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UCCtruths

Every denomination needs one of these...

What You Will (and Won't) See on Global Ministries Website.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What you will see.

What you won't.
posted by Dexter Van Zile, Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | link | 0 comments |

Global Ministries Publicizes Anti-Zionist "Bethlehem Call"

Hello.

This is Dexter Van Zile.

I left the United Church of Christ a few years ago.

And this blog has been silent for quite a while.

Nevertheless, I am going to impose on James Hutchins' kindness and hospitality and use UCCtruths to draw peoples' attention to the Global Ministries website.

As most followers of this website know, the Global Ministries of the UCC and the Disciples of Christ has been a persistent source of anti-Israel messaging over the years. This volume of anti-Israel messaging has declined substantially in the past few years, particularly since the 2007 General Synod which stated that the 2005 General Synod failed to take into account all of the aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict in passing the resolutions it did.

The anti-Israel messaging hasn't disappeared altogether, however. For example, Global Ministries publicized "The Kairos Document" issued by Palestinian Christians a few years back.

More recently, Global Ministries has publicized a document titled "The Bethlehem Call." This document, created by the same folks who wrote "The Kairos Document," is a pretty ugly text.

One notable passage states: "The deligitimization and criminalization of the Israeli government and its local and international support base is gaining unstoppable momentum."

Here, the document affirms the delegitimization and crimininalization of the Israeli government itself.

Have you seen any documents on the Global Ministries website affirming the delegitimization and criminalization of other governments in the Middle East?

I don't think so.

There are other passages in The Bethlehem Call that are of interest. For example, the document describes The Amman Call issued by the World Council of Churches in 2007 as ending "60 years without a unified Christian voice speaking against the Israeli occupation of Palestine."

Do the math (2007-60=1947) and you'll see that what the authors of The Bethlehem Call have done is to declare all of Israel occupied territory. They are not talking merely about the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but the entire state of Israel.

Exactly why is Global Ministries publicizing a document such as this?


posted by Dexter Van Zile, Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | link | 0 comments |

Ex-UCC President & GM Thomas Leaving Wife for Another Woman

Sunday, August 22, 2010

This is sad...

It is now public knowledge that Rev. John H. Thomas, recently retired President and General Minister of the UCC (1999-2009), is seeking a divorce from his wife and is presently in an adulterous relationship with another woman, someone with whom he worked at the denominational headquarters in Cleveland.

In a carefully worded UCC press release, the Collegium of Officers--who oversee the national ministry--announced Thomas' admission and urged support for the process that handles matters affecting the larger church. While the statement described in detail how Thomas' case might be reviewed, it did not say that an evaluation was pending. There was no mention how the revelation has affected Thomas' status at Chicago Theological Seminary, where Thomas serves as Senior Adviser to the President and Visiting Professor in Church Ministries.

The press release is intriguing for what it says and does not say. It does not explain the process that brought this information to light. It does not pass any moral judgment on Thomas. Even more, it does not express any emotion of grief or disappointment over Thomas' action. The only religious speak is the mention of "prayerful support for all parties involved."

What the press release does say, in its opening paragraph, is that Thomas is, "now in a committed relationship with a woman with whom he worked while he was general minister and president." Why is the word "committed" used to describe Thomas' relationship with this other woman? Don't worry, this is not some brief (and socially unjust), sleazy fling. It's a committed and deeply entrenched adulterous relationship!

Adding to the moral confusion is a curious phrase from the Collegium's statement. While claiming, "it is not appropriate to discuss details of this matter publicly," they disclose that when they talked to Thomas and his in-office lover, "Both parties have informed the Collegium that the relationship is entirely consensual." Why is this said? Are we to believe that even though Thomas held the foremost position in the entire organization, there's no abuse of power because it was consensual?

The release does not say how this affair started. Maybe it began when the two still worked in the office, or, after one or both left. The circumstances matter, especially if Thomas' lover has a change of heart and decides to sue. Either way, boundary lines were crossed. Two consenting adults doesn't make this right. A marriage covenant was broken and quite possibly, so too were personnel policies. What does the Collegium know about this situation? If they do not protect the employees of its denominational headquarters from sexual advances and/or harassment, they fail the organization and contribute to its dysfunction.

As is often the case, the only UCC folks offering moral clarity is the Biblical Witness Fellowship. In its statement, they declare that Thomas' action, "deepens the crisis of integrity in the UCC with consequences well beyond the tragic dissolution of his own family...The whole church is deeply hurt when our leaders fail to keep their vows and engage in this form of duplicity. It compromises the witness of all of us in the body of Christ."

