United Church of God

Home Office Weekly Update: October 26, 2023

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Home Office Weekly Update

October 26, 2023

Camp Conference Next Week

United Youth Camps (UYC) will be conducting its 25th Camp Conference next week from Monday through Wednesday afternoon. A total of 983 campers attended a UYC summer camp (teen or preteen) this past year and Winter Camp is still about 8 weeks away. The final total for the calendar year will likely be close to 1,100 campers in attendance for the 2023 season, although we realize a percentage of the total are individuals who attended multiple camps.

In the upcoming week, the camp directors will settle on the theme for the 2024 camp season, begin development of the daily Christian living content and review best practices so we can continually improve the program for all ages.

The 2024 camp season will see some changes. Preteen Camp Buckeye is moving locations after 12 years, Philip Aust will direct Camp Woodland, Brent Fogelson will direct Southwest Camp and Andy Duran will direct preteen camp Seven Mountains.

Please pray for God to guide and direct all of the discussions and planning, so that all can be done to His glory.

—Len Martin

India and Sri Lanka Updates

David Schreiber has provided the following updates about the Feast in Sri Lanka and India, and his travels after the Feast of Tabernacles:

Feast in Sri Lanka

Jolinda and I left Sept. 20 for Sri Lanka. Since we kept the entire feast in Agra, India, this year, we wanted to spend some time with our Sri Lanka brethren prior to the feast. It was a busy few days meeting in members’ homes, conducting baptism counseling with two people, a Bible study, Sabbath service and visit to a long-time faithful member, Andy Udayakuma, who had been suddenly hospitalized due to a severe stroke. I was grateful to see and comfort him, as he died the day after our visit.

We had good news in that our two members from Pakistan and their four children received their visas to attend the feast in Sri Lanka. They had attended the feast in Sri Lanka last year and were baptized at that Feast. But this year, the whole family of six was able to attend. It was the first Feast for their four children.

Keith Tomes and his wife, Christy, were able to attend and serve during the entire eight days at our festival site in Sri Lanka. They had several members of their extended families join them in Sri Lanka for the Feast. Our Sri Lankan brethren always appreciate when international members come to visit, and besides the Tomes’ extended family, there were many more that came this year—some from the US, UK and Australia.

Feast in Agra, India

36 brethren rejoiced at the Feast in Agra. In our small group we had nine children, including five girls ages 5–7 and two young boys ages 12 and 13. We were also blessed with a family of four observing the Feast for the first time. Our lively group spoke five different languages; however, we were still able to communicate and have meaningful fellowship and daily group discussions of the Feast messages.

More good news is that our brethren from Bangladesh received their India visas and were able to observe the entire Feast with us in Agra! It has been challenging for our members who live in Muslim countries (Bangladesh and Pakistan) to get visas in order to travel.

An early morning appointment

A prospective member, who attended the Feast this year for the first time, requested that we stop at his home on our way to the Delhi airport. We told him we were unable to stop because it would be very early in the morning. After he insisted, we consented and he warmly welcomed us into his home at 4 a.m. We had tea with him, his wife and two children who were waiting for our arrival—all smiles and a flower for each of us. After about an hour visit, we departed for Delhi and caught the early morning flight to Aizawl, Mizoram.

We arrived in Mizoram on Thursday, Oct. 12. The state of Mizoram is a predominantly Christian state. There are several Sabbath-keeping congregations there and many Protestant churches. It’s a unique place in the world, sandwiched between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Mizoram is a mountainous region with rolling hills, valleys, rivers and lakes.

These Sabbath-keepers have a burning desire to unify in order to do a greater work in the region. It’s an inspiring dynamic that we don’t see happening in the rest of the world.

Sometimes differing doctrines keep them separate, but in time, through many months and years of communication between the groups, they unite. When we first visited in 2011, there was one Church of God, called “Church of God Israel.” They soon changed their name to the “United Church of God—Mizoram.” Gradually they worked with other Sabbath-keeping groups and now have seven different congregations. They are still working slowly to unite and it’s very encouraging to see the progress they have made.

Journey after the Feast

Tuesday, Oct. 17, we visited with member Ezekiel Polinati in Visakhapatnam. On Wednesday, Oct. 18, we held a Bible seminar in Anakapalli about “Is This the Only Day of Salvation?” So many Christians in India feel they must “save souls” now—as they feel this is the only day of salvation. Many have “knocked themselves out” going from village to village handing out Bibles and preaching in an attempt to save souls now from hell fire. It was an interesting discussion to go to the Bible for answers and see the love of God for all mankind in that there will be a future day of salvation for those who have never had a relationship with their Heavenly Father or their Older Brother, Jesus Christ, and have never known the truth from God’s Word.

