United Church of God

Home Office Weekly Update: April 4, 2024

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Home Office Weekly Update

April 4, 2024

From the President . . .

Greetings brethren around the world,

More than 60 elders and leaders from the Church in the British Isles (and their wives) gathered together in the beautiful little village of Altrincham, England, just outside of Manchester, for four days of training and a lot of discussion about the work of the Church in the British Isles.

It was a wonderful and productive conference that included an inspiring Sabbath day and plenty of time to discuss, plan and share ideas in an open atmosphere where everyone was committed to the Church and “advancing the mission” God has given us.

United Church of God British Isles CEO, David Fenney, and his wife, Barbara, along with National Council chairman Jason Godfrey and others did a marvelous job in planning and making sure everything ran just right. Darris McNeely, Steve Myers and I, along with our wives, had the privilege of being there and conducting various presentations and facilitating discussions.

As the sessions ended this past Monday evening, there was a great deal of excitement and energy in the room. Ideas and plans were shared concerning education, fostering congregational togetherness, focusing on living by every word of God, preaching the gospel and a warning message in “Ephraim” in new ways, and building on the initiatives and use of social media that have been recently introduced in America—all as Jesus Christ guides and directs.

Precious in God’s sight

While we were in England, we were met with the sad news of the death of long-time pastor and dedicated servant of God, Rick Beam. Mr. Beam served in the ministry of Jesus Christ almost 50 years and worked for the Church for more than 50 years. His dedicated service will certainly be missed. He rests now, his job and service in this physical lifetime complete. We all look forward to the return of Jesus Christ when he and other faithful servants of God who completed their physical lives as firstfruits will be resurrected to serve God and Christ in the Kingdom. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers for God’s comfort are with his wife, Angela, and their family, along with the congregations that they pastor in Rome, Georgia; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Gadsden, Alabama.

Passover preparation

We also recognize that we are just a few weeks away from Passover, which will be held after sunset as the 14th of Abib begins (Sunday evening, April 21, by our calendar). We recognize that individually we must be examining ourselves and asking God to search our minds and hearts. As David says in Psalm 139:23, to reveal any wicked or inappropriate attitudes, motives, weaknesses, faults, sins, transgressions or iniquities in us.

In these end times in which we live we are admonished by God to “wake up, redeem the time, watch and pray” and “remember our calling.” The attitudes of pride, feelings of superiority, complacency, apathy, a party spirit (as described in 1 Corinthians 1:11-13 and 1 Corinthians 3:1-4), resistance as manifested in backbiting, gossip, accusatory spirits, hardness of hearts and dullness of hearing—all of which lead to disunity, discord and division—are alive and well, and on full display in the world around us. Sadly, these same attitudes can creep into the Church if we allow them to.

As we approach Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, we must remember the words of our Savior on that last evening before He was crucified. His will was and is for His disciples to be “at one” with each other and with Him and God the Father. That takes acknowledgment, repentance, seeking forgiveness and reconciliation—all of which are part of our Christian lifestyle. Unity of the Spirit, unity of faith, unity in the truth and one-ness with God and each other take effort and constant vigilance. Satan will do anything to come between us and God, and us and each other. Let us all be aware as we prepare for the Passover in a “worthy manner, rightly discerning the Lord’s body” as God instructs in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29.

God’s creation and celestial events

Finally, let me note that in North America a notable event will take place this coming Monday, April 8. A total eclipse of the sun is one of the miracles that only God can orchestrate. It is an undeniable proof of His existence. Here in the United States, millions are traveling to areas that are in the “path of totality.” This type of celestial event often brings a lot of negative speculation from the world, and some states have even declared states of emergency based on the number of people who will be traveling to view it. You may have heard comments about the end of the world, the beginning of tribulation or other thoughts that accompany the eclipse.

This week’s Biblical Worldview will focus on “The Great Eclipse of 2024” and discuss what the real sign from God is that should be touching people as they witness this event.

One interesting thing I learned about solar eclipses is that they can only happen during a “new moon.” Indeed, NASA shows that the new moon occurs at 2:21 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on April 8, marking the first day of God’s sacred year to be April 9, exactly as your church calendar of Holy Days shows.

