At the General Conference of the United Pentecostal Church in 1992, a resolution was voted upon and approved which required all licensed UPC ministers to sign a yearly affirmation before their licenses would be renewed. In 1998, this was changed to every two years. This affirmation is not required by Australian UPC licensed ministers, and may be limited to ministers in North America.
The resolution mentioned that false prophets would arise and deceive many, plus some would depart from the faith in the latter times. It was stated that even some within the UPC were being led astray. Other verses were quoted about marking those who cause division and to withdraw yourselves from every brother who doesn't walk after the traditions he received.
It was obviously felt by some that there were those in the UPC who were departing from "the faith" yet were remaining in the organization. This resolution was introduced in order to keep the ranks of the UPC "pure", so to speak. In the resolution it stated:
"Whereas the Fundamental Doctrine and the Articles of Faith of our organization are Scriptural teachings and our pledge to wholeheartedly teach and preach our standards of holiness which we all agreed to abide by when we applied for membership in the United Pentecostal Church International, and which we are forbidden to speak or write in opposition to (General Constitution, Article VII, Section 7, Paragraph 15), and
Many ministers left the organization the year this resolution went into effect. The UPC continued to lose ministers over the statement even after the first year. It was reported in an article in the January 1994 edition of the Pentecostal Herald that the UPC had gained churches in 1993 but this may not tell the entire story. From statistics I saw, it appears they actually suffered a net loss of churches (though they did, as usual, add some new churches for the year). I have not been able to ascertain how many ministers left due to the affirmation.
For current UPC members, what does this mean to you? Please take time to fully read and understand what is written in the sections of the Articles of Faith that the affirmation pertains to. Is your UPC licensed minister practicing all these things? Is he/she teaching all of them to the church they pastor? If not, they are not being honest with the United Pentecostal Church or their congregation. In fact, if they signed and do not do these things, then they have lied. There is no other way around it. You cannot practice and not practice the teachings at the same time. You cannot teach and not teach the doctrines. (Please see the section concerning the problems with the affirmation to further clarify exactly what a minister is attesting to do.)
Part of the Articles of Faith state:
"We wholeheartedly disapprove of our people indulging in any activities which are not conducive to good Christianity and Godly living, such as theaters, dances, mixed bathing, women cutting their hair, make-up, any apparel that immodestly exposes the body, all worldly sports and amusements, and unwholesome radio programs and music. Furthermore, because of the display of all these evils on television, we disapprove of any of our people having television sets in their homes. We admonish all of our people to refrain from any of these practices in the interest of spiritual progress and the soon coming of the Lord for His church."
Does your UPC minister follow all these rules? Does he/she teach them at your church? If not, they are not doing what they attested to. Remember that every two years your minister must sign this statement and reaffirm allegiance to embracing, practicing and teaching these things.
I do wish to add a note on this that it has come to my attention from people who must deal with this affirmation, that some ministers either cross things off on the form or send a cover letter of explanation or make notations on the affirmation. I have heard from numerous people that this has been and continues to be done. These have been accepted at the headquarters of the UPC and those ministers have retained their license. In these cases, the ministers are neither lying nor going against their conscience in these matters. However, I must state that to allow such revisions fully defeats the purpose of the affirmation. If they are not requiring it to be signed as is with no adjustments, then why be bothered with the form?
There are some ministers that will state that all the affirmation did was to have the licensed minister re-affirm the things he'd already agreed to do. While this would be true for anyone being licensed since the affirmation resolution passed in late 1992, it was not true for all previously licensed ministers. Allow me to take some time to explain.
When ministers were licensed before 1993, they were asked on their application if they had read the manual (meaning the ministerial manual). They asked if they had a television in their home. They asked if they read the ministerial obligations and rules and if they agreed with them. They asked if they read the Articles of Faith and if they agreed with them.
They took time to ask on the license application about divorce and re-marriage, tithing, observance of the Sabbath, unconditional eternal security, foot washing, the Lord's Supper, secret societies, the second coming, once saved always saved, personal financial questions, and more. But not once was it asked if the prospective minister believed and would preach and teach those things in the Articles of Faith that pertained to holiness standards. It would appear to me that the organization was not too concerned with being sure their ministers taught these standards to others.
In regard to their fundamental doctrine, they did ask if the person had been baptized in the name of Jesus and if they had spoken in tongues as the initial evidence of having received the Holy Ghost. It was asked if they believed in preaching and teaching the same. In addition, they asked the following: "Do you believe that eternal salvation of men depends upon their repentance, water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and the infilling of the Holy Ghost with the initial sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and obedience to the gospel during this present life and age?"
For many, it was one thing to agree with the Articles of Faith in regards to the holiness standards. For example, while I was licensed, I did not go to the movie theater. It was no hardship or big deal with me to not go to see any movies. That was something I agreed to personally do in order to become licensed. However, I did not believe that going to the theater to watch a decent movie was wrong or sinful. I wasn't required to embrace this rule, but to follow it. The affirmation changed all this. Anyone licensed at the time was now being told not only did they have to abide by the rule, but they also had to embrace, believe, preach and teach it. Things had indeed changed.
