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August 2016 UCG CoE Report

New Moon Announcement:   The first visible light of the New Moon was seen fro0m Jerusalem at sunset this evening, making September 3 the first day of the sixth biblical month.  Welcome the first day of the sixth biblical month with the Shofar

For more information about the New Moon’s and the Biblical Calendar from the scriptures  See these articles

Since Oct 2 will be the thirtieth day of the sixth month and no month can be longer than 30 days: It is confirmed that Oct 3 will be the first day of the seventh month and the Feast of Trumpets

Council of Elders Meeting Report – August 22-25, 2016

 

Submitted by abooth on September 1, 2016 – 11:01am
United Church of God, an International Association

Council of Elders Quarterly Meeting Report

Milford, Ohio

Monday, August 22, 2016

Chairman Don Ward called the morning session to order at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (Council) members were present.

Chairman Ward welcomed everyone. He commented on the smooth transition from the previous chairman, Robin Webber, to himself as chairman. Mr. Webber has cooperated in every extent of the word and so has Gerald Seelig, the secretary. Transitions can have rough edges, but he thanked them both for helping make it go smoothly.

The last Council meeting minutes were approved. The agenda for the week was discussed with a few edits and approved. Dr. Ward then read through the code of ethics as a review of how the Council is to conduct itself. Every Council member has signed one, and it is on record.

President’s Report—Victor Kubik

President Kubik greeted everyone and thanked them for coming to the personal appearance campaign (PAC) yesterday in Dayton, Ohio. He then discussed some of the following major activities:

  • Ambassador Bible College (ABC) will have 23 students begin classes next week. They are still waiting to hear about the student visa program for approval. New faculty members will include Scott Ashley, Randy Urwiller and Gary Petty.
  • United Youth Camps completed its 22nd summer. They were blessed with 456 campers and around 300 staff. There were four overlapping camps this summer, which prevented campers from going to two camps in the same area. The theme this year, “Guided by God’s Word,” was another success. The 2017 camp theme will be “Building Your Relationship With God.” Zambia and Nigeria have camps going on this week.
  • Compass Check magazine had a survey sent out to its readers. The results were positive, with 59 percent responding that they read between 75-100 percent of the articles.
  • Feast of Tabernacles registration for the U.S., Canada and Caribbean sites is at 7,600 so far, which is up by 1,500 from last year at this time. We have about 65 Feast sites around the world. Speaking schedules are finalized, and planning is well underway.

ADMIN:  This is a reference to registrations at this time compared to this date last year, there may or may not result in an increase in actual attendance figures.

  • Ministerial education is a very high priority of the Church. The six ministerial trainees have completed their first year. It is a successful program with two now ordained, one of whom is becoming a pastor soon. Darris McNeely just returned from Malawi and South Africa for providing ministerial training. The pastoral development program will be held in November for 10 days with 60 hours of training. Regional conferences will likely begin in January beginning in Atlanta with the six regions covered in two years.
  • International travel for the Kubiks has included:
    • Italy: Five days was spent with Carmelo and Antonella Anastasi and Angelo and Anna Maria Di Vita. They saw the office and the successful ideas that Mr. Anastasi has been working with in preaching the gospel in the Italian work.
    • Netherlands: It was an impressive, lively group. Time was spent in Amsterdam touring the Anne Frank house. The members show a great respect for Paul Kieffer, who is the pastor of the area.
    • Australia: The last trip to Australia was March 2015. They traveled there with Bob Dick in July for a ministerial conference and to see the brethren in the area.
  • The home office has seen improvement with new carpeting and painting and lighting in the entry way, hallways and conference room. There is also some new furniture. Much work went into it with a lot of work by Tim Sipes. Other improvements upstairs were done as well. There will be a glass sculpture designed with the Church’s Mission Statement for the entryway, to be completed soon. Mr. Kubik was thankful for the faithful service of all the home office employees, and he commented on the family atmosphere that is there.

