United Church of God

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United Church of God, an International Association
UCG in Milford
United Church of God Headquarters Building
ClassificationChurch of God[1]
PresidentVictor Kubik (May 2013 – present)
Council ChairmanDonald Ward (May 2016 – present)
RegionInternational
HeadquartersMilford, Ohio
Origin1995
Indianapolis, Indiana
SeparationsChurch of God, an International Community, Church of God, a Worldwide Association.
Congregations409
Members7500+

The United Church of God, an International Association (UCGIA or simply UCG)[2] is a binitarian Christian religious denomination based in the United States.

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]

Government[edit]

UCG is governed by a 12-man board called the "Council of Elders" that is elected by the church's paid and lay ministers, which form the "General Conference of Elders." The General Conference of Elders 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]

UCG Feast of Tabernacles observance in Branson, Missouri, 2015

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,[4] and agrees with Protestant theology regarding the tenets of sola scriptura 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.[4] However, its teachings differ from mainstream Catholic and Protestant theology in a number of key areas:

  • Belief in Restorationism. Like many churches in the Restorationist movement, UCG believes that a number of today's mainstream Christian teachings resulted from doctrinal corruption under the influence of Greco-Roman philosophy, Gnosticism, Anti-Semitism, and mistranslation which occurred early in the history of the church. Much of UCG doctrine that is distinct from mainstream Christianity is the outgrowth of an effort to separate these influences and traditions from what is believed to be the beliefs and practices of Jesus Christ and the original Apostolic church.[5][6][7] UCG holds that the Roman Catholic church and most Protestant denominations today have mistakenly syncretized various pagan doctrines and practices. For example, UCG teaches that the ancient pagan origins of traditional Christian celebrations (especially Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and Valentine's Day) render them inappropriate for true Christians.[8][9][10][11][12][13]
  • Nontrinitarian belief, i.e., that the Holy Spirit is the spirit/power of God and of Christ Jesus rather than a separate person in the Godhead. God 'the Father' and Jesus Christ are viewed as two distinct beings in the 'God family,' united in purpose only.[14]
  • Belief that Christians are begotten as children in the Family of God and will at their resurrection become "spirit-born divine beings who are part of Elohim, the universe-ruling family of God."[15]
  • Belief that the core of Jesus Christ's message was the coming of a literal earthly Kingdom and that people who are 'saved' will not go to heaven, but will live and rule eternally with Jesus Christ on earth after his second coming, and will subsequently share rulership over the entire universe as part of the 'God Family'. UCG also asserts that the final destination of the unrepentant wicked is not everlasting torture, but annihilation or permanent destruction.[16]
  • Belief that people of Western European descent, primarily the original British colonies and the United States, are direct physical descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of the northern kingdom of ancient Israel, whereas the historical Jews (and modern-day Israel) are descendants of the ancient southern kingdom of Judah. This belief is not used to assert racial or ethnic superiority, but solely to interpret End Time prophecies which are believed to be directed at the United States and Europe.[17]
  • Belief that the basic Old Testament law is not "done away with" and is carried over into the "New Covenant" such that certain commandments apply to Christians today, including the Ten Commandments and teachings such as clean and unclean meats, literal observance of Holy Day festivals such as eating unleavened bread during the 'Days of Unleavened Bread', and living in 'temporary habitations' during the 'Feast of Tabernacles'. These beliefs exclude civil and sacrificial temple laws,[18] but includes the literal observance of the seventh-day Sabbath (from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) and the Holy Days of the Old Testament Hebrew calendar,[19] dietary restrictions,[20] and the condemnation of practicing any and all sexual sin as identified by God in the Holy Scriptures.[21]
  • Belief that people who do not know or understand the truth of the Bible during their lifetimes will be given time to learn these teachings after the "Second Resurrection" to a new physical life. After living again in the Millennial world under God's Kingdom, those who continue to reject God's Holy Spirit and way of life will be annihilated after the "Third Resurrection" along with unrepentant former believers who had turned away from God. They are destroyed in the third resurrection (the "resurrection of fire") in the Lake of Fire, along with Satan and his demons.[22]
  • Belief in biblical tithing, a donation of 10 percent of a member's income to the church to fund the organization's gospel mission.[23] Members are also taught to set aside a Second tithe, an additional 10 percent for their own personal use in observing the church's annual religious festivals, particularly the Feast of Tabernacles.[24]
  • Alcohol consumption in moderation is permitted but the UCG does teach against the misuse of alcohol. [25]

Ambassador Bible College[edit]

Ambassador Bible College (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:

  • Beyond Today magazine (formerly The Good News) is UCG's flagship publication. It is a free magazine and is published bi-monthly. The magazine contains articles that discuss Bible prophecy, world news and trends, social issues, church doctrine and Christian living.
  • The Beyond Today Television Program airs on WGN America and the WORD Network and is shown on a further 28 Public-access television cable TV stations and is accompanied by a multimedia website and a presence on YouTube and a dedicated Roku channel.
  • Compass Check (formerly Vertical Thought) is a quarterly publication published for youth. The publication contains articles from both church ministers and youth, and aims to strengthen the Christian faith of its readership.
  • The United News is a newsletter which focuses on news and events within the United Church of God. The newsletter contains articles on UCG missions, church activities, reports on church governance, doctrinal and Christian living articles, and birth and death announcements of church members.

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.[26]

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 August 12, 2006
  3. ^ About the United Church of God, from the UCG official website.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Ashley, Scott. "Warnings of Change in the Church". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  6. ^ "This is the United Church of God". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  7. ^ "The Church Jesus Built". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  8. ^ Kieffer, Paul. "Papal Authority, Protestants and Prophecy".
  9. ^ Rhodes, Melvin. "Europe and the Church, Part 12: A Period of Change for the Papacy".
  10. ^ Rhodes, Melvin. "Europe and the Church, Part 5: The Identity of the Little Horn".
  11. ^ "The Rise of a Counterfeit Christianity". Archived from the original on November 12, 2009. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  12. ^ "How can I find the true Church of God?". Archived from the original on January 7, 2010. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  13. ^ McNeely, Darris. "Visions of Judgment: The Horsemen of Revelation".
  14. ^ "Is God a Trinity?". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  15. ^ "Partaking of the Divine Nature". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  16. ^ "Heaven and Hell: What the Bible Really Teach?". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  17. ^ "The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  18. ^ "The New Covenant: Does it Abolish God's Law?". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  19. ^ "Sunset to Sunset: God's Sabbath Rest". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  20. ^ "What Does the Bible Teach About Clean and Unclean Meats?". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  21. ^ "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".
  22. ^ "The Biblical View of 'Hell'". UCG. The United Church of God, an International Association. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  23. ^ Seiglie, Mario. "Just Pray and Pay? The Seven "P's" of God's Church". UCG. United Church of God. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  24. ^ "Tithing". UCG. United Church of God. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  25. ^ https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/bible-questions-and-answers/is-drinking-alcoholic-beverages-a-sin
  26. ^ "United Church of God Live Events".

External links[edit]