Victor Kubik and Doug Gray reflect on the first day of the National Leadership Conference in Australia.
[Victor Kubik] This is Victor Kubik, President of the United Church of God. With me today in Brisbane, Australia is Doug Gray, Chairman of The National Council of UCGA in Australia. Welcome Doug.
[Doug Gray] Good to be with you, Vic.
[Victor] Well, we’re so happy to be together again. This is our second trip to Australia and we are here for a national leadership conference and we’re casting a vision for the future of the church and carrying on the work of the Church in Australia. It’s been the first conference in some time and we’ve been planning it for almost a year. Doug, tell us why you feel that this conference is important?
[Doug] Well Vic, we recognize that there is a need for leaders in the Church and we have to find a method by which we could establish that but also to provide for them a way forward. And we had to put together…we wanted to put together a program that would inspire them, that would educate and equip them and we felt this was the best way to do it. And we wanted them to mix with the eldership and the deacons and we wanted them to learn from them and get to know them and experience this community together.
[Victor] Well, I know that we have found this conference to be very interesting, even in its structure. And that we’ve had lecturers that deal very strongly with the ministry, about the high calling of the ministry, and yet we have called in 90 people total to cast a higher vision of service for the future.
[Doug] That’s right Vic and what we really want to do is give them a vision of where we want to go. We have issues with retiring ministers, we have for various reasons, health and otherwise, and we have to lay a foundation. We have to prepare for the future, so that we can care for God’s people. And in order to do that, we have to put in place the programs that will allow us to do that if we want them to be inspired to rise to that next level of service.
[Victor] Well, we’re in day two of the conference here today and that’s what I got from the first day, is that we had people that have come here, some of them relatively new in service, and we wanted them to see a bigger vision for the future. As I say, luck is preparedness meeting opportunity. And you just never know when you can be called upon to serve but you have to be prepared. And we had some phenomenal lectures, I feel, yesterday by Bob Dick, a retired minister from the United States, that spoke about character and integrity which are very foundational building blocks of a true servant.
[Doug] That’s right, Vic and it’s these bedrock principles that are so vital in giving them a foundation to build on for the future. And obviously, there are different levels of service, there are different aspects to it, different facets of leadership that, let’s face it, if we are going to look after God’s people in this country, the leadership must come from here. We can’t rely upon other areas to do that.
[Victor] And that’s the way that leadership really will be, in a sense, trusted and be able to be integrated and really move the Church forward. Today we’ll be talking about building Church community. We’ll be taking off more on the things we have talked about and have a lot of Q&A and we’re really looking forward to it.
[Doug] Yes. Well, I’m certainly looking forward to day two as well, Vic. It’s going to be an exciting program. It’s a full program. But I think what we really need to do is to give them the opportunity to involve themselves in this vision we’re trying to cast and hopefully, that will inspire them for greater service. What we wanted to have is support structure to the ministry, to help them, to aid them but at the same time, preparing people who can step into those roles, ultimately, if that’s the direction that they would like to go.
[Victor] Well, this is most interesting to us because in the United States, where I am from, we are going through exactly the same process right now. We are having ministers who are coming to retirement. We are needing to bring in new ministers. There are questions about the kind of leadership and the foundation of leadership and we are not only selecting people and identifying future leaders but we have to have a way by which we train them; in which we help them understand what is required for this kind of service and work.
[Doug] Exactly, Vic and we have to consider other ways of doing this. Ideally, we have full-time pastors serving in congregations but we have to look at other ways of involving people and meeting them where they are. So that they can give of themselves, give of their service but at the same time, not necessarily do away with their careers but to be able to serve in the way that they can, for the time being. And obviously, while it’s ideal to have this situation, we have to be more creative in terms of how we look at pastoring generally.
[Victor] Well, that’s what happened to us about five years ago, we had to take a look at how to, you know, re-staff with 30 ministers in a very short period of time. And we have found innovative methods of bringing on people as volunteers, as half-time, as people who, you know, donated their time. It was just very, very wonderful as to what methods we have found to creatively be able to care for our churches. And five years down the road, we found that it’s been working and it’s been effective.
[Doug] Yes and I think when we present those alternatives, I think, in one sense, the lights go on and they start realizing all kinds of potential there and all kinds of opportunities where they may be able to serve. I think the value of this conference is very, very clear. It’s going to help them to sort of realign or at least realize what they would like to do or what they would like to contribute.
[Victor] Well, we have been just very, very happy to be here and be able to communicate with you Doug, because we have been talking to you for a good part of a year about the content of this presentation, of this conference. Who would be here, how it would play itself out and I would say that after the first day, I’ve been just very, very pleased with how we’re going.
[Doug] Well, it’s good to hear you say that Vic and we’re certainly very grateful for your contribution and that of your wife, Beverly, and Bob and Diane Dick. We’re very grateful to you coming out here and giving of your expertise and knowledge and we know that it’s going to lead to or be a platform for further development at the church here.
[Victor] And it’s been very wonderful to able to get to know you and your wife, Eve, on our last two visits here and also, your coming to the General Conference of Elders meetings a year ago last May. It’s been a real pleasure for us to get to know you.
[Doug] And a pleasure for me as well.
[Victor] Well, thanks for joining us on Inside United. Come back and join us for more.