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United treasurer declines to apologize and retract after council reprimands him

Bulletin: Interim president of the United Church of God Bob Dick told a meeting of the home office in Arcadia, Calif., March 4 that Steven Andrews and the UCG had accepted a "mutually agreed upon separation." Assumedly that means Mr. Andrews is no longer an employee of the church and no longer treasurer, although that has not been confirmed. (When David Hulme was removed as president, he retained his salary. Assumedly, since Mr. Andrews is not a council member, he will not retain a salary.) As more news becomes available on the "separation" of Mr. Andrews, The Journal plans to publish it in this space.

By Dixon Cartwright

The council of elders of the United Church of God censured Steven Andrews, the church's treasurer, Feb. 19 for his attempt, in the words of Chairman Bob Dick of Everett, Wash., to "usurp the power" of the council and the general conference of elders.

The 12-member council resolved that Mr. Andrews had overstepped bounds when he appealed, in a mass mailing directly to the UCG ministry, to promote certain resolutions in a manner that Mr. Dick said circumvented the church's constitution and bylaws.

The council resolutions stated that Mr. Andrews:

  • Worked to "overturn the decision" of the general conference with regard to the planned move of the home office from Arcadia, Calif., to Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Ascribed to the president powers that are assigned to the council, "thereby elevating the office of the president to a position of power equal to the entire Council of Elders."
  • Ascribed certain duties and responsibilities of the council to the general conference.

Mr. Dick's statement said the council will "make its best efforts, through prompt intervention, to mitigate any damage that may have occurred."

A report of the meeting of the council of elders, which took place in a hotel in Monrovia, near the church's home office in nearby Arcadia, contained a "reprimand to Steven D. Andrews" that demanded a written apology and retraction for his recent actions. The council gave Mr. Andrews a deadline of Feb. 24 at noon California time to deliver the apology and retraction to the chairman.

However, Mr. Andrews, in a statement he gave Mr. Dick Feb. 25, refused to apologize. (See more details later in this article.)

Council members present at the meetings were Gary Antion of Mississauga, Ont., Canada; Mr. Dick; Roy Holladay of Fort Myers, Fla.; Victor Kubik of Indianapolis, Ind.; Dennis Luker of Bothell, Wash.; Les McCullough of Big Sandy, Texas; Burk McNair of San Antonio, Texas; Leon Walker of Big Sandy; and Don Ward of Hawkins, Texas. The series of resolutions issued by the council was unanimously adopted by the quorum present.

Not attending the meetings were David Hulme of Arcadia (whom the council removed as president Jan. 20) and Peter Nathan of Thatcham, England. Council member Jim Franks did not attend because of a death in his family just before the meetings were scheduled to begin.

The church had mailed a "call and notice" package to the church's more than 460 elders that contained material to be voted on at the general conference in Louisville, Ky., that is scheduled officially to begin Sunday, March 8.

"Steve Andrews waited to turn in many items for consideration until after 2 o'clock on the afternoon of the day they were to be mailed," a United elder who is a church employee told The Journal. "Some were rejected, but then Mr. Andrews sent out another package the next week."

After meeting for two days in Arcadia, Feb. 18 and 19, the council sent a message to elders via E-mail to explain the circumstances and issue the reprimand and demand for an apology and retraction.

Mr. Andrews had sent the elders a letter dated Feb. 11 that contained material that had been rejected by the council from the call-and-notice procedure. It included a proposal for a strategic plan, an operating plan, a budget and another cover letter that alleged that various council members, elders and other church members had entered a conspiracy and propaganda campaign.

This alleged campaign, he suggested, explains why "The Journal and its predecessor, In Transition, have published such a barrage of inflammatory material against the Home Office, David Hulme, Edwin Stepp and myself."

Mr. Stepp, of Arcadia, is media operations manager and was an aide to Mr. Hulme when Mr. Hulme was president.

The Journal denies that it was part of a conspiracy or propaganda campaign.

In the earlier, official call-and-notice package, which was to go out to the UCG ministry on Feb. 5, Mr. Andrews had requested to have his proposed operations plan, strategic plan and budget for the 1998-99 fiscal year included. He also had written a resolution that called on the 12 members of the council to resign en masse, with a new council to be selected by the ministry.

The rationale for this resolution, wrote Mr. Andrews, was "numerous alleged ethical breaches by certain members of the Council" and "the further destabilization of the Church including its financial viability, which has largely been precipitated by the removal of its President, David Hulme . . ."

These items were not included, although three resolutions written by Mr. Andrews were. Another resolution, submitted by Michael Regan, a nonsalaried elder in Salem, Ore., was endorsed by Mr. Andrews and included in the call-and-notice documents.