In a 2010 address at Chicago Theological Seminary, Rev. Thomas declared that, "Distracted ministry occurs when we quit paying attention to what truly matters." Sadly, this truth is illustrated by Thomas' own sordid personal life. Rev. Thomas, if you are reading this, you need to repent. End this illicit relationship and return to the wife of your youth. Don't let this become part of your legacy. Turn to our gracious and merciful Lord for forgiveness and restoration.

The question of Thomas' fitness for ministry is now the responsibility of the Church and Ministry Committee, of the Western Reserve Association, a smaller and more local setting of the larger Ohio Conference.

Let's hope this committee has the courage to confront Rev. Thomas and hold him accountable.
posted by Living the Biblios, Sunday, August 22, 2010 | link | 5 comments |

Center Congregational on the Brink

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Center Congregational Church's fight against the UCC's Southeast Conference to retain its autonomy and property is reaching a critical point. In order for the church to prevail, your help is needed.

According to Center's pastor, Rev. J.R. McAliley III, Center has a $17,000 legal bill, but only $9,000 left in assets. This is after the church spent over $40,000 in legal fees preparing for its upcoming court hearing. "We knew this would be a costly process and it has been," said McAliley. "We truly believe our cause is just and that our case is sound, but we cannot proceed without the financial resources to maintain our legal effort. We need your assistance."

With Center drained of its resources, the Southeast Conference is in position to outlast and outspend its way to victory. But as the UCC is so fond of saying, God's justice belongs to the cause of the weak. Center Church, located in Atlanta, sits on land donated in trust by the Cox family. The trust stimulates that as long as the church remains congregational, the land and the building belong to the church. When the UCC came into existence in 1955, Center chose to remain independent. In 1994, the church joined the UCC, but disassociated in 2005, and in 2006 joined the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC). McAliley believes this lawsuit is not so much a UCC style King Ahab effort to steal away land (1 Kings 21), but an effort to seize legal control over the right to congregationalism:

The legal impact of our case – defining “the Congregational Denomination” – is one with implications for every Church and Organization historically associated with the Congregational Way. Center’s little ¼ acre of land in Buckhead, an upscale section of Atlanta, Ga, even at the current speculative market value of about $500,000.00 is not the goal of the UCC/SECUCC. Legal “ownership” of the designation as the true legal successor to “the Congregational Denomination” is and the implications will spread like a tsunami.

In order for Center to win this battle, your donations are needed and can be sent here:

Center Congregational Church
1055 Moores Mill Road NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30327-1627
posted by Living the Biblios, Wednesday, August 26, 2009 | link | 1 comments |

WSJ: The Bully Pulpit

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wake up slumbering UCC Truths!

We interrupt this Rip Van Winkle sleep to thank the Wall Street Journal for shedding light on the UCC's Southeast Conference effort to steal away the assets of the small Center Congregational Church in Atlanta.

The article, "The Bully Pulpit," written by Jim Auchmutey, appears on the Journal's website and print edition.

So why is the Southeast Conference so interested in this little church? It all boils down to this--pure greed.

Center's property--located in prime Atlanta real e$tate--is held in trust, and technically not by the church itself. That crack in the door is the opening by which the thief is trying to enter.

According to the winter, 2009 edition of Networker, published by the Evangelical Association, the Southeast Conference claims that they are the only true successors of the Congregational denomination, while Center rightly replies the Congregational tradition includes not only the UCC, but also the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC), the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (CCCC), and the Evangelical Association of Reformed and Congregational Christian Churches (EARCCC).

If Center Church was dissolving, the Southeast Conference might have a legitimate case. Instead, this little congregation voted to leave the UCC in 2006. Even though 36 in attendance is considered a good Sunday, the church is still very much alive. Bottom line, they disaffiliated and are entitled to keep their assets, as the UCC Constitution explictly states.

Oh, one more thing. Center and its pastor, Rev. J.R. McAlilley, oppose a conviction held in highest esteem in UCC culture--same-sex marriage. While the Conference Minister, The Rev. Timothy Downs, says that Center could have remained and dissented because the UCC welcomes a diversity of opinion, in practice, UCC churches that oppose same-sex marriage rarely (if ever) have platforms in conference life to express that dissent.

May Goliath fall down again.
posted by Living the Biblios, Friday, May 22, 2009 | link | 5 comments |

Not a goodbye...

