GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT’S NEWS BULLETIN – 11/4/16

News Bulletin from the General Superintendent
11-4-16

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General Superintendent David K. Bernard

Prayer for US Elections
I appeal to everyone to pray for the upcoming US elections on November 8, which will be significant for the direction of our nation and our world over the next four years. As a church we don’t endorse political candidates, but we should pray for leaders who will preserve our political and economic liberty, especially freedom of religion. The story of Abraham’s intercession for Sodom demonstrates that even a small minority of righteous people can make a significant difference. I also urge all citizens to participate in the voting process at every level.

General Conference
We enjoyed great blessings from the Lord at our recent General Conference in Indianapolis. The estimated peak attendance was 8,700 compared to 8,000 in 2015. Global Missions raised funds that were given and pledged to send at least 13 missionary families back to their fields with completed budgets. On Friday and Saturday, North American Missions completed a Church in Day in Cumberland (in the metro area), and I was privileged to preach at the first service in the new building on Sunday.

There was only one major change in office. Matthew Johnson, secretary of the General Youth Division, could not be reelected because of age. Josh Carson, promotional director, was elected in his place. We commend Brother Johnson for his faithful service, and we congratulate Brother Carson on his election.

The General Conference approved a plan to revise the Christian Worker’s License as a new Christian Ministry License to be conferred by the local pastor and church. It also amended policies for ministerial transfers and for Metro Missions. The next issue of the Forward will contain a full report of elections, appointments, and resolutions.

Relocation of World Headquarters
We have moved most of our headquarters employees to our new building, and we will complete this move in the next two weeks. The new building gives us 50 percent more office space. It has less warehouse space, so we have also contracted to purchase a storage building in Wentzville, about 15 minutes away. We are scheduled to close on the sale of our old building on November 21. The purchaser is the Ferguson-Florissant School District, which will use the ground floor as a public school and the upper floors for district offices.

After considering purchase and relocation expenses less rental and sales income, we expect to have a mortgage of less than $4 million, which we are borrowing from the UPCI Loan Fund. Since we owe the money to ourselves, this debt doesn’t appear our consolidated financial statements. After the move is complete, we will experience a significant savings in maintenance and utilities. For example, this past summer the cost of electricity at our old building was $25,000 per month, while at the new building it was $8,000. We project that our operational savings will be sufficient to service our mortgage. Thus, we expect to operate the new building within our current budget.

In essence, we will move from a 46-year-old building in a declining neighborhood to a 9-year-old building in a highly desirable business park location … for free. We will pay interest to our own constituents with the excess being reinvested into our own ministries. I believe this transaction is a miracle from God. As we have placed our priorities on giving to world missions, with record offerings for all our ministries, God has miraculously given us the means to support our necessary overhead costs.

There is still time to get the highest rate of investment the UPCI Loan Fund has to offer by investing in “Relocating For Growth” Loan Certificates, for our new headquarters. You can view the rates at upciloanfund.org/relocation4growth.

I also encourage you to view and to show the presentation of the UPCI’s growth from 1945 to now and projections for our future of over 110,000 churches and preaching points in the next 25 years. The presentation is available here.

New Address and Telephone for World Headquarters
You can still contact us through our old address and telephone number, but here is our new information:

United Pentecostal Church International
36 Research Park Court
Weldon Spring, MO 63304
Phone: 636-229-7900

Ministerial Dues
In 2014 the General Conference approved a change in the process for payment of membership dues. We delayed the implementation one year to wait for the complete replacement of the UPCI’s computer system. After much hard work and extensive testing, we have launched our new payment process and a new website.

Beginning this quarter, ministerial dues will be collected using the new fee structure.
Please note, this does not apply to ministers who are exempt or ministers whose dues are paid by the following districts: Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oregon, and Tennessee. For all others, if you pay annually, there is no fee and consequently no change in your dues. If you pay quarterly or monthly, a small fee will be added to each payment to cover the processing costs. You may make payments by mail, online (upciministers.com), or by phone (636-229-7900). Recently, you should have received a postcard and an email with information on the new process.

There were some difficulties with our website during the transition, so we thank you for your patience and understanding. We believe all issues have been resolved, and the new site is a much better solution to serve our more than 10,000 UPCI ministers going forward. As always, your feedback is welcome via phone or email (ministers@upci.org). Our office team at Church Administration remains ready to assist you as needed.

