June 30, 2010
New Presentation Formats Coming to Beyond Today Television
An invigorating all-day Beyond Today production meeting took place on Tuesday, June 29, at the home office. During what turned into an encouraging and motivating brainstorming session, members of the production team* discussed ideas for and implementation of a new presentation format for upcoming television programs.
While the current format for our 28½-minute programs concentrate on a topic presented by a single host, future presentations will employ a “magazine style” format, similar to what is used on the CBS “60-minutes” and ABC “20-20” programs. In each new program, the airtime will be divided into three eight-minute segments which will cover different aspects of a particular theme. Each segment will be hosted by a different Beyond Today presenter (Darris McNeely, Steve Myers and Gary Petty).
The new presentation format will include a significant increase in the use of news and feature video footage, interviews with prominent officials and authors, “man-on-the-street” interviews, on-location videotaping and much more. Additionally, the eight-minute segments will be designed so they can “stand-alone,” therefore making them also available and easily viewable for our Beyond Today Web site visitors.
While every new Beyond Today may not incorporate all aspects, plans are to make these changes whenever the topic warrants or allows for it. From time to time our viewers may occasionally see our more traditional format too.
Programs employing the new format will be recorded and produced between now and December 2010 (to be aired between September 2010 and February 2011). These programs include,
Vampires/Halloween, The Day After Christmas, Am I Going to Hell?, Combating Atheism, Will Israel Survive?, Can You Believe Bible Prophecy?, The Moment After You Die, What Did Jesus Look Like? What Is My Horoscope? How to Study the Bible, Effective Relationships, Responding to Suffering, Where Does Your Security Lie? and Fear and Anxiety.
The first newly formatted program, “Will Jesus Return Tomorrow,” was recorded today and will be aired for the first time in September.
Finally, don’t forget that beginning on July 11, Beyond Today will begin airing on superstation WGN America (at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, 7:30 a.m. Central, 6:30 a.m. Mountain and 5:30 a.m. Pacific) every Sunday, reaching a potential audience of 75 million U.S. households. You can find a WGN America channel in your area by entering your zip code at this Web site.
Please pray for our new television initiatives. Your prayerful support, concern and encouragement are very much needed and appreciated.
John LaBissoniere—Beyond Today Time Buying Manager
* Beyond Today production teams members who participated in the meeting included Peter Eddington, Jamie Schreiber, Jeremy Lallier, Darris McNeely, Clint Porter, Rudy Rangel, Tom Disher, Aaron Booth, Steve Myers, Gary Petty and John LaBissoniere.
June 25, 2010
Beyond Today Airing on Superstation WGN America
We are very pleased to announce that Christ has opened a new door for us to proclaim the good news of His Father’s Kingdom! For a number of years the possibility of broadcasting on television coast to coast in the United States was but a dream. Now, it is finally a reality!
Beginning on July 11, the Beyond Today television program will begin airing on superstation WGN America! What adds to this great news is the fact that the program will air at the very good time of 8:30 a.m. (Eastern Time) every Sunday, delivering to a potential audience of 75 million households in 209 TV markets.
Working With Results
Everything we do in Media and Communications Services involves continual monitoring and testing. We are always working to better ourselves in each avenue of our proclamation effort—whether it be in the printed word, in print advertising, on the Web, on radio, or now on television.
After airing Beyond Today for 13 weeks on 5 U.S. broadcast television stations, this exciting new opportunity has become available to us. We are taking advantage of an offer that is far-reaching—providing an immediate boost to our reach, viewership and response to Beyond Today.
As you may have read previously on our Inside United: Realtime blog, the Beyond Today presenters and production staff have been working with different ideas to determine how God’s truth can be most effectively presented. That includes how to best integrate our online media together with traditional television and print media. To that end, our recent experience on our pilot program of five commercial television stations has been invaluable. We will now use this experience and the improvements it helped generate to reach a dramatically expanded audience.
About WGN America
WGN America, which reaches over 190 million people, has made this exclusive Sunday morning airtime offer to the United Church of God. WGN’s signal reaches all 210 Designated Market Areas (DMAs) except for Chicago. We are looking at pricing to possibly add Chicago in as well.
By purchasing a nationwide market, we can reach each DMA for 1/12 the cost of our current method of buying ala-carte TV stations in just 5 DMAs—Boise, Cincinnati, Indianpolis, Peoria and Springfield. By purchasing airtime in this sizable way our costs are 12-times less per station than they would be if we purchased one or two stations at a time.
Buying in large volume is a very good use of our budget in a cost/benefit sense. We are walking through this open door. We have nothing to lose but everything to gain. This will maximize our previously approved 2010-2011 airtime budget and the boldness of such a move will show the seriousness of our desire to powerfully reach this country.
