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UCG CoE Conference Report March 1 – 3, 2016

 

This is the official CoE conference report.  All bolding except headings is mine. 

In addition to this report UCG is now applying to incorporate a branch in Hong Kong.

Council of Elders Meeting Report – March 1-3, 2016

 

United Church of God, an International Association

Council of Elders Quarterly Meeting Report

Milford, Ohio

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Chairman Robin Webber called the morning session to order at 9:06 a.m., and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (Council) members were present. Don Ward joined about an hour later, as he was teaching an ABC class.

Strategic Exercise: Strategies and Budget—Bill Bradford

Bill Bradford led the discussion as the chairman of the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee. The Council reviewed and discussed the budget.

The discussion went through the areas of the budget including:

  • Congregational Care: Chris Rowland explained that the current year (2015-16) had 15 total hires, which included eight full-time and seven part-time. There were seven total retirees. The 2016-17 budget plan is to hire four ministerial trainees and to bring in three new full-time positions (some of whom are already employed part-time).
  • Festivals: Festival assistance will likely increase with the increase in many of the hotel rates.
  • International Subsidy: The discussion went through accountability for monies going to the international areas. The senior pastors ultimately are responsible, and accountability needs to continue.
    • Mark Mickelson explained that, in the past when travel of the senior pastors to international areas was cut, that any money saved would have to be used later because of the lack of teaching. As a result there was no real savings. We must be careful not to cut those expenses because it is well worth the expense in helping those areas.
    • John Elliott said that just sending money doesn’t always help. We have to instruct and help in other areas to facilitate the best help needed.
    • Victor Kubik said that we are a long way from where we were a number of years ago in the international areas. We are continuing to improve.
    • Mario Seiglie commented that our mentality in the past five years is that the U.S. helps those international areas to “prime the pump.” We are helping members in areas that don’t have much and they greatly appreciate it.
  • Home Office: Mario Seiglie expressed concern that there was no listed funding to help with remodeling of the current facility (as is) regarding needed maintenance. Rick Shabi commented that all planned renovation and equipment expense is included in the executive reserve budget.
  • Council of Elders: Scott Ashley asked if a video conference is being considered for one of the four yearly Council meetings. Victor Kubik commented that video conferences have technically improved in quality. Robin Webber said that ideally it would be nice to have one video conference, but the face-to-face meetings were essential for the viability of relationships that impact the church. Mario Seiglie said that there is a missing dimension with the video conference and not as much can be covered since a lot is discussed during breaks and while eating together. Mark Mickelson agreed, saying that to the degree we don’t get together in face-to-face meetings we have to make it up at other times, so the money may be saved initially, but will have to be made up in the long run, similar to senior pastors going to international areas. Aaron Dean said there are some topics that can be covered easily over videoconferencing, so that we free up time for other, more important topics that can be done in the crucial face-to-face meetings. Gerald Seelig mentioned that if there is a videoconference done, it shouldn’t be during the August meetings, since the new Council members selected in May wouldn’t meet face-to-face until seven months later at the December meetings.
  • General Conference of Elders: Rick Shabi commented that there had been a request to consider reinstituting the practice of bringing one international member from each area to the GCE each year. Nothing has been included in the proposed budget for that this year. Aaron Dean said that since the GCE has limited value for new international ministers, that if we do finance a trip to the U.S., it may be best for them and UCG to come for the one or two-week training session instead of the GCE. They would have quality time while learning skills with other elders like themselves and be able to see how the home office functions.
  • Legacy: The budget includes the cost of six additional ministerial trainees for the next fiscal year. This is an area that will continue to increase.

There was further discussion about other areas that could be considered with the goal of arriving at a balanced budget.

GCE Conference Planning—Charles Melear

Charles Melear, as the head of the planning task force, led the discussion about the GCE conference planning. The other members of the GCE planning task force are Dan Berendt, Jenny Bradford, Frank Dunkle, Peter Eddington, Lisa Fenchel, Frank Fish, Richard Kennebeck, Darris McNeely, Greg Thomas and Robin Webber. The 2016 GCE meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn Eastgate. The theme this year is “Live the Word,” and the meetings will be held from May 13-16. Sabbath services on May 14 will be at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

Mr. Melear went through schedule options. There was much discussion and planning through this process.

