The Journal begins 1997 Feast reports with this issue, will continue in November

The Feast of Tabernacles 1997 is history but won't soon be forgotten. Brethren from at least 120 sites are home (except for some who were still snowed in at this writing in Colorado). The Journal was receiving a steady stream of reports from sites in the United States and elsewhere but was not able to print all of them because of the deadline for this issue. The following are the reports that had arrived at the Journal's office as of Oct. 28.

Feast articles that arrive after Oct. 28 are scheduled for the November issue. For guidelines concerning Feast articles and photographs, please see the article on page 1 of the Sept. 28 issue.

The following reports are in alphabetical order according to city name.

Post-hurricane Feast

ACAPULCO, Mexico-About 400 of the brethren attended the United Church of God's Feast site in Acapulco beginning the evening of Oct. 15, including about 100 Americans and 300 Mexicans and Guatemalans.

Hurricane Pauline had struck the city during the week just before the Feast. A wall of mud from torrential rains had gutted the city, destroying many lives and much property.

"Our hotel was damaged by the hurricane," said Richard Nickels, a resident of Gillette, Wyo., who attended with his family. "But we received the same rate at a nearby resort on the beach that was even nicer."

Sermons alternated between Spanish and English. Bilingual translators helped the Hispanic and Anglo brethren fellowship and get to know each other better, said Mr. Nickels.

Larry Roybal, Feast director and director of the UCG's Mexican operations, was joined by Spanish and English speakers. David Hulme of Arcadia, Calif., president of the UCG, attended here for the second half of the Feast. Weather, Mr. Nickels said, was "generally excellent, in the 90s."

During the Feast Acapulco residents and business people were working to return to normal in Pauline's aftermath. Signs announced "Acapulco Esta de Pie, Estamos Trabajando," which means "Acapulco Is on Its Feet, We Are Working."

"This attitude was catching," said Mr. Nickels. "The street between our hotel and the meeting room was muddy with hurricane debris. A 16-year-old girl from Seattle, Miss Burrell, got the idea to get a crew of church members to clean the street. We borrowed brooms, shovels and a wheelbarrow from the hotel and proceeded to move the mud and sand away from the walking area.

"As we worked, a photographer from The Associated Press started taking pictures and asking us questions. Where were we from? Why were we cleaning the streets?

"We told them, 'We're from the United Church of God. We are here from all over the U.S. and Mexico to observe a religious convention.' "

The phenomenon of religious tourists cleaning the streets of Acapulco made news all over Mexico, said Mr. Nickels.

The hotel manager, grateful for the assistance of the church members, gave the seven volunteers a certificate for a free seven-day stay for two at the hotel, including meal, drinks and recreation, good for next year's Feast of Tabernacles.

"What an incredible blessing," said Mr. Nickels. "Needless to say, we were thrilled when Mr. Roybal announced the 1998 Feast will again be held in Acapulco."

Although the Nickels family had been apprehensive about attending here in the wake of the hurricane, "it turned out be the best ever for us, largely due to the pioneering spirit and the warm Spanish-speaking brethren. If you want a Feast to remember next year, E-mail Larry Roybal at for details."

After returning to the United States, the Nickels family was caught in a stalled car on an interstate highway in Wyoming in the middle of the blizzard that hit much of the country. All ended well, however, with the Nickels safely back home.

Impromptu Feast site

BIG SANDY, Texas-One hundred twenty-four of the brethren of various ages, circumstances and affiliations attended the first day of an impromptu Feast site in Big Sandy, reported Mac Overton of Big Sandy.

The site was originally organized with the permission of local pastor Dave Havir to accommodate an anticipated 30 to 40, mainly widows, who were expected to stay in Big Sandy during the Feast.

When John Warren, a deacon in the United Church of God who was severely injured and left partially paralyzed from a work accident earlier this year, informed Mr. Havir he would be staying in Big Sandy for the Feast, Mr. Havir asked him if he would organize a local site.

Charles McLendon, who also attends the United Church of God here, organized the music, using taped hymns and an overhead projector.

Sermons and Bible studies were delivered and conducted by men in the congregation here, some of whom stayed for the whole Feast, some of whom left for other sites part way through the festival.

Many of those attending were here for the whole eight days, although some were traveling through or had to leave part way through the observance.

"I strongly feel that provision should be made for the widows in the local area," said Mr. McLendon.

