UCG Conference of Elders Report; Feb 2020

Mario Seiglie’s Doctrinal Committee confirms that UCG will continue to pollute the Sabbath.  This guarantees God’s correction in the tribulation for UCG, along with COGWA and LCG and all those who likewise pollute God’s Holy Sabbath Day.  See the Sabbath and Calendar category.  

Council of Elders Meeting Report – February 24-26, 2020

United Church of God, an International Association

Council of Elders Quarterly Meeting Report

Milford, Ohio

Monday, February 24, 2020

Chairman Don Ward called the morning session to order at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, and the meeting was opened with prayer. Eleven Council of Elders (Council) members were present. Scott Ashley joined about 90 minutes later because he was teaching an Ambassador Bible College (ABC) class. Don Ward and Mario Seiglie were joined by video conference. Dr. Ward’s flight was canceled because of fog. Mr. Seiglie was with family because of a relative’s death.

The last Council meeting minutes were approved. The agenda for the week was discussed with a few edits and was approved.

President’s Report—Victor Kubik

President Victor Kubik greeted everyone. He began by reading John:9:4-5 (ESV): “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Mr. Kubik commented the “day” was the most effective time to work, but it is also a limited time. As used by Christ here, “day” refers to the time left for Jesus to do God’s will on earth. “Night” refers to the rapidly approaching time when Jesus would die, ending His earthly work. That parallel makes Jesus’ use of the term “we” very important. Jesus knew He had a finite amount of time to “work” in His earthly ministry. Likewise, we as Christian believers have only the days of our earthly lives to accomplish the work God has assigned us in that time. Rather than simply saying, “I must work…” Jesus places an obligation to be responsible with our time by saying “we must” do so, meaning all who serve God.

President Kubik mentioned the deaths of Ellis La Ravia, Vernon Hargrove and Herb Teitgen in the past three weeks. These were faithful men who have finished their race. Vera Heberer, a widowed elder’s wife, also died during that time. Mr. Kubik was thankful for their example.

Mr. Kubik then commented on some of the following major activities since the December meetings:

Ambassador Bible College is currently in its 21st year and has 20 students. There are already 26 students accepted for the next year.

The Festival coordinator conference occurred by videoconference with 40 people involved on February 11-12. One of the main points of emphasis this coming year is training new and younger Feast coordinators and assistant coordinators. Melanie May is heavily involved with getting the online registration ready to go. The Festival Planning Brochure goes to print on March 20 and members should start receiving them in the mail by the beginning of April.

Mr. Kubik has been busy writing articles and letters for the Feast and camp brochures, holy day offering letters, camper fundraiser letter, co-workers and subscriber development letters, year-end thank you and the baptism welcome letter.

International areas were discussed which included some of the following: New Zealand, Africa, French areas, Spanish areas, Portuguese areas, Asia, Myanmar, Philippines, Manila, Hong Kong and Australia.
Operation Manager Reports:

Ministerial and Member Services (MMS)—Mark Welch

Mark Welch summarized some MMS activities since the last meetings in December:

Winter Family Weekend
Winter Camp
Ministerial South Central Regional Conference
Festival Coordinator’s Meeting

Mark Welch summarized some manpower changes since the last meetings in December:

Kent Foraker appointed pastor for Wichita, Salina and Meade, Kansas.
Monte Knudson appointed pastor for Phoenix East and Show Low, Arizona.
Ken Skorseth appointed pastor for Fargo, Bismarck and Minot, North Dakota.
Joshua Creech appointed pastor for Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Bart Bornhorst appointed pastor for Bethlehem, Lewistown and York, Pennsylvania.
Scott McKeon appointed pastor for Phoenix NW and Northern AZ; assistant pastor for Albuquerque, NM.

Randy Urwiller is now pastor for Ruston, LA and Texarkana, Texas and will continue to assist pastor Don Ward in East Texas.

Randy Love hired part-time as pastor for Yuma, Arizona.

Ken Graham retired on January 1, 2020.

Three elders have died since the December meetings:

Vernon Hargrove, Eugene, Oregon.
Ellis La Ravia, Tucson, Arizona.
Herb Teitgen, Fargo, North Dakota.

