For the ICG meetings at the Ballina Library, a number of DVDs were made from tapes of Garner Ted Armstrong's sermons at previous Feasts. The Australian GTA tape library has a collection of old Feast videos that go back for 20 years, to Gulf Shores, Ala.
The CGI members met at the Comfort Inn. Ferrel Vincent from the U.S.A. gave a number of sermons, along with Herb Haupt, who is the Australian representative of the CGI. They also showed a special video by Bill Watson and Bronson James about the holy days.
The LCG met at the Returned Servicemen's League Club, with sermons by Dayrell Tanner, who is the Australian director, Bruce Tyler and Robert Tyler, who is the manager of the Brisbane office, Ken McLeod of Perth, and Rod King, Mel Jenning and Roderick Meredith via DVD, who told us that "no other church understands" and that "Petra is protection."
The LCG honors the book called Mystery of the Ages, by Herbert W. Armstrong (which includes some of Garner Ted Armstrong's writing from an earlier book called The Wonderful World Tomorrow).
Dayrell said the LCG is the remnant of the Philadelphian church and the only ones doing God's work, that it is church policy to not permit recording of the services and it is not the church's tradition to applaud those who give special music.
On the Last Great Day we were told to beware of the Internet.
It was good to meet new people from the different groups and old friends we had not seen for many years. Outdoors we enjoyed the spacious beaches and beautiful scenery that surround the township, which boasts of only one set of traffic lights.
Around the mouth of the river, dolphins can be seen splashing about. There were several dinners organized by the groups and a few barbecues as well.
After the Feast on a visit to the old headquarters of the WCG at Burleigh Heads in Queensland, it was found to have been sold about one and a half years ago and that the WCG has moved to an upstairs office in the suburb of Varsity. David Moffitt, North Sydney, Australia.
Seek ye first
BARRIE, Ont., Canada--This year the Maranatha Church Of God celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles at the Days Inn in Barrie with visitors from Toronto, Elliot Lake, Kitchener and Dunchurch. The theme this year was "Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God."
On opening night Charlie Sutton advised us to appreciate the Feast, which is a gift from God.
On the first day Ken Parker spoke on the significance of God's temple.
The next day George Merritt encouraged us to never, never give in because all is vanity.
On the third day Charlie spoke on "Seek You First the Kingdom of God."
On day four Ken Parker discussed the four parts of the New Covenant.
On day five Charlie told us the feasts are spiritually rejuvenating.
George Merritt returned on the sixth day to speak on the "Seven Barriers to Our Faith."
On the seventh Day Charlie spoke on "Christ Is Coming to Bring Compassion and Healing to the Nations."
On the Last Great Day a special brunch and forum were held in the morning highlighting four members of the congregation who spoke on the Last Great Day and what it meant to them.
During the final afternoon service a sermon was given by Ken Parker on "God Called the Weak and Foolish to Become Wise."
We also had uplifting sermonettes each day as well as special music provided by Marilyn Guy and Bob Trotter, which was much appreciated. A catered meal was provided every day that gave us an abundance of food and fellowship.
One afternoon was set aside for youth activities that included "Glow in the Dark Miniputt" and games at Retro Planet. Some brethren took advantage of a walking trail near the Days Inn each morning after breakfast, and the evenings were spent with food, fellowship and games.
We are all looking forward to next year and are already making plans! Patricia Thomson.
DAYTONA, Fla.--Our group (seven of us) enjoyed the Feast and Last Great Day as follows.
One stayed in Daytona. Two visited with the Miami Church of God in St. Petersburg Beach. One went to Illinois because of a death in the family. Three met in holy convocation at my home, where we enjoyed Bible discussions, music, sermons and good food.
Nothing elaborate, but all was done in faith. Frank J. Antoniello.
Harrisburg's fall festival
HARRISBURG, Pa.--Focusing on the theme "The Kingdom of God Is at Hand," Pleasant Hills Christian Church, affiliated with the Church of God (Seventh Day), Denver, Colo., hosted its fall festival Oct. 18-25.