Services took place at Hillcrest Manor community center. Because fewer than 80 were expected, and 80 is the capacity of the center, some had to sit outside on the first day, which saw clear, cool fall weather.

"This was organized primarily with the widows in mind," Mr. McLendon said, "so we stayed at Hillcrest. We decided that we would stay at Hillcrest and if an overflow crowd occurred some would just sit outside."

On the first day 85 Feastgoers enjoyed a catered meal, provided by other members, at The Village Tea Room.

On the Last Great Day, 80 attended a similar catered luncheon before services, then 96 attended services.

Besides United members, Mr. Overton said, fellowships represented during the Feast included the Global Church of God, Church of God International, East Texas Church of God and Worldwide Church of God.

Musical Feast

BRANSON, Mo.-Attendance at this music capital in southern Missouri ranged from 1,800 to 2,000 at the United Church of God's Feast location here.

For a feature article on the Branson site, see page 11.

Three Feast sites in two months

CANBERRA, Australia-"My wife and I attended two Feast of Tabernacles in 1997 at three sites," reported Walter Steensby.

The first Feast he and his wife, Cindy, attended was with the Church of God at Williamstown (CGW), which observed the Feast beginning the evening of Sept. 15. A month later they attended two more sites, both of which began their observances the evening of Oct. 15, with the United Church of God (UCG) and the Christian Biblical Church of God (CBCG).

The CGW's feast was at Moama, in New South Wales, last month with about 75 attending. The UCG site was at Eden, also in New South Wales, with 120 in attendance. The CBCG site, at Lakes Entrance, Victoria, began at the same time, with 16 people attending.

"The CGW Feast provided an excellent example of congregational involvement," Mr. Steensby said. "Sermons were given by elder Orest Solyma and several other members. Afterwards question-and-answer sessions were usually conducted, and many people took advantage of them."

Preprinted notes of several of the presentations were made available.

"An especially valuable component was a lecture series based on material developed by a Professor Wolfensberger of Syracuse University in New York that provided us with a basis for discussing objectively the state of society in secular terms with nonreligious people."

One baptism took place at the CGW site.

The United Feast was pastored by Rod King.

"The United Feast might best be characterized as an affirmation of truths that had been ignored for many years," said Mr. Steensby.

"We attended days five and six [of the eight-day festival] with the CBCG. Videotapes had been prepared ahead of time by [church founder] Fred Coulter. We found his material challenging and will have to analyze many topics in great detail to absorb it. In general, the spirits were positive at all sites."

Mr. Steensby liked the format used by the CGW, "which encourages everyone to participate," he said. "In our experience this greatly helps people learn and feel part of the whole. One problem we noted is that the Churches of God still don't look outside their organizational boundaries and rejoice in the success of other Churches of God. We remain immature."

Mr. Steensby said he was "distressed" to hear in a sermon at one of the sites the statement that "vision" comes from and can be broadcast "only by the leaders. Such an attitude sells the congregation short and makes light of the tremendous sacrifices made by so many because of the recent apostasy."

A Feast of many fellowships

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.-More than 150 Feastgoers from several Church of God affiliations, along with brethren of no formal affiliation, attended in Colorado Springs at the Radisson Hotel beginning the evening of Oct. 15.

The site was sponsored by the Christian Church of God, founded in 1980 by Jeff Booth of Amarillo, Texas. The church (not to be confused with the Christian Churches of God, headquartered in Australia) has two congregations, one in Amarillo and one in Clovis, N.M.

Speakers included Mr. Booth, who delivered a sermon on the covenants; Jerry McClenagan of Amarillo, who asked, "Whose child are you?"; Joe Kirkpatrick of Portales, N.M., who spoke on submitting to the will of God as clay in the Potter's hands; Ken Ryland of Mulvane, Kan., who spoke on the great commission and declared that Christians still have a job to do in spreading the Word; and Bob Wertz, associate pastor of the Church of God (Seventh Day) of Harrisburg, Pa., who spoke on the future, looking forward to the Kingdom.

Another sermon deliverer was Ken Westby of Tukwila, Wash., who spoke twice during the festival: once on the transfiguration as a foretaste of the Kingdom and, on the Last Great Day, in a sermon titled "The Lion Stargate" in which he talked about the ancient Egyptians' quest for immortality.

Mr. Westby, founder in 1974 of the Association for Christian Development, drew a contrast and analogy between the Egyptians' yearning for eternal life and the divinely revealed way to achieve it.