The Question and Answer (Q&A) session on Saturday evening was discussed. The Q&A was scheduled to begin at 8:15 p.m. John Elliott requested that the Q&A be after the Sabbath. It was agreed to move the Q&A until after the sunset. Robin Webber expressed the continued desire for an open microphone for the members of the GCE to ask questions.

Mr. Melear also discussed the desire for a breakout session after the Q&A with 12 discussion groups and one Council member per group, so there can be more interaction and input. Robin Webber liked the idea of breakout sessions but wondered when to place it since there would not be time Saturday night.

Several other items were discussed including details about new formats for the Monday sessions, when to place the women’s workshop, the keynote speaker and other presentations.

The Council then went into scheduled executive session for further discussion on selecting personnel for the GCE conference for about 30 minutes before lunch. After lunch the Council came back into open session.

Majorities Needed to Change Article 5.1.1(1) (Council Discussion on a GCE Ballot on Interpretation)—Rainer Salomaa

The Council supported (10 members) a proposed amendment to the last sentence of Constitution Article 5.1.1(1) as submitted by GCE members (Gerald Seelig and Chris Rowland) that allow Fundamental Beliefs to be amended by three fourths of “valid ballots cast” from the current three fourths of the (entire) GCE “as constituted.” Thus, this proposal is going to be presented to the GCE in May for its consideration.

The issue under discussion today involved the level of GCE “majorities” needed to pass that amendment proposal, there being two possible interpretations: Could the amendment be passed by two thirds of those who ballot, or is three fourths of the entire GCE required? A majority of the Council favored the two thirds option, but recognized that it is the GCE’s role to interpret the Constitution, so that issue needed to be remanded to the GCE to make that decision. The need for this GCE decision was raised last December as well as in Elder’s Forum postings, including one by author Gerald Seelig on Feb. 11, giving a detailed explanation about why he supported the two-thirds interpretation.

Chairman Webber mentioned that he already had planned to review the matter again during this set of meetings, and the Council had agreed to add it as an agenda item.

Rainer Salomaa then led the discussion as the chair of the Roles and Rules Committee (RRC) on how this “interpretation” issue is best presented to the GCE for its decision.

Roc Corbett, the previous chairman of the RRC, was asked to be on phone hookup. Mr. Webber asked for his initial input. Mr. Corbett commented that through the years of discussing this point that there were two very different views. But ultimately the GCE is the interpreting body. Initially it was thought there could be a “yes or no” to one of the two “interpretations,” but it was recommended it go forward as a choice between the two possible interpretations.

Larry Darden, as general legal counsel, wrote up a document for Council consideration titled “Preamble and Arguments for GCE Interpretation of the Majorities Needed to Amend Constitution Article 5.1.1(1)” (herein “Preamble and Arguments”). He commented that he tried, with input from Roc Corbett, members of RRC and others, to present the “arguments” for each possible interpretation objectively, i.e. whether the last sentence of Constitutional Article 5.1.1(1) can be amended by a two-thirds (2/3) majority of those who ballot, or is a three-fourths (3/4) majority of the entire GCE necessary?

Ultimately the GCE has the responsibility to interpret the Constitution and make the decision, so it was just a matter of Council review and approval of the documents to go out to the GCE as part of the balloting packet.

Aaron Dean and Larry Darden then read through the proposed “Preamble and Arguments” document. Footnotes were included in the document to help it be less cumbersome.

After continued discussion and comments by members of the Council regarding the merits (or problems) with presentation or the arguments for each interpretation in the Darden proposal, edits were made to the document that incorporated Council input and concerns into the “arguments” for each interpretation.

Chairman Webber stated that we all esteem the Fundamentals of Belief and are for maintaining a higher level of approval to make amendments to them. This interpretation issue does not change a high bar for changing those Fundamental Beliefs, and it is important to remember that the only issue at hand during this discussion is the mechanism for determining the level of GCE approval needed to pass a proposed amendment, not the merits of the proposal itself.

Bob Dick asked to include a hard copy of the authors’ (Chris Rowland and Gerald Seelig) amendment when the matter was brought up again for discussion in a meeting later in the week.

