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Disfellowshipped UCG elder requests apology from church

COLCORD, Okla.--A former elder of the United Church of God has formally requested an apology from that church for its disfellowshipping of him in 2002.

Dan Cafourek of Colcord, who is now the 59-year-old pastor of the independent Arkansas Church of God Fellowship, based in Fayetteville, Ark., wrote an open letter in December 2005 to the UCG's council of elders, outlining why he believes the church unjustly "branded" him and "disfellowshipped" him.

The disfellowshipping happened in 2002. Mr. Cafourek immediately appealed the action. Months later, in 2003, the church informed him his appeal had been denied, and the disfellowshipping stands to this day.

Mr. Cafourek told The Journal he made the decision in late 2005 to bring up the subject again because of a change in personnel at the Ohio-based UCG: Richard Pinelli, who lives in the Cincinnati area, is no longer the director of ministerial services (although Mr. Pinelli was recently, in 2006, elected to the 12-man council of elders).

As of this writing, Mr. Cafourek still had not heard from anyone on the council responding in any way to his letter, including his request for an apology.

Further, The Journal by E-mail invited Clyde Kilough and other members of the council of elders to comment on Mr. Cafourek's letter: whether to apologize, as Mr. Cafourek requested, or to decline to apologize--whatever they wished to say in any kind of response.

As of this writing, The Journal had received no formal reply to its invitation (although The Journal's publisher did participate in an off-the-record exchange of E-mails with a council member regarding the situation).

In his letter, Mr. Cafourek states that he does not wish to begin attending UCG Sabbath services again regularly, although he told The Journal he wants to feel free to attend and visit with friends at UCG services on occasion.

For more on this story, see "Elder Protests UCG Move to Relieve Him of Duties," The Journal, April 15, 2002, and "Church Alleges 'Discord' When Disfellowshipping Elder," The Journal, June 30, 2002.

Addresser and addressee

Mr. Cafourek's open letter appears on the letterhead of the Arkansas Church of God Fellowship, P.O. Box 8102, Fayetteville, Ark. 72703.

It is addressed to Council of Elders, United Church of God, IA [an International Association], 555 Technecenter Dr., Milford, Ohio 45150.

At the beginning of the letter Mr. Cafourek states that it is in reference to "Richard Pinelli's June 11, 2002, form letter of Disfellowship."

The letter requests that it be read by "Robert Dick, Chairman, and all members of the Council of Elders."

Following is the text of "Part I" of Mr. Cafourek's letter. Also beginning on this page is Mr. Cafourek's related exposition on the feast-day calendar, which he sent to the council as "Part II" of his letter.
The text of the letter as printed here has been slightly edited, mainly for spelling and paragraphing and to add subheads.

If anyone on the council, or other United Church of God officials, comments to The Journal as a result of the publication of Mr. Cafourek's letter here, The Journal will be happy to consider printing such comments.

Appeal of disfellowshipping
By Dan Cafourek

On Jan. 1, 2006, I will be commemorating the 40th year of my total commitment to the way--the repentance and forgiveness and blotting out of all past sins and with baptism, prayer and laying on of hands, the coming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. From that day forward I have been led by the Holy Spirit.

I look forward to the anniversary of the 40th year of indwelling and leading of the Holy Spirit. Greater growth has been realized these past three years than in all the years in the religious corporations. So for that opportunity for spiritual growth I am very thankful.

Yet in a letter dated March 5, 2003, Clyde Kilough, then Chairman of the COE [council of elders], wrote:

"I am writing to inform you that on March 2, 2003, the Council of Elders formally considered your appeal of disfellowshipment. After careful deliberation, the Council supports the decision of the Member Appeal Committee and thus denied your appeal. Therefore, your disfellowshipment is upheld."

By upholding Richard's [Richard Pinelli, then director of ministerial services] unfounded paper disfellowship letter, are you denying the lead of the Holy Spirit?

