David Hulme disfellowships Steve Andrews, Peter Nathan quits
CGIC crisis involves Scripture, control, blessing of children

by David Havir

David Hulme, president of the Church of God an International Community (CGIC), headquartered in Pasadena, Calif., disfellowshipped Steven Andrews. Mr. Andrews served the CGIC as corporate secretary-treasurer, chief financial officer and general counsel.

In a "letter of concern" dated Nov. 13, 2013, Mr. Andrews addressed a variety of subjects with Mr. Hulme.

After Mr. Hulme received the letter, he disfellowshipped Mr. Andrews on Nov. 17, relieving him of all his church responsibilities on Nov. 18.

The church president announced the disfellowship to the congregations at Sabbath services on Nov. 23.

Since that time, several other ministers have also ceased to be a part of the CGIC, which Mr. Hulme and associates founded in 1998. One of those is Peter Nathan of Pasadena.

Announced resignation

In a letter to CGIC members dated Dec. 7, 2013, Mr. Hulme announced the resignation of Mr. Nathan.

"It is with much regret that I write to let you know that Mr. Peter Nathan has resigned from the employment of the Church," Mr. Hulme wrote. " We had a conversation on Monday, December 2 ...

"It appears that Mr. Nathan has developed differing views on government in the Church. I pointed out to him that his views are incompatible with the Church's teaching and it became clear that he could not continue in his role as church pastor.

"While I had hoped that he would change his views, he chose rather to resign. Reluctantly, I therefore accepted his resignation."

Speak the same thing

Mr. Hulme ended his letter by citing two Bible verses.

1 Corinthians 1:10: "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."

Ephesians 4:1-3: "I therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

New church group?

A source in California who requested anonymity told The Journal that a small group of former CGIC members met for church services on the Sabbaths of Dec. 21 and 28. Mr. Nathan gave a sermon on the 21st, and Mr. Andrews on the 28th.

A group of people convened a ministerial conference on Dec. 30.

Letter of concern

Although it took a while for Mr. Andrews' letter to Mr. Hulme to surface on the Internet, The Journal found a copy. Following are excerpts from the letter:

"I have spoken to you privately over the years regarding specific incidents, events and topics that presented themselves and raised concerns. I did so even though you did not seek my input. I am compelled, again to provide input though you have not asked."

Mr. Andrews made a brief reference to an apparent difference of opinion about the preaching of the gospel:

"I told you when we were forced out of the United Church of God [UCG, in 1995] that you would have my support so long as you would 'move heaven and hell the way Mr. Armstrong had tried to, to preach the gospel.'"

Herbert Armstrong was founder of the Radio Church of God, which was renamed the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) in 1968.

Mr. Armstrong's ministry included books, magazines and other literature. He was prominent as a broadcaster in radio and television. He died in 1986.

Newspaper coverage

For a history of the separation of Mr. Hulme and Mr. Andrews from the UCG, see the following articles in back issues of The Journal:

"Why Would Council of Elders of United Remove David Hulme From Presidency?," and "Two Council Members Report on Arcadia Meetings, Firing," Jan. 30, 1998, issue.

"United Treasurer Declines to Apologize and Retract After Council Reprimands Him," Feb. 26, 1998.

"Several UCG Personnel Leave Posts," March 30, 1998.

"Newest of Church of God Organizations Forming From Former United Members," April 30, 1998.

Autocratic manner

Mr. Andrews spent time in his letter to Mr. Hulme discussing the topic of their differing views of church government.

"Because of its impact on everything we do as an organization," Mr. Andrews wrote, "your view of government and authority is of primary concern. In your recent sermon on government, gospel and godliness, great effort was expended in an attempt to demonstrate, using scripture and the Apostle Paul, that you are entitled to rule in what can only be called an autocratic manner."

There's something about David?

Mr. Andrews continued: "Too often, those in authority in the Church adopt the premise that there is something about them that actually qualifies them to govern others ...

"When it becomes clear that they are no better at governing than any other human before them, they selectively misuse scripture in an effort to excuse their failings. This has been manifest in many, if not most, Church leaders in our age.

