UCG Council of Elders Meeting Report – December 4 – 7, 2017

Council of Elders Meeting Report – December 4 – 7, 2017

United Church of God, an International Association

Council of Elders Quarterly Meeting Report

Milford, Ohio

Monday, December 4, 2017

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 each day because he was teaching an ABC class. Mario Seiglie taught for the next 90 minutes after Mr. Ashley each day.

Chairman Ward welcomed everyone and mentioned the importance of discerning the times we are living in. We are not living in normal times. The Church is called to take the gospel to the world and to prepare a people for the return of Jesus Christ. We are here because we love the truth of God. We need to work as dedicated men seeking God’s will working in a spirit of unity and speaking what needs to be said. Open honest discussions are always needed for there to be true peace and unity, which also includes listening to what others have to say so we can continue to move forward.

The last Council meeting minutes were approved. The agenda for the week was approved.


President’s Report—Victor Kubik

President Victor Kubik greeted everyone. He expressed gratitude to God for the work He has allowed to be done, for the revelations He gives us, and for His will revealed to us.

Mr. Kubik commented on some of the following major activities:

Ambassador Bible College (ABC) is nearing the completion of the fall semester, and the program is progressing according to plan. The class is working on their annual charity auction that will be for the scholarship fund and their class trip.

International Updates:
Malawi: has two new church buildings that are owned by UCGIA.
New Zealand: Fred Kellers will be serving there for at least one year.
Russian language: new booklet: The Middle East in Bible Prophecy (now there are 14 booklets and the Bible Correspondence Course in Russian).
Brazil: successful trip with Jorge de Campos to remote area in Brazil.

7 Conferences Since August Council Meetings:
Labor Day Leadership Workshop—hosted 58 participants from the US, Canada, Germany and Sri Lanka.
Regional Pastor Conference on Sept. 10-11 was conducted in Omaha, Nebraska.

Feast of Tabernacles—total attendance was 13,941 in 66 sites around the world. FoT attendance has increased 9 percent since 2011.

Camp Director’s Conference—was held shortly after the Feast. The 2018 Christian Living theme will be “God’s Vision for You.”
Southeast Minnesota Leadership Workshop was conducted.
Southeast Minnesota Ministerial conference was conducted.
Pastoral Development Program—10 couples total attended, six from international areas.
Pastoral Development Program Online has close to 50 people on the online class that is held every other week.

Upcoming International Leadership Development Training:
Malawi—Steve Myers
Zambia—Darris McNeely
South Africa—both Steve Myers and Darris McNeely will then go there
36 Principles of the Ministry are 3-6 minutes long video messages sent to the ministry each week, presented by Mario Seiglie

Podcasts of “Lessons of the Ministry” are being considered for Rex Sexton to organize.
E-news is consistently read by more than 700 each week and forwarded and printed for many others.
Disaster relief helped with $25,000 for the Houston area after the hurricane. Other areas helped were Corpus Christi, Florida, and areas affected by the fires out west.
Scholarship fund provides for more than 100 students around the world through the LifeNets Developing Nations Scholarship Fund.

Operation Manager Reports:

Media and Communications Services—Peter Eddington

Peter Eddington went through some of the following statistics as of Nov. 30 this year:

United News circulation is the highest it’s ever been since United began—at 16,134.
Coworker count is now the highest it’s ever been—6,446 (27 percent higher than two years ago).
The donor list now includes 8,386 people. (Our all-time high is 9,564 from June of last year.)
Donors combined with coworkers total (14,832), we continue to have more of our U.S. readers and viewers contributing to the work of the Church than the entire number of UCG members in the U.S. and abroad.
Total Beyond Today (BT) magazine subscribers are the highest they’ve been since March of 2013 at 324,738.
U.S. magazine subscribers are the highest they have been since March of 2012 at 257,757.
The total number of people on our U.S. file associated with the Church (teens, members, associated) are the highest since July of 2011 at 12,316.
The Church’s BT YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/BeyondTodayTV has had 6.3 million video views since November 2006, has 21,895 subscribers (a 30 percent increase since August of this year), and hosts more than 1,650 videos. This is an average of 1,600 videos being viewed every day. The average number of videos being viewed per day for the past 12 months is 3,724.
Some other items Mr. Eddington reported were:

UCG Roku Channel: The highly anticipated, premium version of the United Church of God channel on Roku is now operational. Watch live and archived Sabbath services from your Roku streaming device.
Top 10 Beyond Today video views on YouTube in past 12 months (Nov. 1, 2016-Oct. 31, 2017):
The Moment After You Die—199,992 views
Moving Beyond Tragedy—49,320
The Lost Tribes of Israel: Why They Matter—45,400
Fasting and Prayer: Tools for Spiritual Growth—36,148
Seven Prophetic Signs Before Jesus Returns—22,434
Who Are the Two Witnesses?—20,107
The Four Horsemen of Revelation—18,871
When Was Jesus Born?—18,828
Overcoming Alcoholism: There Is Hope—15,755
Is God a Trinity?—15,428
AmazonSmile Donations: We need to remind our members that their AmazonSmile shopping can support the United Church of God.