Each autumn this congregation participates in a Christ-centered celebration of the tabernacling (dwelling) of God with His creation, past, present and future.
Brethren from Texas, Tennessee and Pennsylvania joined in the activities, which included Bible studies, daily worship services, recreational activities and lots of fellowship.
Speakers included Bible Advocate editor Calvin Burrell (Denver); local church pastors Bruce Chesney and Robert Wertz; Bill Hicks of Kingsport, Tenn., director of missions ministries for the CG7; Joe Kirkpatrick of Portales, N.M., and Jerry McClenagan of Amarillo, Texas; and Richard Wiedenheft of Barrington, Ill., Northeast District superintendent.
A wonderful time of worship and fellowship was enjoyed by all. Plans are already underway for next year's celebration. Bob Wertz, New Cumberland, Pa.
Inspiring and uplifting
HOT SPRINGS, Ark.--We had a wonderful Feast in Hot Springs. We had about 130 brethren who rejoiced greatly before the Lord.
We had beautiful weather for our family day, which featured hotdogs and hamburgers, boat rides and hovercraft rides for the youth and a carnival spaceball ride.
We had fun pickin' and grinnin' and a '50s dance.
We had inspiring and uplifting sermons.
Our teens took part in the youth-day service with special music and in worship services.
There were special meals for the congregation, and all fellowshipped with much enthusiasm.
The children were overjoyed at Tommy Twister, the balloon-twisting expert, and a lady clown who entertained them the preceding night.
The teens had two days of outings with go-karts rides, putt-putt golf, a pizza party and bowling.
The adults enjoyed a game night and ice cream and pie. Overall, my wife said she gained two pounds. We finished the Feast on the Last Great Day with a meal of barbecue, coleslaw, potato salad and baked beans and pies and cakes. Fred Porter, Hot Springs, Ark.
This year in the Holy Land
JERUSALEM, Israel--Greetings and shalom in the wonderful names of Yahweh and Yahshua. I pray that all of Yah's set-apart saints are well.
We just finished what was a most awesome and wonderful Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem and, following the Feast, a pilgrim tour of the land.
This year's Feast was a milestone in several ways.
First, we had about 100 brethren with us, and about 60 of them came on the pilgrim tour. This is more than a 100 percent increase from last year.
I was also blessed to perform 16 baptisms at the Jordan River.
The spirit at the Feast was wonderful. We had representatives from 12 countries including the U.S.A., Canada, Great Britain, Austria, Sweden, Holland, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Finland and Israel.
Interestingly enough, these are the exact areas where the 12 tribes are concentrated in their diaspora.
The messages were powerful, and there was truly an overall loving family atmosphere. The only word that many were left with after the amazing experience of internalizing our promised homeland of Israel was "Wow!"
It was sad to say good-bye, but many made the commitment of next year in Jerusalem. Don Esposito, Jerusalem, Israel.
LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo.--More than 90 brothers and sisters in Christ from various Sabbath-keeping churches rejoiced at the Lake of the Ozarks for eight days of Feast of Tabernacles celebration. Attendance varied, with a peak of 75 on the weekly Sabbath, and was remarkably steady every day.
In hosting this, the sixth consecutive Feast at the Baymont Inn, the Mid-Missouri Church of God and others interspersed a wide variety of activities alongside wonderful daily sermon messages.
New this year were an "Ezekiel Temple" seminar, children's choir, children's Bible classes, a kickball game, kite flying and horseback riding.
Included again this year were the variety show, table games and pie-and-ice-cream social, family picnic, fellowship luncheon, senior breakfast, youth day and second annual ladies' luncheon.
Several children received God's blessing at the traditional "Blessing of Little Children." Many prayer requests and blessings received were announced daily during services.
This year God provided several anointings and healings (James 5:14-15) at the Feast site, something that had not happened in previous years. These were especially inspiring to the brethren and caused even greater rejoicing to the glory of our Father God and His wonderful Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
We also had much more special music this year than in past years, and much of it was notably by families, couples and children.
