The UCG Canadian ReportUPDATED March 24, 2006
Greetings from Toronto;
Spring has officially arrived, though it’s not really noticeable here in Southern Ontario. Temperatures have been cooler than normal the past few days.
The spring season also brings the start of the annual Holy Days. In about 2 ½ weeks we’ll be observing the Passover once again. It doesn’t seem possible that 5 months ago the Feast of Tabernacles was ending.
The office staff have been gearing up for the spring Holy Days in a number of ways. Last week saw the arrival of United News and World News and Prophecy at the office. United News Canada arrived this past Monday morning. A large number of these publications were mailed together on Monday afternoon and the balance were in the postal system on Tuesday. Both the United News and United News Canada focus on the spring Holy Days.
Included with these mailings were the spring Holy Day Offering (HDO) envelopes to those who gave one or more HDOs in 2005. The Bible Study Course was also sent to those who are receiving the lessons. Combining all these items into one envelope where applicable saved several hundred dollars in postage costs.
On Thursday, March 23 we reached a milestone. From January 1 to March 23 of this year, a total of 1,534 internet and email subscription and literature requests were received. That number surpasses the total number received in all of 2003.
Our recent subscriber development efforts are continuing to bear fruit. We have added almost 400 Good News subscribers from the letters we sent to those who have received literature in the past but were not listed as subscribers. The letters that were sent to those who did not renew the Bible Study Course after Lesson 3 have resulted in about 100 people requesting to receive the remaining lessons. The subscriber development letter that was mailed in February has resulted in over 300 responses – a 14.8% response rate. About one-third of those who responded have requested the Bible Study Course.
All this has contributed to the incoming mail, which remains strong through the month of March. Income for the month to date is also strong. Our fiscal year ends on March 31 and we are looking forward to ending the year on a positive note.
On behalf of the National Office I wish you a most meaningful and memorable spring festival season.
With warmest regards,
Edwin van Pelt
UPDATED March 10, 2006
ANNUAL MEETING OF THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE
The annual meeting of the National Conference of UCG – Canada was held in Toronto on March 5.
The 2005 annual meeting minutes were ratified as was a revised Rules of Order for the meeting.
Various reports were given. The first address was from the Director of Operations, Anthony Wasilkoff. He made reference to several scriptures that described the work of the original apostles as fishermen who became “fishers of men.” We continue this work today.
David Palmer gave a report on behalf of the Media Team. He began with some statistics on our most recent growth. Then, with assistance from Dennis Horlick, he related to the conference the ongoing negotiations to place the Beyond Today program on the Christian Channel television station.
Robert Berendt was introduced for a presentation on behalf of the Ministerial Services Team. He said that the Team is committed to working toward developing new ministers. They are asking how to develop more unity, urgency and commitment with the churches.
As a preamble to the Treasurer’s report, Edwin van Pelt reminisced about the beginning days of UCG-Canada. The first office was the van Pelt dining room table! He then read a letter that accompanied the Audit report.
The last address was by the chairman, Rainer Salomaa. He asked a series of questions about famous people followed by a series of questions about which people have influenced our lives. Of course, we all find it easier to remember the names of those who have impacted our lives and care about us. He then expressed thanks to his fellow labourers in the work.
Ballots had been sent in earlier. The results of the ballots were read. The Strategic Plan, Operations Plan and Budget for 2006-2007 were all approved. The proposed technical amendment to change the method for delivering the Call and Notice of the annual conference meeting was ratified. The proposed amendment for restrictions for council members was not ratified.
The Conference chose Robert Berendt, David Palmer and Anthony Wasilkoff to serve three-year terms on the Council. The next National Conference meeting will be in Toronto, Ontario on March 4, 2007.
At the end of the meeting, members of the conference were given the chance to ask questions and make comments.
MARCH NATIONAL COUNCIL MEETING
The Council is required to meet four times a year. In the past, this has been done through three face-to-face meetings and one teleconference. For several years, the Council has been seeking ways to reduce costs to allow more funds to go into other areas of the Work. One way to do that was to reduce the number of face-to-face meetings to two per year.
The Council determined to try holding the spring meeting by teleconference. This meeting was held on March 5.
The first item on the agenda was to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Amendment Committee. Michael Erickson of Prince George was reappointed. During the next few weeks, that committee will select a chairman.
The Council has appreciated the efforts of Glen White who will finish off his second council term on March 31. Any time there is a change in the council composition there also has to be a change in the composition of the committees. After discussion, it was determined that the Governance/Ethics/Pastoral committee will remain the same. Anthony Wasilkoff was appointed to the Strategic/Finance committee.
