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UCG's crisis is the latest
in a long line of ups and downs

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UCG's crisis is the latest in a long line of ups
and downs since the church's founding in 1995

Part 2
by Dixon Cartwright

President-elect declines to serve

The Journal reported in its April 15, 2002, issue that the new president-elect decided not to serve as president and council member simultaneously.

"Mr. Holladay, who recently moved from Hawkins, Texas, to Ohio in anticipation of his presidential responsibilities in the Cincinnati suburb of Milford, will be the third UCG president and the first one not to serve in that position while simultaneously occupying a seat on the governing council of elders."

Mr. Holladay not reconfirmed

Three years later, in its Feb. 28, 2005, issue, The Journal reported the end of Mr. Holladay's term as president.

"The council of elders of the United Church of God an International Association voted Feb. 28 not to 'reaffirm' Roy Holladay as president of the church. The decision by the 12-man body effectively marks the removal of the Ohio-based group's third president in its 10-year history ... By not reaffirming him, the council in essence removes him from office effective sometime after May."

The men on the council at that point were Mr. Dean, Mr. Dick, Mr. Franks, Doug Horchak, Clyde Kilough, Mr. Kubik, Mr. McCullough, Joel Meeker, Mr. Seiglie, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Walker and Anthony Wasilkoff.

Clyde Kilough new president

In its issue dated May 31, 2005, The Journal, in an article by John Warren, reported the selection of a new president of the UCG.

"Days before the general conference met, the 12-man council had selected Clyde Kilough, 53, of Antelope, Calif., as the fourth president of the church in its 10-year history."

Vote to move to Texas

Two years later the UCG clergy was abuzz with talk of moving the headquarters offices from Ohio to Texas.

In an article headlined "Elders Vote by Slim Margin to Move HQ Office to Texas," dated May 31, 2007, The Journal reported that, "during balloting on Sunday during the meetings, the ministers decided by only a seven-vote margin, 202-195, to move the home office from Milford, Ohio, to Denton, Texas . . .

"The surprise, for some observers, wasn't that the general conference voted to accept the move that had been approved by the 12-man governing council of elders.

"The surprise was that the measure almost lost. If only four men had voted the other way, the proposal to move would have died, at least for the time being.

Two old-timers voted off council

"The other surprise concerned the decision by the elders not to keep longtime Church of God elders Les McCullough and Leon Walker, both of Big Sandy, Texas, on the council."

Mr. Holladay replaced Mr. McCullough, and Bob Berendt replaced Mr. Walker.

Joel Meeker steps aside

As reported in The Journal dated August 2007: "Joel Meeker, an elder in the United Church of God and member of the UCG's governing body, the council of elders, [abruptly and unexpectedly] resigned his seat on the 12-man board in a letter to church president Clyde Kilough dated July 25, 2007.

"Filling the vacancy is Leon Walker of Big Sandy, Texas, who in May had lost his bid for reelection to the council.

"Mr. Walker is back as a councillor because he was next in line in the tally of votes cast by the general conference of elders to fill one of the three 'international' seats on the council.

"Mr. Meeker, although an American and resident of the Cincinnati, Ohio, area, was considered one of three international council members because of his 'editorial and membership oversight responsibilities in the French-speaking areas,' Mr. Kilough said.

"Mr. Walker [a resident of Big Sandy, Texas] handles similar responsibilities for Spanish-speaking areas."

Council rebuffs Aaron Dean

The big news about the UCG in March 2008 included the decision by the council majority to rebuff and censure one of its own: council member Aaron Dean.

From The Journal: "A firestorm was raging recently on Internet and other discussion forums fueled by the recent decision by the council of elders of the United Church of God to 'censure' one of its members.

"The governing 12-man body sent a letter to the church's general conference of elders (GCE) in March 2008 informing elders worldwide that Aaron Dean of Gladewater, Texas, a council member since January 1999, was officially censured and prohibited from speaking at any UCG congregations until after the 2008 Feast of Tabernacles.

