Two council members report on Arcadia meetings, removal of president
HAWKINS, Texas - Two longtime elders in the Church of God, Don Ward and Leon Walker, explained to the 350 United brethren meeting here the Sabbath of Jan. 21 the reasons for the Jan. 20 firing of David Hulme as president of the United Church of God, an International Association.
Dr. Ward and Mr. Walker, who gave "split sermons," both serve on the 12-member council of elders of the United Church of God. Both men had just returned from the church's office in Arcadia, Calif., and a momentous face-to-face council meeting that is sure to have far-reaching effects on the policy and direction of the church.
In explaining the David Hulme dismissal, Dr. Ward spoke of the difference in the governance of the UCG and that of the Worldwide Church of God, which United broke away from in 1995.
"The president of the United Church of God serves as the CEO, the chief executive officer, of the organization, or the church, to carry out the directives of the council," Dr. Ward said. "This is not a spiritual appointment from God. It is not a spiritual succession of offices as we had thought about that Mr. [Herbert] Armstrong held or others held in the Church of God at various times."
Even in the early church, even "if you go back to the apostolic church, there was no quote pastor general. You saw 12 apostles who had been commissioned to go out and preach the gospel."
Dr. Ward referred to Matthew 16 and Jesus' statement about passing on the keys of the Kingdom and the power of binding and loosing on earth and heaven.
But Jesus, Dr. Ward said, "was speaking not just to Peter; He was speaking to everyone who was there; that is, all of the apostles."
As evidence that no policy of apostolic succession existed, Dr. Ward noted that Peter named no one to succeed himself before he died. "Neither did Paul, and neither did John," he said.
"Some have tended to equate the president of the UCG with the pastor general of the Worldwide Church of God, and that is not the case. It was never the intent of the United Church of God. In fact, the council was established to be the governing body as opposed to one person."
Mr. Walker, speaking after Dr. Ward, said much must remain "unsaid" about the removal of David Hulme from the presidency.
"I hope you can understand and appreciate that many of the issues have to do with privacy and the rights of confidentiality. Therefore, there are restraints on what can be said in those circumstances. Frankly, basically the only thing that can be said is what has been said in terms of the communication that has been given."
The gist of that communication was contained in one paragraph of a memo from the council to congregations Dr. Ward read during his half of the sermon time. Here is the paragraph:
"The Council wishes to express its gratitude to Mr. Hulme, who is also a Council member, for his work and service as the Church's first President. This change [Mr. Hulme's firing] was primarily due to differences between the Council and President regarding operations of the organization."
(For more on why Mr. Hulme was fired, please see the article beginning on page 1.)
Dr. Ward then reported on the council meetings in Arcadia, which ran Jan. 15-22.
The council, he said, made arrangements to retain two legal firms Jan. 15, the first day of the meetings. One firm of lawyers is in California, the other in Cincinnati, where the church office is set to move by next fall.
"That doesn't mean that the lawyers who are currently retained by the church are replaced," said Dr. Ward.
Also Jan. 15 council member Jim Franks of Houston, Texas, presented doctrinal papers. One was titled "Marrying Outside the Faith," which was adopted. The church will teach that church members should not marry outside the faith, but the church will not disfellowship anyone for doing so.
A second paper was "Are Our Children Called Now?" Council members gave that paper back to the doctrinal committee for more work.
The council on Jan. 16 passed a resolution calling for improving council communication with the ministry and church.
A local-building policy was discussed on the same day. Council member Victor Kubik of Indianapolis chairs the committee on local buildings. The council decided not to change a policy that was instituted as a temporary measure last May stating that some congregations need buildings but the church as a whole should not at this time embark on a massive building program. And the council wants local churches to "coordinate" their building efforts through ministerial services.
"There is no prohibition against buildings," Dr. Ward said. "But we don't have the funds to launch a massive building project at this time."
Dr. Ward said the council discussed a streamlined way to make periodic amendments to the church's constitution and bylaws. A less-cumbersome process than the existing procedure was agreed on in principle and will be presented to the general conference in March, Dr. Ward said.
On Sunday, Jan. 18, Dee Kilough, wife of the regional pastor from Sacramento, Calif., presented suggestions on the home-office move. Mrs. Kilough had coordinated the move of a large hospital to a different facility.
After Mrs. Kilough's presentation, several men presented their ideas on broadcast and print media and the public proclamation of the gospel. They were Bill Bradford, Howard Davis, Rod Hall, Galen Morrison and Scott Ashley.
Mr. Morrison, from Rockford, Ill., owns a printing business. Mr. Bradford, of Oakland, Calif., and Mr. Davis, of Portland, Ore., are two UCG elders with television experience. They produce a program aired on public-access cable television that has enjoyed a certain amount of success in the Northwest and other areas of the country.
"They have received 1,500 responses to date," said Dr. Ward, "and public-access TV is free."
Rod Hall, manager of a television station in Spokane, Wash., also made a presentation. Then Scott Ashley of Arvada, Colo., managing editor of The Good News, the church's magazine, spoke.
"At present we have a circulation of about 75,000 for The Good News," Dr. Ward said.