Every TV Market in the U.S.
So, to elaborate further, beginning Sunday July 11, 2010, our 30-minute Beyond Today television program will air on WGN America television, in 209 U.S. media markets. This includes every large and small city in the country except Chicago. Our program will be seen simultaneously at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, 7:30 a.m. Central, 6:30 a.m. Mountain and 5:30 a.m. Pacific.
We have found from past experience in purchasing airtime on radio, that the earlier airtimes are almost always more productive in terms of response than later ones. We think part of the reason is that people are often tuning in for news, religion and entertainment as they are preparing to attend church later in the morning.
Please see the list of Designated Market Areas which shows the areas where our programs will be viewed. WGN’s family-friendly programming can reach almost 200 million people, 24-hours a day, every day.
Enter Your ZIP Code for Stations
If you receive cable or satellite television and have WGN as part of your programming package you will be able to watch Beyond Today every week. You can find stations in your area at www.wgnamerica.com by entering your ZIP code in the box at the top of the right hand column.
We hope you are as excited about this dramatic undertaking as is the media staff at the home office. We truly want to boldly and powerfully reach people with His message of good news! Adding nationwide television to our print, Internet and other proclamation efforts is a good move. We must take full advantage of this new open door.
The responsibility of preparing these television messages carries a sober weight. We ask for your prayers and support that our presenters, production team and everyone involved in all elements of our media outreach will receive an extra measure of God’s Holy Spirit. As you’ve heard preached during your years in God’s Church, “The Church of God moves forward on its knees.” So, please add this new initiative to your daily prayer life.
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services
June 24, 2010
Council of Elders Chooses President
The Council of Elders of the United Church of God, an International Association, chose Dennis Luker, longtime minister currently living in Bothell, Washington, as president at the conclusion of two days of interviews and discussions June 23 and 24.
Mr. Luker was chosen from a list of four finalists that included Gary Antion, Bill Bradford, Roy Holladay and Dennis Luker. This list was narrowed down from a list that initially numbered 39 nominees recommended by UCG elders.
Mr. Luker assumes office immediately. The Council wishes to express its deep appreciation to Mr. Holladay, who as chairman of the Council served as interim president over recent months in accordance with the UCG Constitution and Bylaws. He will assist Mr. Luker in a transition period over the next few weeks.
The Council, as the governing board of the United Church of God, congratulates Mr. Luker and looks forward to working with him in the coming years.
David M. Johnson, Secretary
June 23, 2010
Changes in Latin American Regional Administration
We are very sorry to have to make the following announcement. With the authorization of the Council of Elders, Leon Walker is being replaced in his administrative and pastoral duties associated with the Church’s activities in the Latin American region.
Last week, Mr. Walker was requested to come to the home office for a meeting with the interim president and with the chairman of the Council ethics committee (who is also the Ministerial Services operation manager), to discuss certain e-mail communications between him and the Spanish-speaking ministers he oversees. Mr. Walker chose not to attend and instead left on a three-week trip to Latin America.
On June 20, Mr. Walker was directed to discontinue his trip and return to the home office in Cincinnati to review and respond to this information with the interim president and ethics committee chairman and members of the Council of Elders. The Council had directed me as interim president of the Church and chairman of the Council to seek resolution of these issues in the planned meetings.
On June 21, Mr. Walker replied stating that he refused to travel to the Church’s home office for the purpose of participating in these meetings. He was subsequently relieved of his duties. At this time, Mr. Walker remains an employee of the Church and, given his change in responsibilities, has been directed to return for review of his duties.
A new regional coordinator for the work of the Church in Latin American areas will be named shortly. Mario Seiglie, who served our brethren in Latin America for two decades and who now will shortly begin service on the Council of Elders, will be traveling to the Latin American region to meet with our ministers and members there.
It remains my fervent hope that we can all remember that “God has called us to peace” (1 Corinthians 7:15) and as recorded in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (New International Version).
Your continued prayers for true unity and peace are much appreciated.
Roy Holladay, Interim President and Chairman
June 18, 2010
The letter contains important updates on the Church’s media outreach to preach the gospel, news on the selection of the next United Church of God, an International Association, president, plus more.
Media and Communications Services
June 16, 2010
As mentioned by Scott Ashley two weeks ago, a number of our booklets are being redesigned and updated. Our Internet managing editor, Aaron Booth, reports that three more titles that were printed over the last two months now have their online versions renewed:
Also, these additional titles’ online versions were refreshed earlier in the year:
This is another step in a several-year project to redesign and update the content of our 33 booklets. As we’re updating the booklets, we’re often including new material while adding photos and printing them in color throughout to make them more attractive and appealing to readers.
