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GCE 2015 Live Blog

May 3, 2015

Follow the UCGIA rolling blog that’s reporting on the annual meeting of the General Conference of Elders being held in Cincinnati, Ohio, May 2-4. The blog is being updated regularly at http://www.ucg.org/gce-2015-live-blog. Check towards the end of the Web page to see what has been added each hour.

Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services

GCE 2015 Live Blog

At 9:02 a.m. Eastern, Council of Elders chairman Robin Webber called the 20th meeting of the General Conference of Elders to session. After a few introductory welcome comments, He called upon Phil Aust, an elder from Georgia, to open the session in prayer.

The 2014 meeting minutes were approved. The first item on the agenda was a presentation honoring Bob and Evelyn Fahey of Chicago, Illinois, for their 50 years of faithful service to God and His Church.

Next newly ordained elders and wives were introduced to the assembly. New elders include Tom and Jody Adams, Vivien and Cathy Botha, Graham and Tammy Cowley, Rod and Tammy Foster, Gabriel and Andrea Garcia, Todd and Susie Herridge, Benjamin and Shannon Light, Arlindo and Iracema Lima, David and Kimberly Nunn, Alfred and Edith Siame, John and Peggy Yule, and Jerry and Ellie Zemlicka.

Mr. Webber then called upon Victor Kubik, president of UCG, to honor Church retirees and employees who have reached significant employment anniversaries. Retirees are Steve and Evelyn Shafer and Noel and Becky Horner. Those honored for significant work anniversaries include John Elliott, Alec Surratt and Jim Tuck, Randy D’Alessandro, Joe Dobson and John Labissoniere, for 40 years of service; Gary Petty and Connie Seelig, for 30 years; Barbara Antion for 20 years; and Dan Dowd, Linda Wasilkoff and Moise Mabout, for 10 years.

At 9:22 a.m. the ballot for Council of Elders selections was taken. This was followed by the ballot on the various business items at 9:26. After the ballot was taken Mr. Webber began his chairman’s address.

Chairman’s address—Robin Webber

Council chairman Robin Webber stressed that we need to continue to develop the positive environment of love and mutual respect so that we may continue to grow in the Spirit of God. He said the Church needs to be looking up and leaning forward. We have a chance now to look back at the past 20 years and learn lessons that we can take forward into the future. We are celebrating this weekend, but we’re not celebrating ourselves. We’re celebrating the love, patience and blessing of God and Jesus Christ that have brought us this far.

When UCG was founded we were looking to Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church—not to any man—to lead us forward. He alone paved the way for everything we have done in 20 years. He provided the hope we needed at that time. We are His servants, and as God has provided we have continued to serve in His name. We continue to provide service and leadership for congregations across the world. We continue to provide Feast sites where people can convene to worship God. We have continued to provide opportunities for our youth in the camp program. We have continued to do these things only because of God’s blessing.

Twenty years ago we were only beginning this journey in the United Church of God. We codified a set of beliefs and created a governance structure to safeguard those beliefs and our community. But those things weren’t an end to themselves. They were just the beginning of the work of the Church.

Robin Webber

Mr. Webber points out that those things are of no value if our hearts are not surrendered to God’s Word and His Spirit. We continue the work of examining ourselves in the mirror of Scripture to ensure that our hearts are aligned with God’s plan for our lives.

He says that unity is not just superficial conformity, it’s something that comes from spiritual maturity. It’s a characteristic of a godly heart. Those who are growing in this Church and those who are coming to us for guidance deserve our best effort in walking “according to the calling of which you were called” (Ephesians 4:1). The apostle Paul made sure that we knew there is one calling, one Lord, one hope, one faith and one baptism that we hold to. We dedicate ourselves to that God and to that calling.

He exhorts the assembly that as we move forward we need to look above and keep our eyes and hearts focused on our God. He tells us, “Follow me.”

Church president Victor Kubik then took the stage for his address.

President’s address—Victor Kubik

Mr. Kubik begins by thanking everyone for their service in making this event happen. He also expresses his appreciation that he has such a good working relationship with the Council of Elders and the various operation managers in managing the daily work of the Church.

He expresses excitement about new opportunities in both media proclamation and ministerial service that will propel the Church forward into the future. We want to make certain that the Church and Beyond Today as its media arm are recognizable to the general public as we preach the gospel. We are in the process of consolidating our media presence under the Beyond Today identity, with print, television and Web content to be presented as Beyond Today content.