One elder’s wife has died since the December meetings:

Vera Heberer, St. Louis, Missouri, widow of elder Don Heberer.
Current statistics include:

Average U.S. Sabbath attendance for December 2019 was 6,636.

395 elders in the United Church of God (UCG)
110 are outside the U.S.
285 are in the U.S.
78 are church pastors
8 are associate or assistant pastors
1 ministerial trainee
195 churches and Bible study groups in the U.S.
11 baptisms since the December meetings.

Media and Communications Services—Peter Eddington

Peter Eddington went through some of the following statistics as of January 31 this year:

Our coworker count is at 6,853 (8% higher than a year ago).

Our donor list now includes 7,791 people. That’s a 3.5% decrease over the same time last year, and a 2% decrease over two years ago. This decrease is most likely due to our U.S. magazine subscribers holding steady at around 240,000 for the past year.
U.S. Beyond Today magazine subscribers are at 242,876. That’s a 2% decrease over last March. Worldwide circulation stands at 298,199, virtually the same as a year ago.
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 12,213. This is 1% less than a year ago.
United News circulation stands at 17,564, which is 4% over last January, and an 8.5% increase over two years ago. The increases are mostly due to our coworkers requesting a subscription.
The Church’s Beyond Today YouTube channel has had 12.07 million video views (a 22% increase over last year), has 54,500 subscribers (a 22% increase over last year), and hosts more than 2,138 videos (a 13% increase over last year).
The Church’s Sermon YouTube channel has had 403,459 video views (35% more than last year), has 3,650 subscribers (34% over last year), and hosts 416 sermon videos (13% over last year).

Roku App Advertising Results (November 26, 2016 – February 15, 2020):

28.94 million advertising impressions (21% increase since last February).
288,866 advertising clicks (20% increase since last February).
223,432 channel installs (17% increase over last February).
762,608 videos watched (32% increase since last February).
26.61 average minutes on channel (8% increase since last February).
Our cost per advertising impression is 1.8 cents.

Some other items Mr. Eddington talked about were:

Beyond Today TV on NewsMax TV: We are very pleased to announce that the Beyond Today television program is airing on NewsMax TV for a three-month test that began on January 26, 2020. Beyond Today airs every Sunday at 9:00 a.m., ET, 8:00 a.m. CT, 7:00 a.m. MT and 6:00 a.m. PT. NewsMax TV, which launched in 2014, reaches 70 million households on cable, satellite and broadcast stations (up from 50 million households in 2018). To find the NewsMax TV channel locations in your area please visit www.newsmaxtv.com/findus.

AmazonSmile Donations: The United Church of God has received $10,496 from the AmazonSmile Foundation as a result of AmazonSmile program activity since its inception. We can increase our organization’s donation potential by spreading the word about AmazonSmile. We need to remind our members that their AmazonSmile shopping can support the United Church of God.

Treasurer and Financial Services Report—Rick Shabi

Rick Shabi began his presentation by bringing the Council up to date on operations in the financial area and providing updates on open items pertaining to local church buildings that dated back to the December meetings.

He then presented financial statements for the current period and fiscal year to date, commenting that more detail would be discussed later in the day as the annual budget would be considered.

Key items noted during the review of the balance sheet and income statements include:

Unrestricted cash balances remain strong, with a similar balance to the same time last year; at least 80% of available cash is placed at any given time in short-term, no-risk investments.
Income for the fiscal year to date (7 months, through January 31) is running 3 percent above budget and 1.8% more than the prior year; in fact, income in all categories (tithes, offerings, holyday offerings, and other funds) are running above budgeted levels.
Interest income is on track to exceed $100,000 again this year.
Even though income is above budget, expenses also continue to be over budget for the year to date, but have decreased slightly in the past two months. Steadily increasing expenses is a trend that has been noted over the last six months, and an item we continue to review monthly.
The percentage of income received from non-members increased in December and January, bringing the average percentage back to expected levels.
As always, we are grateful to God and the faithful members and others who donate to the Work.

Committee Chairman Reports:

Doctrine Committee—Mario Seiglie

The Doctrine Committee (DC) completed the review of one doctrinal project and will present it to the Council on Tuesday afternoon. The DC is presently involved in the last four doctrinal projects before the committee.

