Another Man's UPC Experience
My wife and I were both raised up in the UPCI (myself, for all my life, and my wife since she was 11). Having led a sheltered life (from other oneness Jesus-name Organizations), that's all we knew. The experience we had had with the Independents left a lot to be desired, as many of them were renegades, so said the ministry of the UPC.
Cutting to the chase, about 2 years ago, while attending a UPC church, things went from bad to worse. And we didn't even know they were bad. My wife and some of the other prayer warriors were praying for revival, just like the pastor said. We were praying for the faith that was once delivered to the saints, and praying for the old paths. There had been a few isolated conflicts with others in the church from the pastor, not openly, but we wondered where some folks were and why they no longer would come. Then it happened to us.
At a valentine party at one of the member's (I can't bring myself to call them saints anymore,) the Rev. ( I can no longer call him brother) called my wife into a room with just his wife, my wife and him and proceeded to tear down everything that he had ever preached or taught on hair, holiness, and the whole 9 yards. I could go on and on about this man, but Praise God we had the desire to go on and live for God, and we left. We no longer even go to UPC as the pastor was a Presbyter, and had the ear of the District Superintendent.
We got our tax statements after that year, compared them to what we had cancelled checks for and we had $650 more in cancelled checks than he had given us receipt for. The next year, we only went for 3 months, and guess what? Our receipt was short $150, or about $50/mo. IRS is looking in on this guy now.
We now attend a church that is with ALJC. It is a sister organization to UPCI, and although it is smaller, I feel it is somewhat a better organization because it puts the church as a sovereign entity, and the pastor is the only one who is affiliated with the organization. There are not so many rules and regulations and there seems to be much more spiritual freedom.
I know that all UPCI is not the way my district was. Personally, I think you need to find you a real good church with a pastor you can trust and love, and one who doesn't care about anything but preaching the word of God. You do have some good points, though, such as the people who are in a situation like this will know that there is a way out. They DO NOT have to go to a UPC Church to be saved. That is the mentality of some of them. Not the UPCI, but some local dogmatic preachers. (There is a difference between a preacher and a minister, the difference being the preacher often has nothing but a soap-box and a scathing delivery to orate. A minister ministers to the NEEDS of the people. He is a shepherd, one who cares for his people, like Jesus cares for us.)
As far as what our former UPC pastor said about hair, he publicly got into the pulpit and stated that he thanked God that his wife and daughter had never cut their hair. One day at the mall, my wife was talking to a friend, who is a beautician, and whose son the preacher's daughter had been dating, after all of this had come out, and she told my wife that she had cut the girl's hair. The girl had messed her hair up with some sort of a sun-glitz. She said that she was aware of how the church taught, and that she called to get the preacher's permission before she did anything. The preacher told her to do whatever it took to get it back looking "normal" because if anyone in the church found out, he might lose his job.
Does this sound like a shepherd? It sounds more like a hireling, who would run at the first sign of a wolf. I have a tape that a brother preached a few months back , about "wolf killers." In it he likens sin to a wolf, and that the pastor was a wolf-killer.
I agree that there is much spiritual abuse in the church world. It is so sad that when we have been beat down by the things of the world, that when we go to church to be built up, we get hammered down from the pulpit instead of being encouraged. That is the way it once was in our life. Now we are in a great church. Our new pastor says the Church should be like an emergency room where the wounded can come and be healed. Not just the physically, but the mentally, and spiritually wounded.
I feel that soon the day will come when the UPC will be brought to task for all the nonsense that it has allowed to go on simply because they didn't want to tell the pastor how to run his church. My former District Superintendent told one minister that he didn't care what he preached, as long as it didn't have to involve him.
It seems that SOME of the UPC preachers/pastors want to keep the people "barefoot & pregnant". By that I mean that they don't want anyone who can think or pray for themselves.
As far as the "standards" of the UPC, let's look at what a standard is, OK? You know that as far as standards go, an inch is an inch. Wherever you go in the USA and buy a yardstick, an inch will always be an inch. 36 of them will be a yard. That is a standard. Another standard is refering to a flag, or a banner. (This is courtesy of Mr. Webster.) You and I both know that from one city to another, there is no such thing as a "standard" in UPC. They like to flaunt their "Holiness" standards, but you go from one place to the next, and it is never the same. One thing I have come to the realization of is this: There are 10 commandments, and only one plan of salvation. There are 10 thou shalt's and thou shalt nots. The main thing that we MUST agree on is Acts 2:38. That is the basis of our salvation. If in your prayers and meditations, if you feel that God has made you feel convicted over a certain thing, then by all means, follow your convictions. But never preach as doctrine personal convictions. I think that maybe this is the thing that throws so many off. If you have a love in your heart for God and the things of God, and want to live for him more than anything else in the world, God will make a way for you to be set free from whatever bondage is holding you back.
I am like you in regards to not wanting to focus on the negative. I don't feel that retelling this story will change anything. If anyone who reads these words and realizes that spiritual abuse is what they are in, maybe this will help them to recognize this and set them to thinking. It would be better to start to another Jesus-name Church than to stop going altogether.
I know I have rambled on and on, but I felt compelled to visit with you about this. If you have found a good church, one where they love you, I'm glad. I hope it is apostolic in nature without all the scathing and scalding sermonizing that so many feel like they have to do. I guess like children who were brought up in abusive homes are likely to abuse their children, so will abusive preachers who came up under abusive pastors.
God bless, and take care. Keep looking up.
Posted February 18, 1998
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August 23, 1997
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