Robin Webber agreed and also asked the two authors (of the proposed amendment) to confer with the RRC and Larry Darden to discuss any further needs for clarity or objectivity in the draft “Preamble and Arguments” document.

It was agreed that more discussion and editing and a finalization of the “Preamble and Arguments” document would be undertaken at the Thursday session.

Editorial Personnel Discussion (Women’s Role in Media)—Rex Sexton

Chairman Webber welcomed those that joined the gallery for this discussion. He welcomed the media department and the women who came in to hear this session. Mr. Webber mentioned concerns had been raised in the Media and Communications Committee (MCC) regarding the role of women writers dealing with certain biblical subjects. His desire with the Council’s approval was to keep this in open session.

Rex Sexton led the discussion as the chairman of the (MCC). There have been articles written by women in our official UCG publications (Beyond Today and United News) and that have appeared in our blogs (unofficial) on specific subjects that have been raised as whether being appropriate for women to address. The question was asked if there were any written policies for what kind of articles can be written. Currently there are no specific policies written up. One of the Council’s responsibilities is to have oversight and write policies when questions and needs arise. Input was already received from the media department, and Mr. Sexton thanked them for it.

Mr. Sexton went through the Biblical basis for women’s roles in the New Testament, which included the following scriptures: 1 Timothy:2:12But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.; 1 Corinthians:14:34Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.; Titus:2:1-2[1]But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:[2]That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.-3-4; 2 Timothy:2:11It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:; 1 Corinthians:14:35And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.; Titus:2:4That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,; 1 Corinthians:11:13Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?; Acts:18:26And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.; Acts:21:9And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.; 1 Peter:3:5-6[5]For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:[6]Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.. These scriptures are our guideline.

Mr. Sexton also partially alluded to articles published in 1956, 1965 and 1976.

Rex Sexton asked for the Council’s input on where to go from here.

Peter Eddington, operation manager of Media and Communications Services, mentioned the August 1999 Council report under the media section that was discussed by the Council. It was a non-issue for there to be women writers. Mr. Sexton asked if the substance of the content had changed over the years since then. Mr. Eddington said since 1999 we now have more women writers, and one of the reasons is because the media department wants more ways to relate women to women in our writings.

Chairman Webber desired to establish focus of what was being discussed. We are discussing the role of women in media, so we are looking at what might women do with our understanding of Scripture. We are not talking about women ministers or preachers or getting up now to give messages in services. We understand there is a structure in the Church that has been recognized through the ages, so we are not going there. We all agree with that. Now we are dealing with comments by Paul about women being silent in the Church. How does that apply to teaching through writing? Culture needs to responsibly move forward, and we have to look at the context of the Scriptures. What was the apostle Paul addressing, and why was he saying it? If we use our heads and hearts and trust the administration with monitoring, the one article that came to our attention on repentance was dealing with the heart and the approach. It wasn’t dynamically preaching to the world to repent. We need to use wisdom. He was concerned that we need to take our time with this. A year or two ago we had a policy on the role of women in the Church that was not complete in tone and emphasis, so we withdrew that paper. We need to be very careful about the policies we might possibly create.

Don Ward advised that we be circumspect with what commentaries might be used and their rendering interpretations towards explaining the culture of Paul’s day. He advised some interpretations convey that Paul didn’t really mean what he said because of the culture of that particular time. We see the culture has shifted as a result of the Industrial Revolution and many other things that have come to pass. Dr. Ward does not see the Word of God shifting with the culture. Dr. Ward read from 1 Timothy:2:11-12[11]Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.[12]But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. (KJV). The Bible does give clear instruction why Paul wrote that, and it wasn’t based on the culture of the day. The question is not if they can teach. Women teach in Sabbath school. Titus 2 gives clear instruction that the older women are to instruct the younger women.

Mr. Bradford raised the questions we need to be asking ourselves are: 1) What are the unique reasons that women do not preach at church and, 2) Do the same principles apply in writing corrective articles?

There was a back and forth discussion pertaining to the role of Aquila and Priscilla and their collective or individual interaction and impact on Apollos due to a recent blog entry appearing on our website.