Yet another resolution, submitted by paid elders Mike Blackwell of Springfield, Mo., Joel Meeker and Greg Sargent of St. Louis, Mo., and John Orchard of Omaha, Neb., was also endorsed by Mr. Andrews and included. (Both of these resolutions were later rejected by the council and the church's new outside legal counsel as being in conflict with UCG bylaws.)

Resolution revolution

Mr. Andrews' package included five additional resolutions, all of which were withdrawn from the agenda of the general conference by the council of elders because they were judged to conflict with UCG bylaws.

Regarding the treasurer's resolutions, the council's message to the elders stated that "it is our view that the proposals . . . seek to accomplish the following:

"1. Usurp the power of the General Conference of Elders and/or Council of Elders by permitting any individual member of management or any individual member of the General Conference of Elders to unilaterally declare any act of the General Conference of Elders or Council of Elders null and void . . . This proposal permits amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws of the Church by simple majority vote of the General Conference of Elders, rather than the two-thirds majority required by article 5.1 of the Constitution . . ."

"2. Overturn the decision of the General Conference of Elders with regard to the Home Office Relocation and defer such relocation until the Home Office Management Team (i.e., the President and Treasurer) deem it prudent . . .

"3. Ascribe to the President powers which are currently assigned to the Council of Elders, thereby elevating the office of the President to a position of power equal to the entire Council of Elders. This resolution would hinder the operations of the Church by preventing the Council of Elders from fulfilling its duties without the permission of the President . . .

"4. Ascribe duties and responsibilities given to the Council of Elders, as established by the Constitution and Bylaws, to the General Conference of Elders . . ."

Blame for overspending

In his cover letter, Mr. Andrews appears to blame massive overspending during the 1996-97 fiscal year on the council of elders. He stated that "in fiscal 1996/97, the Church sustained a loss from operations of $730,678"-indicating that the UCG spent $730,678 more than it received during that period. (UCG elders and other members have yet to see year-end financial reports for that period.)

Mr. Andrews then cited a letter from Coopers & Lybrand, the accounting firm currently conducting an audit of UCG finances, raising concerns about the organization's financial stability. That letter requested "information about management's plans that are intended to mitigate the adverse effects of the conditions or events that gave rise to the doubt and assess the likelihood that such plans can be effectively implemented."

Mr. Andrews said that "too much is spent by the Church on its internal needs (salaries and internal programs) and too little is spent reaching out to the world (the public proclamation of the gospel)."

He stated that home-office management had tried to "correct that imbalance by shifting resources from salaries and overheads into the public proclamation of the gospel" and that this recommendation "has often, and for some time, been made to the Council by management."

However, he omitted to mention that, as treasurer, he had prepared the budgets approved by the council and general conference of elders for the 1996-97 and 1997-98 fiscal years. Presumably as treasurer he had been aware of the overspending described in the letter and had been in a position to slow or stop it, but had not done so.

He and Mr. Hulme, who was then president, had overseen day-to-day management of the church's finances and operations, not the council of elders.

Cuts in ministry, churches

In his proposed operations plan and budget for fiscal 1997-98, Mr. Andrews urged a huge shift in funding priorities, including massive layoffs in the field ministry.

". . . The main focus of Ministerial Services in 1998-99 will be to reduce the number of field employees," he wrote in his alternative operating plan. "A detailed plan exists to accomplish this goal. This plan will require making 46 changes in the way U.S. church circuits are currently aligned. Reorganizing the church circuits will allow most of the existing churches to be served by 33 fewer full-time ministers."

He then detailed these reductions as requiring 27 layoffs, six retirements and one placing of a full-time minister on part-time status. These changes would require 10 ministerial transfers, for which he allowed $99,000 in the budget to pay for moves.

These changes, he said, would result in eight congregations being merged with others and "downgrading" 12 small congregations (defined as "groups of 12 and less") to video groups.

"Pastors will typically have 3 churches," he wrote. "Local elders will be needed to preach more often and pastors will need to use audio hook-ups and video tapes on off-weeks."

". . . These changes will reduce U.S. [church and ministerial] expenses by $1,821,456."

Other ministerial-related changes included eliminating funding for a face-to-face general conference of the ministry as well as cutting some $125,000 in salaries and health-care costs from the ministerial-services department at the home office.

Mr. Andrews' budget also proposed a 45 percent cut in funding for the council of elders, from $187,041 to $75,165, mostly through reducing funds for face-to-face meetings.

In addition, his budget proposed cutting assistance to international areas from $1,379,576 to $1,182,376, a 14 percent reduction.

