From the President . . .
Greetings brethren around the world,
Lately, Nehemiah has been on my mind as we continue our weekly Bible studies. God led Nehemiah back to Jerusalem to repair the damaged wall and the burned gates of Jerusalem. Despite distractions and detractors, the work was completed in just 52 days.
Nehemiah 4:6 says, “The people had a mind to work.”
Here at the home office this week we have been reviewing operation plans for international areas of the work, and are encouraged by the energy we see displayed in some of the proposed plans to preach the gospel in ways we have not before. In some areas God is calling people through word of mouth, as brethren He calls share their joy at finding the truth with others.
We rejoice when we see what God has done and is doing in areas like Angola, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar and Mizoram, India.
Senior pastor trip to Zambia
This week Ed Dowd and his wife, Rae Ann, returned from a 30-day visit to the churches in Zambia, where he conducted several training sessions with leadership across that very large nation (the size of Texas). The attendance list for our congregations is now over 800. That’s exceptional and inspiring in a nation with so many challenges to communication and spreading the gospel.
Derrick and Cherry Pringle have labored many years in service to members in Zambia. Ed and RaeAnn Dowd are building on that foundation. We wish to thank all our international senior pastors who diligently serve congregations around the world.
Pastoral conference in Texas and local church visits
Earlier this week, Steve Myers, Darris McNeely and I returned from the pastoral conference for the South Central region. It was wonderful to spend time with the pastors and regional pastor Gary Smith in a camplike setting. We had ample time to talk about the role of pastor and our responsibilities to God and His people, whose care and nurturing He entrusts to us. We spent hours in discussion of various items as we seek to all “speak the same thing” and revive a sense of urgency and zeal in doing God’s work.
We too must have that “mind to work” as we fulfill God’s plan.
My wife, Deborah, and I had the pleasure and opportunity to be with the Dallas, Texas, congregation this Sabbath and enjoy their company, as well as a potluck meal with the brethren and a fun show they had planned for that evening. Thank you to pastor Jorge de Campos and his wife, Kathy, for the invitation and their warm hospitality. We very much enjoyed meeting everyone.
The prior Sabbath, Deborah and I were in the Northwest Indiana congregation. This is the area I grew up in and it was wonderful to see several who we have known before, plus all the others we met that day. Our thanks to pastor Bill Bradford for allowing us to share that congregation for a day.
Truly a worldwide work
As we have opportunities to meet brethren all over the world, I am always touched and heartened by the brethren. God has called wonderful people from many nations, led by His Holy Spirit. The love and bond we have with each other is incredible. We are family.
And together, all over the world, we have a work to do.
We have the opportunity to serve and be a part of this work—as we strive, under Christ’s direction and guidance—to literally preach the gospel “in all nations” as He instructs. We live in an unparalleled time when, through the power and “miracle” of social media programs like Facebook and Instagram, and the worldwide power and reach of YouTube, we literally can reach nations that may never before in this era of the Church received that message.
God has provided the talent, skills, financial and other resources so this can be accomplished, as He wills. We will be “knocking on doors” of those many opportunities to see which ones God will choose to open as we move closer and closer to the time of Christ’s return. His Church—all of us—must “work the works of Him who [called] us, while it is day” (John 9:4).
And we can use the help of all of you, too. We know God has called and provided talents and skills in every area of the world. We need to understand each area of the world better, so that we may do the Work in all areas of the world, not just from the home office.
We are here to help and serve, but your contributions are necessary since Scripture teaches us that “every part does its share” (Ephesians 4:16). If you would like to write articles about the spiritual or life situations in your area of the world, if you have skills in technology or other areas that can help us further the work in your area, let us know. God’s work will be accomplished by “what every joint supplies.”
While the “preaching the gospel” part of our commission is being done, we are also focused on the care and preparation of the people God has called and is calling. The regional pastoral conferences and international conferences we will be conducting the rest of this calendar year are dedicated to reminding us of our calling and the care and love and unity of the brethren the Father and Christ desire, and we must work to achieve.