Tony Wasilkoff asked the media department how articles are assigned. Mr. Eddington said some are assigned, but it is a mix. The media department hasn’t been given any guidelines. Scott Ashley, the editor of the Beyond Today (BT) said it is probably about half and half for BT for the articles being asked for and not asked for. The article in question was a topic we want written, and we asked if anyone wanted to write on it. One of our younger woman writers volunteered. Mr. Ashley thought she did a good job of writing on repentance. It was a helpful and from a feminine perspective. One of our needs in our publications is reaching the heart and not just the head. We have encouraged women writers to approach that. Women can connect with other women.

Mr. Ashley continued to elaborate that for the magazine (BT), there are three types of articles: news and prophecy, doctrine, and Christian living. Where it gets tricky is delineating the line between doctrine and Christian living because there is overlap between the two. One example is repentance. It is clearly a doctrine, and it is also clearly Christian living. It falls in both of those categories, so because of that, do we automatically exclude women writers from discussing that topic because if falls in both categories?

John Elliott mentioned we should be concerned if we as a Church are following the roles we see established in Scripture. If we are going to define those roles then it must be according to the Bible and not according to our logic or what is expedient or what is most popular. It must be from the Bible, so it’s supported by God.  We want to be doing His will on earth as it is in heaven.

Rainer Salomaa was asked if he had any comments. Mr. Salomaa said nothing really jumps out at him that has been a problem. Regarding the article in question there shouldn’t be hours and hours of time put into policy for one article. The article could have just been a mistake. It could have been stated better perhaps. He would just trust those in that position to monitor it. He’s not sure there needs to be a Council-driven policy. He then asked if they could get the input from some of the women in the audience. Robin Webber agreed that he was going to do that. He asked for a few comments from the women or media department in the audience.

Beverly Kubik asked if there was a well done study paper on the verses brought up today about women not speaking at church, because if you take these verses literally then women have to put gags in their mouth when they enter the building. She asked if there was a study paper and said we should have that when addressing this topic. Robin Webber agreed that there are many commentaries on this, and they could be put together. Mrs. Kubik said she would like to see an unbiased study into those scriptures.

She went on to comment that we encourage discussion of the sermon after service and, if we take those verses literally then women can’t talk about the sermon after services. She didn’t feel that interpretation of those verses make sense with the context of rest of the entire Bible. When Christ came He showed more respect to women than had been in the culture prior to that. She asked why that was. She asked why some women are called “prominent women.” Why were they prominent, and what were they doing in the churches there? She feels we are so fearful of anything that comes near preaching for women, yet we have no problem with women singing scriptural words. She would like to understand why these lines are being drawn, and she wants to know what is right or isn’t right. She isn’t trying to promote any idea over another.

Chairman Webber clarified that she would like a 1) biblical foundation, 2) accurate interpretation to the times and settings and, 3) consistency in our approaches. She agreed.

Mr. Sexton asked the Council to review the form letter response from Peter Eddington and look through the other material of about 25 pages. He asked the other Council members to send him any comments that he will then pass on to the MCC, and they will take it from there. He asked Mr. Webber if that is what was desired.

Robin Webber thanked the MCC for bringing this issue to the table and requested the committee continue to explore the subject with Council input. He suggested there be another round of open Council discussion in May. If and when the Council decides to have a policy, it will then be remanded to the MCC to preliminarily develop.

There was much input and discussion through this session. The chairman helped the Council reporter to summarize this session and it was agreed upon that it offers a fair summarized view. GCE members may find and access the full discussion with full context in the video section: http://coe.ucg.org/videos.

Doctrine Paper Reviews—John Elliott

The Doctrine Committee (DC) researches papers on behalf of the Council. There are also subcommittees that help with the pre-reviews and pre-studies. There is an established process that has papers submitted to the submitter’s pastor first, after which it goes through a review process. If one or more members of the DC see merit in the doctrine, then it is presented to the Council for review.

  1. Divorce and Remarriage—John Elliott

The Church established a doctrinal decision in 1974 about what constitutes a marriage and when divorce is allowed by the Bible and what the individuals involved are allowed to do biblically. This is a long-standing teaching or doctrine in the Church. We received a paper that countered part of that with what the authors viewed as valid reasoning.

