can only ask that you carefully and prayerfully seek God's will. We hope you will choose to get the facts and make a right judgment about how you will serve God's people at this time. We intend to call a ministerial conference of all full-time men within the next few weeks to clear the air on all these accusations and to rebuild the infrastructure of the Church so that we might go forward. It is the full intent of those of us here in San Diego to continue to do the Work of God as He opens doors for us.
We are prepared to work with any of you to sort out concerns about meeting halls, fleet cars and other matters of mutual interest. We do not have any desire to be antagonistic or unreasonable. If the new corporation is interested in purchasing some of our assets, we will certainly consider the request. Meeting hall needs will differ according to what the brethren do and we will communicate about that. Since both your personal situation and ours will depend on what decision you make, please let us know what your intentions are as soon as you are sure. If you're sure now, please say so, as we need your help to minister to those who remain in Global.
We will let you know the conference plans as soon as we get some feedback from you.
One final thought: Please remember the hurts and offenses that occurred among us when we left Worldwide Church of God and when UCG started, etc. Many people said and did things they now regret. Why don't we try to avoid such pitfalls this time around?
If I do not see you in the near future, I hope we will meet again at a better time. I appreciate your work and service among God's people. And I consider you friends. Our prayers are with you all. I will be away for Thanksgiving weekend, but can be reached via mobile phone (619-840-8804). Edwin will also be out of town for the holiday weekend. Raymond and Norbert, however, will be available at the office or at home during this time. Larry (also writing for: Raymond McNair, Edwin Pope, Norbert Link)
The rest of this message was drafted last night, and may be partially irrelevant in light of today's events. Nevertheless, you should read it as background.[While writing this message, I have heard that some ministers are planning to hold Bible Studies or DELS meetings during the week to discuss the situation at HQ and "make decisions on what we will do." If that is the case, perhaps this information should be added to the mix to allow you to make a sound and right "decision" based on more facts and with God's guidance and blessing.]
In spite of the overwhelming number of rumors circulating in the Church, I have labored over how to bring you into the picture without undermining your ability to do your job of serving the brethren. Yet, I also understand from experience that you cannot do your job if you do not have adequate information to answer the questions you are asked. You get blindsided and could be caught in a situation where any answer you give may prove to be wrong when all the garbage clears. That said, and having talked at length to a couple of pastors in the field about what the concerns are, I am now going to attempt to bring you up to date as much as possible. I am also quite aware that you alone will have to decide whether to take it or leave it.
I will mention at this point though, that we have as yet sent no mass communication to the membership about any of these problems. We will leave it to your discretion as shepherds as to how much of this message you choose to share at this time with the flock in your care. We do plan, however, to send out an official communication to our members in the near future.
What Dr. Meredith perceives as a power struggle probably began during the November '97 Council of Elders meeting, and really heated up during the February meeting, when we unanimously confirmed that we would practice government by consensus of the Council. It broke into the open during the latest Council meeting a couple of weeks ago, when Dr. Meredith made it abundantly clear that he had no intention of abiding by the unanimous agreements of the Council of Elders and the Board of Directors concerning the subject of "Church government," which had been discussed for endless hours over the last 5 meetings. During and after this most recent Council meeting, Dr. Meredith repeated his previous threat that he might have to "pull a David Hulme." He has since told us in no uncertain terms that he will have to make a decision of whether to leave Global.
Yes, the real issue IS Church government!! But, even more than that, it is the integrity of the Church, the ministry, the Council, the Board, and our doctrinal positions and processes that are at stake here. There are many and varied reasons why the Board has recently had to take a stand on principle, and they had nothing whatever to do with "taking over."