We’re also printing them on lighter paper, which saves money on postage. We’re actually able to produce more attractive and informative publications at lower cost, which benefits those we are reaching with God’s truth and saves us money at the same time.
Peter Eddington, Media and Communications Services
June 8, 2010
The United Church of God has finished producing its first booklet in the Arabic language. “The Middle East in Bible Prophecy,” has been translated, proofread and uploaded to an Arabic page on our main Web site at www.ucg.org/booklets/AME. In addition, a limited number of printed booklets are being produced for those Arabic readers who would prefer a hard copy. The Web site offers both a PDF version, just like the printed copy, and a HTML version.
This has been an ongoing project for some time. It all began almost two years ago when we received a letter from an Iraqi radio broadcaster living in Bonn, Germany, who was offering to translate our booklet into Arabic. We determined that the offer was genuine and our friend (who wishes to remain anonymous in connection with the booklet) completed the translation in several months.
That was only half the work, though. The completed Arabic translation had to be typeset. After acquiring the necessary software with Arabic fonts, we began the process of importing the text from the Microsoft Word files to the booklet layout.
We had asked our translator to supply us a chapter at a time, with any sidebar articles highlighted, so we could determine where the text was supposed to go. We soon acquired the necessary skill to typeset the booklet in a language we could not even read.
However, the final task was an arduous proofreading session that took many, many days. We used the dedicated services of a long-time friend we worked with in Pasadena, a Lebanese member of the Church of God, Habib Akl, to complete the proofreading and finalize the typeset layout.
The final version includes all of the graphics, sidebars, timelines, charts and maps you’ll see in the English version. Download it for yourself and see. Keep in mind that you have to read it from right to left, and the booklet is bound on the right side, not the left side. Take a look.
Now, the United Church of God has its first publication in one of the world’s major languages: Arabic. We believe this is the very first time the Church of God has produced a full booklet in the Arabic language. It’s a very important step in preaching the gospel in the Middle East—in a language much of that population can understand. This particular booklet contains a number of biblical truths about what is to transpire in this pivotal region. After all, Jesus Christ will return to the Middle East to establish God’s Kingdom at Jerusalem.
Please pray for the success of this aspect of preaching the gospel, as well as all of our efforts wherever, whenever, and however that may be.
Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services
In mid-May we posted an online survey and sent an e-mail to GN readers asking them to participate. The first 600 responses were tabulated and showed a very positive attitude toward the magazine (somewhat to be expected, since this was a voluntary survey).
Following is a summary of the survey feedback:
- 83% said they were satisfied with the Good News magazine; 16% were fairly satisfied; only 1% were not very satisfied or not satisfied at all. Very similar percentages found it helpful or not helpful.
- 60% rated the May-June issue excellent; 27% rated it above average; 12% rated it good and only 1% rated it below average or disappointing.
- 93% of respondents had read the cover article on the Middle East. Even for the least-read article, 40% of respondents said they had read it. Most respondents had read 60 to 80 percent of the articles in the latest issue.
- 48% said they read each issue cover to cover; 36% said they read most articles; 14% said they read some articles and only 2% said they skim the magazine or don’t read it.
- 79% of respondents had requested or downloaded one or more booklets and 77% had visited the Good News Web site in the last six months.
- 77% took the time to write personal comments, which were overwhelmingly positive and appreciative.
- Respondents were 60% male and 40% female.
- Age breakdown of respondents was 1% under 20; 3% 21-30; 10% 31-40; 21% 41-50; 30% 51-60; 23% 61-70; 11% 71-80 and 2% over 80.
- 24% had subscribed less than one year; 24% had subscribed for 1 to 2 years; 16% had subscribed for 2 to 3 years; 28% had subscribed for more than 3 years and 8% read it online only.
The types of articles responders said they were “very interested” in were ranked as follows:
- Bible prophecy — 92%
- Bible history/background — 87%
- Bible doctrine — 81%
- World news analysis — 79%
- Christian living — 74%
- Practical help/guidance — 52%
- Social issues analysis — 52%
- Family issues — 49%
- Marriage — 45%
- Parenting/child-rearing — 33%
- Youth/teenagers — 28%
A few overall conclusions based on the above:
- Readers, at least those who responded to this survey, are quite pleased with the magazine and say it is helpful to them.
- They read a large amount of the content, which indicates that we are giving them the kind of material they want to read.
- Our overall emphasis of explaining world events in light of Bible prophecy and discussing Bible doctrine and teachings is on target and meeting readers’ wants.
- This shows that our media outreach needs to include both print and Web-based efforts, as a large number of subscribers utilize both rather than one or the other.
