January 31, 2012
Very encouraging reports are arriving from Kingdom of God Bible Seminar presenters about their events held over the past two weeks. Despite some wintry weather in North America, more than 1,000 guests attended—and we still have 35 congregations yet to hold their seminars during February. We anticipate upwards of 1,500 total guests when round two of the seminars are completed. This is very similar to round one.
Due to snow and ice in some locations, we were saddened to hear that three seminars had to be canceled. However, in some cities more guests arrived than expected. But, of course, some congregations had less than anticipated—and just a few had no guests show up at all.
As the Father Calls
As we pray for God’s blessing and guidance on these seminars, we are reminded that it is the Father who calls and that His timing for each person is perfect. In some instances, for a person whom God is calling to even get out of their comfort zone and show up, is a big first step! As God’s elect, may we “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).
Even just one or two guests at a seminar or Sabbath service, who would otherwise not have graced our church doorstep, can be considered a success. Jesus Christ, as the Head of His Church, has a plan for each person. Some congregations considered it a great success with just a handful of guests. A few areas were very pleased to have dozens of new people show up. While numbers are not everything, results do help us measure our efforts. And, while God’s Church will be a small flock (Luke 12:32), there was a very encouraging number of guests in some cities.
Here is just a sampling: Bacolod, Philippines (42); New York, New York (35); La Paz, Bolivia (35); Knoxville, Tennessee (33); Tacloban City, Philippines (29); Houston, Texas (24); Jacksonville, Florida (21) and Lusaka, Zambia (20). And, remember, we still have 35 seminars yet to be held—including places in the United States, Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Isle of Man, New Zealand and the Philippines.
A Sampling of Comments
Let me share with you some of the comments received by a number of our presenters. It does appear that God is working in the lives of our readers and viewers, and that they are hearing the good news of the Gospel of His Kingdom!
- Kalamazoo, Michigan: “I want to share how well our KOG Seminars went this past Sabbath. We had six new people attend along with three others from independent groups. The messages were received very well by everyone. Seven of our guests stayed around after the seminars to ask questions and fellowship. I am so encouraged by the involvement and excitement of our members. Our members feel like they are really helping to preach the gospel as representatives of Jesus Christ.”
- Bend, Oregon: “I am really getting excited about these seminars! The results are far better than any “public Bible lectures” of the past that I can recall. I am also excited about the focus of the seminars and of Beyond Today—the Kingdom of God. Not only is that the foundation of the gospel, it is also what makes us (and other WCG offshoots) unique. Our Bend KOG seminar was a fantastic success! After only one new attendee the first time, we had 10 at this one! About half of them said that they want to attend Sabbath services—including a former WCG member and her adult daughter who said that she plans to bring her two children to services. Since we sent out only 130 letters, I guess by industry standards our return rate was quite good.”
- Lusaka, Zambia: “In all there were a total of 55 in attendance including 20 visitors. During the seminar I could hear the occasional ‘amen’ and exclamations of approval from the visitors seated behind me! One man and his wife travelled 200 kilometres to listen to the true word of God. This is the first time that the truth has been publicly spoken in Zambia. At the information desk, people eagerly sought the Good News magazines and booklets that we had on offer—with many leaving their contact details to be included in the Church’s literature distribution. The overall opinion was that the meeting went off very well with the visitors showing a keen interest in UCG and in what we believe. It will be interesting to see those that God calls and their response.”
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: “I wanted to drop you a quick note and let you know how things went at the KOG Bible seminars yesterday afternoon in Pittsburgh. Despite the weather we were able to have the seminars. We had three people who had never been to a UCG service before in attendance. They seemed to be very attentive and very happy to be there. They talked with many of the brethren both before and after the seminars. Considering the weather, I think that was very good since we had nine registered.”
- Bacolod City, Philippines: We just had the first Kingdom of God Bible Seminar for the second round in Bacolod City yesterday, January 21. Out of the 67 total in attendance, we had 42 new people. It will be recalled that in first round of Bible seminars last September 2011, our attendance for new people in Bacolod was 25 (which was a bit more than the congregational attendance). This time the Seminar attendance is almost double the regular congregational attendance! (By the way, four people from the September seminar last year have started regularly attending the Bacolod congregation.)”
