May 9, 2014 [Taken from a live ucg.org blog on May 4 by Media and Communications Services employee, Milan Bizic]
We’re live blogging from the site of the 2014 meeting of the General Conference of Elders. This page http://www.ucg.org/blog/2014-meeting-general-conference-elders-creating-environment-growth/ will be updated throughout the day, so check back periodically for updates and news.
The 2014 meeting of the General Conference of Elders convened at 9:00 a.m. EDT. Chairman Robin Webber called the meeting to order. He called on Jerold Aust, pastor of the DeFuniak Springs, Florida, congregation, to lead the Conference in prayer.
Mr. Webber pointed out that this is the 20th annual meeting of the General Conference of Elders, an important milestone. The first order of business was to introduce new elders and wives to the ministry of the United Church of God.
He then called on Church secretary Gerald Seelig to conduct the balloting portion of the meeting. After the ballot was taken, chairman Robin Webber once again took the floor the address the Conference.
Introductory Address—Robin Webber, chairman
On the occasion of the 20th meeting of the GCE, he asks, “Where did the time go?” This meeting is a time for some reflection on the past and what the Church has been through over the last two decades. He asks how the Church should move forward into the future, spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God and the personal peace that news can bring people right now.
Mr. Webber introduces the overrarching theme of this year’s GCE meeting: Creating an Environment for Growth. It’s a theme that focuses on the personal spiritual growth that God expects of all Christians. The theme was gleaned from the messages of the epistles of Paul and Peter. These epistles consistently end with the words “grace and peace.” They are two great concepts that bookend the gospel message the Church has been commissioned to take to the world.
These words represent a blessing that God is offering people who come to Him and humble themselves to His will. He offers grace and peace to His people in a world that is so often devoid of both.
God promises to complete His perfect work in His people. Christians must have patience and endurance in allowing this perfecting process to take place in them.
Jesus Christ, the Rock upon which the Church is built, is our one constant. People come and go, but He will never change and will never leave us. We can always place our trust in Him.
He turns to Ephesians to focus the meeting in this direction: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians:4:1-6).
The apostle Paul provided the proper focus for Christians: that there is one Spirit that binds us together; one Lord, Jesus Christ, who leads us by His divine example of perfection; one faith; one baptism that washes away our sins; one Father, by whose power and might all things were created.
Creating an evironment for growth isn’t accomplished through techniques, technologies or programs. It’s created by giving our lives to our one Lord, our one Father, and Their one purpose for the Church. Growth begins internally through God’s Spirit guiding us to become more like Jesus Christ, who gave His life so that we might have ours.
The key to creating this environment is that we can truly say, “What [God] has done for me, I can share with others.”
After his address concluded, Mr. Webber introduced Church president Victor Kubik.
Keynote: Creating and Environment for Growth—Victor Kubik, president
Mr. Kubik points out that this year’s theme has four main concepts within it: creating, which is begun by Jesus Christ and God the Father and extends to the Church as we follow Their lead; environment, which needs to be based upon the culture of faith, grace and peace that is revealed in the Bible; spiritual, which means that everything is based on God’s Spirit, which He uses to lead us in following Him; and growth, which begins within each individual Christian, then extends to the congregation, then the Church as a whole, and then those not yet a part of the Body who God will work with in their time.
In times past those who were seeking the gospel message really had a limited choice in where to go. Currently there are so many avenues people can take to find the truth of the Bible. There is much clutter in the space of Bible knowledge. Much of it is good, but much of it is not. We need to give people their best chance of finding good biblical food.
People have questions. Questions about the basics of life. The Bible has the answers. God’s job for us is to help people find the right answers, based on what the Bible actually says about how God wants people to live.
We need to be able to have positive pride in our congregations. They need to be places we can be happy to have new people come to, with kind, gracious members who can each help others grow in grace and knowledge. We need to be a group of people who deeply desire to share with others what God has given to us.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you.” Do we live in that peace every day of our lives? Does it pervade everything we do? It’s a peace that comes from God’s Spirit within us and leading us to God’s perfect peace. Growth comes from peaceful environments.
Mr. Kubik says that Christians are identified by the love and peace they create within their environment (John:13:35).
The number one environement that each person has control of is their own lives. We can be the starting place for an environment in which others can grow by setting the right example in everything we do.
After Victor Kubik’s keynote address the conference recessed for a short break.
The meeting reconvened at 11 a.m. EDT. Macon and Columbus, Georgia, pastor Ken Martin led a presentation honoring recently deceased elders and wives for their years of faithful service to God and Jesus Christ.