Ministerial and Member Services (MMS)—Chris Rowland

Chris Rowland, administrator of MMS, summarized some manpower changes since the last meetings in August:

Tom Adams stepped down as pastor of the Jacksonville, NC on Sept. 1.
Craig Scott is now pastor for Jacksonville, in addition to Raleigh and Greensboro, North Carolina.
Aaron Creech became pastor of Bethlehem, Lewistown, and York, Pennsylvania, where he had been training under Lee Cole.
Lee Cole will be retiring from his employment at the end of this year.
Ben Light has been named interim pastor of Salem, Eugene, and Roseburg, Oregon, following the death of pastor John Cafourek.
Ron Barker has been named pastor of the Dayton, Ohio, congregation where he had been assisting pastor Len Martin.
Clyde Hubbard is stepping down as pastor of the Coleman, Texas, congregation. Stan Erickson will now pastor this congregation.
Fred Kellers is presently on an assignment serving the brethren in New Zealand.
Mark Mickelson will be retiring at the end of December, and Paul Moody will become pastor of Spokane, Kennewick, and Kettle Falls, Washington, and Lewiston, Idaho.

Three elders have died since the last Council meeting:
John Cafourek, who had been pastoring Salem, Eugene, and Roseburg, Oregon, died on Oct. 12.
Richard Eckman, an elder in Atlanta, Georgia, died on Nov. 1.
Al Levitt, an elder in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, and his wife, Joey, died in a tragic car accident on their way to the Feast on Oct. 4.

Three other elder’s wives have also died since our last meeting:
Peggy Good of the Greensboro, North Carolina, congregation, and widow of Dan Good, died on Sept. 17.
Dolores Petty of the Sacramento, California, congregation, and widow of Grover Petty, died on Sept. 22.
Louise Smith, widow of Sidney Smith, who served in Geneva, Alabama, died on Sept. 11.

Three elders have been ordained since our last meeting:
Lomax Morris, New York City, New York
Tim Seelig, Austin, Texas
Rob Slocum, Portland, Oregon

Upcoming events:
Northwest Regional Conference is scheduled for Feb. 11-13 in Portland, Oregon, with a one-day leadership workshop on Sunday, Feb. 11. Information will be going out in the next week or two.
South Central Regional Conference is scheduled for Aug. 5-7 in Big Sandy, Texas.
Southwest Regional Conference is scheduled for Dec. 9-11, 2018.
Current statistics include:

Average U.S. Sabbath attendance for the past few months stands at about 7,200.
392 elders in the United Church of God (UCG)
99 are outside the U.S.
293 are in the U.S.
76 are church pastors
11 are associate or assistant pastors
4 ministerial trainees
196 churches and Bible study groups in the U.S.
37 baptisms since the August meeting

Treasurer and Financial Services Report—Rick Shabi

Rick Shabi updated the Council on the financial activities of the Church since the August Council meetings.

The annual audit report has been issued by the independent accounting firm, Clark Schafer and Hackett. Two letters that accompany the audit were discussed with the Council. The first letter addressed internal controls and any adjustments to the accounting records that were required as a result of the audit. The audit firm found no deficiencies in internal control, and no adjustments were required.

The second letter offered an “unqualified” opinion on our financial statements, meaning that as a result of the review, the auditors’ opinion is that our financial reports, both monthly and annual, present fairly the financial position of the Church.

The complete audited financial statements and auditor’s report will be printed in the next issue of United News, and Mr. Shabi commented that the partner from our audit firm will be at the Council meetings later that day to make a presentation and answer any further questions.

Mr. Shabi then discussed various financial statements of the Church for this fiscal year, which began July 1. He noted that overall the financial position of the Church continues to be very strong. The year-to-date balance sheet, income statement and operating statistics were then discussed in some detail, with the following highlights:

On the balance sheet, it was noted that cash balances continue to be strong. The restricted fund for the video recording studio stands at just about $700,000 at Nov. 30.

