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.
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 www.ucg.org. 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.
- “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
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