UCG CoE Feb 29th Conference Report

All bolding is mine

Council of Elders Meeting Report – February 29, 2016
Submitted by abooth on March 4, 2016 – 9:56am
Church of God, an International Association

Council of Elders Quarterly Meeting Report

Milford, Ohio

Monday, February 29, 2016

Chairman Robin Webber called the morning session to order at 9:07 a.m. Eastern, and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (Council) members were present. Don Ward joined about an hour later because of teaching an ABC class.

Mr. Webber welcomed everyone, and everyone applauded that Roy Holladay was present. Mr. Webber then read through the Vision Statement and Mission Statement and Philippians 2:1-5 to remind everyone of the spiritual tone for the meetings.

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

President’s Report—Victor Kubik [All morning sessions were video recorded]

President Victor Kubik greeted everyone and was very happy to see Roy Holladay.

Mr. Kubik then read 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” He also read a Japanese proverb: “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” We need vision along with an action plan as we look to where we will be a number of years from now.

Mr. Kubik went through describing some of the various activities since the December meetings:

The budget planning process is a reality check. The budget process went much smoother this year. Spending needs to be prioritized with what the outcomes will be and how close is it aligned to our Mission Statement. The closer it is to the mission, the higher priority it is.
Coworker letters have prompted donations from our readers. People want to help out, and we gratefully accept their donations.

The ministry is our largest human resource group. We have an acute need to bring on younger men to fill the future pastoral needs of the Church. Development of a ministerial training program has been priority.

Preaching the gospel is important, because without proclamation our ability to grow will be greatly diminished, and our congregations will shrink. Advertising is very important in this process.

The Personal Appearance Campaign (PAC) in Nashville, Tennessee, last week drew 45 new guests who responded to invitations to attend via ads in Beyond Today (BT) magazine, BT subscriber letters, online advertising and Pandora radio ads. These campaigns provide a compelling and powerful way to preach the gospel because they are live and in-person. We come in direct contact with the public and can interact with them. It provides a safe way for people to approach us. Future plans include the following cities and dates:

• Indianapolis, Indiana—Sunday, March 20 at 3 p.m.

• Columbus, Ohio—Sunday, April 10 at 3 p.m.

• Chicago West, Illinois—Sunday, June 26 at 3 p.m.

• Milwaukee, Wisconsin—Monday, June 27 at 7:30 p.m.

• Cleveland, Ohio—Sunday, Aug. 14 at 3 p.m.

• Dayton, Ohio—Sunday, Aug. 21 at 3 p.m.

• Raleigh, North Carolina—Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m.

• Greensboro, North Carolina—Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m.

• Charlotte, North Carolina—Sunday, Sept. 25 at 3 p.m.

Family education continues to be developed. Some have commented that it is difficult to find the Deuteronomy 6 model on our website. It can be found by searching for “family education” on the UCG.org website.

International upcoming travel will find Mr. Kubik traveling to Italy and the Netherlands.
Mr. Kubik concluded by reading Matthew:24:45-46[45] Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?[46]Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.”

Operation Manager Reports

Media and Communications Services—Peter Eddington

Peter Eddington began by mentioning that God has blessed us! He then went through some statistics:

Our coworker count is now the highest it’s ever been—5,234 (66 percent higher than two years ago).

Our donor list now includes 9,427 people. That’s a 94 percent increase over the same time last year.

U.S. Good News subscribers are the highest they’ve been since November of 2012 at 229,032. Worldwide circulation stands at 299,020—the highest it’s been since May of 2013.
We have now surpassed our 2015-2016 Strategic Plan objective to have 225,000 U.S. subscribers by June 30 of this fiscal year and 295,250 globally.

The December 2015 subscriber development letter from Victor Kubik was sent to 183,000 subscribers. It offered the Beyond Today study aid Christ’s Reign on Earth: What It Will Be Like. More than 11,860 responses have been received, with more than $85,600 in donations to help further the work of the Church.

The number of people listed on our U.S. database as members and those who consider themselves associated with the United Church of God stands at 12,119—the highest since June of 2012.
Some of the other items Mr. Eddington discussed were:

Launching of weekly congregation “community” updates on local congregation sites that have been merged into the new UCG.org. Members receive a weekly digest of congregation information and a letter from the pastor each Friday evening.

The number of unique visitors to UCG.org during the 2015 calendar year, measured quarterly, was 7.33 million—the highest yet and a 6.3 percent increase over 2014.

Don’t forget to use the Amazon Smile program. Amazon.com offers a special promotion in which it will donate 0.5 percent of the price of eligible purchases to a designated charity. The United Church of God became registered to receive these regular donations over a year ago.

Beyond Today/Good News (GN) magazine renewal percentages have climbed dramatically over the past 12 years.   [James: percentage of renewals comes as the uninterested fall aside and the circulation falls drastically.]

YEAR                                    Renewal Responses               Total Mailed             Percentage

2003-2004 (10 issues)             62,907                         241,939                       26.0%

2007-2008 (10 issues)             65,370                         276,678                       23.6%

2011-2012 (10 issues)             80,979                         269,021                       30.1%

2013 (6 issues)                        48,499                         153,269                       31.6%

2015 (6 issues)                        37,850                         94,140                         40.2%

New streaming technology for BT is almost finished for the Amazon Fire TV. The remaining apps for Roku, Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Toshiba, Sony, Philips and Nexus are under development as well. Our apps will include Google Analytics, and Float Left will implement premium analytics to provide the most detailed metrics currently available.

Our Philippine mailing report for the second half of last year (July-December 2015). As of now, we have a total of 3,688 active GN/BT subscribers in the Philippines based on our latest GN/BT label pull.

Mr. Eddington concluded by mentioning how he is excited about what we are doing. They are working long hours, but it is exciting to see work move forward.