"Although the general membership of the church was not generally aware of the council's letter to the elders, word of the censure surfaced.

"Mr. Dean, who served as a personal aide to Worldwide Church of God founder Herbert W. Armstrong from 1974 until Mr. Armstrong's death, in 1986, delivered a sermon and answered questions at a meeting of a Church of God group in Huntsville, Texas, during the 2007 Feast of Tabernacles.

"The action [delivering the sermon during the Texas group's Feast observance] violated a UCG policy about speaking to other groups and brought on the censure."

Elders reelect Mr. Dean

Many UCG members and observers were surprised, then, when, in the wake of Mr. Dean's official censure, the elders reelected him to the council.

From The Journal dated April 30, 2008, in an article headlined "Vote Changes Complexion of UCG Council of Elders":

"Members of the old majority that has included Robert Dick, Jim Franks, Richard Pinelli, Larry Salyer, Richard Thompson and Leon Walker are diminishing in numbers, with Messrs. Franks, Salyer and Walker no longer sitting on the board.

"Meanwhile, council members--including the ones elected in 2008--who are generally seen as more progressive include Bob Berendt, Aaron Dean, Bill Eddington, Roy Holladay, Paul Kieffer, Clyde Kilough, Victor Kubik, Darris McNeely and Robin Webber."

"'Progressive,' in this case refers to an outlook that tends to promote forward-looking views of church governance such as the founders of the UCG espoused at the first conference, in Indianapolis in 1995."

(The Journal and other observers later changed their opinion of the correct classification for Mr. Kilough, moving him from the "progressive" to the "conservative" category.)

The article continued: "Council members who also ran but did not retain their seats were Leon Walker of Big Sandy, Texas, Jim Franks of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Larry Salyer, also of Cincinnati.

"The biggest surprise for some observers was Mr. Dean's reelection. The council had recently censured the longtime Church of God member, who was ordained many years ago as an evangelist by Worldwide Church of God founder Herbert Armstrong . . .

"Whether a backlash occurred or not, Mr. Dean is back on [the council], with the majority of elders not seeming to mind that Mr. Dean ignored the don't-speak-to-outsiders rule."

Texas move headed off at the pass

The article also reported that the elders voted to rescind the previously approved decision to move the home office from the Cincinnati area to Denton, Texas.

Observers believe that the manner in which some UCG officials dealt with the proposed move to Texas and censured Mr. Dean did not sit well with many of the elders (with "progressive" leanings) in the general conference and resulted in the move to take back the vote to move church headquarters.

Mr. Meeker's two issues

When UCG elder Joel Meeker wrote a message on the church's elders' Internet forum, he highlighted the friction between the administration and the council majority, which was by this time 9-3 in favor of the progressives.

He specifically mentioned his frustration over two issues. They were the general conference of elders' decisions to (1) reelect Aaron Dean and (2) to rescind the planned move from Ohio to Texas.

As reported in the April 30, 2008, issue of The Journal in the article "Former COE Member Regrets Criticism":

"Elder Joel Meeker on May 22 had taken to task the church's 360-strong general conference of elders for reelecting Aaron Dean of Gladewater, Texas, four days earlier . . .

"Mr. Meeker also criticized the elders' decision to reverse an earlier decision to move the church's home office from Ohio to Texas."

Mr. Meeker pulled few punches in his comments. Here are a few of them:

  • "But now we've disgraced ourselves as a body and I for one am ashamed to be part of this General Conference of Elders."

  • "Yes, I'm ashamed to be part of an association that supposedly repudiates factions--where a faction can behave with such cunning, ruthlessness and contempt for the truth, and still win its own will."

  • "A majority of our balloting elders have shown they will not support the consensus of the GCE if they don't feel like it. They have shown that they will listen to mud-slinging and vituperation and even lies, mixed with generous helpings of fawning and flattery[,] and they will willingly cooperate."

  • "I believe this is the beginning of the end for the United Church of God as we have known it. The fissures caused by the moral earthquake we all just felt will no doubt be papered over for a while and we will be assured that all is well in the best of worlds."

