2020 Feast of Tabernacles
Kelowna, British Columbia (Satellite)
Planning for the Feast in British Columbia was an interesting venture this year. Osoyoos Lake started out being the first UCG Feast site worldwide to fill up to capacity—then fell to a mere 50 people in attendance by Feast time as we needed to comply with provincial restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We all watched in amazement how this horrible virus took over the world and did not stop at the church doors. Services shut down around the world and even impacted the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. After observing Pentecost at home, we all took a long look down the road to autumn and held our breath for just a moment. Could this pandemic actually threaten the Feast of Tabernacles, or at least impact it in some way? Many of us were already getting the sense that it was probable. Throughout most of the summer we refrained from committing to any changes. But by the beginning of August it was clear that we would have to alter our Feast plans.
Complying to provincial orders restricting any gathering to 50 people was like getting handed a shoebox and being told everything in the room must somehow fit inside. Obviously, that could not be done. So, we had no choice but to spread out. In British Columbia we opted to open two additional satellite sites; raising the effective capacity to 150. As 87 registered Americans could not now join us because of a federal border closure, and as some from out-of-province remained home, that number was sufficient. Feast coordinator David Palmer opened Surrey near Vancouver. And assistant coordinator Wayne Ward opened Kelowna, a 2-hour drive north of Osoyoos. With the valuable organizational talents of Karen Erickson and Sue Morgan in Kelowna, Wayne was able to stay in Osoyoos to manage the services. With the IT expertise of Jeff Anderson, we provided a webcast which was then a vital link for Kelowna and many others who were not able to attend in-person services because of the restrictions and the cancellation of other provincial Feast sites.
So, despite the challenges, the Feast went on and was enjoyed by all, and was just as spiritually enriching as if we were at any site in any normal year. No large activity gatherings were planned. Rather, families and small groups of friends went out to enjoy the area attractions of boating, golfing, horseback riding, winery tours, go-karting and even just hanging out around the pool with brethren. It turns out you don’t need a lot. If you are able to enjoy the love of even just a few brethren at this time, you have it all.