Chadron pioneers a way for everyone to keep future Feasts

The Journal received one more Feast of Tabernacles report for Feast 2001. Most Church of God groups observed the annual festival Oct. 1-9. To read all The Journal's reports for 2001, see also the October, November and December issues.

A Feast for the future

CHADRON STATE PARK, Neb.--The average "Church of God" Feast observance relies heavily on non-COG business establishments. Indeed, Church of God festival planners frequently speak of the total dollars they think will be spent at a Feast site, a boost to the local economy.

How did Church of God groups get into the kind of Feast-keeping that requires the services of lots of non-Feast-keepers?

First, we were a widely separated group gathered by a media outreach, not local preaching. So nearly all of us had to travel a long way to come to a central location. We also quoted Deuteronomy 24:24-26, which says that if a "journey be too long for you" then you can turn a tithe into money and spend it "for whatever your heart desires."

So how does the Chadron State Park Feast site fit into all of this?

Of all the Feasts that I have attended, this one is closest to fitting in with the kind of Feast that was held in ancient Israel, and that will be held in the future; that is, the Feast-keepers themselves performed most if not all of the tasks--including food preparation--needed at the Feast.

It is accurate to say that nobody was "working full time" just serving the 77 people who attended the Feast at Chadron State Park in 2001. There were a few people who, as part of their job, spent a few hours per day helping us, but none spent all of it for us.

The Feast was in the beautiful wooded hills of northwest Nebraska. The landscape, birds, mammals and sunsets provided an ongoing show without cost or human intervention. Most of the Feastgoers stayed in the cabins right at the park. The only daily service provided by the park was the pickup of towels each morning and the delivery of replacements. This job could have easily been done by someone in our Feast group, but the park people were servicing other non-Feast guests and probably would not want us to use their laundry facility.

The park staff also provided a hayride and buffalo-stew meal for us one night and rented paddleboats and fixed a few minor problems with cabins.

That was about all. The people attending made their own beds, took out their own trash and cleaned as necessary.

The vast majority of the Feast food was prepared at the Feast by those attending. Over half of the families present took up the task of being responsible for one of the evening meals. Most of the other brethren pitched in to help. Menus included American standards, but we also had ethnic favorites such as spaghetti and then jambalaya prepared by Anne Nicolay of New Orleans.

Some of the food was brought in advance, but Mary Laws (wife of Jerry) went shopping nearly every day, and I can never remember lacking anything we needed.

Also, Steve Karasek, a food-service professional, decided to come to our Feast just a few weeks before it began. He managed breakfasts and helped out at numerous other times, quietly and humbly telling us exactly what we needed to know.

We did have teaching at this Feast. We read the book of Ecclesiastes, with discussion from the congregation. There were also many messages and studies given by me, Jerry Laws and Leo Bredehoft. The Bredehoft and Edwards families brought special music and accompaniment for congregational singing. Many participated in the variety show and game nights.

One day most brethren went to see Mount Rushmore. After that many brethren visited commercial attractions and had dinner at a restaurant.

This article is not saying that it was or is a sin to eat in a restaurant or stay at a motel at the Feast.

It is saying that anciently most people brought and prepared their own food, and this method will be used again when most of the world is keeping the Feast.

This writer also believes that some lessons can be best learned by preparing meals together at the Feast. Norman Edwards, Perry, Mich.

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