The lads are already accentuating the positive by talking about "new beginnings." It is a measure of just how dysfunctional things must have been that everyone who remains seems to be fairly gushing about the church's future prospects. Vic Kubik seems genuinely upbeat about the pounding UCG has taken.
What a wonderful and energized conference we just held in Cincinnati! Several of you commented about our new beginning, energy and enthusiasm to preach the gospel, as well as to serve the churches... The focus of the conference was not only on ministerial service in the churches but also continuing the momentum we’ve achieved in publicly proclaiming the gospel. Our media services department has come through this crisis virtually intact... We were heartened by the optimistic spirit of moving on. We have come through a serious separation, yet we are optimistic for a strong recovery...
For your information, in early 2010, there were 492 credentialed elders in the United Church of God, an International Association. Of that number, 323 (66%) are still with UCG. Of that total, we have retained 62 of 131 salaried field ministers (47%); 15 of 20 elders salaried by the home office (75%); 9 of 14 retired elders (64%); and 237 of 327 non-salaried elders (73%). In the United States, we have retained 250 of 382 elders (65%). Of that total, we have retained 46 of 100 salaried field ministers and 180 of 248 non-salaried elders (73%).
Obviously I need to take the same brand of happy-pills that Dennis Luker is prescribing, because I just don't see those stats as in the least encouraging. A bit like the bloke who has fallen off a ladder and tells concerned onlookers, as he lies there unable to move, "I'm fine, don't fuss, it's all good."
If UCG survives, the more thoughtful approach taken by the current administration seems certain to become entrenched (let's face it, the not-so-loyal opposition have tossed their toys out of the playpen and then all crawled off.) The best of the US ministry have stayed put - though of course that's a generalisation with exceptions to prove the rule. No more need to "kick against the pricks" (to steal a marvellous King James expression) because Joel and his bad-tempered buddies have headed off into the wilderness. But is relentless optimism and a sunny disposition enough to arrest the very real demographic decline that has been evident in UCG from long before the current blowout?