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UCG CoE Aug 11, 2014 Conference Report

United Church of God, an International Association

Council of Elders Quarterly Meeting Report

Milford, Ohio

Monday, August 11, 2014

Chairman Robin Webber called the morning session to order at 9:00 a.m. and welcomed everyone to the meetings. He read through the vision and mission statement and turned and read from Philippians 2:1-5 to set the spiritual tone for this week’s meetings. The meeting then opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (CoE) members were present.

Mario Seiglie was asked to come forward and read the CoE code of ethics.

The last CoE meeting minutes were approved as well as the agenda for the week’s meetings.

President’s Report—Victor Kubik

President Victor Kubik greeted everyone and commented on the peace he enjoys at the home office and at these meetings. It is especially appreciated as we see the troubles in this world. We are grateful that Christ will return and bring ultimate peace. Until that time we have the work of God that must be done. We must fulfill the mission of the Church, which is to preach the gospel and prepare a people. The income has been good, but all our efforts must be prioritized in how we spend and how to spend, so we can be good stewards.

Mr. Kubik went through describing various activities:

* Public Appearance Campaign: We are trying something new and hope that it will be successful. We want to engage the public in a new way. This public appearance campaign
will be held Sept. 10, 2014, at the Holiday Inn Eastgate on the historically popular topic of “Why Were You Born?” This was the number-one requested booklet in times past and it is a gateway to other topics about our future, prophecy and Christian living. A number of advertisements will promote this activity: billboards in the Cincinnati area, ads on television and Internet radio, e-mail campaigns, as well as a website for tickets (whywereyouborn.com). Mr. Kubik is asking for all to dedicate a day of fasting and prayer before the event to ask for God’s blessing.

* Direct Mail: We have over 7,000 coworkers and donors, and these quarterly letters let them know more about the work of God and gives them an opportunity to support it. There will also be a letter sent soon to the entire U.S. Good News subscriber list, which is around 180,000 in number. We want to engage them on what we are doing and solicit them for their help as well. 20 percent of our revenue comes from non-members. We want to engage people in our core message and come to repentance.

* Content Committee: Darris McNeely is the chairman of the content committee. Three areas were discussed: 1) The way we speak: How we come across to others in our speech. 2) Working with Ambassador Bible Center (ABC) and seeing what ABC can do for the
work. ABC is about making disciples. The ABC students know they will be studying God’s Word for one full year, so we want to help train leaders and encourage them to be greater servants. 3) Music in the Church: It has been six to seven years since printing the last hymnal. We want to review our current hymns and see if there needs to be any additions or revisions.

* Ambassador Bible Center: We want ABC to be more relevant for God’s work. This coming year there will be 32 students (16 men and 16 women). There have been four continuing ABC seminars this summer in Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Phoenix and Portland.

* Pastoral Online Training: This is the third year of online training. Don Ward was very instrumental in developing the syllabus. The pastoral class is very popular! We need to expand this online training.

* New Leadership: We are in a transition time with many of the field ministry approaching retirement. At the last two regional meetings in Atlanta and Los Angeles we held meetings about leadership development with 80 people in each location.

* United Youth Camp: The Victor and Bev Kubik went to the Northwest camp as workers this summer. Mrs. Kubik worked in the kitchen, and Mr. Kubik did videography. The United Youth Camps are a tremendous program.

* Home Office: Aaron Dean is working in the international areas, which has been a big help. The home office will be hosting the annual Leadership Workshop over the Labor Day weekend with almost 50 in attendance.

Mr. Kubik concluded his remarks with the encouragement that God is with us and that we are to look at ways to always improve.

Operation Manager Reports:

Media and Communications Services—Peter Eddington

Peter Eddington emphasized that without God’s strength and power, all our work will come to nothing. With it we hope to do great things. He then went through some statistics:

* United News circulation is the highest it’s been in 3 ½ years.

* Coworker count is now the highest it’s ever been.

* The total on our U.S. database listed as “members, youth or associated with UCG” is the highest it’s been in two years.

* 2013 was a five-year record for the number of personal correspondence (PC) answers sent, and 2014 is on track to surpass that.

* Magazine insert cards and literature response cards processed for 2013 were the highest in five years, and 2014 is on track to surpass that.

* Response to our subscriber development letter offering Tools for Spiritual Growth last December is more than 21 percent. With a few more responses it will be the highest percentage ever of any subscriber offer.

* The French Bonnes Nouvelles magazine print run now equals the highest on record.

* Income from non-members is up 2 percent over last year, running at about 20 percent of total donations. This is up from approximately 15 percent three years ago.

