United Church of God

Home Office Weekly Update: December 14, 2023

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Home Office Weekly Update

December 14, 2023

From the President . . .

Dear brethren around the world,

Greetings from the home office, where we had the pleasure of honoring long-time and faithful employee Gerald Seelig, as he plans to retire at the beginning of next year. Gerald has faithfully served in many functions over the 50+ years that he has served the Church. For more than 20 years he served as secretary of the corporation UCGIA, and has served as Banking and Investment Manager for the past several years.

God has blessed the Church to have him as an employee and we now all ask God to bless Gerald and his family in his retirement, that he and they will enjoy many years of health and time with each other.

Upcoming Conferences

As this is being written, Darris McNeely, Steve Myers and I are planning to leave for ministerial conferences over the next few weeks. On Sunday through Tuesday of next week, we will be in the Atlanta, Georgia, area for a conference with all of the pastors of the southeast region, along with regional pastor Gary Petty. This coming Sabbath, my wife and I will have the pleasure of being in the Columbus, Georgia, congregation, whose pastor is Skeets Mez. We are looking forward to meeting our brethren there, and those in the rest of the circuit who will be joining by webcast.

Immediately following the conclusion of that conference, the three of us and our wives will be headed for the Philippines, where there will be a week-long conference and training session with the Philippine pastors and other church leaders, as well as church leaders and elders from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mizoram (India) and Hong Kong.

We have seen God work some wondrous works over the past few years in this area of the world. It is encouraging and exciting to see God open the minds of some from distant nations. Indeed, God’s work, truth and plan is to call people from all nations, tongues and ethnic backgrounds. You’ve probably followed the work of God in these areas from comments made in the Home Office Weekly Update and in other Church publications. We are all excited to meet those called of God and are seeking God’s will and direction in providing the training, education and encouragement that He wants for all.

Because of the state of the world, we have been advised that some are having trouble obtaining their visas to come to the conference. Our adversary will do anything to halt and interrupt God’s work. We believe that God is ready to work in areas around the world as this age draws closer to its end. And we know that Satan tries to halt God’s work, but God and His Church will prevail.

We ask for your prayers for the upcoming conferences and that God will open doors and bring to the Philippines all who He wants there. Let us pray in unity for His will to be done, and be ready to do our part as He leads us.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you, brethren. Have a great rest of the week and Sabbath day.

In Christian love,
Rick Shabi

From Ministerial and Member Services . . .

Death of Jacque Smith

Jacque Smith, wife of elder Paul Smith of the San Diego (California) congregation, peacefully died on Sunday, Dec. 10. Jacque had experienced Alzheimer’s disease for several years. She is survived by her loving husband, their daughter, Jessica, and two grandchildren.

Paul and Jacque have been members of the Church of God community for 50 years and founding members of the United Church of God-San Diego congregation in 1995. Jacque was an essential partner of her husband’s service as an elder, and an integral participant in all aspects of the church family over the years.

Her warmth, smile and friendship for all of us will not be forgotten. Her living legacy among us will remain intact and be fondly remembered. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15). There will be a celebration of life sometime in January.

Update on Violence in Bangladesh

Here is a report from David Schreiber (senior pastor, Bangladesh) about developments after the recent violence toward our members and prospective members in Bangladesh:

“It is now quiet in the village of Bangladesh where violence broke out. The police are still parked in the village and five officers are now on duty to ensure peace continues. There is a five-day Hindu festival going on and many Hindus are coming to the village. The members and prospective members are requesting our prayers for their safety during this Hindu festival.

“Those who have been injured are slowly recovering. Torun, the 45-year-old gentleman who was badly beaten, is feeling better. He still has back and shoulder pain, but the swelling has gone down. Because of the unrest he had to leave the village. His father and two brothers (who are Hindu) forced him out of his home, which is located on family property. He has tried to contact his father, but his father will not take his calls. Torun had to leave his farming job in the village and is now staying about three hours away with his wife’s family. He is asking for prayers that he’ll be able to get a job in the local area where he now resides. He also is requesting our prayers that God would soften the hearts of his father and two brothers and that he be allowed to return to his home village.

“Here is an update on Santi who is the 60-year-old father-in-law of our member Manik Biswas Balaam. Santi was also beaten during the uprising and still has pain in his backbone and cannot stand properly. He is planning to seek medical advice on Wednesday. Santi and another prospective member (Michael) have grocery shops and have tried to open their shops, but no one has come. They have boarded up the shops as the local police have suggested their shops remain closed until things further settle down.

“The local police are staying in close proximity to ensure there are no further disturbances. The police told Manik they will stay close by until Jan. 10.

“Manik is anxious to construct the well in the village, as they remain hopeful that the community well will promote goodwill among their Hindu and Muslim neighbors. This deep well will be a blessing for everyone in the village, as during the upcoming dry season most wells run dry.

“After the well is built, the local police are recommending a wall be built around the UCG church property and the small UCG church graveyard. We hope to build a church building in the future; however, the police feel the wall needs to be built first.

“Thank you for your prayers for God’s protection of His people, for complete healing of those who have been hurt, and to bring peace to the village. Please also pray for God’s guidance, direction and blessing on the well project and the building of the walls around the church properties. As in all things, we seek God’s will to be done. To God be the glory.”

Good Works is accepting donations to assist with the well project and the construction of walls surrounding the church properties. You can donate to the Good Works—Bangladesh Well and Building Fund at ucg.org/members/outreach/good-works. Thank you!

Retirement of Gerald Seelig

Gerald Seelig will be retiring from employment with the United Church of God during the first week of January. He has been employed by the Church for over 55 years. Working first in the press bindery for 3+ years, he was transferred to the accounting department in 1971 before taking a full-time position in 1972. He initially processed donation mail, but soon began processing all other types of income for the Church before being assigned to maintain the books and invest funds for the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation. This led to overseeing the investing and banking for three entities—the Church, College and Foundation. Although this was new territory for Gerald, he worked through it and eventually invested a portfolio of up to $25 million. In reflecting back on these years, Gerald shares the following:

“I did not seek out the opportunities. They were blessings I did not ask for, but each gave me a great deal of experience and knowledge, which I appreciated very much.

“One of the most enormous projects I had to do was updating the signers on all the corporate accounts around the world upon the death of Herbert Armstrong. I had the opportunity to coordinate with personnel from around the world to accomplish that task.

“As well, I certainly did not seek to be appointed Secretary for the United Church of God, an International Association. You might say that I was at the wrong place at the right time—or vice versa. It was truly a learning experience. Sometimes I wonder, ‘What was God thinking?’ The years were not ‘all fun and games.’ There were times when I became quite discouraged—to the point of planning to quit. I spoke with my uncle, who I highly respected, and he taught me two very big lessons. First, take responsibility for my own actions—don’t try to place the blame elsewhere. Second, and most important, never take my eyes off the true head of the Church—follow Him and then others only as they are in step with Jesus Christ. That advice has gotten me through so much over the years.

“One such time was when the Attorney General of the state of California put the Church in management receivership and occupied parts of the Hall of Administration. A coworker and I were called to (what I refer to as) the head henchman for the receiver’s office. We were told that we had one day to decide where our loyalties lay. If we did not give in to the receiver, we would be fired the next day. We both made our minds up as we walked out of his door. When we came in the next day, there was absolutely no sign of the receiver or anyone in his entourage. God had intervened miraculously.

“In more recent times, it took faith, patience and reliance on Jesus Christ to get through some of the issues we have had to deal with in UCG over the years. But, in every case, Jesus was right there and intervened in His time. These 55 years have taught me to never forget who is in charge and to never try to cross the Red Sea before God is ready—you may be in the wrong place and you surely won’t make it anyway if you are already in the right place.”

Agape Love Part 2—“Growing in Longsuffering”

This week’s study is titled: “Growing in Longsuffering.” One of the attributes of agapē is the quality of longsuffering. We all must learn to practice this quality with each other as God has with us.

You can listen to it online at ucg.org/sermons/growing-in-longsuffering-agape-love-series-part-2 or download it to your favorite mobile device.

Please note, this sermon series is actually in 11 parts. Gary Petty more recently revised this series from 8 to 11 parts. All 11 parts are available as a sermon series at ucg.org/sermons/sermon-series/agape-love.

—Peter Eddington, Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services

Reminder: Video Recording of ABC Class – Corinthians

Five video recordings of the Ambassador Bible College (ABC) class, “The Epistles of Paul: Corinthians,” are now available.

Presented by Steve Myers, these classes are a very helpful tool in your ongoing study and understanding of the early New Testament Church and its relevance for us today as a continuation of that Church.

In class 5 we discuss 1 Corinthians 2:12–3:5. Paul contrasts spiritual discernment with worldly thinking. Believers, empowered by the Spirit, understand God’s gifts. However, those relying on human wisdom remain spiritually immature.

One 45-minute class is being released each week on video—with graphics, charts and other helpful aids. You can access all classes at this location: ucg.org/ambassador-bible-college/epistles-of-paul-ambassador-bible-college.

These recordings are available on our website, but also available on our UCG app on Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Navigate to the “sermon videos” line to view on these streaming devices.

We pray this will be a helpful tool in your ongoing study of God’s Word.

—Peter Eddington, Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services

Wamatochick Weekend

Young adults are invited to join their brothers and sisters for the third annual UYA Wamatochick Weekend, Feb. 23–26, 2024, for a winter weekend in the pines of Northern Arizona. This year’s theme will be “Fan the Flame” (2 Timothy 1:6, English Standard Version) and the presentations will invite and encourage us to be proactive in growing our relationship with God.

The Sabbath will include church services and sessions in the afternoon on topics close to our hearts—all connecting back to the theme. Sunday will feature additional sessions as well as indoor and outdoor activities including hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking, weather permitting. Everyone is welcome to stay an additional night to extend the weekend into Monday to enjoy more fellowship and activity time.

Ages are 18-32, and married and single are welcome. Cost is $165 per person, including sleeping arrangements and 7 meals. Camp is outside of Prescott, Arizona, and the Phoenix airport is a 2-hour drive from camp. Please text or email Erin Merritt if you are interested in attending, or for more information (425-686-0462 or penguinseed@icloud.com).

Please see the following link for registration: ucg.regfox.com/wamatochick-weekend-2024. We hope to see you there!

Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Weekend—Mar. 8–10

Save the dates of Mar. 8–10, 2024, as the Dallas, and Fort Worth, Texas, congregations will host a regional weekend, teen prom and young adult fellowship—with opportunities to be spiritually fed and engage in meaningful fellowship and activities with brethren from across the country. To register or find out more about our event, go to bit.ly/dfw-regional-weekend. Look for more details in next week’s Home Office Weekly Update!