The next face-to-face council meeting will take place in Calgary from June 13 -15. Clyde Kilough, the president of UCGIA, and his wife Dee plan on attending.
UPDATED February 17, 2006
In the concluding verses of chapter 9 of I Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote: “Now this I do for the gospel’s sake that I may be partaker of it with you. Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
As you probably are aware, the Winter Olympics are currently underway in Turin, Italy. Athletes from all over the world have assembled for this world-class competition. Canada sent a sizeable contingent of competitors. Typically Canadians fares better in the Winter Olympics than they do in the Summer Olympics. It seems winter agrees with us Canadians more than summer does. Thus far, a growing number of Canadian contestants have risen to the medal standings and have been awarded either gold, silver or bronze. It takes an enormous amount of dedication, diligence, self-discipline and plain old hard work to excel at this level of sport. And it is all done for a perishable ‘crown’.
Paul’s admonition continues to motivate practicing Christians that although we cannot earn salvation, much is at stake and we have our part to play in God’s remarkable and miraculous plan of salvation. Watching the Winter Olympics can prod the discerning observer to draw a lot of meaningful spiritual lessons and parallels.
The latest subscriber development letter continues to draw a lot of responses. Some of the responses include interesting and instructive comments. Here are a few of them.
“Thank you for your Good News magazine. I always look forward to receiving it. I find it very informative and it is good to be reminded how to live a Christian life. It is interesting how we hang on to old belief systems, even when we should know better. The best way to celebrate the life of Jesus is to try to follow his teachings. Keep up the good work! Thank you again, I am enclosing a small donation.” B.F. Hope, BC
“I just want to say that this Bible Study Course is very helpful to me in understanding the Bible more and getting closer to God and Jesus. Thank you so much and God bless.” C.S. Calgary, AB
“Thank you for sharing with us a copy of your magazine ‘The Good News’ for some time now Because of circumstances, it has only been recently that we have taken the time to fully read and enjoy the articles in every issue. We have wonderful grandchildren, several of whom are within their mid-teens and early 20s. A year ago we decided that we would share articles of positive thinking we picked up from the writings of the former Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and some of the material of Billy Graham. As we believe your magazine ‘Vertical Thought’ and its articles would also contribute much in their formative years, we would be grateful if you would put their names on your list to receive the magazine.” S.M. Edmonton, AB
“I wish to thank you very much for the twelve lessons of your Bible Study Course which you sent me over this past year. Prior to your lessons, I have read much of the old and new Testaments. These readings together with your Bible Lessons have helped to increase my understanding of different Scriptures themes very much. May I take this opportunity to inform you that I look forward to your Good News magazine each month and enjoy the articles covered.” J.M. Bay Roberts, NL
An increasing number of Beyond Today television programs are being produced in the Media Center at our Home Office in Cincinnati. Many positive comments have been made about the quality and content of each of the programs that have been released for distribution. The Media Team in Canada is investigating possibilities and avenues for the program to be shown right here in our nation. We know that it will take God’s intervention to open a suitable door for Beyond Today to be available for viewing coast to coast. The apostle Paul pleaded for the prayers of the brethren in this regard in his day and age (Col. 4:3). We are confident that collective prayer will result in God granting a door to televise Beyond Today to Canadians. Never has the need been greater; never have the times been more urgent. Thank you, dear brethren, for your continuing commitment to the work of God in our country.
UPDATED February 10, 2006
Here we are already into the month of February. It’s difficult at times to grasp how quickly time goes by.
The month of January saw growth of the Work in Canada in several areas. We received a record 1,755 pieces of mail including 601 email/website responses (also a record). We continued to work on a number of different projects that are now bringing results. Income for the month was above budget as well and for that we are most grateful.
We completed a project that began in December of last year. We sent out 5,223 letters to those in our database who are not subscribers to The Good News (GN) magazine. The letter also included one of the four different brochures offering different booklets. As a result of the reply cards received to date we’ve added 283 new subscribers to the GN and the reply cards are still arriving daily.
Another project that we completed in January was to send letters to those who had received the Bible Study Course but did not renew the lessons. A total of 499 letters were sent and to date 42 people have requested to continue the course.
Several other projects are on the go. One of those projects involves sending letters to those who have received all 12 lessons of the Bible Study Course offering MP3 format CDs containing the fundamental beliefs of the United Church of God. A total of 543 letters will be mailed. The CDs will be sent on a regular basis to those who respond to the letter. (There are more people who have received all 12 lessons but they are no longer active in our database for a variety of reasons).