Urshan System Accreditation Process and New Degree Programs
As previously reported, Urshan College (UC) and Urshan Graduate School of Theology (UGST) are working toward the goal of secular regional accreditation. (UGST is already accredited with the Association of Theological Schools.) In June, Urshan submitted a document of 1,600 pages to show fulfillment of 19 eligibility requirements. In September, the accrediting association approved this submission with commendation and with no requests for change. Therefore, Urshan is now proceeding with a full self-study in preparation for a site visit. While we cannot make any public advertisement about the process, we can inform our constituency that we are on schedule to meet our goal of attaining candidacy in 2018. At candidacy we will begin receiving all the benefits of accreditation while we finish the process. Please pray that this endeavor will be successful.

UC and UGST have added a number of new degree programs and concentrations.

UC now offers the following academic programs. All are available on campus. All but music are available by distance learning in states where UC is allowed to operate. For further information, go to urshancollege.org.

  • Associate of Arts in General Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry
  • Bachelor of Science in Christian Ministry (accredited degree in partnership with St. Louis Christian College)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership
  • Bachelor of Arts in Music Ministry
  • Bachelor of Music

UGST now offers the following academic programs. In accordance with new accrediting guidelines the credit hours have been reduced. All degrees are accredited and are available on campus and by distance learning. For further information, go to ugst.edu.

  • Certificate in Apostolic Theology, 12 hours. Required for UPCI military chaplaincy endorsement.
  • Master of Arts in Christian Ministry (MACM), 48 hours. Concentrations: General Studies, Research Track, Arts and Worship, Intercultural Studies, and Pastoral Counseling
  • Master of Theological Studies (MTS): 48 hours. Concentrations: General Track and Research Track
  • Master of Divinity (MDiv): 72 hours. Meets requirements for chaplaincy. Concentrations: Student Designed, Arts and Worship, Intercultural Studies, Pastoral Counseling, Biblical/Theological, and Historical Studies

 

Sincerely in Christ,

David K. Bernard

GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT’S NEWS BULLETIN – 11/4/16

GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT’S NEWS BULLETIN – 9/7/16

News Bulletin from the General Superintendent
9-7-16

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General Superintendent David K. Bernard

 

Annual Report
The 2016 Annual Financial Report of the United Pentecostal Church International is now available to all UPCI ministers at upciministers.com. You must log in to have access. The report shows that we have attained new records for net assets, total ministers, and total works in the US and Canada as well as worldwide constituents. It is now published digitally for everyone instead of being distributed at General Conference, so we ask ministers to review, download, or print it prior to General Conference.

Appreciation Sunday
The first Appreciation Sunday will be held on September 11, 2016, and will focus on law enforcement officers and first responders. This date commemorates the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on America, when more than 400 first responders lost their lives responding to this event. For more information, see appreciationsunday.com. I ask everyone to pray that through this effort we can make a significant impact upon our communities and nation for the kingdom of God.

General Conference Prayer
Let’s be in prayer for the upcoming General Conference of the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) in Indianapolis, IN. Conference preservice prayer will convene in the Indianapolis Convention Center on Tuesday, September 27, 6:30-7:00 pm, and Wednesday through Friday, September 28-30, 6:45-7:00 pm. For registration and schedule click here.

Sincerely in Christ,

David K. Bernard

GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT’S NEWS BULLETIN – 9/7/16

A Pentecostal View on Human Government and Law Enforcement

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How should Pentecostals approach human government generally and, more specifically, law enforcement agencies and personnel? First, we follow Romans 13:1-7, which advocates respect and submission rather than opposition to governmental authorities, acknowledging that “the powers that be are ordained of God.” This statement doesn’t mean every governmental action is appropriate and shouldn’t be corrected, but it means God has ordained government and Christians should uphold the rule of law in a fallen, imperfect world. (See also I Peter 3:13-17; I Timothy 2:1-2.) God has given humanity the right and responsibility to establish and maintain human governments committed to goodness and justice. The form of government may vary from nation to nation, but Christians should support the following basic principles:

1. Every human should be treated with respect and dignity, and every human life should be held as sacred.
2. Citizens in our pluralistic society should have the right and freedom to think, speak, and act as they choose, as long as they extend the same rights and freedoms to others, respect the property rights of others, and do not harm other individuals or society.
3. A commitment to truth and fairness should inform the writing and enforcement of laws. We should reject corruption, partiality, and prejudice.
4. The government is responsible to maintain peace and security.

Second, the task of governance, including law enforcement, is a collective one. The authority of human government is not located in the person of individual officials, but in the principles just outlined. Likewise, authority to enforce law is not vested in officers as individuals but is based upon the principles they collectively represent and defend. Therefore, no individual government official is above the law but rather must be held accountable to the law without partiality or preference.

There can be room for improvement in even the best systems of government. Moreover, overt injustice and corruption are common in many parts of the world. Thus, both affirming and dissenting voices should enjoy free expression. Under no circumstances, however, should an individual attempt to take justice into his or her own hands to perpetrate violence or kill in the name of reform or retribution. Because we are all affected by the way governance is implemented and laws enforced, and we are called to live out our faith in this world, we should work to promote truth, peace, and justice in government.