On the year-to-date income statement, it was noted that revenue is running above budget and prior year for the first five months of the fiscal year. This is in part due to a large estate that was received earlier in the fiscal year, but also due to general contributions (first tithe and offerings) being significantly above budget and prior year levels.

Generally, departmental expenses are “on budget” thus far in the fiscal year.
Certain operational statistics were presented and discussed with the Council.
Mr. Shabi concluded his presentation by acknowledging and thanking God and the many faithful members and reminding the Council that budget preparation would be a primary focus over the next few months, with the goal of presenting a proposed budget for the next fiscal year at the February meetings.

Committee Chairman Reports:

Education Committee—Aaron Dean

The Education Committee has not been assigned any new duties. Education programs are still progressing. Some of the programs mentioned were the Pastoral Development Program, ABC with 24 students, leadership training in the country of Africa later this month, and youth camps. Education for our scattered brethren is a monumental task. We do all we can with the limited resources we have and ask God and Jesus Christ to make up the difference. It takes faith.

Roles and Rules Committee—Rainer Salomaa

The Roles and Rules Committee has a few tasks before it since the August meetings:

They have contacted the individuals to be interviewed for the posted secretary job. The interviews are scheduled for tomorrow morning.
They have crafted a Scope of Responsibilities for the Executive Committee and will seek Council approval to adopt it this week.
A technical question has come up about how we handle it when a Council member has a shift in responsibilities from serving in the United States to international or vice versa. This will also be covered this week in the meetings.
Ethics Committee—Tony Wasilkoff

Mr. Wasilkoff gave the update for Mario Seiglie because he was teaching an ABC class. The scope of the committee’s work, as directed by the Council, extends to all matters of ethics and ethical conduct within the church organization, including the alleged violation of standards described in official documentation. There are seven specific tasks of responsibility. There is nothing remanded to the committee at this time.


Doctrine Committee—John Elliott

Since the August meetings the Doctrine Committee (DC) and its subcommittees have been reviewing submitted papers on the following topics:

Calendar postponements
God and Jesus Christ in Scripture
Alignment of Passover and NTBMO
Appropriateness of the term “mister”
Sardis Church Era
Work has been continuous on each of those projects, and included a teleconference attended by chairman Don Ward. The DC is in the process of finalizing work on three of these projects: Sardis, tattoos and the title “mister”.

Strategic Planning and Finance Committee—Bob Dick

This is a busy time of year for the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee (SPFC). They were given the survey results in August, which gives needed insight to assist in future planning.

There are ideal times for strategic planning: when office morale is high, when there is institutional stability, when times are peaceful, and when finances are in good shape. Since all of these apply, now is a time for extensive strategic planning.

The first strategic plan was established under its current model in 2008-2009. Shortly thereafter we lost the majority of those trained in the new approach. This was followed by difficult times for the Church, and as a result the strategic planning process stalled. We would now like to continue forward with objectives-based planning.

The chairman called for a three-stage process with the first measurable objectives being added to the Strategic Plan for GCE approval in May. Additional development of measurable objectives would happen during the next year. Finally, a study of all of our objectives would take place in order to reach agreement on which goals and objectives can only measure activities or outputs, and not predict specific outcomes.


Media and Communications Committee—Scott Ashley

The biggest media issue the Council is dealing with is the new media center building. Scott Ashley said the entire Council has been involved in those discussions.

Nothing is currently remanded to the Media and Communications Committee (MCC). One responsibility for the MCC is to review the media operation report before it is given. Due to scheduling difficulties there was no regular video conference for this before these Council meetings, but a preview of the report was sent out to committee members to review.


“Scopes and Responsibilities—Executive Committee”—Rainer Salomaa

The only committee that serves for the Council that does not have a defined scope and responsibility is the Executive Committee (EC). Gerald Seelig, as secretary to the Council, drafted the initial document to present to the Council for its approval.

The proposed Executive Committee Scope and Responsibilities document was distributed and discussed. Minor word edits were suggested, and a quorum of the Council unanimously approved it.


External Audit Report—Rick Shabi, Kerry Roe (auditor)

Following lunch chairman Ward introduced Kerry Roe, who is a partner with Clark Schaefer Hackett, the independent accounting firm the Church engages to perform the annual audit. Mr. Roe made a presentation to the Council on financial highlights from the recent audit. He commented that, based on the audit and their review of systems and internal controls, the Council can rely on the accuracy of monthly financial reports generated internally, and that their audit again resulted in an “unqualified opinion” on the financial statements. He also commented on the Church’s favorable cash balances and how assets have grown for the fifth straight year, with little change in liabilities, except for new mortgages on purchased church buildings. He answered the few questions that were asked by the Council.