Monday, December 22, 2008

You've probably noticed that I have not posted in awhile and friendly emails asking what is going on have mostly gone unanswered. The quick answer is that I'm taking a step back from the site for awhile. For some time I've been juggling multiple priorities between my family, my full time work and assisting with a couple of start-ups. Working with this site was never a focal point in my life, it filled in gaps of time and gave me a platform to express my opinion while giving others the opportunity to express their opinions. While many people are going through some difficult times in this economy, I'm fortunate and blessed that work is going well. The downside is that it has become more difficult to create time for my biggest priority - my family. As a consequence, I've forced myself to set priorities and, at least for now, UCCtruths didn't make the cut.

My choice was to either hand off the site to someone else, close it down or put it on ice. After considerable thought and after discussion with others involved in the site, I decided that "hiatus" was the right term. The message board will stay open and I will be assigning more moderators so that others can keep up on the threads while keeping them civil.

My intent is to come back when things settle down but I fully recognize there is a potential that I will not be back. In which case, I'd like to wrap with potentially one last commentary on the United Church of Christ.

Embracing dissent and difference of opinion is an important part any dynamic group whether it's our government, our work, our religion or an online group of malcontents. As cliche as it sounds, Working through the tension of division always makes the group stronger.

The United Church of Christ leadership would be wise to embrace those with which they disagree with the most... and not just those they deem "loving critics". To this day, I don't know if UCCtruths was considered a "loving critic"... and I don't really care - the idea that the one being criticized can determine which criticism is valid seems a little too convenient and a little too self serving.

Our faith heritage is full of dissent and I'm glad I was able to add my voice to the chorus. In over 5 years, this web site has generated millions of views. The message board contains tens of thousands of messages by over 500 users and was recently recognized as one of the top 2% in Yahoo Groups. My purpose for the site was never to change the UCC but to find an audience of UCC members that would use this site as just one of many sources of information about the denomination. We found an audience looking to embrace dissent even if they did not always agree with it.

Dissent doesn't always mean you are right. I'm particularly thankful for those who tolerated my rants even when I was wrong. The web is an imperfect medium of listening, learning and responding... and not always in that order.

Like I mentioned earlier in this post, it's my intent to come back to this at some point in the future but there are no guarentees. If nothing else, I'll be popping up on the message board periodically to spout off. Till then...
posted by UCCtruths, Monday, December 22, 2008 | link | 8 comments |

Wright Blasts the Media

Saturday, November 15, 2008

by Pastor Ted Weis, Congregational Church, Little River, KS

Rev. Jeremiah Wright-- former pastor of President elect Barack Obama-- is speaking out against the media's treatment of him during the campaign season.

During a Q & A session after an address in Connecticut, Wright declared:
"The world doesn't know about my 41 years of ministry, or my writing of books, because it was all taken down to a 10-second sound bite that the media chose to show about a sermon that was delivered seven years ago," Wright said. "The media didn't care about the whole sermon and what it was about. They just used those 10 seconds and used it as a weapon of mass destruction against [Obama's] campaign."
It's true. The world doesn't know Wright's years of ministry and doesn't know his books. Nor does it need to. The world knows plenty enough to judge Wright. It knows that after the greatest atrocity on American soil in modern times, Wright's pastoral word post 9-11 was America be damned because it deserves to be damned.

Lest anyone forget, Wright's past wasn't completely ignored. Back in March, ABC News reviewed dozens of Rev. Wright's sermons, and in their words, "found repeated denunciations of the U.S. based on what he described as his reading of the Gospels and the treatment of black Americans."

You don't need to look further into Wright's past to see that he views this country as systemically racist and incapable of reform. Just consider this recent remark:
"If you take a Tiger Woods, a Michael Jordan or a Barack Obama, their success should not lull us into thinking society has changed."
Translation: the accolades about Obama's "historic" victory are severely overblown.

A few days later, speaking before an audience at Northwestern University, Wright again lamented his treatment:
In the question-and-answer session, Wright accused the media of "public harassment." "My family's getting lynched in the process," Wright said. "Never in the history of this country has there been a demonization of a person like I've been demonized."
Family getting lynched? Who in the media has targeted his family? The only thing close was the New York Post's report of a likely affair by Wright. And demonized by like no other person in the history of the United States? Can you say, "slight exaggeration"? Certainly, Wright's circus performance at the National Press Club had nothing to do it.