Mr. Elliott read the letter that was sent to the author of this paper that had an alternate understanding to the Church’s established teaching regarding the divorce and remarriage doctrine. The author also received a full evaluation of where the paper did not match the doctrine of the Church. The entire Doctrine Committee was in agreement, and it received no further review.

  1. Study Papers Reclassification—Mark Mickelson

Mr. Elliott mentioned that UCG has about 50 various study papers. Those in the ministry can find them on the ministerial resource website. Those papers are classified a number of different ways. The chairman remanded to the doctrine committee to review and reclassify those study papers.

Mark Mickelson explained a handout with four categories that are suggested and were welcome for other input or suggestions The four categories and a brief explanation are:

    • Administrative Statement (what we administer)
    • Doctrinal Statement (what we represent)
    • Study Paper (what we consider)
    • Doctrinal Paper (what we teach)

Mr. Elliott suggested that now that this is submitted to the Council, everyone should take time to look it over for a couple of months and discuss any edits or suggestions in the May meetings. Mr. Webber suggested a videoconference, since the May meetings are shorter meetings.

Rainer Salomaa commented that he was happy with it and could vote on it now. It was suggested to take some time to review it for edits and suggestions.

Don Ward mentioned he wanted it to be clear that this is only a re-classification. It doesn’t say any of these papers are absolutely correct.

Chris Rowland really liked this work, but he would like to see a fuller statement or description about how each of the categories are defined and the differences between them.

Bob Dick agreed that having these on a website for members and ministers should have a preamble or header to show these represent a position, the stand, and the practice. This will help to show the level they are at.

Robin Webber remanded it back to the Doctrine Committee to work on this and set a date for the Council to have a videoconference to discuss and give input and to finalize in May.

  1. Events at the Return of Jesus Christ—Mark Mickelson

This paper came forward about 2½ years ago from a minister. The discussion has been going on for the past 1½ years. There is a lot of thought process and discussion that goes through this timeline.

The job of the Doctrine Committee is not to make sure nothing gets changed. They are to assess what is brought before them. The title may need to be edited. It covers a series of events from Revelation 11-19. It starts with the first resurrection and ends with the marriage of the Lamb. That doesn’t include everything to do with the return of Jesus Christ, so that is why this is part one.

Mr. Mickelson began going through and introducing the paper.

Robin Webber appreciated the work that went into it, and asked for any concerns from the DC to be presented with this paper.

John Elliott explained that papers proposing adjustments to doctrinal and prophetic interpretations involve conceptual constructs. A DC report will consequently differ from a technical amendment brought to the Council. The DC has taken this to its limit, so it has some relevance for the Council to consider. There have been countless hours of work poured into this.

There was discussion about the process of sending this forward. Four of the DC agreed with the premise, and all five agreed to send it before the Council for input. They asked if the Council agreed with the summary of this paper as to what is being asked.

Dr. Ward commented that the DC is not commissioned to justify what we have always taught. [James:  Don Ward’s statements are a profound change from the past position of the DC that their job was to defend existing UCG teachings.  They are now revealing that changes will be coming out of the DC] We are looking at what the Scriptures say in the sequence of events as best as we can tell. Prophecy can be a terrific challenge.

Mr. Webber asked for this material to be e-mailed to the Council and a specific date be set for comments to be returned.

  1. Voting and Holding Public Office—Scott Ashley [no video made]

The fourth topic’s discussion went into executive session for about five minutes, and then the Council returned to open session. A video was not made.

This topic has been in the works for about a year and was made known to the GCE and Church members via the Council reports. At this session the DC did give unanimous approval for an initial four-page draft paper to be presented to the Council.

The original 23-page study paper titled “Voting and Involvement in Politics” basically stated that one should avoid voting based upon Church teachings regarding scriptural guidelines and principles, but that voting was not a sin.

The current proposed four-page draft paper likewise reviews scriptures and principles regarding voting and serving in public office. The DC worked diligently to maintain a balance of neither encouraging nor discouraging the approach and looked to the Scriptures. Emphasis in the current proposed draft places emphasis on avoiding worldliness, while also viewing the impact of faithful people in the Bible who served in appointed positions.

