Servants' News

Sept/Oct 2001

Answers to “Hierarchical Leader” Letter

Diane Rhodes, Wife of UCG-IA Minister

[Diane Rhodes is the wife of Melvin Rhodes, a UCG-IA minister. While her writing may appear a bit fiery, I have known her for some time and realize that she has been a great help to many people in difficult situations by listening to what people were saying and straight-forwardly expressing her opinion when others might just “beat around the bush”.]

April 30, 2000

Dear Norm,

This is Di. I hope you take this to heart as I communicate it because I sincerely feel you need to think about this. I am referring to the stupid thing [the hierarchical leader letter] you sent Mel (which I have intercepted) containing the threat to publish names of any “leaders of hierarchical groups” who do not respond.

Have you lost your mind? You obviously have nothing to do. I mean, are you so lacking in anything to publish that you have to scrape up this?!? C’mon, Norm—have the decency to admit that God is not inspiring nor leading you to any great crusade these days, and get a job. Let’s discuss this…

Didn’t you address this sort of thing in a SN a while ago—like asking people to ask their ministers these questions? If you like, I could ferret it out and prove it, but surely you remember this, right? So why dredge it up again? You have presented plenty of information and challenges to people throughout the life of SN, and I guess we can say that people have made their decisions. What are you trying to do now? Live their lives for them???

People have a right to decide for themselves whether hierarchy is right or wrong. And whether you like it or not, people also have a right to make the wrong decisions.

Now, even if this needed to be done (?!?), I could maybe understand you sending this to the HQ of such groups, but to guys in the field? Doesn’t make sense to me. It is the HQ that is the center of the hierarchy, surely.

And the threat stinks. What the heck is that? Doing this sort of thing is like becoming the Jerry Springer of the x-COG community—pick a provocative situation, then air it publicly, possibly ruining a few lives in the process—great ratings! Sad to see you sink to that.

Well, if you publish the fact that Melvin didn’t answer you, you better publish this letter, verbatim, so they know why I have no intention of letting him see that stupid letter.

To “get a life” is the best advice I could offer you, Norm. (Not that you were asking for any, but I hope you take it anyway.)


— Di Rhodes


Response: You are right, I have dealt with this issue before. I think I understand what you are saying here. You are asking for peace—to let people go on and serve God in the groups they are in without any more debate as to which is the “right government”. I would guess there are dozens of ministers and their wives, in numerous groups, who are saying “amen” to that.

I did not want to be a CoG “Jerry Springer”, and I am sorry that I did not more clearly state in the letter that I sent it to leaders of groups as well as a few ministers and members. It was not my intent to put certain non-leaders on the spot, but to send multiple copies to each group so that someone might talk to the leaders about it and increase the chance of an answer.

Unfortunately, these issues will not go away by ignoring them. Any peace achieved by ignoring them is temporary. There are too many people with family and friends in multiple groups that must face this issue every Sabbath or Feast. I am thinking about the long term Church of God future. What kind of services will there be when the AC-trained ministry is retired and gone? Will our children be in thousands of tiny splinter groups each claiming to be “the main group” that God is using? Will they just give up on it all? Or will they learn that God did not create church organizations, and that they can meet and study together with whomever is willing to meet with them on the Sabbath? Both you and I have children who are already facing these decisions.

I realize that I cannot decide for anybody, and that the answers to these questions are not fun. But I believe that God wants me to write this message to those who will listen—and quite a few people are still listening.

— Norman Edwards


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