Updates: 02/04/2011, 02/05/2011 and 02/08/2011 on West Palm Beach and Miami
It has come to my attention that some kind of official complaint has been made against Cogwa for various unethical financial behavior, including theft of UCG tithe money, to which someone claiming to be Cogwa’s legal counsel has replied . Though I did not know about the lawsuit until today, and have not seen the official complaint being made about Cogwa’s shady activities, I thought it worthwhile to provide an ironic comments on the lawsuit, seeing as I have no idea who the “Sarah Luther” is who made the complaint.
Judging from the content of Mr. Ranew’s reply, one can gather than the original accusation made against Cogwa, and apparently being heard by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is that “Sarah Luther” is a false name. That is quite possible, unless Sarah happens to be a non-UCG member making the complaint on behalf of others. It seems particularly hypocritical that the people at the Current Crisis blog site would complain about false names, given that “Abigail Cartwright,” “Frank Dilberto,” “Noah Webster,” and “Chris Dove” were not real people either, but were false names being used by those who sought to protect their own identities and prevent themselves from being held accountable for their own libelous accusations. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
Without a specific knowledge of the accusation itself it is impossible to determine of the allegations of this “Sarah Luther” are correct are not, though they appear to involve some sort of financial improprieties. As a point of fact, Cogwa is guilty of the theft of congregational funds in at least two congregations (and possibly others). In both Miami and West Palm Beach they have sought to divert money donated to UCG to Cogwa against both legal and ethical requirements. There also appears to have been a lengthy and concerted effort for many months, long before the official start of Cogwa, to use the local congregational funds of these areas as war chests to fund Cogwa’s efforts in planning a departure from United that extended far before the official departure of the dissident ministers from United . Let us not forget either that current Cogwa ministers (Mr. Demerest) and elders (Mr. Haughee) either provided their home address for local incorporation papers or signed as directors of the breakaway local congregations before leaving the United Church of God, a clear ethical failure.
So, without knowing the specific content of the complaint it is impossible to know whether the complaint itself has merit, though the conduct of Cogwa has itself fallen short of the biblical and legal standard for behavior, and is a far cry from the “good faith disagreement” that Mr. Ranew claims in his reply. There is indeed shady financial business going on, including the theft of congregational bank accounts as well as property (including hymnals and equipment) belonging to the United Church of God. A speedy return of all stolen funds and property would be the proper way to ensure compliance with the legal and ethical standards Christians are to live by, avoiding the possibility of an individual law cash funding, and the solution to any just legal complaint that has resulted from the unethical behavior of Cogwa’s leadership in Florida.
It has come to my attention that the local funds from West Palm Beach and the property there are being returned to UCG soon. There has been a claim made tht Miami has been exempt from following the Rules of Association shown below, allowing them the freedom to steal UCG property . Those claims are being investigated as we speak.
The claims made by Mr. David Treybig that Miami was exempt from responsibility for turning control over the local fund over to United and the demand for me to take down this note have been duly investigated and found to be wanting. Therefore this note remains with the note that while Miami has not returned any of the stolen money in their account, and West Palm Beach’s returns are still incomplete (no checkbook or receipts). This note will be updated if the stolen property in South Florida is returned to United.
Update 02/08/2011 on Mr. Treybig’s Comments:
Mr. Treybig’s false claims, examined above, are stated here in a message sent to various elders and ministers (but not to me) concerning my original posting above:
In talking with Jim Haeffele, I learned that he and Roy Holladay peacefully resolved the issues regarding the independent, non-UCG account that existed in South Florida. There was no attempted diversion of UCG funds.
As such, it is sad to see Nathan Albright making false and slanderous postings such as the one below.
I hope you will ask Nathan to remove this post and cease this type of conduct as it does not reflect well on him, members of the United Church of God or the greater Church of God community.
These claims were investigated and found to be false, both in fact as well as by law (see below notes on the legal requirements concerning Miami’s local accounts; more details about legal compensation – at http://sideeffectsofxarelto.org/current-xarelto-lawsuits/), but the money in Miami still has not been returned rightfully to the United Church of God. We still await the full legal compliance by the breakaway Miami congregation under Mr. Jim Haeffele, at which point their submission to the rule of law and their legal obligations will be duly noted here.
 This use of tithes and desire to control the local congregational funds is contrary to the UCG Rules of Association, Rule 2-110 on Collection of Funds Assets:
“Within the United States: Tithes and offerings may be collected by local congregations and/or by the Home Office. Congregations that collect tithes and offerings locally are asked to pay their local operating expenses and then send the excess to the Home Office to assist in funding the mission of the Church, including salaries for those employed in the ministry as well as the other administrative and service obligations of the Church worldwide. An appropriate balance agreed upon by the Home Office, the Management Team, the Council of Elders and the local congregation, above and beyond operating costs, may be kept in local accounts. Any local building funds should be in compliance with the Local Church Building Policy adopted by the Council of Elders (copy of which is available upon request). Money raised in local church fund-raisers and special donations given as restricted funds are not considered when establishing appropriate fund balances for local accounts.”
See also Rule 2-140 on UCG’s rules for Local Incorporation:
“Local congregations in the United States may incorporate if they wish to do so. There is no legal requirement in the United States to be incorporated in order to collect funds; therefore, each congregation should analyze all the facts when deciding whether or not to incorporate. Whether to incorporate or not shall remain a local decision for each congregation. The Home Office should be notified of the formation of any new corporations. Appropriate legal counsel and support from the local congregation should be sought prior to the dissolution of any existing corporations. The fact that a local congregation in the United States is incorporated does not exempt the congregation from adherence to the Constitution and Bylaws of the UCGIA and to these Rules of Association.”