Review of Strategic Plan—Bob Dick

Bob Dick, as the chair of the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee, led the discussion in reviewing the current Strategic Plan. He began by going over key terms and discussing the creation of S.M.A.R.T. goals, which are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

The importance of having goals that can be measured was addressed. If you have a goal that can’t be measured then it is time to change your goal. You want your goals to be measurable. The challenge is to know what can be measured and what cannot. Sometimes it takes years to accurately assess a program. Mr. Dick encouraged the Council to get a copy of the United Way book on “Measuring Program Outcomes,” which is a good resource that can be found online.

The Council then began to discuss what the strategic issues of the UCG are right now. Some of the strategic areas discussed included youth education, engaging the young adults, quality of speaking, quality of the Beyond Today program and the quality of Feast sites.

Mark Mickelson commented that on the church website the people are already telling you what they like by the sermons they download. The problem can come from rewarding loyalty instead of quality of the message. The brethren listen and discuss the sermons they like.

Scott Ashley mentioned we have to acknowledge what we can control and what we can’t. We can control how many BT magazines we put out, but we can’t control the response.

Mario Seiglie commented that we can’t always look at outcomes. The Church is to preach the gospel, and it won’t always be popular, but it must be done. Noah was a preacher of righteousness for 100 years while building the ark with no response, but to God he was a success.

Dr. Ward mentioned the importance of discerning the times and looking at strategic planning from a certain worldview. We need to hone our messages to the critical times in which we are living with a sense of urgency.

Preview goals and plans for the future of Beyond Today video and the use of the new video recording studio—Victor Kubik

President Kubik began the presentation by mentioning the need for and the current conditions of our public proclamations. This is not a new conversation. The modern Church has always been one of public proclamation. We are always to be seeking God’s will and seek what God want us to do. Currently we are strong with our video, Internet and content online. We aren’t talking only about television, but video for cell phones, Roku and other streaming devices down the road. He then turned it over to Peter Eddington for further detail.

Mr. Eddington, as media operation manager, then went through explaining the current state of the media department’s video content, what is being done, and future programs that are being looked at. He explained that video content has the opportunity for first contact, and leads different types of people to God.

The media department is looking to create more video and stronger video. Currently we have the following programs:

four-minute dailies—which supply personal contact daily
four-minute short films—we encourage church members to share them on social media
28-minute television programs—which are currently airing on broadcast and cable television and streamed online
Future programs could include the following:

20-minute podcasts—popular for driving time
25-minute live presentations—with space for a live studio audience. Eventually have BT live daily with a live studio audience as well.
50-minute documentaries—The goal is to establish BT as a quality brand that can be trusted. These will be on specific biblical topics through the use of captivating storytelling and engaging visuals. Produced every 18 months or so.
About 25 percent of the media department’s time is spent supporting our ministry and congregations with sermon packs, camp videos and other services.


The critical next steps include:

Architectural plans approval from the Council
Council approval for increased budget
Council approval to begin construction
Scott Ashley mentioned that when he had a photo studio in Big Sandy that he had a much bigger area to produce three magazines. Video content needs more space than what they currently have. They are doing a good job with what they have right now, but more is needed. Video and video channels are the future and need to be planned for.

Mario Seiglie asked how much more production content will increase with a new studio. Mr. Eddington said quite a bit more content could be produced. Mr. Seiglie also asked how much room this would free up in the home office. Mr. Eddington said four rooms would be freed up.

Mr. Kubik ended the presentation by mentioning the media department has done very well with what they have done and the administration wants to be as transparent as possible.

The Council took a brief break at 4:30 and then went into scheduled executive session for the remainder of the day to have a discussion of the video studio plans.

The Council adjourned at 6:22 p.m.


= indicates the session was recorded and if posted can be found at: http://coe.ucg.org/videos

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

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 missed the first 90 minutes, and Mario Seiglie missed the second 90 minutes because they were teaching ABC classes.

The Council began in scheduled executive session to conduct interviews for secretary candidates.

The Council came into open session at 11:36 a.m.

Discussion of International Representative’s Term—Rainer Salomaa

On a few occasions a U.S. representative has been balloted onto the Council and then their primary work has changed to international areas or vice versa. This most recently has occurred with John Elliott. Mr. Elliott now has his primary responsibility in Canada and East Africa even though he lives in the U.S. The question has been asked on how to put wording into our bylaws to describe the policy for when this happens.

