Atmosphere of peace
AYR, Scotland--Nearly 150 enthusiastic brethren celebrated the Feast in the coastal town of Ayr, in southwest Scotland. The messages were focused on preparing for the coming Kingdom of God and were delivered with a sense of urgency.
Guest speakers included Doug Winnail from the U.S.A. and Michael Gill from Australia.
Fellowship at this Living Church of God site was warm, and the weather was pleasant. Several afternoon bus trips enabled Feastgoers to explore Glasgow, Edinburgh and the beautiful hill country where one of Scotland's most notable rogues, Rob Roy MacGregor, once roamed.
Evening activities included a Scottish pipe band and dancing and an evening devoted to family-talent entertainment.
The food, both spiritual and physical, was superb. God blessed us with beautiful weather, and His Spirit gave us a wonderful atmosphere of peace. Bob Storrier.
The word of life
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines--The brethren of the Church of God Internationally Affiliated Associates (COG-IAA) kept the Feast of Booths in this summer capital of the Philippines on the night of Sept. 24 up to Oct. 2.
Our theme for this year was "Holding Forth the Word of Life." Messages revolved around living our lives as examples to others in our pilgrimage in this life to let others find God and glorify Him.
We had an aggregate attendance of 25 people, with four first-timers who, incidentally, were baptized this year.
Also, we had an individual, a long-time member in the Church of God, who kept this Feast with us after a six-year absence because of the confusion in the Worldwide Church of God since 1992.
We had services every day and interactive Bible studies.
After the Feast we raised a new fellowship group for those who attended the Bible study and who are on our regular mailing list.
Video messages from ministers of various Churches of God were viewed for eight days, with live sermons from Raul Hipe that described the Millennium under Christ's rulership as compared to man's idea of globalization.
Rodel Carating spoke on the history of the Church of God, its triumphs and perseverance to bring the truth alive to future generations as they sojourn in this life and as an example to always carry the torch of zeal in bringing God's message of hope in this dying world.
I delivered a message about the lesson of booths in the book of Job that shows the reality of the cost we counted at baptism, our loyalty to God and the Christian priority of not putting down roots in this world but in the world to come.
My other message was the saints' goal of looking for the new heavens and new earth and that we can be there only if we are practicing today to live righteously. I also expounded on the reason God commands us to gather together and assemble, which has a prophetic significance.
We balanced the Feast with activities. The traditional Bible bowl was enhanced by a puzzle game on the books of the Bible. We also conducted tours for the first-timers in the area.
We conducted for the first time a ballroom-dance clinic for one night and a bowling tournament.
We were treated by a children's choir on the Last Great Day under the tutelage of Mrs. Vivian Hipe.
In concluding the Feast, we always keep the traditional potluck dinner on the eve of the eighth day as a get-together meal.
The spirit and zeal of the brethren are high after the Feast to bring the lessons they have learned in their daily lives. We hope some of you can find time to keep this Feast with us next year, also in Baguio City. Enrique M. Gabuyo, Calamba, Laguna, Philippines.
Living in Australia
BALLINA, Australia--For the second consecutive year, the beautiful seaside town of Ballina in northern New South Wales was a site for the Feast of Tabernacles in Australia.
The venue was the Ballina RSL Club. A total of 78 happy brethren from Australia and guests from Holland and the U.S.A. attended. We were pleased to have Irv Woelfle, church elder from East Peoria, Ill., visiting with us for the latter part of the Feast. Eight days of spiritual and physical feasting in beautiful weather with a little drop of millennial rain were enjoyed by everyone.
God blessed the Feast site, sponsored by the Living Church of God, with an atmosphere of love, unity, joy and harmony. A sense of purpose and urgency to do the work before the Kingdom of God is ushered in was evident.
This surely was one of the most harmonious Feasts we have enjoyed for years. It was typical of the peace that was so frequently talked about in the messages we heard and which we know will be extant in the Kingdom.
Dr. Roderick Meredith's opening and closing messages were most inspirational, as were the two recent Tomorrow's World TV programs, featuring Dr. Meredith and Richard Ames.
The regional pastor for the Australasian region, Bruce Tyler, provided the bulk of the spiritual food in the form of five sermons, a split sermon and a number of sermonettes.