Following the tribute, president Victor Kubik, chairman Robin Webber and Lisa Fenchel of Women’s Services presented a tribute and honor to Church employees who have served God and Jesus Christ for 50-plus years. He echoed the apostle Paul’s sentiment to God’s servants: “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor” (Romans:13:7). The service of these faithful men and women is much appreciated.
At 12:20 p.m. chairman Robin Webber called on Bill Robinson, elder in the Columbia, Maryland, congregation, to lead the Conference in prayer for the lunch recess.
At 1:34 p.m. chairman Robin Webber reconvened the meeting by calling on David Jones, associate pastor of several congregations in the Nebraska/South Dakota areas, to lead the Conference in prayer.
He then introduced Rick Shabi, UCG treasurer, to present his report on Church finances.
Treasurer’s Report—Rick Shabi
Mr. Shabi begins by quoting the Bible about King Jehosephat: “And as long as the king sought guidance from the Lord, God gave him success.” He also quoted Psalm:127:1“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” Mr. Shabi says that as long as we seek God and follow Him in Spirit and truth, He will build the Church and care for its needs.
The Church’s cash reserves are ahead of projection and the minimum figure legislated by our reserve policy. He doesn’t anticipate that we will take our reserves under minimum during the coming year.
He reiterates the mission statement of the Church: “The mission of the Church of God is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God in all the world, make disciples in all nations and care for those disciples.” There are three main elements of the mission: preaching the gospel, making disciples and caring for those disciples. In the proposed budget, all three elements are well represented.
A big part of caring for disciples is the section of the budget that’s directed toward congregational care. We care for our congregations by providing trained pastors and resources for education and opportunities for our members. One educational opportunity we provide is Ambassador Bible Center, where members can take part in a focused biblical curriculum.
Other areas this section of the budget provides for are festival sites for God’s Feasts, assistance for members in need, and international subsidy, which helps us care for our members all over the world.
Another section of the budget we prioritize is preaching the gospel. This part of the budget provides funds for Beyond Today TV, the ucg.org website, advertising for all of our media efforts, producing and printing our library of booklets and study aids, and The Good News magazine.
Our Good News renewal rate has increased, which means that we are building an audience who rely on the biblical message we help provide.
After Mr. Shabi’s presentation, Roy Holladay, Ministerial and Member Services operation manager, took the floor for his update.
Ministerial and Member Services Report—Roy Holladay
Mr. Holladay begins by stating our congregational goal, which is, “A godly environment that promotes Christ-like service, spiritual growth, humility, love and unity.” As each local congregation builds in strength and character, the Church as a whole will grow in unity and become more like the Church that Jesus Christ wants us to be.
Our attendance dropped a bit during the harsh winter months we had, but thanks to the local Sabbath services webcast from the Cincinnati East
congregation, those people were often still able to be cared for on a weekly basis.
This past year, our Holy Day attendance was over 8,000 in both the latter festivals of 2013 and the first festivals of 2014.
Mr. Holladay emphasizes that we must provide and develop strong and effective leadership for the Church. Where do these leaders come from? They come from our congregations. They’re people who are already serving and leading by godly example in every church around the world. These individuals will be developed further to become even more effective and service-oriented. Our current pastors are acting as mentors for the next generation of leaders and servants, following Jesus Christ’s example of selfless service.
Mr. Holladay then turned the floor over to Peter Eddington, operation manager of Media and Communication Services.
Media and Communication Services Report—Peter Eddington
Mr. Eddington begins by discussing the power of a true multimedia approach to preaching the gospel. Beyond Today’s best programs for the 2013-2014 fiscal year were “The Four Horsemen of Revelation,” “Seven Prophetic Signs Before Jesus Returns,” “The Next World Superpower,” and “Is the Rapture Real?”
Many of our programs actually do better on repeat airings than they do upon their initial airing. Repeats on the ION Network are giving some of our older, WGN-aired programs new life.
Mr. Eddington says that TV is the dominant advertising channel. It makes up 38.1 percent of total media spending. The predictability of TV audience is one of the greatest strengths for using it as a premier media channel. Ads on TV are more influential than ads on other mediums.
Tablet Web traffic is becoming the new leader. More people will use a tablet to access digital content than a PC in the coming year. TV still blows it away in terms of traffic and access numbers. Nearly every American watches TV. By 2017 90 percent of all Internet traffic will be video.
