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Exciting News & Updates from UCGIA

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.

Sincerely,

Melvin Rhodes—Chairman, Council of Elders

March 2, 2012 - Posted by | Council of Elders | , , ,

12 Comments »

  1. Thanks for this speedy report. It is encouraging, and exciting, to read of the accomplishments and new plans happening at the Home Office and around the world. We know the time is short and pray always for the Work of God.

    Comment by Beth Williams | March 2, 2012 | Reply

  2. Thank you so much for the exciting news to include the challenges that lie ahead for our Father’s work and will continue to pray that the Son of man will glorify our Father through the Church – we have been given an AWESOME commission and must TRUST and RELY on our Father and the Son of man – I am reminded what Jesus said when He spoke, saying, “So likewise you, when you shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants, we have done that which was our DUTY to do” (Luke 17:10). May our Father and His Son continue to grant each of you the vision and the creativity to move HIS work along just as He graced Bezaleel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, and filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship (Exodus 31:2-3). While his work was a different work than what we are doing in these times, nontheless, ALL of the aforementioned attributes came as a gift from our Creator and of which He will also give to you. Thank you all so much and continue to keep the vision ahead of you as if you could reach out and touch it. With much love in Christ.

    Comment by dwightstewart62 | March 2, 2012 | Reply

  3. We do need to be praying for more co-workers, donors, and members as God sees fit. Thanks for reminding us. It would be so nice to be able to afford the additions to the Home Office.
    Thank you all for the many hats you wear to keep the work going.

    Comment by Val | March 2, 2012 | Reply

  4. Also let us always be examining ourselves so that we are close to God and his ways and thoughts , so that he may bless us as he sees fit. God can multiply the few loaves and fish by many thousands. Let us be favorable to him in his sight.

    Bill Luesenheide

    Comment by Bill Luesenheide | March 3, 2012 | Reply

  5. It is very interesting to read about what is done in the church.
    What I want to ask very eagerly (because I can’t read anything about that matter):
    * What are you planing to do for the local congregations?
    * How will you prove that the membes in the local congreations “are proper fed”?
    * I miss the right care for our needs; I feel only administered.There is no real “life” in our congregation.
    * What exactly is done to reach out for young people?
    There must be a reason that our members are very old and no young members join us.
    * As one minister once said, “Our services look like as beeing in the 1960’s.
    Manfred Meier, Austria

    Comment by Manfred Meier | March 3, 2012 | Reply

  6. thank you for wonderful reply so quickly I like the wonderful meeting you had

    Comment by pastor Richard | March 3, 2012 | Reply

  7. Thank you all for doing God’s work. I pray for all of you and your families. Sending my love and hugs sandy

    Comment by Sandy Abrell | March 3, 2012 | Reply

  8. Thanks for the update, glad to see you all could work it out. When 2 or 3 are gathering in His name the LORD will listening. We pray thy kingdom come because we want this work to press forward. In God our Father’s will.
    Have a good week to all the ministry, ministry/students & staff @ HO.

    Comment by Ann | March 4, 2012 | Reply

  9. In response to Manfred above:

    Do you have any ideas or suggestions to your own questions? Would love to hear them. Here are some of mine…

    -In the end, a member must be willing to eat in order to be fed. The amount of materials, videos , online courses that UCG is providing are abundant. One must apply personal discipline to “grow in grace and knowledge”. The ministry cannot police people in the end or nag them to eat. Most of our spiritual feeding historically, and in the future comes will com in our own private time.

    -It is again, our personal responsibility to add “life” to our congregation. Come early, leave late, show genuine concern for people, meet as many as you can. Throw yourself into serving in whatever way you can. Pray for others. Be a leader and do this, even if others aren’t. It will catch fire if you are consistent and persistent. It only takes a couple of people to change the tempo of a congregation.

    -The new approach from the home office, with videos and style that are more contemporary definitely appeal to a younger mindset. Here are a couple of examples…

    http://www.ucg.org/ucg-short-film/leadership/drive/
    http://www.ucg.org/ucg-short-film/repentance/snow/

    ABC continues to teach many each year , as well as the best youth camps anywhere. Beyond Today is very happening in production. In the end, the younger generation outside the church is not as religiously inclined as previous generations, and this goes for all religious denominations. The ground is indeed harder here, but in the end it is God that calls. The “graying” of Christianity is happening across America for all groups, a sign of the secularization of our society. Let us work hard to understand the younger generation and reach out to them when they do come to our doors.

    – Ultimately Manfred it is up to YOU! Grow where you are planted in Austria and be the beacon of welcoming light in your congregation that you are seeking to have. Be the sparkplug and energy, and dont rely on it coming from somewhere else. The ministry in UCG is spread pretty thin. We now must step up as brethren to fill the gaps. I will do the same here in California with God’s help!

    Your Friend,
    Bill Luesenheide

    Comment by Bill Luesenheide | March 4, 2012 | Reply

  10. From my view the UCG provides an A+1 “product” publically. However as an entity it’s not as if there aren’t lessons to be learned when fiscal goals can be a problem.

    I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
    Phil 4:12-13

    I’m not saying there should be a lay-de-dah attitude to finances, only to take courage and don’t sell yourself when there seems to be giants facing you.

    Comment by Norbert | March 4, 2012 | Reply

  11. Thank you, Mr. Rhodes and all Council members, for your extra efforts to keep us all informed. You are loved and prayed for daily. A personal desire and prayer is for the excellent 30.5 percent to keep increasing toward a target of 51 percent and more, Lord willing.

    With much love in Christ Jesus,
    Ken 🙂

    Comment by Ken Cooke | March 5, 2012 | Reply

  12. As an ABC student this year, I have been fortunate to sit in on a couple of the Council of Elders meetings (not in executive session). These men are wonderful examples of leaders. I greatly appreciate their dedication and hard work that they do for the United Church of God and the people that they serve!
    Thank you Council, and love you all very much!
    Janet

    Comment by Janet Hines | March 13, 2012 | Reply


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