UCG COE Meeting, May 20, 2015
The UCG CoE held an unscheduled debate on 20 May 2015 because of many elders questions on:
1. The spending of unauthorized money by the president and ministry,
2. The hiring of ministerial trainees without CoE approval. They tried to use the emergency situation after the COGWA split to try and justify the present situation.
3. In addition Mark Mickelson asked why some of the ministry are teaching unapproved doctrine. R Webber immediately tried to twist that into a question about the doctrinal positions of the new and still untrained employees.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Chairman Robin Webber called the meeting to order at 4:08 p.m. Eastern, and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (Council) members were present.
President’s Report—Victor Kubik
* Welcomed Bob Dick and Tony Wasilkoff to the Council.
* Revenue for the fiscal year, through April, continues to run more than 10 percent above prior year. So far this month, May revenue is at budgeted levels.
* The semi-annual subscriber development letter was sent out to 153,000.
* Thirty graduated from Ambassador Bible College (ABC) on Sunday, May 17.
* Hiring of six new ministerial trainees (one on a stipend and five full-time hires).
* Residency ministerial training programs are being planned for the future. The first residency program will be Aug. 24-Sept. 2 for the new ministerial trainees. Also some of the new full-time pastors will be brought in for that as well.
New Hired Ministerial Trainees—Robin Webber
Mr. Webber mentioned a Council member had brought forward a concern regarding the hiring process. He asked the Council’s permission to place it on today’s agenda. The topic would be hiring of trainees mentioned in Mr. Kubik’s member letter sent out this week. The question was raised about what part the Council has in helping with these decisions. Also the budget called for four new hires. Where will the money come for the fifth hire?
The discussion surrounding the interpretation of 8.7.2 (1) that deals with a stated Council
responsibility of “to approve the selection of all officers, agents and employees; also to remove, if necessary, any officer, agent or employee; to prescribe duties for them; to approve their compensation; and to require from them their faithful services.”
The Council is within its bounds to interpret the bylaws on its own, and this bylaw has been subject to various interpretations over the years.
The chairman reminded the Council that the administration had brought their plans forward twice regarding the ministerial training program via a videoconference meeting before the General Conference of Elders (GCE) conference and the recent May meetings that followed.
Additionally, legal counsel Larry Darden mentioned current human resources (HR) policy for hiring states the Council can delegate to the president. For new positions the president is to get approval.
Chris Rowland mentioned that this isn’t a new position.
Mr. Webber said that the administration has put the names forward and feels there is a sense of urgency to train these individuals at this time. Three of those six trainees will be moved to train under another pastor. Those names can’t be currently shared at this time due to processes of notification and notifying current employers.
Don Ward asked how these men were selected from all the names put forward by pastors. And who decides where they will be moved to?
Roy Holladay explained that these individuals had their names put forward and were highly recommended by church pastors. Others in the current listing will be looked at for the future.
Dr. Ward reiterated his question about who decided on these six.
Roy Holladay said they are available and qualified. There will be four to five recommended each year from pastoral input. It was then clarified that there were three who made the ultimate selection of these six trainees with input from their pastors: Victor Kubik, Roy Holladay and Chris Rowland.
Mr. Holladay, answering the second question, said that these new trainees will be placed with men who have specific mentoring skills. In the ministry different individuals have varying skills, and it’s a unique skill to be able to mentor others towards this calling.
Mr. Rowland, in further clarifying the first question, said that the selection was made from pastoral input. A letter was sent to all those individuals who were recommended to get further details on those men.
Mark Mickelson mentioned that he believes the Council and administration are operating outside of our bylaws. There are issues in terms of doctrine, issues in terms of employment and issues in terms of media that should receive Council approval that are not receiving Council approval at this time. And those are all separate discussions that he would give more detail on if wanted. What is being discussed now brings up the point that the Council does have responsibility for new hires and not just new positions. We need to either change our bylaws or change the way we operate. He doesn’t think this is the way we agreed to operate. He also asked for the Council to consider face-to-face meetings in August to address these things.
Mr. Webber inserted a measure of surprise and desired explanation of Mr. Mickelson’s stated position that this might impact doctrine.
Bill Bradford said that with the new trainee hires there was no approval by the Council. He reiterated the inquiries already raised about the hiring process and making sure the new trainees are doctrinally sound. He also asked Mr. Rowland where the money is coming from when this many new trainees were not in the budget.
Mr. Rowland replied that this was discussed with treasurer Rick Shabi. Ministerial and Member Services (MMS) feels that with the environment in the Church right now we have to be able to
act quickly at times. He then mentioned that the extra funds came from what is in the bank already.
In reference to Mr. Mickelson’s previous statement, Mr. Webber asked the administration to share an overview of their selection process in regards to qualifications and doctrinal soundness.
Mr. Holladay said that locally he talked to Steve Myers about them. There are always unknown quantities with all of us that we deal with. MMS is very comfortable with all of the selected individuals.
Mr. Bradford asked if the others who had their names put forward by pastors were interviewed as well. Mr. Holladay replied that they were not. Mr. Bradford asked why not.
Mr. Holladay replied that letters were sent out to get their input. Several wrote back that they would like to serve, but for various reasons could not do so at this time. They weren’t interviewed, but there was communication with them. The Council has the authority to review all hires but has not always exercised that authority.