Mr. Woelfle spent the last half of the Feast with us after visiting New Zealand and gave a couple of sermons, as did the Brisbane elder, Dayrell Tanner.
On both holy days everybody enjoyed a banquet luncheon after morning services in the adjoining Spinnakers Restaurant, which features outstanding views over the Richmond River.
Other activities during the Feast included a friendly get-together. At this activity Feastgoers were treated to a nostalgic viewing of a Young Ambassadors Feast production, Festival '83; a singles' activity at the local Ten Pin Bowl; a dance and fellowship evening with professional instruction from Dianne Tappert and family; and a riverboat cruise with Devonshire tea on the Richmond River.
Music played a major part in the success of the Feast this year. Mal Jennings coordinated this area and led talented brethren who performed splendidly. The brethren were thrilled when they learned of the baptism of Lindell Ngaluafe, a university student from Brisbane and one of the developing fruits of the Tomorrow's World program.
Few eyes were dry when little Elyse Crouch was blessed by Mr. Tyler and Mr. Woelfle, with Mr. Tanner asking God's blessing on his granddaughter.
With spiritual batteries recharged for another year, and renewed zeal to do the work, Aussie Feastgoers left for home with a heightened anticipation of the soon-coming Kingdom of God. Dayrell Tanner.
Feast at Butler State Park
BUTLER STATE PARK, Ky.--The Feast at Butler State Park was a time of joy and learning for nearly everyone who attended. Between 70 and 100 people were present each day. Some people spent part of their Feast elsewhere.
Most of the first service was used to "meet the church": Someone from each household introduced his family and gave some of its spiritual history.
This was extremely helpful because many of those attending had not met each other. From that point on the Feast was like one big family. (We did the same thing two years ago in Burr Oak State Park, Ohio, and found it equally successful). We encourage other smaller sites to do this in the future.
The background of the people attending Butler State Park was varied. Some had been in home fellowships for 15 years; others were attending corporate churches. Some had just recently left the Worldwide Church of God.
Some used Hebrew names for God and Christ; others did not. When we prayed, some looked up toward heaven (John 17:1) or held up their hands (1 Timothy 2:8); others did not (Luke 18:13).
But the wonderful thing was that there was no condemnation of these different understandings and practices between the brethren attending. Brethren seemed to grasp that we will be judged by the parts of the Bible and the teaching of the Holy Spirit that each of us understands, not by what a human leader declares or the people around us do (Luke 12:47-48).
The Feast included interesting messages, studies and discussions. Children's classes were held in which children were asked to draw a picture of a miracle that God had performed in their lives. Later the children's drawings were displayed on an overhead projector and discussed by the congregation.
Adults also discussed miracles that the Eternal had worked in their own lives. Experiences were related about miraculous weather changes, deliverance from death, protection in auto accidents, etc.
Do such discussions take valuable time away from teaching the Bible? Paul said, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power" (1 Corinthians 4:20, NIV).
It is encouraging to see that the power of the Eternal is still here and working. Miracles are not only things we read about that happened 2,000 years ago.
Many of the brethren commented that it is important for children to be involved in services in some way. Traditionally, Church of God children have have had little involvement and frequently stopped attending when they left home.
The brethren attending here were extremely cooperative; there was no difficulty finding people to volunteer to do the work necessary for the scheduled activities. Several activities were spontaneously added. The Feast music was inspiring, consisting of solos, ensembles and a Feast choir. Most of the brethren met together for five meals during the Feast, two sports days, an evening variety show and a concert.
Even though Butler State Park was an ideal place to spend the Feast, we will not be utilizing that site next year because there are neither enough rooms nor meeting space available for the Feast in 2000. Norman Edwards, Perry, Mich.
Meat in due season
CAPE TOWN, South Africa--It was truly an uplifting Feast of Tabernacles in Cape Town. We experienced the best Feast ever in this country. One hundred forty enthusiastic brethren thoroughly enjoyed meeting with the Davy Crocketts and having them as guests (I hope we didn't overwork them; they do have a year to recover).
The sermons were topical and encouraging. The family day at this Feast site, sponsored by the Living Church of God, was held in a beautiful nature reserve in the wilderness area close to George. The brethren enjoyed close-knit fellowship, a barbecue, river boating and a bit of touch rugby.