Operation Manager Reports:

Media and Communications Services—Peter Eddington

Peter Eddington went through some of the following statistics:

  • United News circulation is the highest it’s been since July 2010—at 15,102.
  • Our coworker count is now the second-highest it’s ever been—5,740 in July (5,750 in May). This is 20 percent higher than a year ago and 75 percent higher than two years ago.
  • U.S. Beyond Today magazine subscribers are the highest they’ve been since September of 2012—238,899. The total worldwide Beyond Today magazine print run stands at 303,148.
  • The number of pieces of mail (non-donation mail) for June was 5,977 and for July was 6,627. We have never seen that amount of mail per month in our 21-year history. It’s usually around 2,000 pieces per month.
  • The Church’s Beyond Today YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/BeyondTodayTV has had 5.3 million views, has 15,188 subscribers, and hosts 1,608 videos. The most popular programs are:
    • The Moment After You Die—265,610 views
    • You Can Understand Bible Prophecy—239,755 views
    • The Next Superpower—195,610 views
    • The Four Horsemen of Revelation—95,823 views

Some other items Mr. Eddington talked about were:

  • New streaming technology: There has been continued development of new streaming technology for Beyond Today. The devices with applications now “live” include Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung smart televisions (running the Orsay software). Almost ready to launch are our updated, premium Roku app, Samsung TV (Tizen software version) app, and apps for the Smart TV Alliance.
  • Media department job openings: There are job openings in the media department that will be mentioned in the upcoming United News.
  • Beyond Today: For your reference, our fiscal year has started off very well on the Word Network. Beyond Today is broadcast nationwide to 85 million U.S. homes via cable and satellite, plus in dozens of other countries. In particular, we are noticing responses from the UK via the Word Network. We currently air in the U.S. on the Word Network on Friday afternoons at 4 p.m. and on Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. Eastern. And Beyond Today continues to air in New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, and St. Lucia. It also airs on radio in Zambia.
  • Recent Beyond Today Live campaigns:
    • Cleveland, Ohio—43 new guests
    • Dayton, Ohio—12 new guests
  • Beyond Today window clings: We still have a supply of Beyond Today car window static clings for ministry and members to apply to their car rear windows. They are available to be shipped to any pastor who requests them for his congregation. They are also going to be provided at all U.S. Feast sites at the literature and information table.
  • Amazon Smile: We can increase our organization’s donation potential by spreading the word about AmazonSmile. Sign in to http://org.amazon.com and click on Marketing Tools to access customized online tools to let everyone know that their AmazonSmile shopping can support United Church of God.

Financial Services—Rick Shabi

Rick Shabi updated the Council on the several finance activities that have occurred since the May meetings. Since May, one fiscal year has ended, another fiscal year has begun, the annual audit has been completed, and new assets have been acquired. He presented the Council with supporting financial and statistical statements and other documents.

  • Fiscal year-end: The Church’s fiscal year ended June 30. For the year, Church income exceeded budget by $250,000; but it fell short of fiscal 2015 income. It was also noted that year-end cash balances and total assets for the Church were higher than they were in the previous year, for the fourth consecutive year.
  • Annual audit: The annual external audit was completed by the accounting firm of Clark, Schaefer, and Hackett the week of Aug. 15. The audit report will be finalized and be published in United News at a later date.
  • Assets: The Church completed the purchase of the Portsmouth, Ohio, church building on Aug. 12. The Church also took ownership of a donated parcel of land for the church building in London, Kentucky. A complete listing of all the buildings and land owned by the Church was distributed.
  • New fiscal year: The new fiscal year began July 1. Financial results and trends noted during the first six weeks of the fiscal year were discussed with the Council.