A Pentecostal View on Human Government and Law Enforcement

GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT’S NEWS BULLETIN – 7/19/16

News Bulletin from the General Superintendent
7-19-16

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General Superintendent David K. Bernard

Call to Prayer and Action
We are all shocked and saddened by the violent events in recent weeks, including terrorist attacks, attacks on police officers, and loss of lives. We need to pray for our nation, our communities, and our law enforcement officers. Our local churches should become actively involved in their communities, advocate peace and justice, and seek ways to minister to those who have been affected by violence.

Appreciation Sunday, September 11, 2016
Last year, at the recommendation of Building the Bridge Ministries, the General Board approved a new community outreach for 2016 called Appreciation Sunday. This plan comes at exactly the right time in the will of God to enable the UPCI to step to the forefront of ministry. It calls for churches to celebrate, recognize, and honor law enforcement officers, first responders, firefighters, military personnel, and civil servants. This initiative will provide an opportunity for these valuable community servants and their families to receive prayer, be blessed by the preaching of the Word, and experience the work of the Holy Spirit in a Pentecostal church. The first Appreciation Sunday will be held on September 11, 2016, and will focus on law enforcement personnel. This date is especially appropriate as the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in US history, when over 400 first responders gave their lives to serve and protect their city. A website, appreciationsunday.com, has been established to provide information, resources, and promotional materials in downloadable format to assist you in preparing for this event. I appeal to every church in North America to participate in this outreach to your community.

Relocation of World Headquarters
As previously reported, on March 1 we purchased a new building in the St. Louis area for our world headquarters. It was under lease through May 2017, but we negotiated an early termination of the lease effective July 1. In return being released from future operating costs, the leaseholder has conveyed to us all furniture and equipment, which were originally purchased for about $1.5 million, and has agreed to pay rent through March 2017. Our total rent income will be almost $1.5 million.

On July 19, we signed a contract to sell our current headquarters with most furniture and equipment. Under the contract, the buyer has 45 days to inspect the property and obtain financing. After that time the contract will be final, and we will have 90 days to close the sale. During this time, we will prepare the new building for occupancy by repainting the exterior, sealing the parking lot, constructing a media studio, installing frosted glass partitions to prepare additional private offices, and creating a chapel area. If all goes according to plan, we will move into our new building in October and November. During the transition, we will maintain telephone and data services for both buildings.

Please pray that these plans are fulfilled over the next few months. In the meantime, we still need additional funds for long-term financing. If you would like to contribute to the building or invest in the loan, you may contact our Stewardship Department in one of the following ways:

Women in Ministry Network
From its beginning in 1945, the UPCI has given ministerial credentials to both men and women. Originally women were about 21 percent of total ministers. The percentage has decreased over time for various reasons, but in recent years the number of women ministers has grown to a new record of 461. Since women are still a relatively small percentage of the total and since the ministry of women is different from that of men in significant ways, after discussion with the Executive Board I have appointed a committee to launch a Women in Ministry Network for UPCI ministers. The purpose is to facilitate communication, coordination, visibility, mentoring, and training tools for women in ministry. I have asked Lois Mitchell of Pensacola, FL, to serve as the chair of the committee. She has been a credentialed minister with the UPCI for many years and serves as the Ladies Ministries president of the Florida District. Her husband, Jimmy Mitchell, is a pastor in Pensacola and a member of the Florida District Board. If you would like to participate in this network, please contact my administrative assistant, Rhonda Morley, rmorley@upci.org, 314-837-7300.

Urshan Accreditation Process
Urshan College (UC) and Urshan Graduate School of Theology (UGST) are owned and operated by the UPCI, and together they compose the Urshan System. UGST has been accredited with the Association of Theological Schools since 2010, and from the start of UC the Urshan System has also been seeking accreditation from the secular regional association. This accreditation would strengthen our undergraduate program and enable UC students to qualify for federal grants and loans. It would also enhance recognition of degrees, transferability of credits, and employment opportunities for graduates. The goal is to attain candidacy (a form of provisional accreditation) in 2018, at which time students would qualify for federal financial aid.

In June Urshan passed a significant milestone in the process by submitting 19 eligibility requirements to the accrediting association. Since the opening of UC four years ago, the school has been working diligently to meet these requirements. For the present submission, five committees worked for a year and a steering committee worked intensively for a month to create three documents totaling almost 1,600 pages. These documents provided evidence that Urshan meets all initial requirements and should be considered for the next phase of the accreditation process. This submission required the writing of 19 narrative pieces with detailed supporting documents on legalities, stability, finances, academics, student life, mission, administration, faculty, and personnel. Please pray that this effort will be successful.

