Seminars explained how to help those who are grieving, relationships and marriage issues.
We enjoyed an evening of contemporary praise, another with traditional hymns, and three dances: Caribbean, Irish ceili and a traditional line dance.
Tours were available to the Eden Project (the world's largest greenhouse) and several seaside villages with their beautiful Victorian and Georgian architecture.
In addition there was a Feast choir, youth day, preservice prayer group, Scripture readings, special music, children's choir, sports activities, special youth seminars and amenities at the Feast site itself. Seniors also enjoyed an afternoon English tea.
On-site housing consisted of one-, two- and three-bedroom caravans (mobile homes) and three-bedroom lodges, all at remarkably reasonable prices. The site (park) included a meeting hall, recreation center, restaurant, convenience store, swimming pools and laundry. It reminded us of Big Sandy but with mobile homes.
Paignton was truly uplifting and encouraging. Rededication was much in evidence. Brethren left uplifted, inspired and filled with hope. The enthusiasm was contagious.
We found Paignton to be a wonderful Feast experience and opportunity to make "worldwide" an active part of our name. Praise our great God for allowing us to celebrate worldwide together! John Crissinger, Newark, Ohio.
1,600 at the Feast
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla.--Of all the Feasts of Tabernacles that my wife, Deloris, and I have traveled to--about 10 sites over the years--we like the one at Panama City Beach the best.
We, along with 1,600 other of the brethren, met at a civic center here at the Feast site sponsored by the United Church of God.
Delivering excellent and inspiring sermons were Harold Rhodes, the festival coordinator, and Dick Thompson, an old friend from years ago.
Also on the speaking schedule were Richard Pinelli, Bruce Gore, Jerry Aust and Ken Martin. Gary Petty gave the opening-night message Oct. 1.
Every message at this year's Feast was extremely inspiring in its own way. I was amazed at how many wonderful sermons were delivered at the same site.
Deloris and I saw old friends we had made over the years from Bethlehem, Pa., and St. Petersburg, Tampa and Ocala, Fla., and elsewhere.
On the second day of the Feast, I saw Mr. Thompson speaking with someone. He introduced me to a man who turned out to be a reporter for a local newspaper, The News Herald. The reporter, Tom Quimby, asked me a few questions. I identified myself as an 81-year-old house painter and talked with him a few minutes. In that Saturday's edition there were my quotes.
I told him that the Feast is the best time of the year and that "I'm more convinced now than ever that I should get closer to God, that I should treat my fellowman like I want to be treated."
One other thing I said to him, hoping to drum up a little more business: "Have spray gun, will travel." John Ambrosavage, Big Sandy, Texas.
POCAHONTAS, Ark.--We had planned to Feast with others, but things didn't come together, so this year we had the last-minute Feast of Tabernacles put together in just over one month. It was the best yet.
We had conjunction, crescent and traditional calendar observers; exclusive, sometime and not-at-all sacred-namers; WCGers, SDAs, Baptists, Pentecostals and independents; and a mix of standard hymns, messianic, worship, praise and Celtic-style harp music.
The woods-surrounded grounds of the Little Children of Jesus Christ were dotted with tents, a large tepee, and a moderate sukkah as people came from a dozen states and three countries. All shared in community meals, and many joined the early-morning walks in the beautiful countryside. All again gathered for an outdoor cookout.
Few even ventured into town, and no one did for very long.
Herb Solinsky of the Congregation of the Almighty from Dallas presented the detailed Messiah seminar over two nights with a thorough teaching from only Old Testament scripture.
We were provided a vivid reminder that first-century believers preached Messiah with only these scriptures and of the abundance of Scripture with which they had to work. Other teachings were also received from Mr. Solinsky including "What Is the New Covenant?"
Larry Lasiter of Points of Truth Ministries and many others with him from Russellville, Ark., presented one glorious evening of praise and worship in song that ended with a somber evening of reflection and devotion. A generous offering was received for Mr. Lasiter and two of his adult daughters in support of their three-week missionary trip to Kenya to see Joseph Kimani just two weeks after the Feast.
Elder James Hilburn of the Springville, Ala., Tabernacle of Restoration gave rousing messages on faith and on living by the power of the Lord with holy boldness.
Eldon Orr of Gatewood, Mo., gave a message challenging each one to be fervent in prayer. Other messages were received from Pastor Jimmie Whitfield of the Ozark Christian Fellowship from Mountain Home, Ark.; Jerrold Strickler of the Congregation of the Almighty from Dallas; Darrell Whitfield of Messiah Fellowship from Big Sandy, Tenn.; Avraham Teitelbaum from North Carolina; and Chris Barr of the home assembly.
There was also a daily reading of "The Law" that covered the entire book of Deuteronomy throughout the week. After each reading was discussion open to all and engaged in by most. It was a stirring and blessed addition to this year's Feast celebration.
