Inside United: Realtime

Exciting News & Updates from UCGIA

ABC Graduates 12th Class

May 31, 2011

Sunday, May 22, marked the conclusion of the 12th year of Ambassador Bible Center, sponsored by the United Church of God. Many of the 24 graduates are now on their way home or packing to depart from Cincinnati. And what a year it has been!

2010-2011 ABC Class on graduation day.

The Friday beforehand was set aside for the ABC Chorale to record its program for the students to have as a memento. Friday afternoon was rehearsal for graduation! Sabbath was the day for the Baccalaureate Sermon by Mr. Myers. He was preceded by the Chorale doing its final full performance of the year during sermonette time in Cincinnati East PM. Mr. Myers followed with a sermon on salt. He encouraged the students to be such as could be “shaken” as he brought several examples of how salt was used and how we need to have those same characteristics or qualities.

Saturday evening saw a flurry of activities at the home office as Terri Eddington and Lisa Fenchel prepared the decorations for the refreshments on Graduation Day. Jorge and Kathy de Campos worked tirelessly with the aid of several alumni to prepare and decorate the hall with beautiful floral pieces.

Sunday was graduation day. Around 180 family members, friends, home office staff, instructors and the Class of 2011 gathered for the 1 p.m. exercises. Peter Eddington played “Pomp and Circumstance” through the sound system as Eileen Sharkey, the Ambassador Excellence award recipient for 2008, led the students in as monitor for the graduation. Gary Antion welcomed the audience as the music died down and reminded all that “good young people come from good parents.” Randy Stiver delivered the invocation followed by the student address by class president Brett Diggins. The chorale sang their final two numbers and the students gave a surprise bouquet of flowers to Mrs. Darlene Shoemaker, the wife of chorale director Ken Shoemaker.

President Luker brought the commencement address, and he urged the students to remember three important Scriptures that will help them through the triumphs and challenges of life: Proverbs 3:5-6; Romans 8:28; and Philippians 4:13. He expounded each and reminded the students to keep their content handy as they experience the ups and downs of life.

Four honor awards were given. Amber Duran and Brent Martin received the Ambassador Excellence awards presented by Mr. Luker. Aaron Dean represented the Council of Elders and gave the COE Service Award to Sabrina Clore and Michael Roberts for their outstanding service.

Brent Martin and Amber Duran received the Ambassador Excellence awards. Pictured with Dennis Luker, president.

The conferring of diplomas was next in the program. Mr. Steve Myers, Academic Dean, recommended the Class of 2011 for the Biblical Studies diploma and Mr. Luker conferred it upon them. The students individually received their encased diplomas and walked across the stage as their names were called. After the last student’s name was called, the audience gave all the students a huge round of applause.

Frank McCrady, one of the instructors, delivered the benediction and blessing on the refreshments and then it was time to celebrate. Beautiful and delicious cakes with punch were awaiting us along and the hugs and well-wishes to the class members.

Council of Elders Service Award given to Michael Roberts and Sabrina Clore. Pictured with Aaron Dean, treasurer.

We were very appreciative of all the assistance given by so many to help make this event such a wonderful success for the Class of 2011.

As I write this, I am a bit sad that the students will not be around anymore, having grown to appreciate and love them for nine months. But, I have a sense of satisfaction in knowing they will be leaving with a better understanding of the words of life from the Holy Bible and the encouragement to continue to “Build Godly Character” throughout their lives.

Godspeed to the Class of 2011 and may God’s blessings follow in your lives.

Gary Antion—ABC Coordinator

Gary and Barbara Antion

May 31, 2011 Posted by | Ambassador Bible Center, Home Office, Ministerial Services | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Relief for U.S. Tornado Victims

May 31, 2011

[The following memo was sent to the ministry on May 26 by Victor Kubik, operation manager for Ministerial and Member Services.]

We are greatly concerned about all the destruction and loss of life from the current tornadoes. More than double the average of tornadoes this spring have brought severe damage and loss of life to many people living in Missouri, Alabama and Oklahoma over the past few weeks.

Boone County Fire Protection District in Joplin. 23 May, 2011. KOMU news.

