I would like to comment on some remarks attributed to Paul Suckling, pastor of the UCG congregation in Boston, in a recent article of The Journal (Nov. 21 "New England UCG Congregation Splits Over Governance, Personal Responsibility").
According to the article, an area of disagreement in Hartford has been the visiting by some members of this congregation with other fellowships in the Churches of God
Several such persons were removed from positions of leadership and responsibility, partly because of this practice.
In defending the actions of pastor Tom Fitzpatrick, Mr. Suckling (who is a regional pastor with UCG and pastors the congregation in Boston) declared that, "if you're going to speak for United and give sermonettes, then you should be loyal to United.
seemed to acknowledge (in principle, anyway) that people in other Church of God groups are regarded as brethren.
But, when pressed by the interviewer, his
answer was revealing:
"Maybe this is something United has got to internally resolve for itself, because two can't walk together unless they are agreed, even if we consider them brethren.
We're not telling anybody who to fellowship with.
We're only saying if you're going to speak for United in a leadership role, then your loyalties should be to United."
I am sure Mr. Suckling
is well meaning.
merely needs to clarify his
But I wonder if he
understands what kind of message such statements send and how sharply his
words here appear to contrast with the spirit expressed by the apostle Paul
"Now this I say, that every one of you says, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
Is Christ divided? was Paul
crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
(1 Corinthians 1:12-13).
We see the apostle chastising the Corinthians for identifying themselves too strongly with "loyalty units" within the church.
By contrast, we see that Mr. Suckling's
statements actually promote, intentionally or otherwise, the idea that we must, through uncritical support and exclusive attendance with one group
, declare our allegiance to that loyalty unit.
Anything less than full and unconditional loyalty may be justification for having your license to serve suddenly revoked.
How about you?
Was the UCG
crucified for you?
Was Global crucified for you?
cites Amos 3:3 as a justification for dividing brethren into strict organizational camps.
On the other hand, some people refuse to say, "I am of Paul
" or "I am of Apollos" or "I am of Cephas.
Discern for yourselves which of these two philosophies is actually promoting division.