May 5, PM Session—2013 General Conference of Elders
May 5, 2013
Afternoon Report and Ballot Results
The United Church of God May 5, 2013, general conference afternoon session was brought back into session by chairman Robin Webber. He introduced the international reports.
Derrick Pringle spoke representing the region of southern Africa. His region includes the countries of Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The region serves approximately 350 people. Around 900 people in the region receive The Good News magazine.
Johnnie Lambert represents the area of Eastern Europe, the Baltic region, and Scandinavia. He said that this region presents different types of challenges and opportunities than the other international regions.
Instead of serving congregations of dozens of people, we serve scattered individuals and families. Their faithfulness despite their isolation keeps the Church functioning in this area.
Bill Eddington then gave an upbeat and encouraging report about the work of the United Church of God in Australia and South East Asia.
Mario Seiglie presented an update on Latin America. There are seven ministers and wives who help to serve this large area. Some of the congregations are quite large, with many families and children.
Carmelo Anastasi represents the Italian churches. He says that socially Italy faces several challenges, such as large rates of immigration and high unemployment.
Taxes are very high, and the economy has been hurt by the economic system of the European Union.
Despite these challenges, due to God opening avenues using the Internet to preach the gospel, the Italian work can be more effective at first contact with the public through the Internet.
After the regional reports, operation manager of Ministerial and Member Services (MMS), Victor Kubik, took the floor to report on MMS activities. He began by mentioning that the name “Ministerial and Member Services” was inspired by Bill Eddington, who pointed out that the department serves the entire membership, not just the ministry.
Around the world as of April 26, we have 349 ordained elders. There are 272 in the U.S., and 77 in the rest of the world. We have 81 pastors in the U.S., of which 64 are salaried full time. Twelve are part time. Five are totally volunteer pastors.
One main goal for MMS this past year is to increase the effectiveness of our pastoral care in the congregations. We are finishing our first year of classes in the pastoral training online program. It’s been greatly successful in improving the effectiveness of our local pastoral care and training ministers more fully.
The most recently held regional conference was in the Northwest. There are three additional budgeted for this next year.
Peter Eddington then took the stage to give his operation manager report on the work of Media and Communications Services.
He began by quoting an article from the Minneapolis StarTribune stating that more and more people are watching religious programming on TV.
We have a long-standing and proven approach of utilizing all three main media: TV, print and Internet. We have a two-headed goal of preaching the gospel and preparing a people.
The dedicated Beyond Today Roku channel has been very successful so far. TV is actually growing, mainly because of Internet streaming on devices like the Roku. There will be 145 million people who watch TV this way in 2013. In 2014 these people will surpass 50% of the U.S. Internet user population.
Beyond Today responses are at an all-time high in 2013.
We find that 47 percent of those who call in as a result of BT are repeat viewers. We’re building a stable TV audience.
The Beyond Today YouTube station is also very successful, with 2.4 million views. Why do we bother with YouTube? It is the most recognizable and used online video hosting service in the world. The vast majority of U.S. Internet users (60 percent) visited at least once per work in March of 2013.
4.6 million unique visitors at UCG.org for the calendar year. We are running advertising dedicated to mobile devices. In 2012 desktop PC search volume declined for the first time. The mobile share of the market reached early 20 percent.
We’re currently 13 or 14 of Christian denominational websites in the U.S. online. It’s a very big deal to get into the top 10.
Following Mr. Eddington’s presentation, the chairman announced that the conference would recess for a 20-minute break.
The meeting was reconvened at 4:00 p.m. Darris McNeely presented a keynote titled “Creating an Environment for Growth.”
Darris McNeely points out that when the congregation in Antioch was in its early stages, it was something very different for the Church. In Jerusalem, which was the center of the Church at that time, a congregation in a gentile city like Antioch was new and different. They weren’t sure what was going on. They decided to send someone to find out what was going on.
They had a choice in who to send, and this choice defined what would happen at that time. They sent Barnabus. He was the right man for the job. Barnabus was an encourager. He didn’t go to Antioch to “put things straight” or to “investigate.” He went to help and to encourage the Christians there to continue to follow Christ.
Barnabus had vision. He could see repentance and conversion in people. He saw the grace of God working in the people of Antioch. He saw an environment and an opportunity for growth. The people in Antioch had a gift for evangelism. They had true riches in God’s ways, and they wanted to share it with the world.
Perhaps Paul had the people of Antioch in mind when he wrote about spiritual gifts in Romans 12 and other places. He experienced the grace and gifts of God working in the people there. No doubt it had an impact on him.
We need to be a church that expects growth. Not just in new converts, but also in spiritual growth among the members we already have.
One thing we must do to see this growth is something Barnabus did in Antioch. He listened. He listened to what was happening and how God was working there. We have to be willing to listen to one another and know one another deeply. We have to remove our own egos and agendas from the equation and truly submit to one another.
Next is having an encouraging attitude. Barnabus was, above all, an encourager. No one knew what to do with Paul after his past. Most people probably wanted nothing to do with him. Barnabus gave him a chance. Barnabus encouraged him to act with strength in the Spirit and serve God powerfully.
Thirdly we must have trust. We have to trust each other. In doing so we trust the Spirit of God within each other. Mr. McNeely mentions that he was looking into what the founding ideas of the United Church of God were 18 years ago. He said that as he revisited some of our material from that time, it was remarkable—we were talking about all of these things. They’re built in to our founding principles.
Chairman Robin Webber then introduced the next group of speakers.
Roy Holladay, Steve Nutzman, and Mark Welch presented on the United Youth Camps program.
Roy Holladay began the presentation by mentioning that many people work and serve to keep the camp program going. The camp directors do the majority of the groundwork for the camps. It’s their enthusiasm and heart that makes it all run well.
He turned the presentation over to Steve Nutzman to describe the success and benefits of the camp program.
We’re in the 19th year of UYC. There were over 300 staff last summer, and just over 500 campers. God has greatly blessed the efforts of the camp program.
Camp is all about relationships. All of the activities are used to build relationships and help the campers grow. They are a means to an end. A lot of the teaching actually takes place during and after activities. There are camp-wide and daily themes that we use to teach campers about God’s way.
“The mission of United Youth Camps is to support parents and the Church in teaching youth to develop their full godly potential (their calling into the Body of Jesus Christ and the work of the Church) while learning that God’s spiritual laws are practical ways of living.”
Mark Welch then gave an overview of our UCG pre-teen camps—which we often don’t concentrate on much.
Robin Webber then announced the ballot results for the 2013 conference:
- Strategic Plan approved 210 to 20.
- Operation Plan approved 211 to 19.
- Budget approved 210 to 16.
- Roc Corbett affirmed to maintain his seat on the Council of Elders 207 to 14.
- Amendment to Constitution 3.1 adopted 218 to 15.
- The Council of Elders Nomination Process ratified 191 to 34.
- Resolution for the GCE to submit an agenda item ratified 201 to 14.
- Resolution for the GCE to submit an agenda item without a meeting ratified 196 to 17.
- The following four men were elected by the General Conference of Elders to serve three-year terms on the Council of Elders:
- John Elliott
- Rainer Salomaa
- Mario Seiglie
- Rex Sexton
Milan Bizic and Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services