Our media is very balanced and spread across many different technologies and platforms to be most easily accessible to the greatest number of people. We’re very excited about our new website, which just recently launched. UCG.org is now mobile friendly, which is an absolute necessity in taking the gospel message to the largest number of people possible. We want to continue making UCG and Beyond Today the go-to place for biblical answers.

Victor Kubik

We’re in a place where we have the chance to make some very positive and forward-looking changes. We will be adding ministerial support for our congregations and developing new ministerial trainees who will be hired in the future. We’ll have opportunities for those who may be ordained in the future to serve in a training capacity. Ambassador Bible College will be further developed as a place of biblical learning and training in service and leadership. We’re looking into it being accredited for international students to be able to more easily come and learn as well.

We’re truly an international association. The room today is filled with people from all over the world, all dedicated to the same purpose of service to God and one another. We can have hope in that purpose despite the headlines that fill the news every day. He encouraged us to pray for God’s blessing and continue His work in preaching the gospel and preparing a people.

After the president’s address Robin Webber took the stage again to dismiss the assembly for a short break.

Robin Webber reconvened the meeting at 10:46 a.m. He introduced Church treasurer Rick Shabi for his address.

Treasurer’s address—Rick Shabi

Mr. Shabi begins by expressing that we need to be deeply thankful to God for His sustaining blessings. We’re in an excellent place financially, and we should be thankful for times of abundance. He references 2 Chronicles 26:5. The very holds great instruction for us in making sure that we are seeking God’s will and obeying Him in all we do. That’s the best practice in assuring financial stability.

Our internal audit showed no internal deficiencies in practice, meaning that the Church is well run, with everyone doing their job properly. This assures financial transparency and wise use of God’s blessings. We consider our funds to be God’s money, so we make sure that we are using what He gives us and allows us to use in the best possible way to serve Him and His people

Overall our cash balances are doing very well, with strong increases across the board. Our good financial position enables us to better fulfil our mission, which is to preach the gospel, prepare a people for God and care for the disciples that He calls.

He thanks the rest of the financial services staff for their quality work and dependability. They work well as a team and together assure the proper use of God’s funds.

At 11:13 a.m. Roy Holladay took the stage for his address.

Ministerial and Member Services address—Roy Holladay

Mr. Holladay says that the ministry have been called to a unique responsibility in the Church. They are called to be helpers and servants of the membership and those whom God calls. There are 366 elders in the United Church of God, with 283 in the United States and 83 in international areas. There are 87 U.S. congregation pastors. We see a larger number this year due to the newly ordained men we introduced earlier.

There are 196 congregations in the U.S, and we had 131 baptisms in the past year. We are planting the seeds of growth through our gospel proclamation efforts and our work to provide good service and leadership for our congregations across the world. We are working to be ready for a greater response to God’s message in the future.

Mr. Holladay emphasizes the work that is underway in the leadership training and development department. We are at a confluence of three major trends in the Church: retirement, education and leadership development. There is a continual need to train and develop new ministers, refresh current ministers and train new leaders. A new training plan is being started, in which men will be pastors-in-training, with the eventual goal of being used as church pastors. We have great opportunities ahead of us as we work to fulfill God’s commission to make disciples and care for those disciples.

Media and Communication Services address—Peter Eddington

Mr. Eddington begins by playing a short video that introduces the new site and describes the major changes from the last version. Highlights are the mobile-friendly, adaptive design that scales to any size screen, from smart phone to tablet to desktop monitor.

Mr. Eddington says that we’re much better positioned for the future with the launch of the new, mobile-friendly UCG.org. In addition, we’re working hard to get on as many streaming platforms as possible in the coming year. We’ve heard stories of users finding the gospel truth almost accidentally by coming across our content on streaming platforms. There are many opportuntities in streaming services that can get Beyond Today content into many more households across the world than ever before possible.

We have the most coworkers on file that we’ve ever had in UCG’s history, showing that people are able to connect with our message and are looking for ways to become a part of the mission of the Church. We pray for God’s continued blessing in taking His Word to a world that so desperately needs it.

Mr. Webber called on Shannon Lucas to dismiss the assembly for the lunch break.

The meeting reconvened at 1:30 p.m., with Council chairman Robin Webber calling upon Jorge DeCampos of Cincinnati, Ohio, to open the afternoon session in prayer. He then introduces Ken Martin of Georgia to lead a presentation to honor recently deceased elders and wives.

Those honored include Angie Erickson, Robert Happel, Al Mischnick, Primrose Mukarati, Norm Myers, Francis Northrip, Paula Olson, Tom Peine, Rita Stitt, and Ron Woodbridge.

