LCN Article
Getting to Know the Council of Elders

January / February 2023

We all know that “in the multitude of counselors, there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14), and in the Living Church of God, our Presiding Evangelist is supported by a Council of Elders to help him more effectively manage the governance of God’s Church. Just what is the Council of Elders? Who is on it? What are its primary functions?

Under our Presiding Evangelist, Mr. Gerald E. Weston, four other evangelists are members of our Council of Elders: Mr. Richard Ames, Director of Media Operations; Dr. Douglas Winnail, Director of Church Administration; Mr. Stuart Wachowicz, Regional Director of Canada; and Mr. Mario Hernández, Regional Director of Spanish-speaking Regions and Editorial Director of French publications.

They are joined by 15 pastors: Mr. Peter Nathan, Regional Director of the United Kingdom, Europe, and Africa; Mr. Richard Stafford, Regional Director of the Caribbean and Area Pastor of the South Texas congregations; Mr. Robert Tyler, Regional Director of Australasia and the Philippines; Mr. Jonathan McNair, Director of Living Education; Mr. Rod McNair, Assistant Director of Church Administration; Mr. Wallace Smith, Executive Editor of Church Publications; Mr. Dexter Wakefield, Vice President of Finance and Operations; Dr. Jeffrey Fall, Regional Pastor of the Western United States; Mr. Lambert Greer, Regional Pastor of the Mideast U.S.; Mr. Dan Hall, Regional Pastor of the Southeast U.S.; Mr. Rand Millich, Regional Pastor of the Midwest U.S.; Mr. Adam West, Regional Pastor of the Northeast U.S.; Mr. John Strain, Area Pastor of the Charlotte congregation; Mr. Stephen Elliott, Area Pastor of the Arizona and New Mexico congregations; and Mr. Paul Shumway, Area Pastor of the Statesville and Kannapolis congregations in North Carolina, as well as the congregations in Brazil, Barbados, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Meeting Through Travel and Technology

The Council of Elders typically meets four times per year, with May and November meetings occurring in person in Charlotte, North Carolina, and February and August meetings attended virtually through the Internet.

“When we meet in person, there’s actually a lot that is accomplished outside the Council meetings,” says Mr. Greer. “Meetings take place with the different departments and people who work at Headquarters. There are times when I’ll go talk to somebody in Data Processing, or to somebody who can help me in some area of communication with Headquarters, and that doesn’t really happen in Council meetings themselves. It does facilitate, in a sense, the leadership that serves the ministry throughout the world—having the ability to communicate with Headquarters and ask questions, get them answered, and communicate back to those we work with. So, being in person also has quite a few benefits in the meetings that take place outside of the Council meeting itself.”

In 2022, the Council was able to meet in person for the first time in more than a year, because COVID-19 restrictions had permitted only online meetings. “While the online gatherings usually last only a few hours,” explains Mr. Wachowicz, “they do allow the Council to meet more frequently and enable the Presiding Evangelist and Church Administration to update the Council on new initiatives and developments, as well as get input from Council members on matters that will require the Presiding Evangelist to make a decision. Due to their limited duration, the online sessions are focused on a few specific matters. Some issues requiring immediate action can thus be dealt with in a timely manner by these two online meetings.”

“The online meetings are an invaluable tool,” Mr. Wachowicz says, “but of course do not permit the same level of interpersonal exchange that can occur when people assemble in person.” Mr. Wachowicz added that meeting every three months allows the Council of Elders “to be kept up to date on matters that can have implications for the Church as a whole, and permit discussion and input to Church leadership on a timely basis. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for the leadership in Charlotte to be apprised of needs and trends that are developing.”

“The online meetings almost always have on their agenda the items that we’re going to discuss when we’re in person,” adds Mr. Lambert Greer. “Those meetings tend to be preparatory discussions about things that we will continue talking about. The frequency of meetings is a part of the reality of our world, where there’s a lot of change taking place and a lot of challenges, and if you’re too far apart, the communication that takes place might not involve everyone being impacted. Meeting every three months allows us to communicate and act in unity, and, if a decision is made, to be aware of it. So, it really has a lot to do with the reality of living in a world that’s fast paced, a world of change.”

Supporting Godly Government

What is the Council’s main purpose? As the Presiding Evangelist is tasked with overseeing the preservation of God’s Truth and the proclamation of the Gospel message, the Council’s main function is to give input and advise him. Mr. Weston asks for the Council’s input on matters involving doing the Work more powerfully and spiritually feeding God’s people across the globe, and he encourages candid discussion. All the Council members are dedicated to helping God’s Work reach farther and hit harder as this age comes to an end.

“One of the primary benefits of the Council is that it adds unity to the Church,” Mr. Greer says. “We are unified because of God’s word, because we believe the same things, but how do you apply that? How do you take a principle and then fit it to modern life, the challenges of today? When you do that with input from others—the ideas that they have, the challenges they’ve faced, the consequences they’ve felt that you would perhaps not think about—you’re much better prepared, and it helps us all work together. And unity has to start from leadership—of course, that comes from Mr. Weston as the Presiding Evangelist.”

A Council of Elders meeting will begin with a prayer, after which the Presiding Evangelist will give opening remarks. Then he will hear reports from the Regional Directors and Pastors on the state of their regions, and the Council will begin discussing the varied topics on the meeting agenda. Considered and candid comments from the Council members on the various topics all contribute to a bigger-picture understanding of the issues and situations. This is of benefit to all the men and to the Church as a whole.

“I have been most impressed by the degree of unity and support that results from this process,” says Mr. Wachowicz. “I myself have learned a great deal from having had the opportunity to listen to the input from the people around the table. God’s system, when faithfully followed, does produce a harmony and unity of direction that no other process can achieve, largely because God backs it up through His Spirit.”

Mr. Greer agrees wholeheartedly. “The experience lifts you up,” he says. “Dr. Meredith said for years that there’s a kind of a camaraderie on the Council, and all it’s done is get better. The last time we had a Council meeting, it was just outstanding—the laughter we shared, the things that were accomplished. And hopefully they’ll get better and better as we go forward. We’re learning how God’s government works under the leadership of Jesus Christ. We’re going to be kings and priests, but we’re not acting just for ourselves—we’re acting for our Lord and Savior and for God the Father.”

Council of Elders meetings help to ensure that the Living Church of God leadership remains united and active. That unity flows down from the top as all work together, informing and supporting Mr. Weston as he guides the Church forward under its ultimate head, Jesus Christ. May God empower us all to do our part in building and strengthening the unity of His Church!

The council of elders photo in 2022
Top Row, from left: Wallace Smith, Peter Nathan, Lambert Greer, Rod McNair, Dexter Wakefield, Jonathan McNair, Dan Hall, Stephen Elliott, Rand Millich, Jeffrey Fall, Paul Shumway, Richard Stafford, John Strain, Adam West. Bottom Row, from left: Stuart Wachowicz, Richard Ames, Gerald Weston, Douglas Winnail, Mario Hernández. Not pictured: Robert Tyler