Let me share my story about how I became a Feast Coordinator. I had been in the ministry for seven years. Most of those years I served as a church pastor with plenty to do. One day my wife asked me, “Jerry, why don’t you ask if you can serve as a Feast Coordinator?” “No thank you.” “Why not?” “Because I’m not ready for it.” She pressed me; we both won.
We then invited the overall U.S. Festival Director and his wife to our house to see what they thought about my wife’s suggestion. They sat on our couch and he began asking me questions about Feast requirements and needs. Finally, he said, “Jerry, do you realize the logistics and strategies that go into coordinating a Feast?” I said I didn’t, but I could learn.
He then asked me questions about the fundamental logistics of preparing for a Feast site including hall layout, chair setup, stage preparations, audio needs, restrooms, information tables, business office, security, volunteer Feast department heads, eight to 10 daily church services, special music, song leaders, the mothers’ room and other important requirements not listed here. Additionally, he said that the coordinator must work with the local motel association and the managers of the Feast site facility.
At that point, I was ready to quit before I got started! However, I said I could do all those things and that I was a quick learner. He laughed and shared this warning: “You’d better be.” After a few days he assigned us the then smaller Jekyll Island, Georgia Feast site that seated “only” 5,000 people.
Long story short, I survived and went on to serve five more sites, three of which numbered over 12,000 attendees. There are interesting stories about those large sites that I don’t have the space to share in this article, but over the years I learned even more serving over 12,000 members in eight days than smaller sites. Mary Ann and I served in Jekyll Island two years, Lake of the Ozarks for two years, Wisconsin Dells for one year and even downtown Detroit, Michigan for one year—a memorable assignment. Those assignments account for my first round of coordinating service.
In 2011, I was asked to coordinate the Panama City Beach, Florida site, UCG’s largest Feast site. For the last nine years, this assignment has been a very productive opportunity to serve. We’ve enjoyed the special relationships with Edgewater personnel. To help that Feast site run smoothly for eight days took detailed preparation and execution. There is an unwritten law that I discovered as it relates to coordinating Feast sites: if it appears to the attendees that anyone can do it, the coordinator has done his job well.
Our 15 years of Feast coordinator blessings came from happy Feastgoers who enjoyed their Feast experience and from the many volunteers who served the brethren with joy. My wife Mary Ann and our daughter Crystal Thomas were of inestimable value helping me to make the Feast go well at Panama City Beach; they deserve much kudos for their behind-the-scenes work. If you experience that the Feast is running well in your area, go to the Feast Coordinator and thank him and his wife for their service!