* Beyond Today responses are 24 percent higher for January through July compared to

last year. One reason is because of the ION Network test that ran for several weeks earlier this year. For January through July of 2014, five out of the seven calendar months saw an increase in 2014 over 2013—including May and June—after WGN America was discontinued.
The dedicated media staff is doing as much as possible with the limited financial resources. At some point, and as God wishes, we hope to see even more increased income and member growth from these ongoing proclamation efforts.
Good News Print Run
The Good News print run was 248,145 for the July-August issue. The decline in subscribers over the past six years because of lower budget and aggressive subscriber-renewal campaigns appears now to have leveled off. We expect the figures to stabilize around about 250,000 with the current fiscal-year’s GN budget.

U.S. subscribers have been declining over the past six years too, for the same reasons. We now see a slight turnaround in the decline, with the past four issues stabilizing right at around 177,000.

Coworker/Donor Letters
Response to the March 2014 coworker/donor letter, mailed to 8,071 contributors offering Tools for Spiritual Growth and Transforming Your Life, has garnered an 8.5 percent response asking for the booklets offered. The cost to print and mail this offer cost about $8,000.

Similarly, the June 2014 coworker/donor letter offering How to Understand the Bible, mailed to 7,670 contributors, has brought in a 7.6 percent booklet request response so far. The printing and mailing cost is around $1 per offer.

Job Openings Coming
Later this year, we will have two job positions open in our International Mail Processing department. Two of our current employees are going to retire.

These will be challenging positions to fill. Job candidates will need to have a very, very good understanding of Church teachings, plus be very adept in English, Spanish and French. In addition, this department reads mail in Portuguese and other languages. We will be looking for candidates quite soon.

Personal Appearance Campaign
Plans for the Sept. 10 personal appearance campaign at the Holiday Inn Eastgate featuring Gary Petty are well underway. Signups for tickets at our www.whywereyouborn.com website are happening every day.

Billboards around the Cincinnati area are now in place, Google advertising is underway, and a letter will be mailed to almost 5,500 Cincinnati-area subscribers next week.

In addition, two weeks before the event, 700 15-second ads will run on Time Warner Cable on Fox News, National Geographic, USA Network, and others; 15-second ads will run on Pandora, and an e-mail invitation will be sent to 22,000 Cincinnati residents twice. We will also e-mail an invitation to those Good News subscribers we have e-mail addresses for here in Cincinnati. And we are distributing “window cling” banners to our local brethren to place on their car windows.

Ministerial and Member Services—Roy Holladay

Roy Holladay mentioned the delight to have peace on the Council of Elders. We are all pulling together for what we are to be doing. God has called us to fulfill a mission, and God is the one who does the calling (John 6:44). What we try to do is to engage them. We don’t want to disengage them. It is important we do our part. We want to be sure we are engaging.

Our updated statistics in the Church includes 197 churches and Bible study groups in the U.S. We are discussing what size a group needs to be to be a church.

Average U.S. Sabbath attendance now includes hookups for faithful members not able to make it to Sabbath services. In 2014, from January to June the average was 7,634 in the U.S.

The United Youth Camps include five teen summer camps with a total of 482 campers and 305 staff.

This year at the Feast of Tabernacles all sermonettes and sermons will be evaluated by the elders to see where we can improve. The Feast speaking schedules are finalized and sent out.

Education Areas:

* Leadership Labor Day Workshops: This will be the 13th year for this program with 47 individuals and maybe a handful more that will attend. There will be a variety of leadership topics covered.

* Pastoral Class: Ken Graham helps as the registrar for the program. Dr. Ward’s Epistles of Paul class is already full for the coming session. In the pastoral training classes we hope all ministers should be upgrading themselves. It may have been 30 to 50 years since some have gone to Ambassador College, so we are encouraging all to take the classes. We are looking to record classes on topics that can help the ministry.

* Regional Conferences: These regional conferences have been successful. The last two have also been used to help in training and developing new leaders.

Mr. Holladay concluded with the reminder that we are an aging ministry. We must be developing the next generation of leaders! We don’t know when Christ will return, so we have to plan that it is one to two generations down the road, but hoping it will be much sooner.

Financial Services—Rick Shabi

Rick Shabi went through the financial statements for the months of June and July, 2014, noting that the fiscal year ended June 30. He mentioned that we had a very good fiscal year, with income exceeding budget by $1 million. He also pointed out year-end adjustments that were made to “close out” the fiscal year and that our total assets at the end of this year were $900,000 more than the prior year, most of it in cash. We are thankful to God for the blessings He has provided.

The July financial statements were briefly discussed, noting that the new fiscal year has gotten off to a good start, with income being above budget, and expenses below budget.

The annual audit, performed by external auditors, will take place the week of Aug. 18. After the audit is presented to the Council of Elders, the audited financial statements will be published in the United News.

