March 3, 2011
Video reports from the Monday, Februrary 28 through Thursday, March 3, 2011, meetings of the Council of Elders are now available online for you to view at coe.ucg.org/videos. Videos from Thursday’s meetings will probably be posted on Friday. What is currently now available includes:
- President’s Report — Dennis Luker
- Ministerial and Member Services Report — Victor Kukik
- Media and Communications Services Report — Peter Eddington
- Financial Services Report — Aaron Dean
- Council Committee Reports — Various Committee Chairmen
- Our Critical Essence (Branding Presentation) — Brian Shaw
- Beyond Today Magazine Proposal — Darris McNeely
- Planning the 2011 GCE Meeting Agenda — Peter Eddington
- GCE Balloting and Webcasting Discussion — Melvin Rhodes
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services
February 10, 2011
[The following financial update from the Church Treasurer is excerpted from the Ministerial Newsletter of February 10, 2011]
I would like to express my appreciation to our fellow laborers. This year has been difficult to try to predict, as historical numbers provide little value for projections of income and expenses. I am sure most of us feel a bit like Gideon as his numbers were whittled down by God. Spiritually, in faith, you know it will work—but physically and emotionally, you wonder how.
When times are good, it is easy to convince yourself that you have faith in God, when in reality it is often faith in money. When money becomes scarce, you find that your faith is tested and you learn that maybe you didn’t have the faith you thought you did. Scarcity produces faith, just as patience does. I have often asked, If God did things the way I would like, would it even be a work of faith? If I always knew the money was there because of big bank accounts, my faith would perhaps become a buzzword and not a reality.
God saw to it that the United Churchof God has been given a financially strong position to start our rebuilding process. Proverbs tells us the wise look ahead to prepare for the future. Like Gideon, I expect we will do more with less. We have to see this as an opportunity to trust God.
I am encouraged by the reports of many new people asking to come to church services. But since faith without works is dead, we do need to be diligent in cutting our expenses, while not harming our service to members or minimizing our focus on preaching the gospel. God will provide, but we still have to do our part in being stewards with His money. There are many ways to save.
Ideas to Limit Costs
For instance, staying in a member’s home instead of a hotel can provide fellowship while saving money. I know many of us, having raised our children, have spare bedrooms to share. I have thoroughly enjoyed staying with members on church visits. In some cases it wasn’t possible, but those hours in a hotel seem sterile compared to the hours spent with God’s people. I think, perhaps out of necessity, we will have to rebuild our culture to one of sharing instead of always “paying.”
I ask that all ministers do as much as possible to limit costs. I will be looking at expense accounts to see if there are better ways to do things. While we want our ministry to physically visit members, some less-serious counseling and visiting can be done over the phone or perhaps even over the Internet via webcams. This can diminish some of our mileage costs while still providing contact. Our youth and many of our older members are already connected this way, so it may be an effective way to stay closer to more people and eliminate driving time.
For church visits, many meals may be provided by members. If you stay with a family who provides meals for you during the visit, you might consider leaving a few dollars on the pillow to help them with the extra food costs and as appreciation for their hospitality. I would rather reimburse a $10 or $20 gift to a member left on a pillow, than a $40 or $50 restaurant bill. These things can generate savings and help create the culture of Christlike service that we are trying to have permeate the Church. Ministry and members alike have a high calling, and we will work together until Christ returns to give us new assignments.
I would appreciate any suggestions or tips you may have to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Thank you for your service to our brethren, your prayers for God to supply our financial needs and the wisdom to do it all efficiently and effectively. I know you are all working harder than ever. May God revitalize your spiritual, physical and emotional strength.
December 8, 2010
As part of the Council of Elders communication strategy, video recordings of the Monday and Tuesday, December 6 and 7, reports to the Council of Elders will be available on the Council’s Web site at http://coe.ucg.org/videos .
The report from the president is already online for viewing. The remaining reports will be ready very soon, and here is what is currently planned to be made available:
- President Report – Dennis Luker
- Media Operation Report – Peter Eddington
- Ministerial Services Operation Report – Victor Kubik
- Treasurer and Financial Operation Report – Aaron Dean
- Ethics Committee Report – Mario Seiglie
- Roles and Rules Committee Report – William Eddington
- Report on Latin America – Mario Seiglie
They will be uploaded for viewing at http://coe.ucg.org/videos .
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
September 7, 2010
[The following article appears in the September issue of United News and is reproduced here for our "Inside United: Realtime" readers.]
UCG’s new treasurer recounts spiritual and physical miracles from his own life experiences that taught him a strong faith in Jesus Christ as the living Head of the Church.