Mr. Webber then took the stage to introduce

International reports

Canada—Rainer Salomaa

The Canadian national office of UCG has eight total employees, two full-time and six part-time. Anthony Wasilkoff is the director of operations, Edwin van Pelt is the treasurer, and Dale van Zant is the HR manager.

Average church attendance is 525 for the past four years, and there are over 20,000 Canadian  Good News  subscribers. There have been over 40,000 responses to Beyond Today  TV over the past 10 years.

Ghana and Nigeria—Paul Moody

Paul Moody from Spokane, Washington, followed with the report on the Church in Ghana and Nigeria. Mark Mickelson, a Council of Elders member from Washington, is the senior pastor of the region, and Benjamin Agyapong of Ghana is the pastor for several of the Ghanaian congregations.

The United Youth Camps program in Ghana and Nigeria are very successful and gives Church youth there opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise be able to have.

Brazil—Jorge DeCampos

Jorge DeCampos points out that it is not the Portuguese language work, it is God’s work in Portuguese. The vast majority of the Portuguese work takes place in Brazil. There is currently a religious revival of a type in Brazil, with many different types of religions, including outright paganism, becoming very popular. This is both an opportunity and a challenge in preaching the gospel message.

French language—Tim Pebworth

Tim Pebworth of San Jose, California, along with his wife Maryse, serve in the French-speaking areas. There are 5,500  Bonnes Nouvelles  subscriptions sent to individuals in 51 countries. There are 180 French-speaking brethren in Africa, along with several in Quebec, Canada, as well. We just recently have congregations in Cote D’Ivoire as well, where there are 70 members.

British Isles—David Fenney

United Church of God in the British Isles operates on its own national council with five executive members and three non-executive advisors. The council serves eight congregations across the British Isles, with an additional congregation that meets every other Sabbath. The Church in Britain is looking to develop more helpers to serve the membership and preach the gospel more effectively.

After a short break Robin Webber introduced the keynote speaker Don Ward.

Keynote: “The Trunk of the Tree”—Don Ward

Dr. Ward begins by commenting that the spirit and conversation at this year’s meeting is one of the best he’s seen in his years in the Church. He says that we who have been given the precious gift of God’s Word must struggle for the truth.

The purpose of this conference is to stir us up to labor in the Word and stay close to the “trunk of the tree.” The trunk of the tree is the set of beliefs that is necessary and essential for salvation. That is what must be clung to at all costs. We must struggle for that truth.

The first article of faith is in Hebrews 11:6—We must believe that God is. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. This is the first great truth. Other great truths: Who is God? What is God? What is God’s purpose? Who is man? What is man’s purpose? What must one do to inherit the Kingdom of God? The answers to these questions are available in God’s Word, which we hold dear and precious.

Don Ward

Our great future is to be part of God’s family along with God the Father and Jesus Christ. God is love, and love is His motivation in sharing Himself and His nature with mankind.

The ministry has a God-given responsibility to read the Bible and teach the brethren sound doctrine. We must not be thrown around by every wind of doctrine. We must cling to and be willing to give our lives for the trunk of the tree.

Mr. Webber took the stage at 4:03 p.m. to introduce Roy Holladay once again.

Laboring in the Word—Roy Holladay

Mr. Holladay said that it is the responsibility of Ministerial and Member Services to make sure that the theme and focus of the General Conference of Elders meeting doesn’t get forgotten moving forward. We have the responsibility of preaching the Word. Our preaching needs to be true and accurate—exactly what the Scripture says.

We also have a responsibility to provide good spiritual food to the Church and to the world. It should be a balanced biblical diet that nourishes their spiritual lives.

Mr. Holladay reintroduces Dr. Ward to finish up the discussion, since he is heading up the educational initiative.

Dr. Ward says that we have the challenge of helping the Church accomplish its vision and mission. There are four basic areas to the initiative. There will be a series of courses on biblical topics available for the ministry. This will act as a “refresher” program to establish sound biblical teachings. There will also be classes available about pastoral care.

He hopes we will all read the Bible afresh and read it for what it says and preach the pure truth of God’s Word.

Robin Webber took the floor once more to announce the ballot results.

