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Sep 17th, 2014 UCG CoE Conference Call Report

UCG is in the process of updating its bylaws.

After the “Why Were You Born?” fiasco Kubik wants to continue the public appearance campaign in other areas. 

Steve Shafer will be retiring and John Elliott will be moving to Seattle, Washington, probably to whip the sanctity of the Sabbath and Biblical calendar people into line.  Steve is about 75 years old and has some health conditions that impact his duties. He has been a “Yes” man throughout his career and a close friend of Rhodes and Kubik.  Steve had given UCG one year’s notice and will be leaving after the spring High Days.

The name of ABC is changing slightly and more importantly the ABC review task force has completed a new ABC Mission Statement and is reviewing the school with an eye to gaining some kind of state recognition.

United Church of God, an International Association

Council of Elders Videoconference Report

Milford, Ohio

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chairman Robin Webber called the meeting to order at 4:11 p.m. EDT, and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (CoE) members were present.

President’s Report

Victor Kubik welcomed everyone and went through describing various activities:

* Public Appearance Campaign: We were pleased overall. The Church has been virtually unknown in the Cincinnati area until this campaign, and this event helped put us on the map. There were 254 registered for the event on Wednesday evening, Sept. 10. Those guests attending were74. Over 200 attended in total, which included Church members. This event will be followed up by the Wednesday Bible study, Sept. 17. Mr. Kubik also commented that he invited three Rotary Club members who attended. We were hopeful for a larger group, but we feel very encouraged. Our media personnel worked very hard to prepare this event. They only had three months to put this all together. There were seven billboards, 746 spot ads on cable television that were shown locally, and more than 1 million Pandora Internet radio impressions—plus personal letters to Cincinnati-area Good News subscribers on our files.

We will evaluate the campaign to see what we can improve. The cost was equal to the expense of airing two Beyond Today programs. There will be extensive analysis and evaluation of the Cincinnati Public Appearance Campaign before moving to the next location, which Mr. Kubik very much desires to do.

* Media: We want to produce a new book on “Why Were You Born?” with study and discussion guides. The last Beyond Today program was a rerun of “Seven Prophetic Signs before Jesus Returns,” and produced 1,842 responses—the highest viewer response this fiscal year.

* Ministerial and Member Services (MMS): We are busy with preparing for the upcoming festivals with speakers conferences, announcements and shipping Feast lessons. MMS is also working on transfers and some church realignments. John Elliott will be moving to Seattle, Washington, and Steve Shafer will be retiring. The recent Labor Day Leadership Workshop in Cincinnati had 46 attend with one of those coming from the United Kingdom. Health issues in the ministry are a growing concern.

* International: Aaron Dean went to Zimbabwe to perform a funeral for pastor Michael Mukarati’s wife, Primrose, and give encouragement to the churches. Ebola is a very serious issue, especially in West and Central Africa. Our youth camp was cancelled in Cameroon, as our staff was not allowed into the country because of the risk.

* Ambassador Bible College: We are already on the fifth week of ABC. There are 32 students this year equally divided between men and women.

Mr. Kubik concluded his remarks mentioning that he is very encouraged by where God is taking us in doing His work. There is a purpose in everyone’s lives. There is a purpose in the Church. God knows our capabilities. He is encouraged by seeing God’s hand and direction in what we do.

Treasurer’s Report

Rick Shabi gave a brief report on the finances of the Church. He mentioned that our financial picture continues to look good. The financial statement through the two months of the fiscal year that ended in August shows that we have a favorable budget variance of over $300,000. The September income continues to do well and is looking very strong. We are thankful to God for his blessings.

Ambassador Bible Center Title Change

Aaron Dean, the ABC dean of students, led the discussion on the need to change the word “Center” to “College” in the ABC title. This name change will not alter anything at ABC, and it does not mean that we contemplate building a college campus of some sort. It is simply changing the name from “Center” to “College,” because 1) First and foremost doing so will bring us into better technical compliance with the Ohio statute under which ABC has been operating as an educational institution and 2) May allow us a better chance in having appropriate visas approved for international applicants.