A beautiful river baptism in the precious name of YahShua ha Mashiach was held on Sabbath afternoon.
Many also joined an antiabortion rally in town one day. This brought us to the attention of one minister from a large, local Sunday church who is teaching his people about the feasts. That led us to a week-long series of meetings after the Feast with this church, with more to come.
It was just the usual best-ever Feast of Tabernacles celebration. I can't wait to see how the Almighty will top this one next year. Chris Barr, Pocahontas, Ark.
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah--This year we played host to the Feast of Tabernacles for the first time. The Church of God International sponsored Ben Chapman, and, with the help of a few, we set out to keep the Feast right in our front yard.
We believed we had an obligation to provide something close by for those who couldn't travel. We also thought that people might want to come to the place where the 2002 Olympics will be held.
God surprises even us. We had wonderful success, and everyone left renewed in the Spirit.
Some of the ministers who spoke during the week were Duane Nicol, Frank Marang, Loren Chamberlain, Mr. Chapman and Charles Groce. The messages were uplifting, and the sermon on the Last Great Day given by Mr. Groce was exceptional. Many of us have had Mr. Groce as a minister and were encouraged by his maturity over the years.
We sung many songs, and the children built the armor of God throughout the week in daily Sabbath school, then they marched and sang on the Last Great Day.
The church sponsored a Thanksgiving dinner for the whole congregation. Two bus tours took us to the Kennecott open-pit copper mine, the largest open-pit mine in the world. It is among the only two manmade endeavors viewable with the naked eye from space.
We also went out to Great Salt Lake and took a tour of downtown Salt Lake City.
Our second tour took us up to Park City, our picturesque ski town. We stopped at the nearby Olympic venue at Deer Valley. Many of us who live here didn't appreciate the Olympics until we went to another venue called the Utah Olympic Park. This is the site for the alpine sports.
Among other activities we provided was a family karaoke night. That was a hoot, to say the least. On Sunday the Kennedy family sponsored a football social. We had plans to go to our local amusement park, Lagoon, but the weather turned cold after 85-degree weather.
As a result of our success, the CGI has decided to let us do the Feast here each year until further notice.
We want so much to let you know that Salt Lake City has a lot to offer. This next year the Feast will be in September, and the temperature is almost always in the 80s. Salt Lake City is nestled in a valley between the western slope of the Rocky Mountains called the Wasatch Mountains to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains on the west. We plan to investigate more opportunities for fun and recreation.
We have four lakes or reservoirs within a 45-minute drive. Up near Park City you can go on a hot-air-balloon ride or hike or horseback ride.
September would still be a time to go fishing, water-skiing or just plain old boating. We have decided to check into a dinner cruise on the Great Salt Lake.
Near Salt Lake is a new museum that offers the largest dinosaur exhibits. Young and old would love this museum, which offers a range of prehistoric exhibits.
Downtown Salt Lake City offers restaurants, theaters, museums and, of course, the Latter Day Saints temple. The history of the area is just as rich here as anywhere. You can learn about the Mormon pioneers and how Salt Lake City became the city it is.
Please keep Salt Lake City in mind for your next Feast. If you have any questions about this year's Feast or the next one, you can call Mr. Chapman at (801) 226-6635. Jackie Sena, Kearns, Utah.
SAUBADIA, Italy--In this edition of The Journal you can read many articles about the Feast of Tabernacles presented from the point of view of people wearing rose-colored glasses. Best messages, best fellowship, best activities, great weather and spirit of unity are all phrases that will be used to bring us to that ultimate conclusion: best Feast ever. This is not one of those articles.
This was not my best Feast ever, but it was in the top 50 percent. Then again this was my 43rd consecutive Feast, so I'm only admitting that it was among the best 22 ever. It was the longest Feast ever; I was gone for 16 days.
It was the wine-drinkingest Feast ever; wine was free at all the meals, soda cost $2 a bottle. Yet I saw nobody drunk.
It was my first Feast not conducted totally in the language I understand: English. It was 50-50 English and Italian with immediate headset translation. I was impressed.
What I want to convey to you was something that came to me while I was listening to a sermon in Italian on the Last Great Day. The speaker, Carmelo Anastasi, was talking about Babylon the Great and its way of life. I could tell he was waxing eloquent and was emotionally evolved. My ears heard the English translation or paraphrase factually given without emotion.
This is what I heard: "Harmony, peace and oneness are only possible because of our citizenship with God. Whatever we do, don't let human tenets divide us. We all think we know justice. The way of justice we don't know."
When you have only fewer than 100 people in the whole country (Italy) living God's way of life, turf protection and empire building are not major considerations. Love of the brethren is keen and deep. Differences are minimized.
I find it curious the explanation of the Islam religion, and we all know we have heard a whole multitude of explanations recently.
