May 21, 2013
The Cincinnati East, Ohio, congregation of the United Church of God is continuing its bi-weekly Bible study Wednesday night, May 22. The study begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT and is available live via webcast.
The Book of Hebrews Chapters 4 & 5
Join us as we continue an in-depth study of the Book of Hebrews. These chapters cover some very important biblical beliefs. What does the writer of Hebrews mean when he writes: “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God”? And who is our priest according to the order of Melchizedek?
Presenters will be Steve Myers and Darris McNeely.
Plan to attend in person, or you can listen online. You can also view the Bible study using your smartphone Internet browser.
Steve Myers—Pastor, United Church of God Cincinnati East
May 17, 2013
This is my first communication as President of the United Church of God. I am humbled by this new role and pray daily for God to give me wisdom, humility and courage to carry out the duties of this office.
We have been so blessed by the leadership of Denny Luker. As President, he stressed love, faith in Jesus Christ as the living Head of His Church and created an environment of peace in the Church. His leadership was exactly what we needed when we needed it. He brought much-needed healing to the Church and leaves an indelible legacy.
Now, my desire and plan is to build on what God built through Denny Luker and go forward with the mission to proclaim the coming Kingdom of God to the world and to care for those whom God has called. I will not be a caretaker president, but will immerse my life completely into this role. I will seek to understand God’s will and to effectively direct the affairs of the Church in this momentous time in the history of mankind.
We live in a very dangerous world. Yet, it’s an exciting world to which I look with godly optimism because of what’s ahead. Throughout history, prophecy has always reassured Christians of how things will end. It encourages us to carry on because we know that God will not allow the world to destroy itself. God will ultimately usher in His Kingdom of peace. His Kingdom will be eternal and will never end. Our lives will never end. It doesn’t get any better than this!
Since the age of 16, when I first heard this message preached, I have been emboldened with this truth. The Bible made sense to me by explaining who we are, how we got to where we are and our destiny. We MUST continue to share this message as the early church did. I would like to duplicate the excitement of Paul as he evangelized throughout Asia Minor and Greece and the result was that “many people were added to the Lord.” It can happen now, too, when people hear this message of the Kingdom of God and Jesus Christ as King as well as personal Savior.
This past Monday morning, I spoke to our home office employees about the challenges for the United Church of God. Here are a few items that I emphasized:
1. Public Proclamation. We need to be more relevant with key messages that bring results in changed lives and added numbers. I would like to collaboratively examine all venues through which we preach the gospel and critically ask what’s working and what is not. The 21st century is dramatically different than before, as billions of people use smartphones as their primary means of receiving and transmitting information.
2. Peace and Unity. It is essential that we preserve the peace and unity currently within the Church and follow Christ’s lead in seizing the moment for developing the Church.
3. Ministry and Congregations. We must continually staff our congregations around the world with competent trained elders. We need to identify new leaders and provide the training necessary through educational programs such as the online training for our ministry that we started this past year. We need to engage our ministry and membership in the mission of the Church and make everyone feel a part of the vibrant United Church of God.
4. Church Growth. It is not wrong to question what we can do better to allow God to add to our numbers. We will be asking this question a lot and will find answers to achieve results.
5. Youth and Young Adults. This is a priority because this is where our future leaders and pillars lie.
6. Women’s Services. We have made great progress in this area and want to continue the momentum established in the past two years.
7. Relationships with other groups. I would like to keep an open door to those of like faith in the greater Church that God is working with. We welcome constructive and relevant discussion and interaction.
8. International. We must be keenly aware of our brethren on all other continents and not neglect them in pastoral support and, where needed, with financial subsidy to viably operate. With about 6.3 billion people living outside the United States, reaching these people with the gospel message and making disciples represents one of our biggest challenges.
These are just some of the challenges that we are faced with. Again, I will not be a caretaker president and plan to actively work with all of our managers to move forward.
My wife Beverly has been a key helper and advisor to me. Please pray for both of us to do what we need to do.