Members on the DC: Scott Ashley, Jorge de Campos, Dan Dowd, Len Martin and Mario Seiglie (chair).

Education Committee—Aaron Dean

The Education Committee (EC) was assigned in the December 2019 meetings to look at the UCG Position Paper on music and the possibility of writing some summary articles. The Education Committee went through the lengthy UCG Position Paper on music. The EC does not recommend trying to distribute it widely as most would not be interested in the complete paper. The EC does feel our Position Paper warrants an explanation or summary article in the United News or even a sermon. The Education Committee is meeting later in the day to discuss this subject and come up with a recommendation once the study is complete.

Members on the Education Committee: Aaron Dean (chair), Rainer Salomaa, Randy Stiver and Tony Wasilkoff.

Ethics Committee—Dan Dowd

The Ethics Committee is tasked with addressing ethical violations by any elder, overseeing the Member Appeal Committee and the Elder Appeal Committee, in addition to any other matter the Council would remand to it.

Currently there are no pending matters before the Ethics Committee. However, since the December 2019 meetings the Ethics Committee was involved in three proposed Member Appeals. Those Member Appeals were rejected because the individuals submitting the appeals did not meet the criteria for a Member Appeal (specifically, they had not received any “disciplinary measures” to appeal). The Ethics Committee worked collaboratively on the letters to explain to these members why their appeal was not being considered.

Later in these meetings, the Ethics Committee will discuss moderators for the GCE Elders Forum and ask the Council to appoint men for the Member Appeal Committee.

Members on the Ethics Committee: Dan Dowd (chair), Bob Dick, Darris McNeely, Mario Seiglie and Tony Wasilkoff.

Strategic Planning and Finance Committee—Bob Dick

The Strategic Planning and Finance Committee (SPFC), as part of the annual budget planning process, brought up the possibility of Cost of Living increases. They are very pleased to see a Cost of Living increase for all employees included in the 2020-21 proposed budget.

Another item the SPFC proposes is to move up the review of the Strategic Plan to the August meetings. The Strategic Plan is foundational and contains the mission and vision of the Church, which would give a good focus for the Council to consider before going through the Budget and Operations Plan. All three still have to be approved to send to the GCE for approval in the February meetings.

Members on the SPFC: Aaron Dean, Bob Dick (chair), Len Martin and Darris McNeely.

Roles and Rules Committee—Rainer Salomaa

The Roles and Rules Committee (RRC) has three items to report. 1) The cash reserve policy that was approved by the Council has been taken out of the Pastor’s Policy Manual because it doesn’t belong there and is now posted in the GCE section of the Ministerial Resources Site. 2) At the December Council meetings there was discussion on our nomination and balloting process. The Council unanimously approved the RRC to examine and document the balloting process. This has been done and three documents will be presented to the Council for their approval before it is passed on to the GCE for their endorsement. 3) We will present one proposed amendment to the Scopes and Responsibilities of the Roles and Rules Committee. This makes sure that newly appointed or revised documents are passed on to the online church librarian so he can post them on the Ministerial Resource Site.

Members of the RRC: Jorge de Campos, Len Martin, Rainer Salomaa (chair) and Randy Stiver.

Media and Communications Committee—Scott Ashley

The Media and Communications Committee (MCC) met by teleconference on February 20. Also attending were President Kubik, Operation Manager Peter Eddington and content committee chair Darris McNeely.

As is mandated of the MCC, they previewed the Media and Communication Services Report, which was presented here this morning. The MCC usually doesn’t review the President’s Report. There is nothing else before the MCC at this time.

Members of the MCC: Scott Ashley (chair), Jorge de Campos, Darris McNeely, Randy Stiver and Tony Wasilkoff.

Strategic Plan Review—Bob Dick

Bob Dick, as chair of the SPFC, read through the Strategic Plan to the Council to see if any updates were needed. There were no changes suggested. For future years, the suggestion was to review the Strategic Plan in the August meetings.

Operation Plan—Victor Kubik

President Kubik presented the Operation Plan for review to the Council. The Council went through the Operation Plan for about two hours to give input and updates.