Senior citizens enjoyed a three-hour fellowship lunch organized for them at a restaurant. A variety of special music was performed, including by the children's choir, that introduced meat in due season. Syd Hull.
Meaningful eight days
CHIN STATE, Myanmar--By God's grace we could joyfully and successfully keep the meaningful eight-day Feast with fair weather. Our highest Feast attendance was 39 (here in southern Myanmar, formerly Burma). No one fell sick during the whole Feast, for which I abundantly thank God.
The Living Church of God in the Union of Myanmar, with its members, can continue year after year, by God's grace, through the continual generous and sympathetic help from LCG headquarters and our boss, Bruce Tyler. For these things we never cease thanking God and His faithful true ministers and overseers.
About 60 members met for the Feast in the Chin state of central west Myanmar. This means a total attendance of around 100 kept the Feast in Myanmar this year. Saw Lay Beh.
Blessed in every respect
CRANBROOK, B.C., Canada--The Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort was the location for brethren of western Canada and the northwest United States to meet at a site sponsored by the Living Church of God. All reports during the festival were positive regarding housing, restaurant accommodations and services.
Even the weather was perfect, with shirtsleeve days and light-jacket or sweater weather in the evenings. God's blessings were evident in every respect.
Attendance remained very good throughout the eight days, and we had the least amount of anointing with little sickness and no serious accidents. All activities were well attended, and positive comments were made about the entire Feast. Eng Monson.
539 Feast in the Philippines
DAVAO CITY, Philippines--Preliminary reports show a combined attendance of 539 for the 1999 Feast of Tabernacles in the Philippines sponsored by the Living Church of God.
Four sites and their overseer ministers were as follows: Davao City, Felipe Casing; Tacloban City, Eleno Cabahit; Baguio City, Gorgonio de Guia; Maranding, Tex Benitez.
Brethren around the country enjoyed good weather, inspiring messages, safe travel and unifying activities.
One of the ministers reported a positive spirit, noting that attendees were "more energized than ever," with "good signs of spiritual growth."
Pastor Jeffrey Fall, from La Crescenta, Calif., had traveled to be the special guest speaker, along with me, to three of the sites: Davao City, Tacloban and Baguio.
Davao City: Eighty scattered brethren, coming from many parts of southeast Mindanao, attended in Davao City, a good increase over the previous year's numbers. Two other guests, from the U.S.A., also attended.
The brethren enjoyed eating and fellowshipping and participated in a family night, a Spokesman Club ladies' night, outdoor activities with sing-alongs and smoked fish, a seniors' activity and a singles' activity.
Five people were baptized at the seaside venue by Mr. Casing. Two public Bible lectures were also conducted by Mr. Casing, with 11 new contacts visiting the first night. Nine of them returned the following night. Four attended services the rest of the Feast.
Tacloban City: Fifty-nine people gathered for the Feast in Tacloban City, the historic site of Gen. Douglas MacArthur's 1945 landing on the island of Leyte. The brethren came from all over the islands of Samar, Leyte and Biliran, sharing in their feasting and fellowship with Dr. and Mrs. Fall and me. Some of the activities included a fun show, a beach party and a public Bible lecture conducted by Mr. Cabahit.
Some members were hindered by health problems and could not attend the Feast, but others were attending their first Feast as fruits of the previous Feast's public Bible lectures.
Baguio City: Baguio City, a pine-scented city nestled in the mountains of central Luzon, was host to 137 Feastgoers this year. Services took place at the Girl Scouts of the Philippines camp, where some of the brethren also were housed.
Dr. and Mrs. Fall, my wife, our newborn daughter and I joined the Baguio attendees for the last three days. Two other guests from the United States also attended. Activities included a youth and singles' activity, a family dance night, a fun show, a seniors' luncheon, a children's activity and a public Bible lecture.
Eleven new contacts came to the lecture, with several inquiring about attending services. In spite of some logistical obstacles encountered just before the Feast, things went smoothly, and several members commented that this had been their most meaningful Feast ever.