Ministerial and Member Services (MMS)—Chris Rowland

Chris Rowland summarized some manpower changes since the last meeting in May:

  • Jim Tuck—relocated to Arizona to pastor Phoenix, Show Low and Northern Arizona. He will continue to pastor Hawaii as well.
  • Fred Crow—now the pastor of San Jose, California. He continues to pastor Eureka, California. Mr. Crow has also assumed the interim pastor responsibility for the Oakland and Santa Rosa congregations until Nov. 1, when Tim Pebworth will transition to become the pastor of Oakland and Santa Rosa. Mr. Pebworth will also continue to have responsibility as senior pastor for French-speaking Europe, as well as taking on responsibility over French-speaking Africa.
  • Randy Love—now the pastor of Yuma, Arizona.
  • Glen White—retired as pastor of the congregations in Kalispell and Missoula, Montana. Dan Deininger is now pastoring those congregations.
  • Randy Schreiber—will retire at the beginning of September from the full-time ministry, but will continue to pastor the congregation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Schreibers will continue to live in Phoenix and serve with the other elders there.
  • Chuck Zimmerman—will retire at end of November. The Zimmermans plan to relocate to the Southwest U.S.
  • Stan Martin—will transfer to Tampa, Florida, where he will pastor the Tampa, St. Petersburg, Vero Beach and Fort Myers congregations. After Mr. Martin relocates, the congregations in Kingsport and Knoxville, Tennessee, and London, Kentucky, will be pastored by Jay Ledbetter. The Ledbetters will be moving to the area at the beginning of September.
  • There will be a few more retiring the next few months. Those will be announced when they are finalized.
  • Milan Chovan—a longtime elder in the North Canton, Ohio, congregation died on June 7.
  • Two new elders ordained: Harrison Kioko in Matuu, Kenya, and Jay Ledbetter in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas.

Current statistics include:

  • 374 elders in the United Church of God
    • 90 are outside the U.S.
    • 284 are in the U.S.
      • 77 are church pastors
      • 11 are associate or assistant pastors
      • 4 are ministerial trainees
  • 194 churches and Bible study groups in the U.S.
  • 95 baptisms so far in 2016, which is 38 more than at the May meetings
  • Average U.S. Sabbath attendance for June 2016 was 7,459. Attendance remains steady with no upward or downward trends.

Committee Chairman Reports:

Education Committee—Aaron Dean

The Education Committee (EC) consists of Jorge de Campos, Aaron Dean (chair), Rex Sexton and Tony Wasilkoff.

The EC is responsible for the overview of all the education programs from youth through the ministry. The administration has asked Darris McNeely and Steve Myers to coordinate the many various educational efforts to avoid overlap and fill in any gaps. The EC will help with this process.

Last month education seminars in South Africa and Malawi were completed. Elders and leading men from both Zambia and Zimbabwe attended with the Malawi leaders, thus covering three countries. These were conducted by Darris McNeely. Also this summer seminars were done in Australia, where president Victor Kubik and Council member Bob Dick conducted them with others in the Australian ministry.

ABC begins next week with 23 students. ABC has not yet received approval by SEVIS (“Student and Exchange Visitor Information System,” the group the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) uses to handle student visas) to issue I-20s (a CIS document allowing ABC to state that it can admit international students so that they can apply for a student visa). Please pray for God’s direction in this. ABC does have some international students from Australia and South America coming, primarily as a consequence of U.S. dual citizenship, but lacking CIS approval for acceptance of most overseas applicants it is difficult for other international students (who are otherwise eligible and could get a student visa) to attend ABC.

In keeping with our attempt to increase our depth of faculty, recently hired elder Dr. Randy Urwiller, former Ambassador College Big Sandy faculty member of the English department, has agreed to teach the module on the Writings. They continue to search for and add qualified, doctrinally sound men to our faculty.

Mr. Dean concluded by mentioning that seeing the last few classes of ABC and attending our youth camps, it seems there is an increased level of overall spiritual maturity in our young people.

Doctrine Committee—John Elliott

The Doctrine Committee (DC) consists of Scott Ashley, Bill Bradford, Bob Dick, John Elliott (chair) and Mark Mickelson.

