Readers' Feast of Tabernacles 2003 reports begin

Following are the first reports Feastgoers sent to The Journal concerning the 2003 Feast of Tabernacles. More reports from Feast sites are planned for the November and December issues.

For guidelines on submitting your report and optional photographs, please see the article at left.

Here are this issue's reports:

Best cyber-Feast ever

BEND, Ore.--Visiting Bend, utilizing the Internet, was an interesting way to attend the Feast (sponsored by the United Church of God). Seeing how my duties keep me grounded here at the compound, I saw the Feast in a different light this year.

The opening sermon was a real delight; God and man standing side by side came to mind. Oh, what a wonderful world it will be! The Kingdom of God is certainly going to be a reality in a few more years! No skeptic here!

There was, I am hesitant and may I mention disheartened to mention, a man calling himself David who was rather dissentful (sinful and disrespectful) in the chat room. The UCG should have planned a password for members only.

I prayed that the moderator running the chat room would tell him to go away, but he did not. There is no way this man could have been a member.

However, the sermons and the after-hour events at this Feast site (cybercast) were a pleasure and a sure way to visit a site and fellowship with like-minded believers. If only I could have joined you all for a meal and fellowship! It was truly the best Feast yet. Kenneth Scribe, Las Vegas, Nev.

New Covenant marriage

DETROIT, Mich.--Praise God! The Feast of Tabernacles 2003 in Greater Detroit was a resounding success! Brethren from many groups joined for the first annual Metro Detroit Feast, attended by about 50 people (see a related photo on this page).

The Feast lasted a full eight days, from Saturday morning, Oct. 11, through Saturday evening Oct. 18.

Veteran Feast-keepers as well as first-time participants concluded that this truly was a feast of Spirit and joy. Our theme was the New Covenant marriage spoken of in Revelation 19. Next year we plan to have services for all the holy days. Don Frith, Messianic Church of God.

CEM at new location

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla.--The CEM Feast of Tabernacles site met this year, Oct. 11-18, for the first time at the Emerald Coast Conference Center on Florida's Okaloosa Island. This is a new convention center in the state's panhandle. Its construction was completed just this year.

About 1,200 registered at this site.

The site offered Sabbath schools for youths of various ages before the regular services began at 11 a.m.

Sermon speakers were Ron Dart, Jeff Osborn, Steve Sanders, Larry Watkins, Peter Kamen and Dave Havir.

One service was predominantly praise-and-worship songs led by Brent Kern and other musicians.

Three simultaneous seminars were presented on the six weekdays of the Feast from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. The sessions were optional, but many come to the CEM festival site because they benefit from them personally.

In seminar room No. 1 Mike Linacre made a series of presentations on background relating to the Old Testament, supplementing the Internet course on Old Testament survey that CEM offers. Attendance for the series ranged from 80 to 160 daily.

In room No. 2 a variety of seminars were held:

o "Gender Communications: Closing the Gender Gap," by Trish Svehla.
o "Individual and Small Group Evangelism," by Pam Dewey.
o "Using the Internet as a Tool for God's Work," by Nancy Vandemark.
o "Our Expanding Universe: An Eternity of Stars," by Terry Gray, who showed slides from the Hubble telescope.
o "Women of Faith From Bible to Modern Times," by Scarlett Stough.
o "Building Healthy In-Home Fellowships," by Bill Stough.

In room No. 3 on Sunday, Wendy Granberg played host to an interactive discussion, "The Best of Times, The worst of Times, God's Glory." The small group of 25 shared experiences that illustrated God's grace in our lives and encouraged faith in God's love and faithfulness towards us.

On Monday through Thursday, in seminar room No. 3, Ron Smith held a series specifically for the young-adult group from high-school graduates to 25 years of age. On Friday Larry Watkins offered a seminar, "Is God the Author of Sexuality?"

In addition there were planned activities such as the pie-and-ice-cream social, a family picnic, a family dance, a teens' and young adults' dance, luncheons for various groups, and a variety show, among other activities.

The CEM site differs from many others in that CEM is not a church and has no congregations or ministers of its own. People from various groups or those who have no church at all attend.

Another difference is the exchange of speakers with the nearby Church of God Big Sandy's site, in Destin, Fla. The COG Big Sandy (Texas) is pastored by Dave Havir. These two groups choose to cooperate rather than compete.

The CEM site is organized by a group of volunteers rather than a home office. This year's coordinator was Skip Martin of Pocahontas, Ark., who will coordinate the 2004 Feast of Tabernacles.

In about four years at the current growth rate the new convention center will be too small. Either a new, larger site will be needed or two locations may be used. Bill Stough, Lonedell, Mo.

First year as independent FOT

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.--The Feast held in Grand Junction sponsored by the Christian Church of God (CCG) was put together by a marvelous and well-adjusted group of people.

The Feast sponsored by CCG members in their fair city was nestled among the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains. One hundred twenty-five brethren from various COG groups were in attendance for their appointment with the Father and Son. The CCG's meetings were in the beautiful Adams Mark Hotel. (See a related photo on this page.)

This was the local congregation's fourth year to sponsor the fall festival. It is noteworthy that this was the members' first year as an independent group; the previous three years were under the watchful eye of the Worldwide Church of God organization.

Pastor Del Leger and festival coordinators Coy and Neta Colbert had put together a Feast that was organized, joyous and decent, with meat in due season. Mr. Leger was heard to remark that this year's Feast was also "on the right days."

One festival attendee commented that this was the first Feast of Tabernacles site he had attended at which everyone received gifts from the local brethren.

Adults received beautiful pens, inscribed with Scripture verses, and children received backpacks filled with crayons, colored pencils, several coloring books, stickers and stuffed animals--so one and all were well prepared for services.

Also, local farmers provided apples every day for snacks.

The opening evening message was the "Law of the Boomerang," or the law of the return, what you sow is what you reap and the Golden Rule.

This message permeated the Feast as the local congregation practiced servant leadership and everyone benefited.

Speakers were Mr. Leger, Rod England, Stuart Smith, Wes Higgins, Mr. Colbert and Bob Wright.

In his inspiring Last Great Day message Mr. Wright included the importance of keeping one's appointment with God.

He mentioned that whenever an important person, such as the queen of England or the president of the United States, makes an appointment to meet other people, those people make it their utmost priority to be there for the appointment.

When we have the Great Gods of the Cosmos wanting our company, how much more of a priority should it be for us?

Two interesting and informative presentations came during the evening hours of the Feast. Richard Traver gave his presentation on Noah's ark and its present-day location, with numerous documentational support and video shots of the investigators and their findings.

Also, Rod England gave a thought-provoking presentation of his findings in the Scriptures of what the Holy Spirit really is.

The brethren were blessed at every meeting to hear the beautiful sound of music provided by the Higgins and McClary families and their musical ministry.

The Grand Junction congregation provided much musical talent with its gospel quartet in the persons of Nancy and Abby Burkholder, Elbert Keefauver, Boyd Murphy and Debbie England.

Worship leaders Stuart Dietz, Pam Elliot, Wade Higgins and Tracy McClary inspired us to offer up songs of praise.

Organized activities included family day at KidzPlex, where children could let off steam, a seniors' luncheon provided by the congregation, a banquet Western show and dance with music provided by a local group called Hard Times, and a fun-filled afternoon spent touring wineries--transportation provided, of course. Rich Trecek, Sacramento, Calif.

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