The Congregational Perspective for Church Governance
- Matthew 18: 18-20
- God is Sovereign; Christ is Head of the Church
- Direct Relationship with God and with one another; flat organization;
- Authority of leadership by consent of the Congregation;
- Free, independent and self-sufficient Church;
- Diversity in unity; fellowship
- Authority is given to Christ’s gathered people;
- Agreement of the Gathered People (or unity in the righteousness of Christ);
- Authority and autonomy of the Gathered People;
- Vicinage, Confederacy or Federal;
- Locally developed programs customized to local demands with the effect of empowered and distributed learning and knowledge in the membership.
The Basis of Union & 1949 Articles of Incorporation
- Christ centered unity
- Autonomy to Local Churches
- Limited or nominal role of Bishops
- Call of Pastors exclusive right of the Local Church
- Properties held by institutions and churches with option to keep or transfer property to the UCCP
- No end or dissolution is envisioned in the Church
- The General Assembly (GA) is the highest policy making body
Kahangulan Sa Gahum
Bishops in the UCCP are creating a Roman hierarchy and are accumulating powers, betraying the Reformation and the Basis of Union:
1.Amendments making the Bishops in the National Council the Policy Making Body as well as the Executive Authority over the UCCP;
2.The Executive Council is now controlled by the Bishops;
3.With the General Secretary as head of National Council and the Executive Committee, the UCCP has now a Supreme Pontiff;
4.Discipline over clergy taken away from the NCDCR into the hands of the CM and Bishops via the Magna Carta of Church Workers;
5.Subjection of the Conferences to the Bishops;
6.The CM has now powers similar to the Bishops;
7.Bishops and CM’s have now Roman type of control over the pastors away from the Local Churches.
The following amendments have castrated the Local Church of its autonomy:
1.Restriction of involvement in wider mission work (By-Laws Art III Sec. 27i);
2.Subjection of pastoral call to the assignment rule of the Settlements Committee (By-Laws Art II Sec 10a; and the transfer of procedures for the call of Church Workers away from the Local Church to the Settlements Committee By-Laws Art II Sec 10d);
3.Subjection of the Local Church to the stipulations of the Magna Carta of Church workers (Amended Constitution Art V Sec. 8d);
4.Subjection of the Local Church to the program thrusts of the General Assembly (By-Laws Art III, Sec 2c);
5.Subjection of Local Church property decisions to the General Secretary (By-Laws Art III, Sec. 24d).
6.Demanding idolatry by requiring allegiance and subscription to the Statement of Faith and By-Laws of the Church (By-Laws Art III Sec. 27a).
Legislation of Faith and Idolatry
The following amendments are forcing the Local Church to follow the dictates of idolatrous doctrines:
1.Demanding idolatry by requiring allegiance and subscription to the Statement of Faith(SOF) and By-Laws of the Church (By-Laws Art III Sec. 27a).
2.That one is to subscribe to the Statement of Faith, is to make an understanding of the faith into a law.
3.The combined effect of all the amendments is to glorify episcopal and clergy power being cast over the people of Christ.
Castrated General Assembly
- Amendments to the Articles of Incorporation, Constitution and By-Laws are no longer brought to the General Assembly for ratification, because the power of the National Council to do so is just as good (Art X Sec 1).
- Fake ratification at the Conferences. Ratification at the Conference is nothing of the sort expected in a ratification process. It is bereft of information as not all the amendments are discussed. Often, no ratification actually takes place and the membership are totally ignorant of the changes being made.
- The changes in the Articles of Incorporation, Constitution and By-Laws are now concocted by the leadership in the National Council. One should note that the majority of the amendments introduced are now coming from the National Council.
- Art V Sec 29 declaring the National Council as the Board of Trustees of the Church to comply with law, means it is now the National Council not the General Assembly as the true “highest policy making body” of the UCCP.
The Expanded Powers of the Bishops
- In the Basis of Union the Bishops were “administrative officers in their respective areas; and shall have joint general oversight over the entire Church; each one, more specifically, over a jurisdiction…”
- Today, however, the Bishops have the following powers: 1. Pastor of pastors; 2. To have administrative oversight over the Conference Ministers; 3. They are now the majority in the Executive Council; 4. They constitute the inner sanctum of the National Council; 5. They are also the officers of the UCCP Resource Development Foundation
Note: They are copying from Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. They are starting to think like Roman Pontiffs (a little short of making themselves as gods and lords of the UCCP). The Pastor of pastors is Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd.
The Expanded Powers of the General Secretary
- In the Basis of Union the General Secretary did not have specific powers directly associated with the Office; suggesting that there was no hierarchy, the General Secretary was just the presiding officer of a collegial body.
- Today, the General Secretary has the following powers: 1) Spiritual leader; 2) Executive Officer; 3) Spokesperson; 4) Head of the National Secretariat; 5) Custodian of land titles, minutes and all other important documents of the Church; 5) Presiding officer of the Council of Bishops; 6) Corporate Secretary of the Church; 7) Apparent head of the Board of Trustees of the UCCP Resource Development foundation (Art V Sec. 12, Sec. 22).
