Mr. Havir introduced Mr. Hulme as chairman of the rules committee, Mr. Holladay
as chairman of the home-office-location committee, Mr. Luker as chairman
the roles-and-responsibilities committee and Mr. Nathan as chairman of the
The four other council members in the area for the conference attended services
in outlying areas on the Sabbath and were not present for the q-and-a.
Gary Antion of Toronto, Ont., Canada, traveled to Fort Worth for services;
Jim Franks of Houston, Texas, and Doug Horchak of Denver, Colo., both went
to Monroe and Shreveport, La.; Victor Kubik of Indianapolis, Ind., traveled
to the Dallas area.
Also in the audience from the home-office staff were Steve Andrews, church
treasurer; Charles Melear, travel coordinator; Connie Seelig, office employee
(who was here to visit relatives); Gerald Seelig, husband of Connie and
secretary to the council; and Steve Sidars, whom Mr. Dick called "our
resident expert on strategic planning."
Mr. Dick announced that the councilors would answer 20 written questions,
along with live questions from the congregation. Some of the 20 queries
remained unanswered, but only, said Mr. Dick, because the open microphone
in the audience inspired so many live questions that eventually time ran
The questions, please
"I am a generalist," Mr. Dick said, "but Mr. Nathan will
specialize in the questions of finance, Mr. Hulme on those things that deal
with home-office administration, Mr. Holladay with issues of strategic planning
and home-office location and Mr. Luker on job descriptions of all of the
individuals: president, chairman, council and staff members."
Mr. Dick read the first question, from an unnamed Big Sandy member: "When
our pastor [Mr. Havir] proposed an amendment and the council of elders opposed
it, who really opposed it? Did any of you read it and contact the home office
that you opposed, or were there just one or two who opposed it?"
(Mr. Havir's amendment would prohibit the president from being a member
of the council of elders. The amendment is set to come up for a vote at
the general conference.)
Mr. Dick explained that the amendment process used by the United Church
of God includes the "need to create a statement of opposition to any
amendment." He said he wasn't happy with the word opposition, and the
council has considered calling the process by another name, because that
word "has an adversarial feel to it."
"No matter what the amendment is," Mr. Dick said, "somebody
must draft what is currently called a statement of opposition. The council
then creates a statement to say to the conference of elders, 'Gentlemen,
here's the other side of the coin.'
"It isn't a matter of whether the amendment is good or bad; the amendment
committee, which is a body of men from the general conference of elders,
is required to put together a statement of opposition from somebody, even
if the council doesn't."
That said, Mr. Dick restated and answered the question: "Who really
opposed it? We all opposed it. When 12 men discuss what should we do, from
that 12 men comes a majority vote. I couldn't tell you who said yes and
who said no. I can tell you only that, when the council opposed it, more
than 50 percent voted to do so."
Mr. Dick's comments on the anonymity of council votes was in line with recent
reports that the actual council votes are kept secret for "ethical"
reasons, that the names of individual voters are not recorded in minutes
of the council, and council members are required not to divulge to anyone
outside the council how anyone of their number voted.
Mr. Dick told In Transition that the council decided not to divulge
how members vote because the "standard procedure" advocated by
the National Center for Nonprofit Boards was that "the only votes that
are recorded by name are abstentions."
When the council was "developing protocols," he said, "I
simply drew the council's attention to that particular protocol and said
that standard convention does not record aye and nay votes, but they do
record by name abstention votes. So that has been the way the secretary
has recorded the balloting."
Mr. Franks commented during the Tyler conference that this policy should
be altered to allow the reporting and discussion of individual voters and
Mr. Nathan read a question: "Are we adhering to the budget
that was ratified in Cincinnati? Why have one if it's not
"Cincinnati" refers to the second general conference of elders,
in Ohio in December 1995.
"Cincinnati occurred in the beginning of December 1995," Mr. Nathan
said. "It established a budget for April 1, 1996, to March 31, 1997.
We are approaching the end of that budget, and when we came to Cincinnati,
we were in a very dynamic state of development."
Mr. Nathan cited the example of two elders who were not expected to attend
but who did end up attending the Ohio conference.
"We were in a very fluid situation. We had, for instance, two ministers
already in Germany who at that time were being paid by a subsidy from Arcadia
[the home office]. The intention was that they continue to be paid from
Arcadia until they were able to be self-financing in Germany.
"Now, in Germany you cannot do what you can do in the United States.