The home office was relatively untouched by Mr. Andrews' proposed budget reductions. He presented an overall office budget (excluding ministerial services and media) of $1,592,009, compared with $1,596,217 in the 1997-98 budget: a reduction of only $6,208, or less than four-tenths of 1 percent.

Included in the home-office budget was a 50 percent increase in the president's travel and lodging budget, from $20,000 a year to $30,000. It also included an increase in other home-office travel from $12,000 to $15,000. Another $24,000 was budgeted for "professional library/books."

Home-office lease and rent expense was budgeted to rise from $118,380 to $130,542, an increase of just over 10 percent.

Where would the money go?

With funds cut from the ministry, congregations and council of elders, Mr. Andrews proposed major increases in media spending, more than doubling the media budget from $2,096,396 to $4,472,396.

A large chunk of this increase is $735,000 for continued production of a television series and airing of a pilot program. Scattered through his media budget were the following expenses:

Television program production, $150,000; television air time for the pilot, $300,000; television ad production, $50,000; television-program production, radio, $25,000; print advertising for television pilot, $150,000; postage and shipping for television-production videos, $5,000; supplies for television pilot video, $7,500; travel and lodging for television production, $60,000.

Not included in the $735,000 for the television project were salaries and benefits for two full-time and one part-time employees spelled out in the operations plan, which would bring total budgeted costs to well over $800,000 for the fiscal year.

What would the UCG get for this money?

"Judging from the operations plan, this would pay for one hour-long program aired in limited markets and considerable work on other programs that may never be aired," a UCG elder told The Journal.

According to the operations plan, this budget would fund "continuing production work on the 13-part series outlining the New Testament," with the first episode "ready for airing in the spring of 1998."

The first airing would "be a test of the program to judge response and to obtain feedback from viewers and television program executives on the approach and content."

The plan continues, "If the test is successful, we would then produce twelve more programs in the next few years to take the viewer through the entire New Testament."

The operations plan also called for producing two or three "new episodes for the series" in this fiscal year.

At the UCG ministerial conference in March 1997, elders were given an estimate of $230,000 for airing the TV pilot and associated advertising. In Mr. Andrews' budget, however, the air time and radio, print and television advertising costs more than doubled to $525,000 for test-airing the one-hour program.

(For a history of the controversy regarding this television pilot, see "Television Test Proving Test for United Church of God" June 27, 1997, in The Journal.)

Other media spending

In addition to the television pilot, the proposed budget included funds to increase Good News circulation from its current combined total of 70,000 to 125,000 in the United States and from 10,000 to 44,000 in international areas. This growth would come at a cost of more than $600,000 in advertising in the United States and an increase in the overall international media subsidy of $514,600, according to figures in the budget.

This budget also allowed for printing four new booklets and to begin printing the correspondence course for the general public. Public Bible lectures were also planned, with $60,000 budgeted for advertising and building and equipment leases.

Another $60,000 was budgeted for "corporate design," described in the operations plan as "develop[ing] a logo and an overall philosophy for design of our products." This would include "standards of use of the logo and standards of look and feel for all products," style manuals and "redesign[ing] existing products to match [the] newly developed design."

In additional to travel budgeted for the television pilot, another $15,000 was budgeted for travel for a Feast video, $15,000 for a Good News conference in Europe and $24,000 for other media-department travel. The total media travel budget was slated to rise from $17,000 to $114,000 for the next fiscal year.

Apology deadline

The Journal asked council member Leon Walker Feb. 25 if Mr. Andrews had apologized the day before by the council's deadline.

"Steve sent a message to Bob Dick which he related to us in which he refused to apologize," Mr. Walker said. "We hope to discuss this in a teleconference today, but I really would not want to go into the details."

Since Mr. Andrews has said he will not apologize, will the council fire him as treasurer?

"No, I really don't know about that, either," said Mr. Walker. "Obviously we have to discuss it. I really don't have a feel for what we might do."

If the council were to fire Mr. Andrews as treasurer, an officer of the corporation, could he still be elected to the council?

"If Steve is still treasurer, then he could not be elected to the council," said Mr. Walker, "because the bylaws prohibit officers of the corporation, with the exception of the president, being members of the council. But obviously, if he is no longer treasurer for any reason, then clearly he could be elected, as any minister could be."

Mr. Andrews' name was on a list of 16 finalists released Feb. 23 who are eligible to be voted in by the general conference to serve on the council. As Mr. Walker said, if Mr. Andrews were to resign as treasurer, or if the council fired him as treasurer, then he would be eligible to serve as a member of the council of elders.

For other men on the list of finalists, see the article on page 1.

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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