February 27, 2012
The United Church of God is hosting free Bible seminars in cities around the world to explain and expound upon the truth of the Kingdom of God. Visit kogbibleseminars.org to sign up for the next round of seminars in May. If you have attended previous seminars, please know that this is all new material.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services, United Church of God an International Association
February 23, 2012
Diane and I recently returned from a trip to the United Kingdom where I had been invited to present the first Kingdom of God Bible seminar in the nation’s capital, London.
Over a thousand invitations had been sent out. Eighteen new people came, which is quite a good attendance. I don’t think anybody had driven there—they all used public transport, as we did. It remains the best way to get around the city.
There was a great deal of enthusiasm among the new attendees. A number of them asked many questions afterwards. Most of the people present were from Commonwealth countries, nations that were formerly colonies of Great Britain. These countries all inherited the common bonds of the English language and freedom of religion, which have enabled us to preach the gospel in so many parts of the world.
Our visit came shortly after the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible in 1611. An exhibition at Westminster Abbey commemorated the event. This has been described as the most influential book in history, after the Bible itself, as the British, in time, took the book with them to all their overseas possessions including the American colonies that became the United States of America. There was an incredible enthusiasm for the Bible for centuries. The historian Jacques Barzun wrote that this enthusiasm “did not cease for 350 years; 1900 was the first year in which religious works (at least in England) did not outnumber all other publications” (“From Dawn to Decadence,” page 10, 2000).
How times have changed!
A fellow minister, Mike Caputo, who serves in the Toronto, Canada, area, pointed out recently that most websites devoted to atheism are based in Britain. And, certainly, many of those will be in the London area.
I have five brothers in England. Four of them have never owned a Bible, let alone read one. I reflected on how best we can reach a nation when most people are unfamiliar with Scripture. It’s not just Britain as most of Europe is the same. It’s also increasingly the case in the United States. It’s a challenge, but it’s one we must face. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). It is clear that God is calling people in all nations. “For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
On the Sunday we had a ministerial conference in the former Imperial Schools building in Bricket Wood, a small community north of London. Amongst other items of business, we welcomed our latest addition to the overstretched ministry over there, Alex Preston, who was recently ordained. Alex and his wife Christine live in Scotland. I joked about visiting them before I need a visa—Scotland is set to hold a referendum on breaking away from the United Kingdom in 2014.
We spent a great deal of time in the meetings discussing future Feast sites. As well as choosing locations easily accessible to church members in the British Isles, consideration is given to attracting visitors from overseas who are always welcome, and a reassurance to the small church in the British Isles that they are very much a part of an international association. This year the Feast will be in Llandudno, North Wales.
The following day John Ross Schroeder and I were back in London for a press conference on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Although February 6 was the actual anniversary of the Queen’s ascension to the throne in 1952, official celebrations will take place the first weekend of June when the weather is better. At least, it should be! Britain’s weather can be notoriously unpredictable.
This will be only the second diamond jubilee in British history. Queen Victoria, the present Queen’s great-great grandmother, celebrated hers in 1897 at the time of Britain’s ascendancy, when the map of the world was dominated by the color red, all the nations that made up the British Empire.
One of the people presiding over the press conference remarked, with incredulity, that 400 years ago people actually believed that the monarch was chosen by God, a reference to the idea of the Divine Right of Kings. But you don’t have to go back four centuries. When the present Queen was crowned the majority of the British people believed the same.
Comparing Britain at the time of Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral in January 1965, a momentous event that I still profoundly remember, with the country 32 years later at the time of Princess Diana’s funeral in September 1997, the writer Peter Hitchens wrote that in Churchill’s time: “The country was a profoundly Christian society, in which religion was part of the language, of the state and of daily life in a way quite unique in Europe…Through its great literature, its verse and its hymns it had obtained an idea of itself that was comforting and powerful. It believed in the family and the home, that great zone of private life in which the state has no business” (“The Abolition of Britain,” page 347, 1999). A profound change took place between these two funerals!