You can't do anything in Germany until you have a formally established legal
entity to which to send the money. At this point in time all the brethren
in Germany are still collecting their tithes, waiting on the final incorporation
of the church in Germany."
Only after the German brethren incorporate will they be able to collect
tithes as a church, said Mr. Nathan.
"When the budget was drawn up in late 1995, nobody had any idea how
long it would take to do that in Germany."
Mr. Nathan cited a similar situation in Britain: "I went to England
in September 1995. The church had been established as a voluntary association--literally
like a little club--in Scotland. The form of the structure was entirely
inappropriate, even at that size and time. We had to apply through the charity
commission in Britain" for legal status as a church.
It took a year to set up in Britain, but "we can now start to increase
our income by the order of, say, 15 to 20 percent based upon the taxes that
church members have been paying."
Mr. Nathan explained that, in Britain, donations to churches are not tax-deductible,
but the government pays the taxes collected from donors to the recipient
Mr. Nathan quoted church attorney and treasurer Steve Andrews of Arcadia
as saying of the budget at the Cincinnati conference that "this was
very much a budget of estimation."
He quoted Mr. Andrews: "We don't have a strategic plan. We don't have
an operation plan. What am I doing here trying to present a budget? I'm
presenting a blue-sky budget because you've demanded one."
One expense that was apparently inadvertently left out of the budget, Mr.
Nathan said, was for health care for employees. The church to date has spent
$650,000 on health care, which was not provided for in the budget.
"What do we do? Do we tell everybody we're not going to take care of
Strictly speaking, he said, the health-care situation should have been discussed
and decided upon by the general conference, but it wasn't.
"So mistakes were made. But, if you look at the expenses for the past
12 months, you'll find the principal overruns occur in three areas."
The three areas, he said, are salaries,
principally those paid to overseas employees; subsidies to international
areas; and health care.
John Warren, a Big Sandy deacon, walked to the microphone and asked: "As
far as money spent, budget earmarked for another area, who makes that decision?
Or is there a budget-amendment process to go through to change money from
one area to another?"
Mr. Nathan replied that the constitution and bylaws of the church provide
"no means for a budget process." The budget, he said, must be
approved by the council, then ratified by the general conference of elders.
If funds can be taken from reserves without impacting budgets of future
years, then the president can make the decision to spend funds a certain
However, said Mr. Nathan, if an expenditure would have a long-term impact,
such as the hiring of staff members, "then that will have to go back
to the general conference for ratification because they will have to ratify
next year's budget. The council shouldn't be in a situation to organize
the budget ahead of time."
Mr. Nathan defended spending beyond the budget by saying that "every
item that has been overspent this year has been spent in pursuit of the
original objective of United: to stabilize the people and take care of the
Middle Eastern trip
Next in line was Big Sandy member Paul Jarboe, who stated: "I understand
that Mr. Hulme and his staff were going overseas to do some filming and
there was a vote taken that said that you guys [on the council] did not
agree with this trip."
Mr. Jarboe asked if that were true.
Mr. Nathan asked Mr. Holladay to answer the question.
"It [the trip Mr. Hulme and a camera crew took to the Middle East]
was something that we did discuss among ourselves," said Mr. Holladay.
"Now, whether every last one of the council members then knew specifically
about it, I don't know, but we knew that it would be planned. The difficulty
may be that maybe not everybody knew."
Mr. Nathan said that, in planning the best course for the church in respect
to television broadcasting, which he characterized as "in this fluid
state," the least-expensive option considered by council members "was
a three-week trip to the Middle East."
Mr. Dick interrupted, offering to respond to the question, saying he would
"put this in a pre-Cincinnati context."
"I'm in a unique position to know," he said. "We had a finance
committee that was a part of our transitional-board meeting, and at that
point we put out a finance survey to four of the largest regions in the
United States, and we were trying to get a feel for their priorities.
"In other words, what do you feel the priorities of the United Church
of God should be?
"It was obvious from the survey that the No. 1 priority was to stabilize
the church, but statistically very close behind that was this more-difficult-to-quantify
term 'do a work.' So it was obvious to all of the transitional board that
the two highest priorities, literally head and shoulders ahead of all of
the other priorities, were stabilize the church and do a work."
Unfortunately, Mr. Dick said, some questions arise "in a vacuum."
"It has been fascinating to see the sensitivity to the executive travel
budget. But I have made two trips. Mr. Hulme and I went to the Philippines
to respond to their plea to please come down and help us. And I have been
to Australia to meet with the founders of the Australian national committee.