Volumes could be written about our discussions and the various writings, sermons, and actions that have flowed from them. Because how we all do our jobs and operate every day is a function of Church government. And this whole "debate" originated with Dr. Meredith's booklet, "When Should You Follow Church Government?" Many of the ministers and members who came to Global in the early years had read and accepted the statements made in that booklet. In fact, it was WHY many came to Global at that time! Our bylaws, the Council, the Board, and our Articles of Incorporation as a non-profit, tax-exempt organization were all based on the concepts and teachings contained in that booklet and in sermons and conversations about this subject. Personally, I had several such conversations with Dr. Meredith at the time I was deciding whether to come to Global. I expect that some of you had similar conversations and concerns.Even when the subject was thoroughly reviewed by the Council in February, Dr. Meredith added his voice to the unanimous decision to continue to preach and proclaim that form of government, based on "multitude of counsel." This governmental structure also contained a system of checks and balances to prevent one person from leading the Church off course, with provision to correct doctrinal, administrative or personal problems.
Amazingly, even after sending a letter to the entire membership confirming this structure, on June 11, 1998, Dr. Meredith continued to contradict the decisions of the Council of Elders, both in private conversations and in sermons and in meetings. Additionally, he has said several times, including in the initial Council meeting on the subject, something like this: "Well, I wrote the booklet on government to help people come out of Worldwide Church of God, but I never believed it was the way the Church should be governed." What??
In fact, when Mr. Raymond McNair recently asked Dr. Meredith whether he believed God had guided the Council, after we had opened the meetings with prayer and fervently requested God's inspiration and blessing, the reply shocked us all. He said, "Well those are just words. Don't you think the Catholics pray before their meetings?"
I use these examples only to give you the tiniest bit of flavor of what we have been dealing with for some time. We did not share these things with you because we honestly believed they could be worked out and that Dr.Meredith would come to see where he was wrong.
A lot of our members, and perhaps a lot of you, don't care much about government structure. However, the more obvious spiritual problem we are dealing with arises out of this conflict. The way Dr. Meredith began to deal with this issue was to say that some of the men at headquarters were trying to tie his hands, and take over the Church. These "accusations" began to surface in the field, and the rumor mill took over. Frankly, it was some time before those of us on the Board knew where they were originating. Nevertheless, a lot of discord was sown. This is ugly and I know it, but I must put this in a little more context for you. While most of you don't give a hang about how the Board works, or why, let me tell you that it is the focal point of all business and legal liability for the Church. In addition, the Board members can in some cases be held individually and collectively liable for debts of, or judgments against, the corporation. We are also responsible to state and federal governments for the way the Church conducts it's affairs. The fact that some of you know about this is clear from the immediate call today for repayment of large loans some ministers and brethren have made to the Church during our financial crisis a couple of years ago. They are being used as leverage to pressure the Board to yield to Dr. Meredith's persistent claim to be in sole authority and make unilateral decisions, while the Board bears the liability. This of course could possibly bankrupt the Church, which would serve no one's purpose. I have to liken it to a "scorched earth" policy in battle.
Dr. Meredith has previously threatened that he would, "take it over your heads to the lay members of the Church." (Doesn't this sound like democracy?) What is the Church saying now? Don't I recall that you were angry with senior ministers in Worldwide Church of God who never stood up to repeated wrongdoing, even chiding me personally for not having done more? And now am I to understand that the ministry and members are saying, "We are comfortable and happy. Tell us smooth things"? Men who believe they have a duty to God and His people to stand up for the Truth cannot do that. There is much more detail and many different aspects to the current situation, but I see no need to cover it now.
Fellow ministers and brethren, we are in a collossal crisis in the Church.
But it is the Church of God. Christ is the Head, and it is to Him that we should look for deliverance from this trial.
Having counseled with others here, several members of the Board would like to ask the brethren to join us in a fast, to humble ourselves before our Creator and seek His will, not our own, in resolving this crisis. Many of you will recall that this is the approach Mr. Armstrong took in 1974 when the Church was in danger of coming apart. He quoted the prophet Joel, saying, "Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly" (1:14).We must not fast for a particular outcome, or ask God to do what WE want, but rather that He will help us to see clearly and understand His will.
Let us as members of the Body of Christ set aside the Sabbath of December 5, 1998, to fast together and draw close to God. Let us beseech God for His mercy and favor, and that He will reveal His perfect will to us.
