Servants' News

March/April 1998

David Hulme Letter About His New Organization:

[with comments added by Norman S. Edwards in this style of type]

CHURCH OF GOD, Post Office Box 150, Monrovia, Ca, 91017

David Hulme

April 15, 1998

Dear fellow elders of the Church of God,

I am delighted to be able to send this first official letter to you as a start is made on a viable Work once more. I don't need to tell you of the turmoil of the past few weeks. I hope that the pathway to better times will be as smooth as possible for everyone. Certainly the congregations that I have attended in the past few days have been at peace. Following are the attendance figures as we know them to date (additional groups are forming in a number of places as I write).

[Apparently, Hulme considers the UCG-AIA no longer "viable". Note that nearly all groups start out "at peace". Difficulty comes when decisions must be made. Will all of Hulme’s members still be at peace if he finances his TV production from (and yields some control of it to) an outside corporation?]

First Holy Day
Arcadia/Glendale, CA
Oakland, CA
Modesto, CA
Salem, OR
Roseburg (& Coos Bay), OR
Coos Bay, OR
Boise, ID
Rapid City, SD
Franklin Lakes, NJ
Allentown, PA
662 ]


The ministers who have committed to serving the Church of God include: John Anderson, Steve Andrews, Waldo Armstrong, Don Billingsley, Ted Budge, Wayne Carlson, John Christopherson, Steve Elliott, Dick Emery, Wade Fransson, C.L. Handy, Steve Le Blanc, Dave O'Malley, Brian Orchard, Mike Regan, Edwin Stepp, and Pete Wolf.

In relation to all that has happened, a number of questions continue to be asked by ministers and members. I thought it would be helpful if I would share some of my responses with you.

Q. It has been mentioned to me by a few people that you said you weren't going to leave United and now you have. To them, this demonstrates that you broke your word and can't be trusted. To me, it means you had a good reason! Could you please let me know why you left?

A. I resigned from the Council of Elders for reasons of conscience. I could no longer support a governance structure that I believe has failed. I have had to admit that Herbert W. Armstrong was right in Mystery of the Ages, especially chapter six, where he describes a proven form of government for the Church, (see p. 247). It was also increasingly difficult to participate with men with whom I had less and less in common about how the job of president should be done. A council cannot run the day to day affairs of a church very successfully, and two cannot walk together unless they are agreed.

[Steve Andrews and Hulme were the principle architects of the UCG constitution and bylaws. If they are admitting that system "failed" after admonishing others to support it for almost three years, why should anyone be in a hurry to support a new system of government being tested by Andrews and Hulme?

Armstrong’s system of government did not work—God did not correct the "man at the top" as Armstrong promised—Hulme and others had to leave it. A reading through the Government chapter of Mystery of the Ages shows many points with no scriptural support, and interpretations not compatible with the meaning of the Greek text.

The unity statement Hulme signed said: "As a member of the Council of Elders, I am committed to pursuing Godly unity which is essential in the Church. I therefore renounce divisions and schisms as a means of solving our differences just as the apostle Paul powerfully wrote in I Corinthians 1:10-14." He did not promise a relationship with the council, but promised not to create divisions. Is starting a new group with separate services and separate leadership a "division"?]

I don't think I said that I wouldn't leave United. I signed a unity statement in good faith in November, believing that we should give the relationship another chance. But in my opinion others did not exhibit good faith in their behavior through the next few weeks. Obviously I must agree with the apostle Paul that there should not be divisions among us. I have not created a division. On the other hand Paul and Barnabas separated over the matter of taking John Mark with them. There are times when brothers separate for their mutual good. There is also the example of Abraham and Lot when their herdsmen could no longer dwell in the same area together. The solution was to separate. There is no reason, however, that there cannot be cordiality and an amicable relationship.

[Hulme is right in that God does work independently through a variety of leaders in New and Old Testaments. But, as Paul continued to recognized Barnabas as a believer, will Hulme recognize other groups as believers and allow his members to attend other group’s services and feasts—or to send money to other groups? He said "I have not created a division". Does he believe that the people created the division? Over the past years, when members of local congregations asked their pastor to "go independent", Hulme told pastor and members alike that they were causing division--is he still preaching this? Or has he made an exception for himself? Hulme could claim that if everyone had followed his inspired leadership there would be no division—but every religious leader in the world can claim that, too.]

Q. I thought you said you weren't going to start a church. I've heard that you incorporated on April 3rd.

A. There is no incorporation at this point, and no papers have been filed. It is very likely, however, that incorporation will occur in the near future. While it is possible to function as an unincorporated church, there are distinct advantages to incorporation.

My comments about not starting a church need to be given context. After my removal from office and my resignation from the Council of Elders and employment with the United Church of God, an International Association, it was not my intention to do anything in terms of taking up the leadership of a group of people unless it became clear that it was the right thing to do. I do not believe that anyone should take it upon himself to lead in that way. Through prayer and God's inspiration of His people, I believed it would become clear what the future would be for those who were becoming increasingly disaffected. The emergence of a group of people who are part of the spiritual organism was a spontaneous response to recent events. After several had asked for leadership, one group formalized the requests that had been made to me. I concluded that these were God's people who needed help, and that I would help them whether we became an official church or not. As things have progressed it has become evident that a new incorporation will be necessary. The ministry who have also stepped forward to help God's people, feel as I do, and agree that this is not a charge that can be ignored.