The folks in the United States are saying that Islam is a way of peace and harmony and brotherhood. Violence is wrong. Hate is wrong.
The Taliban folks, on the other end of the spectrum, are saying that the true tenets of Islam have been so watered down that most people professing the Islam religion don't even understand their own religion. That is tantamount to calling their own people Laodician or, worse yet, not of the house of God.
Where we are as the Body of Christ today is exactly in the same position as the folks arguing the philosophies of Islam: divided. Sad to say, we have been there for years.
The Feast of Tabernacles was a time for studying and processing the Word of God. It would be nice if we could keep the processors running. Our country is at war to establish peace. Our churches are at war. Why? Because of the belief that our specific mode of worship or organization will bring peace.
We secretly lament our country. The way of peace they know not. We should also be lamenting ourselves.
Mr. Anastasi continued his message by talking about three characteristics of Babylon the Great. Countries, leaders, alliances, people and kingdoms practicing the thinking of Babylon the Great misuse these three ingredients: (1) power, (2) money, (3) sex. The misuse has got our society to where it is now.
Caramelo didn't say what's to follow, but I'll give him the credit if he wants to take it. In my mind it was just under the surface of what he was saying. Sometimes ideas are lost in the translation: (1) Our churches have abused power; (2) money has become the god of the churches; (3) where would we be today if it weren't for a little promiscuity and sex?
The misuse has gotten our churches to where they stand.
Caramelo's conclusion: Let's use faith and love to together reach our destination: salvation with God. God is waiting for all of us to show ourselves as ambassadors of Him.
My conclusion: When it comes to peacemaking theory and practice, we are good in theory. We have been good for years. Now it is time to start to get good in real life.
Our nation has just entered a protectionist mode. We might feel safe, but we don't feel good.
Actually, we don't feel safe, either. Our churches have been in a protectionist mode for years.
It is time that we entered the trust mode, in which we work and talk with one another with brotherly kindness and respect, the mode in which we maximize our similarities and minimize our differences. God is waiting. Ken Svehla, Downers Grove, Ill.
Ideal UCM location
SEVIERVILLE, Tenn.--Sunny days, crisp nights and the first display of red, gold and orange foliage once again made Sevierville, Tenn., the ideal location for the festival sponsored by United Christian Ministries. With a high attendance of 350, the newly renovated Sevierville Civic Center provided ample room for a wealth of family-oriented activities.
Nehemiah 8:10 and its message of finding strength in the joy of the Lord was the theme of this year's festival. Speakers concentrated again and again on the spiritual joy not only of the Feast but Christian life in general.
Ray Wooten reminded the group how the church transcends organizational barriers as the family of God on earth, and Terry Post, Peter Kamen and Rodger Sandsmark showed how the fall festival depicts the redemption of mankind and the joy that knowledge brings.
Jeff Ledy and Dennis Gonzalo encouraged the group to remember how our lives reflect our relationship with Christ, and Wes White demonstrated how our faith in Jesus Christ is built on solid evidence.
UCM's talented music director, David Duff, again led an outstanding choir, and the Wilmon family from Alabama joined with Mr. Wooten to provide special music on two days of the Feast.
Activities included classes for children and teens, a children's pizza party, a teen dance, a seniors' luncheon and a talent show. Consistent with its goal of making the festival family-friendly, UCM rented the nearby Sevierville Community Center for its family fun day and provided a bounce castle, bowling, basketball, volleyball, swimming and lunch free of charge to all who came.
A special dinner dance was held Saturday evening with live music performed by Aaron Baker, Tim Clary, Marty McDonald and Wes White and backup vocalists Heather and Lorraine Kemp. Calling itself the Wootones, the Feast band played a variety of country and rock music in what it billed as its 2001 Tabernacles tour. Along with the lively music and dancing, attendees enjoyed a Texas-style barbecue dinner catered by Terry and Judy Post of San Antonio.
Mindful of the need to do good works, the group also collected donations for a battered-women's shelter and rejoiced at the baptism of two young adults.
The staff members of Sevierville Civic Center helped us end the festival on one last positive note: They said that, of all the groups (including religious ones) that have used their facilities, UCM was by far the nicest they have encountered. Linda Hardy White, Carrollton, Texas.
Great Feast in Tennessee
SEVIERVILLE, Tenn.--What a glorious Feast! The joy of Christ was the theme of the Feast in Sevierville, sponsored by United Christian Ministries of Birmingham, Ala.
It took place at the Sevierville Civic and Community Center.
Monday night, Oct.. 1, was a get-together, with snacks, juice and coffee. Tuesday morning's services began with Ray Wooten preaching.
Other speakers were Terry Post, Peter Kamen, Jeff Ledy, Wes White and Rodger Sandsmark.
