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UCG COE Conference Report Feb 25 – 26 2016 and Sabbath

UCG NEWS:   Videos of the various discussions.  Caution; these videos like the reports, may have been edited, these reports contain what they want people to know, the really important things are done in secret.

Council of Elders Meeting Report – February 25-26, 2015

United Church of God, an International Association

Council of Elders Quarterly Meeting Report

Milford, Ohio

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chairman Robin Webber called the morning session to order at 9:04 a.m., and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (Council) members were present.

Ambassador Bible College (ABC) Survey Review—R. Sexton

Rex Sexton, as the chair of the Education Committee, led the discussion regarding the ABC surveys. There were 17 task force members who have spent the past nine months reviewing the ABC curriculum.

Julie Brown went through a detailed review with the Council of the results from the surveys that were sent out to ABC alumni, students, faculty and pastors. This presentation was videoed and is on the Council website (coe.ucg.org) for more detail. She discussed the results and answered questions from the Council.

Mr. Sexton led a discussion going through a recommendation to edit the ABC mission statement. After much discussion the updated mission statement was not passed and remanded back to the Education Committee based on the sense of the Council. There was a lot of good discussion about what the purpose of ABC is and the video discussion can be found on the Council website.

The Council broke for lunch with the home office employees. After lunch the Council took questions from the employees and ABC students.

The Council then went into executive session for the rest of the afternoon.

First Discussion Regarding Classification of UCG Study Papers-John Elliott

The Council came into open session at 6:11 p.m. to have a discussion led by the chairman of the Doctrine Committee, John Elliott. The discussion was on the issue of assessing the classifications of the study papers on the member’s website. This had been remanded to the committee in December for them to review and come forward with recommendation. The committee was to classify these documents in the best manner be it a doctrinal paper, doctrinal study paper, study paper or Council statement on a given matter.

Don Ward commented that it was important to make sure that any review carefully reflects that we will designate certain topics as doctrinal papers. Roc Corbett agreed that we do not wish to diminish any such needed topic to lesser importance.

Mr. Elliott asked for a sense of the Council for the direction they would like this to proceed. After some discussion the Doctrine Committee decided to present the following day.

The Council adjourned at 6:33 p.m.

 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chairman Robin Webber called the morning session to order at 9:07 a.m., and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (Council) members were present.

Ballot on the Strategic and Operation Plans and the Budget

As chairman of the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee, Bill Bradford moved that the Strategic Plan, Operation Plan and Budget for 2015-2016 be officially approved by the Council, so that each can go on to the GCE for approval in May. All three were balloted upon separately, and all passed unanimously.

Final Bylaws Review for GCE presentation—Roc Corbett

As chairman of the Roles and Rules Committee, Roc Corbett went through the input from the three GCE members who submitted input regarding the Bylaws. All five edits were reviewed and recommended. Mr. Corbett moved for the presentation of amendments to the Bylaws to the GCE in May. It was passed unanimously along with its statement of justification. Mr. Corbett then went through the statement of justification for the Council-proposed amended Article 12 of the Bylaws. It was passed unanimously by the Council. The approval of sending the amended Article 12 was passed by a unanimous ballot.

Recommendations for ABC—Rex Sexton

As chairman of the Education Committee, Rex Sexton went through the recommendations to give ABC as a result of the surveys. After some discussion and input the recommendations were adopted and passed on to ABC and Ministerial and Member Services (MMS) by a unanimous ballot.

Mr. Sexton then recommended the formation of an ABC mission statement advisory committee, which is comprised of Aaron Dean (chair), Gary Antion, Roc Corbett, Frank Dunkle, Darris McNeely, Steve Meyers, Chris Rowland, Mario Seiglie and Don Ward. This ABC mission statement advisory committee was approved by 11 for and 1 abstaining (Robin Webber).

Mr. Webber as Chairman concluded this session with an encouragement to the newly formed advisory committee to fully appreciate and respect the work that had already gone into crafting a preliminary mission statement by professional educators and elders and to carefully proceed based upon what had been set before them.

Second Discussion Regarding Classification of UCG Study Papers—John Elliott

[ADMIN:  Larry Darden is correct reclassifying Papers will have the intended effect of reducing the importance of previously accepted explanations of doctrinal teachings.

Important in this is the teachings on Sabbath Observance which they are intent on watering down even further.  At the end of this report I will post the Sabbath Letter from John Elliot and friends published in 2010 and then removed after howls of protest from the brethren, many of whom later left to join COGWA. That paper published prematurely is indicative of what is coming in UCG. Bolding of Larry’s name is mine.]

