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NATIONAL COUNCIL December MEETING

The final National Council meeting of 2023 was held on December 18. All Council members and several guests were online for the virtual meeting.

The agenda for the meeting included accepting the minutes of the previous Council meeting, the reading of the National Council Code of Ethics as well as several reports. Business items on the agenda included the 2024-2025 Operations Plan and 2024-2025 Budget.

National Council Chairman Lloyd Teetaert called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m. ET. After the opening prayer and a few introductory comments, the minutes of the September 11, 2023 National Council were reviewed and subsequently accepted.

Following the reading of the National Council Code of Ethics, Ministerial Services Team Coordinator Rainer Salomaa gave up update. He reported that most congregations are meeting on a weekly basis once again after COVID; some congregations have live speakers while others connect to a webcast. There were 12 baptisms in Canada in 2023. Some elders who live near the border with the United States have the opportunity to attend regional ministerial conferences when those conferences are held near the Canadian border. Several pastors have been having difficulty booking suitable meeting spaces for Sabbath services and Holy Days. Skyrocketing rental costs are a factor. Of the 9 pastors in Canada, about half are also Festival Coordinators.

National Council member Paul Wasilkoff also serves on the Council of Elders (CoE). He reported on the most recent round of CoE meetings. A new Human Resources Manager was recently hired at the Home Office in Milford, Ohio. The update to the ucg.org website has been delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. Advertising on YouTube® has begun. A new venue for the Winter Family Weekend has been secured in Hamilton, Ohio. The new venue includes accommodations as well as space for the various events that are part of the Weekend. The most recent audit of the United Church of God – an International Association (UCGia) was favourable. Income is holding up well for UCGia.

Anthony Wasilkoff, Director of Operations, provided a National Office Update. Mr. Wasilkoff presented a PowerPoint presentation giving information about the work in Canada. Some of the information presented included the number of members, co-workers and donors in Canada, the current number of subscribers to various publications, the most popular booklets and study aids in English and French, and the number of Subscriber Development Letters (SDLs) mailed. Some of the highlights include the total number of The Good News and Beyond Today magazines distributed (over ¼ million copies since 1998); the total number of Bonnes Nouvelles and Pour L’Avenir magazines distributed (nearly 100,000 since 2003) and the total number of SDLs mailed (nearly 270,000 since 2005 including over 14,000 in 2023). Almost every booklet has been offered in the SDLs. The most recent SDL was sent to 3,776 subscribers of The Good News and Beyond Today magazines with a response rate to date of 7.3%. A number of responses also include donations, helping to offset the cost of the letters.

National Council member Dennis O’Neill provided an update on the Media Team. His PowerPoint slides included content statistics such as the internet traffic leverage, and the number of various page views of the ucg.ca website for the period of September 1 through November 30. Content and technology are two aspects of the statistical review. On the technology side, there are various downloads available on ucg.ca; PDF is the most popular. Downloads from Canadian users were generated primarily from Québec. User visits were more than double the previous three-month period (June 1-August 31). The top three users by country were the United States, Canada and Britain. The top three user operating systems were web/mobile, web/desktop and web/tablet. English is the most prominent of the 35 languages used by those who access ucg.ca. Team member Anthony D. Wasilkoff developed “memory scriptures” for the Ambassador Bible College students; they are now available on ucg.ca as well.

Director of Operations, Anthony Wasilkoff, presented the 2024-2025 Operations Plan to the National Council. There were only minor changes to the previous Plan. The Plan was subsequently approved by the Council.

Treasurer Bill Dimovski then provided a financial update and presented the 2024-2025 Budget. Mr. Dimovski noted the difficulty in forecasting income and expenses. The Council approved the Budget as presented.

The two-hour long meeting concluded following the closing prayer.  The next meeting is scheduled for March 11, 2024.

Edwin van Pelt

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