The Council then went into scheduled executive session at 4:05 p.m. for the presentation and discussion of the proposed Budget for fiscal year 2021. A balanced budget was presented. It was decided that this section should be in Executive Session so that contract details, salary info, and any other proprietary information could be discussed freely.

The Council adjourned at 5:08 p.m.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Chairman Don Ward called the morning session to order at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, and the meeting was opened with prayer. Eleven Council of Elders (Council) members were present. Scott Ashley joined about 90 minutes later because he was teaching an ABC class. Don Ward and Mario Seiglie were joined by video conference.

Roles and Rules Committee Items—Rainer Salomaa

The Council in the December meetings remanded to the Roles and Rules Committee (RRC) the task of documenting the GCE balloting process. The RRC included Gerald Seelig to go through the process. Three documents were presented to the Council for input and approval to then go forward to the GCE for their approval. The three documents were 1) Absentee Balloting Procedure, 2) Council of Elders Nominating Process and 3) Election Process for the Council of Elders. All three documents were unanimously approved by a quorum of the Council.

The RRC also had a proposed addition to the RRC Scope and Responsibilities. The additional task added was to “make sure the online librarian receives the latest revisions to Council and GCE documents or newly approve ones and follow-up to verify the documents have been posted.” This addition was unanimously approved by a quorum of the Council.

Update on Annual GCE Meeting Planning—Charles Melear

Charles Melear, as the chair of the GCE planning task force, presented the latest registration numbers of those attending the upcoming May GCE meetings. The original plan was to use some of the money in reserve to cover additional expenses, but it doesn’t appear the expenses will be as high as predicted.

The total numbers currently registered to attend are at 477, which will require a nearby overflow hotel besides the Holiday Inn Eastgate.

The Council went into scheduled executive session at 10:40 a.m. to go through ordination recommendations and the annual review of salary ranges and retirement discretionary assistance. After lunch they were in scheduled executive session to cover personnel matters.

The Council came into open session at 3:21 p.m.

Doctrine Committee Update—Mario Seiglie

A brief update was given on one completed project by the Doctrine Committee (DC). This project did not receive any support from the DC or its sub-committees. Presenting this project follows the guidelines for the DC to inform the Council of its completion and the author was informed there was no support. This project was “Eating Out on the Sabbath.” There are four remaining projects before the DC.

The Council went into scheduled executive session at 3:25 p.m. to discuss the selection of alternates for the doctrinal advisory committee and prophecy advisory committee.

The Council came into open session at 4:01 p.m.

Designated Paid Time Off Policy—Chris Rowland

Chris Rowland presented a proposal to amend the Designated Paid Time Off Policy. The update presented to the Council would give employees a paid holiday when one of the standard list of holidays falls on a weekend (i.e. the current policy only gave employees Independence Day as a paid holiday when it falls on a workday). While this policy is not overly relevant to pastors who set their own hours, it will help home office employees who are currently required to work on days during certain years when their families have a holiday, and when banks and the post office are closed.

The Council approved it with 9 for it, 2 abstained and Mario Seiglie wasn’t in attendance.

Approval of Thrift Plan Document—Chris Rowland

New government regulations require the Plan Document for the Church’s 403(b) Thrift Plan to be restated. The new Plan Document doesn’t affect how our plan operates but incorporates new language based on recent legislation. The quorum of the Council unanimously approved the updated plan (Mario Seiglie wasn’t in attendance).

Australia Update to Ordination Recommendation Form—Chris Rowland

The Australia Church Office requested some updates to the Ministerial Ordination Recommendation Form. The proposed updates were to include special requirements for their country. The Council discussed whether the form should be updated or if an addendum page should be added when another country needs special items. The Council discussed it and decided an addendum would be the best solution.

Secretary’s Reporting of Ballot Results—Bob Dick

Bob Dick presented a statement that we need to continue to be diligent to seek God’s will. Results on ballots should be kept anonymous as much as possible. When results are reported that list details of a ballot, politics and campaigning be the result. Our UCG history has been careful to be anonymous about balloting results and we need to continue in this. Our desire to seek God’s will should continue to be at the heart of our process.