We are grateful to learn that no United Church of God members have suffered any physical losses or injuries from the EF-5 ranked tornado that hit Missouri this week, and are praying for the members in the related Church of God groups who did suffer the loss of their home or other damage.

Weather experts note that the unusually high number of tornadoes in the American Midwest has been caused by a very active jet stream, coupled with summer-like warmth, moisture and instability. These same experts expect these unusual weather conditions to continue into the month of June, so your continued prayers for protection and safety would be much appreciated.

Due to the many victims in the recent US natural disasters, including some members in the greater Churches of God, some have asked if they could donate to help victims. The United Church of God Good Works program will be providing help to those in need. If you wish to contribute to this cause, you may do so. Just write “Good Works, US Fund” in the memo section of your check or in a letter, and we will restrict it to that use.

We thank God that very few UCG members have so far been affected, but do wish to reach out to help others. The fund will be for all the recent tornado and flood victims and will be ongoing for future disasters.

Victor Kubik

May 31, 2011 Posted by | Home Office, Ministerial Services | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Beyond Today Renews WGN Contract

May 24, 2011

Beyond Today on WGN America Continues Excellent Performance

Our Beyond Today program “The Coming King of the South,” hosted by Darris McNeely, aired on WGN America on Sunday, May 15, 2011. This program registered an outstanding 1,241 responses at $9.67 cost per response (CPR). These results place this airing at fifth highest in terms of response.

Beyond Today has now aired for 46 weeks on WGN America. Of the current top ten programs, eight have aired just since March 6, 2011. This indicates Beyond Today is regularly reaching new audience members. Below are the top ten airings on WGN America as of May 24, 2011.

Beyond Today on WGN – Top Ten Airings as of May 24, 2011


Aired During




Week of



Will I Go to Hell? (repeat)

Mar 27-Apr 2, 2011



Egypt in Bible Prophecy

Apr 3-9, 2011



Easter Exposed

Apr 17-23, 2011



Get to Know Your Bible

Mar 6-12, 2011



The Coming King of the South

May 15-21, 2011



The Moment After You Die

Jan 9-15, 2011



Easter Exposed

Mar 13-19, 2011



The Man Nobody Knows (repeat)

Apr 10-16, 2011



The Rapture: Fact or Fiction? (repeat)

Nov 21-27, 2010



Europe on the Threshold

Apr 24-30, 2011



WGN America Contract Renewed

We recently completed negotiations to extent our contract to air Beyond Today on WGN America for an additional two years beginning July 10, 2011. Additionally, we are currently researching television stations and networks to reach media markets in the Pacific Time zone and in Chicago at a reasonable airtime. Your prayers for God’s blessings in this important effort would be greatly appreciated. We fully depend on God’s guidance for all we do and honor Him for every success achieved.

Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services

May 24, 2011 Posted by | Beyond Today, Media and Communications | , , , , | 2 Comments

Wednesday Night Bible Study to be Webcast

May 24, 2011

The Cincinnati East, Ohio, congregation of the United Church of God is holding it’s tenth Bible study on the book of Acts this Wednesday evening. It begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT and is available live via webcast.

We are now more than halfway through the book of Acts. Presenters will be Gary Antion and Randy Stiver.

You can view archived copies of the first nine studies by Gary Antion, Peter Eddington, Steve Myers and Randy Stiver. Simply scroll down to the bottom of the webcast page to listen to the earlier presentations.

Please plan to learn with us online with hundreds of brethren from around the world. The book of Acts is a fascinating study into the early years of the Church of God.

Gary Antion—United Church of God, Cincinnati East pastor

May 24, 2011 Posted by | Ambassador Bible Center, Home Office, Ministerial Services | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monday General Conference of Elders Report

May 16, 2011

GCE Report: Monday

Melvin Rhodes, GCE chairman, began the Monday, May 16, General Conference of Elders meeting with additional information about ballot results from May 15. This was followed by two plenary sessions before the ministry and wives chose from various workshops and breakouts.

The first presentation was by Victor Kubik, operation manager for Ministerial and Member Services. He titled it: “Biblical Eldership: The Foundation of Church Leadership.”