As the chairman of the Doctrine Committee, John Elliott went through the study papers and led the discussion on putting them in appropriate categories. The discussion was an effort to put the papers in various categories. There are many different categories, and the desire was to put them in to two or three categories. Larry Darden commented that changing their classifications could demote some of them.

Don Ward explained that some of the study papers could be perceived by some as making changes to doctrine but never came to the level of GCE review. Some of the papers were “best knowledge at the time,” but they are not necessarily closed subjects. Changes are needed at times for clarification to the members.

Bill Bradford mentioned that part of the problem in trying to classify the papers is that there is no definition of “study paper,” “doctrinal paper” or “fundamental belief paper.” There needs to be a definition for each of these.

Robin Webber stated his appreciation for the efforts already expended. He commented that this was a start to a much needed project after 20 years of compiling important papers to properly categorize them to best serve our ministry and membership. The desire is to place proper priority and focus on each important topic. This was a starting point, and good discussion came from this session. He asked that the Doctrine Committee continue to work on this process for the May meetings and bring a progress report based on this sessions’ input.

Salary Range Approval—Rick Shabi

[ADMIN: UCG gives its elders an unspecified raise. It is now clear why they have been saying that the income has been good, yet they have to cut back on international support.

In accordance with Articles 9.8 and 10.5 of the Corporation Bylaws, appropriate salary ranges for all paid positions must be established by the Council and read at the General Conference of Elders meeting each year. Rick Shabi informed the Council that the last time the official salary ranges and positions of the Corporation were changed was back in 2008. Since then, several new positions have been hired, while other position titles in those ranges no longer exist. The general salary ranges for each position have not changed significantly.

Earlier in the week, the Council had been given information about the proposed, revised salary range schedule. This proposal would have a March 1 effective date.

Rex Sexton mentioned that these salary ranges do not keep up with inflation.

The Council approved these salary ranges unanimously.

[ADMIN:  They are not mentioning that these salaries are supplimented by generous bonuses.]

The Council went into planned executive session for about an hour.

Policies and Upcoming Scheduling

The Council came into open session to remand the local building policy to the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee for review and updating by the May meetings. Aaron Dean was asked to help head this up.

The Council was asked to rescind an April 1998 resolution that 17 years ago had adopted a rudimentary “Process” for addressing accusations of unethical conduct by elders in the Church (including Council members). It was pointed out that in addition to Constitution and Bylaw remedies for removal (by either the GCE or Council) of ordained ministers engaged in unethical conduct, since 1998 numerous other policies have been adopted that now provide for comprehensive investigation and, as necessary, disciplinary action, for any elder engaged in unethical or unlawful conduct. Those newer policies have effectively replaced and better address the issue than the old 1998 resolution. The Council voted unanimously to rescind the April 28, 1998, resolution, recognizing it as having been superseded by more recent policies.

Mr. Webber concluded the meetings by going through future dates on the calendar. The international meetings before the general conference of elders will be on May 1. Sabbath services on May 2 will be at 2 p.m. Eastern. The General Conference of Elders meetings will be on May 3-4 followed by the next Council meetings on May 5-7. The August Council meetings will be videoconference meetings from Aug. 10-13.

The Council adjourned at 12:08 p.m.

-end-

Council Reporter

Shawn Cortelyou

© 2015 United Church of God, an International Association

This is the  2010 UCG Principles of Sabbath Observance Paper and analysis.

Analysis of

Principles of Sabbath Observance

 Jesus Christ warns us: “Take heed that no one deceives you” (Matthew 24:4). Christ has also warned us that at the end time, “because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (verse 12). Each one of us in God’s Church needs to be constantly on guard against false and lawless teachings.

This paper will demonstrate the need for each one of us to study the Scriptures with a right attitude to see if the things that we hear and read agree with the teachings of God’s Word.

In 2010 a paper was published that declared that a situation involving church members employing people [In Chile] on the Sabbath involved “no intentional Sabbath-breaking… [and] no condoning of Sabbath-breaking.”  Of course that was an utterly false statement since the offenders applied for a government contract which specifically stated that they must be open on Saturdays. 

At that time any ministers have correctly pointed out that this paper supported a wrong approach to Sabbath observance. The paper was later removed, but was defended by John Elliot as somehow upholding the Sabbath; when it was destrpoy9ing the practical application of the Sabbath commandments.

The paper published in 2010 followed a dangerous precedent set by a study paper published in 2003. The earlier paper takes a negative, minimizing approach to God’s Word and promotes a permissive approach to Sabbath observance.

