United Church of God, an International Association
Council of Elders Quarterly Meeting Report
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Chairman Robin Webber called the Wednesday, Dec. 10, morning session to order at 9:04 a.m., and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (Council) members were present. Don Ward was able to connect electronically. Mario Seiglie joined about an hour later because of teaching an Ambassador Bible College (ABC) class.
Open Session Regarding Specific Strategies in Strategic Plan Exercise: Congregational Care and Organization Care—Bill Bradford
The Council reviewed and discussed strategies for improving congregational care and organization care.
Before lunch they went into a brief executive session.
The Council had lunch with the ABC students, followed by an hour-long Q&A session with the students.
Upon reconvening for the afternoon the Council was in executive session for about an hour.
Open Session Regarding Bylaws Review—Roc Corbett
Roc Corbett led the discussion finalizing the review of the Bylaws. They finished the final stages of review and unanimously agreed to send the Bylaws to the GCE for review and input.
Open Session Regarding Discussion of Proposed Amendments—Roc Corbett
There were five proposed amendments that were reviewed and discussed. These amendments are more procedural than technical and therefore would require GCE involvement. One was withdrawn, and four were approved by the Council for GCE consideration.
The Council had a brief executive session.
The Council adjourned at 5:44 p.m.
Thursday December 11, 2014
Chairman Robin Webber called the Thursday, Dec. 11, morning session to order at 9:08 a.m., and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (Council) members were present. Don Ward was able to connect electronically. Mario Seiglie joined about an hour later because of teaching an Ambassador Bible College (ABC) class. Scott Ashley had to leave around 11:15 because of a moved-up plane departure.
Open Session Regarding Good News (Current Title) Circulation—Peter Eddington
Peter Eddington addressed some concern for the low circulation of The Good News. He commented that the 2014-15 media budget didn’t include funds for print advertising, so the proposal before the Council for the purpose of increasing magazine circulation was to approve $150,000 to mail card pack direct mail advertising to 10.7 million households. It is expected that an additional 53,000 Good News subscribers will be added as a result of the card pack mailing. The cost of fulfilling those additional subscriptions is less than $100,000, bringing the total amount of the project to a maximum of $250,000.
Much discussion followed concerning the proposal. Victor Kubik commented that this should be looked at as an investment in our future. John Elliott asked if perhaps it would be best to delay this initiative until after the transition of The Good News to Beyond Today. To that, Mr. Eddington replied that waiting would put us six months to a year behind in adding subscribers.
Rex Sexton asked if this was the most efficient use of our money to increase circulation. He asked, for instance, about using Internet advertising. Mr. Eddington mentioned that on the Internet there is more interest in topics and less interest in subscribing to a magazine. Plus we are already doing some Internet advertising, whereas no print advertising so far this year.
Mark Mickelson had questions about how the $250,000 allotment would be used. The $400,000 media allocation from last year was used for an assortment of proclamation purposes. He agrees in principle with this needed infusion to increase sagging Good News subscribers since GN numbers have drifted downward and need to be shored up.
Rick Shabi mentioned that since the card packs were done last year and didn’t result in sustained increase in magazine circulation, perhaps we should consider a different approach this year. Mr. Eddington commented that this is part of the normal renewal process for any kind of advertising effort. And the card packs would be sent to a larger list from last year and to new households that didn’t see the ads last time. This is a process that can’t just be done once, but needs to be done on a regular basis.
Don Ward commented that spending these funds and mailing these card packs is by itself not preaching the gospel. It’s developing a list of those who might ultimately listen to the gospel. There needs to be a cost measure to put on this to be sure it is cost effective. Mr. Eddington noted that all of our advertising efforts are monitored for effectiveness, cost-per-response and resulting magazine renewal rates.
Several commented that this needs to be something added into the annual budget for fiscal year 2016 to be presented by administration to the Council in February, instead of being a mid-year annual request for additional advertising funds. Mr. Eddington agreed, noting that this year the funds allotted to media in its initial budget did not allow for print advertisement.
The following Print Advertising Proposal was read:
Whereas, the administration of UCGIA has requested an addition of $250,700 to The Good News print advertising budget for this current fiscal year, and
Now therefore, it is hereby resolved that, the Media and Communications budget is increased by $250,700 to implement 10,700,000 card pack direct mail advertising program in January through March of 2015 to seek an increase in The Good News subscriber list and pay for related magazine and booklet fulfillment costs.
The Council passed this resolution 11 in favor, with John Elliott abstained.
“The reason Mr. Elliott abstained was that the Church also has other vital initiatives and needs, as mirrored in a recent member survey, which we are yet to fully discuss, and which may also require special funding for them to proceed. Without discussing those first, I had no context of how this expense might impede our ability to launch the other vital initiatives.”
Open Session Regarding the Bible Reading Program (BRP)—Rex Sexton
Mr. Sexton went through the history of the BRP going back to 1999. Through the years it has progressed and has become more like a Bible commentary now. The New Testament is what is remaining to go through. There have been many interested in seeing it start back up and continue through the remaining portion.
Mr. Ashley explained some of the challenges have been in staffing issues and other projects with higher priorities like the booklets and doctrinal papers. The other challenge was time to research and prepare the material.
The Council discussed how to get this program back up and running.
Mr. Webber discussed the importance of getting this done and remanded it to the Education Committee to bring a report to the Council in the February meetings.
The Council went into the scheduled executive session.
Open Session on the Health Savings Plan—Chris Rowland
This topic was discussed in the August meetings to be reviewed. This is part of the health plan and not an addition to it. It is a Health Savings Account that employees contribute to, and the church matches up to $1,000. The money can be spent on qualified medical expenses by the IRS.
The resolution was read and discussed:
Whereas, the Council of Elders, serving as the Board of Directors, of the United Church of God, an International Association, (the Employer) established the Premium Only Plan (the Plan), intended to qualify as a “cafeteria plan” under section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (“Code”) as amended, and
Whereas, on August 14, 2014, the Employer’s Board approved the concept of a matching Employer contribution for the Health Savings Accounts contributed to by eligible employees of up to $1,000 per year to begin on about January 1, 2015, and now wishes to formally establish the same,
Now therefore, it is hereby resolved that, effective as of January 1, 2015, and for each calendar year thereafter (finances permitting and subject to any statutory maximum), that the Employer will match contributions (“Employer Matching Contributions”) for each eligible Participant in their Health Savings Account in an amount equal to 100% of the first $1,000 of the employee’s Salary Reduction Contributions made to said Health Savings.
The quorum of the Council unanimously passed this resolution. Scott Ashley was not present.
Final Items—Robin Webber
Mr. Webber discussed the Council meetings in February, which will be Feb. 23-26. He encouraged the Committee meetings to be done on the previous Sunday, Feb. 22, beginning at 9 a.m. He mentioned that the success of the Council meetings rests on the good work by the committees, which need to meet face-to-face at times.
The Council adjourned at 12:06 p.m.
© 2014 United Church of God, an International Association