Maranding: Maranding, a small agricultural town in the fertile Kapatagan valley "rice bowl" of northwest Mindanao, played host to the largest Feast in the Philippines this year, with an attendance of 263. This was quite an increase over the previous year, with brethren coming from scattered areas all over northwest and central Mindanao.
Coordinator Tex Benitez was joined by fellow ministers Encardio Benitez and Elias Flores.
Good weather and good spirits prevailed as the brethren squeezed wall to wall into the church building and on-site housing.
Activities included a barrio fiesta, children's games, a Bible quiz and a special afternoon viewing of various of Dr. Roderick Meredith's sermon and telecast tapes. Mr. Benitez baptized 15 new members during the Feast. Members from other Church of God fellowships came and swelled the ranks even further on the Last Great Day.
The Feast of 1999 was an inspiring success for attendees all over the country. Each site also enjoyed a viewing of a 30-minute video produced from footage of a 1998 Feast and other events in the past year in the Philippines and a special, personal message from Presiding Evangelist Meredith.
As we strive to grow in the unity of the Spirit towards the goal of restoring apostolic Christianity around the world, the 1999 Feast of Tabernacles in the Philippines was certainly a positive step in that direction. Rod McNair.
Lively English and French services
FORGES-LES-EAUX, France--This year turned out to be a grand Feast for about 70 Feastgoers attending in France. Organized and overseen by longtime evangelist Dibar Apartian, this year's festival was celebrated in a town in Normandy called Forges-les-Eaux (pronounced forge-lay-zo). It is less than two hours northwest of Paris by car.
The Feast site is in a beautiful country-village setting with a fully equipped convention center and comfortable chalets. The site is nestled in a forested area with a lovely little lake and is within two kilometers of the town center with its stores, bakeries, restaurants and other amenities.
For many this was the best food feast ever. Since meals were included in the cost, Feastgoers dined together for lunch and dinner. Each meal was served in five courses, with excellent cuisine, including wines, cheeses and breads. Good, wholesome fellowship and new friendships prevailed; each meal was an unhurried and pleasant experience lasting up to two hours.
Not only was the Feast a physical joy, but the spiritual part was just as great or greater. Dibar Apartian, assisted by ministers Henry Cooper of Ireland and Jacques Secours of Canada, gave excellent sermons.
Fine sermonettes were also given, by Messrs. Cooper and Secours, as well as Jean-Jacques Dalle from France, Josef Felber from Switzerland and Wayne Pyle from San Diego. Special video sermons from Dr. Roderick Meredith were a highlight for everyone and gave a sense of unity with the rest of the church around the world.
Since about half of the Feastgoers were English-speaking and the other half French-speaking, services were translated, alternating between French and English. This worked quite well.
Hymns were all sung simultaneously in French and English. Each service was quite lively, led by French song leader Eric Boyer, who is a director of a music school and a talented professional singer and musician.
The Feast included many special activities: a tour-bus excursion to a castle, a family dance (highlighted by crazy hats, some of which were amazingly imaginative), a fun show, a talent show and a stimulating Friday-night Bible study.
It was certainly a great physical and spiritual Feast for all who attended in France. Wayne Pyle.
Church of God Outreach Ministries
FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla.--Two-hundred twelve booth dwellers registered at the Feast of Tabernacles sponsored by the Churches of God Outreach Ministries (CGOM) in Fort Walton Beach.
This particular branch of the family of God rejoiced in His presence with music, dancing, feasting and fellowship. The daily worship service included children with Scripture readings and an exchange of speakers from an adjacent Feast site sponsored by the United Church of God Big Sandy.
Speakers here were Ian Hufton, Julian Cruz, Max Davis, James Kelly, James Ussery, Bill Faith, Marshall Bryan, Jack Morgan, Alfred Harrell, Bill Hillebrenner, Ken Svehla, Wynn Skelton, Tom Williams, Wayne Holmes and Dave Havir.
Seminars were presented by Alfred Harrell, Mr. Hufton, Thalia Hufton and Mr. Williams.
Bible studies were presented by Mr. Hufton, John Warren, John Beasley, Mr. Svehla, Steve Andrews, Mr. Skelton, Dan Johnson, Robert Marlowe, Wayne Holmes and Rory Ries.
