The United Pentecostal Church, an organization that preaches against television and claims to not allow its licensed ministers to own one, has found itself for some time grappling with the thought of allowing its ministers to advertise and broadcast services on television. This has caused a division among its ministers as some are adamently against it and have threatened to leave if the television resolution is passed. Others, such as well known UPC minister Anthony Mangun of Louisiana, are in support of it. It has been said by some that there are already churches that have used television.
The UPC is anything but united on this issue. At the 2004 General Conference it came up for a vote and was not passed. Then at the 2006 General Conference, they tabled a similar resolution and sent it to committee. It is my understanding that it may come up for vote again this year.
If it passes, it could become even more difficult for UPC ministers that do abide by the rules to keep the members of their churches from owning and watching a television (many already do, some openly and some secretly). I cannot imagine members not wanting to watch their church ad or service broadcast on TV. And how do they tell other non-UPC people to watch? It would seem laughable if a co-worker asked if they would watch it with them and the UPC member shared they couldn't as they are not supposed to watch television. Such a mess!
Some will say the UPC is only a ministerial organization and so the rules do not apply to anyone outside the ministry. That isn't correct and I grow weary of hearing this proclaimed time and time again, even by ministers who obviously don't pay attention to their yearly ministerial manuals (from at least as far back as 1952!). The UPC, in their own ministerial manual, under their General Constitution states in Article II, entitled 'Membership:' "Membership in the United Pentecostal Church International shall consist of all
ministers and missionaries holding an accredited credential or license, and all members
of local assemblies which are affiliated with us, and shall be called "Organization."" This means that not only ministers, but people who are members of local congregations that are affiliated with the UPC, are all members of the UPCI. (Note that all UPC churches are not affiliated.)
The situation has been a comical one for some time. While the organization allows limited use of video, and one usually uses a television to show it (though it is supposed to be altered so not as to receive television broadcasting as is the VCR unit), if a potential minister marks off on their license application that they have one, their application will be denied at UPC Headquarters. (Please don't write and tell me this hasn't happened as it came up when I applied for my UPC license and the District Superintendent explained it to me. He didn't have much to say when I questioned why if they allowed limited video use.)
There have been all kinds of stories throughout the years concerning how some have gotten around this stipulation. Some have had it on their property, but not IN the house. Some have hidden it in a closet or the garage. Some will just wait for a conference or special event and watch television in their hotel room or go to a friend or neighbor's home. There are UPC ministers and their wives who not only watch videos they are not supposed to watch (movies made for the masses by Hollywood are not allowed), but even have a collection.
So even forgetting the division among UPC ministers, the UPC will create a difficult situation for itself should they allow television advertisements. How does a minister explain to the church members that they are not allowed to watch what they put on TV? How does a UPC member try to get someone they know to watch it when they aren't supposed to watch themselves? How does one explain paying these television stations the money it will cost when at least some of that money will go toward broadcasting all those programs that they feel are unwholesome? Will their advertisments be shown during a family oriented show or something like Two and a Half Men? What about all the small UPC churches that have no way of paying to be on television? Questions, questions, questions.
Anthony Mangun, at the recent BOTT (Because of the Times) gathering, took the opportunity in front of hundreds of UPC ministers and individual church members to openly show his support of why the UPC should allow television advertising. His church is liked and disliked within the organization (again, so much for being united).
Below is the context of Anthony Mangun's statement concerning his support of the television resolution. He mentions the need to continue to teach UPC holiness standards and also talks about regretting opportunities not pursued.
Next is where Anthony Mangun makes his statement in support of the UPC using television. In it he mentions how much his church paid for a sticker advertisement on local newspapers and other ways they are advertising to get out their Acts 2:38 message. He claims it is not a holiness issue since the UPC is on the Internet and there's millions of pornographic sites on the Internet. Instead, he claims it is an evangelism issue.
shares his thoughts about what Pastor Mangun said as well as other thoughts on the television issue. The resolution for allowing UPC ministers to advertise on television passed at the 2007 General Conference.