And I have been to England for their annual European and African conference."
When the brethren beckon council members to come see them to help them to
gain official recognition in their countries, "there aren't a lot of
choices," he said. "You either say no, or you go over and help
them get organized. To Africa, that's expensive, and there's no way around
Sharon Bettes asked: "If money is an issue when you look at having
the general-conference meeting, would you consider having that meeting in
a location like Big Sandy and allowing brethren to house all of the elders,
including yourselves, and let us find homes for you to meet in so that you
can have the conference? Everyone can participate, and the funding can be
greatly reduced as far as hotel costs and the feeding of the brethren."
"That is a very generous offer," responded Mr. Dick, "but
our difficulty is that the largest single expense for a body of people who
are located in every corner of the globe is the airfare to get them to the
location, not the location itself. The thing that skyrocketed the cost of
the Cincinnati conference was airfare. It is still the largest element in
putting together a conference."
Subsidies from foreign offices?
The next question came from Mrs. Bettes's husband, Brian:
"Will some of the international offices--for instance, Australia--help
to fund some of their people to come to the conference? Or does the United
States have to subsidize the entirety of travel expenses?"
Chairman Dick said that, because no "free-standing international areas"
exist in United, any funds from foreign offices would be funds that had
originated in the United States.
Mr. Bettes continued with another question, wondering if the council would
be open to the brethren determining when they are "comfortable and
ready to move on and do a work."
"We're very well aware that stabilization is a long-term, ongoing situation,"
replied Mr. Dick. "It's difficult that there is no one constituency.
We do have both [some who want to fund a 'work,' others whose priority is
local preaching of the gospel] in the church at the same time. We're not
insensitive to either one of them."
Mr. Dick said UCG congregations began with the concept of providing ministerial
care for congregations.
Remember local boards
The next question was from Big Sandy member Bernie Monsalvo:
"I was wondering if you have tapped the resources of local boards.
We're here to help you. There are certainly things that we can help with.
In your scheme of things, have you pondered how we can help you?"
Mr. Dick, as part of his answer, said he finds it "frustrating"
that "good ideas and good people" must be put on the shelf for
"I think for right now it's fair to say we have understood that local
boards and their help to the pastor in the service of that particular congregation
is for the time being probably fundamentally the greatest service that can
"And, until we get the international level of organization established
within this church, we will probably not have the luxury of being able to
sit back and ask ourselves: How can you help us, and what interface can
we have so that we accomplish as much as possible by working together as
Commented Mr. Luker: "I know you're expecting a lot, and we're wanting
to do a good job. Please be patient with us. We've just gone through our
first year from Cincinnati. We've had one year of experience, and I think
you'll see that this next year will be much better. I'm learning how to
be a good council member and how to do my job. It's taken this first year
or so to learn to do that."
Is the president the pastor general?
Mr. Luker tackled a written question: "Please explain the difference
between the office of president and pastor general."
"We all know that Mr. Armstrong was pastor general," began Mr.
Luker, "and nobody questioned that. We know how God used him. He had
the authority to make the final decision on any matter, and he did."
Mr. Luker said Mr. Armstrong passed the pastor-generalship on to Joseph
Tkach, "and Mr. Tkach had the same authority and powers that Mr. Armstrong
But "then all of this [the WCG's change of doctrines and its subsequent
splits] happened. Over 100 of us got together, as we were being terminated,
and were told to accept the other beliefs or get out. So we did.
"We went to Indianapolis. As some of us sat there, we were nobody.
We were flattened. No one was saying I'm the new pastor general.
"The way we began in United was not with one minister leaving and beginning
a new church. We all know that. There could be no pastor general unless
God wanted one. If God wants a pastor general, I want a pastor general.
But He's going to have to show that in His own way and in His own time.
"The chairman chairs the meetings of the council of elders. He'll chair
the meetings of the general conference of elders. The president's responsibilities
would be to manage the day-to-day affairs of the work and the church."
In the past with the Worldwide Church of God, said Mr. Luker, "the
pastor general had absolute authority to make all decisions, to make them
himself, if he chose to do so. The president has the authority to make the
day-to-day decisions in the work, within the policies set by the council
of elders and within the strategic operating plan and budget approved by
the entire conference of elders."
Would UCG accept pastor general?
The next question was a written one: "Do you think the membership of
the United Church of God would tolerate the reinstitution of the office
of pastor general?"