Committee Chairman Reports:

Ethics Committee—Mario Seiglie

The Ethics Committee currently has five members. One action item is to replace one of the Elder’s Form monitors, Darris McNeely, who has asked to step down. Under discussion is whether to keep this designation under the purview of the Ethics Committee, or as suggested by some elders, to place it under a GCE committee to be created for this function. This will be discussed by the Council before a designation is made.

Media and Communications Committee—Scott Ashley

The Media and Communications Committee had a teleconference meeting on Friday to preview material from the president’s report and media operation report. Since those were covered earlier in today’s meeting, we won’t cover the same material again.

Strategic Planning and Finance Committee—Bill Bradford

The Strategic Planning and Finance Committee has come to a critical period in their planning. They are analysing where we have been and what we can expect for the next three years. They are focusing on the next three years in planning and formulating the Strategic Plan. They have to make the best forecast, try to understand the external conditions and pay close attention to the internal conditions that will affect our forward progress.

Bill Bradford commented: “We have an opportunity to move from where we are now. We have come out of a period where we had to restructure in some areas. We have to be resourceful to be able to pastor our churches. Our growth has been on a slightly upward trend, but we have to face the realistic picture that things aren’t getting any easier. We all had an expectation of where the Church was going to be at this juncture, but we can’t go forward unless we understand the true situation. So we want to have an accurate assessment of where we are now in MMS and media, and the Church as a whole, and develop a comprehensive plan to best proceed on all fronts.”

Mr. Bradford concluded his presentation thanking everyone for their support as well as their honesty and candid suggestions in the surveys earlier in July.

Roles and Rules Committee—Roc Corbett

Over the past year the Council has worked on updating the Constitution. There was a very good overwhelming majority of the General Conference of Elders (GCE) that approved it in May 2014. This coming year the Roles and Rules Committee is looking to update the Bylaws before the May 2015 GCE. The committee will go through the Bylaws and review and update them. This is not to

change doctrines or teachings, but looking for better wording and to make it easier to read and more useable.

The Roles and Rules Committee is also updating two other documents that pertain to the Expelled Elder Appeal Committee and its processes and procedures.

Education Committee—Rex Sexton

The Education Committee is working on two projects:

1) The Youth Education Program based on Deuteronomy 6 is going well. They are receiving suggestions and writing the lessons, and have received some input from the summer camp discussions.

2) The ABC Review Task Force held their second online meeting in August. It has 14 members. They are updating the ABC mission statement and will be getting input from the ABC instructors before submitting it to the Council for adoption. They are also preparing two surveys to get input on improving ABC: one survey for the alumni and one for the UCG pastors. These will be sent out in the next four to six weeks.
Doctrine Committee—John Elliott

The Doctrine Committee has been entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that all fundamental beliefs, established doctrines and teachings, and material produced by the Church for internal and external purposes are doctrinally sound.

Some questions have been asked regarding the work being done by the Doctrine Committee:

* What does the Doctrine Committee review?

o It reviews papers submitted to it through an approved process. The process begins with a preliminary review by the author’s pastor, which is an important responsibility.

* Why does a paper’s review seem to take so long?

o Once a paper reaches the committee, it is generally reviewed in the order it was received, unless the matter is considered urgent. Many papers it receives propose ideas that are oftentimes difficult to prove using the scriptures provided. Each paper received a thorough review utilizing prayer, careful focus, study and discussion. Oftentimes a subcommittee also performs a separate review. Even so, the committee has processed around 17 projects in the last 18 months.

* Why not announce the topics of the papers you are reviewing?

o Since the papers are not generated by the Doctrine Committee, announcing their topics might give a false impression that some change is being considered. Also, since the papers are submitted confidentially, privacy is maintained throughout the process, after which the author is notified of the findings along with the Council.
Currently the committee is continuing its review and retitling of the study paper “The Last Great Day.” It has also concluded its review of a statement that was called into question in time past. Another project concerns the development of more comprehensive material to help address various calendar issues that have arisen. Several other papers submitted by various elders are under review as part of its ongoing work. The committee is assisted by elders of the GCE who serve on two subcommittees, the Doctrinal Advisory Committee chaired by Larry Walker, and the Prophecy Advisory Committee chaired by Ken Martin. The Doctrine Committee has no authority to establish or change doctrine. Rather, it is a standing committee subordinate to the Council of Elders. Any proposed doctrinal change would need to seek approval by the General Conference of Elders as outlined in Article 4.1.1 of the Constitution.

Anyone wishing to submit a paper to the Church for review needs to follow the approved “Process for Submitting Doctrine and Prophecy Papers,” which is posted for all elders on the MMS website. Papers need to be written with a singular theme and maintain a primary focus. Submissions containing multiple theses in a single document cannot be readily processed.

Remainder of the Day:
Following the Committee Chairman reports the Council went into the planned executive sessions for the rest of the day. The Council adjourned at 6:00 p.m.