Ballot results—Robin Webber

Approve 2015 Strategic Plan—Yes 229-14

Approve 2015 Operation Plan—Yes 220-22

Approve 2015-2016 Fiscal Budget—Yes 219-24

Approve Proposed Amended Bylaws—Yes 169-49

Approve Proposed Amended Bylaw Article 12.0: Amendments—Yes 180-31

Procedure for Amending Constitution, Bylaws and Rules of Association—Yes 184-31

Approve Amendment Constitution Section 1.2.4: General Conference of Elders—Yes 204-22

Approve Amendment Constitution Section 3.2: Functions Within the Church—Yes 199-24

Approve Amendment Constitution Section 3.2.2: The Local Congregation—Yes 197-29

Approve Amendment Constitution Section 4.10: Attendance at Meetings of the General Conference—Yes 207-15

Approve Procedure for Appealing Suspension or Expulsion From the General Conference of Elders—Yes 200-21

Council of Elders Seats

International representative—Anthony Wasilkoff

United States representatives—Bob Dick, Mark Mickelson, Scott Ashley

The meeting recessed for the day at 4:40 p.m.

The blog is being updated regularly at http://www.ucg.org/gce-2015-live-blog. Check towards the end of the Web page to see what has been added each hour.

May 3, 2015 Posted by | Council of Elders, General Conference of Elders, Media and Communications | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Statement About the Death of Sheryl Meredith

November 30, 2013

“It is with sadness that the Council of Elders, the staff and the members of the United Church of God note the death of Sheryl Meredith, the long-time wife and spiritual partner of Roderick C. Meredith,” said Victor Kubik, president of the United Church of God. “We all join with members of the Living Church of God in renewed prayer that God’s Kingdom come soon, marking the future happy and joyous time when Mrs. Meredith and many thousands like her will be resurrected as the literal children of God into an everlasting Kingdom.”

Mr. Kubik and his wife Beverly plan to attend the December 4th funeral of Mrs. Meredith in North Carolina as representatives of the United Church of God.

Mr. Kubik noted that the death of Mrs. Meredith was “especially poignant, given the fact that Dennis Luker had died in the faith less than a year ago.” Following the death of long-time minister and mutual friend Dibar Apartian, Mr. Luker, then the president of United, visited the headquarters of the Living Church of God before Mr. Luker’s death. Dr. Meredith had worked closely together with Mr. Luker on a number of occasions in their prior shared fellowship.

Prior to the death of Mrs. Meredith, Mr. Kubik had discussed the possibility of the Living Church of God and the United Church of God jointly providing aid to Church members afflicted by the recent typhoon in the Philippines. “We agreed to work together and it is now more fitting than ever that this joint effort should move forward,” Mr. Kubik said.

Victor Kubik—President, UCGIA; and Robin Webber—Chairman, UCGIA

November 30, 2013 Posted by | Council of Elders, Home Office, President's Office | , , , , | 7 Comments

Post-Feast Letter from Chairman Webber

October 10, 2013

Dear fellow elders and members,

My wife Susan and I came away from the recent festival in Oceanside, California, having spiritually experienced the “best Feast yet.” We always say “best Feast yet,” rather than “best Feast ever,” because we are expectant that our Heavenly Father has more spiritual “bests” in store for all of us, as He fashions us into the full measure of His Son’s image (Ephesians 4:13). Christians always lean forward with knowing expectation of God’s continuous grace and favor, grooming us in this sacred vocation to which we have been called (John 6:44).

If you are like us, God not only challenged and inspired you from the pulpit, but He utilized people in the hallways and parking lots—many in the aisles at services—and perhaps used individuals we had never previously met to enlighten and encourage us with answers to our personal challenges. Perhaps he used a local community member to show you how to properly represent your “citizenship that is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). We must never limit the manner or ways or persons God may use to tell us, “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).

In Oceanside, we had many children, teens, and young adults in attendance this year. It was so encouraging! We marveled at how important this fresh layer of dedicated youth is to our Church. It is evident—by the fruit demonstrated in their cheerfulness, in their infectious desire to volunteer and in their ability to seamlessly work with others—that something special is occurring. I believe we are seeing ongoing and developing results of many years of them learning about “the Zone” at camp; of our young adults volunteering to serve in various Church functions; as well as the positive results of the Ambassador Bible Center program. I believe all of these components factoring together are creating an indelible impact on the fabric of the Church. These younger Church members are excited about being involved in a way of life that works—and works best—because it has God’s blessings. They seem to sense that their time is now!

In 50 years of festival attendance, I can clearly state that I have never experienced such unity, cooperation and sheer joy from so many—from those of us who have been invited to experience a foretaste of “the wonderful world tomorrow.” It was thrilling! At our Feast site, we chose to remember an old adage: “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.” We chose not to allow every accident to become an incident and realized it takes “many hands and hearts to make a heavy load lighter.” These lessons apply to all of us throughout this coming year.

