Big Sandy church builds with Celebration Weekend

By Jill Hughes

BIG SANDY, Texas--The independent United Church of God Big Sandy commemorated the completion of its new church building Dec. 25-27. The building was actually habitable before the Feast of Tabernacles this year and served as one of two Feast sites sponsored by the UCG Big Sandy (the other was in Destin, Fla.).

The December events included worship, fellowship and educational opportunities. In spite of treacherous weather (with streets, interstate highways and airport runways sheathed in ice), 400 people from all over the country and from many Church of God groups came to see the new building.

Construction began last spring and was mostly completed by the Feast. The first service was Oct. 3, the Sabbath preceding the Feast.

Finishing touches, repairs and additional construction made the building ready for the recent observance.

The weekend officially began Friday, Dec. 25, with Bible studies for adults and teenagers. The next morning early risers attended a service of nothing but "special music." Vocalists and musicians had come from as far away as Southern California to play and sing.

The preaching service began later in the day and included a sermonette, sermon and three more special-music performances.

In his sermon pastor Dave Havir informed the congregation that the new building was not to be viewed as "the temple of God" or "the house of God" but was to be used as "a tool to serve the house of God."

The congregation's goal, said Mr. Havir, is touse the building to preach the gospel.

"We hope to be able to use the building for activities like this [special weekend] in the future," said Mr. Havir, and "we are very interested in being interdependent with other congregations."

Festivities Saturday night started with a semiformal dinner, then a dance with music by a big band, The Sounds of Swing, and the band's college-student female vocalist.

Adults showed younger people how to dance to the music of the big-band era. During band breaks, teenagers danced to more-modern music. During another band break, some learned how to do a couple of Jewish dances.

The next morning four speakers offered four educational seminars. They were "Principles of Success" by Wayne Cole of Tyler, Texas; "Questions About Y2K" by Alan Ruth of Detroit, Mich.; "Dealing with Grief" by Thalia Hufton of Hawkins, Texas; and "Principles of Child Rearing" by Reg Killingley of Big Sandy.

"I was very pleased with the weekend," said Mr. Havir. "A lot of people did a lot of work. The weekend was also a chance to thank those who donated their money and time to this building project."

Other people were pleased as well. "It was like going to the Feast for us," said Ben Kimmons of Brookhaven, Miss., whose father, Anthony, delivered the sermonette on the Sabbath. "We have such a little church."

Ray Kurr of Tulsa, Okla., summed up the three days as "a weekend of bridging the gap."

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