-end-

Interim Council Reporter 

Shawn Cortelyou

© 2014 United Church of God, an International Association

Thus report covers the second day of the present CoE conference.  Videos are now available here.   http://coe.ucg.org/videos  If you have the time;  Body language can say a lot.

United Church of God, an International Association

Council of Elders Quarterly Meeting Report

Milford, Ohio

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Chairman Robin Webber called the morning session to order at approximately 9:10 a.m., and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (CoE) members were present.

Review of the Bylaws
Roc Corbett, chairman of the Roles and Rules Committee, lead a discussion going through the review and edits to the Bylaws. Mr. Corbett reminded everyone of the importance of reviewing the Bylaws and making them more readable and flowing. Bill Eddington, chairman of the Governing Documents Review Team, was unable to connect electronically because of technical difficulties, but some of his comments were read as a history and reminder of this service of going through the Bylaws.

At its February 2010 meeting, the Council of Elders approved and delegated to the Roles and Rules Committee the task of reviewing the three principal governing documents of the Church. In making this decision, the Council took into account the time period of 15 years that had elapsed since the documents were created, and that over that time, circumstances and practical application of the documents had shown that a review would be beneficial.

The foundation of each was still sound, but some of the original provisions had been based on expectations that did not eventuate.

The documents to be reviewed were:

* Constitution of United Church of God, an International Association;

* Bylaws of United Church of God, an International Association;

* Rules of Association of United Church of God, an International Association.

The purpose of the review was, and remains, to identify articles and clauses in the documents that could

* ambiguous;

* obscure or poorly constructed;

* unnecessarily complex; impractical;

* inconsistent with the provisions of another governing document;

* inconsistent with operational and administrative practices that had developed over the 15 years.

The desired outcome was to produce updated versions of the three documents and submit them to the General Conference of Elders (GCE) for adoption via the formal amendment process.

A review team consisting of Gary Antion, Roc Corbett, Larry Darden, Bob Dick, Mark Rorem, Rainer Salomaa and Gerald Seelig was appointed. The then-chairman of the Roles and Rules Committee, Bill Eddington, was to coordinate the project.

So far the Constitution has been concluded and was approved by the GCE last May (2014). The team has completed its review of the Bylaws and has submitted two documents to the Council for discussion at this meeting.  Work on the Rules of Association has not yet started.

The immediate goal is to obtain the Council’s comments on the Review Team’s recommendations as far as the Bylaws are concerned and then submit an updated version for the Council’s endorsement. It will then be distributed to the GCE for comment and a final version presented to the Council before it is

listed for ballot at the 2015 meeting of the GCE.

Mr. Corbett also mentioned as a reminder and emphasis that the Council wants to include the GCE before the ballot stage, and by going through these Bylaws we are not changing doctrines or beliefs, but simply correcting any errors and making it easier to read.
For the rest of the morning the Council then began going through the Bylaws line by line.

Executive Session

Following lunch there was the scheduled executive session for about two hours.
The Council came out of executive session to bring two resolutions into open session:
1) The Last Great Day Study Paper

Bill Bradford moves, John Elliott seconds and the Council of Elders adopts, by a ballot of eleven (11) for and one (1) against (Rex Sexton), the following:

Whereas, the Doctrine Committee recommends that the current document, “The Last Great Day Study Paper,” be renamed “The Last Great Day/8th Day Study Paper,” 
Now therefore, it is hereby resolved that, the title “The Last Great Day Study Paper” is changed to “The Last Great Day/8th Day Study Paper.”
[Rex Sexton explanation: “I voted against this proposal because I would prefer that the paper be completely withdrawn.”]

2) Beyond Today Program of “Easter Exposed”
John Elliott moves, Rex Sexton seconds and the Council of Elders, by a ballot of eleven (11) for and one (1) against.

Whereas, the issue of a statement made in the Beyond Today program on “Easter Exposed” was remanded to the Doctrine Committee, and a statement was brought forward by the Doctrine Committee and edited by the Council,

Now therefore, it is hereby resolved that, the statement below is issued by the Council with regard to a statement made on a Beyond Today program entitled “Easter Exposed”:
In a Beyond Today program “Easter Exposed” the ab lib comment, “to commemorate His resurrection,” was not intended to solely refer to commemorating the event of the resurrection, but rather to acknowledge the reality and importance of the resurrected Christ. The program’s next statement explained the intent regarding the Feast of Unleavened Bread, “It is actually a seven day festival on which a Christian focuses his life and his mind on the resurrected Christ and His life in us as changed Christians.”

The Doctrine Committee had an opportunity to review the pertinent portions of the telecast with the presenter. When taken by itself, the comment was not accurate as the Church does not teach that the Feast of Unleavened Bread commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Scripture tells us to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which teaches us to avoid sin and to live by the Bread of life as thoroughly explained in our published literature.