These comments since the Feast tell the story of how God's Spirit moved at this Feast of the Lord:
From M.K.: "I plan on being at the Ozarks for the Feast next year. I love the people. Everyone is so genuine and family-oriented. The Midwest part of the country seems to have a love for home, family and country like no other."
From D.W.: "We had a wonderful Feast. I think [name] and [name] were very touched by the outpouring of God's Spirit on the last day. They said they felt very blessed to have been there at services that day."
From M.S.: "It was a great Feast for me. Lots of good sermons, fellowship and connectedness. I like that."
From W.S.: "All the messages were solid and helpful. Everyone participated selflessly and wholeheartedly. The musical high point for me was when 4-year-old [name] sang her solo." Duke Schneider, Mid-Missouri Church of God.
Enjoyable and memorable
LOS OSOS, Calif.--For the third year, members and affiliates of the Church of the Eternal God celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles in the beautiful area of Morro Bay and Los Osos.
We would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for the diligent work and assistance to make this a most enjoyable and memorable Feast, including the beautiful flower arrangements by Dorothy Loraas and Connie Grade, the supervision of the information table by Bill and Nancy Grams and the activities for our little children, which were arranged by Jule Zehrung.
We would also like to thank all of you especially for the beautiful attitudes of sharing, selflessness, brotherly love and friendship permeating activities throughout the Feast.
We were blessed to conduct and witness a marriage during the Feast (Paul Voss and Joan Youngberg), a baptism (John Amorelli), two ordinations as deacons (Robb Harris and Michael Link) and the blessing of two little children (Isaac and Madeline Garrett).
We also enjoyed a talent show during a fun-and-games evening--arranged by Michael Link, with Michael Bannen functioning as emcee, and Norbert, Johanna, Michael and Manuela Link, John and Louise Amorelli, Karen Myers, Aaron Hooper, Kalon Mitchell and Mackenzie Zehrung (with little dog Honey)--participating.
This special event was followed, later in the week, by a western (costume) dance, which was arranged by Michael Link and Cali Harris, with talent display by John Amorelli, Joan Youngberg, Phyllis Bourque, Connie Grade, Dorothy Loraas, Gilbert De Vaux and Honey. Both the marriage and the talent show were videotaped by Michael Bannen and Rhonda Cagle, respectively.
We also enjoyed a beach-access party, in addition to the opportunity for individually arranged activities, such as horseback riding, a visit to the farmers' market in Los Osos, wine tasting and ATV rides.
Highlights were a Friday-night Bible study and discussion at a campfire with our younger members, a wide variety of special-music performances, coordinated by Phyllis Bourque (by Phyllis, Connie Grade, Dorothy Loraas, Joan Youngberg, Aaron Hooper, Michael Link and Mackenzie Zehrung, Norbert Link, and several festival choir presentations), as well as inspiring messages by Edwin Pope, Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Terry Grade, Wray Zehrung, Bill Grams, Paul Voss, Robb Harris, Michael Link, Bob Bourque, Michael Bannen, Gilbert De Vaux and Eric Rank, addressing such diverse topics as God's desire for His people, the many voices of God, the kingdoms of the world and our millennial rule, prayer, finishing our individual and collective calling, and the three resurrections, among many other topics.
All services were transmitted live over the Internet (with the help of Wray Zehrung, Karen Myers, Rhonda Cagle, Michael Link and Kalon Mitchell), and the Feast sermons have been posted on our Website, www.eternalgod.org.
Both the establishments of rented accommodations and the management of the leased church hall were extremely accommodating and cooperative. We are certain that God's protecting and blessing hands made this Feast one of the most enjoyable and memorable Feasts ever. Norbert Link, Ramona, Calif.
Brethren from the tsunami area
MADRAS, India--The theme for the Feast was "Dwelling in Unity." I was the only person to conduct the services and give sermons. As a special program we had Bible-reading sessions where I encouraged the people to ask questions. This Feast I made as much as I could as interactive as possible. We may lack good food, but we were filled with lovely fellowship and spiritual food.