"I've had a few, to be honest," said Mr. Luker, "who have
said that's what they would prefer. But I don't think the majority at this
point feel that way. They want checks and balances. I think, if there ever
were a pastor general again, it would have to be the direct hand of God
Almighty. I wouldn't then resist it. Would you?
"At Indianapolis we all agreed that none of us wanted to be pastor
general. Unless God Himself or Jesus Christ, the head of the church, were
to make it very clear, then we would not have a pastor general."
Who governs whom?
A written question read: "Who is the primary governing body of the
church: the president, the council of elders or the general conference of
"The way we began," answered Mr. Luker, "the president is
accountable to the council of elders. The council of elders is accountable
to the general conference of elders. We each have different functions. We
are in the process right now of working together to develop job descriptions
between these bodies among ourselves to clarify all of this.
"We all look to Jesus Christ as the one ultimately responsible. It
is the conference's responsibility to elect members of the council of elders,
and the general conference is to approve, to ratify, the overall plan of
the church, the operating plan and the budget."
Mr. Hulme interjected: "There have been many demands on us that were
unanticipated. The three mandates from Indianapolis [at the founding conference
in May 1995] were to stabilize and take care of the church, No. 2 to provide
for the festivals and their observance, and No. 3 to begin to preach the
Mistakes have been made, Mr. Hulme commented, but "the mistakes have
not been malicious or deliberate. We've tried to take care of God's people.
"In anything that has been done, there has not been the intention to
waste money. There has never been any intention to do anything other than
those three mandates that we were given."
The church, said the president, has taken over the responsibility of paying
retirement benefits to elders when those benefits were terminated by the
Worldwide Church of God.
"We've taken care of people's medical situations. Anybody who's come
to us we have taken care of."
Silly thing to say
Some have questioned the number of people on the paid staff of the home
office. Mr. Hulme commented on the number of employees and the number of
people being financially assisted by the church.
"When we began the year I think we had 18 on church assistance,"
Mr. Hulme said. "As we ended the year it was something like 69.
"When we began the year we thought we would hire
two new people in the home office. That was a silly thing to say. As
Steve Andrews said at the time, this budget was put together on the strategic,
"We said we would hire 12 ministers during the year. We ended up with
a net increase of seven.
"One can look at numbers in different ways. When you get into the details,
some of the generalizations that are made are proven to be not quite the
way they seem. This is a complex matter in some ways. Have we spent more
than we anticipated? Yes. Has as much money come in as we thought? No, in
some ways no."
Mr. Hulme brought back up the discussion about his trip to the Middle East.
"The thinking behind that particular program is that before I left
our former affiliation some of the most successful things we did in television
were those trips to the Middle East, to Greece and so forth, where people
who watched those programs felt that they were on location with you, and
they would write and say this is the way it should be done.
"I got a letter from PBS [the Public Broadcasting Service] in New York
from an associate director who said, 'Send me a tape of your program from
Ephesus.' He said, 'This is the way religious programming should be done.'
"I have similar letters from people in various walks of life, etc."
In explaining the message of the New Testament, on-location television "to
me is a logical and powerful and effective way to do it, and I hope we will
continue with it.
"Do we have the money this year to continue it? Probably not."
Hiring and firing
Mr. Hulme fielded a question about whether he, as president, has the right
to hire and fire elders.
"The constitution and bylaws make it clear that ultimate authority
in this area rests with the policy-making body of the church. The policy-making
body has primacy in this policy, and that is the conference of elders. The
conference of elders can also redefine certain aspects of the bylaws. It
can choose to give to the home office the authority to hire and fire."
But what about
"Can I remove a minister from the general conference? No, I cannot.
Can I remove a minister in consultation with my colleagues from a job or
from pastoral responsibility? If there appears to be the need to do so,
yes, I can."
Mr. Hulme noted the availability of an appeal process for anyone who is
removed from the general conference by the conference itself--in other words,
anyone whose elders' credentials are revoked.
"That man can appeal then."
The general conference, said Mr. Hulme, has "primacy" in certain
areas, including doctrine, the budget, strategic planning, the operating
plan, but "it does not have primacy in creating policy. That is something
over which the council of elders has primacy.
"The council of elders doesn't have primacy in running day-to-day operations.
The home office and the management team have primacy in day-to-day operations.
Some books put it this way: Boards have ultimate authority; operations have
Mr. Hulme read another question: "Does the office of president have
a term limit?"