The Council proposed an edit to the current 8.4.1 bylaw to clarify the process. The Council discussed it and needed more clarity on how this should go forward. Dr. Ward remanded it to the Roles and Rules Committee to clarify and bring it back later in the week to the Council.


Video Recording Studio

After lunch the Council went into scheduled executive session to continue their discussion of the video studio plans, budget and contractor. They came into open session at 3:48 p.m. to present three resolutions and ballot on them:

Video Recording Studio Resolution Plans and Drawings Approval:
After further discussion, Mario Seiglie moves, Rex Sexton seconds and the Council of Elders, by a ballot of ten (10) for and two (2) against (Dan Dowd and Mark Mickelson), adopts the following:

Whereas, at a teleconference of the Council of Elders on November 8, 2017, the Council advised the president and operation manager of Media and Communications Services that, before the approval of any budget, increase in funding solicitation or construction of a (proposed) Video Recording Studio it had to approve the plans and specifications for the same, and

Whereas, complete drawings, plans and specifications (“plans”) for said Video Recording Studio have been developed by an architect hired for that purpose (KBA Architects) for a building with a 5,000 square foot footprint, which plans have already been found to be in accord with local building codes and zoning requirements, and

Whereas, the Council has reviewed those basic drawings (with the detailed construction plans also having been made available for their inspection) and has approved the same for the proposed Video Recording Studio,

Now therefore, it is hereby resolved that, the Council of Elders approves the Video Recording Studio drawings attached hereto and agrees that the architectural, site, mechanical, electrical and plumbing construction plans (as already permitted by the applicable city and county planning boards) may be used as the basis for the pricing, fundraising and construction bids previously solicited for the Video Recording Studio.

Video Recording Studio Resolution Budget Approval:
After further discussion, Scott Ashley moves, Mario Seiglie seconds and the Council of Elders, by a ballot of nine (9) for and three (3) against (Robert Dick, Mark Mickelson and Dan Dowd), adopts the following:

Whereas, on December 7, 2016, the Council approved establishing a restricted fund for the purpose of securing donations to expand the home office building by adding a Video Recording Studio to further develop electronic media efforts of the Church, and

Whereas, the Video Recording Studio drawings and construction plans have now been approved and the probable construction costs (based on bids from several contractors using those plans as their basis for the same) have been calculated, and

Whereas, said construction and studio outfitting costs are beyond the original estimated amount of $550,000 to $600,000,

Now therefore, it is hereby resolved that, the Council of Elders approves the increase in funding for projected costs for construction of the Video Recording Studio to an estimated total of $800,000, said funds to come from restricted donations and, if needed, reserves.


Video Recording Studio Resolution Construction Contract Approval:
After further discussion, Mario Seiglie moves, John Elliott seconds and the Council of Elders, by a ballot of eight (8) for and four (4) against (Tony Wasilkoff, Mark Mickelson, Dan Dowd and Bob Dick), adopts the following:

Whereas, the Council of Elders has approved the drawings for a Video Recording Studio along with the architectural, site, mechanical, electrical and plumbing plans (“construction plans”), and

Whereas, bids have been solicited and received for the Video Recording Studio, a projected cost for construction can be determined, and

Now therefore, it is hereby resolved that, the president is authorized to select a contractor to build said Video Recording Studio in accordance with the plans approved by the Council at a cost not to exceed $750,000 (plus up to ten percent (10%) of the contracted amount for unplanned cost overage, if needed) and to negotiate and sign under such terms and conditions, as he shall deem proper, a construction contract, after review and consultation with the Church’s legal counsel.

Follow-up Discussion of Modifications to the “Elder Ordination Procedure” That Was Approved on Jan. 3, 2012—Victor Kubik

Mr. Kubik introduced Chris Rowland to present revisions to the Elder Ordination Procedure. It was handed out to the Council for review. The updated procedure would establish a review panel for each ministerial candidate, consisting of an appointed Council member, the operation manager for Ministerial and Member Services (MMS), the regional pastor and a member of the Ministerial Education Team (MET). The MET consists of Victor Kubik, Darris McNeely, Steve Myers and Chris Rowland.

Dr. Ward said he was not in favor of this process. He would prefer the current process instead of the new proposal.

Rex Sexton said that the same three names from MET keep coming up, and they don’t need to be overworked.

Mr. Kubik explained that they want a broader group as a panel to evaluate a ministerial candidate’s educational needs during the ordination approval process.