- This makes the General Secretary the Pope of the UCCP as the
Subjection of the Clergy to the UCCP Papacy via the Magna Carta of Church Workers
- While Magna Cartas declare freedom, the Magna Carta of Church Workers declare the rule of the Bishops over the Clergy;
- The Clergy is now subject to the discipline of the Conference Minister and the Bishops.
- It seems that only expulsion proceedings will be brought to the NCDCR. In the meantime, a pastor could arbitrarily remain suspended. It is not clear here if the discipline and suspension can be done while the pastor is still connected to a Local Church; in which case it should only be the Local Church who can initiate a complaint against their Pastor.
The Expanded Powers of the Conference Minister
- In the Basis of Union the power of the Conference Moderator was only one: “who shall be the Administrative Officer of the Conference”… “receive petitions from…Church Councils”
- Today: 1) Spiritual Leader; 2) Shepherd of the flock; 3) Chief Executive of the Conference; 4) administrative overseer of church workers (Art IV Sec 8) 5) power to admonish and suspend Church workers (Art II Sec 6);
- However, these powers are now subordinate to the the GA as the CM is now the planner “who has to be consistent with the directions and orientation of the General Assembly (actually National Council).”
- Instead of the Conference serving the Local Churches, the Conference and the Conference Minister is now a servant of the Bishops.
- While the powers of the Conference Minister is increased, he is subordinate to the episcopal hierarchy. (Art V Sec 28g).
Note: These expansion of powers was done through amendments during the Magugpo, Tagum, National Council.
Abandonment of Christ Centered Unity
- The NCDCR has ruled that the Basis Union is no longer the basis for unity in the UCCP; it said, “The truth of the matter is the current Constitution has replaced or has taken over the Basis of Union as the legal and valid document to preserve and maintain the unity of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.”
- What is the fundamental declaration of the Basis of Union that is abandoned by this NCDCR ruling?
- The common declaration of the uniting denominations that “We do preserve all the heritage of faith brought into the Union by each of the constituent Churches and hereby declare our common faith and message: Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, our Lord and Savior”.
Betrayal of the Churches and the Basis of Union
The UCCP Bishops have betrayed the uniting Churches and the Basis of Union (BU). The BU has promised and guaranteed the following:
1.Preservation of the heritage of faith. Today it is being homogenized;
2.Autonomy of the Local Churches and the keeping of traditions by the uniting denominations. Now, instead the “wider mission” (WM) has arrogated upon itself rulership over the local churches and have made itself the “higher mission” (HM) by isolating the local churches from its work;
3.The BU has promised the use of Church properties for the basic missions of the denominations; instead HM has diverted properties from the mission to for-profit institutions to acquire pecuniary gains for the benefit of the Bishops and the clergy.
4.The BU and the 1950 Executive Committee promised that the call of pastors shall rest on the autonomy of the Local Church; now it is made to rest in the assignment authority of the Settlements Committee.
Conversion of the UCCP Protestant Polity into Episcopalian-Roman-Babylonian Polity
- It was an insult to have the delegates of the Local Churches of Davao City expelled from Conference proceedings in front of two bishops, the Bishop of the Jurisdiction and the General Secretary no less; this is a show of episcopal power over the Local Churches in the area of historical Congregational Church development.
- There were no apologies. The Conference obstructed justice by refusing to submit the minutes of the Conference proceedings to the Faith and Order Commission (FOC).
- Based on the CBL, the UCCP is no longer Protestant, it is already Roman and Babylonian. Bishops are wearing purple characteristic of English and Roman imperial churches. Pastors are starting to adopt Roman Catholic practices, some even suggesting adoption of the forehead ash marking practice of the Roman Catholic Church.
Dissolution Envisioned by the Bishops
Articles of Incorporation Paragraph No. 11 (Amended by NC Action, UCCP West Triangle Cathedral, Quezon City, Jan 12, 2018): “In the event of a dissolution, the assets of the organization shall go to an accredited NGO/Foundation…”
The Corporation Code do not require that Churches will have a limited corporate life. The law recognizes that Churches can operate in perpetuity.
The Bishops however have contemplated the dissolution of the Church and preferring to transfer properties to an “accredited NGO or Foundation” instead of returning the properties and denominational legacies to the Local Churches; for it does not follow that the Local Churches will be dissolved in the event of the dissolution of the UCCP.
Non-Legally Binding Constitution
- The Constitutions developed by the Church were not submitted to the SEC, therefore, the Constitutions are null and void;
- Only the By-Laws were submitted, therefore, only the By-Laws matter legally.
- With the By-Laws the General Secretary, the 15 Trustees become the policy making and executive group of the UCCP. The Local Churches, the Conferences and the General Assembly have been rendered of no consequence to the actions of the Bishops.