The weather was excellent; most people left this Feast site and others in Colorado the day before a huge blizzard hit this part of the country, although some here and at other sites were snowed in for a few days after the Feast.

Activities here included much fellowship and a 19-mile bicycle trip from the top of 14,110-feet Pike's Peak to Colorado Springs. (For more details of this Feast site from a teenager's point of view, see the article on page 13.

Fellowships represented here, besides the Christian Church of God, included the Association for Christian Development, the Church of God International, the United Church of God, independent Churches of God in Springdale, Ark., and Wichita, Kan., the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Global Church of God and the fellowship sponsored by Churchlight Publications.

God brought them together

ESQUIPULAS, Guatemala -About 500 brethren spent the Feast of Tabernacles in Esquipulas, a site sponsored by the United Church of God. Most of the brethren were from Guatemala and El Salvador, with four attending from Honduras, three from Costa Rica, one from Canada and 17 from the United States.

The UCG made plans to have two Feast sites in Guatemala this year, reported Jeannette Hoffart, a Feast attender from Minneapolis, Minn. The Feast had been planned for Quetzeltenango, but plans for Quetzeltenango fell through when another group offered the main hotel there a better rate.

Feast coordinator Saul Langarica commented during services that God allowed the disruption of plans, so "God wanted all of the Central American brethren to be together in Esquipulas," Miss Hoffart quoted him as saying.

Esquipulas is a small town about a four-hour drive from Guatemala City and within a few kilometers of the countries of Honduras and El Salvador. It is nestled in a mountain valley and is the site of many pilgrimages by Roman Catholics to El Cristo Negro, a statute of Christ that is said to have turned black and is housed in the basilica there. Because of the large numbers of visitors, hotels and restaurants abound.

"The Central Americans are a very warm and friendly group of people," said Miss Hoffart, "and the emphasis they place on family was evident in their daily conduct and at the Feast activities, which included a family dance, a breakfast for the ladies, a dance for the teenagers, family day and a farewell party."

The children enjoyed a special party on Monday during the Feast (which was observed beginning the evening of Oct. 15). A clown entertained with songs and games. Later many of the youngsters swung at one of two pinatas while the clown changed "Queremos dulces," or "We want candy."

T-shirts and visors were provided for the children by two families from Wisconsin.

For La Noche de Talentos (Talent Night), 34 groups performed. Acts included native dances, a skit and singing groups (including a group of children who painted each other's clothes while they sang).

"The dancers with the brilliant costumes native to the area were spectacular," said Miss Hoffart. "The Central Americans welcomed the North American visitors and made them feel like part of a large, extended family. Many of the visitors commented on this warmth, not only within the congregation but among the townspeople of Esquipulas."

Favorite local attractions included a cave, shopping, restaurants, fresh fruit from the markets, mountain hikes and the large white basilica.

Feast on the North Island

LAKE TAUPO, New Zealand-The Feast site here was "trouble-free," reported Bruce Porteous. The site, on the North Island, played host to about 50 Feastgoers at the United Church of God site here.

"We have had inspiring messages from Dr. Rick Sherrod, Sam Sweat and Peter Hawkins," Mr. Porteous said. "The messages were traditional, focusing on the coming return of Christ to establish His Kingdom here on earth. Rick Sherrod also gave a special lecture on US&BC on Monday evening that was also attended by some from other Church of God groups."

Mr. Hawkins arrived from South Africa on the first Sabbath during the Feast after visiting the Feast site on Tonga. About 25 kept the Feast on Tonga, in the South Pacific, Mr. Hawkins reported.

"We had a number of overseas visitors from North America, the U.K. and Australia attending here," said Mr. Porteous, "which added tremendously to the Feast as New Zealanders attending were down this year. They contributed by assisting with sermonettes, providing music and helping with song leading."

Activities included a church dinner, with several attending from the nearby Feast site sponsored by the Christian Biblical Church of God. "It was an opportunity for fellowship with old friends," said Mr. Porteous.

Activities also included a boat cruise on the lake, a family day at an animal-and-bird park. Some, including Dr. Sherrod and his daughter Heather, jumped out of a plane at 9,000 feet to parachute back to earth.

Mr. Hawkins left on Tuesday during the Feast to visit brethren in Fiji and planned to meet with prospective United members in Suva, the capital.

Whose hula at the Feast

LIHUE, Hawaii - Some 370 Feasters attended the United site in Hawaii this year, down from last year's 900.