Scott Ashley read through the initial four-page paper presented to the Council. There was much input and discussion as they went through the paper. There were suggested edits through the process.

Robin Webber asked that the Doctrine Committee continue to make a priority of this topic, but not to rush as, the Council needs more time to explore the matter in May.

The Council adjourned at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Chairman Robin Webber called the morning session to order at 8:30 a.m., and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (Council) members were present. Don Ward joined about an hour later due to teaching an ABC class.

The Council went into scheduled executive session. A portion of this period was to move through the process of considering reconfirmation of the UCG president for a possible second consecutive term.

The Council came into open session after lunch at 1:12 p.m.

Roles and Rules Committee Presentations—Rainer Salomaa

There were several documents presented by the Roles and Rules Committee for review to the Council:

  • “Leadership Qualities to Consider When Selecting a Chairman”

This document was presented to be included in the resource library. Three chairmen were used to help develop this information: Bob Dick, Roy Holladay and Robin Webber.

After discussion the Council unanimously adopted the document into the resource library.

  • “Guidelines and Process for Nominating and Electing Council Chairman and Deputy Chairman in Mid-Term”

This document was reviewed and unanimously adopted into the resource library.

  • “Review of Human Resource Policy 2.1: Recruitment and Hiring Policy”

Chris Rowland went through the updated policy for how the hiring process is to be done and what part the Council has in it. There was discussion and edits. The document was then unanimously adopted.

  • “Review of Updated Scope and Responsibilities of Elders Expulsion Appeal Committee”

This document was reviewed and unanimously adopted into the resource library.

  • “Preamble and Arguments for GCE Interpretation of the Majorities Needed to Amend Constitution Article 5.1.1 (1)”

The Council reviewed and discussed this issue further, including a separate cover for the Preamble document attorney Larry Darden wrote titled “Instructions for Ballot to Interpret Majorities Required to Amend Article 5.1.1(1).” After suggesting more edits, Robin Webber remanded it back to the chair of the RRC, Rainer Salomaa, to either expand on the instruction document or write a different cover letter.

The Council then went into scheduled executive session.

The Council came into open session to have a reception for Roy and Norma Holladay. Mr. and Mrs. Holladay are moving back to the Chattanooga, Tennessee, area to retire. Many speeches were given thanking them both for being in Cincinnati and for how much they would be missed.

Announcement Regarding Reconfirmation of Victor Kubik as President

During the reception Robin Webber reported to everyone in the home office that Victor Kubik was reconfirmed to a second term as president of the UCG. This second term runs from 2016-2019.

Process for Calling Special Meetings of the GCE—Rainer Salomaa

As the Roles and Rules Committee chair, Rainer Salomaa presented this 10th draft to the Council for review. There have been several members of the GCE who have given input through this process.

There was input and suggested edits. It was suggested to present a clean copy for the Council to look at in Thursday’s meetings for approval.

The Council then went into executive session for about 80 minutes.

Church in Angola—Jorge de Campos

Jorge de Campos, the minister responsible for our efforts throughout the Portuguese-speaking countries, presented information to the Council about a church in Angola with the same beliefs as us that has been very gracious in contacting us. Mr. de Campos added that the Portuguese website was re-launched about a year ago. The number of users visiting the website has increased by 360 percent since then. Mr. de Campos thanked God for the increase. He recognizes that it is God’s doing and not ours. After the 2015 Feast of Tabernacles there has been a pronounced increase in requests on the Portuguese website for the Portuguese Boa Nova and various booklets. Igreja de Deus Mundial-Angola (the Worldwide Church of God-Angola—a separate organization) contacted Mr. de Campos at the end of October. They are very excited to hear about us, and they have been in weekly, and at times daily, contact since October. We have been sending them some of our published material in their language.

There was much discussion and many questions asked about this group.

Mr. de Campos plans to go to Brazil for Passover, and following the Passover he is planning to go to Angola during the latter part of Unleavened Bread and see them face-to-face. It was agreed that it was very important to go and visit them.

Mr. Webber is writing a letter to the Worldwide Church of God-Angola on behalf of the Council of Elders to honor their commitment towards a way of life, to acknowledge their interest towards our efforts, and to extend a hand of fellowship as we mutually respect and esteem how God is guiding each organization towards His ways.

