United Church of God

Home Office Weekly Update: November 16, 2023

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Home Office Weekly Update

November 16, 2023

From the President . . .

Greetings brethren,

Next week in the United States is the annual holiday known as Thanksgiving. It began to be celebrated when the Pilgrims settled in America 400 years ago.

As God’s people, thanksgiving can’t be a once-a-year event (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Each day, thanksgiving and gratitude to God for all He has done for us, physically and spiritually, should be on our minds. He has given us a future and a hope that is beyond anything the human mind could imagine (Jeremiah 29:11). Upon repentance, baptism and the laying on of hands, He gives us His Spirit, which opens our minds, leads us into His truth and gives us the power (as we trust and rely on Him) to overcome sin, the world and our human nature (Colossians 2:6-7).

It has been said that gratitude is the parent of all virtues. Without it one cannot be happy or content or be committed to living in unity. The apostle Paul espoused the necessity of us being grateful to God despite the pain, trials, tribulation or persecution we may suffer. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, emphasis added).

During the Isaiah Bible Study last night we read about God’s encouragement in Isaiah 63:7. After a description of His vengeance on the world and the Day of the Lord, we’re told: “I will mention the lovingkindness of the LORD and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has bestowed on us.” What a powerful reminder of how thankful we should all be for His mercy and patience with us.

Whether or not we live in the United States, I encourage everyone to take time in the next week to do some personal Bible study and review the many scriptures that speak of thanksgiving and gratitude—as well as the consequences that occur when thankfulness is absent. We can all benefit spiritually as we study God’s Word, and appreciate all He has done and will do for us as we seek and follow His guidance in our lives.

As God grows and develops us, individually and collectively, wherever in the world we live, through good times or times of trial, tribulation or persecution, may we wait patiently and faithfully for the return of Jesus Christ, constantly thankful to God as we recount His blessings for us each day.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you brethren, around the world.

Have a wonderful upcoming day of preparation, Sabbath, and in America, a wonderful Thanksgiving.

In Christian love,
Rick Shabi

No Weekly Update Next Week

The Home Office Weekly Update will not be published next week. It is scheduled to resume on Nov. 30, 2023.

From Ministerial and Member Services . . .

When you hear the term “pilgrims” what comes to mind? Probably those who arrived in America on the Mayflower over 400 years ago. But did you know it was more than two hundred years after their arrival that the term “pilgrim” came to refer to those pioneering colonists?

Initially these settlers were persecuted in England because they would not honor the state Church of England. So they moved to Holland in 1607 where religious freedom was greater. But life was challenging for them because they were foreigners.

They were deprived of the best jobs and had great difficulty even reaching a nominal standard of living. Did that cause them to risk their lives and sail to America? No, there was more to it. Their Separatist leader, William Bradford, wrote: “Many of the children . . . by the great licentiousness of youth in that country, and the manifold temptations of the place, were drawn away by evil examples into extravagant and dangerous courses.” Actually, a major factor in deciding to risk the journey to America was the influence of society on their children. This is a great reminder for us of the powerful effect surrounding society can have on our families today.

So, in 1620, many from the congregation decided to immigrate to America. But the Plymouth colonists weren’t called Pilgrims until 1840. That year someone resurrected William Bradford’s original phrase describing those aboard the Mayflower when he said, “That goodly & pleasant city which had been their resting place for near 12 years; but they knew they were pilgrims and looked not much on those things, but lift up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits.” So, for the last 180 years, the Mayflower settlers have been referred to as “the Pilgrims.”

This is certainly reminiscent of the listing of faithful godly servants mentioned in Hebrews 11. Those in the “faith chapter” have been called pilgrims for much longer than 180 years! It should also urge us that we too, have to strive for the proper perspective and relationship to this world.

Our focus must be the Kingdom of God—identical to those faithful described in verses 13-16, where we’re told, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”

Let’s remember that we too are pilgrims in this temporary, fleeting world. “For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come” (Hebrews 13:14, New Living Translation). And what a fantastic home it will be!

Ultimately, we anticipate that “new heaven and a new earth . . . the holy city, New Jerusalem, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” When “the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:1, 3).

So as sojourners and pilgrims, let’s continue to live as faithful citizens of God’s coming Kingdom.

—Steve Myers, Operation Manager, Ministerial and Member Services

Scott Ashley Retirement Presentation

On the Sabbath of Nov. 11, a retirement presentation and slide show were given for Scott Ashley, who recently retired from employment with the Church.

Scott Ashley was first hired full-time by the Church of God in Aug. 1972 in the Worldwide News press office. He worked in various editorial capacities there until 1980.

After working in private industry for the next 15 years, he was contracted by the United Church of God in 1995 to work on The Good News magazine. He was then hired full-time in 1996 as managing editor of The Good News—which eventually became Beyond Today magazine. He was managing editor for all of our booklets and other external publications.

Mr. Ashley, along with his wife, Connie, also served as church pastor for Denver, Colorado Springs and Frisco, Colorado, from Jan. 2011 to May 2021.

He has completed more than 36 years of work for the Church of God, and he will be greatly missed by the Media and Communications Services department and all who work for the Church.

Scott has a passion for the Bible and God’s people, so I know he will never really retire from serving the Church! But now it is time for Scott to retire from the deadlines. He needs time with his family—Connie and Jake (his faithful dog)—and time to enjoy his photography.

—Peter Eddington, Operation Manager, Media and Communications Services

Good Works Proposal Deadline Approaching

Last chance to submit your proposal for Good Works for projects for the first half of the 2024 calendar year! If you have a great idea for a project (local or abroad), please run it by your local pastor, and with his approval please contact Lena VanAusdle at GoodWorks@ucg.org or visit ucg.org/members/outreach/good-works for more information.

The deadline for proposals is Nov. 30, 2023.

Action Needed! Winter Family Weekend

Winter Family Weekend is just over a month away! Online registration is a must! It is critical for our planning purposes. Be sure to visit wfw.ucg.org and fully complete the registration page for EVERY individual attending and include their participation choices.

For those who plan to participate in sports, the deadline for team registration is Sunday, Nov. 26 for all teams—so team captains and team players must complete their registrations and team rosters by then.

Individuals desiring to be placed on a team should also complete their registration by Nov. 26 to avoid being considered late. Anyone registering after this date will not be guaranteed a roster spot.

We look forward to seeing you there!