PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE

 
 

Introduction

 

The Works of the Flesh and the Ministry

 

The Politics of Rebellion

 

From Agitated, Murky Waters to Fresh, Still Waters

 

12 Reasons Why I will not Leave United

 

HELPFUL LINKS

Sabbath and Holy Day Observance Statement by the Council of Elders

 
Matters of  Difference  Between Ministers

John Elliot Open Letter to Dennis Luker

 

Open Letter to Pastors Resigning from UCG (by a UCG Member)

 

Cleveland Sermon: 12 Corrupt Men

 

The Texas Move Fiasco

OTHER EXCELLENT LINKS

 

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The Texas Move Fiasco
Written by UCG Cincinnati HO employee Richard Kennebeck, Jan. 3 Ė 6, 2011.
To many, the beginnings of these problems within United leading up to the
current crisis can be found in the attempted move to Texas. In many ways this is correct.

You may ask who I am. I'll not hide behind an assumed name or have anyone
else post this instead for me anonymously. I work in the home office in Cincinnati and
have worked at the home office of United since it began in 1995 with the
exception of two years. I graduated from a Dallas suburb high school, have
family in the Dallas area and personally like living in the Dallas area. I
also have owned a pair of cowboy boots for most of my life (that doesn't
make you a Texan but it helps :-) ).

This is a personal post, not a corporate post. I'm posting this as a member
of UCG who backs the COE and the administration and who backs the vision of
what United began with, not the vision of what it became over the last
several years.

A couple months ago I made a long list of problems with the "move to Denton"
process. I decided to share some of these here since a recent post on this
FB group mentioned the Denton move. This is just a partial list of what I
wrote down, but it has the most important points concerning the DVD that was sent out from the home office to be played in all churches.

The original DVD presenting the Denton move to the church had major
statistical flaws as well as other flaws, including:

1. The original DVD sent out to the churches elaborated on the recent
growth in income and projected this income to increase in the future. It
stated what with this income, we needed to do something with it. There are
three major problems with this statement and outlook:

a. We need to be careful about falling into the attitude of Laodicea:
"You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But
you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."
We can see from the fallout of the "move to Texas" proposal that the second
part of this scripture fits us too well. Did the first part fit us also?

b. There were major signs of a worldwide financial and economic meltdown at
the time of the proposal and the DVD. The warnings to the administration
and the COE about this meltdown were quickly dismissed.

c. A study done by a current COE member several years prior to the proposal
and reported to the COE stated that the demographics of the Church indicated
the Church's income would continually raise through the late 2000's and then
begin to decline with the aging membership. This again was dismissed by the
administration that backed the proposal to move to Texas.

2. No substantial proof was given for why the ministry and students must be
housed in a campus environment. Even if this was required, a solution had
been proposed by the ABC administration prior to the DVD that provided
dorm-like housing using facilities available in Cincinnati.

3. The figures for ministry living within 500 miles of Cincinnati and
Dallas were grossly inaccurate. People who could have given accurate
figures were never consulted due to secrecy surrounding the project in its
early formation. And they were never consulted afterwards. These figures
needed to be validated prior to using them to backup a major $10 million project, and
they especially needed to be validated before using them in a presentation
to the whole church. This was one of the major points supporting the move
to the Denton area, yet look at the actual figures for people living within
500 miles at the time of the proposal to move to Denton:
* Literature subscribers (indicates future growth)
Denton: 90,559 Cincinnati: 235,304
* Church Attendees
Denton: 4,501 Cincinnati: 8,097
* CoWorkers (indicates future growth)
Denton: 790 Cincinnati: 1,942
* Donors (indicates future growth)
Denton: 1,827 Cincinnati: 4,894
* Ministers
Denton: 78 Cincinnati: 135

The DVD stated there were more elders closer to Dallas than to Cincinnati,
but that is clearly wrong. These inaccurate figures were brought to the
attention of those that were behind the move to Denton prior to the DVD
being sent out to the Church but no mention of the inaccurate counts were
made to the churches when the DVD was played.