This change began earlier, as Jacques Barzun observed. It’s due to a number of factors, one of which is the increasing secularization of society. In turn, this has led to outright hostility toward religion—and this is true on both sides of the Atlantic and in other western democracies.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Britain has lost it way spiritually—and this has a great deal to do with increased secularization and the rejection of the Bible. But it’s also increasingly true of the United States, where we see growing rejection of the country’s biblical roots.
American historian Benson Bobrick wrote: “Englishmen carried their Bible with them—as the rock and foundation of their lives—overseas” (“Wide as the Waters,” page 12, 2001). It was the very foundation of their lives. Those Englishmen eventually became Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans, founding other nations originally on the British model. As Hitchens put it: “Religion was part of the language, of the state and of daily life in a way quite unique in Europe.” The Bible had little influence on the continent of Europe, where the church and its traditions controlled the minds of the people. It wasn’t until after England broke with the church that King Henry VIII was able to lift the ban on the Bible.
When God told Abraham that his descendants would be a blessing this must have been one of the blessings He had in mind—that the Word of God would go out to the world through his descendants, the British and American peoples: “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).
It continues today. God’s Church in the British Isles is very small. Compared to mainstream churches, God’s Church in the United States is also small. But thanks to the tithes and offerings of the people in the United States, the United Church of God is able to preach the gospel to the world, out of all proportion to our size.
Our ancestors four centuries ago embraced the Bible with great enthusiasm, so much so that King Henry VIII had to tell the English people to curb their enthusiasm, as he had heard that people were even reading their Bibles in the pubs, which he felt was highly inappropriate (Bobrick, page 160).
As our ancestors took their Bibles with them everywhere, we should also take the gospel of the coming Kingdom of God everywhere we can, going through doors as God opens them.
Next month our minister in Nigeria, Oludare Akinbo, will be presenting the first Kingdom of God seminar in Accra, Ghana. Seminars have already taken place in Australia, Canada, the United States, Germany, England, Nigeria, Kenya, Brazil, Chile, the Philippines, Hong Kong, India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Ireland, Zambia, Bolivia and the Isle of Man.
In the U.S. a new series of seminars will be held in May. We hope to continue the program with a new series three times a year.
As we reach out to the world with a renewed vigor, sharing the good news of the coming Kingdom, we see our Western nations increasingly turning their backs on God. Atheists are becoming more militant with a planned mass march on Washington, D.C., next month. Court decisions on both sides of the Atlantic reflect anti-Christian sentiment.
It is not just coincidence that as Britain turned away from the Bible the nation declined, having lost its way. Now we see clearly the same development in the U.S. Deuteronomy 28 shows a clear connection between our nations’ obedience to God’s laws and the blessings that were received; also the negative consequences of turning away from the laws of God. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
German-Foreign-Policy.com noted on February 20: “According to an expert of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAB), it had already become apparent at the last G-20 Summit that ‘the enormous power of the US’ had ‘noticeably diminished’ because of its economy’s chronic weaknesses.”
Britain’s rapid decline followed two world wars that effectively bankrupted the nation. The U.S. is set to follow after fighting two big conflicts in the last decade.
At a time when we see our nations facing all kinds of serious problems and clearly in terminal decline, it is our responsibility to bring a message of hope to the British and American peoples and, indeed, the whole world—hope in the promised Kingdom of God, the good news that Jesus Christ gave to us, the news of His return to establish a world ruling Kingdom that will never be destroyed.
Melvin Rhodes—Chairman, Council of Elders
February 22, 2012
Successful U.S. Member Participation Program to Begin 14th Distribution Year
We are pleased to announce that four new tri-fold brochures and an updated earlier one are now available for distribution by brethren and congregations in the United States. The brochures offer potential readers a free, one-year subscription to The Good News magazine and one of our foundational booklets. The brochure titles include:
- Heaven and Hell – What Does the Bible Really Teach?
