United Church of God

Home Office Weekly Update: September 21, 2023

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Home Office Weekly Update

September 21, 2023

From the President . . .

Greetings brethren around the world,

We celebrated the Feast of Trumpets this past Sabbath in southeastern Missouri (for those of you outside the United States, this area of the country is rural and sometimes called the “heartland” of America) with the combined churches of Cape Girardeau and Poplar Bluff (Missouri) and Henderson and Paducah (Kentucky). It was a wonderful day and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting the brethren there. It was a “Feast” atmosphere with rejoicing and a sense of unity in the air.

Our thanks go to pastor Doug Collison for inviting us and to all the brethren for making the Holy Day so special. It greatly ignited “Feast fever” for us.

Something else we experienced that weekend also contributed to our appreciation for the upcoming Feast of Tabernacles and what God created for us. As we drove to and from Sikeston, Missouri, where Trumpets services were held, we saw mile after mile of corn and soybean fields. It was heartening, peaceful, and a beautiful reminder of the bounty God gives. The corn is such a stately and recognizable crop and it was literally ripe for harvest. On our way back to Cincinnati, we could see some farmers had begun harvesting what appears to be a very healthy yield.

Appreciating the bounty and harvest

We couldn’t help but think of the Feast of Tabernacles, which God commanded us to observe in this season of the year “when you have gathered in the fruit of the land” (Leviticus 23:39). In Exodus 23:15-16, God says, “You shall keep . . . the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.” As we saw the crops ready to be harvested, we recognized that “ingathering” could be complete before the Feast of Tabernacles begins this year.

Seeing the fields “already white for harvest” (John 4:35) and knowing this abundance is a result of God’s continuing love and concern for mankind, who can feel anything but joy and gratitude toward Him? He provides all our needs and has made known to us His great and marvelous plan for mankind.

There are so many scriptures that speak of the rain and food God provides. When the apostle Paul spoke to a people who worshipped Zeus and Hermes, he drew their attention to the only true God: Even though God allows nations to walk in “their own ways . . . He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:16-17, emphasis added).

Brethren, we don’t all live where we can feel the connection to God through those who work the land and sow and reap crops. In the millennial reign of Christ, people will be more connected to the physical earth where we see the “miracles” of this planet that God prepared for mankind. We learn so much about the spiritual from the physical.

Take the time to look at the earth, think about the food supply God has given despite the world’s reaction and rejection of Him. Feel His love, see His goodness, be filled with gratitude, and as we go to the Feast of Tabernacles, think of the spiritual harvest that will be reaped. Enjoy the food and bounty that God gives us at His Feast—the abundance that He will provide to peoples all over the world at that time (Amos 9:13-15; Micah 4:4).

Gathering together at 62 Feast sites around the world

In just a little over a week, God’s people will gather together in the “place He chooses,” at 62 Feast sites around the world (including Madagascar, where an estimated 30 will gather for the Feast for the first time in that nation). Let us prepare our hearts now to rejoice before God. Let’s be united in spirit and fellowship with Him and each other (1 John 1:3). Let’s go to the Feast for the primary purpose of worshipping Him, and enjoy being in His presence at His appointed festival, at His appointed time with His people. Be ready and be there as the Feast begins at sunset to attend the opening service on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (sunset on Sept. 29 by the world’s calendar) and continues through the sunset ending the Eighth Day (Oct. 7).

Brethren, have a wonderful upcoming Sabbath day, a meaningful Day of Atonement, and a joyous and peaceful Feast of Tabernacles, always bearing in mind the meaning of these days. As we celebrate God’s great plan, may we all pray together, with heart, “Thy Kingdom come!”

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

In Christ’s service,
Rick Shabi

No Weekly Update Next Week

The Home Office Weekly Update will not be published next week. It is scheduled to resume on Oct. 19, 2023.

From Ministerial and Member Services . . .

Recent Ordinations

We’re happy to announce that on Sept. 16, 2023, Steve Diggins was ordained into the ministry. He and his wife, Rhonda, serve the congregation in Columbia, Maryland.

We’re happy to announce that on Sept. 16, 2023, Mark Skapura was ordained into the ministry. He and his wife, Lisa, serve the congregation in Cleveland, Ohio.

Tulsa Regional Family Weekend 2023

Mark your calendars for Nov. 10–12, as the Tulsa, Oklahoma, congregation hosts its sixth annual regional family weekend! We are excited to host this wonderful event of family, fellowship, learning, breaking bread, dancing, games and laughter. Our guest speaker this year is a member of the Council of Elders who pastors congregations in Ontario, Canada. We are excited to welcome Mr. Paul Wasilkoff, and his wife, Coreen, to Tulsa this November. If you are interested in attending, we ask that you please register for our planning purposes using the link at ucg.org/members/news/tulsa-regional-family-weekend-2023. A Friday evening social, Sabbath Seminars, a semi-formal dinner and dance, as well as Sunday activities are being planned. If you have any questions, feel free to drop us a note to UCGTulsaWeekend@gmail.com. We hope to see you in Tulsa this November!

—Ed Dowd

UCG Gear Grinder Ride

The first annual UCG 2023 Gear Grinder ride was an amazing success! A huge “Thank You!” to the Duluth United Church of God congregation for hosting the ride this year and to the small but mighty group of 11 riders who participated.

Riders hailing from points south including Eau Claire (Wisconsin), the Twin Cities area in Minnesota, Cincinnati (Ohio) and Indianapolis (Indiana) made the trek northward to the beautiful shores of Lake Superior on Sept. 10, 2023, to grind gears on either a 28-, 37- or 46-mile bike ride along the picturesque Gitchi Gami trail. We couldn't have been blessed with more beautiful weather for the ride.

Ride organizers hope to draw an even larger number of participants for next year's Gear Grinder event. For those who would like to participate next year, mark your calendars; the 2024 Gear Grinder Classic bike ride is scheduled for Sept. 8, 2024. Registration details will be communicated after the Feast of Tabernacles.

—Tony Stith

Job Opportunities

The United Church of God is still seeking candidates for a Client Relationship Specialist. Details about all of the current job postings for the Church may be reviewed at ucg.org/members/news/current-job-openings.