July 29, 2011
We are very pleased with the ongoing preparation for our September launch of the Kingdom of God Bible Seminars. We have 161 congregations hosting the live event. These are primarily in the United States, but also in countries around the world that include Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Nigeria, New Zealand and the Philippines. You can view them at kogbibleseminars.org.
Presently, about 600 participants have registered online to attend these important lectures. This may not include those who decide to show up without registering, and some registrations include more than one person. We did not track multiple guests in the first week of signups, but we do now. For example, one person in New Orleans signed up to bring 8 people with him.
EXPECTATIONS: With more than six weeks until the September 10 launch, we expect our attendee list to exceed 1,500. The seminars are being advertised in the Good News magazine, World News and Prophecy magazine, on our website, on Beyond Today television, and in literature request mailings. Some areas are also planning to mail personal invitations to Good Newsmagazine readers.
At this stage our need is for prayers from our brethren that God will guide those whom He wills to note what we are doing, register to attend, and want to become more involved in the Work we are involved with.
An important article will run in the August issue of United News that will help our brethren understand more about the purpose of the event. These seminars will add a very important element to our gospel effort and our job to make disciples. We have a very good foundation of printed literature, several magazines, more than 30 booklets, a high-quality television program, a fantastic ucg.org website, online advertising, print advertising, member involvement, and now the important element of one-on-one contact with our congregations. These public lectures add a very important piece to our media and proclamations efforts.
Below is a listing of registration figures for the top 10 cities so far. They are growing each day:
- Los Angeles – 15
- Philadelphia – 14
- San Antonio – 14
- Denver -13
- Little Rock – 13
- Columbus, OH – 11
- San Diego – 10
- Columbia, SC – 10
- Peoria, IL – 10
- St. Louis – 10
IMPORTANT: Just this week, the administration and Council of Elders decided to switch from three 45-minute lectures in the seminar schedule, to two 50- to 55-minute lectures. The material from all three previous lectures is being condensed into two presentations by Ministerial and Member Services. Victor Kubik has already provided the link to these revised outlines to the UCG ministry.
So, the current format for the day now looks like this:
- Opening Prayer
- Lecture 1 (50-55 minutes)
- Break for complimentary coffee and tea (10 minutes)
- Lecture 2 (50-55 minutes)
- Closing Prayer
- Fellowship time and opportunity to meet out guests (with complimentary finger foods, snacks, coffee, tea)
Please continue to prepare for this important live event. Most congregations are hosting on September 10, but a few are having theirs on September 17 or September 24. A couple of locations are a bit later than that. Please make this project a part of your prayer list, that our humble efforts to do our part to preach the good news of God’s Kingdom will be effective and accomplish what our Father wills.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
July 28, 2011
Ambassador Bible Center graduate David Archer shares a personal, heartfelt story of losing his mother at an early age. Despite his loss, he shares with us his hope and confidence that he will be with his mother again in the Kingdom of God. Watch this United Church of God video titled “Stones” now.
Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services
July 26, 2011
The doctrine of the Trinity is one of mainstream Christianity’s most revered and widely held doctrines. But is it true? The latest booklet published by the United Church of God—Is God a Trinity?—addresses that doctrine head on.
The booklet, the 34th produced by the United Church of God, examines this teaching that many churches admit is confusing and incomprehensible even as they make it a litmus test to define who is and isn’t a Christian.
As one astonishing quote (from a book by two theologians) puts it: “The mind of man cannot fully understand the mystery of the Trinity. He who has tried to understand the mystery fully will lose his mind; but he who would deny the Trinity will lose his soul”!
This 88-page booklet covers the long and involved story of how the Trinity doctrine came to be the accepted belief of the world’s Christianity. As you’ll see from numerous quotes in the booklet, many scholars, theologians and Bible resources openly admit that the Trinity doctrine isn’t found in the Bible, acknowledging that it came along officially in several stages in the 300s A.D.—centuries after the last books of the Bible were written!
The booklet documents that, as one historian states, “Nearly every nation of antiquity possessed a similar doctrine” and “All the ancient nations believed in the Trinity” many centuries before Christianity.
As readers will learn, these ancient beliefs reemerged in the early centuries after the apostles had passed from the scene and became a core doctrine of a competing church deeply compromised by its accommodation with paganism.
The Trinity was never part of the teaching of the true Church, but came about as later theologians debated the nature of God the Father and Jesus Christ in two major church councils—at Nicaea in A.D. 325 and Constantinople in 381. The Trinity doctrine as generally understood today was adopted at the latter council, and other views—including the true understanding of the nature of God—were denounced as heresy, and those holding other views rigorously persecuted.
Chapter titles of the booklet include “Is the Trinity Biblical?” “The Surprising Origins of the Trinity Doctrine,” “How Is God Revealed in the Bible?” “How Is God One?” “Is the Holy Spirit a Person?” “The Holy Spirit—God’s Transforming Power” and “God’s Purpose for You.”
The booklet describes how the Trinity doctrine insidiously masks one of the Bible’s greatest truths—that man and women, created in God’s image, have the awesome destiny to eventually become part of the very family of God, and that God is a family into which others will be born rather than a closed Trinity.
The booklet will be printed and mailed in early August. United Church of God members do NOT need to request a copy; it will be mailed automatically to all member households on file.
Scott Ashley—Managing Editor, Booklets
July 22, 2011
We have now accepted 30 students into the Class of 2012 at Ambassador Bible Center. And, we have a few more days before the admission period for 2012 is concluded.
We have accepted 17 males and 13 females. The age range has averaged at 22 since the beginning of ABC. There are a few who are older students, a few younger ones and many in their twenties.
We are preparing the course outlines and orientation packets, procuring textbooks and planning the welcome picnic so that we may be ready for the beginning of our 13th year of Ambassador Bible Center that begins on August 14. We’d appreciate your prayers to God for the success of this important United Church of God program.
Gary Antion—ABC Coordinator
July 19, 2011
Beyond Today presenters Darris McNeely and Steve Myers were interviewed on nationwide Canadian television on Monday, July 18. Canada’s largest provider of prime time Christian programming, Grace TV, interviewed Mr. McNeely and Mr. Myers in their St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, television studio. Gary Petty, our third Beyond Today presenter, was not there for this particular interview.
View the following video footage of the trip and interview from YouTube here:
St. Catharines is a short 30-minute drive from Niagara Falls, New York. Our presenters flew into Buffalo, New York, and stopped to view the famous Niagara Falls on their way to the studio.
According to Wikipedia and other sources, Niagara Falls are the most powerful waterfalls in North America. These massive falls are situated on the Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. The falls form the international border between the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of New York. Both sides of the falls are host to the twin cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York.
In St. Catharines, Mr. McNeely and Mr. Myers were guests on Grace TV’s “Encounter with Peter Youngren.” Mr. Youngren was out of town that day, and so Grace TV’s Steve McLaughlin hosted the hour-long program. Our Beyond Today presenters took up almost half of the hour. Their episode airs at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, July 19, and repeats at 2 a.m. on Wednesday, July 20. It is also now available online for you to view for several months on the Grace TV website.
Topics included the purpose of the Beyond Today program, the gospel of the Kingdom of God, Bible prophecy, the news, upcoming U.S. elections, the flailing economy, God and finances, and much more. You can watch the program online at Grace TV’s website. If you wish, scroll forward to about half-way through the program to catch the beginning of our portion of the show. Mr. McNeely and Mr. Myers take up most of the last half hour.
Beyond Today has been on nationwide Canadian television for a number of years. Grace TV used to be called the Christian Channel. In 2009 it changed names to Grace TV. You can see the times and channels we air in eight Canadian provinces and territories on our Beyond Today website station listing at www.ucg.org/beyond-today/channels. The Canadian UCG office has been very pleased with viewer response from Beyond Today on Grace TV. Our Sunday airtimes are very favorable too.
Grace TV is Canada’s largest 24/7 total Christian television provider. It was launched in 2005 as Canada’s first 24/7 national digital television network. It reaches more than 60 percent of Canadian households. It is also expanding internationally, and hopes to also include the U.S. soon. It is able to air up to 65% foreign content, while other Canadian religious channels are restricted to 35 percent. This has been a great benefit because our Beyond Today program is obviously U.S.-produced.
Please pray for the ongoing success of our effort to preach the good news of God’s Kingdom in the television medium. We have been very pleased with our nationwide response in both Canada and the U.S.—particularly from our 8:30 a.m. EDT Sunday morning airtime on WGN America. But, without God’s blessing it will come to little. Please continue to pray for His guidance in all that we do in His Church.
Peter Eddington—Producer, Beyond Today
July 14, 2011
The last few weeks have highlighted the importance of friendship in each of our lives. Let me share with you a few of our recent reminders of this. Our relationships with God and with each other are of prime importance, and we must never forget this.
On the Day of Pentecost, Diane and I were in Edmonton, Alberta, where we had an uplifting and spiritually rewarding Holy Day in a congregation pastored by Bob and Val Berendt. Bob is a fellow member of the Council of Elders and chairman of our Doctrine Committee.
Prior to Pentecost we spent a few days with a couple we have known almost 40 years, Laurie and Sarah Nyhus. Laurie is an elder in United who serves the Grande Prairie and Edmonton, Alberta, congregations. They live in Valleyview, a 2,000 population community four hours drive from Edmonton.
We first met Laurie and Sarah at Ambassador College, Bricket Wood, in England. We hadn’t seen each other for a few years, so we had a lot to talk about.