Mr. Meeker apologizes

The article also quoted an apology from Mr. Meeker for his criticisms that included the following paragraph:

"I want to apologize to the elders who submitted their ballots in all honesty, knowing that I don't have insight into the prayer, fasting, and sincerity with which you fulfilled your privilege at the GCE."

Some observers believe that, although some of the men who previously held leadership positions in the UCG probably agreed with Mr. Meeker's allegations, they were disappointed that his comments went public.

Some elders in the UCG apparently were hoping that the censure of Mr. Dean in March 2008 would influence voting elders not to reelect him to the council in May 2008.

When Mr. Dean was reelected, and when the headquarters move was rescinded, a trend visibly emerged of the conservatives, the old guard, losing influence within the organization.

Two new council members

As reported in The Journal dated May 31, 2009, UCG elders chose Scott Ashley, managing editor of publications, and Melvin Rhodes, a church pastor and writer, as two new council members and returned Richard Thompson and Bill Eddington to their seats on the council.

The article mentioned the council members who were not chosen: incumbent Richard Pinelli and former council members Antion, Franks and Horchak.

Should the council micromanage?

The same issue of The Journal ran an article headlined "Q&A Lets Elders Sound Off, Ask the Hard Ones."

The comments from questioners and answerers revealed some of the tension between the council and the administration team (the president, treasurer, director of ministerial services, and media director).

"Clyde Kilough, a council member who also serves as church president, read a question: 'It appears the council is beginning to micromanage through the media and strategic-planning committees. Do you feel this is occurring? Please explain your point of view.'

"Mr. Kilough replied: 'Well, it's a pretty direct question. How do I feel? Well, yeah, I believe so. That's my feeling.

"'I believe there is a change in direction [of the council] in certain ways. There is written into our governing documents a word called oversight . . . The council has the prerogative to interpret [the concept of oversight] and apply it . . .

"'My feeling about that: I think I offer that opinion without being adversarial . . .

"If the degree of involvement in that aspect of oversight is more hands-on at one time than at other times, these things will happen . . .'

Council provides direction

"Mr. Dick [council chairman] invited additional responses to the same question.

"Roy Holladay commented: 'It's not a matter that we [on the council] want to tell the administration how to do their job, or their daily job, but we do feel that in these areas where it's the overall direction or where we're going that the council has responsibility of setting the overall direction and guidance,' and 'the administration has a responsibility of implementing that . . .

"'Back in February we were able to sit down with the administration--I'm talking about our committee. We had a whole day with the administration where we were able to sit down with them and talk with them, and we were able to, let's say, get on the same page as far as various items.'"

Question about HQ move

The same article reported that Herchial Fisher, a UCG elder from Jamaica, asked three questions of the council during the Q&A.

"Mr. Fisher's third and last question concerned 'the vote to rescind the move last year.' How could it be that, with God inspiring two votes after much praying and fasting on the part of the elders, the votes contradicted each other?

"'Have we now created a situation where there is doubt as to whether the praying and fasting is inspired by God,' Mr. Fisher continued, 'and, if we believe it is, did God change His mind about relocating and rescinding the vote?'"

After a few comments from other elders, Mr. Kilough said: "You ask did God change His mind. No way. God's not double-minded. God is not confused. We're the humans. We're the ones who have the mind problems, not God. Did He change His mind? No.'"

Later in the article: "He [Mr. Kilough] described situations in which he has sensed that God 'steps back' and lets people make their own decisions because those people have let themselves become 'conflicted.'

"'I think it's also important . . . to sort our way out of being conflicted, whatever the conflict may be.'"

Two council resignations

In its issue dated Sept. 29, 2009, The Journal ran "UCG Makes Decisions On Move, Bloc Voting, Forums":

"The United Church of God is on the move: altering, or at least tweaking, controversial policies and past decisions in at least three areas."

The article mentioned a continuing perception of friction when it reported on two resignations from the council.

