Inside United: Realtime

Exciting News & Updates from UCGIA

Video: August Youth Corps Project in Zambia

September 27, 2011

A video has been produced about the August 2011 Youth Corps project held in Zambia. The project was a joint venture sponsored by LifeNets and the United Church of God GoodWorks program.

Jim Tuck, Lewis VanAusdle, Lena VanAusdle and Marc Eddington traveled from the United States to Zambia to conduct the leadership program (for adults) and youth camp (for teenagers) from August 7-21. This Youth Corps/Leadership project taught English, computers, first aid, leadership, biblical principles, career guidance and ultimate frisbee!

In addition, the team visited with 265 members of the United Church of God while in Zambia. An article in the September-October issue of United News written by Lena also explains more about the project.

The video below was shot and edited by Marc.

Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services

September 27, 2011 Posted by | Ministerial Services, United Youth Camps | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

UCG Hymnal Now in French

September 23, 2011

We are delighted to announce the completion of a French Hymnal for the United Church of God!

Mr. Jean-Paul Gorisse, a long-time Church member in France—aided by several volunteers—had been working on this project since the beginning of United. Over the years Mr. Gorisse had compiled the translated hymns into three different spiral bound books so the French brethren could start using them for services.

In March 2011, we started the process of putting them all together, and Mr. Gorisse was able to add over 20 new hymns to end up with a 217-page hymnbook—almost identical to our English hymnbook.

The books came off the press on September 14, and the French-speaking brethren in France and Africa will receive them in time to sing from them at the Feast of Tabernacles.

We are very grateful to God for providing this tool at this time, and we look forward to using it to worship Him in songs and to rejoice even more.

Tim and Maryse Pebworth—French-language Coordinators

September 23, 2011 Posted by | Media and Communications, Ministerial Services | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Update: Kingdom of God Bible Seminars

September 22, 2011

The Kingdom of God Bible Seminars have been a great encouragement to the Church. Our guest count stands at 1,439 after this past Sabbath, with 166 congregations reporting in. At present we have 96 guests signed up for the remaining 14 seminars. We pray for the success of the remaining seminars, in particular those being held this coming Sabbath, September 24.

An almost final guest list count will be calculated after our September 24 seminars are completed. (We have a few seminars taking place in November yet.) We expect to break the 1,500 mark. This is very exciting, considering that the majority of these visitors would not have graced our meeting places otherwise.

Congregations reporting more than 20 guests for the seminars are as follows:

  • 52            San Antonio, TX
  • 35            Davao City, Philippines
  • 33            Ogembo-Rianyamwamu, Kenya
  • 33            Got Kachola, Kenya
  • 33            Orlando, FL
  • 30            Brisbane, Qld., Australia
  • 28            Senta-Magenche, Kenya
  • 27            Bar Ober, Kenya
  • 25            Garden Grove, CA
  • 25            North Canton, OH
  • 25            Bacolod City, Philippines
  • 24            Jacksonville, FL
  • 23            Ochuna, Kenya
  • 22            Denver, CO
  • 21            Meru, Kenya
  • 21            Oakland, CA

Ed Macaraeg in the Philippines reported that their member count was 23 in Bacolod City, which was exceeded by their guest count of 25!

Experiences of attendance to registrations varied widely. But by making the seminars an event with online registration, we could see realistically what the averages would be going forward. The surveys responded to by the ministry will allow us to judge the program for its overall of effectiveness.

We are very happy with the results and now are awaiting follow-up accounts as well as looking to the January seminars which will build on the registrations and attendees that came this month. The ministry can now go ahead and begin registering their congregations for January 21 (or January 28 or February 4 if they have multiple congregations). Our main advertising will state January 21. We see that some congregations are already listed for January 21!

We thank all of the membership for their participation. Many commneted that preparing for the seminars gave their congregations a boost of doing a front-line work of preaching the Kingdom directly to the public and that they are looking positively to the second round of the seminars.

Victor Kubik/Peter Eddington

September 22, 2011 Posted by | Media and Communications, Ministerial Services | , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Video: Giants In Our Life

September 20, 2011

Giants aren’t just fairytale creatures that have sprung from overactive imaginations. They really existed once, and they still exist today but more as trials that loom over and threaten to crush us.

The secret to overcoming them lies in the story of a ruddy-faced shepherd boy who struck down a giant thousands of years ago—reminding us that with God, all things are possible.