The word doctrine in the Greek means “that which is taught, teaching or instruction.” True doctrine and godly instruction is solely God’s, as we see in John:7:16Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me..

The DC serves the Council in striving to ensure that our beliefs are those that God established in His Word as we are reminded in 1 Timothy:4:16Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.. Should any variance be revealed to what God teaches, we want to be agents of better realignment with the Scripture.

Much of the work of the DC involves a respectful assessment of papers from UCG ministers and members. These papers typically propose what they consider to be a more accurate alignment with Scripture of things we teach. It is the DC’s duty to review each, compare them carefully with Scripture and make an appropriate response.

The scope and depth of some papers sometimes requires face-to-face meetings of the DC, perhaps needing several days. This past Wednesday through Friday the DC, with Council chairman Don Ward, met for three full days to confer on projects. The result was so beneficial to the DC that they intend to make it an annual element of performing their work.

An additional level of review is available from subcommittees that assist the DC. The prophecy advisory committee consists of Ken Martin (chair), Rick Beam, David Mills, Tom Robinson and Herb Teitgen. The doctrinal advisory committee (DAC) consists of Larry Walker (chair), Bob Gardenhire, Jon Garnant, Ken Graham and Don Hooser. The DAC recently completed a two-year in depth study to one of the projects that helps with documented research. The DC greatly appreciates the subcommittee members and the research that they contribute.

Ethics Committee—Mark Mickelson

The Ethics Committee consists of Bob Dick, John Elliott, Mark Mickelson (chair), Mario Seiglie and Tony Wasilkoff. They are either busy or slow depending on what is needed. They are reminded that they serve the Council.

Media and Communications Committee—Scott Ashley

The Media and Communications Committee (MCC) consists of Scott Ashley (chair), Mario Seiglie, Rex Sexton, Tony Wasilkoff and Robin Webber.

In their last meeting on Aug. 15 they looked at various items that include some of the following (also attending were chairman Don Ward, president Victor Kubik, Peter Eddington and Darris McNeely):

  • Mr. Webber brought up the topic of the need of having more of a connection and synergy between the MCC and the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee (SPFC).
  • There was discussion of results and improvement of the PACs.
  • Mr. McNeely noted one of the Media Guiding Principles: “Endeavor to energize and involve the entire Church in its mission of proclaiming the gospel (Matthew:28:19-20[19]Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:[20]Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.).:
  • Mr. Eddington talked about how social media can be used by the brethren to promote many of our articles and videos.
  • Mr. Kubik mentioned that we need to review the way we present our message to new people coming to the Church.
  • Tony Wasilkoff asked if there was tracking of the number of people who return after the PACs. Mr. Eddington said there is follow-up with the local pastor, and so far some are still attending and one was baptized.

Roles and Rules Committee—Jorge de Campos

The Roles and Rules Committee (RRC) consists of Jorge de Campos (chair), Aaron Dean, Rex Sexton and Robin Webber.

The RRC is currently working on the following items:

  • Reviewing the Rules of Association document
  • Re-affirmation of the treasurer
  • Technical edits of the Scope and Responsibilities of the RRC document

Strategic Planning and Finance Committee—Bill Bradford

The Strategic Planning and Finance Committee (SPFC) consists of Bill Bradford (chair), Bob Dick, Mario Seiglie and Robin Webber.

Bill Bradford began by acknowledging the very able work of the treasurer, Rick Shabi, and thanked him for all the work he does.

The committee’s scope and responsibilities are wide ranging. They do strategic planning and work with the treasurer to formulate budgets and strategies. Those strategies are reviewed often and changed when needed. They review the external and internal trends that impact the Church to perform its mission. One of the strategies to focus on is for the Church to provide pastors and teachers for the spiritual Body of the Church. Finding, hiring and training new effective ministry is an effort the Church has been involved in and is a major part of the Strategic Plan. How well we carry that strategy out is important and determines its success. That involves finance, spiritual leadership and our faith in the process. We have to continually evaluate ourselves and not be afraid to assess where we are in the process of leading the Church forward to the end of this age.