The paper being addressed here in the 2010 article titled Principles of Sabbath Observance: Eating out on the Sabbath, which I will refer to as the Sabbath Dining Paper.

It is vitally important for each one of us to be able to recognize the wrong approach that the Sabbath Dining Paper takes toward the Bible. If we are unable to recognize that the arguments it contains are unbiblical, we will be in great danger of being led astray into lawlessness. Let’s carefully examine the reasoning found in the 2003 paper so that we may avoid accepting and practicing lawlessness. 

This paper takes the command not to buy victuals [food] on the Sabbath and not to buy anything at all on the Sabbath; and twists that to claim that we should not spend the whole day at market and then they insist that we may buy a few things in defiance of this teaching.  This is like saying that we should not spend the whole day committing adultery but that we might commit adultery a little bit.  Nehemiah says do not buy on the Sabbath; period!  The law says do not work, do not cook, and do not pay others to do so. 

 

Sabbath Dining Paper:

What does the Bible tell us about Sabbath observance and specifically eating out in a restaurant on the Sabbath? Is eating out in a restaurant a violation of the Sabbath? This paper will analyze the scriptures and biblical principles covering Sabbath observance in regard to this topic….

The issue of eating out on the Sabbath revolves around the concepts of commerce (doing business on the Sabbath) and causing others to work.

 

There are two sections of Scripture that reference “buying” and “selling” on the Sabbath—Nehemiah 13:15-21 and Amos 8:5. These are the two primary sections that are used by those who believe that eating out on the Sabbath is a violation of the Sabbath command. Consider that out of 116 verses, there are only two that directly address the issue of commerce and the Sabbath.

 

Analysis: The reasoning that is implied here is that if an issue is only addressed a few times in Scripture, then it is not important. This approach to doctrine is very dangerous, and could be used to minimize or discount almost any teaching of the Bible.

 

Sabbath Dining Paper:

Nehemiah 13:15-21

…After the wall was rebuilt, another reform was instituted by Ezra and Nehemiah. Ezra read from the law to the people (Nehemiah 7) and the people responded positively. After this, Nehemiah proposed a covenant for the people. This covenant agreement is outlined in Nehemiah 9:38 through 10:29…. There were seven distinct expectations for the Jews in this covenant (Nehemiah 10:29-39):

ADMIN:  Neh did not propose a covenant; he DEMANDED they stop buying on the Sabbath.

1 . Obedience to “God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God” (Nehemiah 10:29).

  1. No marriages with the inhabitants of the land.  [ADMIN: Today meaning no marriages outside the faith.]
  1. Any wares brought into Jerusalem would not be purchased by the Jews on the Sabbath day or any Holy Day. [Admin: forbidding any buying on Sabbath and Holy Days]
  2. Land was to rest in the seventh year and all debts forgiven according to the year of release.
  3. There was to be a temple tax to take care of the upkeep of the temple.
  4. The Levites were to receive the tithes and the firstfruits.
  5. The Levites were to contribute a tithe of the tithe to the temple.

 

Analysis: The summary above subtly twists the scriptures in order to make it appear that the last six items mentioned above were separate and distinct from the first item of the Sabbath and Holy Days. A more natural reading of the scriptures indicates that those who made the covenant believed that items 2 through 4 were specific examples of how they would obey God’s Law:

“these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes:

[#2] We would not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons;

[#3] if the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day;

ANALYSIS:   They do not specify their translation here.  For the record KJV Neh 31:  And if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the sabbath, or on the holy day. 

They now admit that forbidding the buying of  food on a Sabbath or Holy Day was the intent of Nehemiah.  See bolded statement below.

[#4] and we would forego the seventh year’s produce and the exacting of every debt” (Nehemiah 10:29-31).

It certainly appears that Nehemiah and the others believed that items 2 through 4 were all necessary in order to “do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes.” It was their understanding that buying food and merchandise on the Sabbath violated the intent of one or more commands found in the Law of Moses.

ANALYSIS:  They now begin to spin Nehemiah as being an addition to God’s law!  Amazing; Nehemiah is God’s Holy Scripture and not some Rabbinic addition to scripture like the Rabbinic Calendar that they feel compelled to observe!

 

Sabbath Dining Paper:

Some of these can be found within the “law of Moses,” but some go beyond the law itself. [ADMIN:  Nehemiah’s command is not the Mosaic commandment itself; but a judgment of God through Neh recorded as Holy Scripture; regarding that commandment!  Lev 18:5 and repeated endlessly by Moses:Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord ]  In the case of the Sabbath, this is the first mention of a prohibition concerning commerce on the Sabbath. Jewish scholars contend that it was the first time the issue of buying and selling on the Sabbath was even addressed.