- New York City, New York: “We had three inches of snow in Queens today and more to the north. This cut down the attendance but we still filled the hall with attendees. Best count right now is 35 [guests] and 35 members in attendance. The new people stayed around and talked and seemed very interested. Many said they would be back next week. I had a very good feeling with everyone in attendance today. Many new people stayed for hours afterwards talking. A very good spirit here.” (Post script: many guests did return the following Sabbath.)
Dates have been set for round three of our United Church of God Kingdom of God Bible Seminars. Please set aside the Sabbath of May 12, with May 19 being the main alternate date.
May we all continue to pray, “Thy kingdom come.”
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
January 31, 2012
The United Church of God is pleased to announce that starting February 12 the Beyond Today television program will be airing nationwide across Australia every Sunday morning on channel 4ME TV. Please see the above graphic for times in each state.
We would like to ask for prayers for this growing television media initiative in Australia. There is certainly some fine material available and the Beyond Today presenters and the media team do a wonderful job.
January 25, 2012
The series on the Pastoral Epistles continues with Titus chapters 1 and 2. Hear about the qualifications of the ministry and warnings of evil teachers. And, understand more about the responsibility that falls upon the shoulders of longtime members of God’s church.
Presenters will be Gary Antion and Peter Eddington. Plan to attend in person, or you can listen online with hundreds of brethren from around the world. Also, please note that we have a mobile option. You can view the Bible study using your smartphone!
Steve Myers—Pastor, United Church of God Cincinnati East
January 20, 2012
Of these literature requests, 219 came by means of telephone calls from viewers in 33 states and two Canadian provinces (see below). Plus, Internet responses were received from viewers in Bermuda, Canada, India, Italy, Panama, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Trinidad/Tobago, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.
As reported earlier, Beyond Today can be seen in about 200 countries around the world via satellite on the Word Network. For those using DIRECTV, we can be seen on channel 373 around the world.
This channel is also compatible with mobile devices. Scan the QR code on any device to be directed to their mobile Web app.
Telephone responses by state/province from December 29, 2012 – January 14, 2012, is as follows. The initial results are very encouraging, and we hope to develop a growing audience on this network, just like we are doing with WGN America:
- Alabama – 9
- Arkansas – 1
- California – 15
- Connecticut – 3
- Delaware – 1
- District of Columbia – 2
- Florida – 14
- Georgia – 11
- Illinois - 12
- Kansas – 1
- Kentucky – 1
- Louisiana – 10
- Maryland – 9
- Massachusetts – 2
- Michigan – 23
- Minnesota – 1
- Mississippi – 7
- Missouri – 1
- Nebraska – 1
- Nevada – 2
- New Jersey – 5
- New Mexico – 2
- New York – 14
- North Carolina – 9
- Ohio – 11
- Pennsylvania – 12
- South Carolina – 7
- Tennessee – 3
- Texas – 12
- Virginia – 6
- Washington – 4
- West Virginia – 1
- Wisconsin – 5
- Ontario, Canada – 1
- Saskatchewan, Canada – 1
Thank you for your ongoing prayers for the success of this new television opportunity and all the Church’s other efforts to spread the message of the Kingdom of God around the world.
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services
January 20, 2012
15th Families for God Weekend and Prom: March 2 – 4, 2012
Join in the Fun!
The weekend promises to offer many a treat for all.
Theme: “Joined and Knit Together”
We plan on welcoming about 350 participants to this event, which includes a Friday night Bible study and services on the Sabbath, followed by several interactive biblically-based seminars.
Our special guest speaker is Dennis Luker, United Church of God president.
Teen Prom: “Royal Ball”
Hear Yea, fair maidens and gents! Your majestic moment awaits you at this year’s “Royal Ball.”
Family Fun Show
We invite and encourage those who wish to participate—young, old or in-between—to contact Thomas Randle at email@example.com or call (763) 754-2401 with what you would like to contribute.