We receive many encouraging letters from people who watch our TV show, read our magazines and use our website daily. God is calling people to His truth.
One reader said that “UCG is a church like none that I have ever seen before.” This type of positive response is very encouraging as we continue to work hard to preach the gospel to a world that so desperately needs God’s message and His way of life.
We have the highest number of coworkers on file since UCG began. We are very thankful for their engagement and support of what Jesus Christ is leading the Church in accomplishing. We have had 86 baptisms from January to April 2014.
We have a limited budget to do the most important work in the world–the work of God. But God provides and makes every dollar and every penny go as far as humanly possible. None of it would be accomplished without His guiding hand and unending support. He is the one who makes it possible to make a difference in people’s lives as the gospel message impacts them.
Chairman Robin Webber took the floor to recess the Conference for a short break at 3:03 p.m.
President Victor Kubik recovened the Conference at 3:33 p.m.
Importance of Local Websites—Victor Kubik and Tom Disher
Mr. Kubik points out that active, well maintained local websites are an important and powerful tool in helping those God is calling find His truth and become involved in His Church. He expresses thanks for those in the ministry who have stepped up and put forth a strong effort in developing their local congregational websites and making them a welcoming, inviting, helpful place for people to go.
Mr. Disher asks, “Why does our information need to be online?” In the modern world people looking for information go to the Internet first. He points out that 80 percent of people research a product online before buying. That principle holds true for people looking for biblical truth.
Since the new local websites were launched, 128,791 people looked for Sabbath service information on the local websites.
Mr. Kubik says that there is a ladder of involvement in helping people find biblical information. If there are missing rungs on the ladder, people will begin to lose their way. Part of our emphasis needs to be on fixing the “missing rungs” and help people have an easier route to biblical truth and involvement in the Church.
Chairman Robin Webber then called on secretary Gerald Seelig to announce the ballot results.
General Conference of Elders 2014 Ballot Results—Gerald Seelig, secretary
- Approve the Strategic Plan: Yes–220; No–16. The Strategic Plan is approved.
- Approve the Operation Plan: Yes–212; No–23. The Operation Plan is approved.
- Approve the Budget: Yes–204; No–30. The Budget is approved.
- Approve the Doctrinal Review Process: Yes–215; No–16. The proposal passes.
- Approve the proposed revisions to the Constitution: Yes–211; No–18. The proposal passes.
- Council of Elders Elections: Bill Bradford, Aaron Dean, Don Ward, Robin Webber.
At 4:20 p.m. the 2014 meeting of the General Conference of Elders recessed for the day following a prayer of dismissal by Ken Murray, elder from Australia.
Milan Bizic—Media and Communications Services, United Church of God, an International Association
May 6, 2013
The General Conference of Elders of the United Church of God was reconvened Monday morning, May 6, 2013, by Council of Elders chairman Robin Webber. He introduced Victor Kubik to present the first plenary session of the day titled “Actually Using Spiritual Gifts.”
The former Soviet-bloc churches Mr. Kubik would visit told him, “You could do so much more with the Holy Spirit. Your description of the Spirit is very passive.” That has stuck with him.
We know one aspect of what the Spirit does is edifying or building the Church.
Since there has been abuse of things like grace and Spiritual gifts we’ve sometimes been afraid of them. That’s a shame, and it doesn’t have to be that way.
Mr. Kubik says we need to look to the beginning of Christianity, in the book of Acts. The early Christians acted in such a way and with such boldness through the Spirit that people stood up and took notice.
How did the Church in Acts explode so quickly and so powerfully? How is it that with all of our modern methods, the Internet, TV, advertising, hype, etc., we can’t act as powerfully as Christians did 2,000 years ago?
When the Church in Acts preached messages that were threatening to the local authorities, they did it with power. Even though they were in danger. They were asked by what authority they did these things. Peter, being filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly gave an answer. He wasn’t afraid to stand up and say that it was by the name of Jesus Christ, who they had crucified, that these powerful things were done. It was the Holy Spirit that gave him this boldness and power.
Mr. Kubik expressed the thought, using the book of Acts, that the time of greatest power for the Church is yet ahead of us. It’s just out of our reach. We’re almost there.
The Conference was recessed for a break at 9:55 a.m.
It resumed at 10:30 for the start of the breakout session workshops.
After the workshops, Council chairman Robin Webber called the meeting to order at 3:35 p.m.