What say ye? Is it a holiness issue or is it an evangelism issue? Should UPC churches be allowed to advertise and broadcast services on television or should they keep to their teaching that television shows so much evil that it should be shunned?
Since posting this article, I received an email from Rev. Ernest Murphy, an ordained minister in the UPCI. Below are his thoughts on the subject. The email is posted with his permission.
"I support and I am ordained by the UPCI. I think there is primarily unity on the articles of faith, though there are often issues of healthy debate and discussions concerning the best approach or methods to take concerning holiness and winning souls. I think such discussions that take place among UPCI ministers lend credence to the fact the UPCI is not a cult. I do not think that it is hypocritical or insincere to have differing viewpoints on methodology.
"Though my thoughts might change in the future, here is my very brief and current opinion of the TV advertising and TV ministering issue:
"I am partially concerned the fact this issue has already become politicized will harm objective consideration of the matter. I am for any technology which will truly help the church. We already have internet and webcast, podcasts, and suchlike where we are in more control of the content we display and search for and so on. Concerning the TV advertisement issue, my concern is that either by requirement or temptation, Hollywood will eventually manipulate the church to meet Hollywood standards. I look at it like gambling at Hollywood’s casino. I think the legitimate appeal to minister on or advertise on TV is also similar to the appeal to gamble. For my part, I am currently more convinced it will cause more damage than genuine good. I will also say, I have friends that I hope to remain friends with that are on either side of the issue, and I respect their sincere opinions either way though I might disagree with them. Also, by my mention of this topic, I am not trying to pry a response from you. I am just sharing my thoughts, and I hope it is in no way offensive to you. May God Bless. Rev. Ernest Murphy"
"I have friends that I hope to remain friends with that are on either side of the issue and I respect their sincere opinions either way though I might disagree with them." Indeed, Rev. Murphy. This is how it should be.
NOTE FOR 2013:
The General Board has submitted the following resolution to change the wording in the manual regarding the matter of television and the media. It will be voted on at their fall General Conference. Below is the resolution. As you will see, it does not really change their stance against television, but would remove the prohibition from ministers having one in their home, and they would not be required to alter any media so that it does not receive television signals.
Whereas, Our elders took an important, principled, and correct stand against the evils of television in 1954 when they adopted the fourth paragraph on holiness in our Articles of Faith in response to the invention of television and other changes in society; and
Whereas, The need to enunciate the principles upon which our elders acted and apply them in light of technological changes and more complex choices today remains; and
Whereas, Traditional television is now merging with other technologies that we have accepted, such as computers, online media, satellite and cable deliveries, media players, smart phones, tablets, and game consoles; and
Whereas, Some forms of video technology are obsolete but new forms have been invented and are continuing to be invented; and
Whereas, We must continue to uphold our position on holiness of life and holiness in the use of all communications technology; and
Whereas, In view of the symbolic nature of media for our movement, we must be careful not to signal any compromise of belief or lifestyle; therefore
Resolved, That Article VII, Section 7, Paragraphs 31 and 32 be replaced with the following as Paragraph 31, and all following paragraphs be renumbered appropriately:
(NOTE: The next two paragraphs is how the Manual currently reads.)
31. No minister having a television in his or her home shall be permitted to hold license or credentials with the United Pentecostal Church International. This does not preclude the option to use television for advertising.
32. The use of video must strictly be limited to those areas in which motion picture cameras and projectors are traditionally permitted to be used: namely, in taking of pictures of families, friends, and church activities and the viewing of educational, religious, and inspirational films that are consistent with wholesome Christian principles. Furthermore, we strongly oppose the viewing of all worldly motion pictures and video films that are shown commercially in theatres and on television for entertainment purposes. All video receivers must be altered so that they are not able to receive television channels.
(NOTE: Below is the revision some want to see.)
31. The use of all media technology must strictly be limited to educational, religious, inspirational, and family content that is consistent with wholesome Christian principles. No minister shall use television or other media technology for the purpose of viewing worldly, carnal and unwholesome media; endeavouring to maintain a Godly atmosphere and influence in their lives.
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