The UCG operates its own E-mail network, based
on Lotus Development Corp.'s cc:Mail, through which ministers and other
church personnel with a personal computer, modem, the appropriate software
and an assigned password can access the private network via a toll-free
The E-mail exchanges were the most open manifestation
to date of apparent frustration among some UCG elders who left the May 1995
Indianapolis conference with the impression that Arcadia, where the UCG's
offices have been located since its inception in May 1995, was to be only
a temporary location.
Others, including David Hulme, president, and Steve
Andrews, treasurer, have exhibited a different perception. They have downplayed
any notion of a strong expression from the ministry that the home office
should locate other than in Southern California.
After the UCG's general conference of elders' meeting
in Cincinnati, Ohio, last December, the council said it would present a
complete report on the relocation issue to the general conference (all UCG
elders) by February. This deadline was missed, although shortly after Jan.
1, 1996, UCG home office personnel had retained the C.B. Madison Co. to
research suitable locations for the home office.
In a May 28 letter to UCG elders regarding the
office location, Bob Dick, chairman of the UCG council, asked for suggestions.
He also said David Jarvis, a senior consultant for C.B. Madison, had reported
the company's findings, which as of June 19 had not been shared with the
However, in a June 19 telephone interview, UCG
council member Jim Franks of Houston, Texas, said C.B. Madison, during the
council's meeting in Houston March 3-6, identified nine cities as office
sites: Atlanta, Ga.; Chicago, Ill.; Cleveland, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Dallas,
Texas; Detroit, Mich.; Houston; Memphis, Tenn.; and St. Louis, Mo.
Mr. Franks said C.B. Madison did not rank the cities,
however. The firm also said that unspecified cities in Southern California
were as good a choice as any of the other locations. When pressed to select
one of the nine as an alternative to Southern California, Mr. Jarvis named
"There were two timetables for a move,"
Mr. Franks said. "The first was to move in 1996; the second was to
move in 1997."
The Houston elder said the proposal from the home-office
staff was that the council should recommend three scenarios to the general
conference, each with either a 1996 or 1997 move date, for a total of six
choices. One scenario was a move to another Southern California city, a
second was a move to Chicago, and a third was a move to another, unnamed,
city outside Southern California.
The search criteria C.B. Madison were given had
not been shared with the entire conference as of June 19.
The May 6 issue of New Beginnings, the UCG member newsletter, reported
that the council discussed in a May 2 meeting in Birmingham, Ala., the office-location
Mr. Dick "reopened the discussion on the location
of the home office," New Beginning reported. "The Council
felt that there was a need for more information before making a recommendation
to the General Conference of Elders.
"It was further proposed that an ad hoc committee
be established to do an independent study of the issue. The committee will
be entrusted with the responsibility of recommending criteria and then presenting
a report to the Council. The committee was asked to provide a list of potential
consultants to assist in this project.
"The Council of Elders approved the creation
of this committee, with Mr. Holladay as the chairman. The other three members
of the committee are Mr. [Gary] Antion, Victor Kubik and Burk McNair."
Insiders say the council as a whole was concerned
with the way home-office personnel were conducting the selection process.
Mr. Hulme, who was en route to California in advance of a trip to the Middle
East, did not attend the May 2 meeting.
Mr. Dick said in his letter that the council in
its Birmingham meetings in early May decided to renew the office lease in
Arcadia, which was to expire at the end of May, "while we undertake
an expanded home-office-location survey."
He gave as factors in the decision to renew the
lease the expense of relocation, the legal attitudes of states toward churches
and the recommendation of the consultant that it was "not sound business
practice for a start-up company to disrupt its operations by a full relocation
in its first year of business."
$600,000 to relocate
Mr. Dick wrote that the consulting firm told the council that any move outside
of Southern California would "conservatively cost the organization
in excess of $600,000."
Mr. Franks, asked how the proposed relocation could
cost $600,000, said this was the amount arrived at by the consultants and
presented in their report. He said about 25 full-time employees staff the
office in Arcadia, but probably not all would choose to move. Spending $600,000
to move 25 employees equates to $24,000 per employee.
"This is based on each employee, in addition
to moving expenses, being paid an additional bonus," Mr. Franks said.
(A 5-percent bonus was traditionally paid by the WCG to cover incidental
expenses and other costs of a move.) "The consultant also said there
would be a crossover time where there would be double rent," Mr. Franks
Mr. Franks said the council's involvement in the
home-office-location issue was "a learning experience."
"We have no intention of not providing choices
to the general conference," Mr. Franks said. "It is the intent
of the council to provide to the elders the information necessary to make
a good decision.
"All 12 of us were given the opportunity to
give input when asked about the criteria for the move last December. Not
everyone responded, especially on how the criteria were to be weighted.
"It's one thing to feel that we should move
out of Southern California. But, where do we go? That requires a lot of
study. That's what we're doing now. We're doing the best we can, and we
ask that people be patient with the process."
Spirit of Indianapolis
An often-repeated phrase among UCG elders has been "the spirit of Indianapolis,"
meaning the intent of the original general conference.
During that convention, one of the sessions was
devoted to gathering input from the elders. Elders and their wives and other
attenders were seated at large round tables and encouraged to come up with
three concerns they would like addressed publicly.
Seated at one of the tables were Mark and Michelle
Mickelson, pastor and wife of the UCG's Lubbock and Amarillo, Texas, congregations;
John Carfourek pastor of the Olympia, Wash., congregation; John Robinson,
publisher of In Transition and a UCG elder and his wife, Alice; and
Dixon Cartwright, editor of In Transition, who was covering the meetings
for the newspaper.
"Our table discussed a variety of topics,"
Mr. Robinson recalled in a May 16 interview. "We came up with three
topics we'd like to have publicly discussed. The first was move the home
office out of California. The second was move the home office out of California.
