The Canadian National Council met in the Toronto, Ontario, area from Nov. 27 to 30 with all nine council members in attendance. Jim Franks from the UCG IA home office attended the first portion of the meetings.
On Tuesday evening reports from all the Feast sites were given. Graemme Marshall gave a short update on United News–Canada and David Palmer gave a report on behalf of the Media Team. Mr. Palmer mentioned the exciting possibility of improving the airing time for the Beyond Today television program. A PowerPoint presentation showed an update on the Reader's Digest ad response rate. As a result of this ad, we have added subscribers from every province at a very good cost per response (the latest figure is $9.85 per response).
On Wednesday morning Jim Franks gave a presentation on "The Importance of Sound Doctrine." In his presentation, he gave a brief history of how and why United was started. There are only 14 couples who could write the full story about the beginning of UCG. He emphasized that United's beginning was not driven by government or rebellion, but the preservation of doctrine, as heresy was being promoted. Our documents were written in such a way as to make it very difficult to change any doctrine.
Mr. Franks said, "To have sound doctrine, you have to start with Scripture. How this should translate to us on a practical level is that our Sabbath service messages must be doctrinally sound. It is better to have no speakers than allow personal ideas and 'pet' material to be spread. It spreads like a cancer and causes difficult problems."
Mr. Franks then reviewed scriptures showing how doctrine was established in the New Testament and how ministers are warned to protect congregations from false doctrine. He showed how doctrine is formed from teaching to understanding. Doctrine, he said, is more than statements of facts. There are explanations that go along with it.
He also mentioned that about 150 of our elders were involved in writing our booklet on our fundamental beliefs. These fundamental beliefs came from what Mr. Armstrong had written in 1938 and 1946, with two additions by us—tithing and the return of Christ.
In conclusion Mr. Franks said, "We would prefer to not have a message [at church] than have one that is heretical. We must teach this to all. This is what began UCG, and if we don't protect it, shame on us. It requires our diligence."
The Council was able to get input from Mr. Franks on ministerial functions and on amending the Member Appeal policy.
On Wednesday afternoon the Council reviewed and approved the Operations Plan for 2008-2009. This will be presented to the National Conference for their approval next March. The budget was discussed and a few refinements requested before approval.
On Thursday morning, Dr. Ian Simons from the Winnipeg, Manitoba, area, shared his health concerns with the Council. He has a reoccurrence of prostrate cancer and solicited prayers. After that, most of the morning was spent in committee meetings and reports.
Acting upon the recommendation of the Finance Committee, the Council approved a resolution allowing the National Office to purchase additional time for the Beyond Today television program by using some of our reserves. Council meeting dates for the coming year were also approved.
The Finance Committee also discussed a "crisis budget." While this has no specific numbers as yet, they looked at what and where costs could be cut in a budget crisis.
The 2008-2009 Budget was approved to be sent to the National Conference for their ratification next March. The Governance Committee made recommendations for amendments to several policies. Amendments to the Member Appeal policy were approved.
The meetings concluded on Thursday afternoon with discussion and brainstorming.