Thoughts regarding UCG-IA "Draft" Constitution & ByLaws

Dear Brethren,

Over the last four months, I have had several direct communications with two particular United Church of God an International Association (UCG-IA) Board members: Director Victor Kubick and Director-Pastor Bob Dick.

In essence, I have exhorted and pleaded with each of them, and with the entire Board, to accept the basic proposition:

All Brethren have Spiritual gifts, and thus such gifts ought to be the building blocks of our Church, beginning with local administration and growing into an affiliation of local Churches which act collectively in doing a collective work.

To my deep disappointment, these two Directors along with almost all other Board members of UCG-IA have apparently moved away from this principle since the May Indianapolis General Conference of Elders.

Today, we Brethren (who attend UCG-IA or who are looking for a non-hierarchical alternative to WCG) are facing a draft of UCG-IA Constitution and ByLaws which follows the form of central government which we all formerly experienced. As you may know, this "draft" seriously departs from the spirit of the Indianapolis Conference where central government was to be down-played and the membership were to become full participants in organizational aspects of the Body of Christ, and especially within each local church area.

In fact, there are recent reports of pressure being put on certain congregations and their ministry (where local boards have been functioning quite well for some months) to not remain separately incorporated and/or to stop their local collections of tithes, budgeting, etc.

In the Pacific Northwest, Regional Pastor Bob Dick has avoided the establishment of a local board in our Seattle congregation despite a vocal minority of Brethren requesting one according to the May 1, 1995 Financial "recommendations" of the Indianapolis General Conference. There are no indications that the local pastors within the Northwest Region have been encouraged to establish local boards.

Many articles have already been written as to the lack of Biblical basis for the form of government as proposed under the "draft" Constitution and ByLaws.

These proposed ByLaws and Constitution would place the Brethren into two distinct groupings: (1) an ecclesiastical governing group, and (2) the laity .

We have recently left an organization that has maintained these groupings and as a result, the spiritual growth of all individual members has been impaired and impeded.

You may find it helpful and interesting to consider Herbert Armstrong?s article on church government published in the Good News in February 1939 (see back page of this Servants' News for a free copy.)

You may wish to consider the following propositions in your prayers and discussions with other Brethren regarding the proposed "organization of the UCG-IA."

1. Separate groupings between Brethren ought not to be made in the Constitution and Bylaws.

There is no respect of persons with God. (Rom 2:11.)

2. All Brethren ought to be asked to vote on the matters apporved by the General Conference of Elders.

There is no respect of persons with God. (Rom 2:11.)

...and when they had chosen by show of hands... (Acts 14:23.)

3. Delegates from each local Congregation chosen by the members of the local Congregation and in addition to the local Elders should be sent to the General Conference of Elders, for their vocal input.

...they were received of the church, and of the apostles... (Acts 15:4-22.)

4. Each local Congregation-associated with United Church of God, An International Association should be ensured in the UCG-IA Constitution and Bylaws to have the freedom to maintain its own local self-government policies, viz. local Board of Directors, local collection of tithes and offerings, and local budgeting.

..look ye among you...whom we may appoint over this business. (Acts 6:2-5.)

..send it unto the seven churches... (Rev 1,2,3.)

You may wish to consider writing on the subject matter of these propositions to those persons you know who will be participating in the General Conference of Elders in Cincinnati this December.

Your Brother in Christ,

-Richard E. Bodkin
Kirkland, WA 98034
Phone: 206-820-8495

Before his many years of Sabbath-keeping, Richard Bodkin attended Quaker worship services. While the Quakers may lack beliefs that we consider essential, their Biblical understanding of government has allowed them to work together in a stable manner for over 300 years. Quaker congregations are locally autonomous and both local and national leaders are elected. Bodkin is employed as a lawyer and is familiar with the construction of corporate bylaws.