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Home Office Weekly Update

Southwest Region Pastoral Conference

24 pastors and their wives met near Phoenix, Arizona, March 10–12 for a pastoral conference for the Southwest region. This was the fourth in a series of conferences that are planned for pastors throughout the United States. It included many hours of instruction and discussion.

“Speak the same thing,” taken from 1 Corinthians 1:10, was the overall theme of the conference. The conference began with a presentation from our president, Rick Shabi. He focused on the ministry’s first responsibility to be a disciple of Christ and the importance of speaking, teaching and living by God’s Truth.

Emphasizing the instructions found in 1 Peter 5 and the weighty responsibility to shepherd, oversee and lead God’s people by example, Steve Myers presented the topic of “Accountable Elders.” He emphasized a minister’s God-given duties and that ministers are “those who must give account” (Hebrews 13:17).

Being a “Pastor for the Vision” was the focus of a presentation by Darris McNeely. He encouraged all to have godly integrity so that we may strive together to fulfill the vision of each part doing its share (Ephesians 4:16).

Robin Webber, regional pastor for the Southwest region, gave a moving session on humility, stressing the importance of this attribute as we guide and care for those whom God calls.

An important part of the conference was the ability to discuss church matters face-to-face and the personal interaction throughout the time together. The remainder of the sessions were interactive discussions on various topics that included doctrine, ethics, policy and pastoral responsibilities. All appreciated the opportunity to come together as we all strive to come to the “unity of the faith” and “the unity of the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:3, 13).

—Steve Myers, Operation Manager, Ministerial and Member Services


The International Work: God Opens Up a Door in Madagascar?

Over the last few years, we have seen God open doors and begin calling people in various places around the world where before we have not had an active work in preaching the gospel.

Hearing of people in places like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, Angola and Mizoram (India) are encouraging and exciting, as God is at work. It encourages us to be about our Father’s business as well, preaching the gospel and caring for the people He calls in every nation, tongue and background.

Recently at the home office a few inquiries from the African island of Madagascar were received. Two languages are spoken in Madagascar. Malagasy is the primary language, and about 25 percent of the population speaks French. One inquiry was in French, so it was sent to Tim Pebworth, International Senior Pastor for the French work in Europe and French-speaking Africa. The other was in Malagasy, and it was sent to Monte Knudson, International Senior Pastor for East Africa, where Madagascar is located.

Both Mr. Knudson and Mr. Pebworth have visited the island and met with interested people there. A small group of about 10 have been meeting together for some time, and three have recently been baptized.

Those attending with UCG came out of a large Sabbath-keeping group in Madagascar, called the Apokalipsy (Revelation) Church, one of whom was chair of their doctrine committee. Hearing of our beliefs, the pastor of that church invited Mr. Pebworth to dinner, then on a recent Sabbath gave Mr. Pebworth the opportunity to speak to a combined church service in Antananarivo, Madagascar. The service that day had an estimated 8,000 in attendance!

The church service, including Mr. Pebworth’s sermon, was broadcast live on nationwide radio and was rebroadcast the following morning on nationwide TV. Mr. Pebworth’s sermon focused on the Sabbath, baptism and the truth about the time of crucifixion and resurrection of Christ—all of which that church embraces. He also discussed the Holy Days, including the importance of observing each of them, which the Apokalipsy Church does not observe.

Mr. Pebworth and all the church members in Madagascar felt we were given a massive opportunity to preach the gospel nationwide and report that they are receiving booklet requests, new Facebook followers and even requests to come to church services.

Our God is an amazing God and works in wondrous ways. His gospel of the Kingdom of God will be preached in all the world. We should all be thankful to Him, glorifying His name, and become energized to do His work and will in the way He calls us and as He gives us the opportunity and direction. Please pray for God to continue to lead the work He has begun in Madagascar and in all areas around the world.

—Compiled by Rick Shabi with information provided by Tim Pebworth and Monte Knudson

Youth Instruction Family Study Guide

This Family Study Guide covers God’s Ninth Commandment. It will help your family understand what it means to bear false witness and whether bearing false witness includes other forms of lying. We will review biblical examples of lying and the consequences involved. This guide can help your family understand the harmful effects of lying, including additional problems that it can cause. Lying is the opposite of what God does.

“You must not lie” (Exodus 20:16, The Living Bible). The obedience of this commandment against lying leads to the benefits of a happy life.

You can read and download this study guide at: ucg.org/members/family-study-guides/ten-commandments-ninth-commandment

Feast of Tabernacles, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

This year, registration for the Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Feast site will open Sunday, March 24, at 11 a.m. EDT. It will once again be at the all-inclusive Friendly Vallarta Hotel where services are also held.

Please visit feast.ucg.org and select Puerto Vallarta for more information and for the link to register.

Feast of Tabernacles, Mossel Bay, South Africa

Registration is open for the Feast site in South Africa. Last year, 157 were in attendance, including 28 youngsters and 22 international visitors. Our international visitors add a wonderful flavor to a Feast experience—already drawing from a country with 12 official languages!

Besides the scheduled activities designed to encourage fellowship and getting to know each other, the Mossel Bay area offers a tremendous range of things to experience, including game drives, wine tasting, sailing, shark cage diving, ziplining and more. There are numerous opportunities to share good food and fellowship, like our Berry Farm outing, picnics, and before the service almost every morning, our group beach walk.

The site is located on the Southern Coast of South Africa in the historical town of Mossel Bay, which is on what’s known as the ‘Garden Route’—a popular tourist area along the east coast, characterized by a beautiful variety of vegetation and scenery.

We would like everyone to stay within walking distance of the Diaz Hotel and Resort, where our daily services will be held.

While there are a lot of great accommodations to be found nearby, we encourage our international visitors to use the hotel, with single, double, and family options available, as well as self-catering apartments, which are great for small groups, families, or those wishing to do some of their own catering and entertaining.

Registration is open at ucg.org/members/feast/sites/2024/mossel-bay-south-africa

Feast of Tabernacles, Tuscany, Italy

This year, registration for the Tuscany, Italy, Feast site will open Sunday, March 24. The registration link will be available from the feast.ucg.org page at that time.