"Once in power, leaders seek to protect that power. Not surprisingly, by asserting their authority, based on their position, to do so. This kind of circular reasoning has been true even of Church leaders.

"What makes it worse when Church leaders behave in such a manner is that they misuse scripture to justify their acquisition, possession and retention of authority. That is precisely what you did in your sermon on government, gospel and godliness."

Mr. Andrews said the story of Adam and Eve and the two trees revealed mankind's inability to govern itself.

"Simply stated, Adam and Eve found themselves outside the garden because," he wrote, "they proved incapable of self-governance."

Jesus' example

Mr. Andrews discussed other Old Testament examples and then talked about the words of Jesus Christ:

"With the coming of Jesus, government and authority changed (Luke 22:24-30). Of course, until the Kingdom of God is established, man will still be accountable to man--human authority and government will exist. But within the Church it is different (Acts 5:29) ...

"We are to, like Christ, learn to serve. If we don't we will never rule. Jesus' point to his disciples and future Apostles in Luke 22 was that if they learned to govern by serving others they would judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

"It should go without saying that serving others demands first governing the self. When Jesus returns to rule, Isaiah tells us (9:6) that the government will be on his shoulders, not under his foot. Serving will continue to be the model for all eternity."

Close but no cigar

Mr. Andrews cited the example of the apostle Paul:

"Most poignant, but usually ignored by those stumping their own authority, is the fact that there is not one instance in the gospels or the apostolic writings of autocratic authority actually being exercised ...

"The closest Paul ever comes to an autocratic exercise of authority in correction is in Corinth in the matter of the man committing incest. What is he upset about?

"He is upset that the congregation forced him to exercise apostolic authority instead of handling the matter themselves."

Bylaws set up a board

Late in the letter Mr. Andrews said the CGIC was established to be overseen by a board and that Mr. Hulme was circumventing the bylaws.

"The corporation is a California Nonprofit Religious Corporation under the California Corporations Code," Mr. Andrews wrote. "California Nonprofit Corporations Code ยง9210(a) provides that a Nonprofit Religious Corporation is required to have a board of directors.

"It further provides that the activities and affairs of the corporation shall be managed and all corporate powers shall be exercised by or under the direction of the board."

Mr. Andrews said the board could delegate management of the activities of the corporation to any person or persons but with an important stipulation: "provided that the activities and affairs of the corporation shall be managed and all corporate powers be exercised under the ultimate direction of the board."

Mr. Andrews continued: "This means that under California law, the board of a Nonprofit Religious Corporation is the highest authority for the organization. No particular board member, including its Chairman, enjoys sole authority, and the authority of the officers of the corporation is subordinate to that of the board acting as a body."

Eschew autocracy

Mr. Andrews said the church as it was founded was obliged to avoid autocracy.

"Since there is nothing in the Nonprofit Corporations Code that contradicts the scriptures, those laws and the structure they provide need to be respected and upheld ...

"The bylaws that establish operating authority for the organization have been subordinated to scripture. I did that [when writing the bylaws] intentionally ...

"Neither primary, nor ultimate authority rests with you, any other individual or any group of individuals. Authority rests with Christ and, based on His Father's instruction, He demands mutual submission, not autocratic rule. Primary and ultimate authority rests with the Father."

Same as Paul?

Mr. Andrews gave his impression of a recent sermon Mr. Hulme gave:

"Your sermon on Government, Gospel and Godliness referenced none of this [eschewing of autocracy]. Rather, it painted a threatening picture of your autocracy within the household of the Father. Not a few people felt threatened. Was it your intent to threaten the beloved children of the Father?

"In that sermon you at least implied that your authority is, or should be, like that of the apostle Paul."

Mr. Andrews' view of Paul

Mr. Andrews explained his take on the apostle Paul:

"As you [Mr. Hulme] noted, during the time Paul spent in Corinth establishing the congregation, he made tents (Acts 18:3).

He did so despite the fact that he had the authority, and absolute right according to the law of God, to demand to be supported from their [the Corinthians'] tithes (1 Corinthians 9:6; 8-11).