[If a large group of people ask someone to provide a religious service for them, and that person thinks it is the Eternal’s will, I believe they should do it. Does Hulme then recognize Ray Wooten’s Ron Dart’s, Jim Rector’s, and Norm Edwards’ ministries because they started in a similar fashion? Also, does anyone know what kind of livelihood David Hulme was considering before these people unexpectedly asked him to serve them?]

Q. What does the Church of God stand for? What are your plans?

A. For the past three years I have written about the Work of the Church in terms of 1)seeking out the maximum opportunities to preach the Gospel, and 2) becoming a Godly community in preparation for the coming of God's Kingdom on the earth. These are the priorities we intend to pursue much more vigorously.

This will mean working diligently at producing publications designed for the world we live in, expressing the truth in terms people can understand. It will mean using television, the Internet, and new technologies, as they become available. It will also mean that the ministry will focus much more on building up and encouraging the spiritual resources of God's people in preparation for the return of Christ.

[We hope he achieves these worthy goals. We hope he recognizes that others are attempting to achieve them also.]

Q. What are the criteria for hiring ministers into the Church of God?

A. At this point there is so little in the bank and virtually no way of knowing what the cash flow will be, that it is premature to speak of hiring anyone. We also want to put high priority on getting out the message. The point of your question though is, I'm sure, whether or not ministers will be recognized and hired without some kind of credentialing process. I and an executive team of advisors will certainly discuss each person who might be considered for a paid position. We will also discuss each person who wishes to have his ministerial credentials accepted by the Church of God. Among other requirements, each applicant will have to give assurances on the basic doctrines that Herbert W. Armstrong learned and taught from the scriptures during his years as leader.

[Notice how "ministerial credentials" are the control mechanism of organizations—you cannot find them in the Bible. For a thorough explanation, Ask Servants’ News for a copy of How Does the Eternal Govern Through Humans? Herbert Armstrong taught government from the scriptures in his 1939 article—his later government teachings were based on creative scriptural interpretations and non-biblical ideas.]

Q. Will all tithes from members of each congregation be required to be sent in to headquarters?

A. Yes. In the first few weeks it may be necessary to have local congregations handle some of their own costs until the accounting system is up and running, but the intention is to have centralized collection of tithes and offerings.

Q. What will be the Church of God policy on disfellowshipping? Will we have to have bylaws before troublemakers can be attended to?

A. The Bible is clear about the grounds for disfellowshipping. The Bible is the guide to policy. The Bible comes first, bylaws a distant second.

[Does Hulme plan to use the procedure in Matthew 18:15-17 for disfellowshipping? Why did he not in UCG-AIA?]

Q. Are there any Feast of Tabernacles plans in the making?

A. Plans are definitely in the making. This week tentative sites have been discussed. We may have one large site for the U.S. or two or more geographically spread. The choice of sites will be under God's direction—where He places His name. At this point it is too early to speculate regarding international Feast sites, except to say that it does appear likely that we will need some.

Q. It has been rumored that you made the TV pilot program without the Council's approval. I personally have a hard time believing this because we were given constant updates in Eagle Rock until suddenly it was never mentioned again. I told others this. But in my attempts to defend you, I would like to be accurate. Could you please tell me what happened?

A. In January 1996 the Strategic Planning Committee of the Council put the TV pilot on the fast track for action that year. The committee's chairman was Roy Holladay. The members were Jim Franks, Doug Horchak, Dennis Luker, Peter Nathan, and me. Sometimes Bob Dick would be involved in the meetings. This represented half of the Council. Also present at times were Steve Andrews, Edwin Stepp and Steve Sidars. I first mentioned the pilot concept in June 1995 to the whole interim council. It was written up in New Beginnings that month. The funds that came in at the Feast of Tabernacles in 1995 were designated mostly for preaching the Gospel with a lesser amount for the General Conference. So there were restricted funds set aside for preaching the Gospel. In April we leased video-editing equipment to do work on the TV pilot. This was fully one month before I left for Israel. Three members of the Executive Committee approved the lease. They were Bob Dick, Dennis Luker and myself. The fourth member of the committee, Doug Horchak, was not available that day. In May at the Birmingham Council meetings I informed the Council that in three days time I was leaving to go to Israel to begin taping the pilot program. Once there I sent back reports each week to the Council about the trip. Several Council members responded with encouraging comments. In June 1996 the Council reviewed the lease agreement for the video-editing equipment. A month or two later the Strategic Planning Committee saw the first edited version of the program. At the Feast in 1996 excerpts of the pilot, with commentary on the purpose and approach, were shown in the Feast video. It was not until December of that year that complaints about the pilot began to be heard.

[If you read the above, you find that it was mostly the same group of people dealing with the video—the whole council was never asked to approve it—either for evangelism or showing to members.]

Q. We were wondering if we could get on a mailing list to receive tapes of sermons or videos and could we also get the address?

A. Yes, you can get tapes. We will put you on the list for weekly audiotapes. If you need videos, please let us know. The address is:

Church of God, P.O. Box 150 Monrovia, Ca 91017

As you can see from the questions, there is a great deal of interest in where we are going and in what has happened over the past few months. This past week we processed the first few days of mail income and the Holy Day offerings from two congregations. We are very grateful for the generosity of God's People.

Thanks for your commitment to serving God's people in another difficult time. This coming Holy Day and weekly Sabbath my wife and I will be in El Paso. We look forward to meeting all of you where you are in the near future.

With love and respect in Christ's service,

David Hulme


[These activities remind me of helping to start the GCG. I hope things will go better for this group. — NSE]

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