Mark Mickelson felt that this is going in the wrong direction. There is a constant centralization instead of pastoral ownership. He didn’t agree with this proposal.

Mr. Kubik explained that there has been concern with the depth of Bible knowledge of the newly ordained and that many new elders feel unprepared and would like more education before taking on that role. Since our last split we replenished a third of the elders. There needs to be a better process for ordinations. He thought the Council had consensus for proposing new procedures.

Dan Dowd said this wasn’t a change of mind. Quality was desired, and a process of vetting is needed. Mr. Dowd expected the criteria of material to be for the pastor to go through instead of it being a home office administrative matter.

Dr. Ward commented that he would trust the pastor in this process more than the proposed process.

Scott Ashley agreed that it should go back to the pastors, however, he wasn’t hearing a solution to men not knowing our doctrines or being educated in our doctrines. We have no Ambassador College anymore for training. So a solution is needed.

The majority of the Council was not in favor of this proposed process. There was agreement that an updated procedure was needed, but that the pastors should have the oversight instead of the home office. Many of the components for the education of ministerial candidates were very useful and were good ways to teach the pastors what is expected and help them in the process.

Dr. Ward asked what the end goal is in this presentation.

Mr. Rowland asked for direction and input for addressing the problems that Mr. Ashley brought up.

Jorge de Campos agreed that the standard must be raised. Maybe some prerequisites could be established.

Dr. Ward suggested that the candidate should complete the Labor in the Word curriculum.

Aaron Dean mentioned that non-doctrinal ideas could be included on the list. Maybe a checklist could be provided to pastors for training.

Chairman Ward agreed that some of these ideas for a checklist could already be implemented with the local pastors. We want to improve the vetting process and involve pastors in this more. He said that there should be continued work on a checklist to bring back to the Council in the February meetings. The Council members were asked to send Mr. Rowland any of their ideas.

As the Council was wrapping up for the day, Mr. Kubik invited the Council to visit the Noah’s Ark replica south of Cincinnati on Wednesday afternoon.

The Council adjourned at 5:25 p.m.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

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 missed the first 90 minutes, and Mario Seiglie missed the second 90 minutes because they were teaching ABC classes.

Doctrine Committee—John Elliott


One fundamental belief amendment is to be presented to the Council as part of the due process. The fundamental belief amendment has gone through the process of coming before the Fundamental Beliefs Advisory Committee (FBAC) and also to the chairman of the Doctrine Committee (DC), John Elliott, and now before the Council. The question was asked if this presentation was to be in open or closed session.

Gerald Seelig recommended it stay in open because the GCE needs to be aware of the deliberations of the Council. It was agreed to stay in open.

The proposal was passed out and read. It involved the Fundamental Belief in Constitution 2.2.1. The proposal suggests that Jesus Christ ceased to exist for three days while in the grave. The Fundamental Belief Advisory Committee comprising Jim Cowell, Robert Gardenhire, Ken Graham, Larry Walker and Randy D’Alessandro (chairman) did not agree with this proposal.

The FBAC’s letter was read, as well as the DC’s letter to the FBAC stating the disagreement of Scripture with the proposed change. The author still wants his proposed amendment to proceed. So now it is before the Council.

The Council was asked if anyone supported this amendment to our Fundamental Beliefs. There was no support. A Council statement of concern will accompany the proposal when it is sent to the GCE to assess if there is a one-third support from the GCE.

The DC also has finished the review and revision of a PCD letter on tattoos that was sent to the DC for consideration. Historically the Church has taken the position that tattoos are forbidden by Scripture. The position has been in our documents through the years. In recent times, there have been papers that have caused confusion regarding the Church’s teaching on tattoos. In 2009 someone adjusted the previous PCD letter, which prompted a request in 2014 for the DC to review it in the course of its work. It has gone through the Doctrinal Advisory Committee and processed through the DC. It is now ready to be brought before the Council.

Dan Dowd has been the DC’s lead on this project, so he was introduced to present it and lead the discussion.

The historical PCD letter for UCG was passed out along with the 2009 changed letter. The PCD letter from 2009 tried to explain tattoos as a modern grooming issue, while Scripture speaks otherwise.

The recommendation from the DC was to replace it with their proposed new PCD letter. Its content is not new doctrine but rather the teaching the Church has previously held. Quotes from various UCG literature (Vertical Thought and an online teen Bible study) were cited to show the Church’s long-held belief on tattoos.

Aaron Dean was on the Council when the revised letter was published in 2009, but was unaware of it. He asked where the changed PCD letter came from. It was clearly a change of doctrine.