It is our hope that those of you receiving this message will announce this fast to the brethren, regardless of your present personal "understanding" of this whole matter. I am grieving over having to write this, especially since I am well aware that I have been made out to be one of the evil people. But such is life.
I will greatly appreciate your prayers, because praying is the most valuable thing any of us can do.
Thanks for listening. Larry
(Tippity, tappity, tippity tapitty....... The tap dancers are at it again. Quick, send in the clowns, the natives are getting restless. Be sure you don't say "Christmas." So, did Al Barr have it wrong or did he just say too much? Translation of the Clarification below: You people can do whatever you want, just SEND THE DAMN MONEY!)
From: Tom Thacker
Subject: Clarification of Worldwide Church of God OT/NT position
The previous statements on this subject have been spread around the world and taken out of context.
Mr Tkach and many HQ leaders are getting calls and E-mails from around the world from Pastors and members about the church position. Specifically mentioned were ministers in Europe as well.
Here is the clarification:
----------------------- Begin --------------------------
This is to clarify the position of the WorldWide Church of God concerning our observances.
- We are leaving it up to the local Pastor and Congregation to determine their Liturgical Calendar.
- We believe that we have Liberty in Christ. Whatever day is worshipped on, we want to be sure that a New Testament Theology is preached and taught. Some congregations will meet on Sunday, some will meet on Saturday, some will observe exact-day Holy Days, some will observe weekend Holy Days, some will decide not to observe Hebrew Days at all, but this is the Liberty that we have in Jesus Christ.
---------------- End -----------------------
Don't try to "Read" anything into the choice of capitalization - that was my choice. This was stated to me over the phone so I had to use my own caps choice.
I capitalized certain words much like I do when writing technical manuals - saying This Thing is a way of stating that "This Thing" is a noun object - and nothing more.
- And now I think I'll SHADDUP.
Thomas Thacker Jr
from USENET ALT.RELIGION.W-W-CHURCH-GOD
From: Tom Thacker
X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.04 [en]C-bls40 (Win95; U)
Subject: Newsflash: Worldwide Church of God to eliminate all OT observance
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Date: Sun, 12 Jul 1998 00:35:46 GMT
NNTP-Posting-Date: Sat, 11 Jul 1998 20:35:46 EST
Xref: ptah.visi.com alt.religion.w-w-church-god:2291
Today's sermon in the Kennesaw, GA Worldwide Church of God Congregation was given by Regional Pastor Al Barr.
The main part of the sermon was in general support of NT observance as necessary to the 1st century Jewish Christians. The 1st Advent observance and the Resurrection observance (Christmas and Easter. (Think they are still having trouble saying those words? They are still tap dancing! Sheeeeesshh! Give it up boys; you have enough money. Ed)) were essential to teach that Christ was both God and Man at the same time, & so on. Then he made his big announcement. The recent ministerial conference had produced the following conclusions & decisions:
1 - The continued observance of OT Holydays was having a negative impact on new members understanding of the NT covenant. Some of them were even leaving the church and had become hassidic jews complete with beards, hats, and yarmulkes.
2 - 20 % of congregations are now keeping Sunday services and were finding that this was making it easier to recruit new members from the community. In Mr Barr's congregation (not his own - the one he attends) had their rent reduced by $700 per month because of moving to a Sunday service.
3 - The church should transition from Commuter church to a Community church servicing the local communities that they are in.
4 - There are four classes of membership. Class 1 insists on keeping all the OT high days to the last detail. Most of this class has already moved on to other groups (such as GCG). Class 2 is OK with the changes but will stop attending if the church eliminates OT observance. Class 3 goes along with anything that is taught. Class 4 is chomping at the bit to switch as fast as possible to all NT liturgy. It was felt that the bulk of membership is in class 3.