None of this comes naturally. It comes through understanding we have surrendered our lives to something greater than ourselves and by allowing God’s love and laws to rule our hearts and minds. It takes devotion and constant focus to have outgoing concern beyond our personal “kingdom of self.” What we witnessed at our Feast site was mirrored many times over around the world. Ultimately, the festivals are not about meeting halls and local attractions, but taking note of the Spirit of God on full display in ordinary people who are being enabled to do extraordinary things.

At a Feast site, summer camp site or in daily life, God can take that which seemingly is small and multiply it to His glory—that is, if we will give to Him whatever it is we have to share, no matter how small, and let Him fill in the rest of the story. I am mindful of the parable in which Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened (Matthew 13:33, emphasis added). This is the leaven we hopefully take home with us that needs continual expansion in our daily lives, whoever we might be, wherever we are, and whatever might come our way.

Personally this Feast of Tabernacles and Eighth Day festival galvanized us as a couple, and I hope you as well, to more than ever put our “hand to the plow”(Luke 9:62) and to do our individual part before God, for Him to strengthen the Body of Christ. We tasted what a church full of godly joy can fully be. It’s not about looking over our shoulder at somebody else, but looking to our Heavenly Father and asking, “How can I live and serve you more fully?”

I’m mindful of three specific points mentioned in Isaiah 2:3: 1) “Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,” 2) “He will teach us His ways,” and 3) “We shall walk in His paths.” Well, the Feast days are over for now, and in that sense “we have gone up” and been “taught His ways,” and it’s time to “walk the walk.” Now we all move into our personal spheres of influence, whether at home, in our neighborhoods, schools or workplace, to make a difference. It needs to be the same difference created by light when it penetrates darkness; the same difference created by salt as it seasons all it touches (Matthew 5:13-16). Everything changes, and we have the incredible privilege of being God’s personal instrument, to be a touchstone of His Kingdom now!

We on the Council of Elders and the administration of the United Church of God have the same responsibility as all of you to come away from these festivals with a renewed desire to serve God and our fellow man. God says, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” not “peace-wishers” (Matthew 5:9). Thus, we ask ourselves, “What would God have us do?” Micah 6:8 tells all that will hear: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God?”

Our future deliberations and decisions must be sustained by a genuine desire to echo the words of the prophet Micah through prayer and fasting and willingly lay down our lives as living sacrifices. Why? That we might glorify God and honor His name and guide this whole-Church endeavor to which you have been called as a coworker, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, make disciples in all nations and care for those disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).

Dear friends in Christ, there are so many people in search of answers to the big questions of life: Why was I born? Does life have purpose? If there is a God, what am I to do? Is the Bible really the divine message for all humanity? Why is there no other name but Jesus Christ by which we may be saved” (Acts 4:12)? In this modern day religious confusion is there a church striving to worship God in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:23) as seen in the book of Acts?

Yes there are many anxiously desiring to understand how humanity is not an accident of cosmic nature, but a divine creation given breath by the Living God when He proclaimed, “Let Us make man in our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Yes, there are people who seek the relationship promised by an Almighty Being who lovingly proclaims, “I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Ezekiel 37:27, 2 Corinthians 6:16). Yes, there are people who will accept the call of God to “be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Yes, there are men and women around this world who will surrender their lives now in living faith, because they have come to take God at His word when He says: “I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it” (Isaiah 46:11).

There’s an incredible set of words in Revelation 21:6 that are often mentioned on the Eighth Day festival. They describe the unveiling of the New Jerusalem, as God trumpets forth, “It is done!” In this conclusion, we rediscover and solidify in our hearts that ultimately God Almighty triumphs and Christ is the victor. In one sense the victory is already in God’s hand, but the details are yet to be worked out here below.

That’s where we come in. We are called to personal salvation by God’s grace, but we have also been granted a precious privilege of spreading the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God as coworkers in Christ. Your prayers, faithful tithes, generous offerings and daily personal witness are all part of supplying very needed answers to those seeking that special “pearl of great price” (Matthew 13:46).

Thank you for your confidence in the efforts of the United Church of God as an instrument in the Body of Christ to share the goodness of God’s way of life to those whom He has called and will yet call and place into His spiritual Body. Let’s all make a renewed commitment to be about our Father’s business. May our collective anthem be the words of the apostle John: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). May the God of all comfort bless and keep you in all ways in all your coming days.

In Christ’s service,

Robin Webber—Chairman, Council of Elders

Webber_Robin_Portrait

October 10, 2013 Posted by | Council of Elders | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Victor Kubik: Next UCG President

May 8, 2013

Victor and Beverly Kubik

Victor and Beverly Kubik

The United Church of God, an International Association, has been involved in a systematic process of selecting a new president (chief executive officer) since late February of this year.