Splashing Fun @ the Water Park of America
Due to last year’s record-shattering participation, and back by popular demand, Sunday’s activity will again take place at the Water Park of America.
Non-swimmers are welcome to join us for a hot lunch and fellowship in the observation room with direct water park access.
Detailed Information and Registration Form
Be sure to visit www.FamiliesforGod.org for details on the activity-packed weekend—and to download the mail-in registration form.
For any questions, please contact David Mörker, weekend coodinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (763) 639-8705.
Registration deadline for all activities and the hotel is February 17, so be sure to mail in your registration soon. Don’t delay!
Safe travels to the Twin Cities!
January 18, 2012
As of this writing, there are just under 2,300 guests registered on our website at www.kogbibleseminars.org. Plus, a number of guests have contacted our pastors directly to sign up.
We have 198 congregations listed to give seminars, which is about 25 more than for the first round. Also, the registration numbers are higher than last time. You can view the full congregation listing at www.ucg.org/live-events/all. In addition to the United States, seminars are also being held in Australia (11 locations), Canada (14 locations), Hong Kong, Ireland, Isle of Man, Kenya (11 locations), New Zealand, Philippines (4 locations) and United Kingdom.
The cities currently with the highest registration numbers are:
- New York, NY (87)
- Charlotte, NC (57)
- London, England (51)
- Dallas, TX (48)
- Manila, Philippines (44)
- Chicago, IL (43)
- Columbia, SC (39)
- Jacksonville, FL (37)
- Cincinnati, OH (36)
- Winnipeg, Canada (36)
- Memphis, TN (36)
- Ft. Lauderdale, FL (32)
The San Antonio, Texas, congregation already had their seminar last Sabbath, with three dozen new people attending. This is very encouraging.
Here at the home office we are praying diligently for the successful second round of this important endeavor.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
January 12, 2012
From: Dennis Luker, president
United and Living Church of God Representatives Meet
As the end of this age draws near, it seems more appropriate than ever that God’s people, wherever they may reside, support one another in fulfilling the commission Jesus Christ gave us. With this in the forefront of our minds, representatives of the of the United Church of God, an International Association, met with the leadership of the Living Church of God at Living’s Headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, on January 9-10 for a two-day visit.
The purpose of the visit was to rekindle friendships and discuss ways to cooperate in serving God’s people. The meetings were cordial and positive and included an open and frank discussion about those things that we have in common, and some of our differences, including church government and the way each Church is organized. We also discussed our different strategies for preaching the gospel in this modern age. There was no discussion of any type of merger.
Discussions about areas of cooperation within the greater Church of God community included humanitarian concerns, disaster relief and other unforeseen events where we can help our members meet critical needs by supporting and loving one another as Jesus commanded. Cooperation could also include helping members who have difficulty getting time off for the Sabbath and Holy Days, and other legal matters that affect both organizations. It was agreed that open communication between Church of God organizations will become more important as world events move towards their ultimate prophetic fulfillment.
Those in attendance at the meetings in Charlotte on behalf of the Living Church of God were Dr. Roderick C. Meredith, Mr. Richard Ames and Dr. Douglas Winnail. Those who traveled from Cincinnati for the United Church of God were Mr. Dennis Luker, Mr. Victor Kubik and Mr. Peter Eddington. Mr. Luker commented that the Cincinnati team felt most welcome and were treated very warmly. In addition to the meetings, the UCG visitors were given a full tour of the Living Church of God headquarters and adjacent media center.
January 12, 2012
Heavenly Reward or Literal Kingdom – Humanity’s Future from a Biblical View to Be Explored in Global Bible Seminars Conducted by United Church of God.
What does the Bible say is humanity’s eternal reward? Surprisingly, it is not an eternity in heaven. The United Church of God will explore the critical answer to this question in January seminars.