5 - The church will eliminate all OT observances and references (including all Hebrew calendar references) as quickly as possible. This will be done congregation by congregation while deferring to the sensitivities of each pastor and congregation. (It was recognized that moving too quickly with a congregation bothered by it could induce the membership or pastor to move en-masse to other churches - so they will work with each congregation individually).
6 - Over a period of a few years the OT High days will be phased out and the NT days phased in. They will probably observe a 1st Advent (Christ's birth), a Resurrection service, and so on, along with migrating all congregations to Sunday services. Those local congregations that wish to maintain a Saturday service or hold a weeknight service will be allowed to do so. No HQ-sanctioned OT High day observance will be extant. Teaching will be solely on the NT covenant. In keeping with NT covenant teaching, no observance (or lack thereof) of NT services by the membership would be mandated. After a number of years, all congregations would be observing NT liturgy. (Any other days will be up to the local membership - and I imagine at local expense).
From the United board on AOL.
Subject: From Richard Pinnelli Date: Fri, Jul 10, 1998 08:01 PM
Dear Fellow Ministers and Wives,
This has been one of the most difficult times that any of us has experienced. It has certainly been the most difficult financial trial since the beginning of United just over three years ago. To inform a fellow minister that his salary is being cut in half or to tell someone he no longer has a job with such little notice was the last thing any of us wanted to do. But everyone should know by now that there was little else we could do. We were informed by the president and treasurer that our very financial survival was at stake. Based on this, we gave everyone as much notice as possible given the dilemma we were facing.
Even with all the facts on the table, it is clear that the news was shocking and quite distressing for many in the ministry. While some men realized our limited ability to maintain full-time pastors and have accepted the news as a new challenge, it is fair to say that others were confused and somewhat bewildered as to their future. We understand these feelings and hope that we can be of assistance.
We deeply appreciate all the ministry and the many years of service to God's people. It is our desire that such service would continue. In fact, the offer of half salary was intended to make it possible for ministers to continue serving in the area where they are currently assigned. If men are unable to continue pastoring or need to move because of being put on half salary, it will defeat our goal--which is to maintain a salaried minister in each area to serve God's people.
We have no desire to go to a non-salaried ministry. We simply had to face the reality of cutting $840,000 from our payroll. It was also an increasing reality that in most cases we could not pay a full salary to a pastor for the relatively few number of people in some areas. Yet we want all the people to be served by a pastor and not a video program. The half salary option seemed to be a way to accomplish both goals.
In reality, we want all the men who were asked to take half salary to know that they are free to find other full-time employment. Some have had the idea that they are only to pursue part-time work--which is not necessarily the case. By having this freedom to pursue other employment while still being able to pastor the congregations, we feel that many will be able to break into a new field without the pressure of having to totally "replace" the full salary of a pastor.
Please understand that, while the Ministerial Services team would have wanted to sit down with everyone who was asked to accept the half salary or was laid off over the past two weeks, it was simply an impossibility given the time frame we were facing. We are deeply concerned for everyone in the ministry, but especially for those who are facing this new challenge. Of course, there are no guarantees for any of us, and more men may be asked to take this step in the months ahead. We do hope this program will prove successful and a positive step for the United Church of God. Only time will tell.
Along with this letter we have attached the official list of the men who have been given half salary. Also included is the list of men who have been terminated, voluntarily quit, or have been laid off. There is also a list of those who have resigned from our employ since the Passover. Feel free to share this information with your congregations as you feel necessary. We will be sending the same list to all the ministry before next Sabbath, but this list is only being sent to those in our full-time employ.
Please stay in touch and let us know how we can assist you.
