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UCG CoE Meeting Report – February 23-24, 2015

Submitted by abooth on February 26, 2015 – 12:39pm

United Church of God, an International Association

Council of Elders Quarterly Meeting Report

Milford, Ohio

Monday, February 23, 2015

Chairman Robin Webber called the morning session to order at 9:02 a.m., and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (Council) members were present.

Mr. Webber welcomed everyone and read Ephesians:4:1-6[1]I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,[2]With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;[3]Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.[4]There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;[5]One Lord, one faith, one baptism,[6]One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. to remind everyone of the spiritual foundation and tone of the meetings. He also read the vision and mission statements. The last Council 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 mentioned the work that went into the newly refurbished conference room. He was very pleased with how it turned out. He commented on the recent chairman’s letter on hope and the importance of hope.

Mr. Kubik went through describing various activities:

  • International Areas: Aaron Dean has done a superb job overseeing the international areas. The goal for all international areas is to have them work out a plan towards self-sufficiency. Brief updates were given on several of the international areas and those who serve in these areas.
  • Logo design: Planning and discussion took place about the new logo for Beyond Today and the United Church of God that is being worked on. There have been meetings with area companies to choose a design firm to assist us with this.
  • Ambassador Bible College (ABC): ABC has started their chorale trips to area congregations. There have been 14 applicants already for the next ABC class.
  • Public Appearance Campaign (PAC): The second round for the PAC is being planned. It will be held in three cities in Texas a couple of weeks following the Feast of Tabernacles: Dallas on Oct. 20, Houston on Oct. 22, and San Antonio on Oct. 25.
  • Australia Trip: The Kubiks will be traveling to Australia next week to visit some of the congregations in Australia and New Zealand.

Operation Manager Reports:

Financial Services—Rick Shabi

Mr. Shabi opened his report by stating that the financial condition of the Church at this date is very strong. We recognize and appreciate God’s blessing. He then discussed the financial reports for the last quarter, highlighting that tithes, offerings, and other donations continue to run above budget and prior year levels. Year-to-date income is up by almost 10 percent through Jan. 31, 2015, and current assets of the Church have increased considerably over the prior year level.

One key operating statistic of note was that donors and coworkers increased significantly during December and January, mainly as a result of the December Good News subscriber letter. Total coworkers and donors are now at an all-time high for the Church.

In other matters pertaining to the financial area, Mr. Shabi reported that the sale of the Denton, Texas, property closed as scheduled on Feb. 10, 2015. Proceeds from the sale have been deposited into an interest-bearing account.

Since December, the fiscal 2015-16 budget has been being developed based on the Strategic Plan adopted by the Council at the December meetings. The budget is one of the major discussion points during these Council meetings.

Finally, Mr. Shabi reported that the planned giving brochure, a long time in development, has been completed and will be distributed to pastors in the near future.

Media and Communications Services (MCS)—Peter Eddington

Mr. Eddington went through some details regarding MCS:

  • The year of 2014 saw the highest number of visitors ever to our Church website at UCG.org (6.89 million unique visitors).
  • Our goal, and a rather challenging one, is for UCG.org to become the leading online Christian content source. To accomplish this requires God’s blessing, talent, teamwork, employee involvement, member involvement and hard work. We pray that we will continue to make good progress in this regard.
  • During the second week of February, 2015, we passed the 1 million mark for the number of views of Beyond Today on GodTube: www.godtube.com/beyondtoday.
  • Expectation is for the new Beyond Today “TV/Internet/magazine logo to be ready for final Council approval sometime in May. Based on this, the launch of the magazine under the new name is planned for the September-October, 2015, issue.”
  • UCG-South Africa is actively fulfilling literature requests from Beyond Today television airings taking place in Cape Town.
  • Card pack advertising has begun to take place and will for the next six months.
  • In 2014 the German office distributed 61,902 pieces of literature, an increase of 3.5 percent over the year 2013. Among these were 4,513 printed booklets.
  • Media and Communications Services has created an eight-session writing class with the goal of adding additional writers for our publications and blogs. We have 24 students registered for the class, which starts on March 17.

Ministerial and Member Services (MMS)—Roy Holladay

Mr. Holladay went through some statistics for MMS:

  • Number of elders (total) = 361
  • Number of elders (U.S.) = 280
  • Churches and Bible Studies (U.S.) = 198
  • U.S. pastoral (salaried, full-time) = 65
  • U.S. pastoral (salaried, part-time) = 13
  • U.S. pastoral (non-salaried, volunteer) = 7

Mr. Holladay also discussed the importance of mentoring the next leaders in the Church, online training curriculum and training the next leaders.

