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Council of Elders Convenes for Quarterly Meeting, Approves New Beyond Today Television Studio

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Council of Elders Convenes for Quarterly Meeting, Approves New Beyond Today Television Studio

In an impromptu ballot during their December quarterly meeting, the Council of Elders approved a plan to build a larger television studio and repurpose the current studio and other media production space at the home office. Media and Communication Services operations manager Peter Eddington brought the proposal to build a structure dedicated to studio space and media production adjacent to the current home office building before the Council for discussion, with the expectation for a ballot on the measure to be taken at their February meeting. But after discussion indicated strong Council support for the idea, which would repurpose the current studio space for additional personnel workspaces, president Victor Kubik suggested they take a ballot that same day. The estimated cost of the project is between $500,000 and $600,000, and one donor has already pledged to pay half the bill. The rest will come from donations and not from operating funds.

At the beginning of the four days of meetings, the administration gave short updates to the Council. Below are short summaries of the operations managers’ updates. The rest of the Council discussions—including reports from the Council committees, financial reviews, and other meetings—can be found on the Council of Elders website (with videos available for select meetings) at http://coe.ucg.org.

President’s Report

Ambassador Bible College (ABC) started its academic year Aug. 29 with 23 students. There will be three or four more students joining for the second semester.

The Ministerial Education Program is for identifying future leaders and training them. It coordinates the various educational courses we offer for the ministry. The team is Darris McNeely, Steve Myers, Chris Rowland and Victor Kubik.

The Labor Day Leadership Workshop was held on Sept. 2-5, 2016, with 31 attending from all over the U.S., and one couple from Canada.

Regional conferences are to begin in Atlanta, Georgia, on Jan. 15-17, 2017. There will be a leadership workshop on Sunday, Jan. 15, with the ministerial regional conference to follow.

Church of God, International: Accepting CGI’s invitation, Victor Kubik gave the sermon at their services in Cleveland, Ohio, on Nov. 19.

Young Adult Leadership Initiative (YALI) will produce a video directed to and about young adults this year. At the Winter Family Weekend YALI conducted a professional networking event. Our churches in Minnesota will host a young adult weekend on Jan. 14-16, 2017.

Ministerial and Member Services Report

Chris Rowland summarized manpower changes since the last meeting in August, including transfers, retirements, new hires, deaths and new ordinations. He then gave the following statistics:

There are 382 elders in the United Church of God (UCG); 94 are outside the U.S.; 288 are in the U.S.

77 are church pastors; 10 are associate or assistant pastors

There are seven ministerial trainees.

There are 195 congregations and Bible study groups in the U.S. (there is a new Bible Study group in Portsmouth, Virginia).

There have been 144 baptisms so far in 2016, which is 49 more than at the August meetings.

The average U.S. Sabbath attendance for October 2016 was 7,271 (October is a low month due to travel for the Holy Days). Our average attendance is still fluctuating each month between 7,200 to 7,600. There still doesn’t appear to be a significant trend either upward or downward.

Financial Services

Rick Shabi updated the Council on significant financial activities and results of operations since the August Council meetings.

The annual audit report has been issued by our independent accounting firm. Again they offered an “unqualified” opinion on our financial statements, meaning that as a result of their review, their opinion is that our financial reports present fairly the financial position of the Church (see the article and download the full report here: https://www.ucg.org/members/news/audited-financial-statements-for-2015-1016).

Next, details of the offerings from the four fall Holy Days and financial results of the first five months of the fiscal year (July through November) were presented and discussed.

Overall, Holy Day offerings are about $150,000 over budget and are above last year’s totals.

For the fiscal year to date, general income and overall income is running slightly higher than last year.

Cash balances at the end of November are healthy and are significantly higher than last year at this time. “Cash” includes certificates of deposit, as are disclosed in the audited financial statements.

Since the August Council meetings, the purchase of the Portsmouth, Ohio, church building has been completed, as well as the donation of land in London, Kentucky, which land is used for the benefit of the local church. UCGIA now owns a total of eight local church buildings, not including the home office building.

Media and Communications Services

Peter Eddington updated the Council on the following*:

Mr. Eddington noted that the Beyond Today streaming apps on major television streaming platforms are all finished, with the United Church of God app (which will host sermons and webcasts) being in development and nearing completion. He also highlighted the results so far of ads the Church is running on the Roku streaming box platform for the Beyond Today app. If a TV user clicks the ad and does not have the Beyond Today app installed, it will link to the Channel Store for installation. After one and a half weeks of advertising we are seeing the following results:

Our cost-per-click on the Roku advertising campaign is about $.006. These are people who respond to a Roku ad, which opens right into a program.

We reached over 26,684 people, who watched 39,527 videos.

In the first 5 weeks of our Roku advertising campaign we’ve had over 18,598 new Beyond Today channel installs.

The average time spent on our channel is 24.73 minutes, so our users are watching at least an entire episode, on average. 

*statistics listed are as of press date