He summarized what was accomplished at the 2013 General Conference of Elders. He said that the attendees received so much in the way of instruction and inspiration from God’s Word. But any information is pointless unless it is put to good use. He encouraged everyone to go home inspired and ready to actually act on what we covered. God showed us the way to utilize and develop spiritual gifts. We need to follow His lead.
Mr. Webber expressed that if we look to men, we will be disappointed. If we always look to Jesus Christ as the Head of our Church, we cannot possibly be disappointed or let down. We will always be able to overcome with Him at our backs.
Jesus Christ took our lives which were at one time not worth anything, and made them full of worth to Him and to God the Father.
God will fill our lives with His peace that comes only from His Spirit.
Mr. Webber concluded: “We cannot be a people that are fear-based, but faith-based.”
The 2013 General Conference of Elders came to a close with a hymn led by Steve Myers and a closing prayer offered by Bart Bornhorst.
Milan Bizic—Media and Communications Services
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
May 5, 2013
The General Conference of Elders of the United Church of God reconvened at 9 a.m. Sunday, May 5, to the confirmation of the minutes of last year’s GCE. After the ballot was taken for general items and four Council of Elders positions, Scott Ashley presented the first keynote of the day titled “Edifying the Body Through Spiritual Gifts.”
Mr. Ashley focused on the reasons God gives spiritual gifts to His Church. God’s good gifts are to be used to build up and strengthen the Body of Christ, God’s Church (1 Corinthians 14:12). They are never to be used for personal gain, but always to God’s glory.
He encouraged Conference attendees to study through Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, 1 Corinthians 12:28; and Ephesians 4:11. After the first keynote, the Conference was recessed for a break to reconvene at 10:40 a.m.
Following the break, Council chairman Robin Webber once again took the floor. He expressed that the questions “why are we here?” and “where are we headed as a Church?” are important in defining what we’re accomplishing.
He expressed that the attendees of the Conference are called by God to be faithful servants both to God and His people, the Church.
He said that we must remember that the human leaders of the Church are temporary. They come and go. Jesus Christ as our Head and High Priest is eternal and unchanging.
He said that our biblical focus and grounding principles allow us to do some good every day.
Church treasurer Aaron Dean followed with his report on the finances of the Church. He pointed out that we went through some difficult times in terms of finances, but God’s mercy and guidance saw us through it. We are now presenting a balanced budget and back on the way to growth.
After two presentations, one honoring elders and wives for their longtime service, and the other honoring those recently deceased elders and wives, the meeting recessed for lunch at 12:15 p.m.
Milan Bizic—Media and Communications Services
May 4, 2013
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 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.
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.
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.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
May 16, 2011
GCE Report: Monday
Melvin Rhodes, GCE chairman, began the Monday, May 16, General Conference of Elders meeting with additional information about ballot results from May 15. This was followed by two plenary sessions before the ministry and wives chose from various workshops and breakouts.
The first presentation was by Victor Kubik, operation manager for Ministerial and Member Services. He titled it: “Biblical Eldership: The Foundation of Church Leadership.”
Mr. Kubik explained that the apostle Peter exhorts elders to be shepherds to the flock (1 Peter 5:2). If we want to understand the work of an elder, we must understand the biblical imagery of shepherding. As keepers of sheep, biblical elders are to 1) protect, 2) feed, 3) lead, and 4) help meet the flock’s many practical needs.
Using these pastoral categories, he considered the examples, exhortations and teachings of the Bible about serving as Christ serves—elders who are shepherds.
Next, Aaron Booth and Tom Disher, Internet editors at the home office, gave a very visual presentation about the launch of UCG’s new website. It was titled: “Launch of UCG’s New Web and How You Can Promote the Gospel.”
It was an active, exciting presentation highlighting the launch of the new United Church of God website at www.ucg.org. The site was explained and shown on stage. It is a vital tool in our effort to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God online.
Our new website is a totally new experience for our users. The site is organized by topic and subject, and will be customizable by the viewer depending on his or her preferences. Also, it has social networking options and features.
How can the ministry and church membership get involved in this personal aspect of preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom? We saw firsthand United’s latest, technology-driven arm of doing the Work.
Workshops and Breakout Sessions
After a short break, workshops were held throughout the rest of the day, followed by an important wrap up by the chairman. Here is a summary of the day’s workshops and breakout sessions.
- “Serving as Christ Serves—A Perspective for Women” with LeeAnn Luker
This was an important workshop for our ladies with an in-depth discussion. How do we incorporate the theme of this year’s conference as we support our husbands in their ministry and service for the brethren?