Listening to Wright's address at Northwestern was another well-known Obama associate, former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers, who summarized the result of the media's treatment this way:
"Both Rev. Wright and I were brought up as cartoon characters in this campaign because of disinformation and dishonest news," Ayers said. "I did not suffer as much as he did, but we both got out of it with a certain amount of dignity."
Yep. Forever elevated in our minds is the ego and radical left-wing politics of this complicated man of faith, Rev. Wright.
posted by Living the Biblios, Saturday, November 15, 2008 | link | 8 comments |

United Church of Christ: Obama come back

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The United Church of Christ's has sent an appeal to President-elect Barack Obama to attend a UCC church in the Washington D.C. area once his family moves to the White House. The public invitation from UCC President John Thomas was part of a post-election letter to President-elect Obama. In light of the problems Obama faced with Trinity United Church of Christ, picking a church may not be as easy as it sounds. From The Hill:
There’s also the potential for Obama, sitting in the pews, to be linked with remarks made at the pulpit. Religion already created problems for Obama during the campaign, first with false rumors that he was secretly Muslim and then with the incendiary remarks made by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, prompting the Obamas to leave Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ in May.

But the sudden departure from the Chicago church didn’t stop the national church from inviting the Obamas to try a new location.

“[The letter] invited him to consider finding a spiritual home for him and his family at one of the UCC churches in the Washington area,” said Sandy Sorenson, the UCC’s associate for communications and media advocacy in Washington.

“So the invitation has been extended, and I think some of the local churches themselves have extended an invitation. But I have not heard anything yet about where he’s thinking about attending.”
In my less-than-humble opinion, the public invitation to Barack Obama is yet another publicity stunt for our denomination that is plainly begging to be relevant. A private invitation would have gone much further in demonstrating a respect for discretion that should be afforded to any public figure and their family looking for a house of worship. And whether intentional or not, the public invitation creates an awkward test for Obama: If he selects a UCC church, it provides validation for the denomination and if he does not, it is a snub... which is an incredibly unfair position to force on someone.

posted by UCCtruths, Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | link | 2 comments |

Hope and Faith

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It would be a gross distortion to say that Barack Obama's historic election is simply a partisan affair. Far from it, this election is probably the single most significant historical event in our lifetime. While today will forever be remebered because we have elected the first black president of the United States, it is a far greater event which we may not fully appreciate in our lifetime. In no small measure, Obama's improbable election is symbolic of the ideals on which this nation was founded.

Being in the United Church of Christ, we have a unique view of this election. Once "one of our own," Obama pragmatically decided to leave his church (and ultimately our denomination) before his campaign could be undermined by his minister and the media. In our celebration of Obama's victory, we must also acknowledge ~and learn from~ the loss of one of our most significant members. Most of us will never have to face the scrutiny of a national election, but many of us struggle to maintain our own identity with the United Church of Christ when our leaders marginalize our own members and those of other faiths.
The hope that fueled the enthusiasm of Obama's campaign is not all that different from the hope that we should identify in our faith and in our denomination. Although our country is mired in global and financial turmoil, we have turned a significant corner. As a denomination, we too must find a way to turn that corner.
posted by UCCtruths, Wednesday, November 05, 2008 | link | 1 comments |

Coincidence? Another ordination of a woman priest taking place in UCC church

Friday, October 31, 2008

Another United Church of Christ church is poised to be at least the third UCC church to host an ordination of Catholic women... this one is in Chicago. From the Chicago Tribune:

The ceremony, to be held at St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Lincoln Park, is being organized by Roman Catholic Womenpriests, an organization that is not recognized by the Catholic Church. The group, which began in 2002, also will ordain three women as deacons in preparation for priesthood.

The Vatican has said repeatedly that only men can be ordained priests because Jesus did not call women to be apostles, and because the priest stands in the image of Jesus, who was male. Officials with the Chicago archdiocese denounced the ceremony and reiterated the Vatican decree that states the person who ordains the woman, as well as the woman herself, will be excommunicated. An excommunicated person is forbidden to receive the sacraments.
Back in July, the UCC-affiliated Church of the Covenant in Boston hosted an ordination of women priests which drew support from former UCC Conference Minister Rev. Nancy S. Taylor.

As I stated back then and now again, I can't help but think this meddling in other faiths is part of the creeping anti-Catholicism in the United Church of Christ.
posted by UCCtruths, Friday, October 31, 2008 | link | 6 comments |