On the weekly Sabbath, the Grande Prairie church met in Valleyview. After services we had a leisurely afternoon of fellowship and food at the Nyhus’ home.
One of the great blessings of being in the church is the friendships we have developed over the years—friendships with people that, in most cases, we would otherwise never have met.
Following our visit to Edmonton, we went to Ghana for a farewell pastoral visit. Mark Mickelson, who has been working with the Nigerians for many years, will be taking over all pastoral responsibilities in West Africa for the foreseeable future, so this was my last visit to Ghana as senior pastor.
Our involvement in Ghana goes back 33 years. We first arrived in the country in May 1978 at a time when the country was literally falling apart economically and the military was in control. I’m pleased to say that Ghana is much improved and now has a constitutional form of government similar to what we have in the United States.
In those early years the church grew rapidly. Some of those people are still with us so our visit was like meeting old friends. But, encouragingly, there were also new ones—about half a dozen new people who have come into the church in Accra in the last few months. It was good to meet with them too.
While there, I was able to ordain two deacons, Henry Aikins and David Meselebe, two men we have known for over 30 years and who have been true servants of the United Church of God congregation in Accra, Ghana’s capital city. These were the second and third men ordained in Africa so far this year. In April, on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread, I ordained Roy Demont an elder. He looks after the Durban church in South Africa. Sadly, his wife Jean died exactly one week before his ordination.
A few days after returning from Ghana, we were in Little Rock, Arkansas, for their 50th anniversary. Fred and Lucretia Kellers were also there, as they pastored the congregation 25 years ago. For them it was an occasion to see old friends. For us, we met many people we had never met before. But we were also able to spend the weekend in the home of Fred and Lidia Nance, who pastor the congregation along with two others.
Fred and Lidia attended in Lansing, Michigan, until Fred was hired by UCG two years ago and sent to Little Rock. Lansing is where Diane and I live. It was really good to see them both again and also Fred’s mother Hazel who lives near them. She turns 80 on July 17th.
Friendships are so important, and we should all be thankful for them.
Jesus Christ said that, after our relationship with God, our relationships with each other are most important. The two go together and are the recipe for happiness in this life.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:37-39).
Sadly, so many friends that we have had over the years are no longer in our lives. This is due partly to our moving around, but also to the fact that many no longer believe as we do. It wasn’t that we cut them off, rather that we drifted apart when we no longer fellowshipped in the same church.
July 23rd is a special day for me—the 40th anniversary of my baptism at Bricket Wood, shortly before meeting the Nyhus’ at the end of my freshman year. I remember the day every year, but marking 40 years makes it seem so much more special.
In thinking back to 1971, again I’m reminded of how many people I knew then who are no longer in the Church. I ask myself why.
There are, of course, many reasons, but if there is one common thread it is this: They all allowed a man to come between them and God.
Not all in the same way. Some followed a charismatic man out of the church organization to form a new church; others got upset when they found out the man they had looked up to was not perfect; others were confused when the leader of the church announced doctrinal changes; still others left because they didn’t get along with somebody else in the congregation; some allowed a root of bitterness toward others get a strong hold on them.
The problem manifests itself in many ways. But the root cause is letting a human being come between them and God.
The apostle Paul wrote: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). In Matthew 6:6 Jesus Christ told us: “When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly”. Here is instruction on how we should pray most of the time—privately, alone with God. In His model prayer, which follows, Jesus reminds us to pray “daily” (verse 11).
In addition to prayer, we should follow the example of the Bereans, “who searched the scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11).
Prayer and Bible Study are essential if we are going to have a close, meaningful relationship with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ set us the example of going to the synagogue (church) every Sabbath (Luke 4:16), something we are commanded to do in Leviticus 23:3.
This is extremely important. But it’s our own relationship with God that matters most and will see us through in times of turmoil and stress, whether in our own personal lives or in the Church.
Let us remember this and daily renew our commitment to God and to Jesus Christ as we work on developing an even closer relationship.
In Christ’s service,
Melvin Rhodes—Chairman, Council of Elders
July 14, 2011
Through this co-op mailing effort potential readers will be offered a one-year subscription to The Good News and at least one of the following nine booklets:
- Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe?
- Holidays or Holy Days: Does it Matter Which Days We Observe?
- How to Understand the Bible
- Life’s Ultimate Question: Does God Exist?
- Managing Your Finances
- The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy
- The Middle East in Bible Prophecy
- You Can Understand Bible Prophecy
- What Happens After Death?
As a result of this campaign we expect to add close to 35,000 new Good News subscribers at about $3.00 each. Please see additional images of some of the cards below.
As always, we would appreciate your prayers for God’s blessings on this important Good News advertising endeavor.
John LaBissoniere—Print Buying Manager