May I remind you that there is one sin which will not be forgiven in this world or in the world to come--that of attributing the workings of the Holy Spirit to being the workings of Satan--when you know better.

Is that what you are saying in this case? If so, that is indeed a very serious matter and not one to be taken lightly. Could it be considered a salvation issue?

Gamaliel's advice

Perhaps you would be better served to consider the advice of Gamaliel in Acts 5:38-39 (the Scriptures):

"And now I say to you, stay away from these men and leave them alone, because if this plan or this work is of men, it shall be overthrown, but if it is of Elohim, you are unable to overthrow it, lest you even be found to fight against Elohim."

I was just now going through some old files to make way for a coming Roman-calendar year and came across my four months of E-mail communiqu├ęs with Richard Pinelli from October 2001 to Feb. 13, 2002.

It was interesting to read again how I had asked Richard why certain scriptures were ignored in problem resolution in United Church of God and mentioned Matthew 18:15-17 in particular.

His response was that it was nothing personal--it was policy.

I then took the opportunity to point out to Richard that he had just acknowledged that corporate policy (and in other cases administrative decisions) were being placed above Scripture.

These matters applied in my circumstances as two individuals, Farnum and Joan Taylor, had expressed "concerns" to Roger West.

I had pointed out to Richard as to how many congregations had been divided and members disassociated as a result of his unscriptural approach and "policies" and asked that he change, or request reassignment, so that he would no longer be in a contact position as he was as Director of Ministerial Services.

Ministerial moves

You are all well aware that Richard Pinelli has since been reassigned and is no longer Director of Ministerial Services. Though he would not remove himself, he has been removed--a fact that has brought much rejoicing in a number of circles, though it may be a little late in many cases.

But the legacy will be remembered. Seems someone was keeping tabs and there were over 20 congregations that had been divided and to some extent scattered under this regime.

It was widely rumored that when Roy Holladay became president he had wanted to replace Richard as Director of Ministerial Services. But at that time Jim Franks and Doug Horchak returned to the COE and swung the balance of power and blocked his dismissal.

In addition, some say he had clout as he was almost voted onto the COE--and made concessions for concessions and was able to stay on as Director of Ministerial Services, to the chagrin of many.

During his reign (of terror?) most all those who had come away from the original UCG formative meeting in Indianapolis [in 1995] with high hopes that UCG could be a different and kinder and gentler association--where members would actually be recognized as actually being the body of our Messiah--have now been removed or in some way separated from the organization.

Northwest Arkansas congregation

I was one who sought to assist. It was finally understood that I was instrumental (and the first elder) in establishing the UCG congregation in Northwest Arkansas. Larry Greider thanked me for my efforts--after he had summarily suspended me from UCG's ministry on April 4, 2002.

I had attempted to give input that could have gone a long way in changing the organization in a positive manner. However, there were those who had crept in unawares who wanted the same system as before. Eventually they prevailed and all who disagreed were driven off or driven out.

Some said that the closing of the original Elders' Forum [an E-mail discussion group sponsored by the UCG] was to silence me and others of like mind. As early as spring of 2000 at the time of Ozzie Engelbart's death, Larry Greider had told me, "You're being watched!"

It must be remembered that my E-mail to Richard on Feb. 13, 2002, in which I expressed the aforementioned matters and asked him to change or seek reassignment, was the last communication I had with him until I received his form letter dated June, 11, 2002, stating that it was his duty to disfellowship me.

This has always been understood as his response to my E-mail sent on Feb. 13, since I then had in writing the fact that he places policy and administrative decision above Scriptures.

Sowing discord

I had informed Richard of how the matter with the Taylors should have been handled in accordance with Matthew 18:15-17. I informed him that, by encouraging brothers and sisters to "turn in" other brothers and sisters in the manner of the former Communist Party, members are afraid to share thoughts with other members and even with the pastor.