At the current May session of the Council of Elders meetings, Council members, after prayer and fasting to gain a sense of God’s will, interviewed the final six candidates and collectively deliberated on the matter before choosing a president.

The Council is pleased to announce that Victor Kubik has been selected to fill this position for the next three years. Please remember Mr. and Mrs. Kubik as they step into this new opportunity to serve the church. Mr. Kubik assumes the presidency May 9.

Robin Webber—Chairman, Council of Elders

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Council of Elders, President's Office | , , , , , | 20 Comments

2013 General Conference of Elders Meeting Begins

May 4, 2013

Question and Answer Session with the Council of Elders and Home Office Administration

Question and Answer Session with the Council of Elders and Home Office Administration

The annual General Conference of Elders meeting of the United Church of God began with a Sabbath service on May 4, 2013. This year’s focus is on developing spiritual gifts and providing an environment for spiritual growth in the Church.

Elders and their families from the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia gathered in Cincinnati, Ohio, to worship and fellowship on God’s Sabbath day. The service included split sermons by Bob Berendt, pastor of UCG congregations in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada, and Gary Antion, an elder in Cincinnati and instructor at Ambassador Bible Center.

Mr. Berendt’s sermon focused on the need for the Church to have a strong vision of God’s coming Kingdom. His Kingdom will last forever, and it will span an eternity with no pain, suffering, grief or sin. Mr. Antion spoke about the fact that spiritual gifts flow from God’s Holy Spirit working in the life of a Christian. He stressed that any gift given through God’s Spirit must be used to serve God and other people, and never to serve oneself.

After a several hour recess for fellowship, the conference reconvened Saturday night. The chairman of UCG’s Council of Elders, Robin Webber, introduced the conference and spoke about the theme of spiritual gifts. He then led the entire conference in a question-and-answer session, which covered topics such as UCG’s gospel proclamation efforts, the presidential selection process, and how the Church facilitates parents in raising godly children.

The session ended shortly after 10 p.m. and will reconvene at 9 a.m. Sunday, May 5.

Milan Bizic—Media and Communications Services

May 4, 2013 Posted by | Council of Elders, General Conference of Elders | , , , , , | 10 Comments

UPDATE: United Church of God Presidential Selection

April 23, 2013

Dear fellow elders and church members,

We are pleased to announce the final nominees being considered for president of the United Church of God, an International Association. As with everything in the United Church of God, this selection process remains a “whole church effort.” Our membership has been praying for God’s guidance upon the General Conference of Elders (GCE) to put forth names of godly men in this selection process that would be humble, loving, wise and bold in moving forward the mission of the United Church of God to “preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, make disciples in all nations, and care for those disciples.”

The GCE put forth the names of 27 men—of which 13 allowed their names to go forward and submitted their resumes for the Council of Elders to consider. All of these gentlemen, along with their wives, are wonderful servants of God and are out there every day in your midst sharing their lives with you. We thank them for their desire to serve their brethren.

The Council of Elders reviewed the nomination resumes of those 13 men and has each cast one ballot for a nominee, along with why each endorses that individual. The Council of Elders chairman (Robin Webber), the chairman of the Roles and Rules Committee (Gary Antion), and the corporate secretary (Gerald Seelig), reviewed the results and are pleased to announce the final lists of individuals to be considered for president of the United Church of God. They are in alphabetical order: Bill Bradford, Aaron Dean, Roy Holladay, Victor Kubik, Darris McNeely, and Randy Stiver. After prayer and fasting, the Council of Elders will interview them in person on May 6 and deliberate among themselves on May 7. Final selection for a new chief executive will be on May 8. Normally a new president immediately assumes office for a three-year term that can be renewed with Council approval.

In this discussion about men and process, let us always keep in full view the ultimate leader of the Church. Let us consider the words of Hebrews 3:1: “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus.” Indeed, our Heavenly Father has set His Son, alone, to be our ultimate guide, inspiration, example and constant companion. At the same time, we need a man to guide and direct the daily activities of a worldwide endeavor to share the good news of God’s plan of salvation for humanity.

A president does have an impact on an organization by his cooperation with the direction of the Council of Elders, his loving Christ-like example among the employees and membership, his zeal and dedication towards fulfilling the mission of the Church, his ability to motivate our members in word and deed, and his example of reaching out to all in the Body of Christ. We invite you to join the Council in prayer and fasting in the weeks to come towards this end that God will direct the selection of such an individual, among so many fine and qualified gentlemen, “for such a time as now.”