Rex Sexton asked what checks and balances are in place for the doctrinal content of PCD letters going out. The Council needs to do a quick review of these PCD letters and make sure they are all in line with Church doctrine.

Peter Eddington said the PCD letters are taken care of under the auspices of Ministerial Services. He stated that he wasn’t aware of this change. Chris Rowland said the date on the changed PCD letter was 2009, so it was under a previous administration.

Gerald Seelig said it would be good for the Council to lend its full support so it can’t be changed again without another resolution from the Council.

After further discussion, Rex Sexton moves, Aaron Dean seconds and the Council of Elders unanimously adopts the following:

Whereas, the Council desires to update the Personal Correspondence Department letter with regard to tattoos,

Now therefore, it is resolved that, the Personal Correspondence Department updated letter with regard to tattoos, a copy of which is attached and made a part of this resolution, is accepted and is to be distributed to all the ministry and printed in the United News.


2017 GCE Exit Survey—Charles Melear

The 2017 GCE exit survey was discussed to see if there were any changes or improvements for next year. Most comments on the survey were in regard to the roundtable discussion and the Q&A session.

Suggestions were discussed on how to improve the Q&A and other portions of the GCE weekend. It was also discussed to have the international presentations again. Further discussions will be held in the February meetings.


Policy on Elders Not Accepting Gifts or Bequests From Members—Vic Kubik

Mr. Kubik gave a presentation to the Council on the importance of having a policy regarding elders not accepting gifts or bequests from members or involvement in member’s estates. He gave the Council a proposal to look at. He discussed the importance of not being greedy for money or not being accused of it. This presentation was for the Council to be aware of at this time.


2018 GCE Theme Discussion—Charles Melear

Mr. Melear, as chair of the GCE planning taskforce, presented proposals for the theme of the GCE in May 2018. Potential themes were presented. The themes were discussed, and the majority of the Council approved the theme: “Iron That Sharpens Iron.”

Lunch was at 11:30, and then the remainder of the afternoon most of the Council went with Mr. Kubik to the Noah’s Ark replica south of Cincinnati.

The Council adjourned at 11:28 a.m.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Chairman Don Ward called the morning session to order at 9:02 a.m. Eastern, and the meeting was opened with prayer. Eleven Council of Elders (Council) members were present. Scott Ashley missed the first 90 minutes.

Strategic Planning and Finance Committee (SPFC)—Bob Dick

Bob Dick led the discussion finishing up the ideas for the strategic planning. The intent today was to identify those objectives that were not measureable and in need of modification or replacement. The president will lead staff in developing measurable objectives for the 2018/2019 Strategic Plan with assistance when requested from the SPFC. The Council then discussed more ideas on identifying those areas of improvement.


Upcoming Council Meetings

Feb. 26—March 1, 2018, in Big Sandy, Texas.

Chairman Ward remanded to the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee (SPFC) the charge of reviewing the entire retirement process and to report to the Council at the May meeting. The Council agreed.


Proposed Amendment to Bylaw 8.4.1—Rainer Salomaa

The statement of justification for the proposed amendment to Bylaw 8.4.1 was discussed with some edits.

The Council then proposed the amendment and statement of justification to Bylaw 8.4.1. It was unanimously approved.


Proposed Amendment to the Rules of Association: Addition of Chapter 5—Asset Protection—Rainer Salomaa

This proposed amendment was suggested by Church legal counsel Larry Darden. He presented it to the Council.

Rex Sexton asked if all the national councils approved this proposal. Gerald Seelig said they all approved it.

Ten Council members approved for it to go before the GCE in May.

The Council then went into scheduled executive session for legal review with Larry Darden at 10:46 a.m.

The Council came into open session at 11:48 a.m.

The Council approved the statement of concern that went with the Fundamental of Beliefs Amendment 2.1.1 that was discussed on Wednesday. The Council unanimously approved the statement of concern that will go out to the GCE.

Jorge de Campos extended the Council’s gratitude to the Governing Documents Review Team headed by Bill Eddington for all the work they did in this project to review our governing documents over the last few years, and which is now completed with this addition to the Rules of Association. Bill Eddington’s lead was particularly noted and appreciated.

The Council adjourned at 11:57 a.m.


Council Reporter

Shawn Cortelyou

© 2017 United Church of God, an International Association

Posted according to the Fair Use Provision of the Copyright Act



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  1. Have you no comments on these latest meetings James ?

    I think that this conference report was rather mundane. However there are trends in the background which I was leaving for a future Personal but since you ask!

    It seems that they are keen for everyone to fall into line with UCG positions and are using new elders as a lever to reeducate ALL elders. Notice they want everyone to speak the same thing, meaning consistency with the leadership and not necessarily meaning, speaking the same things as the Word of God which is what Paul meant. This is about making people follow the leader and squelching any serious study of scripture and any questioning of the leaders by the scriptures as they drift towards the evangelical.

    The evangelicals say that Jesus was zealous to keep all of the Mosaic law so that we would not have to. They say that we must live by every Word of God and then go on to falsely claim that the Word of God teaches that in the New Covenant, all we need is love [the two great commandments and the Ten].

    The SDA, clinging to the Sabbath and certain other things, adopts the thought that “We do not keep the Sabbath because we must, we keep the Sabbath because WE want to”.

    UCG, well aware of the consequences of the outright Tkach changes, has chosen to go the SDA route of “We do not keep the Mosaic instructions because we must, we keep the Mosaic instructions because WE want to.” This gross heresy which makes man the decider over God’s Word, and shows a gross ignorance of the New Covenant has been programmed into ABC students and into UCG for years now.

    The Doctrine Committee seems to be wasting time on nonsense like tattoos. Tattoos are markings in the flesh and are clearly forbidden because they defile the body. This has nothing to do with makeup which is not invasive to the body.

    This DC list of items being studied is more or less a distraction from what is really going on as UCG drifts into a “We decide for ourselves” mentality; the result of which is that all zeal to keep the law is dampened down to nothing and since it is up to us, situation ethics begins to prevail as: Suddenly it is no longer convenient to do this or that.

    Remember that it was the same folks now in charge of UCG who orchestrated the Tkach changes in the WCG years ago. This time around they are doing the same thing but doing it differently and much more subtly.

    I have been fighting this by presenting studies through the whole Bible line by line, in order to provide a foundation of BIBLICAL knowledge.

  2. I notice that one of the topics is the alignment of Passover and NTBMO. . . . . Thanks for the info at the world watch sight too, James.

    Dear Tess I want to shelve your comments for now because I will be getting into these things in detail during the run up to Passover and I do not have time to respond immediately. I apologize but I have a lot going on right now and this will be covered soon anyway. James

  3. Wondering, James mentioned: “UCG, well aware of the consequences of the outright Tkach changes, has chosen to go the SDA route of “We do not keep the Mosaic instructions because we must, we keep the Mosaic instructions because WE want to.” This gross heresy which makes man the decider over God’s Word, and shows a gross ignorance of the New Covenant has been programmed into ABC students and into UCG for years now.”

    With the “decider over God’s Word” being so important, UCG is preaching a “salvation by decider’s works” philosophy. Yes, it is programmed into ABC students and into UCG, which has been in a spiritual rut since the association began. For that reason, ABC students will never become XYZ students. They are stuck, like the UCG, at the basics of only an ABC level.

  4. Yes I agree James, United appear to be using the new elders to re educate the oldies. As was commented to me recently, the new speakers don’t seem to know what UCG is supposed to believe. From some new speakers you hear off course statements that you’ve never heard before. When you research these remarks you actually find UCG.org website with articles teaching the exact OPPOSITE. So your left not trusting the new speakers.

  5. James, I have viewed the doctrine comit tee video today and it is anything but mundane.
    At the start of the video you have a blatant unbiblical submission from a United pastor in England to change a major fundemental belief. It is shocking and somewhat outrageous that after 20 years of existance they get frustrated over the basics. How many more support this man’s thought stream ? I was relieved to see the response from Don Ward. It all beggars belief.

    Hold on there! I was referring to the written report! I do not have time to see all of their videos, if you would care to elaborate a little more on what you heard please. James

    OK UPDATE LInk http://coe.ucg.org/videos
    Jesus gave up his Godhood to be made flesh, When he died he died like all men but his spirit was not destroyed in the second death, therefore he could be made animate again [be resurrected].

    Although to us a person who is dead may appear to cease existing no person including Jesus ceases to exist until the second death destroys both flesh and spirit. Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

    On a related issue many still teach that Jesus was all man and simultaneously all God; which is nonsense. Jesus was all God until he gave up his Godhood to be made flesh, then he was all flesh until he was changed back into spirit as Gd again. John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, John 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was [change me back to spirit as God].

    I see that I am getting carried away with this, the subject will be covered in an article closer to Passover.

  6. James, if you can, i would highly recommend watching the actual council of elders videos.

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