- “How to Officiate at Church Ceremonies” by Gary Antion
This workshop took the time to address the practical application of our various Church ceremonies. It provided instruction to those interested, and to those who desired the additional training, on how to give baptismal counseling, how to perform a funeral, how to perform a wedding, and how to anoint the sick.
- “Biblical Eldership: Hands-on, Practical Application” by Victor Kubik
As keepers of Christ’s sheep, input was given in this workshop on how we can apply the principles of shepherding to 1) protect, 2) feed, 3) lead, and 4) help meet the flock’s many practical needs.
- “Opportunities and Challenges for Non-career and Bi-vocational Elders” presented by Greg Thomas and Roc Corbett
Attendees heard practical advice and gave their feedback on how to best manage the dual roles of ministry and career in their responsibilities as a non-salaried elder or a part-time UCG pastor.
- “Using the Web and Social Networking to Promote the Gospel” by Aaron Booth and Tom Disher
Hear is what was covered: How can Twitter, Facebook and other social networking tools be used to advance the gospel message? How can the membership get involved in this personal aspect of preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom? How can our own website be leveraged by the brethren to do this? This was an important workshop with practical help for pastors to take back to their congregations.
- “Your Personal Computer, Microsoft Office 2010 and the UCG Ministerial Web Site” by Richard Kennebeck and Paul Wasilkoff
The I.T. staff at the home office showed how to leverage the most from your personal computer and use it as a tool to serve your pastoral needs and the members of your congregation. They learned about the new Microsoft Office 2010. They were shown how to use the online ministerial tools in the ministerial section of our website to make the most of their day. They received tips on how to be more productive while on the Internet.
- “Generational Dynamics” by Craig Clark and Jon Garnant
Here is a summary of what was covered. We are all, to some extent, products of the times in which we live. As there are differences in the way we think, act and understand things based on our gender, ethnicity, and heritage, there are also differences based on what generation we belong to. For the past 60 years there has been a tremendous focus on the Baby Boomers. Beginning in 2011 the first “Boomers” have turned 65 and, once again, this has received a lot of focus. However, there are currently five distinct generations attending services with us each week. Attendees at this seminar received important, practical advice on working with other generations that God is calling.
The Path Forward
After the breakout sessions, the ministry and their wives reconvened in the main ballroom to hear from Dennis Luker, UCGIA president, for an important reminder. He asked everyone to turn to Romans 16 and thanked all of the women present for being valuable servants of Jesus Christ for many years. The ladies received a standing ovation from the men.
Melvin Rhodes, UCGIA chairman, then concluded with his thoughts on, “What We Accomplished at the GCE, 2011.” He said that we as a Church have an opportunity to show the love of God in all that we do. We always have much to learn in this regard. May we move forward in unity, with a spirit of Christ-like service. May we serve as Christ serves.
Finally, to close this year’s general conference, Dan Salcedo, an elder from Southern California, led everyone in a closing hymn: “Thank You Lord.” The closing prayer was offered to God the Father by long-time pastor, Vernon Hargrove.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
May 16, 2011
Melvin Rhodes, GCE chairman, began the Monday, May 16, General Conference of Elders meeting with additional information about ballot results from May 15. Here is what he explained:
“ADDITIONAL INFORMATION RELATIVE TO THE RESULTS OF THE BALLOT FOR MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL OF ELDERS CONDUCTED ON MAY 15, 2011
“The passage of amendments to Bylaws 9.1 and 9.2 by the General Conference on Sunday, May 15, 2011, created some unusual circumstances that the Council of Elders addressed at a meeting held at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, May 16, 2011.
“Passage of the amendments resulted in the Council membership of Aaron Dean and Victor Kubik terminating at midnight on Sunday, May 15, 2011. As members of the management team, they were no longer eligible to serve beyond that time and their positions were declared vacant.
“John Elliott will fill the vacancy created by the termination of Victor Kubik, with his term of office expiring on June 30, 2013. This is in accord with the provisions of Bylaw 8.4.3 which states: “Vacancies on the Council shall be filled from the list of runners-up in the final ballot at the preceding meeting of the General Conference, based on the number of ballots the nominee received.”
“John Elliott was the first runner-up.
“In the ballot conducted on May 15, 2011, Donald Ward was elected to fill the seat vacated by Aaron Dean effective July 1, 2011. However, the amendment to Articles 9.1 and 9.2 created a vacancy in that position for the period from May 16 until Donald Ward assumes the position. In accordance with the provisions of Bylaw 8.4.3 as stated above, Roc Corbett will fill the vacancy left by Aaron Dean with his term of office ending on June 30, 2011.