In Christian Love,

Robin Webber—Chairman

Gary Antion—Chairman, Roles and Rules Committee

April 23, 2013 Posted by | Council of Elders | , , , | 6 Comments

Announcement from Chairman Webber

March 14, 2013

Dear Members of the United Church of God,

This letter is to inform you that United Church of God president, Dennis Luker, died today, March 14. He spent his last physical days residing in his hometown of Seattle, Washington, surrounded by his loving wife, LeeAnn, and their immediate family.

Thank you for your prayers and fasting during this challenging time for them, and for God’s blessings on this transitional period for the United Church of God. Our Heavenly Father’s will for Denny has been made known at this time—even though it is not news that we humanly desire. At the same time, I am reminded of his constant encouragement to reflect on the promising words of Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Mr. Luker knew “that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25) and now awaits the trumpet call with so many other faithful saints down through the ages (1Thessalonians 4:13-18). I know that LeeAnn would ask us all to continue to pray for others who are challenged with spiritual, emotional and health issues—and that God will grant His peace to them (Philippians 4:6-7).

Dennis and LeeAnn, as a pastoral couple, have given 50 years of their lives in service to others. And yes, they truly came as a “couple.” They are loved far and wide beyond our own Church sphere, throughout the entire Church of God community. He brought an enthusiasm for speaking of the always-present love of God and the necessity of having Jesus Christ as the center of our lives.

Denny’s service to the United Church of God had a dynamic impact not just recently, but also in our formative years. He served on the original Advisory Council of Elders in 1995. Since then he has served as a member of the Council of Elders, as a church pastor, as a regional pastor, been part of the Ministerial Services team and of recent years, our Church president.

Please remember LeeAnn, the children, the grandchildren, the great-grandchildren and all their family members—in our prayers that God will grant them comfort in this most challenging of life’s chapters. More details will be forthcoming regarding pending memorial services.

In my role as chairman during this transitional time, I have maintained frequent contact with the Council and the home office operation managers to ensure stability. Now, in accordance with our governing documents (Bylaw 9.5, Vacancies in Offices), the chairman of the Council of Elders becomes the acting president of the United Church of God, an International Association, until a new president is selected by the Council and assumes office.

I look forward to working with the Council of Elders in the presidential nomination process currently underway. As Council members, we appreciate your prayers for God’s guidance for all in the weeks to come.

May the God of peace and comfort be with all of you at this time,

Robin Webber—Chairman and Acting President

March 14, 2013 Posted by | Council of Elders, Home Office | , , , , | 27 Comments

Council Chooses New Chairman

November 8, 2012

The Council of Elders met at 4 p.m. ET to discuss various items of United Church of God business. On the agenda was the selection of a new chairman.

Long-time church pastor and member of the Council, Robin Webber, was selected to be chairman for a term that will continue through May 2014. He and his wife, Susan, live in Southern California. Mr. Webber will serve as chairman of the Council, and also of the General Conference of Elders.

President Dennis Luker told the Council that he looks forward to working with Mr. Webber, and reminded everyone that their long friendship goes back to the time when they both served in the Southern California area.

Robin and Susan Webber

November 8, 2012 Posted by | Council of Elders | , , , , , | 12 Comments

Letter from Chairman Rhodes: “The Marriage of the Lamb”

August 20, 2012

Dear Brethren,

The exciting Feasts of God are drawing very near as we end the month of August. As we often see during the fall Holy Day season, world events seem to speed up during this time of the year.

In 1973, Israel was attacked on the Day of Atonement, in what has become known as the Yom Kippur War. In 1987 an international financial crisis took place, along with another in 2008.

This year the secular press is predicting the likelihood of another major financial crisis, euro-centered, sometime between now and October. In the Middle East we are witnesses to the ever-worsening Syrian conflict—a growing clash between Sunni and Shia Muslims. At the same time there are increasing predictions of an Israeli strike on Iran before the November U.S. presidential election. The speculation is that the current administration in Washington could not be too critical of Israel just before the election!

With impending world-changing events likely to take place in the next few weeks, what should we be focused on?

“Seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33) reminds us of where our priority should be at all times. “Thy Kingdom Come” (verse 10) should be a part of our daily prayers. We all know just how desperate this world is for the establishment of the Kingdom of God.

But for us, especially, it’s even more personal.

Preparing for the Marriage Supper

Revelation chapter 19 looks forward to Christ’s return and the marriage supper—the time when Jesus Christ marries His Bride, the Church. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready” (verse 7). Our priorities are clear—to seek first the Kingdom and to make ourselves ready for that very same Kingdom!