Please know our prayers are with all of you, all over the world. This is truly a worldwide Work of God that He has made us all part of.
Take care, brethren. Grow close to God and each other. Yield to God’s Spirit and let Him lead you to become the person He wants you to become. Have a wonderful and inspiring upcoming Sabbath day.
In Christian love,
Feast in Italy Update
Several have asked, and we are pleased to let you know there will be a United Church of God Feast site in Italy this year.
More details will be provided next week, but we have confirmed a location in the beautiful area of Tuscany, with a hotel (complete with a spa and all the amenities) located on the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Church will have complete use of the hotel during that time, and three meals a day will be served at the hotel, included in the daily room charge. Looking at the pictures, it is a beautiful facility. Those from Italy who were scouting and touring potential Feast sites have commented on just how nice the facility is “perfect for the Feast and for all to be together.”
At this time, too, it is necessary for us to remind you that the site being advertised in Sabaudia is not a United Church of God Feast site. Neither Angelo Di Vita, nor his church, which continues to errantly use our name, are part of us or affiliated in any way with UCGIA, and Mr. Di Vita is no longer a minister in the United Church of God, having had his ministerial credentials revoked by the Council of Elders in December 2023, for several ethical violations. He has declared himself “autonomous and independent” from UCGIA. Thus, his Feast site or anything associated with him and his church is not part of us.
More details on all of this will be forthcoming, but please be advised the UCGIA church in Italy, which meets every Sabbath in Milan with Zoom connections from around the nation, is alive and well, and zealous to do God’s work.
Agape Love Series Part 10—“Love Does Not Rejoice in Iniquity But in the Truth”
This week’s study is titled: “Love Does Not Rejoice in Iniquity But in the Truth.” Discover three ways we as Christians rejoice in iniquity without realizing it.
You can listen to it online at ucg.org/sermons/love-does-not-rejoice-in-iniquity-but-in-the-truth-agape-love-series-part-10 or download it to your favorite mobile device. 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
Last call! Please let us know if you are planning to come, as we need a final count. Young adults are invited to join their brothers and sisters February 23–26 for a winter weekend at Camp Wamatochick, the same facility used for the Southwest summer camp. It will be an inspirational and educational opportunity.
Friday night will bring us together with dinner and a Bible study. The Sabbath will include Sabbath services, and sessions in the afternoon on some of the most important and urgent topics on the minds and hearts of our young adults today. Sunday will feature a session in the morning, and activities such as horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking in the afternoon.
As a bonus, we have our famous camp cooks, who will take care of us from the kitchen. It doesn’t get much better than that! Ages are 18-32, and married and single are welcome. The cost is $165 per person, including sleeping arrangements, and seven meals. The camp is located just outside of Prescott, Arizona. The Phoenix airport is a 2-hour drive from camp. Register online at ucg.regfox.com/wamatochick-weekend-2024. Please text or email Erin Merritt if you are interested in attending, or for more information (425-686-0462 or firstname.lastname@example.org). We hope to see you there!
Have you desired to become a Red Cross Certified Lifeguard, but had problems finding a place to get certified that was not on the Sabbath? Most of our United Youth Camps need certified lifeguards, so this year we have an opportunity to provide Red Cross lifeguard certification during the Pre-teen Camp Buckeye session in Ohio, July 28–31, 2024. If you are interested in this opportunity and would like more details, please contact Kira Barr (email@example.com, 515-776-8445).
Virtual Pinewood Derby—March 10
Are you looking to add some fun and excitement to those short winter days? The UCG New England Pinewood Derby is back. Get in on the action! Sunday, March 10, will be another race to remember. This family-oriented frenzy will be jam-packed with dazzling colors, mind-blowing creativity and blinding speed. Whether you are an experienced pro or a first-time racer, you are going to love the thrills and spills on the track. Dance to the music, be entertained by expert commentary and see who will go home with a trophy. You’ll get to vote for your favorite car and witness first hand who has the fastest derby car. Join us in person or enjoy the festivities live on the webcast. See registration details here. Registration ends Feb. 26. We’ll see you on the track.