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General Conference of Elders Meeting Sees Two Members Seated, New Internet Strategy Unveiled

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General Conference of Elders Meeting Sees Two Members Seated, New Internet Strategy Unveiled

Council member Scott Ashley and Council Chairman Len Martin were re-confirmed to serve another term in their Council seats; Brian Shaw and Paul Wasilkoff were added to the Council.

Two proposed amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws of UCG did not pass with the required 2⁄3 majority, with votes of 142-120 and 95-172, respectively. The first proposal was to amend several parts of both the Constitution and the Bylaws to classify elders who don’t cast ballots at the GCE as “non-voting elders,” and to interpret the necessary majorities for passing issues as based on voting elders, rather than of all elders or of valid ballots cast. The second proposed amendment would have precluded any church-employed elder who directly reported to a supervisor at the home office from being able to serve on the Council of Elders. 

The Strategic Plan, Operation Plan and Budget for fiscal year 2021-2022 were passed by votes of 259-16, 254-20 and 251-23, respectively.

Leadership updates on the state of the Church

To begin the four-hour webcast presentation, Chairman Len Martin introduced the conference with a call to order and a welcome to elders ordained since the last GCE. Following Mr. Martin’s introduction, President Victor Kubik recognized pastors and employees who had reached milestones in their years of service.

Following the recognition, Mr. Martin returned to give an address as chairman of the Council. In his message, he reminded the conference of the Church’s model of governance, which is predicated on involvement by the elders of the Church. It is a model seen in the Acts 15 conference in Jerusalem, and as such, he made four suggestions to help improve how effectively the church can be governed. The four points were directed to elders: 1) Update their bio on the elders’ website; 2) Intentionally leave or remove their name from the running for Council positions depending on whether they are interested in serving on the Council; 3) Watch the video recordings of the quarterly Council meetings and respond with feedback; 4) Cast a ballot as described in the governing documents. On point four, he explained that 33 percent of the ordained elders in UCG consistently don’t cast a ballot, and he requested those who do not cast a ballot share why so he could better understand their reasons.

After the chairman’s address, Mr. Kubik gave an overview of the state of the Church over the past year under COVID-19 restrictions, beginning with how it has resulted in many positive outcomes despite the hardship. In many areas, local leaders have solved problems with ingenuity, coming up with solutions they likely wouldn’t have if normal travel from senior pastors had been uninterrupted. He mentioned the expected return to a level of normalcy for Ambassador Bible College, United Youth Camps and the Feast of Tabernacles this year. In the last half of his address, he revealed plans for a new framework for “customer” relationship management in the Church’s Internet strategy. The goal of the new strategy is to build a platform that better engages people, building a relationship where the Church is a trusted, go-to source for answers to life’s questions. The intent is to determine how to take advantage of the enormous wealth of resources already on the website, which brings so many people to our site, and further build relationships with them.

Ministerial and Member Services operation manager Mark Welch followed president Kubik, reporting the rising attendance post-pandemic and the ordained manpower of the Church before enumerating 10 goals for his department (see box on next page). Overall, the goals are based in Ephesians 4:11-16 Ephesians 4:11-16 [11] And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; [12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: [13] Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: [14] That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; [15] But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: [16] From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love.
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, which describes the different types of service ordained ministry are called to as they serve the members of the Church. 

Following a brief break, the annual presentation honoring deceased elders and wives was given by pastor Greg Thomas. Following this presentation, Media and Communications Services operation manager Peter Eddington gave his report. He highlighted a few ways his department has contributed to preaching the gospel of the Kingdom to the world over the past year. After some brief comments regarding trends toward secularization that he believes could potentially cause future censorship of the Church’s message, Mr. Eddington went on to show the growth in audience for the Church’s Beyond Today Roku channel (see slides on next page); most importantly in the average length of time that viewers are watching per session (66 minutes). He then enumerated goals for the coming year. First is to increase Beyond Today magazine circulation to 350,000+ (currently about 322,000). More subscribers naturally result in additional donors and coworkers, and with more addresses on file the Church can reach out with other offers to develop a relationship with them. Next is an increased advertising campaign online, in print and on television. Third is to ensure the Church’s messaging is more relevant and compelling for its audience, including on more difficult topics like depression, suicide and despair.

In the final operation manager presentation of the day, treasurer Rick Shabi reported that the fiscal year’s income was better than anticipated (given the pandemic), with reduced expenses, meaning the Church’s finances over the past year have been in a very good condition. He walked through the nine months of the fiscal year for which there was data, showing good financial health in nearly every category. He finished his presentation by sharing the pay scales for Church employees, and by reading a few scriptures: Jeremiah 10:23 Jeremiah 10:23O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps.
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, Proverbs 16:9 Proverbs 16:9A man's heart devises his way: but the LORD directs his steps.
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and 2 Chronicles 26:5 2 Chronicles 26:5And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.
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After Mr. Shabi’s presentation, the balloting results were read by Council secretary Frank Dunkle, who then led a closing hymn and called on Aaron Dean to deliver a closing prayer.