The Council then went into executive session before lunch to review and give input regarding the PAC in Dayton on Sunday. After lunch Mr. Kubik discussed various administrative matters. The Council came into open session at 3:15.

Angola Update—Jorge de Campos

Mr. de Campos went through his second trip to Angola, one of the Portuguese-speaking African countries, in July. He discussed the details of their trip and the overwhelming welcoming attitude of the brethren there. Kathy, his wife, went on the trip as well, and she mentioned it felt like a king and queen’s welcome.

There was a biblical conference and leadership training through the visit. On the Sabbath, July 16, there were 396 brethren. The children were so well behaved, and everything was done in an orderly manner.

In Angola they have 3,025 baptized members and 62 congregations. One of their Feast sites will have around 5,000 this year. It was a very encouraging visit, and Mr. de Campos hopes to return around the spring Holy Days.

Strategic Planning: Strategies and Budget—Bill Bradford

Surveys for the membership are being planned to go out in the next year, so final preparation for the questions was done. Input was given to improve the surveys, and a plan was established for when it would be sent out.

2018 General Conference of Elders (GCE) Meeting Dates

The 2018 dates for the annual meeting of the GCE were discussed and finalized. The dates for the next two years of the GCE meetings are:

2017: May 6-8

2018: May 5-7

The Council then went into executive session for about 30 minutes to discuss reaffirmation of the treasurer. They came into open session at 4:36.

Treasurer Reaffirmed

Rick Shabi was unanimously reaffirmed, and he was thanked for his continuing service, as he will continue to be the treasurer and pastor his congregations.

United Church of God New Zealand Trust

Gerald Seelig led the discussion on the need to appoint a new trustee for the United Church of God New Zealand trust, and he read the recommendation of Bill Eddington, chairman of the trust. It is the responsibility of the Council to appoint a new trustee for the New Zealand Trust. The Council discussed it. Bill Bradford proposed the recommendation that Michael Hirst be the new trustee for UCG New Zealand Trust, and it was unanimously passed by the Council.

The Council went into executive session at 4:42 p.m.

The Council adjourned at 5:08 p.m.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Chairman Don Ward called the morning session to order at 9:00 a.m., and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (Council) members were present.

Who May Attend Passover Services Policy

Chris Rowland asked the Council if the 1997 policy on “Youths Attending Passover Services” could be discussed by the Council and updated for clarification. Some church areas have differences of who is allowed at the Passover service. Some areas are allowing foot-washing to be done by those that are not baptized, and some areas allow unbaptized adults to watch every year. The current policy addresses only “responsible youths.” This clarification will also help our new ministerial trainees and help the ministry to be clear on the policy.

Dr. Ward opened the floor for discussion. The Council and administration discussed this clarification with some of the comments below:

  • Dr. Ward mentioned that the Council needs to be careful not to over-legislate with every “jot and tittle,” but there are clarifications that will be helpful.
  • Robin Webber mentioned that instead of just having Passover on the statement that it would be good to clarify it as the New Covenant Passover because we are not observing the Passover mentioned in the Old Testament, but with a different focus and symbols. We are not keeping a seder. There is a big difference.
  • Rex Sexton said that in his areas there have been problems where some think they can keep the Passover at home with their children fully participating. He said some don’t understand what the Passover in the New Covenant is all about.
  • Victor Kubik commented that this specific event is a very sacred service. The foot-washing can be an awkward event, and it shouldn’t include non-members participating. There can be confusion as to what is allowed or not allowed, and a new resolution will help to clarify that so everyone may be on the same page. The resolution from 1997 was intended for a responsible teenager to come watch and not to be there every year. This is a private service for the members.
  • Bob Dick said that every single component of this service is sacred and should be done by the baptized members only. He agreed that they don’t want to over-legislate.
  • Dr. Ward agreed that Passover is a solemn sacred ceremony and that even foot-washing should be for the baptized members only.
  • Tony Wasilkoff also agreed that Passover is the most sacred occasion of the whole year.