Committee Chairman Reports:

Strategic Planning and Finance Committee—Bill Bradford

The committee is very grateful for the increase in income the Church has been blessed with. It helps to plan to further the work. This week’s meetings will finalize and pass the Strategic Plan. Since the last meeting the committee has been working with the administration to formulate the 2015-16 fiscal year budget. The budget will be finalized this week and be presented to the GCE for ballot on this May.

The committee also monitors how the Strategic Plan and Operations Plan are carried out during the year. It keeps a close eye on any trends externally and internally that materially affect the Church and its ability to carry on the work. Appreciation was stated for the work the administration had put into producing this budget.

Members on this committee: Bill Bradford (chair), Aaron Dean, Mark Mickelson and Don Ward.

Education Committee—Rex Sexton

The committee currently is monitoring and helping implement two important projects:

  • The ABC Review Task Force has consisted of review of the ABC program and curriculum. The ABC Task Force Review report and recommendations are scheduled to be discussed by the Council this week.
  • Family study guides were launched in November of 2014. They are posted on the members.ucg.org site under the Family Education tab and are updated monthly.

Members on this committee: Rex Sexton (chair), Aaron Dean and Rainer Salomaa.

Ethics Committee—Mario Seiglie

The committee has one item remanded for these meetings. It has to do with a resolution in 1998 that in one area deals with an ethics issue. They will discuss the matter and present it to the Council with its recommendations, which include input from the legal counsel of Larry Darden.

Members on this committee: Mario Seiglie (chair), Carmelo Anastasi, Roc Corbett, John Elliott and Mark Mickelson.

Media and Communications Committee—Scott Ashley

The committee has been reviewing the work and meetings of the content committee, primarily covering the writer’s program that is beginning next month. They also heard updates on the logo and Church identity design work being done and plans for the personal appearance campaigns planned for next fall. One of the other responsibilities of the committee is to preview the president’s report and operations managers’ reports before each round of Council meetings, which the committee reviewed along with highlights of the media budget.

Members on this committee: Scott Ashley (chair), Mario Seiglie, Rex Sexton and Don Ward.

Doctrine Committee—John Elliott

The work of the Doctrine Committee (DC) concerns papers submitted by ministers and members of UCG. This DC consists of two subcommittees.

Doctrine Committee members: John Elliott (chair), Scott Ashley, Bill Bradford, Mark Mickelson and Don Ward.

Doctrine Advisory Committee (DAC) members: Larry Walker (chair), Robert Gardenhire, Jon Garnant, Ken Graham, Don Hooser

Prophecy Advisory Committee (PAC) members: Ken Martin (chair), Herb Teitgen, Tom Robinson, Rick Beam, David Mills

Each subcommittee is involved in pre-examining papers in advance of their review by the DC. They do extensive and exhaustive research for which the DC is thankful. The DC has been researching five different projects. They are nearing completion of two and have concluded one. The one concluded will be presented to the Council this week.

Roles and Rules Committee (RRC)—Roc Corbett

This committee has been busy on a number of projects.

  • On Jan. 21, 2015, they presented to the Council for final review the Procedure for Amending the Fundamental Beliefs. This procedure had been discussed in depth during the December 2014 Council meetings and with considerable input afterwards. The Council adopted the procedure, and it has been placed on the agenda for the next annual meeting.
  • Also during the videoconference on Jan. 21, two documents pertaining to the work of the Expelled Elder Appeal Committee were presented for final Council review. There were elements in both documents that needed to be updated for the protection of the organization, and to make sure there is an equitable and fair appeal process in place, should it ever be needed.
  • Our biggest and most important current project is a thorough review and updating of the Bylaws, nearing the end of a five year effort in conjunction with the Governing Documents Review Team. In December the Council completed its review of the Bylaws, and the documents were then sent to the General Conference for a 30-day period of review and input. The GCE input has now been received, compiled, and summarized, and will be presented during these meetings for the final sign-off and approval by the Council to place the Bylaws documents on the agenda for the annual meeting in May.
  • As liaison between the Council and the GCE Responsibilities Advisory Committee (GRAC), the chairman of Roles and Rules is tasked with presenting a status report at each Council meeting of the GRAC’s progress toward completion of the duties prescribed to it. There has been communication with the GRAC to refine its presentation and check the accuracy of the information and details in their report. There were a number of items needing attention, which have now been addressed, and the final report has been received, and will be placed on the agenda for an upcoming Council videoconference.