Richard Pinelli Ministerial Services
FULL-TIME MINISTRY PERSONNEL CHANGES SINCE PASSOVER 1998
CHANGES IN CHURCH CIRCUITS/JOB CHANGES
Dave Baker: Adds Harrisburg/Lewistown, PA to his pastorate
Roy Demarest: Moves to south Florida and pastors Miami, West Palm Beach and Melbourne
Kevin Epps: Adds Queens, NY and Bethlehem, PA to his pastorate
Matt Fenchel: Moves to the Home Office
John Foster: Adds Roanoke, VA to his pastorate at 1/2 salary
Arnold Hampton: Adds Greenwood, DE and Philadelphia, PA to his pastorate
Roy Holladay: Moves to Big Sandy and becomes the pastor of Big Sandy and Texarkana, TX and Shreveport, LA
Bob Jones: Adds Orlando, FL to his pastorate
Clyde Kilough: Adds Fresno and Modesto, CA to his pastorate
Steve Myers: Adds Cedar Rapids, IA to his pastorate
Dave Register: Adds Redlands, CA to his pastorate
Camilo Reyes: Moves to LA area to assist Robin Webber at 1/2 salary
Greg Sargent: Adds Topeka, KS to his pastorate
Jim Servidio: Adds Duluth and St. Cloud, MN to his pastorate
Gary Smith: Adds Charleston, WV to his pastorate
Randy Stiver: Adds Medford, OR to his pastorate
Arthur Suckling: Adds Fort Myers, FL to his pastorate
Paul Suckling: Adds Providence, RI and Hartford, CT to his pastorate
Herb Teitgen: Adds Omaha and Grand Island, NE and Des Moines, IA to his pastorate
Ken Treybig: Adds Monroe, LA to his pastorate
Robin Webber: Adds Los Angeles and Bakersfield, CA to his pastorate
Chuck Zimmerman: Adds Yuma, AZ to his pastorate
Following are excerpts from a letter sent to the UCG membership by Les McCullough and the Council.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Unfortunately, brethren, all news isn't that good, but I am obligated to share the less happy news with you as well as the good. This is one of the most difficult tasks I have ever undertaken. Please bear with me while I explain in the remainder of the letter. Psalm 34:19 and Acts 14:22 both tell us that it is through much tribulation and anguish we will enter the kingdom of God. We must be qualifying, because the trials have certainly come. We have expected at some time to face an outside source which would generate great problems for us. We haven't and didn't expect the problems to arise from among us.
Those problems have come and much heartache has resulted. Some members have decided to disassociate themselves from UCGIA for a variety of reasons. Some have joined a new organization led by David Hulme and others have decided to stay at home. Some have chosen to become totally independent. All these things have had their effect.
None of us are blameless in the problems and difficulties we face. We can probably all do better in growing in patience, understanding and respect for one another. We all need to learn to bear with one another, recognizing that all are human, subject to making mistakes, and we will not be perfected until we are resurrected to immortality in God's family.
However I also believe that Satan is taking some of his best shots at the people of God. He wants us to fail in carrying out the mission of the Church. He knows that we have been called to share in proclaiming the plan of God to all people, and he desperately wants to stop it. He would like nothing more than to distract and divide us, and disrupt the work. So he inspires accusations and fault finding among God's people. He is after all, the accuser of the brethren(Revelation 12:9).
We must not fall into his trap and let him deter us from our calling. For the welfare of us all, we must ask a series of important questions--and answer them honestly. The whole body is truly involved in the outcome. Just how much do we believe in the system, or organization, of the United Church of God? How committed are we to its success? How convicted are we that God is dealing with us and is a part of this organization? Do we want above all for the United Church of God to succeed? Are we dedicated to doing a worldwide work of preaching the gospel? Are we?
It was our hope that Mr. Hulme would be willing to serve in another capacity and work with us to solidify the Church and move forward with our collective mission. We understood that there was a group who were strong supporters of him and that they might choose to start another organization. Sadly, this has come to pass. It has bled away some members and diluted our efforts. The many rumors, innuendo and accusations flying around have discouraged others. All this has affected us financially.
The problem lies primarily in the "lifeblood" category, or daily income of the work. It is the lifeblood which keeps all our activities going. We urgently need to see an increase in the daily income. It is vital that we have an increase in the daily income. We must consider cutting back many of the non-payroll costs by as much as 25 percent. This will affect all areas of the work. We will need to give additional consideration to further reductions in the work force. It is going to take drastic action to allow us to make it through to the fall Holy Days. It is a matter of how we survive.
