Chairman’s Letter: Report on Council of Elders Meetings
[The following letter was sent to the United Church of God ministry on March 2.]
March 2, 2012
Dear Fellow Ministers,
The Work that God wants us to do is moving forward! Four days of Council of Elders meetings have just ended.
For the first time in recent memory we managed to cover all the items on our agenda. This is testimony to the incredible spirit of unity and cooperation that exists on the Council of Elders at this time. This does not mean there was no discussion before decisions were made. There are 12 men on the Council and they have 12 different opinions, but we all share the same goals. Our purpose is constant—to preach the gospel and to prepare a people.
We began as usual with reports from the Administration—from the president, Dennis Luker; from the operation manager of Ministerial and Member Services, Victor Kubik; from Media and Communications Services operation manager, Peter Eddington; and from our treasurer, Aaron Dean.
After the regular reports, Darris McNeely, chairman of the Media Committee, outlined a new document establishing Media Guiding Principles, replacing the old Media Philosophy Statement. We then moved on to discussion of our vision and the Strategic Plan and Operation Plan.
After a great deal of discussion we were able to agree on the Strategic and Operation Plans that will be presented to the General Conference of Elders (GCE) in May.
We spent considerable time on the proposed Budget for the coming fiscal year—2012-2013.
We were thankful to note that God has continued to help us through a calendar year of financial challenges. In serving our many congregations around the world we had to step out on faith, asking God to provide. And He always did and continues to do so.
Our new budget for the coming fiscal year includes a “faith line” like last year. When it is presented, you will see that 30.5 percent of our income is now devoted to preaching the gospel. In spite of suffering a loss in income just over a year ago, we have been able to do more—going through doors as God has opened them. We do not want to let up on these efforts. While our current income will not supply all our needs, we are asking God to call new people into the Church to help finance further efforts.
The Father calls people (John 6:44). We preach the gospel as Jesus Christ told His disciples to do (Matthew 24:14; 28:19). We preach the gospel through our varied media efforts including our website with over 300,000 unique visitors per month; our flagship magazine The Good News; Vertical Thought for our young people; the Bible Study Course for in-depth biblical teaching; and our dozens of booklets and other literature. All our beliefs are clearly answered in our literature, which is freely available to everybody who wants it anywhere in the world.
All of this costs money. With more money, we can do more. Please pray that God will add more people to His Church—people who can help contribute to our efforts.
In order to devote more to our increased media efforts, our home office expansion proposal is “on hold” until our finances enable us to expand without borrowing. It is hoped that we will soon be able to expand the video studio—without which we are limited in what we can accomplish in keeping up with advanced technology like Internet television and an even more professional program. We would like to expand our production of short topical videos for our website that deal with the latest news and items of interest. Our goal is to make the United Church of God, an International Association, website the first Christian website people will turn to for biblical answers and a deeper explanation of what’s going on around the world. We have a long way to go, but are confident that this is the direction in which God is leading us.
Several of the Council sessions were recorded, including the home office expansion proposal, and you can view them online at coe.ucg.org/videos. In addition, full reports from the Council reporter, Randy Stiver, should be available next week.
At the home office we have a group of very talented young people who are tech-savvy and full of ideas—together with enthusiasm for preaching the gospel.
In other Council business, for some time the Ethics Committee has been working on a revised Ministerial Code of Ethics, which will reflect concerns that became apparent in recent months. It took a while to go through the new code with Mario Seiglie, the chairman of the Ethics Committee, who has been guiding this process. The new Ministerial Code of Ethics is attached for our ministry. Ministerial and Member Services will be following up on this with you.
In our Executive Session, we were pleased to approve the ordinations of four men. Three are in the United States and one in West Africa. Please continue to pray for our ministry as they serve you and as they serve God. It is a challenging job, especially with the many and varied responsibilities that our ministry have.
Our meetings ended mid-afternoon on Thursday, enabling most Council members to get home before the Sabbath so that they can speak in their own church areas. The two Australians won’t be back until early next week. They are Bill Eddington (Melbourne) and Bill Bradford (Brisbane). Please remember them and their wives, Rae and Jenny, in your prayers—long flights are grueling and take their toll on the body.
Please pray for us as we constantly do for all of you.
Melvin Rhodes—Chairman, Council of Elders