Have a good rest of the week brethren, and an inspiring upcoming Sabbath day. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

In Christian love,
Rick Shabi

From Ministerial and Member Services . . .

Death of Rick Beam

Rick Beam, pastor of the United Church of God congregations in Rome (Georgia), Chattanooga (Tennessee) and Gadsden (Alabama) died on March 31 after a hard-fought battle with pancreatic cancer. Rick was a wonderful, dedicated servant who served God and our brethren faithfully for over 50 years, and now awaits the resurrection.

The funeral service for pastor Rick Beam will be held this Sunday, April 7, in Madison, Alabama. The visitation will begin at 12:30 p.m. Central time with the funeral beginning at 2 p.m. at the Legacy Chapel Funeral Home, 16 Hughes Rd, Madison, Alabama 35758.

Following the funeral service, there will be a Celebration of Life across the street from the funeral home at the AGC building. Food will be provided by the local Huntsville congregation. All are invited to come and join the family in remembrance of Rick and his life.

Rick’s obituary (legacychapelfunerals.com/obituaries/rick-beam) captures some of Rick’s uniqueness, humor and character as a man of God and one who truly loved his family.

Your prayers for his wife, Angela, children Leigh-Anne, Jonathan and Loren, and their families would be appreciated.

Recent Ordination

We’re happy to announce that on March 16, 2024, Mike Helwig was ordained into the ministry. He and his wife, Karrie, serve the congregation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Pastoral Updates

Ron Bell, an elder from the Buffalo, New York, congregation was hired in March. He now serves as an assistant pastor alongside pastor Johnnie Lambert for the congregations in Buffalo and Elmira, New York. Your prayers are much appreciated for a smooth and successful transition for Ron and his wife, Rosalie.

Joe Greene has been transferred from Wisconsin to pastor the congregations in Roanoke, and Richmond, Virginia, in addition to his role as Human Resources Manager. This will ease the pastoral workload for Jay Ledbetter, who had been pastor for Roanoke, and for Craig Scott, who had been pastor for Richmond. Mr. Ledbetter and Mr. Scott will continue to pastor their remaining congregations. Your prayers are much appreciated for a smooth and successful transition for Joe and his wife, Brenda.

United Youth Camps Video

Pastors, please play the UYC video after services on April 6 or 13. It can be downloaded using this link.

PLEASE NOTE: Do not stream this by playing from a browser. The file should be downloaded and played on a local computer. The link above must be used to access the file, so please forward the link above to your A/V crew or person responsible for playing the video.

To introduce the video you can mention: “The home office has asked us to play the United Youth Camps video. This video is about 21 minutes long and will provide a brief glimpse at our United Youth Camps program and introduce the theme for the upcoming year.” Campers and staff, please register by May 1 at uyc.ucg.org.

Ambassador Bible College Charity Auction

On Sunday, March 31, Ambassador Bible College held its annual charity auction. More than 100 church members attended to bid on a wide variety of donated items in a silent auction and various desserts in an energetic live auction.

There may be some late donations, but so far more than $8,000 from this event will go to support a women’s literacy program conducted by our brethren in Benin. This is in conjunction with funds from Good Works for a building that will be used by the congregation for Sabbath services along with the literacy program. Anyone who would like to donate can do so by visiting the Good Works project page: ucg.org/members/service-projects/language-and-literacy-center-in-porto-novo-benin.

This year’s class worked very hard to develop the event and the entertainment program, which included skits such as “Bathshearba’s Hair Salon,” “Real Housewives of the Bible” and “Ambassador Police Squad.” Organizing and presenting the charity auction is the largest activity that each ABC class puts on. The charity auction event includes every member of the class, and the students organize and carry out every part of the preparation and production, from food to decorations to writing and presenting the variety show.

Our main goal is always raising money for an excellent cause, but the benefits go far beyond that goal. Students strengthen relationships, have to step outside their comfort zones, develop new skills, and grow in confidence and character as they overcome the challenges involved in such a project. We are thankful for another successful charity auction and grateful for the support of our brethren.