- Holidays or Holy Days – Does it Matter Which Days We Observe?
- Managing Your Finances
- The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy
- What Happens After Death? (updated)
For the last 13 years the Good News brochure distribution program has been an important part of the efforts of the United Church of God to publish the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Since 1999 our dedicated church members have distributed over half a million brochures. These brochures have generated 10,046 subscriber responses equaling an overall excellent 1.95 percent response at a very fine $1.56 cost per response. Below are brochure distribution totals for each year:
- 1999 21,497
- 2000 43,500
- 2001 40,200
- 2002 51,250
- 2003 21,840
- 2004 13,835
- 2005 108,535
- 2006 71,665
- 2007 58,408
- 2008 31,555
- 2009 18,485
- 2010 27,080
- 2011 6,620
Over the previous 13 years brethren have placed brochures in restaurants, supermarkets, motels, hospital and clinic lobbies, auto-repair shops, hairdressers, senior centers, libraries, convenience stores and many other locations.
Whether brochures are placed in a display or a few are left on a table for pick-up in such locations, many distribution opportunities exist to reach potential readers. Additionally, members have used brochures as an opportunity to introduce the Church’s literature to interested relatives, friends, neighbors and co-workers.
As we begin our 14th distribution year, we invite all brethren and congregations in the United States to participate in this newly expanded program. This program is one in which every member can be involved.
Please contact John LaBissoniere at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 423-562-9400 or toll-free 888-369-9940 for your supply of brochures and displays.
Also for information, you are welcome to visit the Brochure Program Web page at http://www.ucg.org/volunteer-opportunity/you-can-help-good-news-brochure-distribution-program/.
John LaBissoniere—Print Advertising Manager, Media and Communications Services
February 21, 2012
The Cincinnati East, Ohio, congregation of the United Church of God is continuing its bi-weekly Bible study Wednesday night, February 22. The study begins at 7:30 p.m. EST and is available live via webcast.
The series on the Gospel of John will cover chapters 1 though 3. Presenters will be Peter Eddington and Randy Stiver.
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
February 15, 2012
On January 20 we reported preliminary results from the new initiative by the United Church of God to air Beyond Today twice a week on the WORD Network. Below is an update of responses received from December 29, 2011, through February 11, 2012, for the following seven programs:
- The Day After Christmas
- What is the Kingdom of God?
- Who Are the Two Witnesses?
- Ground Zero Jerusalem
- The Church Jesus Built
- You Have a Destiny
- Tithing – God’s Key to Financial Success
These Beyond Today episodes airing on the WORD Network generated 796 responses via telephone and the Internet. Of these requests 549 came by telephone from viewers in 36 states, the District of Columbia and two Canadian provinces (see below) and 247 were logged via our website from viewers in the following 17 countries:
- Cayman Islands
- Puerto Rico
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
- United States
Here is a listing of telephone responses logged from viewers on the WORD Network by state/province from December 29, 2012 – February 11, 2012. It’s encouraging to see 37 states and 2 provinces represented:
- Alabama – 12
- Arkansas – 3
- Arizona – 4
- California – 45
- Colorado – 3
- Connecticut – 7
- Delaware – 3
- District of Columbia – 3
- Florida – 36
- Georgia – 22
- Illinois - 22
- Indiana – 8
- Kansas – 4
- Kentucky – 2
- Louisiana – 19
- Maryland – 24
- Massachusetts – 3
- Michigan – 51
- Minnesota – 3
- Mississippi – 11
- Missouri – 6
- Nebraska – 1
- Nevada – 3
- New Jersey – 21
- New Mexico – 2
- New York – 48
- North Carolina – 25
- Ohio – 27
- Oregon – 2
- Pennsylvania – 32
- South Carolina – 10
- Tennessee – 9
- Texas – 30
- Virginia – 21
- Washington – 8
- West Virginia – 2
- Wisconsin – 10
- Ontario, Canada – 6
- Saskatchewan, Canada – 1
We are pleased with the results so far from our efforts on the WORD Network. Response has proved to be very good and our cost per response most reasonable.