With love in Christ’s service,
May 10, 2013
The keel on a boat gives it stability and direction, and without this keel a boat can easily drift off course when facing the winds and currents upon the water.
God’s law is our personal keel. Without the secure guidelines of the Bible we can find ourselves so far off course that it feels overwhelming to get back on track. As we read in the book of Hebrews: “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1).
This is the 9th in UCG’s short christian films series. Take a moment to view it now:
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
May 8, 2013
The United Church of God, an International Association, has been involved in a systematic process of selecting a new president (chief executive officer) since late February of this year.
At the current May session of the Council of Elders meetings, Council members, after prayer and fasting to gain a sense of God’s will, interviewed the final six candidates and collectively deliberated on the matter before choosing a president.
The Council is pleased to announce that Victor Kubik has been selected to fill this position for the next three years. Please remember Mr. and Mrs. Kubik as they step into this new opportunity to serve the church. Mr. Kubik assumes the presidency May 9.
Robin Webber—Chairman, Council of Elders
May 7, 2013
We’ve been working with David Munoz over at Lifee.tv for a few months to add Beyond Today to their streaming channel lineup. I’m pleased to report that they now have a Beyond Today channel and separate sections for each of our three presenters. Our program, “666 and You” is among their “most watched” (6th highest) programs.
Your continued prayers for the success of our proclamation efforts to preach the good news of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God would be much appreciated.
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services
May 6, 2013
The General Conference of Elders of the United Church of God was reconvened Monday morning, May 6, 2013, by Council of Elders chairman Robin Webber. He introduced Victor Kubik to present the first plenary session of the day titled “Actually Using Spiritual Gifts.”
The former Soviet-bloc churches Mr. Kubik would visit told him, “You could do so much more with the Holy Spirit. Your description of the Spirit is very passive.” That has stuck with him.
We know one aspect of what the Spirit does is edifying or building the Church.
Since there has been abuse of things like grace and Spiritual gifts we’ve sometimes been afraid of them. That’s a shame, and it doesn’t have to be that way.
Mr. Kubik says we need to look to the beginning of Christianity, in the book of Acts. The early Christians acted in such a way and with such boldness through the Spirit that people stood up and took notice.
How did the Church in Acts explode so quickly and so powerfully? How is it that with all of our modern methods, the Internet, TV, advertising, hype, etc., we can’t act as powerfully as Christians did 2,000 years ago?
When the Church in Acts preached messages that were threatening to the local authorities, they did it with power. Even though they were in danger. They were asked by what authority they did these things. Peter, being filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly gave an answer. He wasn’t afraid to stand up and say that it was by the name of Jesus Christ, who they had crucified, that these powerful things were done. It was the Holy Spirit that gave him this boldness and power.
Mr. Kubik expressed the thought, using the book of Acts, that the time of greatest power for the Church is yet ahead of us. It’s just out of our reach. We’re almost there.
The Conference was recessed for a break at 9:55 a.m.
It resumed at 10:30 for the start of the breakout session workshops.
After the workshops, Council chairman Robin Webber called the meeting to order at 3:35 p.m.
He summarized what was accomplished at the 2013 General Conference of Elders. He said that the attendees received so much in the way of instruction and inspiration from God’s Word. But any information is pointless unless it is put to good use. He encouraged everyone to go home inspired and ready to actually act on what we covered. God showed us the way to utilize and develop spiritual gifts. We need to follow His lead.
Mr. Webber expressed that if we look to men, we will be disappointed. If we always look to Jesus Christ as the Head of our Church, we cannot possibly be disappointed or let down. We will always be able to overcome with Him at our backs.
Jesus Christ took our lives which were at one time not worth anything, and made them full of worth to Him and to God the Father.
God will fill our lives with His peace that comes only from His Spirit.
Mr. Webber concluded: “We cannot be a people that are fear-based, but faith-based.”
The 2013 General Conference of Elders came to a close with a hymn led by Steve Myers and a closing prayer offered by Bart Bornhorst.
Milan Bizic—Media and Communications Services
May 5, 2013
Afternoon Report and Ballot Results
The United Church of God May 5, 2013, general conference afternoon session was brought back into session by chairman Robin Webber. He introduced the international reports.
