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Delegates name two council members at United Church of God's general conference of elders
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Delegates name two council members at
United Church of God's general conference of elders
By Ellis Stewart

The writer, who lives in Big Sandy, Texas, serves as an elder of the United Church of God.

CINCINNATI, Ohio--"Service and Leadership" was the theme that led the general conference of elders of the United Church of God May 6-8 at the Holiday Inn Eastgate in Cincinnati.

Three hundred seventy elders and their wives attended the 12th such conference, counting the founding one in 1995.

The main item of business was the election of officers who sit on the 12-man council of elders.

The delegates voted to keep incumbents Bob Dick of Portland, Ore., and Richard Thompson of Eustis, Fla., and elected new council members Bill Eddington of Melbourne, Australia, and Richard Pinelli of Cincinnati.

Not returning to the council are Tony Wasilkoff of Toronto, Ont., Canada, and Mario Seiglie of Anaheim, Calif.

Limited space

This year's gathering began with the conference delegates and their families attending a Sabbath service in the hotel's main hall, with Mr. Wasilkoff and Jim Franks, a council member who lives in the Cincinnati area, sharing the speaker's podium and Ed Smith, also of the local area, conducting the song service.

The Sabbath service was different this year in that, because of limited space, no local church members had been invited to attend.

On Saturday evening a "chairman's reception" with hors d'oeuvres and other refreshments was followed by a question-and-answer session conducted by the operations managers (Tom Kirkpatrick, financial services; Mr. Franks, ministerial services; and Peter Eddington, media and communication services) and other UCG officials.

Sunday happenings

Shortly after 9 a.m. Sunday the chairman of the council, Mr. Dick, called the meeting to order.

The official business of the conference, including the voting, took place Sunday, along with Mr. Dick's introduction of newly ordained and newly credentialed elders and their wives to the rest of the delegates.

The 19 new elders and their wives were Oludare and "Ton" Akinbo, Lagos, Nigeria; Bart and Joan Bomhorst, Jamestown, Ohio; Dempsey and Susan Bruton, Williamsburg, Va.; Paul and Merlen Cebrian, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines; Gladstone and Alice Chonde, Lilongwe, Malawi; Ken and Jean Cline, Minneapolis, Minn.; Jim and Marlene Cowell, San Diego, Calif.; Russell and Tammy DeVilbiss, Milwaukee, Wis.; Martin and Denise Fekete, Duesseldorf, Germany; Don and Jackie Finger, St. Paul, Minn.; Alberto Gonzalez Pena and Yulun Langarica Verdin, Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico; Tim and Mary Heine, Salt Lake City, Utah; Dennis and Paula Horlick, Toronto, Ont., Canada; Morgen and Joleen Kriedemann, Johannesburg, South Africa; Leroy and Maxine Neff, Big Sandy, Texas; Geoff and Judy Nelson, Brisbane, Australia; Jonathan and Deborah Pinelli, Cincinnati; David and Jolinda Schreiber, Austin, Minn.; and David and Sarah Witt, Williamsburg, Va.

Plans approved

Each year the elders vote to approve a strategic plan, an operational plan and the budget. Usually they also vote on amendments to the bylaws or constitution, although this is the first year that no amendments were on the ballot.

The strategic plan is the annual wish list for the church that the council presents for approval to the general conference. The operational plan is the actual strategies that are judged to fit within the annual budget.

International reports

In addition to reports from administrators, the annual reports from "international" (non-U.S.) areas were heard by the delegates.

The reports from non-U.S. areas included presentations from Bill Eddington of Melbourne, Australia, reporting on Australia; Victor Kubik of Indianapolis, Ind., reporting on Eastern Europe; Mark Mickelson, pastor at Kennewick and Spokane, Wash., reporting on Nigeria; Bill Jahns of Johannesburg, reporting on southern Africa; Leon Walker of Big Sandy, reporting on the church's activities in 16 Spanish-speaking countries.

Each of the several international areas is scheduled for a report every three years. This year's conference included the preceding five.

In memoriam

After the international reports, conference organizer Ken Giese, a pastor from Sugar Land, Texas, presented a moving tribute to 11 deceased elders and elders' wives. The tribute included pictures and biographies projected on a screen of those who had died in the past year.

Those remembered were Anne Burchard, from Toowoomba, Australia; Elmer Conley, Amarillo, Texas; Jo Ann Dennis, Cincinnati; Mildred Prettyman, Lexington, Ky.; John Robinson, Austin, Texas; Irene Schnippert, Bridgeville, Pa.; Marge Seiver, Houston; Onnie Thompson, Eustis, Fla.; Harold Treybig, Houston; Jack Yeager, Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Vyonne Young, Garden Grove, Calif.

Zeal revisited

After lunch church president Clyde Kilough gave a keynote address titled "Zeal Revisited: Leadership and Service Through the Eyes of Paul."

You've got questions?

Sunday evening after an hour-long ministerial talent show came another Q&A session, conducted by the council of elders.

The highlight of that discussion revolved around what to do with the budget surplus the United Church of God currently has in its bank accounts.

Voting results

Secretary to the council Gerald Seelig, who lives in the Cincinnati area, then announced the result of some of the earlier voting.

All three items under consideration--the budget and strategic and operational plans--passed by overwhelming margins (305-23, 302-26 and 290-38, respectively), but the names of the men who had been elected to the council of elders would not be revealed until Monday.

On Monday morning Mr. Seelig announced that Bob Dick, Bill Eddington, Richard Pinelli and Richard Thompson had received the most votes for the four open seats on the council.

Mr. Eddington replaced Mr. Wasilkoff as an international representative on the council. The other new member of the governing board is Mr. Pinelli.

The delegates voted to keep incumbents Bob Dick and Richard Thompson and elected new council members Mr. Eddington and Mr. Pinelli.

No longer on the council are Mr. Wasilkoff (who did not run for reelection) and Mario Seiglie.

Running but not elected this year were Gary Antion of the Cincinnati area, Paul Kieffer of Bonn, Germany, Dennis Luker of Bothell, Wash., Mario Seiglie of Anaheim, Calif., and Don Ward of Gladewater, Texas.

Current council

The complete list of current council members is as follows:

Aaron Dean of Gladewater; Bob Dick (chairman); Bill Eddington; Jim Franks; Larry Salyer, Salt Lake City, Utah; Clyde Kilough, Cincinnati; Victor Kubik; Les McCullough, Big Sandy; Joel Meeker, Cincinnati; Richard Pinelli; Richard Thompson; and Leon Walker.

The three "international" members in the above list are Mr. Eddington, Mr. Meeker and Mr. Walker.

Contact the United Church of God at P.O. Box 541027, Cincinnati, Ohio 45254, U.S.A., or visit the UCG on the Web at

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