The Council went into executive session at 4:54 p.m. to appoint individuals to the member appeal committee.

The Council adjourned at 5:12 p.m.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Chairman Don Ward called the morning session to order at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, and the meeting was opened with prayer. Eleven Council of Elders (Council) members were present. Scott Ashley joined about 90 minutes later because he was teaching an ABC class. Don Ward and Mario Seiglie were joined by video conference.

Online Education Feasibility Study Proposal—Jorge de Campos

Jorge de Campos presented a proposal to do a feasibility study of placing online the UCG Bible Study Course and the ABC General Epistles classes with tests and automatic grading. He presented some options to consider. The Council gave input and discussed the possibility. It was remanded to the Education Committee to put together a task force to do further research and bring back the results in the May meetings.

The Council went into executive session at 10:20 a.m. for the legal update and for personnel issues.

The Council came into open session at 11:32 a.m.

Approval of Strategic Plan—Bob Dick

The Strategic Plan for 2020-21 was unanimously approved by the Council to go on to the GCE in May.

Approval of Operation Plan—Bob Dick

The Operation Plan for 2020-21 was unanimously approved by the Council to go on to the GCE in May.

Approval of Budget—Bob Dick

The Budget for 2020-21 was unanimously approved by the Council to go on to the GCE in May.

Privacy Issue—Don Ward

Chairman Ward led the discussion of a concern that pictures or videos from church activities are being uploaded to social media without permission. He asked if a policy should be created. There are certain legal issues with foster parents and other situations when pictures or videos are not appropriate. Brethren are encouraged to always get permission from others before posting someone else in a picture or video on social media. The decision to create a policy was remanded to the Ethics Committee which will present their input in the May meetings.

International Nominee Process—Darris McNeely

Darris McNeely asked if there could be discussion regarding the international nominee process. There could be some clarity added to the current process and to have it documented. The decision to document the international nominee process was remanded to the Roles and Rules Committee to bring before the Council in the May or August meetings.

The Council adjourned the February meetings at 12:09 p.m.

-end-

Council Reporter

Shawn Cortelyou

[These are not the official minutes from the Council meeting. Elders can find those at the Home Office with the Council Secretary. Video recordings are posted for the elders on the UCG Ministerial Resource Site.]

© 2020 United Church of God, an International Association

Posted as news under the fair use provision of the Copyright Act

9 Comments

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  1. James,
    I’m a bit confused. Am i correct in understanding a doctrinal paper put forth to the Doctrine Commitee about studying further into NOT eating out on the Sabbath was rejected by the Council of Elders?

    A Paper explaining that buying food and drink in restaurants or hiring catered meals on the Sabbath or High Days is wrong, was rejected by everyone on the Doctrinal Committee. The Committee opted to endorse continuing in this grave sin.

    Also see the links in this new article. https://godourlight.info/ucgs-fake-denial-of-doctrinal-changes/
    James

  2. James do you know who wrote the sabbath paper that was rejected

    No. I know nothing about it, I only know what was announced. James

  3. Is this considered, a salvation issue ? What about all the Holy Days
    Spent at Roma Hall in Michigan for all the Holy Days ? It was like a mini
    Feast there were so many people. For many years. And now it’s considered sin ? No, God judged the Heart. Pentecost was kept on the wrong day for years…. Gods wrath didn’t destroy the church for it.
    Apostasy from with in the leadership took the church down. Ucg is headed in the same direction. What is really scary is .. The Ministers comment : We shadow the prodistants except for a few things. I told the
    Minister, Christ isn’t prodistant ! I have told many of ucg members and there is no urgency [with them] with any to question this. They can not endure sound doctrine anymore. They saw the deception in wcg but not ucg?

    Please read the material. https://godourlight.info/category/101-sabbath-and-calendar/

    Yes the Sabbath IS a salvational issue. What do you mean; God did not destroy the church? God left off blessing until you see the terrible state of the church today, and anyway has God destroyed other major denominations because they sinned? Not yet, but the day is coming!

    Instant destruction has not fallen because God has been patient and merciful but a severe correction in great tribulation for today’s major organized COG corporations because of their departure from God is very close at hand.