The Council adjourned at 6:34 p.m.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Chairman Robin Webber called the morning session to order at 8:35 a.m. and the meeting was opened with prayer.  All 12 Council of Elders (Council) members were present. Don Ward joined about an hour later due to teaching an ABC class.

Strategic Plan: Operation Plan—Bill Bradford

The Council went through the Operation Plan.

All areas of the Strategic Plan were reviewed.

Salary Range Approval—Chris Rowland

Salary ranges were discussed because new positions were added to the salary ranges. Those new positions were: “Assistant Video Editor,” “Website Content Editor,” “Illustrator/Graphic Designer,” “Associate Editor, Internal Publications” and “Assistant Administrator—MMS.”

The Council approved these salary ranges unanimously (by a quorum because Dr. Ward was teaching an ABC class).

The Council went into planned executive session for about 30 minutes to review the financial assistance for those on retirement, which is an annual procedure for reviewing the budget.

Budget Finalized—Bill Bradford

The Council came into open session to discuss how the budget was finalized.

Rick Shabi presented a revised balanced budget, explaining the modifications now included that which had been discussed and agreed upon in an earlier executive session. This final version of the balanced budget projects a 3 percent increase in income for the next fiscal year.

Ballot on the Strategic and Operation Plans and the Budget—Bill Bradford

As chairman of the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee, Bill Bradford moved that the Strategic Plan, Operation Plan and Budget for 2016-2017 be officially approved by the Council, so that each can go on to the GCE in May. All three were balloted upon separately, and all passed unanimously of a quorum of the Council. (Dr. Ward was teaching an ABC class.)

Finalization of 5.1.1(1)—Rainer Salomaa

The Council discussed further reviews and final edits to the “Preamble and Arguments for GCE Interpretation of the Majorities Needed to Amend Constitution Article 5.1.1(1).” They discussed the explanation cover letter. It was decided that Scott Ashley would write a section of explanation, and the Council would review it.

With the edits suggested, the Council approved the “Preamble and Arguments for GCE Interpretation of the Majorities Needed to Amend Constitution Article 5.1.1(1).” It was passed unanimously.

Finalization of Process for Calling Special Meetings for the GCE—Rainer Salomaa

There was discussion and a minor edit. With the edit the Council unanimously approved it to go before the GCE for ballot in May.

Finalization of Schedule of Events for the 2016 GCE Meeting—Charles Melear

The Council reviewed the schedule for the GCE conference to finalize it. There was discussion about the Q&A section. The Council was asked what format to use for the Q&A. One option was to have a shorter Q&A and then break into 12 discussion groups with a Council member in each group for more interaction. After discussing the different ideas, eight of the Council agreed to keep the same format as last year, since it would allow more time for Q&A.

Ideas and presenters were discussed for one final slot on the schedule. Dr. Ward was recommended for that position in the schedule.

The Council then went into scheduled executive session for about 15 minutes for finalize the schedule of events for the 2016 GCE meeting.

Mr. Webber thanked the GCE task force for their work. He would have liked to have added the interactive sessions on Saturday night at the GCE weekend, but because of the late sunset it simply wasn’t feasible. He wants to keep the door open to this feature and hopes it can be done in future years.

Upcoming Scheduling

Mr. Webber discussed scheduling for future dates on the calendar. The international meetings will be on Friday, May 13. Sabbath services on May 14 will be at 2 p.m. Eastern. The GCE meetings will be on May 15-16, followed by the next Council meetings on May 17-19. The August meetings will be Aug. 22-25.

Review of 5.1.1(1) Cover Letter—Rainer Salomaa

The Council reviewed the introductory section on the “Instructions to Ballot to Interpret Majorities Required to Amend Article 5.1.1(1),” which had been written by Scott Ashley. There was discussion and edits made. It was suggested that more work was needed on it with Chris Rowland and Gerald Seelig. It would be sent back to the Council for review the next week. With this added section, it was felt there was no need for a cover letter.

The Council adjourned at 11:45 a.m.

-end-

Council Reporter

Shawn Cortelyou

© 2016 United Church of God, an International Association

God Our Light © 2017