A Former Member of Weinland’s UCG Congregation Speaks Out
The following info provided courtesy the user going by “Constance_Dogood” and her comment here. Looks like the tithing prerequisite for baptism isn’t the first time Weinland has tried to get his hands on church members’ money. Thanks Constance, this helps flesh out the timeline significantly. All emphasis below is mine.
Constance_Dogood said, on March 25th, 2008 at 4:07 pm
Your timeline is incomplete. Please let me help you, as I was there in 1996 through to January 2000. Ron was a very different man then judging from what sermons he gave.
In 1996, Ron annouced he was thinking of leaving the UCG (many people seem to think he came from Global or Living, but that simply was not the case). He spent weeks building his case for splitting (which was really just legitimizing his exit theology) in Sabbath sermons. The congregation was large, and it split. I remember we were in a rented hall south of Detroit for a holy day and the place was filled. Had to be some 300-400 people. Most of Toledo and a part of Detroit stayed with Ron. He actually made a convincing argument!
Before we split, he brought in David Hulme, who IMHO wasted an entire day of God’s Sabbath to talk about United’s finances to us. Oh, he quoted facts and figures and the whole megillah until I felt I was going to bleed. But he couldn’t answer the questions that plague United to this day about what was being done with the money. So we took a chance, and split.
We “hired” Ron as our minister by vote at $x thousand per year salary paid from tithes. This was NOT the COG-PKG. It was the Church of God. However, due to the fact that name had already been taken, we had to call it Church of God in Toledo (or something along those lines, I don’t care anymore). We had a very small website. Nothing impressive.
He soon introduced the “18 Truths Restored to the Church by Herbert Armstrong”, and fell more and more into Armstrong worship – always talking about ‘trunk of the tree, trunk of the tree”. He went out searching for other ministers who were like him – telling us of whom he approved and disapproved. He also set up a congregation in Cininnati which we connected to by phone, and he would travel to on Sabbath if he could. We all became involved with a churh in southern-Illinois/Missouri called the Belleville COG. Very respectable group! Things were growing, we thought.
Well, it all came to a head behind the scenes. There were rules set up so that Ron couldn’t get his hands on the money. Not that anyone distrusted him particularly, but we distrusted people in control of money – hey, we split from UCG about money, right? He wanted to start printing publications, and the church board wouldn’t go along with him. Even though we were a small group we had several hundred thousand in a church bank account. That built up and built up, but no one knew it but him and the board and whomever else was inside the circle.
We went to the Feast of Tabernacles, as far as I can gather it was in 1999, with Belleville COG. It was a great Feast from the outside. But on the inside, Ron took all the credit to himself, upsetting many people who actually did the planning. He was drawing attention to himself. That was when the people at the top knew something was up. I wish they would have told the rest of us. But hey, we probably wouldn’t have listened anyhow. We are stubborn, afterall.
Ron started giving sermons on how the minister is in charge, how God works through the minister, how God has a government and it should be followed, yada yada yada. you’ve all heard that song before. Towards the end of the year, he gave a “special sermon”. We were all to pay close attention. It was going to affect us very deeply. Well, he laid it all on the table and, to make a long story short, demanded we either follow him or get out. He even passed out a short survey which each of us had to fill out, one per household, to see what our attitudes were.
At the end of the sermon he asked us all to stay while he went over the surveys. He came back after a long while and had a hand full of envelopes. He asked two of us to pass them out to the families they were labeled for. Not everyone got one. Both of the young gentlemen who passed them out got one. I got one. Inside were letters explaining how we were no longer members in good standing, based upon our answers to the surveys. The board members were disfellowshipped, however (all but the guy who ran the sound equipment, of course because he would be needed). We all had a good long time afterwards to decide how we felt, the room split itself right down the middle by ’stay’ or ‘go’. And that was the end of the day.
The next day, I got a call from Mr. Weinland to tell me in person that he had misread my survey and he gave me the letter in error – I was now restored to member in good standing. Good for me. I told him I would be at church the next week, and we hung up. Hey.. what else was I supposed to do? I thought I’d never see the other people again.
The next Friday I got a call telling me there would be a meeting at an old fella’s house called by the former board members to explain their side of the situation. It would be before services usually started, and would not be services themselves, and everyone was encouraged to go to Ron’s service afterwards. So, ok, I thought I’d go.
Here’s the side of the story from the board members: Ron was not legally allowed to take the money according to the byrules of the church corporation. Ron very loudly and angrily accused the board of insubordination and etc by refusing to go along with his order to spend the money on publications. Ron had retained a lawyer and was actively trying to take the money. In order to do that, he had to fire the board and change the byrules. This he did by disfellowshipping them. The board said phooey on the money, this isn’t about the money, you can have it and whatever curse comes with it. If you want a more detailed explanation, search the Journal’s archives for late winter or spring 2000. There’s an article in there that’ll explain the whole thing.
[WW’s note: From the print edition of the February 2000 Journal: “A Toledo pastor disfellowships most of his board of directors, prompting many in the congregation to leave. The Journal interviews pastor Ron Weinland and two of the board members. See the print version of The Journal.”]
I decided, after hearing their side (and not that I’m easily convinced; I had personal dealings with Ron shortly before this where he absolutely crushed a church member and brought him to tears in my presence simply for asking a question), that they were credible in their story, and I would no longer attend with Ron’s group.
We had a wedding to attend of a young lady whose family was split by this – half staying with Ron and half leaving. Ron refused to talk to us. He refused to shake my hand. He even tried to avoid eye contact. Then he left immediately after the service. He said it was to spare everyone else and make it a better night for them. I still have the email conversations between the two uf us saved, where I tried to tell him in brotherly love and humility where he was going, and how he told me I was filled with a spirit of pride and elevating myself beyond where God put me by trying to teach him.
After that, we that he kicked out, divorced, started the Church of God – Toledo and are still here as a refuge to all who have been so treated and try to hold on. He went on some time later to form the COG – PKG from the website he retained.
All I have said here is true, as best as I can recall, with God and several people as my witness.