The third was move the home office out of California. We wanted to make
sure the topic was formally addressed."
Mr. Mickelson, interviewed by telephone May 17,
recalled the discussion at the table. He said: "I remember we were
very passionate in our discussions about wanting to move out of Southern
California. In fact, some people have tried to play it down since, but we
felt very strongly about it."
Former WCG regional pastors and other conference
organizers were stationed around the hall to move from table to table, talk
with the elders and guests and, at the end of the session, collect the lists
so they could be compiled and addressed in a later session.
Ray Wooten, a former WCG regional pastor and original
UCG interim-board member, elected in Indianapolis, "came by our table
and collected our list," Mr. Robinson said. "We orally reviewed
the list and explained that we wanted to be sure the topic was addressed."
Mr. Wooten, in a May 17 interview with In Transition,
said he clearly recalled the incident and agreed with Mr. Robinson's characterization.
"And their table was not the only table that had the home-office issue
on their list," Mr. Wooten said.
Many topics that arose in the discussion groups
were discussed later in the day. But the subject of the home-office location
was not brought up.
Mr. Wooten was asked if it surprised him that the
topic was not addressed.
"Not really," he said. "I thought
it was so obvious that Arcadia was a temporary home and that there was a
clear consensus to move out of the region at the earliest convenience that
it didn't surprise me that it wasn't discussed. It was to me a given."
Transcript of remarks on home office
In Transition has
learned that the home office has prepared a transcript of the entire Indianapolis
proceedings. In Transition also learned that Guy Swenson, one of
the organizers of the Indianapolis conference that produced the UCG and
now an unpaid elder in the UCG, has a videotape of the proceedings. Mr.
Swenson was asked, and agreed, to provide this newspaper with a transcript
of comments concerning the home office that came at the end of the conference.
At the conclusion of the formal meetings, Tuesday
afternoon, May 2, Roger Foster, pastor of UCG's Phoenix, Ariz., congregation,
gave the closing prayer. Immediately Victor Kubik, an organizer of the conference
who was subsequently elected to both the interim UCG board and last December
the permanent council, took the podium after the prayer for some final announcement
What follows is Mr. Swenson's transcript, taken
from the videotape of the meeting. Mr. Kubik is the speaker.
"So, quite an event. I did have a few more
announcements here, so please bear with me. For those who get a defective
[audio cassette] tape [duplicated for distribution] for some reason, please
contact Darris McNeely [former pastor of the WCG's Indianapolis South and
Columbus, Ind., congregations, who helped arrange the conference] for replacement.
"Also, now that we are the United Churches
of God, an International Association, a beautiful, elegant name [some commotion].
What did I say? [Pause, leans over to hear someone off stage.] Church of
God, sorry [laughter]. I just need more controversy [laughter]."
"I might mention that again this is transitional,
and also we have chosen for the present time during the transition period
to leave it in Southern California because that is where we will have help
for becoming established and getting the help we need. Certainly I hope
we will be able to move out of Southern California for many reasons."
At this comment--which Mr. Kubik said in a telephone
interview May 18 was not intended to elicit an audience reaction--came spontaneous
applause that lasted nine seconds. After the applause, Mr. Kubik continued:
"I think we just heard all the reasons we
"My wife and I want to get out of Southern
California as quickly as possible. Believe me, I am very mindful of that
and do want to leave Southern California. I am not exactly sure where; that
will be part of our discussion.
"So far, all we have is a post-office box,
and it is a big box [an allusion to an earlier comment from a regional pastor
who said the size of the post-office box pastors rent for the collection
of tithes and offerings is an indication of faith], so maybe it can be our
residence [laughter]. When I come home, I will know the combination.
"Certainly, while we are rejoicing we are
happy to know that we also have concerns. I certainly do, but I am very
positive, because that God has been here with us. We have worked in a manner
that the regional pastors already have worked in a collaborative fashion.
I don't want to add anything more to what David Hulme said, but I am very
positive that we have a big work ahead of us, organizing and being able
"But the work has been done here, and I want
to thank you very much for the sacrifice and the effort from here. It came
from many corners of the United States, and I know that you want to be part
of this historic occasion and putting your signature to this birth [pause,
"Okay, I was looking at other announcements,
but that is the entire announcements.
"I know there will be many questions, and
your input is very much desired. We will be getting in touch with you with
the data base we have created with the names from here.
"We can thank many people who have sacrificed
their time, efforts and virtually taken their vacation time or time away
from normal work to spend hours and hours working. But I am not going to
make a listing of many people.
"I do want to thank especially Guy and Jennifer
Swenson [conference organizers] who have spent up to [applause for 12 seconds]who
have worked till 3, 4 o'clock in the morning typing things up and doing
all the different functions.
"Again, this is not something that we have
had training for and oftentimes we look at each other and say, `Now what?'
And Guy and Jennifer have been there too when we said, `Now what?' I would
tell Guy, `What do we do now?' and he would be very helpful facilitating
the process. I want to thank both Guy and Jennifer.
"I think that all of us are tired and edgy.
Please don't tell me, ask me, any questions or say anything irritating [laughter].
I think that we are all this way and it [indecipherable] is a challenge
to our health.
"So we will be praying for you. Pray for us.
Pray for the board. Pray for us to be guided by God in making decisions
for other people.
"I think the ones that win or lose at Indy
are the people, the people that we serve. They are the ones that we are
"We are not hereif we don't organize something,
they will drift off, shatter, splinter.
"And now, with what we have done, we provided
a baby. And a carriage. And a bassinet. And a crib. Thank you very much.
We love you very much."
Mr. Kubik leaves the stage. Applause lasts for
19 seconds. The meeting ends.