In Service to God
by Aaron Dean
Many of us likely remember the trying times in 1979, when a receivership was imposed on the Worldwide Church of God by the attorney general of the state of California. What most do not know was that an important transaction was taking place 6,000 miles away on the very days the legal battle started. The Ambassador College Bricket Wood campus had sold, and the proceeds from the sale of the former campus were being transferred to the Church’s bank in the United States.
About $3 million were in danger of falling into the hands of the receiver, who would then control the funds and spend them as he wished. Attorneys retained by the Church tried to stop the transfer and keep the funds out of the receiver’s hands through every legal means possible. To do so, however, would have locked the funds and started a chain of events that would have led to bankruptcy and reorganization. To everyone’s surprise, neither option came to pass. The fund transfer went through.
An Unexpected Blessing
The Church’s bank, instead of holding it for the receiver, deployed a special, seldom-used legal allowance. To both the receiver’s and the Church attorneys’ surprise, the bank used the funds from the sale to pay off and close the Church’s total outstanding lines of credit and current bills of —guess what—about $3 million. Meanwhile, tithes from members and coworkers went to Herbert Armstrong’s office in Tucson, Arizona, where the Church’s work was carried on by paying bills as they were due day by day.
Newspaper headlines did create fear, however. Some Ambassador Auditorium performers, not understanding the different types of receivership, refused to perform unless paid up front in cash. For weeks we carried a briefcase full of cash to pay performers right before they went on stage. Except for these odd situations, the Church managed to function fairly normally.
Looking back, it’s obvious to me that Christ decided that the receiver would not be given that choice.
The outcome? The Church never went bankrupt, which kept the integrity and honor of the Church and God’s name throughout that crisis. The lawyers thought we had lost the battle when the money transferred. But actually God won and protected the Church in His way for His purpose, putting the Church in a stronger financial position than before. This unanticipated act of God prepared the Church for the remarkable growth it had beginning with Mr. Armstrong’s return to Pasadena in 1980 until his death in 1986.
God’s plan is always done, often in a manner that tests all of us. It creates a positive opportunity for us to see ourselves and understand others, to grow in grace and knowledge and become more like God. Likewise, it gives God a chance to sift through those who wish or claim to “decide” God’s will for Him. God directs things in our personal lives as well, using little events to prepare us for future things.
The God I wish to serve as treasurer knows the future and guides things to His glory and purpose often beyond human reason. I’ve never felt qualified for any job in God’s service. In 1974 I was asked to work on the Church’s corporate aircraft. That job required chef skills, but Mr. Armstrong wanted an Ambassador graduate. While a student, I had asked the food service director, a culinary arts graduate, if I could help prepare the many special formal dinners at Ambassador—for food—not in preparation for any job. When the need arose on the G-II jet on the day of my graduation, I was drafted to serve, although cooking ended up being the least of my duties.
Training Following Near Tragedy
As many will remember, Mr. Armstrong suffered a heart attack in 1977. While he recovered over the next few years, I was asked to take accounting and law classes to expand my skills so that I might ultimately be of better service to the Church. I took a few law classes and began pursuing an accounting degree at California State University–Los Angeles (CSULA) with the goal of sitting for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam after graduation.
When Mr. Armstrong returned to Pasadena in 1980, I had taken most of the accounting classes in the program at CSULA. Mr. Armstrong had me withdraw from school to once again help him with his far more important mission—carrying the gospel to world leaders. My work with him as his aide never allowed me to finish the program or take the CPA exam, but the added education did help when he was presented with budgets and wanted to discuss other financial decisions during those years.
With Mr. Armstrong’s death in 1986, new leadership took the Church in a different direction doctrinally and organizationally. Disregarding promises he made to Mr. Armstrong, within months his successor systematically removed me from certain positions and duties for what are now obvious reasons. I was reassigned to be over Ambassador food services and also asked to teach in the business major.
To fulfill accreditation requirements for the college, a number of faculty members needed to upgrade their academic credentials. The accounting discipline already had the necessary advanced degrees for accreditation, so I returned to CSULA, this time to acquire a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Management and Finance. That degree was completed just prior to the consolidation of the college in Big Sandy, Texas, where I taught various business classes until Ambassador’s close.
I didn’t ask for or expect the current assignment as treasurer. It uprooted me from a pleasant life in Texas, an enjoyable job, a wonderful congregation with friends I cherish and away from our comfortable home and first grandchild to be born in January.
I didn’t want to move. But from personal experience I know that God prepares us throughout life for His service, and it sometimes takes us in directions we cannot see.