"Two elders--Richard Thompson and Clyde Kilough--recently resigned their seats on the council. Taking their place were the two men next in line in the most recent voting for council members: Mr. Franks and Mr. Horchak. Mr. Kilough, although no longer on the council, is still church president."

10-2 makeup of council

From the same article: "The church's council of elders over the past few months of 2009 has addressed three touchy subjects:

"What to do with the Texas property now that the church no longer plans to move its home office from Ohio to the Lone Star State.

"Unofficial Internet forums and discussion groups some elders have participated in.

"Alleged bloc voting by elders during the yearly general conference."

The article reported the council's method of dealing with the ill-fated attempt to move the home office.

"The council decided Aug. 13, 2009, by a vote of 10-1, with one council member absent, to kill once and for all discussion of the proposed move of the home office from Ohio to Texas."

Voting to end the discussion (that is, voting not to move) were Messrs. Ashley, Berendt, Dean, Eddington, Holladay, Kieffer, Kubik, McNeely, Rhodes and Webber. Voting against (that is, voting for the move) was Mr. Horchak. Mr. Franks was not present for the vote.

Unauthorized elders' forums

The article mentioned how the council dealt with unofficial Internet forums for UCG elders.

"In a 31-page report called 'Answers to Key Questions About Private Discussion Groups' dated July 28, 2009, the council announced it has found nothing ethically amiss about private discussions among elders, even if they are organized and occur on the Internet."

Attorney's surprising opinion about bloc voting

The article reported, and gave Journal writer Dixon Cartwright's opinions on, the subject of bloc voting.

"Speaking of bloc voting, The Journal perceives a bit of confusion in the UCG's discussions of that subject.

"UCG leaders and other elders have made statements on the official elders' forum that soundly condemn the practice of bloc voting, which by definition is the practice of voters influencing each other to cast their ballot for or against the same person or issue.

"Yet a careful reading of the UCG's own materials reveals that the church's attorney, Larry Darden, in an April 12, 2007, legal opinion, signed off on the bloc-voting concept, concluding there is nothing wrong with it.

"'Elder attempts to both initiate and influence other GCE [general conference of elders] members to ballot a certain way on ballot issues of interest to the GCE is permissible and even encouraged by the UCG Bylaws,' Mr. Darden wrote."

The article continued: "Mr. Darden did go on to imply, however, that there is more than one kind of bloc voting: good and bad. The good kind helps to decide 'issues.' The bad kind selects 'nominees or candidates.'

"Elders may discuss among themselves, even attempt to influence each other, before votes that decide issues, but are directed not to do so when it comes to selecting who should occupy the 12 seats of the council of elders."

The article later said: "Attorney Darden wrote that, even though bloc voting isn't inherently unethical, the council is within its rights when it prohibits it."

Significantly, according to Mr. Darden's opinion, the prohibition has nothing to do with the constitution or bylaws. Rather, bloc voting for and against candidates is prohibited only by council policy.

Three new council members

The Journal reported in its issue dated June 17, 2010, about the conference in Cincinnati the previous month. The article ran under the headline "'Go Into All the World' Theme of UCG Elders' Conference."

"The voters chose Mike Blackwell, Mario Seiglie and David Treybig as the three new council members and returned Robert Berendt (one of the three international councillors) to his seat on the governing board. Mr. Seiglie had served on the council some years ago but was not a current incumbent.

"The conference also confirmed David Baker and Jim Franks to serve out the remainder of the terms of two men who had resigned their positions before their terms had ended: Clyde Kilough of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Richard Thompson of Eustis, Fla."

The article also mentioned that incumbents Mr. Holladay and Mr. Kubik were not reelected to the council.

As mentioned earlier, the makeup of the council was apparently 10-2, with the progressives as the majority and the conservatives as the minority.

Some observers are identifying Messrs. Blackwell and Treybig as conservatives and Mr. Seiglie as a progressive, making the new council breakdown 8-4.

Other observers are saying that it's too early to know whether Mr. Blackwell, Mr. Seiglie and Mr. Treybig are properly numbered as progressives or conservatives.

