Council of Elders Videoconference Report – March 16, 2020
United Church of God, an International Association
Council of Elders Videoconference Report
Monday, March 16, 2020
Chairman Don Ward called the meeting to order at 4:20 p.m. EDT, and the meeting was opened with prayer. All twelve Council of Elders (Council) members were present along with the president and key administration personnel.
The Council discussed recent decrees by the governor of the State of Ohio and U.S. President Donald Trump, effectively forbidding any gatherings of 10 or more people in an effort to “flatten the curve” of the current coronavirus pandemic.
In light of these developments, the Council discussed the advisability of holding the planned face-to-face meeting of the General Conference of Elders (GCE) at the beginning of May, and also whether alternative plans needed to be put into place for observing the Passover (three weeks from tomorrow) and the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Two elders whose primary work is in the medical field, Dr. Daniel Berendt and Dr. Rick Berendt, provided commentary and answered questions from the Council about the health risks to Church members if the planned events were to proceed as scheduled.
President Victor Kubik noted that our first priority as a Church at this time should be to care for our members. The Council discussed an appropriate course of action for over an hour, and unanimously approved the following resolution:
WHEREAS, as a consequence of the COVID-19 worldwide outbreak and the resultant (and continuing) restrictions or advisories against unnecessary travel or even gatherings of more than 10, and
WHEREAS, given the fact that said virus is more dangerous for people over 65 years of age, which demographic includes a large percentage of UCG elders who planned to attend the GCE or, for that matter the New Testament Passover in their areas,
NOW THEREFORE, it is hereby resolved:
1. The General Conference of Elders (GCE) and its related meetings will not be held face to face or in person this year;
2. Instead, an abbreviated GCE business session and reports will be held on Sunday, May 3, via webcast with the Sabbath services of May 2 to be via live (or prerecorded) webcasting;
3. The Council meeting scheduled to May 4-6 will be held by teleconference;
4. Balloting packets which are being sent out will include instructions that all ballots are to be sent in by absentee ballot (via mail, fax or other electronic means) with subsequent reminders from home office that all ballots cast are to be via absentee ballot;
5. With regard to the New Testament Passover, each family in the United States will be advised to keep that Passover at home via a local webcast or using instructions and other materials needed for the same to be distributed by Ministerial and Member Services at the home office. In areas outside the United States how they wish to handle their Passover service will be left up to them.
The Council then discussed the proposed agenda for the abbreviated annual meeting of the GCE now to be held via webcast, which was approved unanimously.
The instructions for keeping the Passover service at home are on the Church’s members website, along with a video which may be played or downloaded. The page is located at: https://www.ucg.org/members/news/keeping-passover-at-home.
The Council adjourned the videoconference at 6:17 p.m.
[These are not the official minutes from the Council meeting. Elders can find those at the home office with the Council Secretary.]
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