UCG elders facing demands of 21st century
By Dixon Cartwright
CINCINNATI, Ohio--Elders of the United Church of God an International Association, meeting for the 10th time as a body, reelected four members of the governing 12-man council, approved a budget, passed amendments to the bylaws and rejected others and heard church leaders expound on the general conference's theme, "The 21st-Century Church: Rising to the Challenge."
The 350 or so elders who consider themselves members of the general conference (conference membership is optional for elders; a small number of elders worldwide are not members) elect the smaller council. Two hundred twenty elders were physically present during the meetings, along with 172 wives. Others listened and voted via Internet and phone hookups.
During the official business meeting on Sunday, May 2, the elders reelected Victor Kubik of Indianapolis, Les McCullough of Big Sandy, Texas, Clyde Kilough of Sacramento, Calif., and Leon Walker of Big Sandy as council members.
After the election, the council in executive session reelected Mr. Kilough to continue as its chairman.
Roy Holladay of Cincinnati, a former but not current council member, is president of the church.
Elders who ran unsuccessfully for the council included Gary Antion of Cincinnati, Dennis Luker of Bothell, Wash., and Richard Pinelli of Cincinnati. Mr. Pinelli is director of ministerial services.
The current 12-man configuration is Aaron Dean, Gladewater, Texas; Robert Dick, Portland, Ore.; Jim Franks, Houston, Texas; Doug Horchak, Dallas, Texas; Mr. Kilough; Mr. Kubik, Joel Meeker, St. Louis, Mo.; Mr. McCullough; Richard Thompson, Buford, Ga.; Mr. Walker; Anthony Wasilkoff, Mississauga, Ont., Canada; and Mario Seiglie, Anaheim, Calif.
Of the 12, three men are considered "international" council members. They are Mr. Meeker, who serves French-speaking UCG members in several countries; Mr. Walker, who serves Spanish speakers; and Mr. Wasilkoff, who serves Canadians.
The official business on Sunday was the voting for council candidates and amendments to the church's bylaws and constitution. For example, a proposed amendment to the church's mission statement that would reword sections of the constitution, bylaws and rules of association failed 145-180.
An amendment to the bylaws that would restrict operations managers (including the president) from concurrently serving on the council of elders failed 159-167.
The yearly strategic plan, operation plan and budget passed 307-18, 297-26 and 266-59, respectively.
The conference included a report from President Holladay on "Christ-centered servant leadership," which the church recently renamed "godly leadership" (after starting out a few years ago with the term "servant leadership").
Treasurer Tom Kirkpatrick reported on income for the fiscal year, which he said would probably be within 1 percent of the budgeted amount.
Mr. Pinelli reported on the increasing health and retirement costs attributable to an aging ministry.
The conference's keynote addresses were by Lyle Welty of Strongsville, Ohio ("Keeping Our Foundational Principles Alive"), and Dave Baker of Farmington, N.Y. ("A Changing World: How Will It Affect You and the Church?").
The question-and-answer session on Sunday night, May 2, centered on the "public proclamation" of the gospel, the nature of the council of elders, challenges of the international areas, conflict resolution and, most lengthily, a discussion about the UCG elders' Internet forum.
Stuart Segal, pastor from Burlington, Wash., asked the council, "What do you foresee [for the forum] in the future, and how committed are you to it?"
In reply, the council members in turn agreed it was at least potentially a good and profitable innovation.
Some elders, such as Aaron Dean, said they wholeheartedly approved of the forum. Others were not as enthusiastic about it, such as Mr. McCullough, who contributes to the forum "only very rarely, maybe three or four times in the past four years," and said he is not opposed to the elders' forum in principle, "as long as it's used properly."
(The forum began in 1996 after elder Ellis Stewart of Big Sandy mass-E-mailed the ministry via the private network the church used at the time called cc:Mail. Rather than face the prospect of elders engineering their own mass mailings, the church apparently decided it would be better to organize and exercise a modicum of control over a UCG-sponsored forum.)
Capture with commitment
The conference, as always, included reports from selected "international" (non-U.S.) areas and workshops, which included "The Roles and Rules of Confidentiality in Regards to Sensitive Issues," "Preparing Your Computer for the 21st Century" and "Dealing With Ministerial Stress."
Mr. Kilough concluded the conference Monday by urging fellow elders to capture with commitment and sacrifice the vision God sets before them.
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