Interested observer

The Journal's publisher asked Journal columnist Dave Havir of Big Sandy for his analysis of the situation.

(Mr. Havir is pastor of the independent Church of God Big Sandy, a congregation that was associated with the UCG from 1995 to 1998 before the UCG terminated its affiliation with the Big Sandy group and started another congregation that over the years has met in and near Big Sandy.)


The Journal: Are you familiar with the recent situation in the UCG? If so, what do you think is the reason for the tension in the church?

Mr. Havir: Yes, I am familiar with the challenges that United is facing. I have friends on both sides of the issue, and I have personal experience dealing with the political machinery in their organization.

The Journal: What is your personal experience? Are you talking about from 1995 to 1998?

Mr. Havir: Yes. It is my perspective that Les McCullough, Leon Walker and Jim Franks were the main forces instigating the separation of United away from our congregation 12 years ago. [See "Largest UCG Congregation Splits Over Governance," The Journal, May 31, 1998.]

By the way, I truly believe that the leaders in United at that time actually did our congregation a favor. I am simply saying that I believe their patterns and the political machinery have existed for years.

The Journal: Just what do you mean political machinery? Are you saying there can be politics in a Church of God?

Mr. Havir: It's not on the same level as Washington, D.C. But, yes, I believe that the reason for United's tension is the fight over who is in charge.

I believe that much of the tension has occurred as the McCullough, Walker and Franks faction has been losing influence in the organization. Those three men have been significant figures in United for many years.

I believe that Les and Leon lost some influence in 2007 when both men were not voted back onto the council.

I believe that Joel Meeker resigned from the council in August 2007 as a gesture of loyalty to Leon.

Joel helped Leon be back on the board [council]. But then, in 2008, Leon again failed to be voted onto the board. And that time no one resigned to give him a spot.

Also, in 2008, Jim Franks was also not voted onto the council. But he was able to get back onto the board when one of the other fellows resigned from the council.

The Journal: Do you believe that what you call political machinery is only one-sided? Do you think there's a chance that politics was involved in the recent removal of Mr. Kilough as president and Mr. Franks as director of ministerial services?

Mr. Havir: Yes, it is possible.

The Journal: You seem to place more blame on the conservatives, who are presently in the minority.

Do you believe the progressive majority of council members is philosophically more in the right than conservative Mr. Walker and his supporters?

Mr. Havir: Yes, that is what I believe. From what I understand to be true, I think the majority of the council is doing things more correctly.

The Journal: Do you think doctrine plays a part in the tension between the two factions?

Mr. Havir: No, I don't believe that the tension in United is over doctrine. Oh, I hear people say that the present majority of the council wants to make liberal doctrinal changes.

But I don't believe that this crisis is because of doctrine.

I see no indication that the majority on the council wants to steer the church into any watered-down doctrines.

The Journal: Let's say that one group has an apostolic-succession view of the clergy and an exclusive view of its own church organization. Wouldn't those doctrinal differences be a part of the equation?

Mr. Havir: I wasn't thinking of it that way. When you say it that way, I suppose I might have to stand corrected. The primacy of Peter and other governance issues are certainly doctrinal.

However, if any faction is leaning toward apostolic succession and an exclusive view of their own organization, it would appear to be the McCullough, Walker and Franks faction, not the majority of the council.

The Journal: Do you think Mr. Walker will start a new Church of God group? I would have asked Mr. Walker this the other day but he declined to participate in an interview.

Mr. Havir: I believe the initial sound bites will be that no new church is being formed. But, if I understand correctly, I believe a bank account has already been established for Leon to receive money from people who support him. [Mr. Havir is right. See the addresses for a new Church of God-related entity at the end of this article.]

But I don't believe many full-time men will follow him.

The Journal: Why do you think that?

Mr. Havir: I remember back in 1998 when many of the full-time elders were emotionally supportive of David Hulme when he was removed from the presidency and he ultimately went on to lead a new church organization.

