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UCG council meets, discusses crisis of trust, office location

By Linda Moll Smith

The mishandling of relationships and responsibilities has resulted in a crisis of trust in the United Church of God, according to a UCG spokesman who is also a member of the UCG council of elders.

"What are we as a church all about? It all comes down to relationships," said Jim Franks of Houston, Texas, after the council's recent bimonthly meeting.

Mr. Franks was describing the conclusions reached in a problem-solving process undertaken by the council during a meeting April 29 through May 2 in Birmingham, Ala.

The UCG's 12-man council of elders spent a day and a half of its four days identifying and resolving problems as a part of its strategic planning for the United Church of God, an International Association.

"In discussing the problems at hand and the difficulties facing the church, we came to see that we as members of the Church of God have not always handled our relationships and responsibilities in a godly manner," said Mr. Franks. "The result of this problem has been lack of trust at all levels within the church."

The council explored solutions to the problem, listing areas for study including human nature, relationships with God and neighbor, administrative styles, understanding and teaching, and trust.

The council also tackled another lingering concern of members of the UCG: Where will the home office relocate?

"Preliminary studies from an outside consultant, as well as input from the home-office staff, has, as you know, already been given to us," said Mr. Franks. "After listening to all that information, no mandate emerged.

"So we on the council decided we needed to form our own ad-hoc committee to study this issue. We are personally responsible for answering to the general conference and church on this, and we wanted to provide them with the best possible choices. We've basically assumed the job of gathering more information on where to locate the home office."

Mr. Franks said the council had approved an extension of the lease of the present office space in a bank building in Arcadia, Calif., for as long as a year to allow the council more time to study the issue.

The council also discussed permanent buildings for UCG congregations. Council members chose among themselves a committee of Victor Kubik (chairman), Mr. Franks and Doug Horchak to complete an objective study with suggestions from regional pastors and other ministers throughout the United States.

"Based on the budget worksheets local churches filled out, 75 percent of our U.S. congregations do not even list having a local building as one of their priorities," Mr. Franks said. "Most churches are comfortable with leasing or renting what they have, whereas a few churches are in desperate need of having their own facilities."

Mr. Franks characterized the council as "positive" about the concept of local buildings, "but we need to do our homework before investing in a building. It is only logical to do a centralized study so a number of church areas could benefit from the shared experience others have had in this area."

In other business, the council:

  • Asked council member Peter Nathan to chair an ad-hoc finance committee to recommend salary ranges for UCG corporate officers and operational managers in preparation for a report on salary ranges to be presented at the next general conference of elders.
  • Approved papers for release to the ministry on jury duty, taking oaths and tithing on net income.
  • Listened to progress reports on the UCG, including plans to advertise The Good News magazine and the collection of $1.2 million in spring Holy Day offerings.

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