The prophet Daniel spoke of this time as a time “when many shall run to and fro” (Daniel 12:4). The literal meaning in the Hebrew here is “to lash at sea with oars”—implying travel. It’s only in recent decades that people have been able to travel extensively, a development that has led to us all feeling exhausted as we rush around trying to fit in way too much. The result? We neglect the spiritual priorities that are essential if we are to focus on what is most important.

Added to this is the other prediction in the same verse, that “knowledge shall be increased.” This implies a multiplication of knowledge that is overwhelming. It’s impossible to keep up with it all, but many try by reading books, papers and magazines, or surfing the Internet, or watching television—all at the expense of our seeking the Kingdom and making ourselves ready.

It’s ironic that at the same time knowledge is increasing, the knowledge of God is decreasing. Paul wrote Timothy that in the last days many would be “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). That reminds us of another priority we have: the need to preach the gospel with great fervency and zeal throughout the world so that others may come to the knowledge of the truth.

How Do We Make Ourselves Ready?

One way to be ready is mentioned immediately after the reference to the marriage supper. “And to her [the Church] it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:8). My New King James Study Bible says this in the margin in explaining this verse: “The bride of the Lamb wears a garment of precious fine linen that symbolizes the good works of believers. In other words, the white garment signifies faithful obedience to God.”

In Matthew 22 we read of a guest attending the marriage feast in the parable “without a wedding garment” (verse 11). When asked why he was unprepared “he was speechless” (verse 12). It’s sobering to think that some of us may one day be in that same situation. How could that happen?

Earlier in the parable we read that some of those called to the wedding supper “made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business” (verse 5). In other words, the “cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19).

But we are exhorted to be spiritually very fruitful: “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:8).

We will have no excuse when that day comes. There’s plenty of warning in the Scriptures about the need for us to “walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6). “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10). As we obey God’s laws and live as Jesus Christ lived, so we will increasingly understand His Love.

We cannot boast that we have ever lived up to Christ’s definition of a true Christian as explained in John 13:35. “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).

Preparing for the marriage supper means that each one of us has to become more like Jesus Christ—this is part of making the bride ready. Just as a bride prepares for her marriage by learning to please her future husband, so we must learn how to please our future husband, Jesus Christ. Just as a wife should submit to her husband, so we must learn to submit to Christ.

Much of this comes down to time management. What are our priorities? We must “redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16). Our priorities were laid down for us two millennia ago when Jesus Christ walked the earth. Asked by a lawyer, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:35), “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind’” (verse 37). Put God first. It’s that simple! But how many do that? “This is the first and great commandment” (verse 38). “And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (verses 39-40).

It really is that simple. We are instructed to live our lives according to the two great commandments—love toward God, which includes obedience to His commandments; and love toward others. Living according to the two great commandments is “the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:8).

If we want to be in that wedding supper we need to change our priorities to ensure that we are not preoccupied with the cares of this world, but rather we are focused on living in accordance with the two great commandments.

Have a wonderful, uplifting and truly edifying Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles.

Sincerely,

Melvin Rhodes—Chairman

August 20, 2012 Posted by | Council of Elders | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

United Church of God Chooses Two New Men for Council of Elders

May 9, 2012

The General Conference of Elders (GCE) of the United Church of God met in Cincinnati, Ohio, May 5 through 7 for their annual meeting.

Carmelo Anastasi

Amongst other business, the GCE chose two new members for their Council of Elders: Carmelo Anastasi and Mark Mickelson. They will each serve a three-year term. Two incumbents, Scott Ashley and Melvin Rhodes, were returned for another three year term each, and two councillors decided not to run for office again: Bill Eddington and Roy Holladay.

Mark Mickelson

All items on the ballot were overwhelmingly approved by the General Conference this year. This includes the annual Strategic Plan, Operation Plan and Budget, plus a number of amendments to our governing documents. In addition, one of the approved amendments prescribes that Council of Elders’ three-year terms begin this week, so the two new members are taking office almost immediately.

More details will be written up for you in the June issue of United News.

2012-2013 COUNCIL OF ELDERS. Top from left: Mario Seiglie, John Elliott, Scott Ashley, Robin Webber, Mark Mickelson, Bill Bradford. Front from left: Carmelo Anastasi, Gary Antion, Melvin Rhodes, Darris McNeely, Robert Berendt, Donald Ward

Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services

May 9, 2012 Posted by | Council of Elders, General Conference of Elders | , , , , , | 14 Comments

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