Even though many of the fellows were emotionally supportive of him, they stayed with United when David could not offer them jobs as pastors. Their retirement [compensation] was through United.

In the same way, I believe that some of the full-time elders are presently emotionally supportive of Leon Walker. However, if he can't offer them [paying] jobs as pastors, I believe they will stay with United at this time.

The Journal: What if Mr. Walker could offer salaried jobs and a retirement program to the pastors? Would that change the situation?

Mr. Havir: Yes.

The Journal: Would you care to elaborate?

Mr. Havir: No.

The Journal: Do you think an erosion of membership numbers would be good or bad for United? In other words, isn't it good for a church to shake the tree every once in a while to see what falls out? Didn't Mr. Armstrong at times talk about the benefits to the church of shaking the tree?

Mr. Havir: I see it both ways. From a standpoint of providing a stable environment for the young people and senior citizens who attend with them, I hope people can stay together.

But, if the behind-the-scenes tension continues to cause the same level of anger and unrest among so many people, it is probably better for the conflicting groups to move forward separately in a way that will edify each of their supporters.


Informal discussion

A few days before this issue went to press, a man who occasionally writes opinion pieces for this paper talked with Mr. Walker.

Reg Killingley had worked with Mr. Walker back when both men were elders and employees of the Worldwide Church of God.

Nowadays they're neighbors out in the country a few miles from Big Sandy.

"I ran into Leon Walker this morning [July 26] and asked him about the situation in Latin America," Mr. Killingley said.

"In response to my question, he said he anticipated a split and described the council as very liberal.

"He said Mario Seiglie described himself as progressive, which even in an ecclesiastical context meant liberal.

"When I told him it probably seemed like déjà vu, he said that WCG had actually treated him better when they let him go than UCG did, in that the former gave him a severance package.

"He mentioned Larry Roybal and Saúl Langarica had been fired and he thought it was just a matter of time before the rest were let go.

"He told me that, even though he was no longer an employee of UCG, he was still functioning as regional director for Latin America."

Mr. Walker's status

Speaking of Leon Walker, questions remain about his status with the United Church of God an International Association and with the UCG branch or branches in Latin America and other Spanish-speaking areas.

Days before this issue of The Journal was to go to press, this newspaper asked Mr. Walker for an interview about his evolving ministry and his relationship with the UCG branches including the UCGIA.

He politely declined to discuss his situation with The Journal.

Based on writings attributed to Mr. Walker that have appeared at and other blogs and Web sites, here is a synopsis of The Journal's conclusions about Mr. Walter's status:

From the UCGIA's point of view Mr. Walker is guilty of insubordination because he defied a direct order. The order was for him to return to the UCGIA's headquarters in Milford, Ohio, during a trip he had undertaken to visit some of the brethren in Latin America.

As a result, at some point in the days after his refusal to cut short his visit to Latin America, the council of elders terminated his employment and revoked his UCGIA-elder credentials.

Complicated relationship

Mr. Walker's view of his relationship with the UCG entities is more complicated than a simple employer-employee arrangement.

Mr. Walker traces his employment status back to 1979, when, as an elder in the Worldwide Church of God, WCG founder Herbert Armstrong commissioned him to direct that church's evangelism and feeding-the-flock efforts in Spanish-speaking areas of the world.

As a result of that defining moment in his life, Mr. Walker looks at his situation as a calling higher than simply his status as a UCGIA employee. He therefore concludes he has not committed the sin of insubordination because his affiliation with the United Church of God is only incidental.

In a post at the aforementioned blog, in Mr. Walker's own words, he described the legal arrangements in the "Spanish Region": Chile, Mexico and other Latin American and Spanish-speaking countries (and, presumably, some Portuguese-speaking areas including Brazil).

He stated that the UCGIA's "Rules of Association" allow for congregations and UCG affiliates outside the United States to exercise an autonomy that is not enjoyed by U.S. congregations in their relationship to the UCGIA's administration and governing council.