"It was kind of a letdown to see a hall that was packed last year with so much empty space," said Robert Teague of Phoenix, Ariz. "I guess the combination of the weather and a new Feast site in San Diego took its toll."

This year's speakers included Earl Roemer, Clyde Kilough, Stuart Segall, Bill Bradford, Frank McCrady and Steve Nutzman. Kenneth Martin and Richard Hegna led songs.

"As with every Feast there were good times and bad times," said Mr. Teague. "The good times included seeing old friends, and the bad included hearing about close friends no longer in the church."

Mr. Teague visited with John and Oliva Norgard, old friends from Colorado; Al and Maria Rivera from Clovis, Calif.; Eileen Sharkey from Ohio; Mary Smith from Milton, Tenn.; and Robert Holmes from Elkhart, Ind.

Activities included snorkeling, hiking, a sunset cruise, a power-catamaran ride up the Na Pali coast, kayaking up the Wailua River and eating out.

"One day John and Olivia Norgard and I went kayaking the Wailua River," said Mr. Teague. "We traveled up the river until we came to a hiking trail to a waterfall. Unfortunately, we missed the turnoff in the trail and continued along. Well, the trail got very steep and difficult. At one point they were ahead of me when we decided that we should turn back for safety's sake. My sandals were still a little wet, and I fell and slid 25 feet down the hill. I slammed square in the boulder with my chest, and it knocked the wind out of me."

Mr. Teague said he is thankful because "things could have turned out a lot worse. I am thankful that God was there watching out for this fool."

At the beginning of the Feast Mr. Roemer, the coordinator, said he was starting a collection to buy computer equipment for brethren in India. By the end of the Feast $3,300 had been collected for the fund.

Texans just want to have snow

SNOWMASS, Colo.-Just over 700 people attended the United site in Snowmass, near Aspen, beginning the evening of Oct. 15. Speakers included Doug Horchak, Doug Johnson, Steve Moody, Wil Berg, Bill Jahns, Bill Jacobs, Scott Ashley, Larry Neff, Paul Luecke, John Orchard, Jim Stewart, Neil Hart, Stan Haynes, Carl Carmichael and Dave McCarble.

"This was a new site for United," said Mr. Ashley, who attended with his wife, Connie. The Ashleys live in Arvada, a suburb of Denver, Colo. He serves as managing editor for United's publications, including The Good News magazine.

"I thought it was terrific," he said. "It was one of the best Feasts I've been to. It was a very beautiful setting near Aspen, Colo., with gorgeous weather. I thought it was the most fantastic weather I've ever seen up here."

The setting included wildlife, a series of mountain peaks called the Maroon Bells and an upbeat approach in sermons and sermonettes.

"Generally the Feast was very upbeat and positive," Mr. Ashley said. "There's obviously an undercurrent of the problems in United, but on the whole I thought it was very positive. The messages were delivered with no political slant to things. And there were an awful lot of Texans up here hoping to see some snow."

If they waited around after the Feast they saw snow all right. That night a blizzard hit Colorado and surrounding states and stranded several people in at various Feast sites in the Northwest.

Scandinavian Feast

SUNDVOLLEN, Norway -Thirty-two brethren enjoyed the United Feast observance in Tyriheim Conference Complex here beginning the evening of Oct. 15. Visitors to the site came from Kansas, North Dakota, Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin and the United Kingdom.

Feastgoers from Scandinavia hailed from Bergen, Oslo, Trondheim, Denmark and Finland.

"Beverly and I arrived in Sundvollen, located on the Oslo-Bergen highway, on Sunday, Oct. 19," said Victor Kubik, a United elder from Indiana who also attended the Feast this year in Estonia (see his report on Estonia below).

The Feast-keepers here were saddened by the death of a longtime member and elder in the Church of God, Diedrich Zernichow, who died in his sleep on the last day of the Feast. (See an article about Mr. Zernichow on page 16.)

Keep the Feast to respect God

TARTU, Estonia - The Feast opened at the Kantri Hotel in Tartu with 21 in attendance, reported Victor Kubik, a United Church of God elder from Indiana.

Another American, Ozzie Engelbart, helped begin the Feast the evening of Oct. 15 by leading the brethren in song.

Darlene Reddaway translated the proceedings into Russian, which the Estonians and Henrikas Klovas from Lithuania were able to understand. Margit Kajlas read the quoted scriptures in Estonian.

Juta Kulbin of Redlands, Calif., was visiting her native country for the first time in 53 years.