One of our United Church of God video editors, Jamie Schreiber, has put together a short video titled “Giants.” Mr. Schreiber explains: “I was listening to something on the radio and I heard a clip about overcoming obstacles in our lives. This reminded me of David and Goliath. I presented the idea to some of my friends and coworkers. As a result, ‘Giants’ is what we recorded. It was shot in Milford, Ohio, in one afternoon. I hope it encourages you if you are facing a trial in your life.”

Peter Eddington—Media and Communications Services

September 20, 2011 Posted by | Home Office, Media and Communications | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pre-Feast Letter from Chairman Rhodes

September 15, 2011

Dear Brethren,

When I first started reading the Church’s literature in 1966, the geopolitical emphasis focused on three areas: the Middle East, which is the epicenter of Bible prophecy; Europe and developments leading to the “ten kings” prophesied at the end time; and the continuing decline of the English-speaking nations.

Forty-five years later, after natural disasters, it seems that the news is still dominated by these three.

Relations between Israel and its neighbors are worse now than they have been at any time since the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt. The Israeli Embassy in Cairo was stormed last week, and the Ambassador and his family had to flee. Even “moderate” Turkey has talked of war, with their prime minister saying that an incident last year justified conflict with Israel.

In addition, there is to be an attempt at the United Nations later this month to recognize an independent Palestinian state. Although the U.S. would veto such a move in the Security Council, a vote in the General Assembly is a foregone conclusion against Israel.

Such a vote would also highlight increasing divisions between the United States and its European allies, as most European countries are likely to vote for an independent nation of Palestine.

Even without the Middle East, Europe itself is facing its own problems as fiscal disaster looms daily. As I write this on Tuesday, September 13, there are rumors again of Greece defaulting financially. An interviewee on BBC News last night put the likelihood of a default at 98 percent! A headline in London’s Daily Telegraph (August 24) read: “Market crash ‘could hit within weeks’, warn bankers.” September and October, historically, are the most likely months for a big financial upheaval. Any bad economic news in Europe, or even a default by tiny and seemingly insignificant Greece, will have a negative ripple effect around the world, including the United States. As a number of financial publications have observed in recent weeks, the prospect of a “double dip recession” is now more likely.

The worst-case scenario for Europe is of a possible total economic collapse. If this happens, we could see a repeat of the 1930s when, out of the rubble of democratic Europe and the Great Depression, the era of the great nationalistic dictators emerged that led to World War II. An article on today’s Stratfor website highlights the danger:

“European nationalism has always had a deeper engine than simply love of one’s own. It is also rooted in resentment of others. Europe is not necessarily unique in this, but it has experienced some of the greatest catastrophes in history because of it. Historically, the Europeans have hated well. We are very early in the process of accumulating grievances and remembering how to hate, but we have entered the process. How this is played out, how the politicians, financiers and media interpret these grievances, will have great implications for Europe. Out of it may come a broader sense of national betrayal, which was just what the European Union was supposed to prevent” (“The Crisis of Europe and European Nationalism,” George Friedman, Stratfor, September 13.)

The very future of the European Union is at stake right now. If the EU’s internal contradictions lead to it falling apart, watch for dramatic changes in Europe that will eventually lead to the resurrected Roman Empire prophesied in Scripture.

It’s going to be very interesting to see how we get from the Eurozone’s present fiscal challenges to the prophesied “ten kings . . . who give their power and authority to the Beast” (Revelation 17:12-13), but students of Bible prophecy know that this assuredly lies ahead.

Europe’s problems do not give the English-speaking countries any excuse to gloat. Both London and Washington are faced with horrendous mountains of debt and are unsure how to move forward. In the United Kingdom austerity measures (cut-backs in government expenditure) contributed to the recent inner-city riots. Take away freebies, and people will riot! But the economic crisis requires freebies to be taken away. This is a dilemma in the U.S. as well. In my own state of Michigan, welfare is being cut back, along with other expenditures, as the state tries to balance its budget. It remains to be seen what the consequences will be.

The federal government is also looking at serious cuts, though most politicians don’t seem to be looking too seriously. They will no doubt wait until the crisis worsens, as it almost certainly will.

Faced with all these uncertainties, what can the average person do? Jesus Christ said that His Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). We all realize that no government and no economic system can provide us with guaranteed security. The only real security lies in our relationship with God. “Seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33).

At this time of the year our thoughts should be on the coming Kingdom of God as we celebrate the annual Holy Days that look forward to the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of His Kingdom.