Scott Ashley—Managing editor, The Good News
June 4, 2010
The Council of Elders held a teleconference on Tuesday, June 1. The main item for discussion was the planned remodel of the home office in Cincinnati.
Visit the Council’s Web site for the full report:
June 4, 2010
[The following update contains excerpts from a June 2 report to the UCG ministry by Victor Kubik.]
In Ministerial Services during this period of transition I’m pleased to say that we have continued to provide the services to the ministry that this department was intended to provide. Upon arriving in Cincinnati, I have appreciated the cordiality of the home office staff and their faithful service.
We have 15 Feast of Tabernacles sites in the United States and Canada where most of our ministers will be attending. Some sites have many ministers from the geographic area assigned, while others have hardly any. Through transfers and by asking a few to help in areas where there is need, we have been able to distribute the manpower more evenly.
This year there is a marked decrease in international transfers of both ministers and members. For example, Italy had only a fourth of the transfers it normally has at this time of year. An exception has been Portugal reaching capacity quickly with members and several ministers transferring there.
We are still polling our local church elders about where they are going. It is our hope that they might be able to fulfill some of our speaking needs in some of the overseas Feast sites.
Serving the brethren
I have been reading our pastor’s monthly church reports with interest. What strikes me is the dedication of our ministry providing live speakers to our many congregations on a weekly basis. Our pastors typically preach twice on the Sabbath, many driving 200 to 300 miles. A “thank you” should also go to our local church elders who regularly give sermons and split sermons and provide tremendous support to a pastor who oversees multiple congregations.
The United Church of God’s strength is its many congregations led by a faithful ministry—who often serve far beyond pastoral duties—as writers, camp directors, Festival coordinators, overseas senior pastors and more.
Developing the ministry
Ministerial development and education is vital for the future leadership of the United Church of God. Richard Pinelli has been overseeing this aspect of Ministerial Services for the past five years. On May 27 Mr. Pinelli made a 2½-hour presentation to Roy Holladay and me showing the various programs, tools and meetings we have to train the ministry. Programs such as “Find, Train and Ordain,” pastoral training for new hires and the popular Leadership Workshop are some of the methods used. Mr. Pinelli’s presentation was particularly interesting, in that it brought together the various ways that future ministers are trained.
Plans are underway to hold our ninth workshop over the Labor Day weekend. We are inviting 14 couples to the annual seminars. We have sought out our most promising leaders. We will again have a 28-hour set of topics covering the purpose of these seminars, the importance of sound doctrine and teaching as we have been taught, and developing the heart of a humble leader.
In the history of the Leadership Workshop, 130 couples have participated. Of that number 50 have been ordained. There have been 25 hired—20 in the United States and five internationally.
Our beloved brother in the ministry, Harold Rhodes, has been hospitalized since Feb. 1—four months now. He has had a dangerous bacterial infection that has incapacitated him. This has been a great trial for both Mr. Rhodes and his wife, Loree. Since May 4 he has been in hospital in Pensacola, Florida, where he is receiving special rehabilitative care. He is making slow progress and is committed to recover fully. Doctors are pleased with his progress. He has now been able to sit up in a chair. Mr. and Mrs. Rhodes want to let you know that they deeply appreciate your prayers for them.
Richard and Mary Pinelli visited the Mobile/Geneva/Pensacola area for Pentecost and were able to spend some good time with the Rhodes. I plan to visit the Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida, congregations on June 12 and spend time with them as well. Then I plan to visit Leroy Neff in Big Sandy, Texas. His wife, Maxine, died on April 23. They had been married almost 68 years.
I did want to note that it is indeed a blessing and a pleasure to know that while some of our pastors have retired fairly recently, they are still available and willing to serve when needed. Bev and I personally experienced one such case this past Pentecost weekend when we invited Vernon and DeeLee Hargrove to join combined weekend services for a number of congregations in McCormick Creek State Park in central Indiana.
In addition to the traditional “Concert for God” performance on Saturday evening and outstanding special music, the assembled members were treated to two superb sermons by Vernon Hargrove, including an excellent presentation on how the ancient elements of the Temple can serve as symbolic means to help us draw closer to God. The Hargroves, although retired from the full-time ministry and now living in Ohio, were able to fellowship and become reacquainted with long-time friends and families whom they had pastored in Indianapolis and elsewhere in the 1970s and 1980s.
Let’s remember to pray for the people that God has called, that He will protect them from all that we see happening—tornadoes, floods, oil spills, political unrest, volcanoes and who knows what other catastrophes are out there.
May God bless us all.
In Christ’s service,
Victor Kubik—Interim Operation Manager, Ministerial Services