ADMIN:  I am astounded that Robin thinks that public statements by a UCG presenter which depart from UCG teaching, in an official UCG product, are permissible and not to be challenged. 

Indeed such a public statement indicating that the presenter publicly disagrees with the official UCG teachings, is proper grounds for dismissal from the position of public presenter. 

[Robin Webber explanation: First: I did not agree with the logic of evaluating one ad lib statement from the entire context of a program that clearly exposes the negative sources of Easter and the biblical truth regarding the Festival of Unleavened Bread. As stated to the Council, I may have elected to use a different term than “commemorate” if speaking on the subject, but I believe it still speaks to the reality of a risen Christ framed in biblical truth and fully separated from any taint of non-biblical influence. Secondly, I did not accept a logic that separates the divine event of the resurrection that occurred during this festival from the spiritual reality of the resurrected Christ now dwelling in us that this festival portrays regarding the new man in us made possible by the life, death and resurrection of the risen Christ. I find them both consistent with many facets of this festival, as all festivals have multiple lenses by which to view their deep meaning.]

The Council then went back into executive session.

At 3:30 p.m. the Council came into open session.
GCE Survey Review

Charles Melear, chairman of the GCE Planning Task Force, went through the 186 completed surveys sent in regarding the 2015 GCE meetings. Mr. Melear mentioned that with all surveys there is always a wide range of responses from positive to negative. He emphasized that over 85 percent of those who completed the survey were highly satisfied or satisfied with the meetings. The lowest percentage in this category was around 55 percent when it pertained to the Saturday night Q&A. Mr. Melear stated that there was a desire by many to have fewer meetings and more time for fellowship.

Mark Mickelson mentioned that there were several comments on the surveys about the Q&A and that it would be good to look at ideas to improve it. Mr. Melear agreed that they would look for ideas for that area.

The surveys were discussed, and the GCE Task Force will continue to review the findings of the survey in seeking how to improve the event. Mr. Webber, speaking as Chairman of the General Conference of Elders, acknowledged recent Elders’ Forum comments and stated a desire on behalf of the CoE and the GCE Task Force to continue to explore all avenues to create an effective conference. After viewing themeasurable data of the surveys, the sense of the Council was to move forward with our general manner of meetings, events and activities while looking for areas of improvement.

Mr. Webber appreciated that the Council chose to have two non-salaried elders give the split sermons on the Sabbath during the GCE weekend. It was very well received in the congregations in Southern California.

Mr. Corbett said that there were some difficulties with congregations receiving the Sabbath services webcast. Peter Eddington mentioned that usually the problem is on the receiving end and that a good way to check the speed of receiving a signal is by going to speedtest.net to test the strength of the signal.

Mr. Corbett mentioned an interest and importance for the elders to understand our governing documents. He volunteered to help with that workshop if it were approved.
2015 General Conference Site Description

Mr. Melear pointed out that the May 2015 meeting of the GCE will be the 20th anniversary.
He also detailed the new location they are using this year for the GCE. It will be at the Marriott Cincinnati Airport Hotel. The hotel was described as a beautiful facility and he said that the quality will lend itself well for the 20th anniversary. There are area restaurants about 10 minutes from the hotel. This location is $6,500 less than last year.
Date for 2016 Meeting of the GCE

Charles Melear then began the discussion on looking at the dates for the 2016 meeting of the General Conference of Elders. In 2016 the annual Holy Days will be much later, so the first week in May will not work, especially for the international areas. The Council also desired that all families could be together at home for Mother’s Day. After discussion the dates of May 14-16 (international meetings on May 13) were decided for 2016. The 2016 location will be at the Holiday Inn Eastgate.

Robin Webber thanked Charles Melear and his task force for all that they do. He then reminded the Council of the annual potluck dinner with the home office employees that night. Everyone was in agreement to dismiss for the day a little earlier.
The Council adjourned around 4:10 p.m.
-end-
Interim Council Reporter 

Shawn Cortelyou
© 2014 United Church of God, an International Association

UCG tries to make it easier to change the list of fundamental beliefs.  They should be changing this list towards a greater zeal for God and his word, but in fact they want to make changes to move even further away from any zeal for the word of God and sound doctrine. 

I suggest that there is no need to make this change unless they do plan on making changes to the list of fundamental beliefs.  I also suggest that they know very closely how many votes they would have to support their agenda.

United Church of God, an International Association

Council of Elders Quarterly Meeting Report

Milford, Ohio

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

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

Bylaws Review

Roc Corbett welcomed everyone and commented that Bill Eddington would not be online for the meeting because of technical difficulties. Mr. Eddington will most likely present his section in the December meeting.

Mr. Corbett mentioned that the work on the Bylaws can be tedious, but it is important, and the goal is to get through them, if possible, by the end of the December meetings.