Unfortunately, a few couldn't make it, such as Dave Havir, because of airport delays because of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Giving sermonettes were Bill Schutts, a leader of the Fifth Sabbath, Jackson, Tenn.; John Howell; and Dennis Gonzalo.
Thursday was family day next door in the community center. There were bowling, swimming, volleyball, basketball and lunch, consisting of hamburgers, chips, hot dogs and soda pop.
The highest out of 12 games I bowled was 181. The lowest was 91. I was so happy when Ray and Peggy Wooten both got strikes.
There was a dance Saturday night during the Feast. There was a cake of the American flag. The group that played was the Wootones, a group headed by Wes White of Carrollton, Texas.
Sunday night was talent show.
All in all, it was a great Feast. Temperatures were in the 60s to 80s, with two days of rain. Larry Graff, House Springs, Mo.
STRADBROKE ISLAND, Australia--About 100 smiling, eager and Spirit-filled brethren attended the Feast of Tabernacles at beautiful Stradbroke Island, in Moreton Bay, Queensland. It was sponsored by the Brisbane-based Rochedale Monthly Fellowship. People came from all over the eastern states of Australia and nine from New Zealand.
The Feast began with a welcome supper and later included a Feast dinner, speech banquet, family barbecue and several potlucks. Each day began with a Bible cafe at the Feast lounge, which provided opportunity to group-study a passage of Scripture related to the day's theme of the Feast.
During services the young children enjoyed a Bible craft project organized by Geoff and Jacky Williams while the older children participated in a Bible lesson organized by Barbara Eldred.
The Feast messages gave us hope of a better world in the present climate of hate and turmoil. Speakers came from New Zealand, Sydney and Brisbane.
An afternoon boat trip to St. Helena Island, a penal colony in the late 19th century, contrasted the message of the Feast as we watched a reenactment of what convicts had to endure at this brutal institution.
There was much musical talent available for such a small group; it permeated every get-together. This included classical, bluegrass, ballad and folk music. Musicians included the O'Donnell family; Jo and Jemima Robertson; Geoff and Roxanne Robertson; Russell and Rachel Bishop; Mario St. Clair; Kate Everson and her father, Barry; John Rowse; Ken and Anna Pickett; and Margaret Manwarring.
Beautiful weather every day allowed children's kite flying, walks along the cliff tops at Point Lookout, swimming and rafting. Stradbroke Island is the perfect vantage point for watching the hundreds of humpback whales that migrate past the island at Feast time. All agreed it was a warm, relaxing and inspiring Feast, so much so that they want to bring their friends back with them next year. Hugh Robertson.
Making all things new
TREASURE ISLAND, Fla.--This report was written as a request to have a student's absence during the Feast excused:
I was in the St. Petersburg, Fla., area Oct. 2-10 celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles. We are members of a small branch of Christianity generally referred to as the Church of God. We are among the minority of Christians who recognize the "holy days," all of which coincide with the Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover.
The word tabernacle means dwelling, or presence. It has to do with where God is. It is first cited in Leviticus 23 in the Bible.
The feast days were originally given to the Israelites, who were instructed to live in temporary dwellings for seven days. The eighth day is a separate holy day known as the Last Great Day. Technically, the Feast of Tabernacles is only the first seven days, but they are usually lumped together with the Last Great Day. It memorializes the Exodus, when God delivered the Israelites from Egypt.
As Christians we celebrate the past, present and future presence (tabernacling) of God with mankind. In the past He sojourned with His people in the wilderness, leading them with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day.
In the Gospel of John 1:14 we read, "The Word became flesh and dwelt [tabernacled] among us." We believe that the birth of Christ, the promised Messiah, took place around this time of the year. His Hebrew name is Emmanuel, which means "God with us" (Matthew 1:23).
In the present tense, Jesus Christ takes up residence within us through the Holy Spirit: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells within you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16). Through God's Spirit we experience a foretaste of the Kingdom right now.
But the main focus of our Christian celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles is on the future second coming of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God here on earth. The Book of Zechariah includes a prophecy of the Feast of Tabernacles being celebrated in Jerusalem from year to year after the Messiah's return. This period lasts 1,000 years and is commonly referred to as the Millennium.
Ultimately God the Father will descend from heaven as prophesied in Revelation 21:3-5:
"And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.' Then He who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.'"
While were were in Florida, these and other themes were preached about each morning in a worship service.
In the afternoon, activities were planned, most involving the abundant wildlife and the beautiful Gulf of Mexico area.
Each evening my family would have dinner with one of many families from around the country.
Each night I would stay up on the beach with my new and old friends from Texas, New Mexico, Montana, California, Washington and several other states.
I am thankful that I was able to attend the Feast of Tabernacles this year.
Especially in a time like this, when our country is in shambles and war is imminent, it is a blessing to be able take in the beauty of the Gulf of Mexico and look forward to a time when God will "make all things new." Emily Wertz, Harrisburg, Pa.