Emphasis was placed on the importance of keeping and teaching God's commandments and on the familial relationship we have with each other through our Father in heaven.
We were encouraged to join hands with our Father and our Elder Brother in the labor of harvest that will enable our family to grow. We were reminded that in retrospect time passes quickly and that we have work to do. Our Father works. We work.
Featured were a tropical luau, a country-western band with square dancers, a fish fry with pony rides for the children, fishing excursions, a skating party, a teen dance and plenty of local attractions to fill in any free time.
Teens from the CGOM and the United Big Sandy Feast sites shared Bible studies, which were coordinated by Mrs. Hufton. Shelby Faith coordinated the children's classes, assisted by Jeanna Anderson, Rita Winkler and several others.
Memorable moments included spectacular sunsets and rainbows. Dolphins exuberantly rejoiced in the surf on the morning of the Last Great Day. They, too, rejoiced before the Lord in apparent response to Psalm 150:6. Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Theda Horton, Church of God of Central Arkansas, Little Rock, Ark.
Faith and Dedication
GATLINBURG, Tenn.--Gatlinburg, framed by the scenic Smokey Mountains, was the temporary dwelling for more than 900 of God's people in observance of the Feast of Tabernacles sponsored here by the Living Church of God.
"Overall, there was a sense of peace, unity and a sense of urgency to finish the Work," commented Rita Townsend, a member from Laurel, Miss.
Indeed, the themes of the messages focused on renewing our dedication to God and increasing the depth of our personal relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ heretofore not attained.
Dr. Roderick Meredith gave two powerful sermons challenging God's people to renew their efforts to grow in faith and commitment to God's way of life and to build an atmosphere of faith throughout the church.
He stated that, in Christ's name, special signs of casting out demons, speaking in new tongues, protection from deadly things and gifts of healing would follow those who truly believe and are doing the work of God, as did God's servants during the apostolic era (Mark 16:15).
Adding to the spiritual food given, the River Terrace staff graciously assisted the brethren to make their stay comfortable.
However, the example of God's people did not go unnoticed. Bob Charnock, owner of River Terrace Resort and Convention Center, remarked, "These are the kind of people I want my staff to be like."
Many brethren observed that there seemed to be more love among God's people as well as a profound spirit of peace permeating the entire festival.
A variety of activities highlighted the eight days. The youths of God's church enjoyed a teen Bible study, followed the next day by a scenic trip on the tram to Ober Gatlinburg. About 60 teens and family members enjoyed an afternoon of ice skating, gift shopping and playing at the arcades high above Gatlinburg.
The singles savored unusual wines at a special wine-and-cheese-tasting party. At another time they went horseback riding and hiked to Hidden Cove.
In addition, all hosts, deacons, department heads, servers and ministers enjoyed a dinner banquet capped off by personal comments of encouragement from Dr. Meredith.
Finally, the brethren enjoyed a delightful evening of fellowship and fun at the family dance.
The song services were joyously enthusiastic as God's people lifted up their voices to God in thanksgiving. The efforts by the choir, directed by Ron Peterson, and special music, coordinated by Val and Elaine Burgett, were also profoundly inspiring. One member commented that the music was so uplifting she hurried early to services just to hear the choir practice.
Truly the Feast 1999 was a spiritual banquet, a feast of spiritual food, fellowship and joy. May God preserve us together until the next Feast and, ultimately, preserve us for His Kingdom! Dan Hall.
Jackson Hole is special
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo.--Three hundred fifty-two people celebrated God's Feast in Jackson Hole this year at a site sponsored by the Living Church of God. Many brethren were here from various other fellowships, not just from Living.
Everyone felt welcomed and had a wonderful time enjoying the spiritual food, physical amenities and beautiful and spectacular surroundings.
There is only one Jackson Hole, with the towering Rendezvous Mountain as the backdrop, along with the Grand Tetons. God's Feast just does not get any better.
This Feast site provides unsurpassed beauty and natural surroundings suitable for keeping the Feast the way God intended.
My only desire is that more of God's people would realize that Jackson Hole is someplace special and it is a beautiful place to worship God and learn more about Him and from Him during this special time in this special place.
We all look forward to many more years of keeping God's Feast in Jackson Hole. Ben Whitfield.