The president noted that "they [the council] can get rid of me any
time they like, so do I have a term limit in the sense of a number of years?
No, I do not. But, if they are displeased with me, the council can remove
me. I am annually to be reviewed.
"I don't even review Mr. Havir annually, at the moment anyway. When
we began we thought that was not necessary because of the way things were
structured. There were checks and balances in place."
Those elusive rules
Mr. Hulme read another question: "Whatever happened to United's rules
of association were to appear and go into effect shortly after the founding
of the church. They would govern the relationship of congregations to the
home office, specifically stating the forms of congregational structure
that could legally exist within the "international association"
of the United Church of God.
The rules "are still where they were," said Mr. Hulme. "They're
still where they always have been. There are four of them, if I recall."
Without stating any specifics about the rules (which Mr. Dick told In
Transition are not available for publication), Mr. Hulme said they are
"general enough for everyone to accept," and "they're rather
general and spiritual in nature."
Their release and adoption have been delayed because of "peculiarities"
in some parts of the world regarding national councils and boards. "International
legal processes raise some concerns about whether they [non-U.S. congregations
and offices] could accept them."
Pattern of activity
A Big Sandy member, Dean Newcomb, asked about United's policy of ministerial
transfers. Referring to Mr. Hulme's earlier statements about his right to
hire and fire ministers, Mr. Newcomb commented:
"When I hear 'I have the authority to fire the ministry because the
board has delegated that responsibility,' flags go up in my mind. I know
it's not that simple, but can there be something in the bylaws that keeps
that from happening?"
To reassure Mr. Newcomb, Mr. Hulme said that "whenever this kind of
situation arises, you can be assured that a decision that is made is not
made precipitously. Personally, it's not how I am. Richard Pinelli [director
of ministerial services] is not that way.
"I don't act, and Richard doesn't act, on the basis of one item. I
act only when I see a pattern of activity or behavior. There is a review
of things; there are visits to the area; there is discussion with brethren.
So we don't do these things precipitously; that is not the way the system
A recent firing
Some of the questions on hiring and firing elders could have been prompted
by the recent termination
from his job of Ron Smith of West Palm Beach, Fla., who was personally
relieved of his duties as a pastor by Mr. Hulme (In Transition, Dec.
"But, yes," said Mr. Hulme, "we do listen to the brethren.
Yes, we do read letters. Sometimes these issues do arise because of letters
from the brethren. We try to resolve the dispute. It's only after much activity
that that decision would be made."
Mr. Dick commented that the council felt it the "wisest course of action"
to empower the home office and Mr. Hulme with the hiring-and-firing responsibility.
"Understand," said Mr. Dick, "that it is also the responsibility
of the council to revoke that power if it felt there was an abuse of that
power. This is not an issue of power that has no check and no balance upon
Helen Richards, a former Big Sandy member visiting from Dallas, also asked
about ministerial-hiring policies.
"What can we do if, say, we get the word that our minister, X, is going
to be transferred to place Z, on the north pole, and we're going to lose
our minister who's been serving our needs very, very well?
"Also, how would we let the council know of a minister who's abusing
Mr. Hulme referred to the work of another council member, Doug Horchak of
Denver, Colo., one of whose responsibilities is ministerial and council
"We hope to move towards the evaluation of all the ministry on an annual
basis," said Mr. Hulme. "Now, this evaluation is not for the purpose
of being punitive towards the ministers. It's for the purpose of helping
Mrs. Richards also asked about the training of future ministers.
"We don't have AC," she commented. "What are we going to
do to provide training? Many of our ministers are older, and in 20 or 25
years they might want to retire. How are we going to go about training new
Mr. Hulme acknowledged that the average ministerial age is 50, "so
we do need to develop some new blood."
'Can we find out what's going on?'
Another member of the Big Sandy congregation, Tony Blue, also asked about
"When anyone is fired in the ministry, will the congregation, the layman
or even the minister himself have some type of recourse to find out why
he was fired so the general congregation will know what's going on, instead
of keeping everything in the dark? Will some type of appeal be set up where
these things can be addressed?"
Mr. Dick said "frustration" in this area arises because of legalities.
"We see a very stark contrast between the openness and the candor that
you can see in a New Testament setting and the fact that today you can be
sued blind for many statements, informational statements, that you are not
privileged to share. As a council we have found ourselves in that position
on more than one occasion."
Mr. Dick may have been referring again to the Ron Smith case, in Florida.