 

Analysis: The argument stated here is that doing commerce on the Sabbath was a new prohibition that goes beyond the Law of Moses, rather than being an application of existing law. The implied argument is that “new” laws can be safely ignored if they are not found in the Law of Moses. In this way they are attempting to discount anything not specifically part of the Ten Commandments;  i.e. they are taking the Tkach evangelical approach.

In fact the law is clear: we are not to work nor are to pay others to work. Commerce is business, a form of work.  Even if this is the first recorded example of the Sabbath commandment being directly applied to a situation involving commerce, the Bible says that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16).  We are to obey ALL scripture not just the commandments of Moses only.  If anyone disagrees they must also reject the teachings of Christ which condemn lust and divorce.

 

Sabbath Dining Paper:

The prohibition was against setting up a market on the Sabbath or a Holy Day. There is no mention of eating or not eating on the Sabbath. [ADMIN:  Another twist.  Of course the scripture allows one to eat on Sabbath and Holy Days; however it does forbid the preparation of food on Sabbath and Holy Days [a fact they are trying to conceal] , and provides the previous day as a preparation day.] The Jews had made the Sabbath a secular day in which it was acceptable to go to market. Going to market was an all-day activity. In most ancient societies (as well as in several areas of the world today) a whole day was set aside as the day for market because it took so much time. [ADMIN:  Now the big lie of twisting the intent of Nehemiah] This was the intent of Nehemiah’s agreement. Don’t make the Sabbath a market day or a day to do your weekly shopping.

Analysis: The above is pure false self serving assumption and absolutely false self serving nonsense. The issue is not of eating or of not eating as they try to falsely slip in.  The issue was  NOT buying a few things as opposed to buying many things;  the issue was buying ANY a mount of food and drink, or buying any thing at all on Sabbath of Holy Days. Tnhe issue was the buying; NOT the amount of the buying!

It was no doubt a gradual thing among the Jews. But by the time of Nehemiah, the Sabbath had become a fullblown market day. This was wrong and did not allow for the proper keeping of the Sabbath. The agreement was that no “wares” or merchandise be bought by the Jews on the Sabbath. We are dealing with more than food items in this case.

Analysis: Here they again try to obfuscate and deceive;  We are not to buy FOOD [Victuals] on the Sabbath and to that was added the command that we are not to buy “wares” that is ANYTHING at all, which also included food.  The command was to buy nothing at all! including food; and had nothing to do with how many things were being bought!  They were to buy NOTHING at all on Sabbath of Holy Days!

The following is utterly IRRELEVANT obfuscation. 

Proof that this was a market day and required the whole day can be found in the example of the traders who lodged overnight outside the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 13:20-21). They didn’t lodge outside the walls every day. This was one day in the week when all the traders came to the city and not an everyday occurrence. The lesson here is that the Sabbath should not become our shopping day. This example, of and by itself, does not prohibit eating out in a restaurant. Eating out in a restaurant is not the same as doing your weekly shopping for all your household items

 

…Nehemiah’s reaction to those who violated the Sabbath came in a time when the civil power controlled the keeping of the Sabbath. We do not live in such a time today. Obviously there are aspects of Nehemiah’s conduct that cannot be applied directly to our lives today….

Everything that was done in Nehemiah 13 cannot be applied directly to our lives today.…

We must be careful when extracting principles that we do not jump to conclusions in our comparisons to modern-day life when civil law is not in the hands of Sabbath keepers. One cannot transfer the events of that day to our day.

 

Analysis: In this section the Sabbath Dining Paper argues that we live in a different time and culture, so we cannot follow the examples of these men of faith. The specific argument is that the entire time of Ezra and Nehemiah was so different from our own time that we would be wrong to apply much of anything from these parts of Scripture to our life today! Following this logic, we certainly could argue that the entire Old Testament, and probably all of the New Testament relates to events of times so different from our own that they are useless as guides to life in the modern world. This is certainly a dangerous approach to biblical interpretation!

The Sabbath Dining Paper emphasizes the difference between the events in the Bible and our present situation. This attempt to minimize the lessons we can learn from Scripture is the wrong approach to doctrine! Instead we should recognize similarities between the past and present, look for principles, and try to learn as many lessons as possible from the examples and laws God has given us.