In light of the urgency of our current situation, I have asked the Council members to immediately take salary reductions of as much as 15 percent. Additional salary reductions for the ministry are being considered, as well as a sharp reduction in ministerial expense, which is needed to care for the churches. These reductions are going to hurt, but are now necessary. We hope we can restore these cuts later, but we believe we must make them now. Tom Kirkpatrick and I are new in our jobs. We inherited a structure where there have been problems of overstaffing, other financial commitments, and actions which now plague us. The solution is not an easy one. We want to serve you and all the brethren to the best of our ability. It is our intent to work in partnership with the membership to produce the best possible product we can, using the talents of as many of God's people as we can. These things take time to work out, but we have already made progress.
The spring Holy Days distort the financial picture in terms of daily income and only afterwards does the picture become clear. Also, in the beginning days of United, optimism flourished and the Council of Elders and General Conference of Elders felt we must gear up for a large number of disaffected people coming from the Worldwide Church of God. The numbers didn't materialize and we ended up with a larger staff and ministry than the membership can support, if current trends continue.
I don't like asking this, but can you help? It is imperative. We need the largest offering you can personally make. We needhelp from the congregations as a whole. Will we all join together to resolve this problem? Can we commit ourselves to this so that we can do the work?
We are just getting positive things going in the media area, and now it seems we may need to consider cutting back. Brethren, I personally don't believe that is God's will or desire. What do we do? It seems the Father is testing each of us to see just where we stand and how committed we are to doing a worldwide work of preaching the gospel.
The tithes and offerings of God's people are the only finances we have with which to operate. They have fallen off for whatever reason. Why? Have some forgotten Malachi 3:9-10? Look at what it says: You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the store house, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this. Says the Lord of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it."
We each individually can use any blessing God sees fit to give. The Church certainly can. Yet we live in a nation which has robbed God continually. It is being cursed in many ways. Each of us, from the Council to the membership, need to look down deep inside and be sure we are doing our best to please God and leave the blessing to Him.
I know most of you indeed have been very supportive of the Council and management team. Your letters tell us that. I know you want to see The Good News subscription list grow, and the invitation for life it carries, be made available around the world. I also know most of you are very supportive in your tithes and offerings. That is why this letter is so hard to write. I thank you for all your efforts most sincerely. But I must ask, Can you do something more to get your work through this time of financial crisis? It is simply not financially responsible to continue on the basis of one set of projections when all the facts indicate something else is needed.
The solid core do not need these thoughts, but there are one or two other groups who are swayed by personal ideas or feelings who may need to ask themselves just where they stand. Telling you this is not pleasant. If we beseech God to send more workers into the harvest, things can turn around. So Iencourage all who are moved by this letter to take our situation to God and ask for Him to intervene in any way He sees fit. Then pray that we are mature enough and yielded enough to Him, to see and do what He empowers us to do to implement any changes needed. Please take this most seriously.
The income of the Church is broken into three separate categories. Category one is the lifeblood of the work--it is the tithes and offerings. At present, this fund is down by 15 percent. Category two is the Holy Day offerings which are up just slightly. Category three, which is running approximately 20 percent behind the comparable period last year, is the Festival fund, the youth fund and estate donations and interest. These are the funds which pay for the administration of Feast sites and youth programs.
As president of the United Church of God, I must ask if you will join together as the combined congregations of God's people for a special day of fasting and prayer. The Council and I are asking you to set aside the Sabbath of June 27 for this special time. All of us need to repent of our sins and grow closer to our Father. We need to ask Him in the most heartfelt manner for His intervention and help. We need to ask God to provide new coworkers to help carry the heavy load. We need to ask Him to give the Council the wisdom only He can give to make the proper budgetary adjustments so such a problem doesn't arise again. Those adjustments will hurt, I am sorry, but there is no alternative. We should ask God's blessing upon each individual in His Church. We need to ask Him to grant us the willingness to make a special sacrifice at this time and help His Church out of the deep problems which afflict it.