It was pointed out that the dividing of congregations under his administration was nothing more than sowing discord. It was explained how he and Larry and even Roger West had "sown discord" to the point of driving away members--something that could never be said of me.

I did this with full knowledge and comprehension that Richard would some day use "sowing discord" as a gloss to "disfellowship" me.

I informed him, "I do believe that most all these problems will be resolved if and when true servant leadership is practiced," and said, "I do believe the Church (UCGIA) will have to change in its approach on these matters if true leadership is ever to be implemented. If these changes are not made, servant leadership will be just so much rhetoric."

These are exact quotes--of which all of you should be witness. If he failed to include this E-mail, then shame on him.

If he did include it, you know these things to be true. Shame should fall on your sullen faces.

Deeply hurt

I closed by saying:

"I do believe UCGIA the corporation will have to reverse any and all policies that divide brothers and sisters in Christ from brothers and sisters in Christ, and any and all policies that divide the ministry of Jesus Christ from the people whom God the Father has called. I look forward to that day. (Now you have something you can take against me.)

"Richard, I know the possibility is indeed remote, but I do hope you will accept this request from me as a brother in Christ who is very concerned with the treatment of God's people that I have witnessed. Many I have known have been hurt deeply. Warm regards, Dan."

Umbrella issue

As Larry Greider would tell me, they had put together a dossier about two inches thick of things they were holding against me. It can only be imagined that they must have kept every Elders' Forum comment they didn't like in order to stir their wrath and build up their case against me and added several of my personal E-mails to Richard as well.

It certainly had nothing to do with the calendar as I wrote nothing concerning the calendar. That is why all references to charges related to the calendar will be addressed separately in Part II.

Though the calendar issue was an "umbrella" under which charges were brought against me, that issue could never have been recognized as a legitimate issue, which will be explained. Again, see Part II.

Scriptural support?

Richard and his administration must have been waiting and hoping for any opportunity to use as an excuse to remove me.

Because there was no scriptural support for what was being done, when Farnum and Joan Taylor of the Bentonville, Ark., congregation told Roger West that I had said the Rabbinical Calculated Calendar should not be touted as "God's Sacred Calendar" but that it should be viewed and presented as a calendar by which to keep the festivals, and Roger reported it to Richard, he (Richard) saw his chance and came against me with all the forces he could muster.

No one ever accused me of sinning, nor has anyone made known what that sin would be if indeed sin were the case.

When I met with Larry Greider, then acting Regional Director, at George Meeker's apartment in Fort Smith on Thursday, April 4, 2002, he asked me if I had observed the Passover with United.

I answered, but in his exuberance to solidify his case against me (he told me you all had a dossier about two inches thick), he failed to hear my answer and accused me of not answering and then exclaimed that he was suspending me from all ministerial duties and would be recommending to the Council that my credentials be revoked and that I be removed from the General Conference of Elders.

Calendar concern

It is found interesting that he never asked if I were ill, or if there were some extenuating circumstances. It was obvious his course of action was predetermined and premeditated--the only reason for his meeting with me was that it was part of UCG's "policy" that the Regional Pastor take this action.

He acknowledged that the only matter of concern was the calendar.

He took this action against me, and the Council revoked my credentials--from United Church of God, the only jurisdiction which they believed they had--on May 9, 2002.

As previously stated, the letter mentioning disfellowship [that was] was dated June 11, 2002, contained no proof of any misconduct or "sowing discord"--the charge that is usually the gloss given these matters as a "catchall."

As already mentioned, there was enough "sowing discord" done by others.

I appealed the matter to the Member Appeal Committee and then on to the Council of Elders. Though no Council member ever even contacted me, all seemed to believe that, being part of a religious corporation, they had to support and protect their own, and so Clyde Kilough, then Chairman, informed me via letter that they had decided to leave Richard's disfellowship letter in place.

