In the real world there's not too much you can make of a difference of opinion among members of a board - whether a school board or the "suits" in a major corporation. Boards are meant to be places where ideas are put up and shot down, differing opinions canvassed and compromise reached.
The Mormon church is a bit different. A resolution, passed down from the First Presidency, is read out and all the hands are (I'm told) raised in silent unity. I guess mindlessness is what they think "being of one mind" is all about.
But what about the UCG. When it was formed there was little precedent other than the rubber-stamp model (which apparently still holds in the administratively unreformed WCG of Joe Tkach.) The new model could be understood in various ways, and it was. Those who hoped it would be the harbinger of a bright, new, inclusive and consultative style soon discovered that old dogs find it hard to learn new tricks, and when you try to make them fetch the newspaper they're likely to bare their teeth and growl instead.
But are things changing in UCG? The Journal reports on a difference of opinion among board members over the planned relocation to Texas. Bob Berendt, Aaron Dean, Bill Eddington, Roy Holladay and Vic Kubik want the decision reconsidered. Eddington is reported as saying that "the issue transcends the location of the home office and that some church leaders had underestimated the unrest and disunity." (Journal, Nov-Dec., and in following quotes)
On the other side of the fence are Robert Dick, Jim Franks, Richard Pinelli, Larry Salyer, Leon Walker, Richard Thompson and church president Clyde Kilough. The Mormon mentality is exemplified by Jim Franks who asks "How can a minority of the council put forward a resolution to overturn that decision and still say I’m in consensus with the council?"
Consensus? Somebody pass that man a dictionary!
The problem for UCG is, though those in favor of the move are in the majority, "it takes only four of the 12 to place a question on the [ballot] for the next general conference, scheduled for May 2008." There's also a petition (!) circulating among UCG ministers to the same effect. "If 25 percent of UCG elders sign it, that resolution will also require that the general conference vote on whether to rescind the original vote to move to Texas."
Is this a sign the UCG board has fallen apart, afflicted by the sin of Korah? Or is it more a case of Machiavellian posturing by power-hungry factions jockeying for the ascendancy?
Or, then again, is it a sign that there's hope yet that it can practice accountability and operate like a board should, demanding something more than a chorus of "yes sir, how high?"
One thing is certain, those on the outside, including a number of independent congregations that were formerly with UCG, will be watching these events carefully.