Chairman Rhodes Gives Council Meeting Report
August 26, 2011
Dear Fellow Ministers,
Most Council of Elders members have now returned home after a very productive, uplifting and unifying three days of Council meetings this week. Our two Australian members on the Council will be returning home in the next few days.
Following Committee meetings all day Monday, we began Council meetings at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning with an agenda that numbered more than 30 items. All three days of meetings were held in the conference room at the home office.
On Tuesday we heard reports from UCG president Dennis Luker, followed by reports from the three operations managers—treasurer Aaron Dean, ministerial and member services operation manager Victor Kubik and media and communication services operations manager Peter Eddington.
These were followed by reports from the chairmen of the various committees of the Council. These men do an outstanding job with their committees. They brought to the table the results of their committees’ work.
All these reports started our week off on a positive footing. Throughout the week we all had a sense of the Church moving forward. Following these reports, we fixed the dates of the December and February Council meetings and, looking even further ahead, of the GCE in May 2013.
Mario Sieglie, chairman of the Ethics Committee, then updated us on a major project the committee has been working on in conjunction with ministerial and member services—the sexual misconduct policy. This paper has taken some time because up until now we have had no formal written policy in the United Church of God. We wanted to make sure that how we handle such situations is solidly based in Scripture as applied to different circumstances. While maintaining a zero-tolerance policy, there is room for repentance, forgiveness and mercy, after sin has been committed. Our new paper reflects these Christian values.
Robin Webber, chairman of the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee, then led us in a discussion of a new cash reserves policy and recommendations from the committee and administration as to the appropriate level of cash reserves to maintain.
At the end of the day we all went to what has become an annual COE-home office picnic, hosted by Floyd and Doris Phelps at their home in the country. A lot of work goes into this gathering and we appreciate the opportunity to fellowship with all those who work at the home office.
On our second day we were in executive session all day. Although we try to limit these sessions, it is necessary to hold them whenever personnel matters are being discussed. Most of our day was spent reviewing ordination recommendations submitted by various pastors and ministerial and member services. We were able to approve 17 ordinations to the ministry of the United Church of God. While 12 of these men live and serve in the United States, one is in the United Kingdom and four reside in the Philippines. Expect to see some new men and their wives when you come to the GCE next year!
In executive session, we were also able to discuss a couple of important legal matters.
Thursday we had another profitable day as we worked our way through most of the remaining items on our agenda.
Darris McNeely, chairman of the Media Committee, updated us on plans to merge World News and Prophecy into The Good News magazine beginning with the January-February 2012 issue. This will enable us to share the news and prophecy content formerly going into WNP with all 330,000+ GN readers. We are all excited about this development. We were also pleased to hear that Darris himself is being transferred to the home office to further strengthen and enhance our media efforts.
Robin Webber then shared with us the far-sighted vision of the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee, which will be discussed in greater detail at our December meeting, when two full days will be devoted to discussion of the 2012-2013 plan which the GCE will vote on next May.
On Thursday afternoon the chairman of the Doctrine Committee, Bob Berendt, updated us on four doctrinal areas that are being examined by the committee at this time—most in response to the receipt of papers from members of the Church. They are: When does human life begin?, What is the proper date of the Passover?, Is human nature inherently good, evil or neutral?, and whether we are required to eat unleavened bread every day during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Bill Eddington, chairman of the Roles and Rules Committee, then covered four different issues that his committee has been discussing: the procedure for obtaining 25% support from the General Conference of Elders to place an item on the agenda for the annual GCE meeting, whether we should appoint a deputy chairman for the Council, the ongoing review of governing documents and whether U.S.-based international senior pastors can sit on the Council as international representatives.
I want to thank the committees for all their hard work and the chairmen for their uplifting presentations. They are all doing an excellent job serving the Church in their respective areas.
We concluded by presenting a plaque to Aaron Dean thanking him for his 13 years of continuous service on the Council. Mr. Dean has left the Council to take the position of treasurer and finance operation manager for the United Church of God.
Our week was a very profitable one. We covered a great deal of territory and, with God’s help, we were able to advance the work of the Church at this time.
Please feel free to share any or all of the contents of this letter with members in your area.
With sincere appreciation and with best wishes for a meaningful Sabbath,
Melvin Rhodes—Chairman, Council of Elders