Well, I mention spiritual food. I must admit I was only teaching the knowledge I have. I am not a pastor or preacher, but whatever knowledge I have I taught. What I covered in the messages during the Feast was on:
o Why we have sufferings in this world.
o Why sometimes it (the world) attacks us though we may be faithful and loyal to God.
o What is the meaning of the world tomorrow and how it could be relevant in today's context.
o Why we should come away from the world during this period to learn more about the truth during Feast time.
o What happens to our relatives who die without knowing the truth and how that is relevant to the Last Great Day.
The brethren in the Madras tsunami area, Mepur, Ayyalcherry, Vellore, Tiruvannmalai and Kanchipuram, send their regards. We had in attendance a total of more than 275 including children.
The Feast ended without any mishaps, but immediately after the Feast it started to rain. It began a little heavy, then more heavy and finally with a big hurricane (typhoon). In one day it rained 32 centimeters of rain. Even I was not spared. My house, too, was flooded with water, both from rain and sewage mixed. My house still smells.
The story never ends there. The whole state was affected, and the smaller huts and makeshift houses that our brethren live in are broken and need to be repaired.
I wanted to rest after the Feast but I am going to run to this place to see what I can best do to provide some relief.
Well, Satan is not happy about the success of the Feast, so it dampens us to a great extent. We will never give up. Please pray for us in India. The scope for evangelization is so vast, but resources are too poor. Please pray, please. M.R. Hubert, Madras, India.
Generally remarkable Feast
OCHO RIOS, Jamaica--In spite of rainstorms and other obstacles, up to 283 people gathered to observe the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day in Ocho Rios with the Church of God International (CGI) this year.
A further 18 people would have come for one day, but a badly flooded road caused their bus to turn back.
A special aspect of the Feast came from members of an independent Sabbatarian church, in Spanish Town, which hadn't kept the holy days previously. Those members started to keep the Feast as a group with CGI this year.
Another independent church, in Maroon Town, St. James, led by a man who had learned from the ministry of Herbert W. Armstrong and had taught from Church of God literature for 15 years, also chose to attend this Feast site this year.
God blessed this site by allowing the Feast's activities to start and continue almost normally as scheduled in spite of the rains unleashed by what eventually became part of Hurricane Wilma. The bad weather caused landslides and floods that blocked or hindered traffic on many of the roads between Kingston, the largest city and capital of Jamaica, and the northern coastal tourist town of "Ochee," as locals often call it.
At this Feast a remarkable buffet of spiritual food was served up to the brethren in attendance. Deacon Glenford Smith preached two powerful, practical sermons about how we need to live more-disciplined and better lives as Christians, such as by restructuring our hearts and general priorities in life.
We would also need to change the programming of our minds and emotions away from the world's values we held before conversion to agree with our new Christian lives after baptism, such as by monitoring and then changing what our thoughts naturally drift to when half idle or daydreaming when this reveals a materialistic mind-set.
In his message, deacon Paul O'Connor came up with a striking metaphor about Christians being "pilgrim soldiers" and how this realization should change our attitudes about trials and experiences in this life.
The traveling minister for this site, Mike James, used in one message insights from the theories of educational psychology to discuss why people in the world don't "get" God's truth even when it is explained to them.
In his other message, he described how Christians should spiritually live as if they were dead to the world's temptations and pleasures.
In an interactive session with the whole congregation, deacon Christopher Hendricks led a spiritual workshop that encouraged those attending to avoid lazy thinking that would keep us from specifically planning how to exactly overcome specific major long-standing spiritual problems.
After returning from America as a traveling speaker himself, deacon George Ramocan gave a most interesting sermon that explored the meaning of the Hebrew and various Old Testament texts to show that we as holy-day and festival observers already keep the new moons, so no further separate observation when the crescent appears monthly is necessary.