For the rest of the morning the Council continued to go through the Bylaws line by line from where they left off the previous day.

The Council went into the scheduled executive session at 11:45 a.m. until they took a break for lunch.

After lunch they had Council pictures taken, and the afternoon sessions were in open session.

Introduction of Procedural Amendment of What Constitutes 75 Percent Approval for Fundamental Beliefs

Roc Corbett, Roles and Rules Committee chairman, and Larry Darden, legal counsel, presented a purely informational discussion with the CoE to gain a sense of direction.

Mr. Corbett discussed how the committee has been going through the Church’s governing documents very carefully. The Documents Review Team has given careful thought to this process, and there may be some changes that will need specific amendments for approval due to moving beyond simply grammatical or technical issues. The topic of what constitutes 75 percent approval regarding Fundamental Beliefs is one of those areas. The committee is seeking input from the CoE and ultimately the GCE on this topic.

Article 2 of the Constitution consists of the Fundamental Beliefs, which are very important. If any are to be amended or added we have a higher percentage mark (75 percent) than any other item in our governing documents. Everyone’s desire is to maintain this specific safeguard of high percentages of approval related to this issue.

ADMIN:  All this double talk is to slip in a major change in how to officially approve doctrinal changes; by going from a required 75% of the ministry to a required 75% of those who vote. 

Here are the factors to consider: In article 5.1.1 of the Constitution there is a two-thirds majority needed, but the exception to this is the Fundamental Beliefs, where a three-fourths majority is needed.

ADMIN:  Another red herring since the fact that 1/4 of the elders do not vote on mundane issues has NO bearing on the number who would want to vote on dramatic issues like doctrinal changes.

One of the issues is that over one-fourth of the elders of the GCE, for various reasons, do not ballot. Over the last 20 years this has increasingly become our reality.

ADMIN: He then admits that this change in voting is for the purpose of making official doctrinal changes.

This makes it very difficult to make any edits or changes to the Fundamental Beliefs. Such a high standard without responsible measures to address it creates challenges if the Church is ever led to consider new scriptural understanding that may need to be incorporated into our accepted Fundamental Beliefs.

The Roles and Rules Committee drafted an amendment for possible consideration and thus this discussion. The change would consist of going from three-fourths of all General Conference of Elders members to three-fourths of those who actually take the interest and initiative to cast ballots.

Gerald Seelig asked if we are dealing with an interpretation. And if so then the Council cannot touch it, and it seems that we are asking Mr. Darden for an interpretation. Mr. Corbett concurred that we may be at that point.

Robin Webber said that in 20 years we have not changed any Fundamental Beliefs.

ADMIN:  This is true in terms of the list; however it is deceitful since they have profoundly changed how they interpret, understand and apply this list of “Fundamental Beliefs.”

We are simply considering a standard of consistency, and we do not want to touch the three-fourths formula by itself.

ADMIN:  He then pulls a deceit since changing from 75% of elders to 75% of votes does in fact dramatically change the equation: assuming of course that a large number may not vote. 

Currently we are dealing with more elders that are not participating. Considering such a possible amendment would create a consistency in all our governing documents by a two-thirds affirmation of those actually casting ballots while at the same time maintaining a high threshold of 75 percent approval for change regarding Fundament Beliefs issues.

Mr. Seelig mentioned that there is another important issue that should be included with this. In 1995 when this original article was adopted it was with the mindset that all elders would have their way paid to the GCE. Two years later the elders no longer had their way paid, so it has affected this issue as well.

The CoE began going through these two sections (5.1 in Constitution and 7.1 in the Bylaws) giving input and comments. This discussion was recorded and can be watched for full details (http://coe.ucg.org/).

Mr. Webber concluded with a reminder that this is merely a discussion to gain the sense of the Council and see if they desire the Roles and Rules Committee to move forward and look at it in more detail for the December meetings. The majority agreed that it should go back to the Roles and Rules Committee for further study towards the December meetings.

There was brief break, and the CoE went into their scheduled executive session.

At 4:30 the CoE went into open session.

Expelled Elders Appeal Committee Material: Suspension/Expulsion of GCE Elders & Appeal

Mr. Corbett went through the Expelled Elders Appeal Committee (EEAC) material. He also mentioned that they want to get the input of the GCE. The committee is hoping to finalize this by December’s meetings. Today’s goal is to help the Council become familiar with the policy and procedure of this appeal process.

Mr. Darden pointed out that the right of appeal is only for those who are members of the GCE.

They went through the documents line by line. This discussion was recorded and can be watched for full details (http://coe.ucg.org/).

Council of Elders Retreat

Mr. Webber went through setting December 7, 2014 for the CoE retreat to give the CoE time to go through the Strategic Plan and where to go with it and how it is being implemented.

