United Church of God

Home Office Weekly Update: February 22, 2024

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Home Office Weekly Update

February 22, 2024

From the President . . .

Greetings brethren around the world,

Here in Cincinnati we have been enjoying unseasonably warm temperatures the past few days. Robins have returned to the area and outside my office window I see daffodils beginning to sprout from what was just recently frozen ground.

Here in the northern hemisphere there is a feel of “spring” in the air. As we see the hope and signs of new life emerging from the dead of winter, it reminds us of the upcoming spring Holy Days which help us focus on the “new life” God granted us when He mercifully called us out of the darkness and deadness of this world. It gives us the hope and expectation of a life of joy, love and peace for eternity—that we will have if we faithfully continue in His ways and by the power of His Holy Spirit strive to become more like Him, endeavoring to do what we committed to do individually and collectively as His people.

International scope

Over the last several months we’ve had the opportunity to meet many of you internationally, and we are looking forward to meeting even more of you over the next several months as we come to your areas as part of the international pastoral trainings that are scheduled over the rest of this year. Here in the United States we have a greater feel and understanding of the scope of God’s work worldwide and what we need to do in order to accomplish His commission to all of us.

Let me address just a few of those areas as we begin to focus with a greater sense of urgency. Jesus Christ is the head of His Church, and we look to Him to guide and direct what we do. It must be done His way, or it will not bear fruit. God has provided the physical resources—both monetary and human—to do the work. Now we must get to work.

Christ commissioned His Church to “preach the gospel in all nations, to make disciples, and to teach them to observe all things He commanded” (Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20). This is a key part of the operation plan that we, as Church administration, will be presenting to the Council of Elders at their meetings here at the home office next week. We have begun implementing this through our more extensive use of direct, clear messages to the world available now on YouTube.

Following the principle in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, we are endeavoring to learn and understand more about our international regions so the gospel can be preached in them more effectively and in a manner and form that is best suited to be heard and received. You can help us with this, and we can help provide content and materials to assist in the preaching of the gospel in your area.

Cry aloud and spare not

As we watch what is going on all around us, there is a feeling of uncertainty and foreboding about what the future holds. As God’s people, He has let us know that what lies ahead is a world of chaos, confusion, turmoil and pain that will eventually be unlike any time before in human history. He has also given us the hope and expectation of the return of Jesus Christ and the ushering in of a time of peace, joy, harmony, love and abundance, also unlike anything the world has seen in the last 6,000 years.

In Isaiah 58:1, God commissioned us to “cry aloud, spare not, and show My people and the house of Jacob their sins.” Even those not a part of the Church are beginning to loudly proclaim their doubts about the future of the world. It is time, and we will “cry aloud” with a bold, clear and direct message to the house of Jacob (and the world) of the sins and heinousness of the actions and direction of this world, reminding them that repentance is necessary for salvation and that Jesus Christ will return to “save” mankind from the utter destruction he would inflict upon himself. We will continue to do this as God leads and provides the direction and message He wants delivered.

Unity of the Spirit

One more thing that needs to be mentioned as we remember God’s will and actively begin to practice it in our lives, is this: Jesus Christ, before He was crucified, prayed in John 17 for His people to become “one” with each other and with Him and the Father. In Ephesians 4 we are admonished to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (verse 3) and to come to the “unity of the faith” (verse 13).

Indeed, when we take of the bread that symbolizes Christ’s body at Passover, we are reminded that it is the koinonia (fellowship, partnership) of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16). It pictures unity, being at one with each other and learning and practicing that “oneness” that we must have and develop as God’s people.

To achieve that, humility is required. We must put aside our thoughts, our pet ideas, learn how to reconcile with each other, and strive to work together as one under Christ, following His lead and supporting the direction of His Church. That includes “speaking the same thing” (1 Corinthians 1:10) as we have been focusing on with the ministry this year and “advancing His mission” as has also been stressed.

It is time for us individually and collectively to focus on what God wants, to yield to Him, and to move forward in becoming the people and Church God would have us be.

God has given us His Spirit. We say we love each other. We need to become united in His purpose, seeking Him truly and being about our Father’s business.

As the Council of Elders meets next week, we ask for your prayers for that meeting, asking God—through His Spirit—to unite, direct and guide the decisions and discussions that will take place.

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

In Christian love, Rick Shabi


From Ministerial and Member Services . . .

Recent Ordination

We’re happy to announce that on Feb. 17, 2024, Leighton Forsythe was ordained into the ministry. He and his wife, Nordia, serve the congregations of Gladstone, Rockhampton and Bundaberg, Australia.


United Kingdom Feast Site Announcement

The Feast of Tabernacles will once again be held in the seaside town of Southport in the northwest of England. All services will be held in the ballroom of The Prince of Wales Hotel in Southport. To register for the 2024 Feast in Southport, an online registration page is located at feastsouthport2024.com where more information regarding the site can be found. Members are requested to complete the registration form online. Registration will open on Sunday, March 3.


2024 Feast of Tabernacles Sites (not listed last week)

Last week, February 15, the Home Office Weekly Update listed some of the Feast sites for this year. Here are some additional sites, for your information. You can also check out the Feast page at ucg.org/members/feast/sites/2024.

Australia

  • Albury (NSW/Victoria)
  • Rockingham (Western Australia)
  • Sunshine Coast (Queensland)

Germany

Malaysia

  • Penang

United States

  • Wisconsin Dells, WI

Address Updates for Offering Envelopes

As we approach the Holy Day season, the Mail Processing Department kindly requests members to review and update your mailing addresses to ensure accurate and timely delivery of your green Holy Day offering envelopes. If you have changed addresses and are no longer receiving Church publications, please contact us with updates by phone at 513-576-9796, via email at MPC@ucg.org or by reaching out to your local pastor. Please be sure to include your subscriber number (starts with “U” and is found on your mailing label) and provide an update to your address prior to Monday, March 4, 2024. Thank you for helping us maintain accurate records and streamline our mailing process.


Light of Hope Help Line

Light of Hope is a United Church of God help line supported by Church members who are licensed professional counselors, social workers and other clinical professionals. They provide resources regarding mental health and addiction needs within the Church. This service includes individual, couple and family consultation which may involve emotional support, identifying coping skills and support services for those suffering from mental health or addiction issues.

Light of Hope is also a resource to the ministry. Many ministers have contacted Light of Hope seeking assistance to help guide members and families they serve to successfully address the difficult challenges of mental, emotional and addiction issues.

Support groups available: Light of Hope is strictly confidential and has added strategies to help those struggling with pornography and other related issues, offering support groups and help for those dealing with these matters. A West Coast support group is organizing now.

For more information about the support groups or other services, contact the Light of Hope help line at 888-241-6211 and leave a message or email us at hope@ucg.org.