Mr. Engelbart (with wife, Tina) and Johnnie Lambert (and wife, Hazel) were other visiting elders.

Mr. Kubik, in his opening messages, said the main reason for keeping the Feast is to learn to fear and respect God.

Global has 26 Feast sites

SAN DIEGO, Calif.-Global brethren and guests congregated the evening of Oct. 15 far and wide to usher in the Feast of Tabernacles and celebrate the future reign of Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Global sponsored 11 festival sites throughout the United States and Canada and 15 more elsewhere around the world. Most sites saw church founder Roderick C. Meredith's welcoming message on the opening night in which he declared that the brethren are "pioneers" in the sense that, even though more than 6,500 were attending various Global sites, not to mention the many thousands of others attending the Feast with other groups, the vast majority of human beings don't even know what the Feast of Tabernacles is.

But that's going to change, said Dr. Meredith, and that change is part of the very meaning of the Last Great Day. Christians should not wait for Christ's return to spiritually open the eyes of the vast majority of mankind, because God has commissioned the church today to make disciples of all nations and spread His gospel message to all whom the Father will call in this age. In other words, said Dr. Meredith, God has commissioned the brethren to do the work (Matthew 28:19-20; John 6:44).

With this in mind, Dr. Meredith detailed the work being done today in Global. Although he admits that growth is slow, it is steady, with several milestones being reached. The November-December issue of The World Ahead magazine will surpass one million copies distributed.

"It's interesting to note that this level of distribution, which took The Plain Truth 18 years to reach, has been realized in Global in just a little more than four years of publication," said a Global spokesman, Gary Foster.

Global membership is on the rise, with almost 5,000 baptized members, up 5 percent from a year ago, with prospective members up 15 percent.

"The most noteworthy figure of all is an increase of more than 400 percent in the number of coworkers," said Mr. Foster. "We give thanks to God for the blessings He has given us this past year. And His blessings continued during the Feast in 1997."

The Global Church of God plans to release to The Journal for publication in the November issue reports from individual Global festival sites.

UCG sites in 26 countries

SAN DIEGO, Calif.-The United Church of God Feast opened services with a "moving ceremony" the evening of Oct. 15, reported Ellis Stewart, who attended here after traveling from his home in Big Sandy, Texas.

"There was a brigade of church youngsters each carrying a flag that was representative of a country where the UCG was holding this year's Feast," he said. "During this dramatic and colorful presentation, Jerry Aust, the evening's song leader, who was flanked with choir members singing songs praising God, announced each country as its color passed. Once in place, the flags formed the stage's backdrop for the whole Feast."

As signified by the flags, United was simultaneously holding Feasts in Australia, Benin, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Italy, Germany, Guatemala, Ghana, Guyana, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua, the Netherlands, South Africa, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, Uganda, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States and Zimbabwe.

Feast coordinator Steve Buchanan, pastor of the Tucson, Ariz., congregation, welcomed the 2,400 who gathered at Cox Arena on the San Diego State University campus.

"The weather was great, ranging in the 70s and 80s," said Mr. Stewart. "Several activities took place on Sunday. Over 200 senior citizens had a beautiful luncheon at the Doubletree Hotel. There were two beach parties, for the singles and the teenagers, and the singles and teens shared a barbecue."

Speakers included Mr. Buchanan, who spoke on the history of Feast-keeping from Joshua to the present ("The Feast gives vision to the future," he said).

David Register of San Diego spoke on "liberation" in an address that included a story about his father helping liberate a German concentration camp during World War II.

David Hulme of Arcadia, Calif., president of the UCG, talked about his recent trip to India (see article, page 1) in a discourse about "glimpses of the future."

Chuck Zimmerman of Phoenix, Ariz., built his sermon around Revelation 20:4, giving examples of two saints-John the Baptist and the apostle Paul-who gave their lives for "the witness of Jesus and the Word of God."

Brian Orchard of Los Angeles spoke on "recovery and discovery."

Steve Andrews of Arcadia asked, "Will men find solutions to the world's problems?"

Jim Tuck of Phoenix spoke on justice.

Charles Melear of Arcadia spoke on how people during the Millennium will see and hear their teachers ("Will it be from an authoritarian point of view or as the Holy Spirit leads us today?" he asked).

Peter Eddington of Arcadia talked of knowledge overload and the restitution of all things.

Mark Kaplan of Los Angeles discussed one nation under God and one world under God in which international relations will be drastically different, in which unity will prevail and in which the Holy Land will be holy.