Future projects are many, including:

  • An item remanded to the RRC is the need to draft a Policy and Procedure for Nominating and Selecting the Council Chairman, and a Policy and Procedure for Nominating and Selecting the President. Both of these items are important to get done before the next time there is the need to fill these two positions.
  • They are also commissioned to address the need to prepare for Council approval documents pertaining to the confirmation of the president, secretary and treasurer.

The RRC can be a resource to the Council, its committees, to the administration and to the GCE. They encourage and invite your questions when anything involving “roles and rules” comes into your sphere of work or influence.

Members on this committee: Roc Corbett (chair), Carmelo Anastasi, Aaron Dean and Rainer Salomaa.

After a lunch break the Council went into scheduled executive session for about two hours.

Resolution for an Estate Settlement—Gerald Seelig

They came out of executive session to share this resolution. The home office had been contacted by an in insurance company asking for a resolution to authorize payment from an estate.

After discussion, the quorum of the Council unanimously adopts the following (Aaron Dean was teaching an ABC class):

Whereas, the United Church of God, an International Association (UCGIA), is listed as a beneficiary of the estate of one Dolores Firari a member of UCGIA who is now deceased, and

Whereas, certain official documents to settle the estate must be filed and signed by an authorized representative of UCGIA,

Now therefore, it is hereby resolved that, the President, Treasurer and/or Secretary of UCGIA are authorized to sign any and all documents relating to the settlement of the estate of Dolores Firari, including, but not limited to, a death benefit claim form.

The Council went into the planned executive sessions for the rest of the day. The Council adjourned at 5:38 p.m.

 

Tuesday February 24, 2015

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 (Council) members were present.

The Council went into planned executive session in the morning until 10:17 a.m.

GCE Conference Planning—Charles Melear

Charles Melear, as the head of the planning task force, led the discussion going through the plans for GCE conference planning. He 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. Ideas were shared about how to improve it. It was agreed that the session would begin after the Sabbath. The chairman of the GCE, Robin Webber, will serve as moderator. All of the written questions will be addressed before any live questions are answered. There secretary, Gerald Seelig, will serve as timer to help the questions and responses move along. The Council and president will sit up front before the GCE to answer questions. The remainder of the administration will be nearby if more detail is needed. Hopefully more written questions will be sent in and they can be prepared for ahead of time to save time as well.

John Elliott brought up the topic of having the administration addresses before the balloting to help with decisions when balloting on the budget and Strategic Plan and other areas related to the budget. It was decided to not do this for several reasons: 1) a full brochure is prepared for GCE consideration related to business items, 2) the elders’ forum is available to share viewpoints regarding business related proposals and 3) GCE members are encouraged to personally contact personnel who can best answer their questions before coming to the meetings.

Several other items were discussed including details about the employee recognition, timing of the tribute for deceased, the keynote speaker and other presentations.

The Council then went into scheduled executive session for further discussion on details. After lunch the Council had another brief executive session.

Employee Health Care Plan—Chris Rowland

The presentation was given on the current employee health care plan and details involving the past two years. The Church received a rebate check from the insurance provider since there were no claims for the stop-loss insurance in 2013-14.

Review of Proposed Amendments to the Fundamental Beliefs

The Council then went into scheduled executive session for amendment review.

After a couple hours of review the Council came into open session and made these determinations.

Regarding the proposal to amend the fundamental of belief on Passover in its current form, the Council does not support the proposed amendment moving forward to the GCE for ballot.

Regarding the proposed amendment to the fundamental of belief entitled Sanctity of Marriage, the Council does not support this proposed addition to the Fundamental Beliefs moving forward to the GCE for ballot. While the CoE agrees with the core sentiments of the proposal that God-ordained marriage is between a man and woman, other issues arose that, in the Council’s studied opinion, merited non-support.

Finally, the chairman, based upon the sense of the Council, has remanded to the Doctrine Committee the assignment of coming forward with a doctrinal paper regarding the sanctity of marriage.

During tomorrow’s meeting, the Council will adopt a Statement of Concern for both proposed amendments. At that time the authors will be notified.

The Council went into the planned executive sessions for the last hour. The Council adjourned at 5:59 p.m.

-end-

Council Reporter

Shawn Cortelyou

© 2015 United Church of God, an International Association

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