September 11, 2013
Dear brethren around the world,
The Feast of Tabernacles falls on the early side of the Roman calendar this year—and it’s already at our doorstep! The Feast has been an integral part of our lives to which we devote time, thoughts and considerable financing through our second tithe.
Often we have heard the term “the best Feast ever” for each completed Feast. Let’s keep it that way by remembering the purpose of this special event of the year for all of us as stated in Deuteronomy 14:23: “And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always” (emphasis added throughout).
The Feast first and foremost is a spiritual occasion, the biggest of the year because virtually the entire Church goes to many sites around the world. Our primary reason for being there is to learn about what God is doing for mankind. While we may be going to wonderful vacation spots and should enjoy the locations where we are, we must be sure to keep the spiritual focus foremost in our mind. By growing in the knowledge of the Feast’s purpose, we make it a better and better Feast every year. We learn the lesson of the Feast by observing it, not just “knowing” what it’s about.
The Feast is a time when our daily prayer, “Thy Kingdom come,” is answered because we are celebrating the fulfillment of the greatest prophecy of all: the return of Jesus Christ to the earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
The Feast is for everyone in the Church. Business conventions may be for just the employees or representatives of a company. But it’s not so with the Feast of Tabernacles. It’s for the entire household as we also read in Deuteronomy 14:26: “You shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.”
- For families, make sure that you make this time special for all your dependents that share in your learning and rejoicing. For children, the Feast of Tabernacles, with its spiritual focus, family bonding and excitement of travel will be pleasant, lifelong memories.
- When at the Feast look out for singles and those who are lonely. They may need you to especially invite them to share a meal and time with you.
- Pay special attention to children and use the Feast as an occasion for much needed family time.
- For the ministry, I ask that you to do your very best in the sermons, Bible studies and seminars that you may present. People’s expectation’s are to be motivated by all the messages.
May God bless us all at this year’s Feast of Tabernacles. I’m already eagerly awaiting good reports!
In Christ’s service,
Victor Kubik—President, United Church of God, an International Association
August 1, 2013
Jelly Rêve du Royaume: Il est temps pour la Fête des Tabernacles! Jelly rêve d’un monde de paix et d’harmonie après Jésus-Christ reviendra pour établir le merveilleux Royaume de Dieu. (Esaïe 11:06, Lévitique 23:29-43)
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
December 17, 2012
KINGDOM OF GOD BIBLE SEMINARS
FIRST SERIES REPORT
A report on the first series of our Kingdom of God Bible Seminars was delivered to the Council of Elders on December 12. Peter Eddington gave the Council a handout that showed a total of 5,680 seminar guests were in attendance at more than 200 locations around the globe.
Here is a breakdown on guest attendance for each round of the series:
|September 2011||Round 1||176 Locations||1,514|
|January 2012||Round 2||190 Locations||1,653|
|May 2012||Round 3||206 Locations||1,258|
|September 2012||Round 4||181 Locations||1,255|
Below is a listing of cities with the top five guest attendance figures for each round. As you will note, the developing areas of the world most often showed the highest interest in the gospel of the Kingdom of God:
- 52 San Antonio, TX
- 50 Santiago, Chile
- 35 Davao City, Philippines
- 33 Got Kachola, Kenya
- 33 Ogembo-Rianyamwamu, Kenya
- 110 Manila, Philippines
- 57 Davao City, Philippines
- 42 Bacolod, Philippines
- 42 Melbourne, Australia
- 40 Sydney, Australia
- 117 Manila, Philippines
- 58 Bacolod City, Philippines
- 43 Mexico City, Mexico
- 34 San Carlos City, Philippines
- 32 Bolivia
- 125 San Carlos City, Philippines
- 108 Johannesburg, South Africa
- 96 Manila, Philippines
- 76 Capetown, South Africa
- 49 Davao City, Philippines
We have people now regularly attending Sabbath services with us as a result of the seminars, and a number of baptisms have stemmed from the seminars too. It can be considered a success if even just one or two guests graced our congregation’s doorstep who otherwise would not have attended. We were successful in getting them out of their homes to come and hear the gospel of the Kingdom.
Jesus Christ, as the Head of His Church, has a plan for each person. 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 many cities.