Derrick Pringle spoke representing the region of southern Africa. His region includes the countries of Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The region serves approximately 350 people. Around 900 people in the region receive The Good News magazine.
Johnnie Lambert represents the area of Eastern Europe, the Baltic region, and Scandinavia. He said that this region presents different types of challenges and opportunities than the other international regions.
Instead of serving congregations of dozens of people, we serve scattered individuals and families. Their faithfulness despite their isolation keeps the Church functioning in this area.
Bill Eddington then gave an upbeat and encouraging report about the work of the United Church of God in Australia and South East Asia.
Mario Seiglie presented an update on Latin America. There are seven ministers and wives who help to serve this large area. Some of the congregations are quite large, with many families and children.
Carmelo Anastasi represents the Italian churches. He says that socially Italy faces several challenges, such as large rates of immigration and high unemployment.
Taxes are very high, and the economy has been hurt by the economic system of the European Union.
Despite these challenges, due to God opening avenues using the Internet to preach the gospel, the Italian work can be more effective at first contact with the public through the Internet.
After the regional reports, operation manager of Ministerial and Member Services (MMS), Victor Kubik, took the floor to report on MMS activities. He began by mentioning that the name “Ministerial and Member Services” was inspired by Bill Eddington, who pointed out that the department serves the entire membership, not just the ministry.
Around the world as of April 26, we have 349 ordained elders. There are 272 in the U.S., and 77 in the rest of the world. We have 81 pastors in the U.S., of which 64 are salaried full time. Twelve are part time. Five are totally volunteer pastors.
One main goal for MMS this past year is to increase the effectiveness of our pastoral care in the congregations. We are finishing our first year of classes in the pastoral training online program. It’s been greatly successful in improving the effectiveness of our local pastoral care and training ministers more fully.
The most recently held regional conference was in the Northwest. There are three additional budgeted for this next year.
Peter Eddington then took the stage to give his operation manager report on the work of Media and Communications Services.
He began by quoting an article from the Minneapolis StarTribune stating that more and more people are watching religious programming on TV.
We have a long-standing and proven approach of utilizing all three main media: TV, print and Internet. We have a two-headed goal of preaching the gospel and preparing a people.
The dedicated Beyond Today Roku channel has been very successful so far. TV is actually growing, mainly because of Internet streaming on devices like the Roku. There will be 145 million people who watch TV this way in 2013. In 2014 these people will surpass 50% of the U.S. Internet user population.
Beyond Today responses are at an all-time high in 2013.
We find that 47 percent of those who call in as a result of BT are repeat viewers. We’re building a stable TV audience.
The Beyond Today YouTube station is also very successful, with 2.4 million views. Why do we bother with YouTube? It is the most recognizable and used online video hosting service in the world. The vast majority of U.S. Internet users (60 percent) visited at least once per work in March of 2013.
4.6 million unique visitors at UCG.org for the calendar year. We are running advertising dedicated to mobile devices. In 2012 desktop PC search volume declined for the first time. The mobile share of the market reached early 20 percent.
We’re currently 13 or 14 of Christian denominational websites in the U.S. online. It’s a very big deal to get into the top 10.
Following Mr. Eddington’s presentation, the chairman announced that the conference would recess for a 20-minute break.
The meeting was reconvened at 4:00 p.m. Darris McNeely presented a keynote titled “Creating an Environment for Growth.”
Darris McNeely points out that when the congregation in Antioch was in its early stages, it was something very different for the Church. In Jerusalem, which was the center of the Church at that time, a congregation in a gentile city like Antioch was new and different. They weren’t sure what was going on. They decided to send someone to find out what was going on.
They had a choice in who to send, and this choice defined what would happen at that time. They sent Barnabus. He was the right man for the job. Barnabus was an encourager. He didn’t go to Antioch to “put things straight” or to “investigate.” He went to help and to encourage the Christians there to continue to follow Christ.
