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Brief History of the United Church of God
As authoritative historical records clearly show, a number of extra-biblical practices entered the early church within a century after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Recognizing that fact, the United Church of God strives to directly mirror the beliefs and practices of the first-century teachings of Jesus and the original apostles. This leads the Church to choose not to participate in common worship practices that were added without biblical mandate, including the observance of Christmas and Easter.
Many of the current ministers and members of the United Church of God were once members of the Worldwide Church of God, a nonprofit corporation under the leadership of Herbert W. Armstrong until his death in 1986. A subsequent unwarranted shift toward nonbiblical practices and beliefs led numerous ministers and members to leave the fellowship of that organization.
Concerned with uneven administrative practices of the former assembly, more than 100 ordained ministers developed a new administrative structure that was more directly accountable to members and the ministry. A new 12-person Council of Elders, elected by a general assembly of all ordained ministers in United, was tasked with reviewing and independently documenting all core beliefs and doctrines of the Church, which above all must be true to the biblical record and not reliant on later divisive philosophical and theological traditions that were developed centuries after the original apostles. That task has been largely completed, and the Church's formal Statement of Fundamental Beliefs is published for all to see on its Web site: www.ucg.org/about/fundamentalbeliefs.htm.
Both biblical and secular history record that Christians in the first century possessed a strong focus on what Jesus described as the "good news" of the coming Kingdom of God.
In its efforts to mirror that first-century Church and its original apostolic focus, the United Church of God fully embraces and teaches the same message that Christ and the apostles taught. Indeed, the open mission of the United Church of God, reflecting the direct commands given by Jesus to His disciples in Matthew 28:19-20 and Mark 16:15, focuses on this dual goal: "preaching the gospel, preparing a people." To achieve this end, the Church publishes a considerable amount of literature explaining and outlining biblical and historic records concerning the plan of salvation and the role of Jesus Christ in that plan. The Bible makes it clear that the ultimate reward of the saved is to enter the Kingdom of God.
However, as the Church encourages and supports its prophetic ministry, it insists that any speculative comments regarding biblical prophecies be labeled as such and not taught as authoritative doctrine. For example, while the prophetic consequences of rejecting God's law are made plain in the biblical record, the timing of when these events will specifically occur is not. As Jesus Himself told the apostles regarding this, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority" (Acts 1:7). Jesus did instruct those who would follow Him to have a sense of urgency toward overcoming sin through the power of the Holy Spirit and to prepare themselves as if the Kingdom could return at any moment, regardless of when Jesus might actually return to set up the literal Kingdom of God. "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming… Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect" (Matthew 24:42, 44).
United's Council of Elders, which also elects the president of the assembly, oversees the strategic direction and activities of the Church. In its commitment to positive accountability, detailed reports of Council meetings and other relevant information are regularly published on the Church's Web site at www.ucg.org/about/news. In addition, the Church strongly believes in fiscal accountability, and its financial records are externally audited annually by a qualified independent accounting firm. The unqualified opinions of the accounting audits are freely available online for review.
For more information about the Church, please visit the Church's Web site www.ucg.org. General information about the Church's activities is available within the publication This Is the United Church of God, which is available in PDF and HTML formats online or in hard copy by request.
About the United Church of God, an International Association: Basing its beliefs on the biblical practices of the original 1st Century Church, the United Church of God maintains congregations in more than 40 countries around the world. Following the recorded example of Jesus Christ and the first apostles, the Church observes a seventh day Sabbath and the annual Holy Day seasons as outlined in the Old and New Testaments. The main offices of the Church are located in Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information about the Church's beliefs and activities, please visit www.ucg.org.
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