As of last week’s Beyond Today program, “Tithing – God’s Key to Financial Success,” we concluded our contracts on the ION Network television stations in Los Angeles and San Francisco. An analysis of our more than six-month airing period on these stations has shown that the overall cost per response was higher than expected. We have no current plans to replace these individual stations since our efforts on the WORD Network are bearing good fruit throughout California.
As always, we are grateful for your prayers for God’s blessings as the United Church of God seeks to diligently spread the message of the coming Kingdom of God around the globe.
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services
February 13, 2012
Voluntary teamwork in the Netherlands serves the Dutch speaking nations around the world
Last week UCG-Netherlands printed it’s eighth translated booklet “Is er leven na de dood?” (“What happens after death?”). The ninth booklet, “Schepping of Evolutie: Maakt het uit wat u gelooft?” (“Creation or Evolution”) will follow within the next couple of weeks.
In addition to the booklets, UCG-Netherlands has also posted all 12 lessons of the Bible Study Course in the Dutch language online. The first print version of the lessons will be available later this year. Furthermore, our Dutch brethren have produced Dutch supplements for the last 10 years that have been distributed with the English Good News magazine to subscribers in the Netherlands, Belgium and Dutch speaking areas in the Caribbean. GN circulation for the Dutch speaking area is around 1,500 copies.
From the beginning the editorial work has been a highly motivated voluntary teamwork effort by the small flock in the Netherlands. UCG-Netherlands on average has a church attendance of about 30 to 40 people. Dutch members work on various publications as a team of translators, typesetters and proofreaders. The volunteers work on their projects as they are able to and their daily schedules permit. Jamie de Moei does the initial typesetting and enters the editorial changes, and Paul Kieffer, pastor of the Dutch and German speaking region, assists with the final typesetting.
The Dutch booklets are also available online: www.ucg-holland.nl.
For the year 2012, UCG-Netherlands plans to have Kingdom of God Bible Seminars in Reeuwijk, Maarn and Antwerpen. The speakers will be the resident elder Marcos Rosales, Martin Arendsen and Wim Dekker, both members of the national board.
The team effort to preach the gospel in the Dutch language has strengthened and unified the flock in the Netherlands, providing satisfaction and joy to church members.
Jesmina Allaoua—German Office
February 8, 2012
As posted on January 6, 2012, the United Church of God is offering its booklets in electronic format at the Amazon and Kindle online bookstores. This will allow those who own an Amazon Kindle or use the Kindle App on their smartphone or tablet an easy way to download our e-books from the Kindle Store.
Amazon does not allow us to offer our e-books for free when we first upload them, and so they are initially offered for 99 cents. However, we then inform Amazon about a lower price (free) and Amazon is now matching that and offering our booklets at no charge. (Please read the past blog post “UCG Booklets Becoming Available on Amazon.com“.)
As of today, we have 10 e-books available at Amazon.com—nine of which are now listed for free. Last week we added two more e-books to the store. So far over 6,000 have been downloaded from the Kindle bookstore. The vast majority of these were downloaded for free.
Here are our top three titles and the number of downloads (as of February 6, 2012):
- What Happens After Death? – 1,445
- You Can Understand Bible Prophecy – 858
- Jesus Christ: The Real Story – 791
It is really exciting to see the number of downloads in such a short amount of time. Some UCG e-booklets are now listed on Amazon’s Best Sellers list for free e-books. For instance three booklets are listed as “Best Sellers in Christian Education – Top 100 Free” and are in the top five range!
We Need Your Help
When we post a new e-book to Amazon we need your help to let them know its available at other online locations for FREE. Right now we have one e-book that is still listed for 99 cents—How to Understand the Bible.