Barnabus had vision. He could see repentance and conversion in people. He saw the grace of God working in the people of Antioch. He saw an environment and an opportunity for growth. The people in Antioch had a gift for evangelism. They had true riches in God’s ways, and they wanted to share it with the world.
Perhaps Paul had the people of Antioch in mind when he wrote about spiritual gifts in Romans 12 and other places. He experienced the grace and gifts of God working in the people there. No doubt it had an impact on him.
We need to be a church that expects growth. Not just in new converts, but also in spiritual growth among the members we already have.
One thing we must do to see this growth is something Barnabus did in Antioch. He listened. He listened to what was happening and how God was working there. We have to be willing to listen to one another and know one another deeply. We have to remove our own egos and agendas from the equation and truly submit to one another.
Next is having an encouraging attitude. Barnabus was, above all, an encourager. No one knew what to do with Paul after his past. Most people probably wanted nothing to do with him. Barnabus gave him a chance. Barnabus encouraged him to act with strength in the Spirit and serve God powerfully.
Thirdly we must have trust. We have to trust each other. In doing so we trust the Spirit of God within each other. Mr. McNeely mentions that he was looking into what the founding ideas of the United Church of God were 18 years ago. He said that as he revisited some of our material from that time, it was remarkable—we were talking about all of these things. They’re built in to our founding principles.
Chairman Robin Webber then introduced the next group of speakers.
Roy Holladay, Steve Nutzman, and Mark Welch presented on the United Youth Camps program.
Roy Holladay began the presentation by mentioning that many people work and serve to keep the camp program going. The camp directors do the majority of the groundwork for the camps. It’s their enthusiasm and heart that makes it all run well.
He turned the presentation over to Steve Nutzman to describe the success and benefits of the camp program.
We’re in the 19th year of UYC. There were over 300 staff last summer, and just over 500 campers. God has greatly blessed the efforts of the camp program.
Camp is all about relationships. All of the activities are used to build relationships and help the campers grow. They are a means to an end. A lot of the teaching actually takes place during and after activities. There are camp-wide and daily themes that we use to teach campers about God’s way.
“The mission of United Youth Camps is to support parents and the Church in teaching youth to develop their full godly potential (their calling into the Body of Jesus Christ and the work of the Church) while learning that God’s spiritual laws are practical ways of living.”
Mark Welch then gave an overview of our UCG pre-teen camps—which we often don’t concentrate on much.
Robin Webber then announced the ballot results for the 2013 conference:
- Strategic Plan approved 210 to 20.
- Operation Plan approved 211 to 19.
- Budget approved 210 to 16.
- Roc Corbett affirmed to maintain his seat on the Council of Elders 207 to 14.
- Amendment to Constitution 3.1 adopted 218 to 15.
- The Council of Elders Nomination Process ratified 191 to 34.
- Resolution for the GCE to submit an agenda item ratified 201 to 14.
- Resolution for the GCE to submit an agenda item without a meeting ratified 196 to 17.
- The following four men were elected by the General Conference of Elders to serve three-year terms on the Council of Elders:
- John Elliott
- Rainer Salomaa
- Mario Seiglie
- Rex Sexton
Milan Bizic and Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
May 5, 2013
The General Conference of Elders of the United Church of God reconvened at 9 a.m. Sunday, May 5, to the confirmation of the minutes of last year’s GCE. After the ballot was taken for general items and four Council of Elders positions, Scott Ashley presented the first keynote of the day titled “Edifying the Body Through Spiritual Gifts.”
Mr. Ashley focused on the reasons God gives spiritual gifts to His Church. God’s good gifts are to be used to build up and strengthen the Body of Christ, God’s Church (1 Corinthians 14:12). They are never to be used for personal gain, but always to God’s glory.
He encouraged Conference attendees to study through Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, 1 Corinthians 12:28; and Ephesians 4:11. After the first keynote, the Conference was recessed for a break to reconvene at 10:40 a.m.
Following the break, Council chairman Robin Webber once again took the floor. He expressed that the questions “why are we here?” and “where are we headed as a Church?” are important in defining what we’re accomplishing.