View the press release for the second round of Kingdom of God Bible Seminars being presented by the United Church of God this month.The seminars will be held in 200 locations across the United States, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Isle of Man, Kenya, New Zealand, Philippines and United Kingdom. To date, 2,000 guests are registered to attend.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
January 6, 2012
The United Church of God follows the biblical admonition Jesus Christ gave His disciples, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). It has always been our intent to share the truth without cost or obligation. We provide our church services, Kingdom of God Bible Seminars, television programs, printed literature and an array of Internet publications and ministerial services free of charge.
Regarding electronic distribution of our materials, many of our booklets and the Bible Study Course are available within the Apple iBookstore and the Barnes and Noble website. This allows those who have an Apple mobile device or Barnes and Noble Nook to download the Church’s literature at no charge. So far more than 128,000 booklets have been distributed via these two online stores!
Now, we are excited to announce that our booklets are becoming available at Amazon.com—the world’s largest bookseller and largest marketplace on the Internet. Readers will be able to download our electronic booklets (ebooks) to their Amazon Kindle tablet e-readers (Kindle, Kindle Touch and the new Kindle Fire) via the Amazon Kindle store. Also, if they have downloaded the Kindle App, they can download and read these on their Apple devices (iPad, iPhone and the iPod Touch) as well as to Android-supported smartphones or tablets.
With our literature available for the Amazon Kindle via the Kindle Store, we are able to reach millions more individuals who use the Kindle to read electronic books. It has been reported that one million Kindle devices were sold each week this past December 2011! Further, Amazon reports that more people download Kindle books than all their hardcover and softcover books combined!
This wonderful opportunity to reach potentially millions more readers comes with a slight drawback, initially. Amazon requires a minimum of 99 cents to place any electronic book on its site so it can cover its wireless distribution costs to the Kindle device. However, we are able to state at the beginning of the booklet description that it can be downloaded for free at www.ucg.org. Also, Amazon provides the opportunity for its users to notify them if a particular electronic book is available at a lower price elsewhere. Since we offer our booklets for free at ucg.org and at various Web locations (ucg.org, Apple iBookstore and BarnesandNoble.com) we can ask Amazon to match that lower price—making the download free.
As you see above, we are very pleased to have been able to do this successfully already with our electronic booklet “What Happens After Death?” It is now listed for free—as we planned and prayed for. So, you may see 99 cents listed as the price on some booklets at Amazon. But with your help we can let Amazon know that an electronic booklet is available for free. If you have an Amazon account, go to one of our booklets listed at http://amzn.to/twztuk (this is a shortened Web address) and look for any ebooklet with the list price of 99 cents. Then, click on the title and on the next Web page look for this link in the Product Details section: “tell us about a lower price.” You can let Amazon know that this booklet is available for free at another Web location (ucg.org, Apple iBookstore and BarnesandNoble.com).
If you don’t know if a booklet is available at other online location besides ucg.org, go to www.ucg.org/booklets and note which booklets are available at the Apple iBookstore or Barnes & Noble. Copy the Web address for the booklet at one of these online stores and post it within the online form provided by Amazon. This will let Amazon.com know that the booklets are available for free at another online location. It will be Amazon’s decision to lower the price.
We are really excited about this opportunity and the potential numbers of people who can easily download our booklets to their mobile devices. This is a great opportunity to distribute the gospel message in such a large way via the world’s largest bookseller!
Peter Eddington and Aaron Booth—Media and Communications Services
January 3, 2012
Here at the home office we are still elated from the exciting experiences of the recent Winter Family Weekend and the fact that our Beyond Today television program just set a new record out of the 24 programs aired since July 10, 2011. It attracted 1,198 responses. It is interesting that during the time many of our brethren get together to fellowship and give their children and families a respite from the year-end holiday furor, our television program sets a record while profiling the pagan origins of the Christmas season. It is certainly encouraging to be a part of God’s Church and work!
The 15th consecutive Winter Family Weekend was held for the first time this year at the Great Wolf Lodge near Cincinnati. The four-day event represented a great success with 1,100 members in a standing-room-only Sabbath service and 712 attending the Friday night Bible study. To accommodate the large attendance, the staff at the Great Wolf Lodge pulled in every available seat they could find in the conference center.
