United Church of God

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United Church of God, an International Association
UCGaia Headquarters, Milford, OH.jpg
United Church of God Headquarters Building
ClassificationChurch of God[1]
LeaderVictor Kubik
RegionInternational
HeadquartersMilford, Ohio
Origin1995
Indianapolis, Indiana
Separated fromWorldwide Church of God
SeparationsChurch of God, an International Community, Church of God, a Worldwide Association.
Congregations409
 
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United Church of God, an International Association
UCGaia Headquarters, Milford, OH.jpg
United Church of God Headquarters Building
ClassificationChurch of God[1]
LeaderVictor Kubik
RegionInternational
HeadquartersMilford, Ohio
Origin1995
Indianapolis, Indiana
Separated fromWorldwide Church of God
SeparationsChurch of God, an International Community, Church of God, a Worldwide Association.
Congregations409

The United Church of God, an International Association (UCGIA or simply UCG)[2] is a Christian religious denomination based in the United States, an offshoot of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) founded by Herbert W. Armstrong. It is one of many Sabbatarian Churches of God to split from WCG.

UCG calls itself "The United Church of God, an International Association", with the last three words italicized in order to differentiate UCG from local congregations and denominations which bear similar names. UCG claims no association with any other organization or denomination.[3]

Foundation[edit]

After Armstrong's death in 1986, the subsequent WCG leadership introduced a series of major doctrinal changes starting in 1994, which substantially altered the fundamental beliefs and goals of the original WCG in the direction of historic Christian orthodoxy.[4] A large segment of the membership wished to retain what they allege to be fundamental or first-century Christian teachings [5][6][7]) and consequently left WCG to start their own organizations.[8] UCG was established in May 1995 and is the largest of these offshoot organizations.[3]

UCG was founded at a conference organized in Indianapolis, Indiana in the spring of 1995 and attended by WCG and former WCG ministers concerned by the doctrinal changes introduced in the church.[9] UCG's first president was David Hulme, who left UCG after being removed from office for refusing to move the church's home office to Ohio in 1998, among other reasons.[10][11][12] He subsequently formed a new group called Church of God, an International Community.[13] Following Hulme, elders selected to serve as president have been Les McCullough in 1998, Roy Holladay in 2002, Clyde Kilough in 2005 and Dennis Luker in 2010. Victor Kubik was elected to a three year term of office as President in May 2013.

Government[edit]

UCG's form of government is different from the one-man, top down leadership established by Armstrong that characterized WCG and its other offshoots. UCG is governed by a 12-man board called the "Council of Elders" that is elected by the church's paid and lay ministries, which form the "General Conference of Elders." The General Conference meets once a year in May to perform tasks including budget approval, operational planning, strategic planning, electing members of the church council, and participation in seminars. The council acts as the governing body for the international association and is responsible for forming policy and doctrine for the Church. The council meets four times a year.

UCG's international headquarters is referred to as the "Home Office" and is located in Milford, Ohio (a suburb of Cincinnati). This office is headed by UCG's President, who is the church's official spokesperson and is charged with administrative responsibility over day-to-day functions, such as managing the church's paid ministry and producing literature or other publications. The president is appointed by the Council of Elders (COE) and can be removed from his appointment by the COE. The COE must remain in the confidence of the General Conference of Elders, and COE members serve on a rotating system of election wherein four of twelve men are up for re-election or replacement in any given year.

Doctrine[edit]

The UCG follows and believes in many of the basic doctrinal principles shared by other Christian churches such as the inspiration of the scriptures, Christ's bodily resurrection, and the three ordinances of baptism,[14] and agrees with Protestant theology regarding the tenets of sola scriptura, the priesthood of all believers and that Justification is a gift given freely by God. Like many Christian churches, it also believes in the resurrection of the dead, Millennialism, baptism by immersion, Gap creationism, and is strongly Adventist, believing that the return of Christ is imminent, interpreting current events in the light of bible prophecy.[14] However, its teachings differ from mainstream Catholic and Protestant theology in a number of key areas:

Ambassador Bible Center[edit]

Ambassador Bible Center (ABC) is an intensive nine-month educational program focusing on the Bible, Christian living and the fundamental doctrines of the United Church of God. The program seeks to prepare young adults for leadership and service, and to begin preparing them for the duty of teaching future generations. The curriculum thoroughly examines doctrine and leads students systematically through the books of the Bible.

Mission and media[edit]

UCG states: "The mission of the Church of God is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God in all the world, make disciples in all nations and care for those disciples." Emphasis is consequently placed on the proclamation of "The Kingdom of God" to the general public, which is accomplished through various media, ranging from Twitter and YouTube to more traditional forms such as radio, print and television.

UCG publishes and produces the following:

In addition to the above publications, the UCG has produced 33 booklets on various Biblical topics, a 12-lesson Bible study course, a monthly systematic Bible reading program with commentary, various article reprints, local public-access television programs, and a website. A series of presentations called the Kingdom of God Bible seminars began in September 2011 and are held at different locations around the world.[35]

2010s: schism and resignation[edit]

UCG has experienced a number of minor schisms in its history, but late 2010 and early 2011 saw UCG's largest division and departure of members.