Mr. Kubik explained that the apostle Peter exhorts elders to be shepherds to the flock (1 Peter 5:2). If we want to understand the work of an elder, we must understand the biblical imagery of shepherding. As keepers of sheep, biblical elders are to 1) protect, 2) feed, 3) lead, and 4) help meet the flock’s many practical needs.

Using these pastoral categories, he considered the examples, exhortations and teachings of the Bible about serving as Christ serves—elders who are shepherds.

Tom Disher

Next, Aaron Booth and Tom Disher, Internet editors at the home office, gave a very visual presentation about the launch of UCG’s new website. It was titled: “Launch of UCG’s New Web and How You Can Promote the Gospel.”

It was an active, exciting presentation highlighting the launch of the new United Church of God website at The site was explained and shown on stage. It is a vital tool in our effort to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God online.

Our new website is a totally new experience for our users. The site is organized by topic and subject, and will be customizable by the viewer depending on his or her preferences. Also, it has social networking options and features.

How can the ministry and church membership get involved in this personal aspect of preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom? We saw firsthand United’s latest, technology-driven arm of doing the Work.

Workshops and Breakout Sessions

After a short break, workshops were held throughout the rest of the day, followed by an important wrap up by the chairman. Here is a summary of the day’s workshops and breakout sessions.

  • “Serving as Christ Serves—A Perspective for Women” with LeeAnn Luker

This was an important workshop for our ladies with an in-depth discussion. How do we incorporate the theme of this year’s conference as we support our husbands in their ministry and service for the brethren?

  • “How to Officiate at Church Ceremonies” by Gary Antion

This workshop took the time to address the practical application of our various Church ceremonies. It provided instruction to those interested, and to those who desired the additional training, on how to give baptismal counseling, how to perform a funeral, how to perform a wedding, and how to anoint the sick.

  • “Biblical Eldership: Hands-on, Practical Application” by Victor Kubik

As keepers of Christ’s sheep, input was given in this workshop on how we can apply the principles of shepherding to 1) protect, 2) feed, 3) lead, and 4) help meet the flock’s many practical needs.

  • “Opportunities and Challenges  for Non-career and Bi-vocational Elders” presented by Greg Thomas and Roc Corbett

Attendees heard practical advice and gave their feedback on how to best manage the dual roles of ministry and career in their responsibilities as a non-salaried elder or a part-time UCG pastor.

Tom Disher

  • “Using the Web and Social Networking to Promote the Gospel” by Aaron Booth and Tom Disher

Hear is what was covered: How can Twitter, Facebook and other social networking tools be used to advance the gospel message? How can the membership get involved in this personal aspect of preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom? How can our own website be leveraged by the brethren to do this? This was an important workshop with practical help for pastors to take back to their congregations.

  • “Your Personal Computer, Microsoft Office 2010 and the UCG Ministerial Web Site” by Richard Kennebeck and Paul Wasilkoff

The I.T. staff at the home office showed how to leverage the most from your personal computer and use it as a tool to serve your pastoral needs and the members of your congregation. They learned about the new Microsoft Office 2010. They were shown how to use the online ministerial tools in the ministerial section of our website to make the most of their day. They received tips on how to be more productive while on the Internet.

  • “Generational Dynamics” by Craig Clark and Jon Garnant

Here is a summary of what was covered. We are all, to some extent, products of the times in which we live. As there are differences in the way we think, act and understand things based on our gender, ethnicity, and heritage, there are also differences based on what generation we belong to. For the past 60 years there has been a tremendous focus on the Baby Boomers. Beginning in 2011 the first “Boomers” have turned 65 and, once again, this has received a lot of focus. However, there are currently five distinct generations attending services with us each week. Attendees at this seminar received important, practical advice on working with other generations that God is calling.

The Path Forward

Dennis Luker, president

After the breakout sessions, the ministry and their wives reconvened in the main ballroom to hear from Dennis Luker, UCGIA president, for an important reminder. He asked everyone to turn to Romans 16 and thanked all of the women present for being valuable servants of Jesus Christ for many years. The ladies received a standing ovation from the men.