Article VII, Section 2 (Qualifications and Requirements for Organizational Licenses and Certificate of Ordination) and Paragraph 1 of the UPCI ministerial manual had previously stated the following: "Anyone desiring to be affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church must have the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the initial sign of speaking with other tongues as in Acts 2:4, 10:46, and 19:1-6; must have been baptized by immersion in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, as in Acts 2:38; and must believe in, teach, and preach the same." Nowhere in this Article did it state what the affirmation added concerning the holiness standards mentioned in the Articles of Faith. It did state that no minister could write or speak in opposition against any Articles of Faith (Section 7, Paragraph 15). In addition, it did stipulate that all members had to avoid mixed bathing (Section 7, Paragraph 17). It stated that no minister having a television in their home would be permitted a license (Section 7, Paragraph 30). [I will state that a fair number of ministers have had televisions and not had their license removed.] It stated their restrictions on the use of video that is mentioned in their position paper on the issue (Section 7, Paragraph 31). And yet with these things being mentioned as requirements for the minister, they never mention the minister must believe them or preach and teach them to others.
In 1995, the ministerial manual changed Paragraph 1 of Section 2 to read as follows (note: the word International may have been added later than 1995): "Anyone desiring to be affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church International must believe in the Oneness of God as taught in Mark 12:29, John 14:6-11, and 1 Timothy 3:16; must have the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the initial sign of speaking with other tongues as in Acts 2:4, 10:46, and 19:1-6; must have been baptized by immersion in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, as in Acts 2:38; must be living a holy and godly life according to the Scriptures as described in the Articles of Faith of the United Pentecostal Church International; and must believe in, teach, and preach the same."
There are some who will state that the majority of ministers in the UPCI were in favor of the affirmation resolution. I am not so certain that this is true. Let me explain why I feel this way.
In order to vote, a licensed minister must be in attendance at the General Conference. The only exception to this may be in regard to foreign missionaries. There are ministers who either cannot afford to travel and pay for the expenses involved or who cannot attend due to family or work. These ministers had no say in whether the affirmation would be passed.
Furthermore, not every licensed minister is permitted to vote. In addition to holding license, one must also meet other postitions or status in the organization in order to vote at General Conference. For instance, they must be a pastor or assistant to the pastor, a full time evangelist or an administrator/teacher in a UPCI approved school or religious project. The individual who held license but did not have a certain position or status (as being retired) was not given the opportunity to vote on the resolution even though they attended the conference. These stipulations prohibited someone such as myself from voting at a General Conference as we did not meet any of their additional requirements to do so.
So were the vast majority of licensed ministers in support of this resolution? I do not believe that can be stated with the certainty that some claim. To me, it can only be stated with certainty that the majority of ministers who attended that conference and were permitted to vote were in support of the resolution.
Information for this article was taken from the 1991 and 2005 editions of the Manual of the UPCI.
The Affirmation- This is the statement which must be signed by every licensed UPC minister in order for their license to be renewed.
Loren Yadon: The Tragedy of War- Listen to what UPC minister Loren Yadon had to say about what the affirmation resolution was doing to the organization. He delivered his "The Tragedy of War" sermon at the Landmark Conference in Stockton, California on January 25, 1993. Hear him share how things were when the two groups came together to form the UPC in 1945 and how some of the history was and how some of it is not openly shared today. He mentions books on Andrew Urshan being edited to remove certain information and shares that one minister, I assume L.E. Westberg, said that with the resolution he wanted to clean the heretics out of the movement. Yadon stated that intolerance had grown in the UPC. The remarks about the resolution start at about 22:28.
Problems with the Affirmation- Whether or not the UPCI realizes it, there are some loopholes in the affirmation which could cause problems for the organization and allow ministers to remain who no longer believe some UPC teachings.
Minister's Yearly Affirmation of UPCI Articles of Faith- This will take you to a letter written by former UPCI minister, Robert Sabin. He writes against the UPCI practice of requiring ministers to sign this paper. The letter was written in November of 1992. This requirement went into effect in early 1993.
Letter From Nathanial Urshan to UPCI Ministers- This is the letter sent by Nathaniel Urshan in January 1993, after passage of the affirmation resolution. "The resolution does not allow officials to impose private interpretations of holiness standards. The only person who interprets the statement is the minister himself. If he honestly embraces the principles described in the two sections of the Articles of Faith, then he can and should sign the statement. No one can challenge his signature on the basis of personal interpretations and applications."
The Broken Reed And The Rod Of God- Article by UPC member Rayford Strange, written in September 1997, which partly covers his recollection of the vote for requiring the affirmation. "With the advent of ever increasing activity of political ploy within ecclesiastical bodies there is a proportionate waning of the power of God in the midst of them. The two simply do not mix. With this waning power there is the subsequent political effort to press all constituents into its own image which they choose to project leaving little if anything of the supernatural operation of and dependence upon the power of the Spirit. Hence the image of the beast."
Church Adheres to Code- Newspaper article published January 23, 1993 by "The Dallas Morning News." Pastor V. Arlen Guidroz in Dallas, Texas is quoted as saying. "They took a sledgehammer to kill a flea." All about the UPC decision to start requiring ministers to sign a yearly affirmation to commit to all articles of faith. The newspaper charges to access this article.
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August 23, 1997
Page Added October 22, 2004
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