The extensive Great Wolf Lodge water park and traditional church athletic activities were a major hit with families, and many people attended the Bible and Christian living seminars held each day for both teens and adults. These seminars, a number of which were also standing-room-only, ranged from an open question and answer session with four members of the Council of Elders, including Melvin Rhodes, chairman of the Council, to an in-depth look at the meaning of Galatians 2 and 3. Members also enjoyed taking part in the live production of three new Beyond Today television programs featuring each of our presenters, and a large group relished a formal tour of the church’s home office about 20 miles away. Needless to say, plans are already underway for a return to Great Wolf Lodge for our Winter Family Weekend in 2012.
Speaking of 2012 and the new secular year before us, light snow dusted the region around the home office as the Winter Family Weekend ended, reminding us that we must gird ourselves to persevere through the winter months (in the northern hemisphere) between the festival seasons, and even now begin to think about and prepare ourselves spiritually for the Passover. It is through this commitment to constant improvement that we progress forward in our spiritual lives.
Of course, 2012 has been tagged as the year when the now-extinct Mayan civilization supposedly “predicted” a global apocalypse, with a whole host of purported cataclysms to accompany it. We in the Church know that a specific sequence of events and prophetic fulfillments must occur before the final catastrophes engulf this planet, and even then we are warned that “false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible” (Matthew 24:24 New International Version).
Brethren, we are God’s “elect” as we are grounded in the faith, and Jesus Himself tells us that as we collectively hear the rumblings of prophecy fulfilled drawing closer, we are to “see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (Matthew 24:6 NIV).
Rather than become fearful and anxious about whether we shall escape some future cataclysm, we are to direct our energies into overcoming—seeking to be transformed by God’s Holy Spirit (Romans 12:1-2). We are told by Jesus, the living Head of the Church, that we are to be “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). This light must “so shine”—it must be seen—“before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (verse 16). That applies to every one of us.
As we think about this and about beginning to prepare for the Passover, I would like to remind you of what Jesus said later in His famous Olivet Prophecy. Continuing what He began in the 24th chapter of Matthew, Jesus used a parable as a teaching tool in the 25th chapter regarding 10 virgins. Christ noted that “while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept” (Matthew 25:5, emphasis added). Half of the 10 virgins had been wise in securing oil—a spiritual metaphor for God’s Holy Spirit—while the others were not. Half were prepared, even when the others neglected to do what was right and necessary. Christ’s point? Emphasizing what He had said earlier in Matthew 24:44, He declared, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:13).
Jesus used the action verb “watch” to underscore our need to be alert and fully engaged in God’s plan. It includes the need to discern the times we live in, but it also encourages us to take a look at our own spiritual condition. This word watch echoes the command given to us by Paul in preparing ourselves spiritually before the Passover, where we are to examine ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:28). The parable of the 10 virgins reveals how easy it is for us to know the right thing, but then to fall short and not do it. We are instructed by James, the human brother of Christ: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22, NIV, emphasis added).
While we have the encouraging knowledge that the world will not end in 2012, we also have this sobering message: “Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). This is worth giving some thought to as Christ proclaimed that a major identifying mark of a Christian would be the fact that others could openly see the godly love that Christians have for one another (John 13:35). Is this spiritual love apparent in the observable light that is supposed to shine forth from us? In addition to those in the Church, Jesus told us that we are to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27).
These are not easy things to do, but they give us a framework to begin preparing for the upcoming Passover in about three months. Let us renew our commitment to seek God with fresh intensity, understanding that it is not by our human power that we overcome, but literally it is “God who works in you” (Philippians 2:13). Through the mighty power of God we can overcome our human nature and be changed day by day in our hearts and minds, filled eventually to the full with God’s transforming Holy Spirit!
Thank you for remaining faithful to God and for helping in the work of His Church. Your love, prayers, service and financial support are sincerely and deeply appreciated!
In Christ’s service,
PS—As the second round of the Kingdom of God Bible Seminars will be coming up shortly, please remember to pray for their continued success in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!