We know you can do it. Are you willing to do it? Will you make a special, generous effort to help during this time of need? Will you join with us in this time of fasting and prayer? We all know God doesn't need us to do His work. He can raise up stones to do it, or rain money down from heaven if He chooses. But that isn't the way He is working, and has worked, in this end time. He wants to forgive our sins. He wants to grant us there are privilege of helping in this end time effort to preach the gospel to all nations. He wants to forgive our sins even more than we want to forgive others. Then He wants to give us the incalculable gift of eternal life as members of His family.
It is not my wish or desire to write this letter. I deeply wish the need were not there. The need is there and I would be remiss if I didn't tell you about it in the most straight forward way I know.
Thank you most sincerely for your help, your concern, your effort and your commitment to what is about to become a greater work of God.
MAY OUR FATHER'S RICHEST BLESSING BE UPON YOU.
Leslie L. McCullough
Subject: Mr. McCullough's Letter to the Ministry
June 19, 1998
Greetings once again Fellow Elders and Wives,
I have had numerous comments about how encouraging these letters have been, and how much people appreciate them. I wish you would find this one to be the same, but I must say, I rather doubt that will be the case this time.
Since being named president, I find myself in the unenviable position of having to pass along the sad and bad news, as well as some of the good. I am sure by this time you have received the word that the U.K. ministry has disassociated themselves from us. We haven't passed this word on before because we had not been notified by them. Finally, a letter came from Peter Nathan and it is no doubt on the "net." All of the ministers have resigned, with the exception of John Jewell, Gerhard Marx, Ron Bolzern and Bob Boraker. Although Bob leans toward the U.K. men, he needs a little time to make a decision.
All of this is once again very sad. There are some members in the U.K. who wish to continue with us and are asking for help. Bob Dick and I talked with John Schroeder and Bob Boraker today. We couldn't reach John Jewell since he is on holiday, but we will get to him as soon as possible. Then we must sort out how things are to be done over there and what help we can give.
You are going to be receiving a member letter sent to you electronically before the end of the week. This is an extremely important letter. A hard copy will be sent to the membership as quickly as we can send it out, so that they have a personal copy.
Here is the situation: We are in a very precarious financial situation and it is not getting any better. The three Holy day offerings so far this year were great and we are actually a little ahead of last year in this category even with 10 to 15 percent fewer people. Income for the first three months of this calendar year was tracking along on a normal basis. Since the spring feast however, the daily income has fallen and we are behind schedule by roughly $6,000 a day for the first two months of this fiscal year. You track that over a year and it is a very major problem. We must do something dramatic to get through to the fall feasts. Therefore, the Council is unitedly asking for a day of fasting and prayer for the Sabbath of June 27. It is explained much more fully in the letter so I won't take more time with the particulars in this one. You will have both by the weekend.
That is only the beginning. The following is extremely serious, and I want you to know I fully realize that. The alternatives are even more serious. To make it through to Trumpets, we must initiate ministerial salary reductions. I am not one who is big on reducing salaries, but we simply must do it for the summer months. The intent is that this cut will be restored following Trumpets if our finances make that possible. This makes no-one happy. I understand that, but if we don't take the measures I am laying out for you, we will be out of funds before that time and no-one will be getting any salary. Fellows, I know that this is hard. I know it will be difficult, but we have to do it.
Salaries below $40,000 will not be touched. For annual gross pay of $42,000-45,000 the reduction will be 5 percent; for $45,000-50,000 it will be 7 percent; for $50,000-55,000 it will be 9 percent; for $55,000-60,000 it will be 12 percent; and for any above that it will be 15 percent. These reductions will take place as of July 3 through the feast of Trumpets. What can I say? This is no popularity contest and someone has to spread the bad news. I am elected. Saying how sorry I am makes no difference, but 90 or whatever percent is better than nothing. I hope you will bear with the Council and me in making these most difficult decisions for the welfare of the work.