The Bible clearly says that the events in these past times and cultures “were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11), and we are warned to “take heed” to these examples so we won’t fall (verse 12).

 

Sabbath Dining Paper:

Additionally it should be noted that these restrictions were only in Jerusalem. [ADMIN:  What a incredibly false statement.  the people were made to vow to put away their unconverted wives and ALL Judah in ALL the villages did so!  ALL the Jews were to take on the obligation not to buy anything on Sabbath or Holy Days as a clear and proper judgment inspired by God and recorded in the Holy Scriptures for OUR admonition.]  

What about the other cities in Judea? What about inns where people lodged and ate while traveling? If someone was on the road, traveling in Judea on the Sabbath day, could he get a meal at one of the inns along the way?  [ADMIN:  Let me answer this nonsense right here.  God’s word forbids travel on the Sabbath and Holy Days! And anyone resting on the Sabbath during a break from travel would have prepared a meal  previously to be taken on the Sabbath!  Its just that easy!]

How were these principles applied in the other cities of Judea? We must admit that we simply do not know the answers to these questions. There is no mention in Scripture of the other cities in Judea during the time of Nehemiah

 

Analysis: These claims are completely false. The book of Nehemiah mentions many other the cities of Judea by name (Nehemiah 11:25-35). Men of Tyre sold fish and other goods on the Sabbath “to the children of Israel, and  in Jerusalem” (13:16). Also, Nehemiah’s covenant was for all of the Jews that had returned, and the vast majority who agreed to keep it did not live within Jerusalem (11:1-3). This is yet another attempt to minimize the example found in Nehemiah by suggesting that it only applied in Jerusalem. Others use the same logic to argue that many of God’s laws, like the laws concerning God’s festivals and agriculture, only apply in the land of Israel—so there is no need for us to keep God’s feasts or the land rest today.

 

Sabbath Dining Paper:

…The Sabbath Commandment

There is nothing in the Sabbath commandment about eating in a restaurant or not eating in a restaurant. This was not an issue that needed addressing in the time of Moses.

 

Analysis: Likewise, there is nothing in Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5 about the Sabbath being a commanded assembly. There is no mention about not going to the movie theater on the Sabbath. Yet these facts certainly do not mean that it is fine to skip Sabbath services and go to a movie instead! It is erroneous to suggest that an activity is acceptable simply because it is not directly prohibited in the Ten Commandments. Instead of trying to directly address every possible scenario, God’s commandments give broad principles which must be applied to our present circumstances.

 

Sabbath Dining Paper:

…Conclusion

…Eating in a restaurant doesn’t violate the principles as given in the Bible about the Sabbath. In fact, to eat in a restaurant after Sabbath services with our spiritual family can be one of the highlights of a person’s week. In many small congregations the entire group goes out together after services, either for lunch or dinner. It is a wonderful way to spend a portion of the Sabbath. Of course, we also need private time together with our families in the home. And we need the fellowship of a Sabbath service to fully appreciate the meaning of the day. The key in all these areas is one of balance. Even a good thing can become a curse if it is used inappropriately.

 

Analysis: Here the paper seems to imply that we can recognize that an activity is appropriate based on our own pleasures or how enjoyable it is.   We are NOT to do our own pleasures on Sabbath and Holy Days; instead we are to make God our pleasure. 

Isaiah 58:13  If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

 

Sabbath Dining Paper:

What about specific questions regarding eating out in a restaurant?

  1. Isn’t it wrong to have someone serve you in a restaurant? Are they working for you?

The answer to both questions is “no.” The waitresses, waiters, cooks, etc., in a restaurant are not your servants. They do not live in your household. This was the principle given in Exodus. Those who live under your roof or are under your control were not to work on the Sabbath. This cannot be applied to a waitress unless you have control over her and can force her not to work.

 

Analysis:

1.  In fact they ARE serving us, regardless of who is paying them.

2.  We have a choice, either to enter and be served, or to forebear; that choice places the responsibility solely on our own shoulders.

This is a very dangerous argument—that we can use human reasoning to avoid obeying a direct statement in the 10 Commandments—that our sons and daughters and anyone in our gates [we are NOT to be responsible for anyone  having to work] must not work!

Consider how this would apply to the tenth commandment, which states, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” We could use the reasoning advocated above to choose not to consider someone our neighbor, in order to justify coveting his wife! 

There is more but I think the point has been made. 

Overall UCG is extremely permissive and very lukewarm about keeping God’s commandments, and they are working hard at removing any remaining instructions on the practical keeping of the Sabbath and other commandments.

 

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