Whereas it has now been more than three and a half years since the infamous disfellowship letter (some see the Great Tribulation as only lasting three and a half years), it is certainly time to dismiss this whole scenario and stop this brand of persecution.

Please, each one of you, ask yourselves these questions personally:

  • Has even one member of the COE contacted me to see how I was progressing in the last three and one half years? (The answer is a resounding "no!")
  • Does anyone really believe you have jurisdiction over my relationship with my Heavenly Father and my Savior?
  • Does anyone really believe that you have jurisdiction over my relationship with true disciples of Messiah?
  • Does anyone really believe that United Church of God stands somehow between me (or anyone, for that matter) and my Father and salvation, and that salvation can only be attained through United Church of God?

Eyes right?

I know that in 1997 UCGIA COE passed a resolution stating in essence that United was not the only organization in which the body of Messiah existed. But Larry Greider insisted: "No, we never said there are Christians in other organizations! What we said is that we can't roll back their eyelids [gestures performed] to see if the Holy Spirit is there!"

But certainly you in the Council of Elders know better than that. (May I ask a favor? Someone please inform Larry of the scriptures that explain "by their fruits you shall know them.")

Therefore, it is hereby resolved that the only reasonable resolution to this matter is that your previous decision be completely vacated, rescinded and renounced. It is requested that you all face the reality that you have no jurisdiction over my relationship with the Father and the Son, nor any of His true disciples, and it is therefore requested that you rescind your decision to uphold Richard Pinelli's unfounded claim for jurisdiction in issuing such an insidious letter of disfellowship.

It is now time to put all this behind us so that these records can be expunged so as to make way for the bright future. Hopefully, so much will be brighter in so many areas. But, for this to happen, certain steps must be taken immediately.

Apology requested

Insomuch as none of you have ever even talked with me in person about any of these things of which I was accused, I beseech you to take the high road, acknowledge your lack of jurisdiction in these matters, vacate, rescind and revoke your previous ruling upholding Richard's June 11, 2002, letter.

May announcements then be made anywhere and everywhere there was ever detrimental mention of my name?

Also, please obtain apologies from all who were involved in such actions to be submitted to me. (This is asked for their own good--confession is good for the soul.)

The list

Those from whom apologies are expected would include:

Farnum and Joan Taylor of the Bentonville, Ark., congregation, who first brought accusations against me to Roger West--without coming to me in private as instructed in Matthew 18:15-18; Roger West, who asked me for confidential information and then took it to Richard Pinelli, again without mentioning that that was his intent.

Also, for Roger's [inaccurate statement] that we had not been able to resolve the situation when he spent nearly five hours at my home and agreed the charges were wrong and said he would try to have the decisions reversed.

Also, there should be an apology from Jack Willoughby of the Bentonville, Ark., congregation, who refused to allow a congregation meeting to get input on what if any action the congregation should take.

The same is true of George Meeker, who, when he read the announcement in the Bentonville congregation, ordered a family escorted from the building when the husband stood up to correct the error that was being made.

Other apologies are requested from:

Larry Greider, for his role in insisting on meeting with me when he had with malice aforethought already arrived at his conclusion to suspend me from ministerial duties; apologies from John Bald and Ellis La Ravia and Bob Fahey and all those on the Member Appeal Committee and all members who were then on the Council of Elders when that vote was taken to uphold the Pinelli decision.

Bob Hedge, my former friend of 36 years from the Mena, Ark., church area, should also send an apology for accusing me of the sin of not following all the dictates of the Council of Elders and putting them in a position between me and my Maker.

He also insisted that this is the reason someone vandalized and burned my house--and why, when I asked to be anointed for a hernia situation, he instead insisted this was also my punishment for not placing the COE on a pedestal.

These matters have caused much unnecessary pain and trauma.

But, as Mordecai explained to [Esther], who knows but what I was called to the kingdom for just such a time as this?

Sincerely, a servant of Yahweh,
Dan Cafourek

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