A new best-seller by writer Mark Steyn is titled “After America.” Beneath the title is the following sub-title: “Get Ready for Armageddon.” There are many people who realize fully the perilous times we live in, but, sadly, do not share in the knowledge and the hope of the Kingdom.

We have that hope, and we should all have a burning desire to share it with the world.

That’s why we recently hosted the Kingdom of God Bible Seminars, which were attended by more than a thousand new people who were warmly welcomed by members of the United Church of God, eager to participate in sharing their hope of the Kingdom with others.

That hope inspires us to pray daily: “Your Kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). While we enjoy the physical blessings of the Feast of Tabernacles, let us also remember that these days look forward to a time when all the problems of this present world will be left behind.

Diane and I wish you all a truly uplifting and inspiring Feast of Tabernacles.

Sincerely, your brother in Jesus Christ,

Melvin Rhodes—Chairman, Council of Elders

September 15, 2011 Posted by | Council of Elders, Prophecy | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Kingdom of God Bible Seminars Receive Support from Church Media Relations

September 13, 2011

As some may have already noticed on Facebook links and in search engines, the United Church of God supported the recent first round of the Kingdom of God Bible Seminars with proactive media relations. The Church used both a commercial news service and traditional mailings to strategically distribute a general media release about the seminars, which achieved remarkably good results. As our tracking shows, the release achieved an international impact, with appearances in online and traditional media in more than 14 countries.

The commercial distribution service reported that the release was actively downloaded nearly 1,400 times with nearly 500 interactions (where a visitor clicks through at least one of the online links to Church Web sites). The service recorded more than 127,000 impressions.

More than 200 news and religious information sites ranging from Yahoo News to Christian, prophecy and Judaism-related information portals in the United States and abroad carried the release. International news and information portals in China, Europe, India, Australia, the Ukraine, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Indonesian and Canada downloaded and distributed the electronic version. More than 100 physical copies of the release were mailed to newspapers across the United States as a test, and a number of newspapers and traditional media subsequently carried it.

Plans to expand these media relations efforts for the next round of the Kingdom of God Seminars are already in development, including the opportunity for ministers and members to localize direct media relations with area media.

September 10 Post-seminar Reports

Our first round of seminars was held this past Sabbath, September 10. So far, 106 congregations have reported back to us about their event. The number of guests recorded so far stands at 938, with 65 more congregations yet to report in or hold their seminar. The remaining seminars will be held on September 17 and 24, plus a few more after that.

Initial results are very encouraging, with our UCG membership very excited about the opportunity to have “hands on” in doing their part to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. Some brethren tested each other ahead of time on “tough questions” and key doctrines in order to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

As of this writing, the following 24 congregations have the highest guest attendance. Some congregations have not yet reported their September 10 figures to us, so the list may change, but here are their KOG Bible Seminar guest numbers:

  • 52            San Antonio, TX
  • 35            Davao City, Philippines
  • 33            Ogembo-Rianyamwamu, Kenya
  • 33            Got Kachola, Kenya
  • 30            Brisbane, Qld., Australia
  • 28            Senta-Magenche, Kenya
  • 27            Bar Ober, Kenya
  • 25            Garden Grove, CA
  • 25            North Canton, OH
  • 24            Jacksonville, FL
  • 23            Ochuna, Kenya
  • 22            Denver, CO
  • 21            Meru, Kenya
  • 21            San Jose, CA
  • 19            Fort Worth/Dallas/Sherman, TX
  • 18            Phoenix East, AZ
  • 16            Indianapolis, IN
  • 15            Kitchener, ON, Canada
  • 15            Kansas City, KS
  • 14            Cincinnati East, OH
  • 14            Canton, IL
  • 14            Tampa, FL
  • 13            Raleigh, NC
  • 13            Oklahoma City, OK

With two more Sabbaths of seminars yet to be completed by many congregations this month, please continue to pray for God’s blessing on this important project that reaches out to our readers and viewers.

Peter Eddington—Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services

September 13, 2011 Posted by | Media and Communications, Ministerial Services | , , , , | 6 Comments

UYC 2011: Lagos, Nigeria

September 2, 2011

Camping on the Sea Side!

Forty-five staff and campers had a wonderful, exciting and inspiring time at the United Church of God’s “UYC Nigeria 2011″—with everyone strengthening or developing fresh, strong bonds of fellowship and friendship. Camp was attended by brethren from three countries and two continents—Nigeria, Ghana and America; from the continents of Africa and the United States respectively!