Recommendations for Next Series
Dennis Luker, president of the United Church of God, an International Association, gave his support to the Kingdom of God Bible Seminars program moving forward. The Council of Elders agreed with the approach put forth. Here are a few details on the next series:
- We will keep the “Kingdom of God Bible Seminars” brand and theme, but offer a specific topic under the title. For example: “The Sabbath: A Key to the Kingdom of God.”
- Rather than produce a detailed script for each new seminar, we may choose a relevant UCG booklet to use as core material. For example, Sunset to Sunset: God’s Sabbath Rest. The presenters can choose which section or chapter of the booklet they’d like to focus on. The ucg.org website also provides a valuable resource for presenters to use in developing their presentations.
- Have two seminars per year, instead of three.
- Choose the months of June and November each year for seminars, with pastors having the flexibility to work as they see best within this timeline.
- Due to budget constraints, use regular Sabbath service halls to avoid additional hall rental. And use local funding for seminar advertising (letters, postcards, etc.) that is not part of the home office budget subsidy.
- Proposed Topics:
- June 2013
- November 2013
- Opening Prayer
- 1 Seminar (60 min.)
- Closing Prayer
- If desired, abbreviated 60-minute Sabbath service either before or afterwards with hymns, prayers and one sermon or split sermon.
We are looking forward very much to our next round of seminars and are asking pastors to choose their seminar dates as soon as possible and get them listed on our website. A number of our readers and viewers are already looking for the next seminar to be held in their city—and they check our website regularly hoping to sign up to attend. So the sooner our presenters get their seminar dates listed the better.
Thank you for your prayers for the ongoing success and God’s blessing on this part of our work to preach the gospel of God’s Kingdom.
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services
4 Million Visits for 2012!
December 11, 2012
The United Church of God, an International Association’s, primary website at www.ucg.org is on track to complete the calendar year with an average of 1 million unique visitors per quarter, for a total of 4 million visits in 2012.
As the above graph shows, since the combining of our websites under ucg.org in May of 2011, we are seeing a very dramatic and continual climb in visitors to our site. The month of November, 2012, saw the highest number of visitors on record! (December 2012 visitors are projected into the 4Q figure above.)
As we continue to enhance the online visit experience for our users, we expect to see this positive trend continue into 2013. Thank you for your support and prayers for this very important aspect of our work in preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services
November 29, 2012
Beyond Today television program “Middle East Family Feud” hosted by Darris McNeely, which aired the week of November 11-17, attracted the highest response (1,249) and the lowest cost per response ($13.13) out of all 19 programs aired so far this fiscal year.
The effective explanation of the underlying reasons for the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East appears to have struck a chord with our viewers. The idea of a longstanding family feud, going back thousands of years, was beforehand a total mystery to most. Our television program provided a fresh and biblical perspective on the geopolitical and religious underpinnings of the Mideast crisis. The unique understanding presented in this program was strongly recognized by the audience and as a result they responded in kind.
Please continue to pray that our presenters and production team will find ways to be as effective as possible in preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services
September 21, 2012
It’s time for the Feast of Tabernacles! The character in our story, Jelly, is excited about keeping the Feast in this musical presentation. Jelly dreams of a world of peace and harmony after Jesus Christ returns to establish the wonderful Kingdom of God—as taught in Isaiah chapter 11 and Leviticus 23.
Teach your children this fun sing-a-long song as we look forward to God’s Kingdom.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services.
[The following letter by Dennis Luker, president of the United Church of God, was sent to Church membership September 19.}
September 19, 2012
As we in the home office busily finish up final details for the much anticipated Feast of Tabernacles, tensions mount amidst fears of fresh war in the Middle East, even while this letter is being prepared for you. What a contrast! Just as we read and hear anew the biblical words and passages about soon-coming peace and prosperity in the Kingdom of God, the news is filled with fears of regional conflict, perhaps even the beginnings of global conflict. While many intently follow what the British newspaper The Telegraph calls an “armada of international naval power massing” in the Persian Gulf, we are urged to redouble our efforts in spiritual preparation, being alert and avoiding being caught up in “the anxieties of life” (Luke 21:34-36, New International Version).
Unlike what God gives us, the world does not yet have the serene strength that comes from the truth. Millions, perhaps billions, of people toss and turn at night, worried about what the next day may bring. At the same time we in the Church have these powerful and comforting words: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32). What a blessing! Ours is the sure knowledge and unbreakable promise that God’s plan is to deliver us. Our soon-to-come inheritance is a never ending time of unprecedented splendor, all focused on an eternal relationship of service with our Elder Brother and soon coming King. To continue our journey toward this Kingdom, we have but to continually yield and turn our lives over to God, following the leadership of the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ.
As we watch world events unfold during this annual biblical season, we know that “the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19). This is the time of revealing when God will complete the incomprehensible and wondrous task of “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10). How deep and profound is this? The apostle Paul tells us that even now the physical world “groans and labors with birth pangs,” awaiting the time when it “will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:22, 21).
I am personally grateful that this year’s Feast season comes at a time when we are finishing up our year-long round of Kingdom of God Bible Seminars. Many have told me how these seminars serve as an excellent jump-start in helping us refocus, deeply recalling why we were called in the first place: to preach the gospel and prepare a people!
The vision for the Church comes alive in activities like these, with “the whole body [of the Church] joined and knit together…working by which every part does its share” (Ephesians 4:16). While ministers may have provided the heavy lifting on the main presentation, members had the equally critical role of “being witnesses” of God’s way of life (Luke 21:13; 1 Peter 3:15). I had the privilege of speaking at the New York City Kingdom of God Bible Seminar, one of the more than 160 separate seminars being conducted in this public series. When unseasonal heavy weather came and even a rare tornado touched down near the site where the seminar was being held, it wasn’t difficult to think that opposing spiritual forces were not pleased that the gospel of the Kingdom was being carried to New York!
Despite any physical and spiritual opposition, the seminars are indeed bearing fruit. Just like in the earlier days of the Church, new people are now coming to services in many areas, and some baptisms are taking place. The total attendance and impact will be compiled in November after all of the seminars have taken place across the world. As one minister said, “People now know where we live!” God’s Church—His “called out ones”—is out in the open!
As we participate in the Feast of Tabernacles, heralding through our observance the future coming Kingdom, let us truly refresh and renew ourselves spiritually, drinking deeply of the biblical truths we will again hear and read. For some it will be the first Feast, a time of the joyous enthusiasm of the spiritual “first love” (Revelation 2:4). For others it may be the 10th, 20th, even 50th or more observance of this festival season.
Whatever milestone it is for you and wherever you observe it, keep the Feast with joy and purpose! As history records, there have been times when the early Christians were openly condemned for keeping God’s Holy Days. At least one religious leader (John Chrysostom) listed the biblical Feasts by name as late as the fourth century A.D., wrongly calling their observance by Christians some 300 years after Christ’s death a “perverse custom.” Many in this current election year have warned of the possible erosion of religious freedom in the United States, which leads us to recall the words of Christ: “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is still day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).
We still presently have the wonderful ability to meet together in peace, worship God and demonstrate His way of life, so let us seize every opportunity! Let us embrace a renewed sense of urgency and let this Feast be a time of great renewal.
In closing, please remember to ask for God’s blessing both on the speaking and the hearing during this festival. Please pray both for the inspiration of speakers and for a special blessing for those receiving the word. I also want to thank you in advance for your special offerings on the Holy Days—there remains much work to be done, and your fervent prayers and your generous offerings directly impact the scope of that work. Let us humbly remember to give cheerfully, for “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
May we all be greatly blessed during the Feast and the days ahead. We are called to a life of service and this time affords us a special opportunity to demonstrate that. Let us truly become that spiritual lamp that “gives light to all” (Matthew 5:15).
In Christ’s service,
March 8, 2012
A total of 36 people attended—which happened to be the maximum capacity of the meeting room. Of the 36, 10 were regular attendees of the Kingston congregation, 4 came over from the Ocho Rios congregation and 22 were guests. Three of these guests were not Good News subscribers themselves, but found out about the seminar from someone else. All three requested Good News subscriptions. At least 14 of the guests had no prior Church of God affiliation.
The seminar, presented by Chuck Smith, was titled “Are We There Yet?” It was a look at the end-time prophecies in the Bible as they relate to current world events and the coming Kingdom of God. After the presentation there was a lively question and answer session, followed by refreshments and fellowship. Several guests requested information about the weekly Sabbath service location and time.
The next KOG Bible Seminars will be held during the spring Holy Days in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay. Invitations are being sent to around 300 Good News subscribers in those areas.
The seeds are being planted, and we are praying God will grant the increase as He sees fit.
Chuck Smith—Chuck and his wife, Mary, serve in the Ft. Lauderdale and Vero Beach, Florida, congregations as well as in the Caribbean.
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
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