Melvin Rhodes, UCGIA chairman, then concluded with his thoughts on, “What We Accomplished at the GCE, 2011.” He said that we as a Church have an opportunity to show the love of God in all that we do. We always have much to learn in this regard. May we move forward in unity, with a spirit of Christ-like service. May we serve as Christ serves.

Finally, to close this year’s general conference, Dan Salcedo, an elder from Southern California, led everyone in a closing hymn: “Thank You Lord.” The closing prayer was offered to God the Father by long-time pastor, Vernon Hargrove.

Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Council of Elders, General Conference of Elders | , , | 12 Comments

Additional Council Nomination Results

May 16, 2011

Melvin Rhodes, GCE chairman, began the Monday, May 16, General Conference of Elders meeting with additional information about ballot results from May 15. Here is what he explained:


“The passage of amendments to Bylaws 9.1 and 9.2 by the General Conference on Sunday, May 15, 2011, created some unusual circumstances that the Council of Elders addressed at a meeting held at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, May 16, 2011.

“Passage of the amendments resulted in the Council membership of Aaron Dean and Victor Kubik terminating at midnight on Sunday, May 15, 2011. As members of the management team, they were no longer eligible to serve beyond that time and their positions were declared vacant.

“John Elliott will fill the vacancy created by the termination of Victor Kubik, with his term of office expiring on June 30, 2013. This is in accord with the provisions of Bylaw 8.4.3 which states: “Vacancies on the Council shall be filled from the list of runners-up in the final ballot at the preceding meeting of the General Conference, based on the number of ballots the nominee received.”

“John Elliott was the first runner-up.

“In the ballot conducted on May 15, 2011, Donald Ward was elected to fill the seat vacated by Aaron Dean effective July 1, 2011. However, the amendment to Articles 9.1 and 9.2 created a vacancy in that position for the period from May 16 until Donald Ward assumes the position. In accordance with the provisions of Bylaw 8.4.3 as stated above, Roc Corbett will fill the vacancy left by Aaron Dean with his term of office ending on June 30, 2011.

“Roc Corbett was next runner-up.

“A similar situation to that of Aaron Dean occurred with the position of the International Representative on the Council of Elders. At the ballot for this position conducted on May 15, 2011, the General Conference of Elders elected William (Bill) Bradford (Senior) for a term of office commencing on July 1, 2011 and ending on June 30, 2014.

“The position Bill Bradford was elected to fill was already vacant as no eligible runner-up was available when the vacancy occurred in December 2010, and the Council of Elders had decided to leave the position vacant until the next Council election. When the result of the 2011 election was declared, an eligible runner-up became available to fill this vacancy.

“When the eligible runner-up declined the position, and after reviewing the options available to it under Bylaw 8.4.3, as amended by the General Conference on May 15, 2011, the Council of Elders appointed Bill Bradford to fill the vacancy until his elected term of office commences on July 1, 2011. This action is in accord with Bylaw 8.4.3 as amended.”

So, based on what was announced yesterday, and the above update, the Council of Elders as of today is comprised of:

  • Gary Antion
  • Scott Ashley
  • Bob Berendt
  • Bill Bradford
  • Roc Corbett
  • Bill Eddington
  • John Elliott
  • Roy Holladay
  • Darris McNeely
  • Melvin Rhodes (chairman)
  • Mario Seiglie
  • Robin Webber

On July 1, 2011, Donald Ward will take Roc Corbett’s seat.

Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Council of Elders, General Conference of Elders | , , , | 8 Comments

GCE Report: Sunday Afternoon

May 15, 2011

Sunday PM Session: General Conference of Elders

After the opening prayer by Leonard Martin, the General Conference of Elders chairman, Melvin Rhodes, called the afternoon session to order.

Oludare Akinbo

Several very interesting items were on the agenda for this portion of the weekend. To begin, Mr. Rhodes led a combined international report that also included Oludare Akinbo from Lagos, Nigeria, and David Schreiber (who just returned from India and Sri Lanka). A question and answer session will be held later this evening, with elders able to ask the presenters questions about our successes in serving the brethren in these areas.