Mr. Smith professed not to know why he was fired, and a council member,
Mr. Holladay, told In Transition (Dec. 16 issue) he could not reveal--because
of legal considerations--anything about Mr. Smith's record, even though
Mr. Smith said he would sign
away his right to legal recourse.
"The difficulty," said Mr. Dick, "is that we've had very
badly battered trust, and the bodies that must make decisions on hiring
and firing are in this situation at the mercy of their own reputations.
We have to say you'll have to trust me as credible and decent or not credible
and decent, because I cannot share with you the information."
Mr. Blue asked: "What about the appeals process?"
"Ministerial services," said Mr. Dick, "cannot remove an
elder's credentials. They can't say you are no longer an elder. Only the
council can do that. In the crafting of the constitution, we built into
it that, even when 12 men on the council agree with the evidence, that man
still has the right to appeal to the general conference of elders.
"We've tried to create layers of protection that would simply remove
capriciousness from decisions."
Mr. Blue: "Will there be any forum for the congregation themselves
to come before the board of elders? Like if Mr. Havir was removed out of
our own midst for some reason, would, besides a team being sent down, the
congregation have an open forum like this and ask questions?"
"In our short history," replied Mr. Dick, "we have already
been through both sides of that scenario. We have had cases where congregations
have said we simply do not want this man coming in as our pastor. We said,
fine, let's try someone else."
'Don't take Mr. Havir'
Mr. Bettes, at the mike again, then asked for a clarification:
"I would like to know if there's going to be a way for a ministerial
transfer to be discussed with the congregation. If Mr. Havir were to be
transferred, I would be very upset, and I don't think I would have a way
to come and talk about that.
"I'm wondering if there are some plans being set up to automatically
throw it out to the congregation. Not that the congregation decides, but
either ministerial services or the conference of elders should have an idea
how the congregation feels about this, that their input is actually solicited
before the decision is made."
Said Mr. Hulme: "That's a perfectly reasonable request and something
we ought to talk about."
Job descriptions for RPs
Asked Big Sandy member Robert Fisk, who is also a member of the board of
the Big Sandy congregation: "Do you have a job description written
for a regional pastor yet? Will that be made available to the members so
we can see what these guys are supposed to be doing? Do we need seven regional
The system of regional pastors, answered Mr. Hulme, "is seen as a part
of the structure of a team-based concept of management. We've tried to move
away from a hierarchical structure. A lot of what is going on in the world
now is more of a team-based management, which is more participative than
anything we've known before.
"One of the reasons we have these men is to make this work. It's not
a hierarchical structure in the way it's been before, so they're part of
a whole new way of looking at how we're managed. That's one of the reasons
they're in place as they are."
Mr. Hulme said the regional-pastor structure is necessary, and it will "help
us have the kind of friendships amongst the ministry that we ought to have."
Asked Big Sandy member Gary Woodring of Tyler: "My understanding is
that the home office will be eventually moved. I would like to know how
much money has been spent on studies on the possible move of the home office
and what possible influence the personal needs of our president and treasurer
have made on our decision to move or not move."
Mr. Holladay, chairman of the home-office-relocation study, described his
ad-hoc committee to help relocate the office:
The costs of the search so far, said Mr. Holladay, "are probably somewhere
in the $5,000 range."
The committee also commissioned a study on the five states that might provide
a home for the new office.
Mr. Holladay read another question: "Please explain why ministers cannot
comment to all ministers via cc:Mail [the church's electronic mail system]."
"There is nothing preventing the ministry from communicating via cc:Mail,"
he said. "Can an elder in the church address a cc:Mail message to the
whole mailing list? This has happened a couple of times, but basically we
have had a policy asking the ministry not to do that because of the cost
UCG elders, for the most part, dial in to cc:Mail headquarters in Arcadia
via an 800 number, but the UCG foots the bill for the incoming calls.
Elders with computers could do almost the same thing with commercial Internet
Mr. Dick mentioned that, as part of cc:Mail, elders now have access to what
he called an "elders' forum," which is closely monitored but allows
United elders to discuss topics with other elders who choose to subscribe
to the forum.
What are the rules governing the elders' forum? The forum limits discussion
to those who choose to subscribe to the forum; an unnamed moderator oversees
the discussions; and elders, by subscribing to the forum, tacitly agree
not to discuss its contents with anyone other than their wives.
Even with its limitations, the forum, which started this month, has reportedly
already seen some lively discussion.