He expressed that the attendees of the Conference are called by God to be faithful servants both to God and His people, the Church.
He said that we must remember that the human leaders of the Church are temporary. They come and go. Jesus Christ as our Head and High Priest is eternal and unchanging.
He said that our biblical focus and grounding principles allow us to do some good every day.
Church treasurer Aaron Dean followed with his report on the finances of the Church. He pointed out that we went through some difficult times in terms of finances, but God’s mercy and guidance saw us through it. We are now presenting a balanced budget and back on the way to growth.
After two presentations, one honoring elders and wives for their longtime service, and the other honoring those recently deceased elders and wives, the meeting recessed for lunch at 12:15 p.m.
Milan Bizic—Media and Communications Services
May 4, 2013
The annual General Conference of Elders meeting of the United Church of God began with a Sabbath service on May 4, 2013. This year’s focus is on developing spiritual gifts and providing an environment for spiritual growth in the Church.
Elders and their families from the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia gathered in Cincinnati, Ohio, to worship and fellowship on God’s Sabbath day. The service included split sermons by Bob Berendt, pastor of UCG congregations in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada, and Gary Antion, an elder in Cincinnati and instructor at Ambassador Bible Center.
Mr. Berendt’s sermon focused on the need for the Church to have a strong vision of God’s coming Kingdom. His Kingdom will last forever, and it will span an eternity with no pain, suffering, grief or sin. Mr. Antion spoke about the fact that spiritual gifts flow from God’s Holy Spirit working in the life of a Christian. He stressed that any gift given through God’s Spirit must be used to serve God and other people, and never to serve oneself.
After a several hour recess for fellowship, the conference reconvened Saturday night. The chairman of UCG’s Council of Elders, Robin Webber, introduced the conference and spoke about the theme of spiritual gifts. He then led the entire conference in a question-and-answer session, which covered topics such as UCG’s gospel proclamation efforts, the presidential selection process, and how the Church facilitates parents in raising godly children.
The session ended shortly after 10 p.m. and will reconvene at 9 a.m. Sunday, May 5.
Milan Bizic—Media and Communications Services
April 22, 2013
Prior to his ruling a woman had to be at least 17 to legally get the drug. If his ruling stands, a girl as young as 12 or 13—or her male partner—can buy a pill that will cause her body to spontaneously abort her “problem,” ending that unborn life.
This follows on the heels of a 2012 decision by the New York Department of Education to make morning-after pills available to schoolgirls as young as 14 without parental consent.
Ironically, if that same 14-year-old were to go her school nurse to get an aspirin for a headache, the nurse would have to get parental permission to do so. But courtesy of this education department, children can be given abortion-inducing drugs without their parents ever knowing.
What a horrifying message to send to girls who are little more than children themselves—that destroying an unborn human life is of such little consequence, or none at all.
What does it say about a society when, on the grounds of protecting citizens’ health, a city bans the sale of sweetened drinks larger than 16 ounces (a third larger than the most common size), but it allows, and even pays for, abortion-inducing drugs for its schoolchildren?
In what kind of twisted universe does that make sense?
This is the kind of blind and perverse reasoning we see when a people and their leaders increasingly turn their backs on God. As our Creator, He gave us an instruction manual in the form of His Word, the Bible. But rejecting its revelation for how we should live and what makes for a peaceful, purposeful, well-ordered society, we’ve increasingly decided to create our own rules and ignore the lessons of history—bringing curses on ourselves in the process.
But you don’t have to go that way. You can learn from God’s Word the awesome purpose of human life, and why abortion is so wrong in His sight. You can know why you are here and why you were born, as described in the cover article of the latest issue of the United Church of God’s Good News magazine, arriving in your mailbox shortly.
We hope you’ll carefully read the articles in this issue to learn about the future God has in store for you. Understanding that, you’ll then understand how God views one of the most divisive and controversial issues affecting our society today—that of abortion.
PS—To really understand where the world is headed and why, you need to understand what’s going on from a biblical perspective. Get the real story you won’t read anywhere else. Download or read the May-June issue today!