There was discussion on the various elements of this service. There was agreement that the foot-washing is a practice that Jesus established to focus on humility and relationships, whereas the partaking of the bread and wine are sacred symbols.

The Council agreed that the policy needs editing and clarification. Dr. Ward asked Bob Dick, Aaron Dean, Chris Rowland and Robin Webber to draft an updated resolution with the proposed edits and present it to the Council later this week.

The Council went into scheduled executive session at 10:10 a.m. for the rest of the day.

The Council adjourned at 5:39 p.m. The Council had dinner at Floyd and Doris Phelps’ home with the home office employees.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Chairman Don Ward called the morning session to order at 9:00 a.m., and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (Council) members were present.

Technical Edits of the Scope and Responsibilities of the Roles and Rules Committee (RRC)

Jorge de Campos led the discussion of the technical edits to the Scope and Responsibilities of the RRC document. With the updated Bylaws that were approved by the GCE in May 2016, there are some technical edits necessary to help the numbering and wording mirror each other correctly. The Council unanimously approved the edits.

The Council went into executive session at 9:10 a.m. for the rest of the day.

The Council adjourned at 5:20 p.m.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chairman Don Ward called the morning session to order at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (Council) members were present.

Who May Attend Passover Services Policy—Bob Dick

Bob Dick led the discussion of the edits and updates that continued from the discussion on Tuesday. The resolution was presented to the Council and edited.

Robin Webber asked for each location that referred to Passover to explicitly state New Testament Passover for clarification. Chairman Ward said that it would be better to use the phrase New Covenant Passover for better clarity. Mr. Webber agreed.

After further discussion, Bob Dick moved, Aaron Dean seconded, and the Council of Elders unanimously adopted the following:

Whereas, the Council of Elders, on April 11, 1997, adopted a resolution with regard to who may attend Passover,

Now therefore, it is hereby resolved that, the resolution of April 11, 1997, regarding who may attend Passover is rescinded.

After further discussion, Bob Dick moved, John Elliott seconded and the Council of Elders unanimously adopted the following:

Whereas, the New Covenant Passover service is a solemn annual observance of the memorial of the sacrifice of our Savior and annually reconfirms our commitment made at baptism, and

Whereas, only baptized members are permitted to participate in the foot-washing and partake of the symbols of bread and wine, and

Whereas, the United Church of God, an International Association, wishes to allow prospective members and older teens the opportunity to watch the service,

Now therefore, it is hereby resolved that, prospective members and older teens may attend to watch the New Covenant Passover service of the United Church of God, an International Association, if approved by their pastor.

Mr. Webber commented that all future references to this observance in our literature and in our inter-ministerial communications reflect the title of New Covenant Passover.

Travel Funds for the Council

The Council discussed the benefit of the Council members going out to church areas and went through editing a resolution that would become active immediately.

After further discussion, Rex Sexton moved, Aaron Dean seconded and the Council of Elders unanimously adopted the following:

Whereas, the Administration and Council of Elders of the United Church of God, an International Association, desire to spiritually strengthen and encourage the members and ministry of the Church,

Now therefore, it is hereby resolved that, each Council member will be reimbursed up to $1,500.00 for travel expenses, for himself and his wife, to visit congregations outside of their assigned areas beginning with the 2016-2017 fiscal year as representatives of the Council, and

It is further resolved that, locations and dates of the Council visits will be coordinated through Ministerial and Member Services.

President Kubik thanked the Council and mentioned that this resolution will help to connect the Council to the congregations.

The Council went into executive session at 10:20 a.m.

The Council adjourned at 11:47 a.m.

Upcoming Face-to-Face Council meetings:

  • Dec. 5-8, 2016
  • Feb. 27-March 2, 2017
  • May 9-11, 2017

-end-

Council Reporter

Shawn Cortelyou

© 2016 United Church of God, an International Association

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