“Roc Corbett was next runner-up.
“A similar situation to that of Aaron Dean occurred with the position of the International Representative on the Council of Elders. At the ballot for this position conducted on May 15, 2011, the General Conference of Elders elected William (Bill) Bradford (Senior) for a term of office commencing on July 1, 2011 and ending on June 30, 2014.
“The position Bill Bradford was elected to fill was already vacant as no eligible runner-up was available when the vacancy occurred in December 2010, and the Council of Elders had decided to leave the position vacant until the next Council election. When the result of the 2011 election was declared, an eligible runner-up became available to fill this vacancy.
“When the eligible runner-up declined the position, and after reviewing the options available to it under Bylaw 8.4.3, as amended by the General Conference on May 15, 2011, the Council of Elders appointed Bill Bradford to fill the vacancy until his elected term of office commences on July 1, 2011. This action is in accord with Bylaw 8.4.3 as amended.”
So, based on what was announced yesterday, and the above update, the Council of Elders as of today is comprised of:
- Gary Antion
- Scott Ashley
- Bob Berendt
- Bill Bradford
- Roc Corbett
- Bill Eddington
- John Elliott
- Roy Holladay
- Darris McNeely
- Melvin Rhodes (chairman)
- Mario Seiglie
- Robin Webber
On July 1, 2011, Donald Ward will take Roc Corbett’s seat.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
May 15, 2011
Sunday AM Session
The 2011 general conference of elders of the United Church of God, an International Association (UCGIA), began at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, May 15. As in recent years, this year’s conference is being held at the Holiday Inn Eastgate in Cincinnati, Ohio.
After the opening prayer by Steve Nutzman, General conference chairman, Melvin Rhodes, began by seeking approval of the 2010 meeting minutes. The minutes were approved as written.
Next, Mr. Rhodes introduced the new elders and wives ordained or credentialed in the past 12 months. This included 15 couples, and their biographies and photographs were projected onto the large video screen as each elder was introduced. About half of them were in attendance today.
Mr. Rhodes then asked the ministry to fill out their ballots for selection of new and/or returning members to the Council of Elders. This was followed by filling in their ballots, to either approve or not approve, the submitted Strategic Plan, Operation Plan, Budget and two amendments to our governing documents. Results will be available later today.
The keynote speech was then delivered by Mario Seiglie, pastor in Garden Grove, California, who is also a member of the Council of Elders. “Serving as Christ Serves” is the theme of this year’s conference, and Mr. Seiglie delivered a 45-minute address examining the role of being a servant of God and a servant to God’s people. The ministry is not a lofty position or a lofty title. We are servants, even the most lowly of servants.
After a short break, the conference continued with reports and presentations by the UCGIA president, chairman and treasurer:
- Chairman Rhodes expounded upon the need to have genuine love in our service to God’s people: “Am I serving the people, or am I serving myself?”
- Dennis Luker, president, expressed his thankfulness for the spirit of teamwork between the ministry, home office administration and Council of Elders: “How can we ensure that this unity and spirit of consensus continues?” He then looked at several biblical principles that help us ensure that division and conflict are avoided.
- Aaron Dean, UCGIA treasurer, then provided a financial report and update to the ministry. He spoke less about numbers and statistics, but more about faith in God in creating a budget that will help fulfill our commission to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God and care for His brethren.
The morning session concluded with a heartfelt presentation by Gary Antion to honor our deceased elders and wives. Since this time last year, we have five servants of God who are now awaiting their resurrection to eternal life.
Donald Ward then led a prayer before the lunch break to close the morning portion of this year’s conference.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
March 3, 2011
Video reports from the Monday, Februrary 28 through Thursday, March 3, 2011, meetings of the Council of Elders are now available online for you to view at coe.ucg.org/videos. Videos from Thursday’s meetings will probably be posted on Friday. What is currently now available includes:
- President’s Report — Dennis Luker
- Ministerial and Member Services Report — Victor Kukik
- Media and Communications Services Report — Peter Eddington
- Financial Services Report — Aaron Dean
- Council Committee Reports — Various Committee Chairmen
- Our Critical Essence (Branding Presentation) — Brian Shaw
- Beyond Today Magazine Proposal — Darris McNeely
- Planning the 2011 GCE Meeting Agenda — Peter Eddington
- GCE Balloting and Webcasting Discussion — Melvin Rhodes
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services