The next step will elicit groans and roars of protest, but you must realize we wouldn't remotely consider these steps if it were not absolutely necessary. The past two weeks have been most difficult for Tom and me as we sorted out what to recommend to the Council and how we could meet our obligations. The fact is, reimbursed ministerial expense has been far too generous and now we have to pay the piper. Total ministerial expense which will be reimbursed will be limited to $200 per month at least until the Feast. We have no choice. You will somehow have to limit your driving and phone calls. Those who are spread over three or four churches will have to figure some way to meet the needs through using non-employed elders who are resident in the area, alternating tapes, and so on. I don't know exactly how to tell you to do it, but do it we must.
This is a terrible load to put on all of you. If God blesses us with a great and sustained response from the brethren then perhaps it can be lightened sooner, but I can not promise that. The Council and I are trying to give you as much notice as we can, but there isn't much time. As if all the forgoing isn't enough, I must warn you that we probably cannot provide the festival allotment until after the feast of Trumpets. That may effect your plans somewhat as I know it has mine. This is as much advance warning as we can give. Fellows, you have to realize the seriousness of the problem we face. Such draconian steps wouldn't be remotely considered if we had any choice. There is none.
I hope the brethren will greatly rally to the call. This isn't something new or unheard of in the work. Someone was asking me the other day just how long it has been since we have had something like this staring us in the face. The answer is a long, long time, but it has happened in the past. I am not Mr. Armstrong nor do I in any way consider myself in that category. I do however have the responsibility to inform all of you and the brethren of the problems we face. To help keep a focus, I am going to quote part of an article from the 1968 Good News:
"How often just in the course of this past year have we had to read such words as 'delay,' 'postpone,' 'fail,' 'go backward,' and 'MOUNTAINOUS SETBACK' in the Member and Co-worker letters? Time and again Mr. Armstrong has been forced to use such words to describe the lack of progress in God's work...."
This is not some strange new thing which has come upon us. The fact is, the membership losses of the past year, as well as perhaps a let down on the part of many in tithes and offerings, has created a major financial problem. It can be solved with prayers, fasting and extra effort by all of us. It is hard to be encouraged when these things hit, but God is still on His throne. He still loves all of us and wants us to move forward. Perhaps He is correcting us. That can't be ruled out, but we must have absolute faith in Him and our elder brother Jesus Christ. They will provide as they know best.
There is one more extremely important item of which you must be made aware. There needs to be a reduction in our payroll. This will no doubt cause some terminations among the employed ministry. That is shocking. It is gut wrenching. I have agonized over it as have all the others, but that is how real the problem is. Fellows, this has been some months in the making. It so happens that I am the one who has it occurring during my watch, as they say in the Navy. I will try to bear whatever anger, hurt or unhappy comments you may wish to make to me if that makes you feel any better.
At this point in time, there are no names attached to these reductions. All of us, the Council, Ministerial Services and I, ask for your prayers and deepest intervention with our Father that we make the best decisions we can, giving all the consideration we can. The effective date for these salary reductions will be July 3, 1998, and an appropriate severance package will be worked out with those who will be involved. Please pray for each other in this most difficult of times. We want to continue to serve God's people and preach the gospel by effectively using the financial resources God has blessed us with. If our motives and hearts are right with God, He will bless us all in these trying times. I trust we can look at these hurdles as challenges to be met, rather than allowing discouragement to overwhelm us.
Please try to remain as positive as you possibly can. Your congregations need it. When the shepherd is obviously down, it carries over to the sheep he cares for. Saying, "Don't be discouraged" is a bit pointless, but we must remember who it is we serve and what the ultimate reward is. In closing, I want to remind all of us of two scriptures.
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:18,28).
You are called to a special purpose. Please, as husbands and wives, support one another in faith that God will work all things out. Love each other and the brethren with whom you work. We are in this together and God will see us through.
How I wish this letter wasn't needed. Perhaps we need to remember Mr. Armstrong's cocking of the gun for the greater push forward.
Our prayers are with you and the brethren.
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