UCG council reconfirms validity of Louisville decisions,
ARCADIA, Calif.--In a statement released May 15, Bob Dick, chairman of the council of elders of the United Church of God, an International Association, said the UCG voted not to reconsider all the decisions made by the general conference of elders at the Louisville, Ky., conference March 8-10, most notably the decision to move the church's main office from Southern California to Ohio.
UCG treasurer and attorney Steve Andrews on May 13 or 14 had sent the 12 members of the church's council of elders a lengthy report, an "analysis study," proposing that the council consider nullifying every ballot measure that was decided upon by the ministry at the Louisville conference, including the office move.
The council began a series of committee meetings Thursday, May 15, in Arcadia, and a face-to-face council meeting was to begin Sunday, May 18.
Section 7.5.3 of United's constitution and bylaws could be interpreted to mean that, if enough eligible attenders of the general conference abstained from casting ballots, the resulting lack of a majority could render null and void decisions that were made at the conference.
Chief among the decisions that could be deemed invalid is the one that directed the home office to move from Arcadia to Cincinnati, Ohio. The nine other ballot items included the approval of strategic and operating plans and the budget for the new fiscal year.
The controversial vote to move to Cincinnati carried March 10 by only 20 votes, 190-170.
Section 7.5.3 of the constitution, "Majorities Required for Passage," states: "Those matters specifically designated in these bylaws as requiring only an affirmative ballot by simple majority shall be construed in all cases to mean a simple majority of the elders present at the meeting, and shall upon such ballot be the act of the General Conference. An affirmative majority ballot, as described above, of the elders present at the meeting, shall be the act of the General Conference on all matters ..."
The office-move vote passed by a clear, though narrow, majority of votes cast back in March in Louisville, but the question apparently arose as to what "present" means in the above paragraph. Are elders present if they're listening in on and casting their ballots via telephone lines, as many were? If enough of those listening in and those actually present in Louisville abstained from voting and the measure carried but not by at least 50 percent of those "present" at the meeting, does that mean a majority wasn't actually reached? If so, did that violate the constitution and mean that the whole process should start over?
Also, what if the vote had been reversed, 190-170 in favor of Southern California? Would the same questions have arisen that could nullify all the results at Louisville?
The Journal had tried to contact Chairman Bob Dick by telephone and E-mail before the recent meetings in Arcadia but had not heard back from him by the night of Thursday, May 15. The Journal sent Mr. Dick a message asking for comments from him, Mr. Andrews and/or President David Hulme and sent copies of the same message to the 11 other members of the council and Mr. Andrews.
The Journal did not hear back from Mr. Dick, Mr. Hulme or Mr. Andrews, but another council member forwarded to The Journal Mr. Dick's statement to the ministry and a copy of the resolution.
Mr. Dick wrote the ministers that "the Council of Elders is aware that during the past week many in the ministry have heard about a special report to the Council of Elders regarding questions that have arisen about the procedures used and results of all of the ballots that took place at our recent General Conference of Elders in Louisville. We are also aware that in the absence of complete information and with the advent of Internet communications, concerns and speculation often increase. The following resolution should serve to notify all members of the General Conference that the council has discussed the questions that have been voiced regarding the Louisville balloting, and have determined that all of the results are valid."
Mr. Dick said his statement, which he sent to the UCG ministry, was "for the purpose of reducing the concerns about this subject which have become extant over the past few days."
The resolution, as released by Mr. Dick, stated: "Whereas questions regarding the balloting procedures, conduct, and results thereof at the General Conference of Elders meeting in Louisville, KY have been raised; now therefore it is hereby resolved that the Council of Elders confirms the validity of the said procedures, conduct, and results of all ballots of the 1997 annual meeting of the General Conference of Elders of the United Church of God, an International Association as reported by the Secretary of the GCE on CC:Mail [the church's E-mail network] on 3/12/97 a copy of which is attached and made a part of this resolution."
The resolution passed unanimously, with one abstention and two of the 12 council members absent. Mr. Hulme and Don Ward were not present; Peter Nathan abstained.
The resolution confirmed the voting results as follows:
Strategic plan passed 310-55.
Operations plan passed 307-59.
Budget for 1997-98 passed 208-156.
Amendment to Section 9.1 of the constitution, to prohibit the president from serving on the council, failed 154-210.
Amendment to Section 8.2 of the constitution, to impose council term limits, failed 125-241.
A budget resolution passed 194-165.
A "sharing" resolution (which would affect local-church involvement) failed 122-240.
A measure to extend a provisional amendment process passed 321-37.
Some technical amendments to the constitution passed 333-9.
The decision to move from Arcadia to Cincinnati passed 190-170.
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