Thank you for taking time to watch this video and come up to speed on what’s happening at CE National. If I’ve never met you before, my name is Jeff Bogue. I’m the new president at CE National and am honored to have that leadership position.
I’ve been friends with Ed Lewis for 27 years and worked with him on Momentum Youth Conference as well as some other projects. I feel honored to take the reins of his leadership and continue to steer CE into the future.
There are a lot of changes happening at CE right now and many of them are driven as a result of the COVID-19 virus, that has affected all of us, and has affected CE National in some pretty dynamic ways. We have found it necessary to make some pretty big changes and make them quickly. One of the things that we know is when we make big changes quickly, what tends to suffer is communication. So we are making an effort to communicate with all those interested in what’s going on with CE National.
The way that CE works financially is we will spend money all year long and we’ll get ready for big summer programs, especially Operation Barnabas, the Urban Hope centers in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, and then Momentum. This year as we were doing that, right at about the peak of our spending, COVID-19 hit. When COVID-19 hit, it prevented us from doing the things that allow us to recover the money that we’ve invested. That’s the cycle in ministry: we spend money and we recover that money and then we spend it again so to say. Right at the peak of that spending, we lost the ability, for instance, to bring teams into Urban Hope, at both our LA location and our Philadelphia location. We have not been able to have any teams in at all this summer and don’t foresee the possibility of even doing that in the near future. And then, you may know already, we also had to cancel Momentum Youth Conference. We’ve had Momentum for 78 years in a row and this is the first time we’ve had to cancel it. When we did that, we lost the investment that we made to have youth conference and lost our ability to recoup those funds as well.
So not only has that been disappointing to us on a ministry side, we love these ministries, we believe very strongly in training, very strongly in helping young people and churches be ON MISSION, but it’s been devastating to us financially as well. We’ve had almost an $800,000 loss because of the cancellation of those events and that loss is very significant to CE National. This loss has sparked the speed of a lot of the changes that I want to walk you through.
Some of the changes are positive; for instance, we’re excited that Eric Miller has joined our staff. He came on in March before COVID-19 hit and Eric is our new director of ministry operations. He oversees Operation Barnabas and the Urban Hope ministries, as well as Momentum Youth Conference. Eric has done a phenomenal job as a youth pastor in Maryland for 17 years, is a friend of CE National, and is a former Operation Barnabas leader and participant. We are excited to have him on board.
Another exciting change is that Andy Michael and his wife Michelle have joined us. Andy is our new Urban Hope director in Philadelphia. Andy has been trained at Grace Church of Greater Akron and is excited to get into Philadelphia and begin to re-imagine and reinvigorate our ministries there. Another thing to be excited about is that Ed Lewis is on sabbatical right now and is going to come back to his retirement at the end of August. For 45 years, Ed has led and been a part of CE National. He’s been a friend and a mentor to me and I’m so am excited for him and grateful to stand in his legacy as we move forward.
Some of the more difficult things we have to talk about are some decisions we’ve had to make. There are three big ones that are going to show up in a major way.
- We’re going to go through the process of rebranding and re-communicating who CE National is and what we do. There will be new websites, maybe even a name change to CE National, and lots of new and fresh communication about who we are, what we do, and what we value. That change will show up in the fall or close to the first of this year.
- Another major change that will happen is that we are going to divest ourselves of our properties in Winona Lake, Indiana. This is actually something the board was talking about before I came on as president. They’ve been looking for a few years and asking with the change that’s happened in technology, with people working remotely, do we need all of the buildings and grounds that we own in Winona Lake? Because of the financial crisis sparked by COVID-19, we’ve made the decision that we can move on from that investment. We believe that was a great investment. The property served a real purpose for a long time and we are grateful for it, but we don’t need those properties and their overhead moving forward. So our desire is that they will be purchased by another ministry. We’d like them to stay in the kingdom of God. We want to honor the reason that money was given to purchase them and the investments that were made; we want those properties to continue to reach people. But they are for sale and we plan on, and desire to, divest ourselves of them by selling our Winona Lake property.
- That leads to the third big change and, of course, if we’re going to sell that property, that means we’re going to relocate the headquarters of CE National. As soon as we are able, the headquarters of CE National are going to move here, to Akron, Ohio. I am the president of CE National, but I’m also the senior pastor of Grace Church of Greater Akron. Akron, Ohio, gives us a few positive things when it comes to CE National. One is that it puts CE National in the middle of our ministry regions. Akron is in the middle of Indiana and the Pennsylvania, Maryland area. We have easy access to highways, easy access to airports. It’s a better location for us as far as travel is concerned. The other big reason why we want to make that move is because it allows us to lower our overhead. Grace Church of Greater Akron is NOT taking over CE National. The two organizations are going to be completely separate. We’re not mixing the books, we’re not mixing the money, we’re not taking charge of that. As the president of CE National, I still answer to the board of CE National. I have two jobs in two locations. What we can do as a church, as a mega-church, is we can share our resources with CE National. Instead of four office buildings, we can have one office building; instead of four parking lots to plow, we have one; one yard to mow, one copier contract, one internet contract, etc. By sharing our resources with CE National, we’re able to lower our overhead at CE National which makes us lean and mean as we go forward.
I believe these changes are important and healthy. They’re quick, and that’s why we’re making such an effort to communicate, but I believe in the long term, God is going to bless them as we recover from the hit that COVID-19 brought. As we recapitalize by the sale of our property, we look and say that we believe the best days of CE National are ahead of us.
We fully intend to have Momentum Youth Conference next summer. We fully intend to reopen both of our Urban Hope locations. We even had a version of Operation Barnabas this year and we fully intend to grow that program and deepen it. We want to be on the cutting edge of training and serving and coming alongside the local church and doing things with them that would be hard for them to do by themselves.
I believe that the best days of CE National are still ahead of us. I believe that God’s going to use us in great ways. I believe He has a calling on this organization that’s going to keep pushing us forward. I believe that we’re in a time of big transition and a real financial crisis and that God has given us a path, that He wants us to follow, as we move forward.
These decisions aren’t made in a vacuum. Ed and I made a lot of these decisions together. Of course the board of CE National is fully involved and behind all that we’re doing. And we want you to be involved in that too. So we made Zoom calls and put out mailers and even this video because we know that you have ownership in CE National.
CE National isn’t mine; it’s ours. We want you to have that ownership and that belief as well because the ministries of CE National have impacted hundreds of thousands of people over the years. And just like they have impacted my life, they’ve impacted yours as well.
I want to invite you into this process. I want to invite you in financially. I want to invite you in through prayer. I want to invite you in through ownership.
We want you to know what’s happening. We want you to be praying. We want you to be a part of it. We want to continue to serve together as a network as we continue to do what we believe God has called us to do.
Thank you for taking the time to watch this video. Thank you for your prayers and your support. If you want to support us financially, click here. We covet that—we need it right now. We would be grateful for it. But mostly we want you, and we want you, so that we, together as CE National, can move forward to the place that Christ has called us to.