We need just a few minutes of your time. All you need to do is have an Amazon.com account and follow the instructions listed on our Amazon volunteer webpage or visit our main How Can I Help? volunteer page (under the “I have free time” section). Once the e-book is listed for free at Amazon.com we will remove the request for that particular e-book.
You can also help by submitting a review of any of our e-books and leaving a comment that you feel would be helpful to any potential readers.
Please take a few minutes and help us with this project. It will really help our Web team at the homeoffice!
Aaron Booth—Internet Manager
February 7, 2012
The Cincinnati East, Ohio, congregation of the United Church of God is continuing its bi-weekly Bible study Wednesday night, February 8. The study begins at 7:30 p.m. EST and is available live via webcast.
The series on the Pastoral Epistles concludes with Titus chapter 3. And then, an in-depth study of the book of John will begin.
Presenters will be Steve Myers and Darris McNeely. 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
February 6, 2012
We all get dirt on our hearts and minds with the things we have done. But only through God’s amazing work can we become as white as snow: have our sins forgiven.
View this short film from the United Church of God and the producers of Beyond Today television: “Snow.” It was shot by Jamie Schreiber and David Archer when they were Ambassador Bible Center students in 2010.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
February 3, 2012
Homeschooling has grown in popularity over the past decade. According to HomeschoolFacts.com, “Homeschooling is the single fastest growing educational trend in the United States and that trend is expanding worldwide. Dr. Brian Ray, one of the leading homeschool researchers estimates that homeschooling has increased 15% per year over the past several years.”
In 2003 the United States National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES) (nces.ed.gov/nhes) estimated the number of homeschooled students in the United States at 1.1 million. Today that number could be between 2.4 to 3 million.
Although there are many reasons parents choose to instruct their children at home, one motive often cited is to provide young people with a strong spiritual and moral foundation. According to nhhomeschooling.org, “Many parents feel that schools (including private, religion-based schools) do not address the spiritual issues and morals they want incorporated into their children’s education. Some parents object to the teaching of ideas and theories contrary to theirs – evolution and sex education, for example.”
This critical desire provides an important targeted opportunity for the United Church of God to help both parents and children better understand these and other subjects from a biblical perspective. As a result, we will soon participate in a test distribution of Good News subscription brochures at homeschool conventions in the United States. Between March 19 and May 1, 2012, we will distribute over 6,000 copies of the brochure (pictured) to participants at 35 conventions across the country (see list of cities below).
Our four color, tri-fold brochure, which offers a free, one-year subscription to The Good News, features the magazine cover, “Bringing Up a Moral Child.” Brochures will be placed inside a packet with educational materials from various companies and organizations. Depending on the success of this effort in terms of response, we hope to expand distribution in subsequent months to visitors at additional homeschool conventions. Also in the future, we hope to participate in Internet related forms of contact with U.S. and international homeschooling parents.
As always, your prayers for God’s blessings on this media effort will be greatly appreciated.
John LaBissoniere—Print Advertising Manager, Media and Communications Services
Appendix: Homeschool convention cities, March-May 2012:
- Archer, FL
- Atmore, AL
- Bethesda, OH
- Blountstown, FL
- Cincinnati, OH
- Conroe, TX
- Danielson, CT
- Davie, FL
- Delaware, OH
- Easley, SC
- Ephrata, PA
- Farmington, KY
- Front Royal, VA
- Helen, WV
- Hermosa Beach, CA
- Jackson, WY
- Kalamazoo, MI
- Leesville, SC
- Longwood, FL
- Medford, NJ
- Miami, FL
- Mobile, AL (2)
- New Salisbury, IN
- Old Bridge, NJ
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Redondo Beach, CA
- San Angelo, TX
- Shepherdstown, WV
- Signal Mountain, TN
- Sun, LA
- Sylva, NC
- Tulsa, OK
- Wasco, CA
- York, PA