Dear fellow elder,
It is a bit ironic to write to you on December 7th, a date which for Americans always brings to mind the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor that suddenly engulfed the nation in the Second World War. I am pleased to be able to write to you, not about war, but about our collective efforts to be tools in our Creators hands to hasten the day when the entire world will finally know peace.
For the second time in our young history, the Ministerial Board of Directors has completed its annual face-to-face meeting. This year, we were pleased to meet in our headquarters offices in Allen Texas. At the beginning of this year, several of us walked through the then-vacant office space to give input to our administration on the suitability of the location. Now it is a vibrant hub of 13 office employees involved in Ministerial Services, Media, and other support services as the many aspects of the work of the Church of God a Worldwide Association deploy ever more fully. Please allow me to update you on the work of the board this week.
In fact, our work on these meetings began two weeks ago when we received the proposed strategic plan, operations plan and budget. All of us read carefully through the 65 pages of documents, noting any explanations or proposals about which we wished to ask questions. We also studied the 25-page report of the Compensation Task Force. Having these documents in hand well in advance allowed us to be well prepared before we arrived in Allen, and allowed us to dispatch our work more quickly.
On Monday morning I called the meeting to order and made opening comments in which I reminded the board and administration members of how far we have come since last year. When the board met in 2011 we met in a hotel in Orlando Florida. It was during those meetings that we decided to establish our future Headquarters office in the Dallas area. During those meetings we made the preliminary decisions about the founding of an educational institution, which has since become Foundation Institute. We selected trusted ministers to serve on our Doctrine Committee and our Morals and Ethics Assessment Committee.
One year later here we are, established in our very functional offices. Twenty students are enrolled in Foundation Institute which also has very nice facilities. The committees I mentioned are up and running and taking care of their responsibilities. This represents very important progress in one year.
I also showed a brief video about a composer of classical music who mobilized the voices of over two thousand people in more than 50 countries around the world. These remote singers, who had never met each other, sang the various partitions of a beautiful piece of choral music, and posted the recording on YouTube. The recordings were then combined electronically, and the result was a virtual choir over 2000 strong, that created a stunningly beautiful sound. You can find the video here if you would like to have a look: http://www.ted.com/talks/eric_whitacre_a_virtual_choir_2_000_voices_strong.html
This is analogous, I believe to what God is doing through His Church today. Blending the prayers and the spiritual and physical effort of His people scattered all around the planet to accomplish His will through the work of the Church. Our mission is not choral music but preaching the gospel and preparing the church of God for our future work in the Kingdom of God. We increasingly have the ability to work together in new and exciting ways, from all over the world.
After this brief introduction, we formally began the work of the board. We heard a “state of the work” update from our President Jim Franks. He organized his comments around four questions: 1. Historically, what have we learned? 2. What have been the accomplishments of the last year? 3. What challenges lie ahead in the next 12 months? And, 4. What opportunities lie ahead for the next 12 months? Mr. Franks will share his answers to these questions with you in his report, but I will say that from the board’s perspective, his update was both thought-provoking and encouraging.
We then heard the presentation, by the administrative team, of the 2013 strategic and operations plans, and the budget, as well as a new operations plan for regions outside the US, presented by Leon Walker our newly named International Liaison. We then had time for questions and initial discussion. Their reports will be shared with you in more detail in separate documents.
We received an update from our legal counsel Jason Ranew, who informed us of his work on behalf of our association over the past year, including the kinds of advice for which he is most often asked. At one point he announced that the next slide he projected would show all the litigation in which our association is currently involved. We were very happy to see that the slide was blank!
We heard with interest the final report of recommendations from the Compensation Taskforce, formed earlier in the year. This taskforce, chaired by Steve McNeely, is composed of church members with professional experience in the field, whom the Board asked to propose a formal, best-practices framework for our employee compensation structure. We very much appreciate the work of this task force, which was very professionally and competently completed. Their work will be a great help to us as we establish an equitable compensation structure that will pass all tests of fairness and appropriateness. Again we asked questions for clarification to make sure we understood the scope of the recommendations.
On Tuesday we received an update on our ministerial manpower development programs. These are vitally important to the future work of the Church. We don’t know when the return of Christ will occur, but no matter how events may appear in the world, we must plan for the continuation of the Church of God as if we have a long time to continue this work, even as we continue to earnestly pray “thy Kingdom Come.
Don Henson, Chairman of the Doctrine Committee, spoke to us via phone connection to give an update on the work of this important committee whose specific role it is to safeguard our doctrinal integrity. This committee has written or evaluated a number of articles and study papers to support and clarify the doctrinal understanding of the Church.
We had a similar report from Larry Neff, Chairman of the Morals and Ethics Assessment Committee, whose primary role it is to investigate allegation of moral or ethical misconduct by elders of the Church, and if necessary to independently determine what disciplinary action might be appropriate. We were encouraged to hear that they have received no allegations since they began their functions.
We heard an encouraging update on our new Foundation Institute program as well as the even newer FI Online program which has far exceeded expectations. Over 1500 people have registered for the FI Online program, which was many more than expected.
We also heard an update on a new charitable outreach program Foundation International Outreach which will work hand in hand with the Church of God a Worldwide Association to support and serve our brethren first, but also other beneficial programs, in challenging parts of the world.
At the end of the day, Tuesday, we took time for a final discussion including our remaining questions of our plans and the budget and related issues, after which we unanimously approved the strategic and operations plans and the budget for 2013.
On Wednesday morning we heard with great interest updates on the work of the Church outside the United States. We heard reports on ten different regions covering six continents.
These included reports from Leon Walker, for the Spanish-language region, me for the French language region, Arnold Hampton, for the English Caribbean, and David Baker for the Philippines, Asia, and Australia. These reports were given live, by the men present. Mr. Franks then walked us through reports from Jeff Caudle for New Zealand, the South Pacific Islands and Singapore, Graemme Marshall for Canada, Peter Hawkins for the U.K., Tom Clark for Ghana, Morgen Kriedemann for southern Africa, and Tim Waddle for East Africa. These were encouraging and interesting as we learned about our progress in these areas, but also the many challenges faced by our brethren there.
Mr. Franks then asked the boards advice in formulating his and the administration’s travel plans for the coming year.
During our lunch break, we moved to the second floor of the building where Foundation Institute has its classroom and offices. We shared a lunch prepared for the occasion by the office staff; so that the students could have the chance to meet with the board members. We were encouraged by their smiling enthusiasm, as we discussed the program and all they are learning about the word of God, and how to apply it in their lives.
After lunch we had a very interesting and stimulating update and discussion of our media programs. Operations manager Clyde Kilough reminded us of what is currently underway and asked the board’s input on developing future media programs, especially about what forms of video content would be most effective on the Internet.
On our last day of meetings, Thursday, we had a useful, practical discussion on how we can improve our communication between board meetings, a discussion of the current spiritual condition of the Church, and we planned to have a one-day face-to-face meeting following our ministerial conference slated for June 2013.
One again, I am thankful to be able to report that, with God’s blessing, our meetings were conducted efficiently and effectively, for which we are very thankful. We have written of this often, but we are still struck by the oneness of spirit and vision that we experience in our work together as administration, staff and board. I wish every one of you could be present to witness the encouraging nature of the work accomplished. Since that is not possible, I hope this report has given you a glimpse of what has encouraged us so greatly and for what we are so deeply thankful.
On behalf of the Ministerial Board of Directors, thank you very much for your prayers for wisdom and vision in our decisions. We have no doubt they made and make a vital difference in the quality of our work.
Yours very sincerely in Christ’s service,
Joel C. Meeker