4. The original DVD stated that we needed to move to train the ministry,
yet multiple times over the next several years after the DVD was sent out,
Richard Pinelli and his ministerial training program were commended by the
administration for the high quality training it was providing.

5. The DVD indicated that the COE unanimously approved the move. This "unanimous approval" was challenged at a home office staff meeting a week before the DVD was played in all churches. At this meeting, Clyde Kilough agreed that the unanimous COE approval was COE approval to bring the proposal before the GCE not a unanimous approval for the move. Yet the DVD was played in all churches without any correction of this or the inaccurate statistics concerning the location of ministry. These misrepresentations were allowed to continue.

6. The DVD stated, and it was often repeated by various people in the
administration at the time, that the home office had become too crowded and
we could not economically build additional office space at our current
location. But this absolutely is not the case. The current home office was designed to
expand to provide additional future offices. The walls on the warehouse
side of the building were designed to be pushed out 40 to 50 feet creating
space for many more offices. Offices appeared to be "filled up" just to say
we were too crowded. There were several cases of underutilized offices. The Council was presented with an architectís rendering which actually doubled the size of the current home office building if needed. Additional other options are available to increase office space at the home office without building a third story.

7. Contrary to what was stated in the DVD, there are many, many locations
available in the Cincinnati area that meet or exceed the requirements needed
for a home office facility. IF larger facilities were needed, staying in
the Cincinnati area would have saved the Work over $500,000 in employee
moving costs alone and countless other monies in lost productivity, lost business
contacts, etc. This money could have been put to use in preaching the Gospel
or training new ministers, or meeting the needs of the brethren. As was the
case in the early days of United when the search was made for a home office
location other than southern California, requirements for a home office were
manipulated with a location already in mind. (A local real estate agent was given the requirements for the home office by a local member and actually stated that with those requirements, you're moving to Texas.)

8. The DVD presenting the move to Texas was sent out to the whole church long before the GCE would vote on the issue and before the GCE even had a chance to look into the matter. It is the GCE's responsibility to determine the location of the home office. it is not the Church membership's responsibility.
***
The DVD that was sent out to the congregations in support of the "move to Texas" stated, and it was often repeated, that there was no suitable land in the Cincinnati area to build a home office complex. Just as in the time of David Hulme, the requirements for a location can be manipulated so the outcome of the property search ends up being the location that is desired, not the best location. A local real estate agent was given the list of requirements by a staff member and after looking at the list said that Texas was the only place to move to with the requirements that were defined.

The requirements for Cincinnati only allowed for the most expensive properties in Cincinnati. Multiple other properties that met all of the requirements except being within specific zones of Cincinnati were available. Multiple properties just to the east of I-275 on Ohio 32 and north and south of Cincinnati on I-75 were available but did not meet the stated requirements but would have fulfilled all the requirements needed for a new home office site.

The first property in Texas proposed to the Council had many issues and was eventually rejected by the Council after great division within the ministry and the Council.

Some of the problems with this initial property in Denton were:

a. It did not fit one of the requirements specifically stated by Clyde Kilough for a home office site. The first Denton property had a large mobile home park immediately next to most of the main frontage of the property. On at least one occasion, Cincinnati properties, when brought to the attention of Clyde Kilough, were said to be unsuitable because they had a mobile home park next to them.

b. About 10% of the land had old growth trees on it. This land could not be cleared, trees could not be cut down and other restrictions were placed on it. These old growth acres were located near the middle of the main building area of the property and would have required that the offices and training facilities be on one side of the land and the residences would have been over a third of a mile from the facilities.

c. Students would have had to walk, late at night and after dark, through this heavily wooded area next to a two lane road and mobile home park to reach the offices and training area from their dorms. When this was discussed with the administration, they said they would buy some shuttle buses and hire some students for transportation. This would have been an ongoing expense.

d. Since Denton is a large college town, ABC students would have had a much more difficult time finding work than the current home office location since the students would have competed against a large college community.