John Anderson of Arcadia spoke on things to rejoice about in the Millennium, including the lack of warfare.

Cecil Maranville of Phoenix spoke on Christians' roles as teachers in the Millennium and the Kingdom parables of Matthew.

Edwin Stepp of Arcadia asked why God brings the brethren to the festivals. ("Are we to be producers or consumers?")

Robin Webber of Garden Grove, Calif., contrasted a righteous crown, as in the Kingdom of God, with a crown of temporal royalty, such as those of Emperor Napoleon and Queen Victoria.

Dave Register of San Diego spoke on religion in Southern California's history.

Steve Sidars of Arcadia talked about the second death of Revelation 20, and Roger Foster of Camp Verde, Ariz., spoke on the great-white-throne judgment.

Music directors were Dave Myers and Harold Barksdale.

"On the youth day, on Tuesday, there were 150 youngsters who sang two songs as a choir that I thought were outstanding," said Mr. Stewart. "I thought that was a highlight of the Feast. My grandson, Wesley Russell, was part of the group."

The brethren in South Africa

UVONGO, South Africa -About 250 of the brethren attended the United site in Uvongo, reported Richard Moore of the United congregation in Randburg.

"We all traveled to the Feast in appalling weather conditions, torrential rains," he said. "It was as if Satan were trying to prevent us from getting there. There was one vehicle accident, but thankfully nobody was hurt."

When the Feast began, the weather began to clear and remained "perfect," Mr. Moore said, "until the Last Great Day.

"We had some disillusioned WCG members join us," said Mr. Moore. "They reported hamburger and cookie sales at the WCG's Atonement services. They told the WCG minister that this was not right and decided to look UCG up for the Feast of Tabernacles."

Visitors also came from Thailand, America and Germany.

"Mr. and Mrs. Burk and Susie McNair [from San Antonio, Texas] were our guest speakers. They joined us halfway through the Feast after visiting the Zimbabwe Feast site."

Andre van Belkum, a UCG elder from South Africa, opened the Feast.

"We only had one clanger for a sermonette in which we had to endure some personal interpretations of church governance. The next day Mr. McNair performed the subtle correction in his sermon by mentioning the top-down structure that will exist in the Kingdom of God."

Mr. Moore's father-in-law, Neil Becker, attended in Kenya with the George Delaps and reported an enjoyable Feast with one baptism.

Mr. Moore said other sites in his part of the world were sponsored by the Global Church of God and Philadelphia Church of God in George and the Global Church of God in Cape Town.

Fruits of the Feast of firsts

WHEELING, W.Va.-Horst and Sue Obermeit of Kenly, N.C., reported on the Christian Biblical Church of God's site at Oglebay (pronounced Oglebee) resort and conference center near here.

"It was a Feast of firsts for us," said Mr. Obermeit. "It was the first time for us to meet with one of the smaller splits from the WCG. We had tried several of the larger splits and decided the time was right for a Feast with the Christian Biblical Church of God."

Services began the evening of Oct. 15 with church founder and pastor Fred Coulter. About 160 were in attendance Thursday for daytime services on the first day.

"It was a Feast of sound biblical teaching and lots of fellowship with brethren we met for the first time," said Mr. Obermeit.

The family of Bill Goff cooperated to set up and serve as Feast coordinators for this site.

"One of the noticeable differences was no mentioning of anyone's rank or status," said Mr. Obermeit. "Everyone was on a first-name basis, and the speakers were introduced only by their names and what city they were from."

Oglebay is a year-round resort with 1,500 acres of beauty on top of a mountain, Mr. Obermeit reported. Deer and other wildlife wandered the grounds.

"It was especially relaxing to be able to walk to services, to the restaurant or to the pool from our room."

Services were in Glessner Auditorium, which included a fireplace. Seating for services was at tables, convenient for referring to Bibles and notes.

Two people were baptized on Friday during the Feast, one of them the Obermeits' daughter.

"That was really a special first for us. My wife and I were able to participate in the laying on of hands after the baptism. She held our daughter's hand, and I laid hands on her with Fred as he prayed over her. It was the highlight of our Feast."

Most attending the site were from the U.S. Northeast. Oglebay was one of seven U.S. and Canadian Christian Biblical Church of God Feast sites. On Sunday Mr. Coulter went to Pensacola Beach, Fla., for the rest of the Feast. Other sites were in Texas, Colorado, Indiana, Alberta and California.

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