Showing forth fully his talent as a speaker of both careful intellect and remarkable power, the CGI pastor for Jamaica, Ian Boyne, was in truly excellent form during a Friday-night Bible study that discussed the book of Revelation from two viewpoints.
He described and cited high-level traditional Christian scholarship, including scholars' concessions that the Old Testament in general and even the holy days in particular must be understood in order to interpret this book correctly.
He also practicably applied its lessons to his long-standing theme about the need for Christian self-sacrifice when describing how Christians anciently were denied jobs because they wouldn't sacrifice to the gods and participate in orgies that were connected with membership in guilds that organized the skilled trades, etc.
He then compared their plight to Sabbath and holy-day keepers today being denied jobs because of their faith.
But during this Feast Pastor Boyne felt the need to teach doctrinal truths more than to preach practical inspirational sermons. So, having researched this subject carefully before the Feast began, he gave a striking set of messages, four in all, that described and developed the typology of the tabernacle, later temple of God, as relevant to the Feast's scriptural meaning.
The tabernacle and temple concepts are important for bringing new truth to our collective attention. For example, the Hebrew words used in the account in Genesis hint at the Garden of Eden being the first temple of God and Adam as its first priest.
The tabernacle in the wilderness, with its holy objects that correlated with spiritual actualities in heaven, was a temporary dwelling for God symbolically while Israel wandered in the wilderness, which was later supplanted by a permanent temple that Solomon had built in Jerusalem.
The references to Jesus as the cornerstone allude to the temple, as does Peter's comparison of Christians as lively stones being built together into a spiritual house.
Presently, God by His Spirit dwells in individual temples (or tabernacles) of God, meaning individual Christians as they live in the wilderness of this world, who one day will be joined into His family and completely become God themselves.
Much more could be said about and built upon this set of messages, which give some serious food for thought about what the Feast spiritually foreshadows for our Christian lives and for our glorious future.
This Feast site also provided fun social and uplifting spiritual activities. There was a "singles' mingle" that dealt with the acceptability of large age gaps between men and women in romantic and marriage relationships, such as old women with younger men, before the singles' dance started.
Besides serving up the local cuisine, Jamaica Karaoke Night featured brave men and women willing to dress up and sing like the original artists of famous rock and pop songs of the past.
The Family Fun Show featured many musical acts, poetry readings, and a parade of the customary hats of the world.
Perhaps the most striking two acts of this show were Maggie Grant's original spiritual rap, which worked in mentions of, and even teased by name, various (unmarried) members of the local Jamaican church, and the synchronized Ashanti dance routine done by six teenage girls set to African music.
In the annual speaking contest, the Herbert W. Armstrong Memorial Presentation, Sandra-Mae Robinson triumphed once again and beat out the four men who aimed to topple the reigning "queen" and champion of this contest.
In presentations limited to 20 minutes each, the speakers argued the scriptural case for Christians being willing to stay in a morally (but not doctrinally) corrupt church.
A striking newcomer to this contest, and one of the runners-up along with deacon Derrick Alwood, was Bruce Campbell, a blind local lay member who used a braille manuscript as the notes for his strikingly well-organized presentation.
Activities during the Feast also included a sports field day, a pool party for the youth, a couples' night with rap session, a formal public debate by the youths about the death penalty, a seniors' luncheon, and even organized street evangelism by teens on the streets of Ocho Rios during which they handed out tracts attacking the observance of Christmas.
One woman was baptized on the beach on the morning of the Last Great Day, while meanwhile the brethren who had gathered to watch sang hymns about Jesus' sacrifice that matched the ceremony's meaning.
Overall, this relatively small Feast site provided a generally remarkably high level of public speaking that produced messages of power and serious thought. The musical talent displayed at services and social events was often excellent as well.
Anyone who wants to attend a Feast site that can be fun, uplifting and educational should check out what CGI does in Jamaica each year. Eric Snow, Redford, Mich.
Deep Bible studies
PENOBSQUIS, N.B., Canada--Our Feast this year was small but enjoyable. It was a pleasure because my wife, Anne, and I were able to combine the time with a visit from our son and his wife from Alberta and our daughter from Nova Scotia.