e. A very large undeveloped area within 1000 yards of the property and bordered by a chemical plant and railway lines was zoned industrial which meant there would be little control over future, undesirable companies moving into the area.

f. The property was within 1,000 yards of a chemical reprocessing plant and industrial park. This chemical processing plant was downwind from the property and has a history of safety violations. While this property was the proposed site for the new office and under consideration for purchase, at least one other chemical processing plant similar to the Denton plant had an explosion and major fire, which released toxic chemicals over a wide area far beyond the 1000 yards from the plant. The Denton chemical plant was fined $1.6 million in 2000 for violation of EPA standards. The parent company was fined $184 million for EPA violations in 11 states at 67 different facilities. In 2004, toxic chemicals were found in the soil and ground water at a former plant run by this company.

When proposing a major move and building a multi-million dollar complex as the long-term home office of the church, where students will be housed for multiple months or years at the facility, where employees will work in an environment for multiple years, it is essential to select a property that is healthy and in a suitable environment.

Would you build a multiple million dollar home within Ĺ mile of a chemical processing plant? Would you want your children to live in that environment?

g. In an answer to the GCE Q & A Forum for the move to Texas, it was stated that the greater Batavia & Amelia area (Cincinnati) was not suitable for establishing a Church home office and Bible center. Given the fact that a) a chemical processing plant is very close, b) mobile home park is very close, and c) Dentonís reputation as a college town (with its associated drinking, etc.), how could this parcel of property be a more suitable place for a church home office, Bible center, and safe environment for young men and women?

Yet, even with all this evidence against this first property proposed to the COE, it was tenaciously fought for by the previous administration and caused great division in the COE and ministry.

The logical question to ask at this point is "Why did the previous administration fight so hard to keep the above property, even after all the above concerns and more were expressed to them?"

It was because there really wasnít an abundance of property available in the Dallas area.

It took two months, until July 24, 2007, with a great deal of discussion, controversy and heated debate, for the above property to finally be removed from the property selection list.

On Friday, June 15, 2007, Clyde Kilough had a meeting with my wife and me concerning the above mentioned property and our concerns about the safety of building on that site.

It was at that time that Clyde discussed the three properties that were available in the Dallas/Ft Worth area that the selection committee had found and stated why the other two did not meet the requirements.

One of the properties would have cost $3 million dollars. So he said that unless they could have broken up the property somehow or sold some of the property after it was purchased it was over $1 million over budget.

He said the other site had problems and did not really fit the requirements either.

Therefore, Denton only had one property that met the requirements, not the multitude of properties that the administration led the staff, ministry and membership to believe was available in the Dallas/Ft Worth area.
***
As has been stated in a previous post of mine, there were major flaws with the first property selected in Denton, Texas which caused much division within the ministry and Council. After much debate, it was decided by the Council that the Denton property was not suitable for development as the UCG home office.

A new study of properties in the Denton area began without much success. Finally another property was found in Sanger, Texas. The new property was actually closer to Oklahoma than to downtown Dallas.

This second property in the Dallas/Ft Worth area had major flaws with it and does not meet the initial criteria for a home office property. These problems were:

1. This Sanger Location does not meet the criteria to be within 45 minutes of a major international airport. Google puts the time to drive from the Sanger property to DFW at 45 minutes, 1 hour and 10 minutes in traffic . Anyone that has driven the Sanger, TX (Denton) to DFW airport drive knows that traffic can slow to a crawl. The "45" minute drive to DFW also requires using toll roads. I've driven from Denton to the DFW airport and it took longer than 45 minutes and Sanger is even further from the airport than Denton is. The drive from the Cincinnati office to the Cincinnati airport is about 30 minutes with or without traffic.

2. The property does not meet the criteria that it must be connected to a sewer system other than a septic system. This was stated as a requirement by the administration several times when properties in Cincinnati were discussed with them. Yet this Sanger property would need to have a septic system put in. The home office facilities, student housing, ministerial training housing and the future auditorium all would have been served by a septic system. Prior to the downturn in the economy, the estimated timeframe for a true sewer system running by the property in Sanger was sometime between 7 and 10 years.

