Written by UCG Cincinnati HO
employee Richard Kennebeck, Jan. 3 – 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
The original DVD presenting the Denton move to the
church had major statistical flaws as well as other flaws,
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
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
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
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
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
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 architect’s
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
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
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
Would you build a multiple million dollar home
within ˝ 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) Denton’s 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 wasn’t 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
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.
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.
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.
asked Clyde Kilough at the home office move presentation meeting prior to
the DVD being sent out to the church, why there wasn’t 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 didn’t 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.
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.
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.
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 isn’t that
much land in the DFW area that meets the criteria for a home office.
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 wouldn’t 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.
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.
administration moved forward with little or no desire to heed the warnings
that were given to them by many.
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.
Facebook forum, United Church of God-Resolving Issues.