The Feast was held in Sussex, which is about eight miles from Penobsquis. It is beautiful country, with soft, rolling hillsides and plenty of sheep and cattle to grace the landscape.
With only older people at the Feast, we concentrated on some deep and interesting Bible studies. Some of the time was in discussing our free publication, The Light, and arranging for wider distribution.
We are now busy in presenting the gospel to different church groups and seniors' groups. We have already been able to present to SDA, Baptist and several seniors' groups. Some SDAs have shown interest in the holy days, and it comes as a surprise to Baptists and others that we serve Christ and meet on Sabbath.
It is our hope that God blesses us with many more years to serve. Harry Herbert, Church of God Sabbath Day, Penobsquis, N.B., Canada.
ST. PETERSBURG BEACH, Fla.--What a great Feast of Tabernacles 2005 we had at sunny St. Pete Beach!
To highlight the Feast, powerful sermons were delivered by Tony Fontao, Dwight Harrison, Larry Sharp and Ben Faulkner. A sermonette was given by Mike Roy. Beautiful special music was performed by Miriam Moreno.
We were blessed throughout the Feast with sunny, warm days. Services were held every morning at 11 at Dolphin Beach Resort. We had the blessing of the little children during the Sabbath service. Besides daily worship services, there was also a Bible study.
All services were conducted in English with simultaneous Spanish translation.
Activities included miniature golf, bowling, a family barbecue and a dinner-dance that was enjoyed by everyone, with good food and great music and games.
We would like to thank everyone who attended the Feast at St. Petersburg Beach. You are the ones who made this Feast a great one. We look forward to sharing the Feast of Tabernacles with you next year. Tony Fontao, Church of God in Miami, Miami, Fla.
Warm water, warm Feast
WAGONER, Okla.--The 2005 Feast of Tabernacles at Western Hills Guest Ranch, in Sequoyah State Park, near Wagoner, was yet another in a fine succession of successful and rewarding festivals at this ideal location. There were in excess of 250 registered attendees, with others attending part of the Feast.
We had a busy time with two services the first day and on the Sabbath, then a morning service on all the other days.
All of the sermons were of high quality, as well as our having a couple of well-attended Bible studies.
A wide variety of activities was enjoyed. These included two hymn-alongs, a youth picnic, a teen pizza party, a pontoon boat ride on the lake, a hayride and hotdog cookout, a teen bowling party, a potluck picnic, a family dance, an activities day consisting of a variety of tournaments followed by a hamburger cookout, a family fun show and a youth day.
One or two of the various church groups represented had church picnics at the campgrounds as well.
A baptism service took place Monday afternoon. Two young adults were baptized, Mary Johnson, who turned 20 years old on that same day, and David Csercsics (pronounced Churcheck), a 24-year-old blind young man from Canada.
This was his first Feast of Tabernacles, but he has been studying with another blind gentleman, Gene Collins, via Internet for some time now and made his decision at the Feast to make his commitment to Christ!
Gene Collins had graciously sponsored David's flight and hotel accommodations so David could attend his first Feast of Tabernacles.
It's usually the custom at the Feast at Western Hills to use the swimming pool for the baptisms. Since the pool is not heated, it is generally a challenge for baptizer and baptizees to enter the pool and go under that frigid water to rise a new creature in Christ.
But this year Lee Critser of the Tulsa Church of God graciously offered his service to travel back to Tulsa and bring back a baptismal tank. It was then filled with bathtub-warm water, and this year the participants were able to enjoy a warm dunk into the watery grave, and the ministers performing the baptism were also able to remain warm and relatively dry.
The weather started out the first two days to be warm for Oklahoma at this time of year, but then a cool front moved in and the weather was wonderful the remainder of the Feast, with a crispness in the air and the trees beginning to change colors.
It went from warm short-sleeve weather to jacket weather overnight. All in all, we were truly blessed at the feast in Wagoner this year. Richard Gawith, Tulsa, Okla.