Third person

Here are excerpts from a statement Mr. Walker wrote about himself (in the third person):

"Part of the administrative structure of the nations which comprise the Spanish Region is the position of regional director.

"This individual, Leon Walker, was first appointed by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong in November, 1979. When the Spanish Region joined the United Church of God (UCG) in July, 1995, Leon Walker came into UCG as director of the Spanish Region.

"He was not appointed by the president nor by the Council of Elders, nor was approval sought from them for that position. Furthermore, Leon Walker was not employed by UCG in July, 1995. He was not employed nor received any salary until January, 1996."

Further, he wrote, he directed the "Spanish Region" "without ever being supervised by any [UCGIA] president or by the Council of Elders."

At no time, he continued, did any UCG president indicate that "Leon Walker should send reports to him or in any way indicate that he was Leon Walker's supervisor," even though Mr. Walker voluntarily did support the president and council because of their status as "spiritual leaders in the Church."

Mr. Walker, in the same blog posting, said the UCGIA's rules of association "clearly state that the international areas choose and maintain their own administrative structure.

"There is nothing in the Rules of Association that states that the administrative structure in the international areas should be presented to the president or to the Council of Elders for approval."

Questions unasked

Mr. Walker's interesting take on his and his Latin American brethren's status brings questions to mind that The Journal would have asked had he sat for the interview. The questions would have included the following:

  • Are you still a UCGIA employee? Are you still a UCG elder?

    (Although Mr. Walker did not answer these questions for The Journal, this newspaper has reason to believe Mr. Walker is no longer a UCGIA employee and no longer a UCGIA-credentialed elder.)

  • Did you ever make clear to the leadership of the United Church of God over the last 15 years your view that you owed them no allegiance, that your ministry in Latin America was independent of them and began, and continued, as a commission directly from Mr. Armstrong?

  • Have the Latin American brethren, therefore, not been full-fledged UCG members? Have they--and you--only lived among us, so to speak?

  • Would it be safe to say that you and the Spanish-speaking brethren are more comfortable with a view that their leader, you, is in his leadership position thanks to apostolic authority?

  • Since you are leading and serving by apostolic authority, if that's indeed what you are doing, then would it be proper for you to say you did not seek or need the UCG's ratification of your status and that, since they did not give it to you, they cannot take it away?

  • Is your situation analogous to Mr. Armstrong's claim that he was never a member of the Church of God (Seventh Day) in the 1930s, that he only worked with that group but was never actually a part of it?

  • Is your situation also analogous to Paul's when the apostle to the gentiles argued that his authority owed nothing to the Twelve?

View of the legitimacy

On the other hand, The Journal did find information that came originally from a UCG source that supports Mr. Walker's view of the church's rules of association.

It also seems to support his take on the relationship between the UCGIA, based in the United States, and the UCG-affiliated branches elsewhere.

The May 31, 2001, issue of The Journal reported on a Q&A session at the general conference of elders in Cincinnati that year.

During the questions and answers, Roy Holladay, a member of the council and its chairman at the time, was responding to Mexico City elder Larry Roybal, who was obviously upset that the council had decided not to reappoint Mr. McCullough as church president.

As part of Mr. Holladay's response to Mr. Roybal, he described the office of UCGIA president as pertaining only to the nonprofit corporation in the United States.

"The job [of president] is the chief operational office for the U.S. corporation," Mr. Holladay said. "The only reason the term president is used is simply for a legal means for certain documents that had to be signed, as opposed to describing a duty. The duty is the chief operational officer."

Mr. Holladay seemed to emphasize that, indeed, the chief officer of the U.S. administration, and by extension other U.S. administrators, has no standing in areas outside the United States.

Contact information

Contact the United Church of God at P.O. Box 541027, Cincinnati, Ohio 45254, U.S.A., or See also

Contact a new nonprofit U.S. corporation to benefit Mr. Walker and the Spanish-speaking and Latin American brethren he serves at the following address: International Ambassador Outreach, c/o Matthew R. Gus, P.O. Box 251566, Plano, Texas 75025, U.S.A.


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