Aaron Dean moved, Mario Seiglie seconded and the CoE unanimously adopted the following:

Whereas, a change in the name of Ambassador Bible Center (ABC) to Ambassador Bible College better describes the purposes and needs of ABC, as well as being in better conformity with the proper name for ABC indicated by the authorizing Ohio statute under which ABC currently operates (as a non-accredited “Bible College,” or “Bible Institute”), and

Whereas, planned ABC related references in Church publications, ABC school publications and brochures or other literature may be delayed if the adoption of the (new) name for ABC is also delayed, and

Whereas, as a preliminary to any change in the purposes and description of ABC in its literature and course description(s), etc. for any future application for permission from Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) as an “approved school” to enroll foreign students under F-1 (or M-1) Student Visas for ministerial training or other community service for students from areas outside the United States, a change from the name “Center” to “College” will facilitate such application(s), and

Whereas, it is understood that the Council will be pre-approving the representations being made in such future (visa related) application(s) as well as any changes in ABC’s purpose(s), focus, description or curriculum for that or any other training visas, etc.,

Now therefore, it is hereby resolved that, the present name of Ambassador Bible Center is changed to Ambassador Bible College.

ABC Review Task Force

Mr. Webber asked Rex Sexton to give an update of the ABC review task force. Mr. Sexton mentioned that they finished their fourth meeting. The have finished revising the mission statement, and it will be presented to the Council for approval. The task force also completed the surveys that are ready to be launched after the upcoming festivals for ABC alumni and pastors to complete and thus be a positive force in impacting the future of ABC.

Proposed Purchase: Local Church Building for Cleveland Congregation

Rick Shabi led the discussion pertaining to a proposed local church building purchase for the Cleveland congregation. The opportunity to purchase the building at a very reasonable price was recently presented to administration by Cleveland pastor Greg Thomas. The facts and figures were presented to the Council, along with possible financing alternatives if the purchase can be finalized. It was noted that the monthly financing and utility cost for the facility would amount to less than is being spent currently for hall rental. Other aspects of the Church’s (Church) Building Policy were discussed and it was agreed that the administration had done its due diligence with respect to this proposal.

As a consequence, on the motion of Aaron Dean, with a second by Mario Seiglie, the CoE unanimously granted the administration permission to enter into a purchase agreement for the proposed hall for up to a specific purchase price, under such other terms and conditions as they deemed proper.

Amendment to the 403 (b) Program

Chris Rowland explained the details of the amendment to the 403 (b) program. This plan is to help with the retirement plans. Employees that contribute $1,000 to the plan will have $500 contributed from the employer.

Rex Sexton and Mark Mickelson expressed their desire that it would be more.

Mr. Kubik, Mr. Webber and Mr. Rowland explained that, as was discussed and approved by the Council in August’s meetings, the desire was to assist our employees, but move reasonably towards the future. The CoE’s approval in August was based upon the administration’s recommendation to grant benefit levels that will remain and not have to be rescinded or lowered at a future date. The goal is to gradually go up to a responsible amount.

Mr. Dean read the resolution:

Whereas, the Council of Elders, serving as the Board of Directors, of the United Church of God, an International Association, (the Employer) established the 403(b) Thrift Plan (the Plan) to provide retirement benefits for employees of the Employer; and

Whereas, the Employer has the right to amend the Plan pursuant to the provisions of the Plan.

Now therefore, it is hereby resolved that, the attached Plan Amendment is approved; all other provisions and conditions of the Plan remain unchanged; and the president or secretary of the Employer is hereby authorized and directed to take such further action as may be necessary, appropriate or advisable to effectuate the foregoing resolutions.

It was seconded by Roc Corbett.

Mr. Elliott expressed a concern that the employees who have made so many cuts couldn’t afford the original $1,000 to get the $500 matching contribution. He asked if it could be $500 for $500.

Mr. Rowland explained that the ratio is in line with what is offered by other employers. And that the “bonus” that is being discussed for November will help the employees to contribute.

The proposal was approved unanimously.

Scheduling

Chairman Robin Webber then went through the calendar to see when other videoconference sessions could be held to review updating of the Bylaws, which is a large endeavor that does take hours (the end product ultimately goes to the General Conference of Elders for approval). He explained that, while there is definitely internal importance to edit and upgrade the Bylaws after 20 years, the ministry and the brethren desire the CoE to utilize the quarterly face-to-face meetings to deal with what is considered more substantive spiritual issues and matters of import facing the Church. Oct. 29 and Nov. 19 were selected.

The CoE then went into a brief executive session for 10 minutes.

The CoE adjourned at 5:53 p.m. (EDT).

-end-

Council Reporter 

Shawn Cortelyou

© 2014 United Church of God, an International Association

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