Don Ward thought it would be beneficial as long as they stay on target.

Mr. Webber agreed and said that it would be a time to discuss Scripture and that an agenda would be created to help the Council stay on target.

It was agreed upon by the Council to have it set on December 7, 2014.

The Council of Elders adjourned at 6:15 p.m.

-end-
Interim Council Reporter 

Shawn Cortelyou

© 2014 United Church of God, an International Association
United Church of God, an International Association

Council of Elders Quarterly Meeting Report

Milford, Ohio

Thursday, August 14, 2014

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

Bylaw Review

Roc Corbett led the CoE through an hour of going through the Bylaws line by line from where they left off the previous day.

Mr. Corbett thanked everyone for their help. He felt they had made excellent progress. They plan to review the remainder of the Bylaws by the end of the December Council meetings.

Employee Compensation and Benefits Plan of Action

In introducing this session, Mr. Webber commented how the CoE and administration effectively and positively worked together in developing an action plan to address employee compensation and benefits for the CoE to consider.

Bill Bradford, chairman of the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee, began his presentation by reminding the Council of the plan that the administration had earlier discussed that would address employee compensation and benefits to be implemented over the next two to three years. Part of that plan is to be introduced in this fiscal year, pending continued favorable trends in income and expense. He emphasized that the Church needs to do the “right thing” for our employees, citing the Scripture, “…the laborer is worthy of his wages…”

Mr. Bradford thanked the administration for work on the plan, and then introduced Rick Shabi to explain the concepts and immediate action that was needed.

Mr. Shabi reminded the Council that, while some salary studies were completed, they would continue until all positions were reviewed. At the same time, efficiency reviews are being conducted. These studies and reviews should be completed by December. The results of those efforts will become part of the fiscal year 2015-2016 budget.

A three-part resolution to address employee compensation and benefits during this fiscal year was then presented for the Council’s review. The plan included authorization for a one-time employee bonus, for all full-time and part-time employees, to be paid in November 2014; authorization for the human resources director to draft an amendment to the 403(b) Thrift Plan to allow for new employer matching contribution, proposed to be effective later in this fiscal year; and authorization for the human resources director to draft an amendment to the “Section 125 Premium Only Plan” (HSA) to commence employer matching contributions for eligible employee Health Savings Accounts, proposed to be effective January 1, 2015.

The CoE and administration want employees to understand the matching 403(b) contributions are not at the same prior level. When such benefits are granted, they desire to grant benefits that will be sustainable rather than possibly curtailed again in the future.

Scott Ashley asked how this would affect our cash reserves. Mr. Shabi said that we are in compliance with our eight-week reserve policy with these proposals.

The floor was opened up for Council input and discussion.

Rex Sexton commented that he appreciated this very much. Mr. Webber mentioned that all this is made possible by the faith and contributions of the brethren. Victor Kubik expressed thanks to God for the increase He has provided. He also commended the employees for their work in watching expenses.

Mr. Ashley reminded everyone that these proposals should not be seen as just a “reward” for employees, but that they are granting back a portion of the cuts that were made a few years ago. Following the discussion, Bill Bradford proposed the resolution. John Elliott and Rex Sexton both seconded. It passed unanimously.

Update on ABC Curriculum Review Task Force

Rex Sexton, Education Committee chairman, talked about what the committee has been working on with the Ambassador Bible Center (ABC) Curriculum Review Task Force:

* The updated ABC mission statement is almost ready to be proposed. It is being reviewed by current faculty members, and when they are finished it will be submitted to the CoE for approval.

* Questions for the surveys are being finalized that will be sent out to pastors and ABC alumni. There will be 30 to 40 questions. The surveys will be anonymous and will hopefully be sent out in November.

* The approved list of ABC classes are being reviewed and evaluated.

Mr. Sexton asked for input from the Council regarding whether the task force should research the option of ABC offering online courses. Some mentioned that there are some online classes and that General Epistles is being finalized to be offered on Moodle eventually.

Mr. Kubik mentioned that online classes are a big job, and we would need to ask what the purpose is for having it online. We have limited resources, and many employees are already spread very thin. He concluded that the residential aspect is very important and is a part of our culture.

Don Ward asked what is being done with the online training with the ministry and if we are looking

to combine these areas. We must continue to emphasize 1Timothy 3:15 about God’s Word being the pillar and ground of the truth.

Mr. Kubik mentioned that we are stretched out in manpower for the ministerial online classes. We only have one Bible class, and there is the core class of pastoral care. He wondered how Dr. Ward’s online Bible class is different from Steve Myers’ class at ABC. It is still up in the air on what is to be done. We must blend some of it together. We are developing a library of lectures for International areas. He then concluded by saying that he would ask God for help to give us a practical solution to this.

