It is winter here in the United States. The weather has been mild here in Cincinnati, but it is the time of year you spend most of your time indoors. For farmers and those who work in agricultural areas, winter is the time to take stock of the just-completed growing season—assessing what went right and what did not go so well—then make plans for the upcoming growing season.
Today at the home office of the Church, we follow the same type of schedule. This week we have been focused on finalizing the Operation Plan and budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. With operation managers Peter Eddington and Steve Myers, along with treasurer Barry Korthuis (who has been here all week) and Chris Rowland, we’ve been meeting and working together daily to look at what has been done in the areas of caring for the people God calls and in preaching the gospel around the world, and in our overall stewardship and administration of the resources (lives, skills, talents and funds) God provides. We’ve examined, asked questions and listened to what has been said, and we collectively ask God every day to guide us and direct us in the way He wants His Church and us to go.
Christ said He is the way, the truth and the life. He knows the way to the Kingdom, and He knows what He would have us do. In all any of us do, collectively and individually, we must learn to submit to and faithfully follow Him, putting our hearts, minds and “hands” into fulfilling the commission He gives us. When we are doing His will, He will bless our efforts.
I’m happy to say as the administrative team of the Church, working with the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee of the Council of Elders, we’ve made good progress and are already introducing some of the initiatives included in the plan. We look forward to the Council assembling in a few weeks when the Operation Plan and budget will be presented to them for their consideration.
Thinking ahead to Passover
While we’ve been doing the “winter work” of assessing and planning here at the office, it is time for all of us to be at work, too, in our personal lives. Passover is just a little more than two months away. His firstfruits will gather before Him at that holy time and recommit to following Him with all our hearts, minds and lives.
A very important aspect of Passover observance and faithfully following Christ is to examine ourselves before that time, measuring ourselves to “the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13, emphasis added throughout).
That’s a tall order. When Jesus Christ was on earth, He showed us the way and how to live the life we’ve been called to. He completely submitted to God and lived by “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
In the following verses, Christ gave His disciples instructive words—which have been preserved for us today, showing us how we need to become:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19).
“I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak” (John 12:50).
“The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14:10).
He said He is the way, the truth, the life, and that His will is that we “grow up” to become like Him (Ephesians 4:15). So, as His people—His “called out” ones, His ecclesia—our duty is to learn God’s way, to get to know Him, and to faithfully follow Him and grow in His way, collectively and individually.
As we grow in that way—as Christ did, as the apostles did, as the prophets of old did—He will do His works through us and His Church, as He did through them and the Church in their time (John 14:12).
So, let’s use this time before the coming Holy Days to humbly assess our lives and commitment to God, yielding to and following Him, and praying that we will all always be “about our Father’s business.”
Have a wonderful rest of the week and Sabbath, to all of you around the world.
In Christ’s service,
New Congregation in Rome, Italy
After many years we were able to form a new congregation in Rome, by the grace of our Lord God. Many fasts and prayers have been made, and God has now answered. There were 16 brethren present, including some from the Campania area.
We have no adequate words to describe the joy and gratitude to our Eternal Father for the opportunity to re-embrace old brethren and meet new ones. We returned home spiritually recharged for all the good times spent together in genuine fellowship in honor of God. With the pure love and cheerfulness that was brought to this first service in Rome, we were privileged to witness a miracle of God as He works good fruit in us through His Holy Spirit.
We pray God will give us the blessing to be able to meet regularly in Rome and in more parts of Italy, so that His Church—which is the body of Christ—will be strengthened in love and courage as we wait for our Savior, Jesus.
Please remember all the brethren with health problems in your prayers, as well as all those in need at this difficult and turbulent time in history. We ask you to remember to pray for us ministers scattered around the world as well, that the challenges and calamities we face every day in carrying out His work will always bear good fruit according to His will.
—Angelo Di Vita, UCG Italy
God’s Work in English-Speaking West Africa
Paul Moody, senior pastor for English-speaking West Africa, wrote: “Unstable world conditions can have a direct impact on the Church’s endeavor to spread the gospel message. One element that challenges our proclamation efforts in certain developing nations is financial instability. On one hand, volatile financial markets present obstacles to traditional methods of promoting the gospel through print, broadcast and online media. Yet at the same time, economic uncertainty also provides fertile ground for receiving a message of hope, as those living under such conditions become increasingly desperate for lasting solutions. Over the past year, the West African countries of Nigeria and Ghana have suffered economic whiplash due to a financial rollercoaster ride which is still ongoing.
“In December, Nigeria’s currency, the Naira, fell to its lowest value on record while official inflation numbers held to over 21 percent. Sadly, the actual impact felt on the street has been much higher, with many people experiencing the pain of a 50- to 100-percent increase in the cost of basic goods and services. Ghana has struggled through a severe economic crisis as well. In October, Ghana’s currency, the Cedi, become the worst performing currency in the world after it lost over 45 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar. The Cedi has since rallied with an increased value of 65 percent in December. However, these wild shifts in value have resulted in a currency market that is severely disoriented. With the official inflation numbers for December reaching over 50 percent, many Ghanaians are struggling to simply make ends meet.
“In the midst of these economic challenges, the United Church of God in Nigeria and Ghana continues to proclaim a message of hope through magazine distributions, Sabbath service webcasts, radio broadcasts and planned Kingdom of God seminars. Please pray for our efforts to bear fruit as we connect with the hearts and minds of those seeking godly solutions to a world in crisis. Pray for the gospel to have free course! Pray for the economic stability and well-being of our brethren around the world who shine as lights for the soon-coming Kingdom of God.”
—Peter Eddington, Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services
Milwaukee Prom—Apr. 7–9
The Milwaukee, Wisconsin, congregation will be hosting a Teen Prom and Family Weekend again this coming spring. The dates are April 7–9, 2023. Activities planned will include a Friday evening Q&A, Sabbath morning seminar, Sabbath services, a formal dinner and dance for the teens, a recognition of those teens graduating from high school, a Sabbath evening social and activities for the families and pre-teens. The cost for teens participating in the prom events will be $48/person. More details will be provided in the coming weeks on the Facebook page that will be set up. We look forward to sharing this special weekend with you!
New England Family Weekend—June 9–11
The New England congregations are looking to host a family weekend in the Boston area for the dates of June 9–11, 2023. As we continue to plan and schedule activities, and secure group rates, we would like for those interested in attending to answer a short Google form survey (bit.ly/3kloHK7). We love to have those interested in attending to respond by mid-February.
In addition to holding a Sabbath service, attendees can look forward to Sabbath fellowship and Bible studies, a family dance and a day touring downtown Boston. If anyone has any questions, feel free to reach out to Andy Duran at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food Service Manager Job Opening
The United Church of God is announcing a job opening for a Food Service Manager.
The Food Service Manager handles the daily affairs of the cafeteria for Ambassador Bible College, including the kitchen and general dining area. He or she coordinates all dining activities at the home office of the United Church of God during normal business hours and for special events. He or she orders all food and supplies, ensures the kitchen operates to department standards and health regulations, and supervises other kitchen workers.
A ServSafe certification and two years of experience with cooking and commercial kitchen operations is preferred. The candidate must be able to stand for long periods, frequently lift and/or move up to 35 pounds, be well-organized and able to pay attention to detail and accuracy. Potential employees must be baptized members of the United Church of God. This is a full-time position scheduled throughout the 9-month ABC academic year.
The deadline for submission of an application is Feb. 6, 2023. To request a job application or for questions about the position, please contact email@example.com.