Another project is the Subscriber Development Letter that will be sent to GN subscribers who have received at least four issues. A total of 2,771 letters will be sent. This project should be completed next week.
Also being worked on are the annual donation receipts for 2005. These will be sent out around the middle of February. Members, donors and coworkers should receive their receipts by the end of February.
Another project down the road involves sending letters to those GN subscribers who did not respond to the latest renewal letters. There are several thousand people in that category.
Plans for the annual meeting of the National Conference have been completed. The meeting will take place on March 5 by teleconference. Your prayers for the success of the meeting would be appreciated. The National Conference is the body whose role it is to ratify the Strategic Plan, the Operations Plan and the Budget which the National Council adopted last December.
The month of January has been very busy. A lot was accomplished and we look forward to an equally productive month of February. We have much to be thankful for.
With that, on behalf of the office staff, I wish everyone an enriching Sabbath,
Edwin van Pelt
UPDATED January 27, 2006
After a while it seems that all human beings are capable of reaching a level of debilitating fatigue. Even metal can be pressured or stressed to such an extent that it begins to ‘fatigue’ and its tensile strength can be compromised to the breaking point. There is such a thing as mental fatigue, emotional fatigue, voter fatigue, volunteer fatigue and certainly physical fatigue. Through the pen of the Apostle Paul, God cautions us, “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good” (II Thessalonians 3:13). In Galatians 6:9 we are similarly told, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” These days we receive or hear about so many prayer requests. The internet makes it possible to be aware of so many more people and situations that need our prayers. It also allows us to be updated about them more regularly than ever. It is important that we do the best we can to remember others and the circumstances they happen to be in. Perhaps sometimes we may feel, “I can’t handle any more prayer requests”. Just do the best you can and leave the rest to God. One simple heart-felt prayer from you can make all the difference for the person in need. Recipients of prayers can certainly sense when others are praying for them. Probably one of the greatest incentives we can have to continue doing our part is to mentally place ourselves in the other person’s situation and review the admonition: “remember the prisoners as if chained with them.”
The National Office has been conducting a major subscription campaign drawing on the names and addresses of the people that were already in our files. We discovered thousands of individuals who once were ‘active’ but had not responded or followed through and hence had become ‘inactive’. Several thousand letters were sent to these folks and the results have been instructive. The first thing we observed is how many people have moved. It would appear that we are becoming a more mobile society than ever. Although some people never move at all, a lot of people move and do so frequently. And they don’t always leave a forwarding address!
Still many of the letters have gotten through to the intended recipients and we have received many subscriptions to The Good News magazine as a result. Some of the respondents sent along lovely messages some of which I would like to share with you at this time.
“Thanks very much for offering me your free copies of The Good News magazine. I would like to pay if only I had the means. Things here are very bleak, poor health which takes up a lot of my pension. Yes, please keep sending the magazine and if I could I’d like to have a few booklets.” A.M. Saskatoon, SK
“Please do not take my name from your list for The Good News magazine. I look forward to it each month as I enjoy it and get a lot of information from it. I pass it on to my friends, that is, those who are interested in reading them.” M.T. Kelowna, BC
“I don’t want to miss this magazine. I enjoy it so much. I found a great deal of comfort in it especially since my husband died recently. I learn a lot from it.” M.F. Lloydminster, SK
“I would appreciate some or any daily reading on developing conscious contact with God and Jesus. My past has not been near Jesus’ teaching, so for the past 30 years it has been one day at a time.” M.R. Calgary AB
The Home Office in Cincinnati has started producing a television program called “Beyond Today”. Many of you will have had the opportunity to view a program or two and have been suitably impressed. It would be wonderful if we in Canada could put the “Beyond Today” program on a few television stations or perhaps even a network. The sound track could be used as an audio source and so the program could even be transmitted from a radio station. We have an excellent product through which to promote the gospel message but we need a means by which to do so. Please pray for our Heavenly Father to open up some doors as a means for the new programs to be broadcast to as many Canadian people as possible as soon as possible and as economically as possible. If we all earnestly and consistently beseech our Creator, there is no telling how wonderfully and mightily He might answer our collective prayers.
As you are aware, Canada recently elected another political party to form the government of the nation. As a result, a new prime minister will be installed into office soon. In I Timothy 2, Paul instructs: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.” In this regard we have many reasons to be praying for the prime minister elect and the new government that will soon be in power.
UPDATED January 13, 2006
Here we are already into the second week of January, 2006. It is difficult at times to comprehend how quickly time goes by.