Ministerial and Member Services (MMS)—Chris Rowland

Chris Rowland went through a number of activities in the MMS department:

The new member website has launched. The local church websites are now being migrated to the new Web platform, so thank you for your patience as we get all of the sermons and content moved to the new site.

The regional pastor structure has been updated. We are very appreciative of the service that Vernon Hargrove provided to the ministry and congregations in the Central region during his tenure as regional pastor. We now have six regions:
Northwest: Steve Nutzman
Southwest: Jim Tuck
North-Central: Mitch Knapp
South-Central: Mark Welch
Northeast: Frank McCrady
Southeast: Ken Martin

The next upcoming regional conference will be in the Southwest region on March 27-29, 2016.

Feast coordinator meetings were held by videoconference on Feb. 8-9, 2016. Mr. Kubik set the tone by emphasizing that the Feast should not bring a vacation mindset, but rather we are there to learn about the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles. We should pursue keeping it fresh and exciting and to reach all levels of a family, and ensure that the Feast leaves a lifelong effect on our children.

Some statistics and general information:

373 total elders
285 elders in the U.S.
88 international elders
The average weekly U.S. Sabbath attendance continues to be around 7,400

Financial Services—Rick Shabi

As he opened his report, Mr. Shabi commented that finance and administration have been immersed in the budgeting process for the last few months. He distributed several financial reports to Council members pertaining to current and fiscal year-to-date income, expense, cash balances and key statistical data. He commented that much of this information would be useful as the Council reviewed the proposed budget for fiscal year 2017, which would be presented and discussed during the course of this week’s meetings.

Several highlights from the financial material were presented, including:

Income for the year continues to be right at budgeted levels. 

[James: Notice they are using the term “budgeted levels” instead of the traditional comparing to previous years.] 

Cash balances remain strong and stable. We have a significant operating cash balance above the traditional 10-week reserve amount.
Expenses through the first eight months of the fiscal year, even including the additional personnel that have been hired for the ministerial training program and in other areas, are running under budget.

Statistical data was reviewed, including a report on the number of new names added to the Church’s database during the past 12 months, along with the “associated” media cost for each new name, and a comparative report on the number of employees this year versus the prior year.

Mr. Shabi commented that the Church continues to be in strong financial position. We recognize God, who continues to provide all that we have.

Committee Chairman Reports

Media and Communications Committee (MCC)—Rex Sexton

A MCC video conference was held on Feb. 11, 2016. Currently their responsibilities are to review the current Media Operation Plan and how it is being carried out. They also discussed flexibility in carrying out the Scopes and Responsibilities. The subject was discussed regarding the role of women authors in Church publications. There was a general discussion on the history of female UCG authors, and it was agreed that there exists no approved policy or guidelines on the subject. It was suggested that the Council consider an approved policy for Media and Communications Services, and there will be discussion on this topic in this week’s meetings.

Doctrine Committee (DC)—John Elliott

The DC is tasked with reviewing papers that follow an established process that begins with the paper first being submitted to the local pastor. Papers that reach the DC are entered as “projects,” which proceed along an established process of review, consideration and a response to the author and the Council. Any matter that would impact doctrine outside the Fundamental Beliefs is to continue on a course for consideration by the GCE.

The reports on papers that will be presented to the Council this week include: “Voting and Politics,” “Divorce and Remarriage,” “Study Paper Reclassification,” and “Events at the Return of Jesus Christ.”

Roles and Rules Committee (RRC)—Rainer Salomaa

The RRC is currently dealing with the following agenda items for policies:

Leadership qualities to consider when selecting a chairman
Guidelines and process for nominating and electing Council chairman and deputy chairman in mid-term

HR 2.1 Policy (proposed)
Elder Expulsion Appeal Committee scope and responsibilities
Proposed amendment to Constitution 5.1.1(1)
Process for calling special meetings of the GCE—draft 10
The RRC also discussed the reaffirming of the president in this week’s meetings because Mr. Kubik’s term will expire on May 8, 2016, before the May Council meetings.

Strategic Planning and Finance Committee—Bill Bradford

This week’s meetings will finalize and pass the Strategic Plan and Operations Plan. The committee monitors the trends externally and internally that affect the Church and its ability to fulfill the mission.

Since the last meeting the committee has been working with the administration to produce a balanced 2016-17 fiscal year budget. The budget will be finalized this week and be presented to the GCE for ballot this May. Sometimes we can focus on the acceleration and steering, but this committee has the important task of helping to show when to apply the brakes.

Ethics Committee—Mario Seiglie

The scope of the committee’s work, as directed by the Council of Elders, extends to all matters of ethics and ethical conduct within the Church organization, including the alleged violation of standards described in official documentation.

Currently there are no tasks before them.

Education Committee (EC)—Aaron Dean

The EC was notified of the Ambassador Bible College denial by SEVIS (Student Exchange Visa Information System) to be able to give out I-20 to foreign students. They chose to file an appeal to the SEVP (Student Exchange Visa Program) to stay at the front of the line. There should be an answer in 3 to 18 months.

The EC also continues to monitor the Deuteronomy 6 program of helping parents teach their children. Biblically it is the parents’ responsibility to teach the children. From experience we have learned that teaching others is when you learn it the best. Doing this keeps the cycle of learning about God in place.

At 11:39 a.m. the Council went into scheduled executive session before and after lunch.

At 4:43 p.m. the Council came into open session.

Strategic Exercise: Strategies and Budget—Bill Bradford

The Council went through budgetary items. There was much input and discussion, as the desire is to have a balanced budget. They discussed options for cutting expenses and will review it more throughout the week.

The Council adjourned at 6:25 p.m.


Council Reporter

Shawn Cortelyou

© 2016 United Church of God, an International Association

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