Bill Bradford mentioned that we have to have a basic engine for biblical knowledge and training. A bricks and mortar institution is the only way to get this done. What is being done is immediate, but we will have to look at this down the road.

The overall agreement was that the online aspect could be looked at down the road.

Mr. Webber said that we have culture and education going on. We cannot just keep pointing to later. Eventually we need to plan for what needs to be done. We need to define “later!” We can’t just keep kicking the can down the road.

Gary Antion mentioned that in the past they have investigated programs that are available online that help the process and make it easier. He is not opposed to online, but he is opposed to only being online. The students need to come in and see God’s way put in to action. They get to see the hub of God’s work. They get to rub shoulders with the Beyond Today presenters.

Dr. Ward concluded the discussion saying that there is not a lot that can be done with the ABC curriculum. They can review it, and they will basically come back to what is already there. We need to have a comprehensive plan for what ABC can do to improve and ask if ABC is serving what we need.

Mr. Sexton mentioned that the consensus of the Council appears to be that the task force should finish the curriculum review by the February deadline, then address the online education options. He thanked everyone and turned it back to the chairman.

Mr. Webber said we can look at this in December. He thanked Mr. Sexton and the task force. He then asked for Aaron Dean to present a topic regarding the title of ABC. Both of these sections about ABC were recorded and are on the website (http://coe.ucg.org).
Ambassador Bible Center Title

Aaron Dean mentioned the advantages to changing the title of Ambassador Bible Center to Ambassador Bible College. This title change would especially help with potential international students in getting visas to attend. There have been several international students through the years that have not been able to attend because most embassies do not recognize what a “center” is.

Mr. Dean mentioned that changing the title to Ambassador Bible College would help in many areas. He emphasized that we are not trying to build a building, but use the same facilities that we currently have. There could also be the possibility of partnering with a university, and it would be beneficial. 

Mr. Antion mentioned that in the year 2000 a university visited us and was so impressed that they were ready to partner with us. Every year we have international students that want to be here. We have no way of helping them. If we change the title to “college” and partner with an accredited university then more options would be available.

Mr. Webber asked for Mr. Kubik’s comments. Mr. Kubik mentioned that it is a big subject, and we need to ask for God’s help and guidance. With the issue of changing the title to “college” he thinks we should move aggressively to get that done.

Dr. Ward mentioned that he was all for the name change and that we should make a formal request.

Mario Seiglie looked up the term “college” in the dictionary and didn’t realize how varied a college could be. He said he was sorry that we haven’t taken this step already.

Roc Corbett said he was in favor of the name change. We just need to look at all the legalities. We need to know all the details of a partnership too.

Mr. Dean mentioned that a partnership would come down the road. The door may open up for a partnership because they look at you as having potential students.

John Elliot could see the benefits to changing the title to “college” but wondered if there were any disadvantages to “college.” None could be found.

Mr. Antion mentioned that partnering is not a bad thing. We aren’t giving a degree. It is a diploma in biblical studies.

Mr. Webber concluded the section asking the CoE if there is interest in pursuing this title change. The majority seemed to be interested. So it was asked that more research would be done.

The Council took a break for lunch. After lunch Robin Webber asked for the president’s comments on the week since he acted as host to the CoE.

Mr. Kubik felt very good about the strategic plan. The ministry is very important, especially as we are looking at retirement. We have an opportunity to bring in the next generation of new leaders. Roy Holladay and he are assessing the next stage of leadership. Mr. Kubik’s focus of attention will be the ministry and the members. He continued that we need to face the facts of life with the aging ministry. Important milestones are being approached. We look for God’s help in all we go through. Media is an area we pray for the right direction.

Mr. Webber thanked Mr. Kubik and his administration for being the hosts this week. We have experienced good chemistry during this session. Peace is always the goal. Peace does not mean the absence of conflict, but we just have to keep moving forward.

Technical Preparation for Strategic Planning Exercise

Mr. Webber reminded everyone of the importance of the Strategic Plan. The CoE is to work with the administration to make it work. The CoE has to be careful not to micromanage every little detail. The administration considers how the “rubber meets the road,” and the Council reviews the strategy,

possibly approves it and then sends it forward for GCE consideration. Mr. Webber stressed how important it is for the CoE committees to be working in between major sessions. When they do, the Council’s time is spent more effectively.

Peter Eddington mentioned for the CoE to send in ideas for any edits or changes to the Strategic Plan before December so everyone can be prepared.

Mario Seiglie wanted to emphasize that the previous discussion about the ABC title change is still about staying in our current facility and not for additional facilities. It is simply a name change that has potential benefits in opening up doors to applicants.
The CoE adjourned at 1:20 p.m. to end this session of August meetings.

-end-
Interim Council Reporter 

Shawn Cortelyou
© 2014 United Church of God, an International Association

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