2005 ended on a positive note in many respects. Our income for the month of December – as well as for the fiscal year – were very strong. We have now completed processing all the donations for 2005. Although there were some cheques dated 2005 that arrived in early January, the envelopes that they were sent in were postmarked well into 2006. As a result they will be considered 2006 donations. The official tax receipts will be prepared and sent out in early to mid-February.
One of the interesting aspects of the incoming mail for 2005 was the number of internet requests we received. In 2003, we received 1,533 internet/email literature and subscription requests. That represented 15.7% of our total mail received that year. In 2004, we received 3,268 internet/email literature and subscription requests, representing 23.7% of the total mail received. Last year, we received 5,116 requests, representing 45.8% of the total mail received. This year is off to another fine start, with 223 requests received to date. That’s 50.8% of the total mail received this year.
The January-February 2006 issue of The Good News is in the mail. We are expecting the January issues of United News, and World News & Prophecy along with the January-February issue of United News Canada and the January-March 2006 issue of Vertical Thought some time next week. Those publications will be mailed out as soon as possible after they arrive at the national office.
The staff is busy with several different projects. One of those projects began last month and involves sending letters to those on our database who are not currently receiving The Good News magazine. There are over 3,800 people in that category – about 12% of our database. They are being sent a letter along with one of the four brochures offering different booklets and a subscription to The Good News. Your prayers for the success of this effort are appreciated. It is one way of contacting those who have been sent literature in the past, and it is basically a free way to develop our subscriber list. About 2/3 of the letters and brochures have been mailed already and the remainder are to be mailed in the next several days. We also plan send letters in the near future to those who have not renewed the Bible Study Course, as well as those who did not respond to the two GN renewal letters sent in mid and late 2004.
With that, on behalf of the entire office staff, I wish everyone an enriching Sabbath,
Edwin van Pelt
UPDATED January 6, 2006
This past week, three people requested a GN subscription over the internet explaining they had come across the magazine in a waiting room. They were each impressed enough by the publication to make note of the e-mail address and take it along with them. Subsequently they wrote to the national office and requested that a copy of the magazine be sent to their home addresses (in Grand Prairie, Mississauga and Kingston).
Every new subscription to the Good News magazine is important. Each new subscriber is a potential donor or co-worker. Each donor or co-worker is a potential believer. Each believer is a potential inheritor of the wonderful Kingdom of God. The sequential potential is of enormous importance and significance. Many of us remember the book The Incredible Human Potential and its significant contents.
A few days ago the office received an unusual letter from a medical doctor from the Toronto area. He wrote” “We are a medical office in a mall location. We would like to obtain 20 copies of ‘Are We Living in the End Time?’ to distribute to the public.” What a wonderful request! Of course, the order will be fulfilled as soon as possible. We hope that more booklets will be requested in the near future.
Last November, President Clyde Kilough gave a sermon at the Home Office congregation entitled “Entrusted with the Gospel”. In this stirring and motivating message, Mr. Kilough brought renewed attention to the great commission given to the church and how the UCG had been fulfilling that commission for a whole decade mainly through the printed word. He also pointed out that the internet is where the future is for preaching the gospel. We have a very solid foundation of written material and still intend to distribute it far and wide. Presently a new door is being opened to us through the newly-completed media centre and the production of the new “Beyond Today: Understanding your Future” program.
Mr. Kilough’s message was recorded and has been distributed to all congregations of the UCG all around the world. Many have already seen it while some are yet to see it. The message will help us to be more unified in our determination to do the work. The preaching of the gospel truly is the most important work on earth. This has to be done with zeal. Zeal is not based on emotion. It is based on passion which is based on love. And it is not about us. This is a job bigger that we are. However, if we stay humble and continue to beseech our Creator for his guidance and direction, He will bless us beyond our expectations.
The income for the previous calendar year has just been tabulated here at the National Office. I am very pleased to report that the year 2005 concluded with an income of 109.3% of the projected budget. The month of December saw the income come in at 133.3% of the projected amount. We at the National Office are very, very grateful for the commitment of God’s people to the Work our loving Heavenly Father has given His church to do.
One of the hallmarks of the Apostle Paul’s epistles is that he extends sincere thanks to the brethren for their faithfulness and devotion to their calling and to the furtherance of the gospel. In Philippians 1:3-7 Paul writes: “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.”
Truly, no endeavor on this earth is more important than preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Never has the need been greater. Never have the times been more urgent. Thank you, dear brethren, for you continuing faithfulness to your calling and to the Work that God has called us all to collectively be a part of.
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