"But he did not exercise his right because he reasoned that to do so would be an obstruction to the furtherance of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:12). So, rather than assert his authority and risk obstructing the furtherance of the gospel, Paul imposed limits on himself and on his authority. He practiced serving through self-governance."

The major cause of division

Mr. Andrews made an observation that is shared by many in the Churches of God: "The misuse, abuse of authority by Church leaders, primarily ministers, is a major cause, if not the major cause, of the fracturing and division we have seen in the Church of God in this modern era."

Blessing of children

Then Mr. Andrews challenged Mr. Hulme:

"So please explain how your view of, and the actual exercise of, authority on your part is different than the abusive authority to which the Father's children have been subjected in the past."

Mr. Andrews addressed other concerns in his letter.

He mentioned an incident in which Mr. Hulme supported an elder who refused to bless a child at a CGIC service, because the family did not regularly attend the CGIC.

Gospel emphasis

Mr. Andrews wrote that he had misgivings about Mr. Hulme's policies concerning preaching the gospel.

He questioned Mr. Hulme's emphasis on a "literary" approach in the CGIC's magazine Vision, an approach that Mr. Armstrong had criticized years earlier.

"Surely you remember Mr. Armstrong's public repentance with respect to [two defunct WCG magazines] Human Potential and Quest," Mr. Andrews wrote. "He labeled [them] as a misdirection and a misuse of God's tithes because they exalted human achievement and humanist efforts. They did nothing to advance the gospel and Mr. Armstrong ceased to publish them."

View of human nature

Mr. Andrews expressed his disagreement with his perception of Mr. Hulme's view of human nature, sin, evil and repentance.

He criticized Mr. Hulme for seeming to entertain the idea that human nature isn't evil and that man can come up with morally correct ideas apart from the Bible.

Mr. Andrews wrote: "Your attempts in two separate board meetings, and in the pages of Vision, to construct, from the psychology of neuroplasticity, 'our new way forward,' is nothing more than a corruption of 1 Corinthians 2 and the gospel. It denies the power of the Holy Spirit."

View of Israel

Mr. Andrews said he perceived that Mr. Hulme does not acknowledge the importance of the modern identity of biblical Israel.

"If the sun came up this morning and if it set in the evening," he wrote, and "if the moon and stars are still in the sky, then all of the Father's promises relating to Israel stand--and will for eternity (Jeremiah 31; 32:27, 37-44; 33:14-18. Notice in particular verse 19-22) . . .

"If there is no Israel, or if all the promises have been fulfilled, then there is no gospel ...

"But if the truth of Israel stands for all eternity, and it does and that is great news, then the only way forward for mankind is the power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ and fellowship with the Father."

Summing up

Mr. Andrews began to summarize his letter with reminders about his relationship with WCG administrators Joseph Tkach Sr. and Mike Feazell in the 1990s:

"Of course, doctrinal corruption is a big problem. But, as I told Joseph Tkach, it is accompanied by perhaps a bigger problem--misuse of the Holy Tithe ...

"When the Church [the WCG] was preaching the gospel in a manner pleasing to the Father, we were blessed. It wasn't just the substance of the message that was correct, it was the pattern or method.

"When the message and the manner began to be corrupted in the Worldwide Church of God, I was tasked by Joseph Tkach Sr. and Mike Feazell to develop something from scripture they could use to explain how the message would be approached."

Financial and legal adviser

Before 1995 Mr. Andrews served in the WCG in the following capacities:

  • Corporate treasurer.
  • Chief financial officer.
  • Director of finance and planning.

During that same time he served Ambassador College (AC) and Ambassador Foundation. For AC he served as:

  • Treasurer.
  • Chief financial officer.
  • Legal counsel.

For Ambassador Foundation he served as:

  • Treasurer.
  • Chief financial officer.
  • Director of finance and planning.

From 1995 to 1998 Mr. Andrews served the UCG as:

  • Corporate treasurer.
  • Chief financial officer.
  • General Counsel.

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