In Mr. Akinbo’s area, the brethren from several neighboring countries are now being served in a rather miraculous way, like never before. God appears to be blessing our efforts greatly in West Africa.

David Schreiber

Mr. Schreiber, who had spent a lot of time using Skype and e-mail to communicate with the brethren in India and Sri Lanka from his home in the U.S.A., realized he needed to make a visit to their region to give the brethren the ministerial guidance and instruction in God’s word that they were craving. For the assembled GCE audience, Mr. Schreiber then showed a two-minute video clip that showed highlights of his trip to India.

Victor Kubik, operation manager for Ministerial and Member Services, followed up with a lecture that focused mostly on looking forward in our service to the brethren of the United Church of God. He showed how a concerted and very successful effort has been made to provide congregations, pastors and elders for God’s people across the United States and around the world. While the budget is less, the priorities are the same.

Peter Eddington, operation manager for Media and Communications Services, gave a visual presentation, accompanied by slides and video, that covered our new website, an update about Beyond Today, and additional information about our Kingdom of God Bible Seminars.

Mr. Eddington added that our Media and Communications Services budget for 2011-2012, that we balloted on earlier today, is the same as it was for this fiscal year. We have not cut back on our priority to preach the gospel, for which we are very thankful to God the Father, Jesus Christ, our president and our treasurer. Necessary cuts were made elsewhere in order to give our proclamation efforts the best “shot in the arm” possible for at least the next 12 months.

Bill Bradford

After a 20-minute break, the ministry returned to hear two additional presentations. The first was by Bill Bradford, pastor in Brisbane, Australia, and the second was by Brian Shaw, a UCG pastor in Minnesota with considerable media experience, about our critical essence.

Mr. Bradford noted that the founding principles of the Church have been under assault in the past few years. The concepts of his presentation covered several needful things: 1) restoring confidence in Christ’s vision of the Church, 2) restoring confidence in our organization of the Church, including the principles of our structure, 3) addressing our failure to follow some foundational principles, and 4) creating a path for all to follow that will strengthen our purpose, our mission and our existence as a Church.

Mr. Shaw began his presentation by stating that the work of the Church of God has many media options for the preaching of the Gospel today, but these options bring with them much competing clutter that can veil our efforts. The United Church of God is also blessed with many contributors whose collaborative efforts provide our print and electronic media a diverse and wide perspective, but we are not always identified as one, recognizable voice, with a consistent, familiar persona.

Brian Shaw

He continued, cutting through the media clutter in a way that clearly distinguishes who we are and what we do as the very Church of God, grows to be more and more challenging every day. Our goal is to present the very essence of whom we are as God’s people in preaching the Gospel of His Kingdom as clearly as possible.

A question-and-answer session with the Council of Elders and the administration was announced to be held after dinner at 8 p.m. But first, the ballot results were announced by the GCE chairman, Melvin Rhodes, as follows:

  • The 2011-2012 Strategic Plan was approved 226 yes to 8 no.
  • The 2011-2012 Operation Plan was approved 226 yes to 7 no.
  • The 2011-2012 Budget was approved 225 yes to 9 no.
  • Roy Holladay was ratified to retain his seat on the Council of Elders 205 yes to 28 no.
  • An amendment to Bylaws section 8.4.3 was adopted 205 yes to 28 no.
  • An amendment to Bylaws section 9.1 and 9.2 was adopted 201 yes to 29 no.
  • International nominee appointed to the Council of Elders was Bill Bradford.
  • U.S. nominees appointed or returned to the Council of Elders were Darris McNeely, Don Ward and Robin Webber.
  • The vacant council seat was filled by Gary Antion.

The day concluded with prayer by Braden Veller at 5:30 p.m.

Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services

May 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Report: 2011 General Conference of Elders

May 15, 2011

Sunday AM Session

Melvin Rhodes, GCE Chairman

The 2011 general conference of elders of the United Church of God, an International Association (UCGIA), began at 9 a.m. on Sunday  morning, May 15. As in recent years, this year’s conference is being held at the Holiday Inn Eastgate in Cincinnati, Ohio.