On Friday, Oct. 20, we visited two villages we had visited before. These are where very poor children and families live in huts, many with dirt floors. We originally planned to film the outside of a couple of huts, but they invited us inside. We spent time with the children and they were happy to have us visit. After going inside a couple of huts, it was obvious they wanted us to go into everyone’s huts, as not to slight any of the children.

Our hearts were moved by these people and we tried to make their day a little brighter. We stopped at a fruit stand and bought bananas and apples. We passed out the fruit, as well as some of the clothes many of our U.S. brethren contributed this summer. We also gave them pencils, markers and crayons. They were very appreciative. I anointed several for healing.

Another seminar

On Saturday, Oct. 21, we met with 27 Beyond Today subscribers and some church pastors. We had a long day, and again spoke on “Is This the Only Day of Salvation?” and “What Is Judgment?”

Some of those present we have met many times before, and they drove many hours to attend the seminar. We started the seminar around 11 a.m., however many arrived an hour early and stayed to ask questions and visit until after 6 p.m. Some of the hotel staff were quite curious; after the seminar we talked a little with the sales manager (a Hindu interested in Christianity) about our topic and the misconception that some Christians have about the fate of the unbelieving being cast into hell. He was pleased to hear this and took a copy of the Beyond Today magazine as well as the Ten Commandments booklet, which has been translated into Telugu, his local language.

On Sunday, Oct. 22, we visited Chirala. It’s a wonderful city with a small Sabbath-keeping group that we met in November 2011 and became long-lasting friends. They were led by a man name G.P. Samuel who understood the Sabbath and had heard a little about the annual festivals.

The only UCG member in Pune

On Monday, Oct. 23, we flew to Pune. The following day we visited a member who is a single mom with two little girls. She also takes care of her aging dad and mom. They live in a simple one-bedroom apartment. She and her mom, as well as the two girls (ages 6 and 8) all sleep together in the same room in a large bed. I wanted Keith to meet our UCG member and Jolinda and I wanted to visit her in her home. She is the only UCG member in her city. She and the children were able to attend the Feast in Agra. The Feast was certainly a special time for all of us, but especially inspiring and meaningful for those who do not have a weekly Sabbath Service to attend.

Jolinda and I want to thank you for your prayers for God’s guidance on this trip. We know we are in God’s hands and daily we prayed for God to open the doors He wants us to walk through, and to close those doors He does not want us to go through. We praise God that we were healthy and strong to serve our brethren here in India and also our members in Sri Lanka.

—Dave and Jolinda Schreiber

From Ministerial and Member Services . . .

Recent Ordination

We’re happy to announce that on Sept. 16, 2023, Tim Franke was ordained into the ministry. He and his wife, Michele, serve the congregation in Nashville, Tennessee.

United Young Adults

Check out the new Web page specifically for Young Adults!

Are you a young adult age 18-32? Visit uya.ucg.org to access educational and inspirational content specifically designed for young adults.

Sign up for our email newsletter to receive tools to promote spiritual growth, create meaningful relationships, and make the most of your talents, as well as learn about upcoming events:

  1. Go to uya.ucg.org/uya-join
  2. Submit your email address to receive updates

Sermon Disc Program: Messages Available

The newest Sermon Disc Program titles (SDP 174) are now available for download. You can access them as well as the archived SDP sermons at: ucg.org/sermon-disc-program. As previously announced, DVDs and CDs are no longer being produced or mailed out. Please use the download option from that page.

The Sermon Disc Program is a service provided by the home office for shut-ins and congregations who need video messages when a live speaker is not available. These messages are not intended as a Sabbath replacement or a collection of exclusive sermons.

Winter Family Weekend

We are pleased to announce that we have secured a significantly discounted block of rooms at the nearby Courtyard by Marriott Hamilton. Thank you for your patience while the Winter Family Weekend team worked to secure these additional rooms. The hotel offers a full-service restaurant as well as a Starbucks coffee shop. It is conveniently located just one mile from the Champion Mill facility. The room types of Double Queen beds or a King bed with a twin sleeper pull-out will both be available at the discounted rate of $104/night.

You can reserve your room at the Courtyard by Marriott by either:

  1. Calling 1-800-Marriott directly and speak with an agent, using the code UNITED CHURCH OF GOD - WINTER FAMILY WEEKEND 2023.
  2. Using the direct booking link found at wfw.ucg.org.

We have 2 requirements:

  1. If you have reserved rooms at Champion Mill for anyone NOT in your immediate “family group” or if you are not certain you will attend Winter Family Weekend, please call the hotel and release those additional rooms so that others who are committed to attend may have an opportunity to secure a room.
  2. Online registration is a must! It is critical for our planning purposes. So be sure to wfw.ucg.org and fully complete the registration page for EVERY individual who will attend and include their participation choices.

—Gregg Drury, WFW Coordinator