Also on Sunday, Jan. 18, four businessmen who are also UCG elders made a presentation and proposals on church finances. They were Richard Oettel of Seattle, Wash., Ed Szalankiewicz of Elizabeth, Pa., John Robinson of Decatur, Ind., and Jim Hopkins of Columbus, Ohio.
A resolution to speed up and commit the church to a timely move of the office from California to Ohio passed Jan. 19. Dr. Ward said that for two years discussions have gone on about office location, and in March 1997 the general conference voted that it would move to Cincinnati.
"That's almost a year ago, and yet no definitive steps had really been taken for moving the home office. So that project was gotten off center in that a resolution was passed to move the home office, and a way of financing it was also approved."
Besides $115,000 the church has earmarked for the move, three anonymous lenders have offered a $150,000 line of credit that would be paid off in three years at zero interest.
Dr. Ward quoted the text of the resolution to move the office:
"Whereas the general conference of elders approved the move of the home office to Cincinnati, Ohio, during the March 1997 general conference of elders meetings held in Louisville, Ky., and whereas the council of elders has reviewed the costs of the move to Cincinnati and believes that sufficient moneys will be available to facilitate a move in the 1998 calendar year, now therefore it is hereby resolved that the move of the home office to Cincinnati transpire by Sept. 1, 1998."
He said a committee of church employees, council members, elders and members from the Cincinnati area would help coordinate the move and find appropriate facilities in the area by March 1 for council consideration.
Tuesday, Jan. 20, was the day the council voted to remove David Hulme as president. (See the article beginning on page 1 for more about his termination.)
Then, on Jan. 21, budget discussions began, Dr. Ward said.
"With the moving of the home office and with it being budget time once again, we thought it would be wise to look at the entire organization from top to bottom with the thought of restructuring, streamlining, focusing as much as we can and coming to the point where we can put more and more money in the first-line work of preaching the gospel."
So the council passed a resolution to deal with those issues. It set up a committee to study it consisting of Victor Kubik, Roy Holladay, Les McCullough (chairman) and Don Ward.
"That committee will be looking at all of the operations of the church, making recommendations with regard to structure in the future."
Then on Jan. 22 "we talked about the process of selecting a new president . . . Recommendations will be received from the field ministry and from anyone else, as far as that goes. But the idea is that the council will have a meeting during the first part of the meetings in Louisville [the next general conference of elders], probably on Sunday morning, March 8, for the purpose of selecting the president."
(Several elders have lately been recommending that the council make the selection before the conference, rather than on March 8, because some elders fear Mr. Hulme may try to convince the general conference to reinstate him. Others are calling for the council to choose the president after the conference, saying that the present configuration constitutes a lame-duck council and the choice should be left to the new council.)
The Journal later asked Dr. Ward if the council would be soliciting applications for the job of president. He laughed and said no, that that would be like taking applications for the job of regional pastor.
Dr. Ward, during his half of the sermon time, noted that four of the 12 council members' terms expire soon. They are Victor Kubik, Les McCullough of Big Sandy, Burk McNair of San Antonio, Texas, and Leon Walker. United elders are in the process of either renominating these men or nominating their replacements. Twelve Americans and four men representing areas outside the United States will appear on the ballot in Louisville. From those, three Americans and one non-U.S. elder will be chosen to serve terms on the council.
Dr. Ward said he is optimistic that decisions made during the Arcadia meetings "will allow the church to move forward on every front, especially the area of getting the church settled and established so it can really focus on doing the work of the church, from feeding the flock to educating the youth, the members of the Body of Christ, the ministry and everybody else."
He said the "big items" to pray for are (1) "that we're able to develop a plan and we can all pull together to establish the church so it can focus on feeding the flock and preaching the gospel"; (2) develop a comprehensive plan for the public proclamation of the gospel; (3) plan programs for youths, the brethren and the ministry; (4) select or reselect council members; and (5) choose a new president.
He voiced another hope: He would like to see the brethren "waking to a sense of urgency because of what is going on in this world. With the news that we have around us on any given day, we know that we're living in very troublous times."
Another member of the council of elders, Mr. McCullough, had spoken before the Big Sandy congregation Nov. 22, immediately after the council, in an earlier meeting, had passed a resolution on "unity" in the United Church of God (see The Journal, Nov. 21). During that address he spoke of problems involving the church and council that may have had a bearing on the situation that led to Mr. Hulme's dismissal.
Mr. McCullough spoke specifically of the difficulty the council has had determining the salaries made by home-office employees.
"The council asked for a disclosure in terms of salaries of everyone at the office and the field ministry and so on," Mr. McCullough said, "and there has been reluctance to give those salaries to the council of elders. Don't ask me why; I don't know. But there has been reluctance. And I've heard every kind of a thought and crazy idea [about the salaries] that you can imagine on elders' forum [an E-mail forum for United elders].
"Some [on the forum] say it's none of the council's businesses what the salaries are. 'Why would they be asking such a thing?' 'Normal boards don't ask something like that.' And so on."
He quipped: "All I can say is if they ever start a business I surely hope they will hire me and let me set my own salary."
The Journal is available from P.O Box 1020, Big Sandy, Texas 75755, U.S.A., and http://www.thejournal.org.
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