Steve Arner, a Youth Corp volunteer, arrived in Lagos, Nigeria, on Wednesday, August 10, for the sixth United Youth Camp (UYC) in Nigeria. He was met at the airport by Oludare Akinbo, the resident Elder in Nigeria, his wife Oluwatohungbogbo Akinbo, and by a member of the Lagos congregation, Paul Ogundipe. Two staff and three campers also arrived on Friday from Accra, Ghana; two staff and eight campers from the Owerri congregation in the Eastern part of Nigeria; and eight campers from the Benin City congregation in the western part of Nigeria.

Mark and Michelle Mickelson, through what we believe is a special miracle and grace from God, arrived Sabbath evening. Michelle had to be rushed to the hospital on Tuesday, the morning initially scheduled to leave for Nigeria, and by God’s intervention she was able to make the trip after rescheduling for Friday, August 12.

On the Sabbath in Lagos, attired as the native Nigerians mostly are, Steve Arner gave a sermonette titled “Attitude,” encouraging all to have a positive attitude to all they encounter in life and to be the kind of people God wants us to be.

Camp was held on a little stretch of land dividing a lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean. Campers and staff slept in five ten-man tents (with eight persons per tent including gear) and six four-man tents (with three per tent with gear).

On the Sabbath during camp, some brethren from the Lagos congregation also took the half-hour boat ride to join the campers and staff (total attendance 66) for a truly picturesque and inspiring Sabbath in a natural, relaxing and serene environment—adding to the richness of the fellowship and the inspiration in hearing the message delivered by Mark Mickelson, regional pastor for West Africa.

Camp was so much fun with activities ranging from the morning compass checks, daily Christian living classes, team challenge (combining various team building activities), archery, swimming (with water pumped from the ocean into a swimming pool built by some of the oil companies that keep a beach hut by the ocean there), rope bridge (tyrolian traverse), volleyball, craft class and learning the Philippine national dance, Tinikling!

The last night of camp was a Hawaiian themed night with the serving staff attired as Hawaiian men and women complete with grass skirts for the women and neck garland leis for the campers and staff.

Camp ended August 21 with many of the campers from Lagos, Owerri and even Ghana shedding tears when it was time to depart for home. All were happy camp ended and were going back home, but sad the one week of fellowship and friendships discovered and strengthened with brethren sharing the same faith and goal was finally at an end. They would be going back to their respective church areas and homes to continue living as examples of God’s children in a world where to be different and standing for the truth often makes you walk alone or not with many deep close personal friends.

Oludare Okinbo—Pastor, Lagos, Nigeria

September 2, 2011 Posted by | Ministerial Services, Uncategorized, United Youth Camps | , , , | 3 Comments

2012: Will the World End?

September 1, 2011

May-June Good News: Will the World End in 2012?

The September-October Good News has been printed and should be in your mailbox shortly. The cover theme addresses a topic that has received a lot of attention in the last year—which is self-styled prophets proclaiming the end of the world in the year 2012.

Several months ago Harold Camping drew a lot of attention with his billboards and full-page newspaper ads proclaiming the end of the world on May 21. He left behind thousands of disillusioned followers when his prophecies failed to come to pass.

In recent years we’ve seen a wave of books proposing that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world in December 2012. A huge big-budget movie released last year, 2012, also built on this theme.

Obviously mankind should be concerned about where the world is headed, particularly in light of recent and ongoing news events of danger and turmoil in so many places. But how can we sort it all out? Is there a way to really understand the future?

We are blessed to know the answers, to know that God reveals what the future holds for us and all of mankind. He reveals that future in two ways—in broad outline through His Holy Days, and in more specific detail through the prophecies recorded in His Word, the Bible.

This next issue of The Good News shows, through the meaning and fulfillment of several of God’s Holy Days, that the world faces a near-term future of great concern, but beyond that lies a world of great hope! This, of course, ties in directly with the Holy Days we will soon be celebrating in congregations and at Feast sites all over the world, giving great hope to all who understand and keep them.

These Holy Days remind us of our dedication to the good news of the coming Kingdom of God and our determination to make it possible to share these truths with as many as we can reach with our message of hope. We hope you’ll join us in praying that many others will have their eyes opened and to see both the seriousness of the times in which we find ourselves and the great hope that lies beyond them.

Scott Ashley—Managing editor, The Good News

September 1, 2011 Posted by | Good News Magazine, Media and Communications | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment