UCG Council of Elders Meeting Report – May 5-7, 2015

Items of interest: 

1.   The GCE Responsibilities Advisory Committee (GRAC) has been dissolved. 

2.   The Doctrinal Committee is working on a new Hymnal to be presented to the CoE for approval at a future date. 

3.   The Doctrinal Committee has nearly completed its review of all UCG teachings and is presently reviewing 35 doctrinal papers. Any DC amendments to UCG’s beliefs will then be  presented to the CoE  during the coming CoE meetings as they are ready.  The CoE must then approve the recommendations before they are  presented to the GCE for final approval. 

4.   Except for a few points almost nothing was reported about the GCE conference, or the substance of points approved.   For example, was the proposed change from the 75% of total elders needed to change doctrine, to only 75% of those voting; approved? 


Council of Elders Meeting Report – May 5-7, 2015


United Church of God, an International Association Council of Elders Quarterly Meeting ReportMilford, Ohio


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Chairman Robin Webber called the morning session to order at 9:06 a.m., and the meeting was opened with prayer. Eleven Council of Elders (Council) members were present. Carmelo Anastasi was not able to attend because of illness. Council reporter Shawn Cortelyou was not able to attend due to a death in the family (his grandma). He compiled these reports from the notes of several Council members who were assigned to help in this way.

Mr. Webber welcomed everyone, including the additional guests staying from the General Conference of Elders (GCE) meeting. He read the Vision and Mission Statements and read Ephesians:4:1-6[1]I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,[2]With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;[3]Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.[4]There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;[5]One Lord, one faith, one baptism,[6]One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. to remind everyone of the spiritual foundation and tone of the meetings. The last Council meeting minutes were approved, as well as the agenda for the week’s meetings. There were no presidential or operation manager reports in these meetings since they were given in the GCE presentations.

Committee Chairman Reports:

Education Committee—Rex Sexton

The committee currently is finalizing the Ambassador Bible College (ABC) mission statement. It will be proposed to the Council for input and approval. There is a new education program for the ministry that is being finalized and presented by Roy Holladay and Don Ward. ABC is working on implementing the previous recommendations by the task force. The Deuteronomy 6 Feast of Tabernacles lessons are now complete.

Doctrine Committee—John Elliott

The committee is continuing to study submitted papers. They are reviewing 35 study papers for reclassification. The Last Great Day/8th Day paper is being reviewed. It was mentioned that the committee has been approached by some regarding various hymn selections. When this committee completes their findings they will present them to the Council so as to assist the Council in producing a responsible process moving forward when the Church deems it appropriate to produce another hymnal.

Strategic Planning and Finance Committee—Bill Bradford

The committee had extensively reviewed the attendee, employee and non-salaried elder surveys and inculcated recommendations into the recently GCE approved Strategic Plan. The committee is looking at various trends and will be looking at the need to care for our employees in a proper way. Mr. Bradford mentioned they must be prepared to make adjustments as the year goes by.

Roles and Rules Committee—Roc Corbett

Roc Corbett noted that the Council would be conducting its mandated annual reviews of the president and secretary during these meetings. Mr. Corbett commented on the March 11 committee chairs meeting that involved all the various committees and sub committees that support the efforts of the Council. Notes and guidelines may now be found in the GCE library on the ministerial website. He also noted that the Council would be discussing and balloting on where to go with the GCE Responsibilities Advisory Committee now that it had completed its report.

Ethics Committee—Mario Seiglie

This committee has no new tasks at this time.

Media Committee—Scott Ashley

Scott Ashley reminded the Council of media developments and plans as reported by the president and operation manager at the GCE meeting and reported that the online writer’s class was well underway with classes running into July.

Mark Mickelson had a question about young adult-centered content and what is being done in that area since Vertical Thought is no longer being produced. Roy Holladay mentioned the work being done by Matt and Lisa Fenchel in regard to motivating young adults to remain involved. Victor Kubik mentioned that we have about 30,000 pages of content online and that everything from past Vertical Thought issues is there.

Robin Webber suggested that the administration make sure that it is understood that we are not abandoning our young adults, but making adjustments with changing circumstances.

GCE Responsibilities Advisory Committee (GRAC)—Roc Corbett

Roc Corbett led a discussion on the future of the GRAC. He mentioned their report in which they state that they have fulfilled their responsibility. One main area of GCE responsibilities is left to work outthe calling of special meetings. Mr. Corbett asked, “Do we create a new task force with new mandates?”

Roc read the following resolution and opened it for discussion:

Whereas, on August 25, 2011, the Council authorized the formation of the GCE Responsibilities Advisory Committee (GRAC) to review the responsibilities of the General Conference of Elders (GCE) outlined in the governing documents, make suggestions for improving existing mechanisms that facilitate the fulfillment of each responsibility, and report the outcome to the Council, and

Whereas, the GRAC is to remain constituted until the review and any consequential work directed by the Council is completed, and

Whereas, the GRAC submitted its final report to the Council and indicated that it has accomplished its responsibilities in all areas that were in the Terms of Reference, and

Whereas, the GRAC’s final report has been sent to the GCE, along with the complementary report from the Council,

Now, therefore, it is hereby resolved that, the GRAC, having fulfilled its advisory responsibilities as per the Terms of Reference, is dissolved effective May 5, 2015.

The Council went into much discussion. Church legal counsel Larry Darden agrees with dissolving the GRAC. Robin Webber appreciates these gentlemen and their work, but terms of reference need to be clearly defined. Mark Mickelson said the members of the committee were chosen by the GCE to begin with and have developed a level of expertise with our documents and they should be allowed to continue rather than us starting over with new men. Don Ward asked if the men on this committee expressed that they would like to continue. Roc Corbett said the chairman, Dan Dowd, did.

Roc Corbett read Bylaw 7.2.3, the new section of our passed bylaws giving direction on calling special meetings.

Mario Seiglie said he would like to see a fresh group of GCE members involved. This was a temporary committee. There are other fine men out there that can be called upon. Rex Sexton mentioned that task forces are usually populated by experienced people in that area. Robin Webber commented that the Council needs to discuss whether such a committee should be a standing or ad hoc committee based upon specific needs. Rainer Salomaa agreed with the resolution and suggested the chair of the GRAC address the Council with his vision of what is needed down the road and to start the process of fulfilling 7.2.3 of drafting a process for calling special meetings (which is Council driven).

The quorum of the Council passed it 8 for and 3 against (Bill Bradford, John Elliott, and Mark Mickelson).

Discussion of Bylaw 7.2 Special Meetings, With Focus on 7.2.1 on Persons Authorized to Call

Roc Corbett then led the Council through an introductory discussion on the calling of special meetings by members of the GCE. This is not a ballot item, but it is being introduced. The focus of this session was to consider forming a task force to recommend a process by which members of the GCE may call special meetings, and how such meetings would be conducted.

A provision in 7.2.3 of the Bylaws that was approved by the GCE on May 3 puts in place the needed authorization for the Council to be able to recommend a process, which the GCE would approve. Mr. Corbett mentioned that there are two important elements to include when drafting the process. The first step is to clearly describe how members of the GCE could solicit the required simple majority approval by the GCE. Then, once a simple majority approval has been attained, there is a need to define a procedure of how the meeting would be conducted.

Mr. Corbett recommends a task force be assigned to deal with this. He repeated the emphasis that there are two mandates needed. They need a mandate of how to solicit a majority from the GCE. Drafting a procedure of how the GCE would conduct the special meeting would also be needed.

Gerald Seelig mentioned that what is developed needs to be short, brief and to the point. It needs to be well thought out and not adversarial.

Mr. Corbett said that the most important reason for calling a special meeting would be a situation like an Acts 15 conference.

Mr. Sexton commented that the time to develop this is when we have peace.

Mr. Salomaa quoted 7.2.3, which states that the process needs to be proposed by the Council. There would need to be input from legal counsel, the secretary, and the GCE.

Dr. Ward asked how the process starts. How do we get the required number? This is where the rubber meets the road.

Mr. Bradford mentioned that we need to be responsive to the GCE and communicate to deal with issues that arise from the floor. The GCE needs to feel confident that their concerns are being met.

Bob Dick said we have had the GCE try to take steps, but the difficulty is how to do it without being adversarial. Once that is accomplished, the other steps follow easier.

Mr. Corbett concluded that we need to allow people to express themselves passionately, without being adversarial. His recommendation is:

The Council needs to start to work on the procedurehow to get a simple majority to authorize the calling of the meeting and how the meeting will be conducted.

Review of International Seating on the Council of Elders—Aaron Dean

After lunch, Aaron Dean led the Council in a discussion about the need for and possible ways to increase the number of candidates for the international seats on the Council, since recent years have seen very few candidates. The Council agreed on the need to address the matter and agreed to consider options at a future meeting.

Mission Statement for Ambassador Bible College—Aaron Dean

Mr. Dean then led the Council in a discussion on edits to the Ambassador Bible College mission statement, continuing a discussion from the February meetings. The core discussion hinged around the need to clearly define that the theology and religious instruction of this Bible college was specifically tied to UCG’s set of beliefs. Thus the insertion of “sponsored by the United Church of God.” The Council then approved the following mission statement: “The Mission of Ambassador Bible College, sponsored by the United Church of God, an International Association, is to diligently uphold and faithfully teach the truths of God, as found in the Bible, to equip disciples of Jesus Christ for a life of faithfulness and godly service.”

Schedules Set for 2015-2016 Amending Governing Documents and Future Council Meetings

Roc Corbett then went through the schedule for amending the governing documents, which the Council unanimously approved and which will be sent to the GCE by May 14.

The Council then set dates for August Council meetings for Aug. 10-13 (which will be by Web video conference) and Dec. 6-10 (at the home office).

Annual Evaluation of the President

The Council then went into an executive session for the annual review of the president. The Council adjourned at 5:30 p.m.


Wednesday May 6, 2015

Chairman Robin Webber called the morning session to order at 9:00 a.m., and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (Council) members were present. Carmelo Anastasi was in attendance online. His bronchitis is improving, but he has to be careful.

Local Church Facilities Policy Discussion—Bill Bradford

This policy is from the Pastor’s Policy Manual and was discussed as a policy that the Council needed to review after many years of being in place and with more practical experiences now to consider. The Council does not desire to discourage either purchasing or building a church facility if and when circumstances are favorable. However, there can be complications. The Council wanted to ensure that language in the policy reflects the impact of such facility acquisition programs on a congregation or on individuals that render services in fundraising or other volunteering efforts. The Strategic Planning and Finance Committee will review the comments rendered during the session and return with further edits to consider.

Formal Evaluation of the Secretary

The Council then went into an executive session for the annual review of the secretary.

Beyond Today Logo—Victor Kubik

Following lunch, Mr. Kubik presented two proposed logos for Beyond Today (BT) and the United Church of God (UCG). The employees of the home office were invited to attend to offer their comments as well.

The administration has worked with the Cincinnati-based global design firm LPK to help create a unified UCG and BT logo. (The current church seal will remain a fixture on our church lecterns.) The new logo will be scalable across multiple platforms—from our printed materials and magazine, to our letterhead, on our website, and down to the tiniest of scale for items like smartphone app icons.

The discussion from the employees and Council looked at the two most viable options at this time. The administration will hold a follow-up meeting with LPK to address suggestions made during the Council meeting so that a more final product can be achieved.

The Council went into executive session for 30 minutes.

Doctrine Committee Scopes and Responsibilities—John Elliott

The Doctrine Committee chair, John Elliott, led the discussion to further describe the scope and responsibilities of this committee. He mentioned that there is no mechanism for the committee to see if the material produced by the church fulfills the overview section of the scopes and responsibilities of the Doctrine Committee. The committee has been saturated with many questions and answering types of inquiries that hinder its deemed responsibility to focus on major topics of long-term importance. The current scope and responsibilities need to be updated and reviewed again. One possibility is to look at it in the Council’s retreat this coming December. The Council remanded the task of editing the current Doctrine Committee Scopes and Responsibilities document to the Doctrine Committee, which will review it with the Council at a future meeting.

The Council adjourned at 4:45 p.m.


Thursday May 7, 2015

Chairman Robin Webber called the morning session to order at 9:10 a.m., and the meeting was opened with prayer. All 12 Council of Elders (Council) members were present. Carmelo Anastasi was in attendance online.

GCE—Review Input on 2015 Meetings—Charles Melear

Charles Melear led discussions on input from this past week’s GCE meeting. The elders can complete their exit surveys until May 31. The results will be sent out to the Council.

Discussion was made about these past meetings. Rainer Salomaa said that 124 elders did not ballot, and this can be a factor with any potential Fundamental Beliefs ballot. Victor Kubik said that over time some elders lose interest in day-to-day issues. Some don’t open up the weekly ministerial e-news.

Overall, the Council felt very positive about this year’s GCE. Robin Webber mentioned that he and his wife Susan were going away spiritually galvanized more than ever. Gerald Seelig said that the Friday international meeting was the best ever held. There were points brought out that the Council and the GCE should hear.

The dates for the 2016 GCE are May 15-16.

The Council went into executive session for about one hour.

Honoring Council Members for Services Rendered—Robin Webber

Those presented with a token of appreciation:

Roc and Nancy Corbett

Carmelo and Antonella Anastasi (our international representative on video conference)

The 2014-2015 Council adjourned.

The new Council was called to order with Robert Dick and Tony Wasilkoff added to the roster. This is the only set of business to be engaged in during this specific May meeting. The Council will meet by via video conference in a couple of weeks to populate its committees and choose chairmen for those committees.

The Council adjourned at 11:57 a.m.


Council Reporter

Shawn Cortelyou

© 2015 United Church of God, an International Association

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