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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

May 18, 2008

"New on the Council"

[with comments]     Filed under Council of Elders

That was the picture caption on Vic Kubik's website, known as "Kubikistan" on an anti-COG website. However, the picture might convey a false impression.

Today I was selected by my peers Paul Kieffer in the General Conference of Elders of the United Church of God to serve a three year term on the church’s Council of Elders. Vic's picture might give the impression that I was laughing about my selection. Actually, his picture was taken last Thursday evening during the reception for the international ministers. When fellow Missourian Harry S. Truman became President of the United States following the death of Franklin Roosevelt, he told reporters that the news made him feel like the sun, moon and stars had all fallen on him. He also told them that if they were prone to pray, he would ask them to pray for him. I would not describe reaction to today’s selection in such dramatic terms, but it was definitely a sobering moment. My term as a new Council member begins on July 1st. The next three should be an interesting experience.

Comment from Steve Martens:

Congratulations Paul! Now the hard work begins.

Comment from George Meeker:

I have not received your response to my June 9th request for answers to four questions which are very important to me. Therefore, would you please promptly respond to the questions (copied below) or send me an e-mail saying that you will not respond to the questions. Would you please let me know by Monday, June 23rd.

1. The report of May 21st states that healing and unity need to "take place." In the light of the Ephesians 4 mandate, could you tell me who you think needs to be healed? Who do you think will do the healing and how? Do you see this as a spiritual sickness? What is the root cause for the disunity? What will signal that healing has taken place? Who do you have in mind who is or is not on board with what—merely the move to Texas, or a whole philosophical approach?
2. My trust has been severely violated by the actions of some. Will you, as an elder, disclose whether or not you have participated, either passively or actively, in discussions on the exclusive alternative elders’ forum? If you have participated, do you plan to continue doing so? What Scriptural justification exists for the creation, use and promotion of this communication vehicle within the ministry?
3. Are you willing to resign from the COE, to cleanse this Council from any suspicion of wrong doing, if you learn that the bloc-vote group positively endorsed you, and put your name forth? Do you believe blacklisting should exist in the GCE?
4. I’m not necessarily against our ministers speaking in other churches. I am, however, deeply troubled when ministers flagrantly disregard our rules about speaking in other churches. Do you believe that it is ever permissible for an elder to violate church policy and disregard the Council's specific direction, and still maintain eligibility to serve as an elder in good standing?

Answer from Paul Kieffer:

For the last week I was on a genuine family vacation for only the 3rd time in 35 years, so I did not have access to my email again until today (Friday). So I missed your deadline of last Monday.

Which brings me to my first comment: With no disrespect intended, I wonder why you imposed a deadline – why would you have needed my response by June 23rd?

Secondly, in this electronic age I realize that anything one writes in electronic form may wind up "who knows where," but I also wonder why you solicited a response from me without being willing to commit yourself to confidentiality re: my response. I assume you have/had your reasons for doing so.

Having said that, with one exception I do not feel it would be appropriate for me to answer your questions. More than one of the questions you ask have already been addressed by the current Council of Elders. Asking me to comment on action taken by or concerns expressed by the CoE seems to me to be asking me to evaluate what the Council has done. For example, why should I respond to your first question? Chairman Dick did not ask for my input in writing his CoE report, nor did he show me his letter before he distributed it. Why should he? I am not a CoE member yet. So if you want to know what he meant with the terms he used, I suggest that you contact him directly.

I will, however, offer my comments on your concerns concerning "bloc voting." As you know, the CoE has commented on this subject in recent months. To my knowledge, though, to date no clear definition of "bloc voting" has been given.

To be sure that you understand what I am writing about, I will give you my definition: "bloc voting" occurs when a group decides ahead of time to vote in similar manner on ballot items in an attempt to advance its agenda. "Bloc voting" also occurs – or is attempted – when someone (or a group) tries to exert influence over subordinates or peers to get them to vote a certain way.

My position on "bloc voting" is this: I am against "bloc voting" and I have not participated in "bloc voting" regardless of the mode of communication used: electronic, phone calls, personal visits or whatever.

I am also against subtle attempts to influence a ballot, i.e. "bloc voting," such as removing an elder from the speaking list when his pastor learns that the elder has a different opinion on a ballot item, or by suggesting that elders who are unsure on ballot items might want to talk to their pastor or regional pastor to be better informed.

I hope that I have expressed myself with sufficient clarity on this point.

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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