I privately asked Clyde Kilough at the home office move presentation meeting prior to the DVD being sent out to the church, why there wasnít land available in the Cincinnati area. I mentioned that I see signs for land available all the time. Mr. Kilough mentioned one possible place in Kentucky that was available but it didnít have access to a sewer system so did not meet the criteria. I asked Mr. Kilough then if we could pay part of the $800,000 that UCG would be paying to move employees to help a city or county put in a sewer system. He then said there were other problems with the land such as a narrow two-lane road going by the property.

3. The administration was going to propose the Sanger property to the Council, even though the property did not have access to good quality high speed internet. It was only in the last 90 minutes prior to the meeting with the Council that I was able to finally get confirmation from a telecommunications company who thought they could get high speed out to the property. The problem was that the property was so far from any major connection that they needed to boost the signal to get to us. And even with that, they couldn't commit to high quality service until they tried it out.

There were no cable providers in that area, no telephone DSL providers and no fiber providers. At the time, satellite was the only solution and every satellite internet company that I approached said it would not be the best solution and that we might have problems.

This was especially dumbfounding since there was a great push within the previous administration to greatly expand in the internet.

The cost of the high speed internet access in Sanger would have been multiple thousands of dollars more than the current cost of high speed internet being enjoyed by the current home office. The Sanger internet would have cost over $25,000 more per year then our current internet cost for similar capabilities.

4. The Post Office address for UCG is a Cincinnati address. This provides the Church with an address in a major, well known city. When UCG moved to Cincinnati it was felt that having the major city address was important enough to have a member of our staff drive about 10 extra miles each day to pick mail up in Cincinnati rather than at the local Milford Post Office.

The Closest major city to Sanger would have been FT Worth which would have required someone to drive much further to pick up the mail. Costing the work additional time and money.

5. It took the property search committee a long time to find another piece of land after the Denton land was rejected. The new proposed property was further out from DFW then the Denton property and further out from Dallas/Ft Worth. The Sanger property did not have reasonably priced internet access. The Sanger property does not have the needed sewer facilities. The only conclusion that can logically be reached from these points is that there really isnít that much land in the DFW area that meets the criteria for a home office.

The Cincinnati area should have been re-evaluated when the criteria was changed to allow the Sanger property to be purchased. Many properties available in the Cincinnati area met or exceeded the requirements that the Sanger property met. A move to one of the properties in the Cincinnati area would have saved at least $700,000 in moving costs alone, employees wouldnít have needed to go through the upheaval of moving their families, we wouldn't have lost productivity due to the move and we wouldn't have lost our business contacts in the local area.

6. The administration pushed through the purchase of the land in Sanger, TX even though there was great controversy and heated debate within the GCE concerning the move. A wise business decision would have been to wait until after the GCE vote to recind the move to Texas was made and then decide on purchasing the land if the move was still approved. At the time of the purchase of the land in Sanger, TX, there was already a resolution to rescind or one was going to be presented to the GCE shortly. $1.6 million should never have been paid for a piece of property when there was a significant chance that the move would not occur, especially in the troubled economy we were in.

As can be seen by my three "Move to Texas" posts, there was great deception used by the administration to force the move to Texas, Even though it was causing great division in the Church, great division in the Council, great division in the home office, great division in the ministry, was filled with deception and wasn't a wise financial decision. Even the Strategic Planning expert the Council and administration brought in during that time stated that the move wasn't a good idea and in front of the whole home office staff, including the COE and administration, said that it was not being handled properly and should be handled differently.

Yet the administration moved forward with little or no desire to heed the warnings that were given to them by many.

This same attitude is the attitude that continues today by many that have broken from United. There is much deception, untruths, mis-information, partial truths, attacking, character assassination and little desire to do what is really right and needed.
Taken from Facebook forum, United Church of God-Resolving Issues.
http://www.facebook.com/board.php?uid=131701806862408&f=2