    As for Pentecost it was a matter of initial ignorance and then learning the truth; but the Sabbath issue was well understood and HWA and the organization fell away from the truth.

    Yes, “Apostasy from with in the leadership took the church down.” and that apostasy began with HWA changing the Sabbath and the Feast of Unleavened Bread and progressed from there. All of these groups are apostate in many areas and God is calling them to sincere repentance before the great and dreadful tribulation and day of the Lord. James

  4. what percentage of people in UCG don’t agree with the teaching that it’s o k to eat out on the sabbath.

    Without taking a poll this is impossible to say, but it is small. I can say that as many as a third are beginning to wake up. How many are able to do so before the tribulation and how many will repent during the trib is another question. James

  5. In fairness to UCG many of the big COG groups have been eating out in restaurants on many of God’s Holy days for years and years.
    I would say it has become ‘the usual’ over the past 25 years. Does that make it ok no absolutely not.

    But it has always been a mild pressure on brethren who did not want to. Go along to get along situation.

    UCG seem in recent years especially since the COGWA split to have pushed it more. Instead for example of doing pot lucks for Unleavened bread and eating in a restaurant for Pentecost the leadership pushed more for eating out on not only one but both UB Holy days.

    It’s been subtle but so many years down the road you have this situation the UCG Council of Elders rejecting outright the proposal.

    Herbert began this apostasy right after Loma died, so it is no wonder that all of the groups are willing to follow him in this sin. From there he and his church went downhill and now God is about to apply the rod of correction for following this man into apostasy; and it will be severe indeed. James.

  6. I Thank you for your reply. Why is it a sin and to be with breathren and enjoy a meal on any Holy Day or Sabbath ? I am not aware of the scripture, nor can I find it.
    Mr. Armstrong’s Apostacy ???? What Apostacy ?

    There is nothing wrong with eating. The sin is in cooking or paying others to do so on the Sabbath. Friday is the preparation day on which all preparations including cooking for the Sabbath and High Days is to be done. This link contains many scriptures. https://godourlight.info/108-instructions-and-questions-on-the-sabbath/

    Also see https://godourlight.info/ucgs-fake-denial-of-doctrinal-changes/

    As for Herbert see this article https://godourlight.info/herbert-armstrong-1930-1986/

    Please do read the material before commenting.

    James

  7. To Tess: There are some UCG congregations where the Pastor encourages members to stay in the hall for lunch on Holy Days, and bring food to share with others. In those congregations, most of the membership does exactly that.

    But in the Cincinnati area, that’s not usually the case. People who want to avoid restaurants at lunchtime find a park shelter nearby, or dine in their cars.

    Thank you for this. To further encourage the brethren, in the past few weeks the Passover service has been downloaded 421 times. James

  8. Re eating out on the sabbath and preparing food on the sabbath. If we go back to God instructing the Israelites in the desert. Firstly, God showed them which day was to be their sabbath or day of rest by providing manna on six days of the week with a double portion on the sixth day that they were to eat on the sabbath.
    Secondly, after showing them which day of the week to make holy, He then told them to boil, bake, prepare the manna for the seventh day on the sixth day.
    So God told them to get all their food in on the sixth day, and to prepare all of that food on the sixth day to be eaten on the sabbath.
    If you use the illustration of collecting a double lot of manna on the sixth day to say that the sabbath is the day to worship God, and then proceed to ignore God’s Command to prepare that food on the sixth day for eating on the sabbath, then you are disobeying God. You can’t say that the sabbath is God’s set apart day and then ignore His instructions re preparing food and working on the sabbath. You either keep both of the commands or you are making up something to get a following for yourself.
    The man who was killed for collecting kindling on the sabbath was killed because he acted presumptuously against God.
    We need to be careful as to whom we follow – God or men. To obey men is idolatry.

  9. Exodus 16: 4 and 5 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them
    whether they will walk in My law or not.”

    So who are you going to obey – God or men.

    I was forced to leave the Armstrong WCG in spring 1985 over this issue; and all of the major organizations still cling to this and other sins. As organizations they absolutely refuse to obey God. For this reason [because they exalt the false traditions of men above the Word of God] they are being rejected by God the Father and Jesus Christ and will be cast into great tribulation. James

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