Mr. Rowland commented that Roc Corbett specifically brought this bylaw to the Council’s attention on his behalf during the recent review of the bylaws, to ask for direction on the handling of new hires. The Council said nothing about doing anything differently.
Mr. Webber went back to the fundamental issue: that the Council reviews the credentials of the president and operation managers. All elections and selections have consequences regarding our choices. Once made, we place confidence in such individuals while maintaining oversight. The Council strives to offer the administration as much leeway as possible. It’s a process that we work through.
John Elliott mentioned bylaw 8.7.2 and that it appears to need further clarification. Mr. Webber asked what kind of clarification it needs. Mr. Elliott said it needs clarification in regards to hiring, as was stated by MMS. He suggested that this topic be brought up for a future meeting.
Mr. Webber agreed. He had talked with secretary Gerald Seelig that morning about this topic and asked for his input.
Mr. Seelig said that since 1997 this has been an issue with questions that arise and can be contentious at times.
Mr. Webber restated that the Council should always have oversight, but should not micromanage.
Peter Eddington mentioned that at the home office the precedent has been that the Council has delegated it to the president. This is what is being followed. If there is a need to change that precedent then it needs to be made clear.
Scott Ashley said that four years ago we went through a time when 15 to 20 new hires had to be done, and they weren’t brought before the Council. He doesn’t see any breaking with precedent, but that also doesn’t mean the Council can’t address it again.
Mr. Kubik stated that what we have been doing with the hiring of the six new trainees is still a very new thing. Mr. Kubik reminded the Council that at the home office they meet regularly and prayerfully. They are careful to not mention names too quickly, and they are learning from what they have done. They appreciate the input from the pastors at the regional conferences.
Mr. Webber mentioned this is not an end, both in the ministerial training selection process and in the lives of those not currently selected. He mentioned his own experience at Ambassador College of not being immediately selected to “go out” after graduation and the course it took. Much is yet to occur in the lives of all these individuals.
Mr. Webber asked the Council about their desire to take a straw poll to get the feeling of the Council in this matter.
Dr. Ward didn’t think it was necessary for a straw poll. His understanding was that people proposed would be narrowed down so the Council could then discuss the final hires. He was surprised to hear of the new hires in Mr. Kubik’s letter with no discussion from the Council. He asked, “Regarding the new hires, is the Council to give input, or is the administration just wanting it rubber stamped?” Dr. Ward stated that he understood the desire to put confidence in the administration to perform their roles, but major issues come up at times in which more immediate Council review and oversight is needed. Such an issue was the recent rollout of the new website that needed more initial Council direction and careful review to ensure that the Church’s positions are accurately stated. Here was a case in point of the need for more immediate and necessary Council oversight on a major item, which did occur.
Mr. Holladay commented a number of the new traineees are already in the process of changing careers. It would be difficult for them to wait until there is the Council approval at this point. The issue of them being doctrinally sound is very valid. This is one of the reasons for having them trained under a pastor who is balanced. For the round of hiring we take the Council’s input and improve the process, but at this time we have already committed to hiring these men.
Mr. Mickelson stated that he would prefer not to take a straw poll since the decision has already been made.
Mr. Elliott suggested that the Roles and Rules Committee (RRC) can have the issue of the bylaw remanded to it. Then the RRC can have a proposal for this process for the August meeting.
Mr. Rowland said he would be glad to send out policy 2.1, “Recruitment and Hiring” from the human resources (HR) policy manual to anyone who wants to review it, because it is pretty clear about what the process is. This policy was approved by the Council in 2001. The process needs the approval of the Council and/or the president to hire someone. If something is needed to be updated it would be this HR policy.
Mr. Mickelson asked if the precedent referred to by Mr. Eddington and Mr. Rowland also included spending money outside the approved budget. Any spending that is not within the planned budget needs be addressed by the Council at a later date, which would include salaries and moving expenses.
Mr. Webber wrapped up this up section by thanking everyone for their input and for having this discussion. We want to continue to have the Council and administration work together as we discuss the application of bylaw 8.7.2.
The Council took a five-minute break.
Items Remanded to Council by Chairman
As chairman, Mr. Webber remanded to the future RRC to work with our administration in clarifying bylaw 8.7.2 in relationship with our HR manual regarding employment. Mr. Webber also remanded to the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee (SPFC) working with our administration, specifically MMS, for the further development and clarification of the process regarding ministerial training. For both of these remanded issues Mr. Webber would like to have preliminary discussion in August but full discussion by the December meetings.
Mr. Webber also requested that the Doctrine Committee place a high priority on finalizing a Last Great Day/Eighth Day statement for the ministry and members. He mentioned the Council had reviewed our study paper on this subject a year ago, but had made no further comment, and we need to finalize our communication to our ministry and membership. He stated, “It needs a review at the August meetings.”
Council Committees Population—Gerald Seelig
The Council went through populating the various committees. They weren’t finalized, but should be in the next week or two.
Member Appeal Committee (MAC)—Gerald Seelig
Mr. Seelig led the discussion on filling a vacancy on the MAC. A member of the MAC cannot also be a member of the Council. Since Anthony Wasilkoff was on the MAC and has now been elected to the Council, a replacement had to be chosen for the MAC. Vince Symkowiak, the first alternate, replaced Mr. Wasilkoff, and then Stan Martin was chosen as an alternate.
The Council went into executive session to fill the vacancy. It will hopefully be finalized at the next Council meetings.
The Council adjourned at 6:20 p.m.
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