A decision to move UCG's home office to Texas was rescinded in 2008, causing considerable tension within and between the Council of Elders and the General Conference of Elders.[36]

In 2009, two members of the Council of Elders resigned—then-president Clyde Kilough, whose resignation was effective July 28, 2009; and Richard Thompson, effective July 27, 2009. A letter sent out by the Council of Elders said that the resignations were for "personal reasons."[37]

In 2010, earlier tensions rooted in the rescinded Texas move and governance disputes continued to mount and led to the Council of Elders requesting (and accepting) the resignation of Clyde Kilough as President of UCG. Resignations were also accepted for Jim Franks (Ministerial Services) and Larry Salyer (Media Operations). The call for Kilough's resignation was prompted by a resolution that Kilough had jointly crafted with other administrative staff, which had proposed that UCG's governance structure be reviewed. The resolution was submitted directly to the General Conference of Elders, as allowed by the constitution and bylaws, but bypassing review by the Council of Elders, prompting the Council of Elders to remove Kilough and to reinstate Roy Holladay as acting President until the new President was appointed.[38][39][40][41]

Dennis Luker was appointed president on June 24, 2010,[42] but tensions with a group of ministers continued to build, ending with dozens of pastors and local elders resigning from UCG in December 2010.[43] In early 2011, those ministers met in Louisville, Kentucky to form a new group, the Church of God, a Worldwide Association with Kilough as president. The resignations were the result of increasing conflict between UCG's Council of Elders and personnel that had formerly been in administrative or council roles.

In October 2012, Council of Elders Chairman Melvin Rhodes was summoned home from an overseas trip to face an allegation of what President Luker described only as "unchristian behavior ... prohibited by scriptural standards." Rhodes reportedly admitted to the misconduct, resigned as Chairman, then resigned as a UCG minister and employee.[44]

Luker died from cancer in March 2013, before completing his term as President. He was succeeded by Victor Kubik.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Although an independent church, UCG belongs to a class of churches that prefer to refer to themselves generically as "Churches of God" or sometimes as the "Sabbatarian Churches of God". Detractors refer to them as Armstrongites, a term which is usually considered derogatory. Another classification which may apply would be Restorationist. The Handbook of Denominations in The U.S., 13th Edition (Mead, Frank S, Hill, Samuel L. , Atwood, Craig D., pp. 246-247 [2010] Abingdon Press, Nashville, pp. 246-247) classifies the church as doctrinally Adventist.
  2. ^ Website of the United Church of God, Tucson, Arizona. Accessed 12 August 2006
  3. ^ a b About the United Church of God, from the UCG official website.
  4. ^ "Transformed by Christ: A brief history of the Worldwide Church of God". Retrieved 2009-01-08. 
  5. ^ "Armstrongism, The Worldwide Church of God, The Church of God International". Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  6. ^ "Armstrongism". Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  7. ^ "What is "Armstrongism"?". Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  8. ^ "Brief History of the United Church of God". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  9. ^ "The Uniteds". Ambassador Report, Issue 59, June 1995. The Painful Truth. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  10. ^ "United Dethrones Hulme". Ambassador Report - Issue 68, April, 1998. The Painful Truth. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  11. ^ "New Leaders & Members for the United Church of God". January, 1998. Servant's News. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  12. ^ "Why would United's council of elders remove David Hulme from the presidency?". Issue 12, January, 1998. The Journal. 
  13. ^ "Church of God Timeline 1996 to 2004". News of the Church of God. The Journal. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  14. ^ a b (2010) Mead, Frank S, Hill, Samuel L. , Atwood, Craig D., Handbook of Denominations in The U.S., 13th Edition, Abingdon Press, Nashville, pp. 246-247.
  15. ^ Ashley, Scott. "Warnings of Change in the Church". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  16. ^ "This is the United Church of God". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  17. ^ "The Church Jesus Built". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  18. ^ Kieffer, Paul. "Papal Authority, Protestants and Prophecy". 
  19. ^ Rhodes, Melvin. "Europe and the Church, Part 12: A Period of Change for the Papacy". 
  20. ^ Rhodes, Melvin. "Europe and the Church, Part 5: The Identity of the Little Horn". 
  21. ^ "The Rise of a Counterfeit Christianity". 
  22. ^ "How can I find the true Church of God?". 
  23. ^ McNeely, Darris. "Visions of Judgment: The Horsemen of Revelation". 
  24. ^ "Is God a Trinity?". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  25. ^ "Partaking of the Divine Nature". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  26. ^ "Heaven and Hell: What the Bible Really Teach?". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  27. ^ "The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  28. ^ "The New Covenant: Does it Abolish God's Law?". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  29. ^ "Sunset to Sunset: God's Sabbath Rest". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  30. ^ "What Does the Bible Teach About Clean and Unclean Meats?". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  31. ^ "If one accepts the Bible as inspired by God, then homosexual activity is intrinsically wrong and unacceptable in a truly Christian society" Petty, Gary. "The Gay Rights Battle". 
  32. ^ "The Biblical View of 'Hell'". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  33. ^ Seiglie, Mario. "Just Pray and Pay? The Seven "P's" of God's Church". UCG. United Church of God. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  34. ^ "Tithing". UCG. United Church of God. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  35. ^ "United Church of God Live Events". 
  36. ^ "Ambassador Watch: Meeker Requiem". 
  37. ^ "Ambassador Watch: They're gone - but what does it mean?". Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  38. ^ "Another UCG Shakeup", Church of God News, April 12, 2010.
  39. ^ "UCG Current Crisis", April, 2010.
  40. ^ "The Constant Perils of a Dis-United COG", Shadows of WCG Next Generation, April 13, 2010.
  41. ^ "Updates on UCG Administration Changes", United Church of God Member's Site, April 23, 2010.
  42. ^ [1]
  43. ^ Realtime United blog, 12/23/10
  44. ^ Letter from Dennis Luker, 11/2/12

External links[edit]