Live Broadcast – David K. Bernard
View live broadcast at http://bit.ly/29OfXDo.

Sincerely in Christ,
David K. Bernard

GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT’S NEWS BULLETIN – 7/19/16

Statement on Killing of Police Officers in Dallas

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The UPCI unequivocally condemns the killing of police officers in Dallas yesterday.  Our hearts are broken in the aftermath of this unjustifiable, horrific event. We pray for the victims and their families. It is unspeakably tragic that human beings, created in the image of God, could engage in this kind of behavior.

We live in a broken world. Every day we are accosted by the harsh realities of injustice and violence. We are surrounded by evil, but we are not powerless or afraid. The enemy of our souls would like to use incidents such as these to cause division and strife in society and even in the church. Our Lord Jesus calls us to follow his example and overcome evil with good. Sadly, prejudices and group loyalties can distract us from this calling. We are tempted to forget our humanity and make enemies of our neighbors. We are tempted to fight evil with evil, and in the process become evil ourselves. But we must not succumb to such temptations. Rather, we must love relentlessly and endlessly. We must proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and demonstrate its power to defeat evil, not through violence and hatred, but by transforming one human heart at a time. And we must proclaim this for everyone without qualification or exception.

Statement on Killing of Police Officers in Dallas

A Statement on Recent Police Shootings

 

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The recent police shootings are tragic and troubling, for as Christians, we believe that human life is sacred. Each situation needs to be investigated thoroughly with the goal of ascertaining the truth and ensuring that justice is served. We know that in the vast majority of cases our police act in our best interests to serve and protect us. We also must face the reality, however, that there have been cases in which law enforcement officers have engaged in racial profiling, used excessive force, and perpetrated injustice. When tragic events such as the recent shootings occur, it is important to respond peacefully and to avoid premature judgements based on stereotypes.

The shooting in Baton Rouge occurred near one of our churches, and the church is ministering to the African American community during this time. The pastor has issued the following statement: “What we need at this time is transparency and continued prayer for this city. We do not need imagined scenarios or stereotypes; we need truth for the family of Alton Sterling and the people. We need to come together and pray for peace, direction for the family, and transparency for our police department and our elected officials to bring awareness to their community constituents.”

A Statement on Recent Police Shootings

A Pentecostal Response to California Senate Bill 1146: Religious Freedom of Christian Colleges

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California Senate Bill 1146 proposes to limit the freedom of religious educational institutions.[1] This bill would deny Christian colleges the right to require current students to abide by a code of conduct based on biblical principles, or to refuse admission to students who are in violation of biblical teaching. The bill allows for an exemption only in overtly religious programs or activities such as ministry majors or theological classes, while denying this same religious freedom in the case of general education programs or activities such as nursing or business majors. This is a flagrant and unacceptable violation of the freedom of religion guaranteed by the US Constitution.

In matters involving the First Amendment right to freedom of religion, the government must use the least restrictive alternative to fulfill its legitimate public policy interest. There is no reason why administrators of Christian colleges should not be allowed to set religious requirements for admission based on their interpretation of the Bible and their consciences. Such requirements are not unfair as long as they are applied objectively to all applicants. Moreover, there is no legitimate reason for federal funds to be withheld from students in such programs. The quality of the education received, both in overtly religious and general education programs, should be the standard; not the private religious beliefs of an institution’s leaders and students. Far from being the least restrictive alternative, Senate Bill 1146 amounts to what Samuel James recently called a “dismantling of the idea of Christian education.”[2]

For many Christians, faith extends to all aspects of life. The Christian worldview affects more than just overtly religious acts or topics; it informs our approach to law, commerce, art, science, and even leisure. Religious educational institutions with this understanding have long played an integral role in the educational system of the United States. Indeed, many of our historic universities such as Harvard and Yale were founded on this basis. Their religious nature has not prevented them from offering a valuable service to countless students. Their alumni have incontrovertibly advanced and improved society on many levels. All schools should not be forced to be religious schools, but neither should religious schools be forced to become secular. Christian colleges have a right to exist and to practice their faith under the US Constitution.

[1] The bill suggests making those institutions subject to the provisions of the Equity in Higher Education Act which affords “all persons, regardless of disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or other specified bases, equal rights and opportunities in the postsecondary institutions of the state.” See http://bit.ly/28Yx6y2 and http://bit.ly/28V5RQU. Accessed June 25, 2016.

[2] “‘It’s Going to be an Issue.’ Biola, Conscience, and the Culture War” by Samuel James (http://bit.ly/28Uc2Ze).

 

A Pentecostal Response to California Senate Bill 1146: Religious Freedom of Christian Colleges