Letters from our Readers - Part 1
( READ PART 2)
Regarding "The WCG Still Practices Armstrongism," by John Gideon [page 3, The Journal, March 31]:
Brother Gideon tells us that "orthodoxy is about Jesus' love for all."
Nothing could be further from the truth. This idea of "loving each other as I have loved you" is just another one of those things that Jesus said that never gained any popularity and was anonymously done away with by the elite elders and lay pastors through providentially gifted interpretations and mutterings.
The fact is that "orthodoxy and Armstrongism" (as Brother Gideon calls them) are both about the authority of the clergy and the power and essential place of the church in the salvation scenario.
Both Armstrongism and orthodoxy reverted to the class-system-based Jewish tradition of worshiping the host of heaven, a subject that is a bit touchier than one would wish to get into, as our dear Brother Stephen found out the hard way.
It is a bit surprising that someone at this late date would seriously suggest that the endless divisions we see in Christianity have something to do with "loving each other."
It is all about who gets to spend the money, isn't it? Or maybe it is something more sinecure.
Being a mother in Israel, I find it a sad state of affairs when a man who claims to be an elder and teacher is too timid to openly face the enemies of truth and suggest that we should love each other.
Christianity has spent the worst part of 2,000 years embracing loveless, self-serving doctrinal priorities and dialogues.
Now Brother Gideon and all you other men and women in The Journal speak as though this will all change if you become pope.
Sister Deborah Caleb
Name of city withheld
An open letter to the laypeople who attend United Church of God an International Association:
I recently read with interest the letters including an open letter to elders of the United Church of God [in The Journal]. Some look to the UCG ministry to make the necessary corrections among their own in regards to their fallacious actions taken in firing Jim O'Brien [see "Church Lets Elder Go When He Disregards Its Gag Order," May 31 issue].
I direct my letter to the people who continue to attend those congregations because the real power to change these egregious errors lies with the people.
It is not that I disagree with the responsibility that rests on the UCG ministry, but the die has been cast. It is no longer a question of whether the UCG ministry will move ever closer toward authoritarianism even while paying lip service to servant leadership.
I found it of major interest when the UCG ministers at the council level immediately wanted to rename and redefine servant leadership. The question must be asked: Did they even have an inkling of what it means?
It is a known fact that Richard Pinelli and others in power positions have had no interest in implementing servant leadership and have set out on a vendetta to dissolve all local boards and advisory counsels, even though they are in compliance with the Rules of Association. Richard is on record as to having stated such.
When discussions were taking place concerning the wording of the Rules of Association in the summer of 1999, Leon Walker, then council-of-elders member and chairman of the doctrine committee, informed me that, as long as the people show up for services at buildings where UCG services are held, that is interpreted that all in attendance agree with all that the UCG ministry is doing.
That is why, even though many if not most of the UCG congregations had not even seen a copy of the Rules of Association, the document--voted on and approved by the UCG ministry--boldly states that the congregations have accepted and agree to the terms in the Rules of Association.
I have often said that if I conducted myself as such in my business dealings I would have to consider myself a liar.
Further proof that this is the mind-set of the ministry in United was provided by regional pastor Larry Greider when he insisted to me that when people showed up at the doors where United services were to take place it was because they wanted a United-style service. He said this rather than acknowledge that they were showing up to worship God.
This is the precedent. So it is little wonder that a regional pastor had no need to visit the congregations to gather proof that "six families have left the Lexington congregation, refusing to be pastored by Jim" [see the above-referenced article about Jim O'Brien].
It is the approved precedent that ministerial services, regional pastors and pastors of congregations can and do lie--if it is deemed to be for the "greater good," the furtherance of the corporate agenda.
And, yes, anyone who stands in their way will be accused of "sowing discord."
This happened to me. I carried on an E-mail dialogue with Richard for four months prior to my banishment and disfellowshipment [see "Church Alleges 'Discord' When Disfellowshipping Elder," The Journal, June 30, 2002].
During this time I mentioned to him that I would be eventually accused of "sowing discord" though I showed that I had actually brought people to attend United while he (Richard), Larry Greider and Pastor Roger West had actually driven members from the congregation.
I was instrumental in helping start the Bentonville, Ark., congregation in summer 1995, even though efforts are underway by some to rewrite history.
By now Jim (O'Brien) has moved on and is pastoring congregations apart from the UCG and should be applauded. He is exonerated.
The question remains: Will this same type of situation continue to recur over and over again in the UCG?
The answer is a resounding yes. As long as the current administration remains in "power," these things will continue to happen. The only question is what congregation or area will become the next big thing in the annals of UCG history.
Now, where does that leave the membership of the congregations?
Please remember that members of congregations are not actually members of United. Official membership is reserved to the ministry. To those in the congregations I ask:
Can you really say you don't support the things that the leadership does and still continue to support them with tithes and offerings?
Can you watch atrocities inflicted upon fellow Christians and just go your way as though nothing has happened?
Can you turn your heads and say as long as it isn't happening to me it really isn't happening?
If you say this, how does this square with what our Messiah said in the latter part of Matthew 25, that what is done to the least of His brethren is done directly unto Him?
You are urged to examine carefully what you are allowing to take place by continuing to show up at the door and by continuing to support your church financially.
If you support this type of system, do you really know what you are supporting? Compare it to Matthew 20:25-28 and you will find you are supporting the gentile way. (May I encourage the reading of an article titled "The Gentile Way" at www.onlinetruth.org.)
Anyone going this direction is on a slippery slope indeed.
The short answer
The letter writer began by stating, "There will be no Feast of Unleavened Bread in 2005" [See "Important Feast Announcement," The Journal, May 31, page 4].
The reason given was that "the Passover in 2005 is on the Sabbath of April 23 and observed the night before, Friday, April 22," and "the first holy day of Unleavened Bread is Sunday, April 24."
To begin, the Feast of Unleavened Bread will indeed be observed the same as all other of God's holy days. They are commanded by Almighty God (Leviticus 23:1-2).
Jesus Christ and His apostles, including Paul, kept them.
Next year, 2005, is not the first time this sequence has occurred, the most recent being 2001, when the Passover also fell on the weekly Sabbath and the first day of Unleavened Bread on Sunday.
Leviticus 23:15-16 states: "And you shall count for yourselves starting with [as from should be correctly translated] the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord."
Since the wave offering must take place on the day after the weekly Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread, the church teaching, under Herbert W. Armstrong, was and still is to begin counting with this same day (Sunday) even though it may be the first day of Unleavened Bread.
This is the only way the Scriptures can be fulfilled and carried out in accordance with God's instructions.
Harvest Rock and its auditorium
We have really been enjoying your paper. It's good to hear some of the positive news of the COGs.
The article about the sale and purchase of the AC campus and auditorium by the Harvest Rock Church, "a charismatic ministry," brought joy to my spirit [see "An Elder With Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena Tells Why Harvest Needs Ambassador Auditorium," The Journal, May 31].
Ken Storey and I worked together while we were on staff at WCG Pasadena before I was sent out to Pennsylvania, when we lost contact. After we had both left, we shared some of our experiences and discovered we were both going the Spirit-filled route. It was great to hear about him.
Via the Internet
I thought Bill Stough did a great job on the article ["An Elder With Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena Tells Why Harvest Needs Ambassador Auditorium," The Journal, May 31]. Thanks for the interview.
Los Angeles, Calif.
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