Where Will God Now Lead?
Only God truly knows the direction He is taking us. We have to have the faith to know that He is leading. Our plans, though often with noble intent, only truly work when they conform with His plans. As I have personally witnessed, when we are not in alignment with God’s will—however well-intentioned—God creates events that override the decisions made and influenced by human reason, sometimes to our frustration, but always for our benefit and according to His will. I have seen that happen time and again.
The president has asked that I review all of our financial operations to see whether improvements can produce additional efficiency and effectiveness in helping him oversee the use of God’s tithes and offerings. I provided a similar service when I was working for Mr. Armstrong.
In fact, all of the funding for the highly successful overseas Ambassador student projects and some support of international youth camps worldwide came by creating new efficiencies from existing funds and programs associated with Mr. Armstrong.
Despite what many thought were limited funds at the time, God provided amazing global growth for The Plain Truth magazine between 1980 and 1986; and by 1986 the Church was spending $27 million annually on television media buys. Having this example and knowing what we now know and have experienced, how much can we do now?
Fulfilling Our Dual Commission
We can maximize the funds that God inspires the members and coworkers to tithe and donate. We still must train ministers and help members; we must preach the gospel. Can we do it in a more cost-effective manner?
We will look at insurance, travel and other overhead costs to free up funds for our dual commission of preaching the gospel and preparing a people. We will use advances in technology to help lower meeting costs.
Most of all, we must do our part in yielding to Christ and having the faith that He will guide us. Having this attitude is far more important than any credentials or human ability. But make no mistake; our Church must operate within history-making, challenging times. Our current budgets are much lower than what was available during Mr. Armstrong’s latter years. But we still serve the same God the Father and Jesus Christ, and we still have the same commission and the same highs and lows in spiritual and physical trials. If we yield our minds and hearts to God, we will complete what God has laid out for us to do.
In these trying times, just as during the receivership, some may see the Church trapped in front of a 21st-century Red Sea. But as He has done in the past and as He will do in the future, God will part the waters and take us through as we follow His Son. We will stand in awe of Him as the impossible becomes reality.
As we approach the Fall Festival season, let us all seek to be aligned with God’s will, for then we as His Church will receive power to achieve that will. UN
August 12, 2010
ABC Prepares to Welcome the Class of 2011 to Cincinnati
As we embark on our twelfth class at Ambassador Bible Center, there is an air of excitement in anticipation of the 27 students arriving at the home office, the location of the Ambassador Bible Center, for the start of the 2010-2011 school year on Monday, August 23.
We are busily preparing for the new students with name tags, name labels on their mail boxes and refurbishing supplies. Faculty members are busily preparing their course outlines and getting their notes in order with additional study to bring out the best in their lectures.
This year we welcome two new instructors. Mr. Darris McNeely, a member of the Council of Elders, presenter on Beyond Today and Pastor of the Indianapolis and Fort Wayne congregations has taught some sections of classes in the past, but will now share Doctrines 1 and 2 with Mr. Randy Stiver. Mr. Stiver is also no stranger to ABC as he has presented lectures in public speaking several times. Mr. Stiver pastors the Columbus and Cambridge, Ohio, congregations. We welcome both of them to the Faculty of ABC.
Another new addition to ABC is the serving of breakfast and lunch to the students each ABC day. Ms. Ina McLemore heads up the Food Services Department under the operation of Financial Services. Mrs. Kathy de Campos has rejoined the ABC administrative staff as administrative assistant and is responsible for much of the physical preparations and upkeep of the ABC areas. We welcome her back!
Over four hundred students have been through ABC and this year will put us beyond four hundred fifty. The average age this year is 22 and several students of this year’s class already hold undergraduate degrees. Two have masters’ degrees.
We solicit your prayers for the students to have a vibrant year of learning the Scriptures and learning how to live by and build solid, godly character.
Gary Antion, ABC Coordinator
August 11, 2010
With the entire Council present and numerous guests in the room, Mr. Rhodes thanked Mr. Lovelady on behalf of the Council for his service to the Church and presented him and his wife, Wendy, with a gift of thanks.
Mr. Lovelady’s term as treasurer ends today, Wednesday August 11, and incoming treasurer and Financial Services operation manager, Aaron Dean, will pick up the reins tomorrow, Thursday, August 12. There will be a period of overlap where Jason will help Aaron transition into the job. The Lovelady’s last day of work with UCGIA will be Friday, September 17.
Aaron and Michelle Dean have already picked out a possible home to rent in the Cincinnati area, and will make their moving plans very shortly. A smooth transition from one treasurer to the next was encouraging to witness.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services.