After the opening prayer by Steve Nutzman, General conference chairman, Melvin Rhodes, began by seeking approval of the 2010 meeting minutes. The minutes were approved as written.

Next, Mr. Rhodes introduced the new elders and wives ordained or credentialed in the past 12 months. This included 15 couples, and their biographies and photographs were projected onto the large video screen as each elder was introduced. About half of them were in attendance today.

Mario Seiglie

Mr. Rhodes then asked the ministry to fill out their ballots for selection of new and/or returning members to the Council of Elders. This was followed by filling in their ballots, to either approve or not approve, the submitted Strategic Plan, Operation Plan, Budget and two amendments to our governing documents. Results will be available later today.

The keynote speech was then delivered by Mario Seiglie, pastor in Garden Grove, California, who is also a member of the Council of Elders. “Serving as Christ Serves” is the theme of this year’s conference, and Mr. Seiglie delivered a 45-minute address examining the role of being a servant of God and a servant to God’s people. The ministry is not a lofty position or a lofty title. We are servants, even the most lowly of servants.

Dennis Luker, UCGIA President

After a short break, the conference continued with reports and presentations by the UCGIA president, chairman and treasurer:

  • Chairman Rhodes expounded upon the need to have genuine love in our service to God’s people: “Am I serving the people, or am I serving myself?”
  • Dennis Luker, president, expressed his thankfulness for the spirit of teamwork between the ministry, home office administration and Council of Elders: “How can we ensure that this unity and spirit of consensus continues?” He then looked at several biblical principles that help us ensure that division and conflict are avoided.

    Aaron Dean, Treasurer

  • Aaron Dean, UCGIA treasurer, then provided a financial report and update to the ministry. He spoke less about numbers and statistics, but more about faith in God in creating a budget that will help fulfill our commission to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God and care for His brethren.

Gary Antion

The morning session concluded with a heartfelt presentation by Gary Antion to honor our deceased elders and wives. Since this time last year, we have five servants of God who are now awaiting their resurrection to eternal life.

Donald Ward then led a prayer before the lunch break to close the morning portion of this year’s conference.

Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services

May 15, 2011 Posted by | General Conference of Elders | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Great Response to Largest Subscriber Development Mailing

May 12, 2011

In late March 2011, 349,871 current and former Good News magazine subscribers were sent a special letter from United Church of God president, Dennis Luker. Primarily designed to increase awareness of Beyond Today on WGN America, this correspondence also offered readers our booklet, How to Understand the Bible. Included with each letter was a Beyond Today-WGN America promotional insert, a booklet response card and a reply envelope.

We are pleased to report that so far, 22,671 reply cards were received at the home office which equals a very good 6.48 percent response rate. Thank you for your prayers for God’s blessings on what was the largest Beyond Today promotional effort and subscriber development offer in United Church of God history. We expect additional responses to arrive at the home office for many weeks to come.

As audience and response to Beyond Today on WGN America continues to increase, we desire to further generate awareness and interest in our programs with the general public. This is also true with those who know us best, our Good News readers.

John LaBissoniere—Print Advertising Manager, Media and Communications Services

May 12, 2011 Posted by | Beyond Today, Good News Magazine, Media and Communications | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Webcast Reminder: Wednesday Night Bible Study

May 10, 2011

The Cincinnati East, Ohio, congregation of the United Church of God is holding it’s ninth Bible study on the book of Acts Wednesday evening. It begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT and is available live via webcast.

Acts chapter 13 and 14  will be the topic of discussion. Presenters will be Gary Antion and Randy Stiver.

You can view archived copies of the first eight studies by Gary Antion, Peter Eddington, Steve Myers and Randy Stiver. Simply scroll down to the bottom of the webcast page to listen to the first four presentations.

Please plan to learn with us online with hundreds of brethren from around the world at this Bible study. The book of Acts is a fascinating study into the early years of the Church of God.

Gary Antion—United Church of God, Cincinnati East pastor

May 10, 2011 Posted by | Ambassador Bible Center, Ministerial Services | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment