So far, more than 8,500 people have registered for the Feast. This is normal for this close to the Feast. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is impacting last-minute planning again and might continue right up until the Feast. Just this week, the Canadian Feast site in the Okanagan Valley at Osoyoos, British Columbia, has been canceled for this year due to new government restrictions. The border between Canada and the United States has extended restrictions for those driving until after the Feast begins and some people have now had to cancel.
All U.S. Feast sites will offer a “mask required” section—although at this time social distancing might not be required. U.S. members should have or will receive an email this week offering the opportunity to register for the “mask required” section.
Realizing some sites might end up requiring social distancing, it is very important that your member registration information is accurate. If you change plans, you should update your registration. If you need help updating your registration, contact your local festival advisor or pastor.
Feast coordinators prioritize health and well-being, but members should make decisions based on their comfort level of interacting with crowds and the public.
There will be at least two live webcasting Feast sites and that information will be available before the Feast and easy to locate by going to the UCG home page or the Feast home page. If someone has Feast-related questions they can write to USFestival@ucg.org.Prayer and Fasting
A few people have written to me asking for the Church to call for a general day of fasting before the Feast of Tabernacles, citing fears of disrupted travel and meeting restrictions possibly to be imposed at some of our festival venues.
The purpose of fasting is for us to humble ourselves before God so that our prayers can be more genuine and heartfelt. Fasting is a catalyst to achieve closeness to God. I pray that all of us are doing so regularly and that our ministry is encouraging our brethren to do so.
We have many things to be concerned about. A number of our brethren are enduring serious health trials. There are potential threats to our religious liberties. Our entire world is groaning, waiting for relief. And so, we should be praying and fasting more than ever, continually asking for God’s help and intervention. This can be done anytime, by anyone.
In the past, when there has been a looming crisis for the entire Church, we have called for a general fast for all. At this time, though, we are encouraging you to fast on your own schedule. And, before long, we will all be fasting together on the Day of Atonement, Sept. 16. I encourage pastors to encourage brethren to fast periodically throughout the year, not just on the Day of Atonement, for an ongoing, closer relationship with our Father in heaven.New ABC Year
The 23rd class of Ambassador Bible College has begun the new academic year.
We consider ABC a very important function of the United Church of God. Its curriculum is an excellent systematic study of the Bible. Our two-fold purpose of study is not only learning the Bible but living it as well. ABC is a good foundation for life’s values that will supplement our students’ overall education as well as their ethics in future careers.
One phrase I often repeat is: “you may not know everything about the Bible, but the Bible knows everything about you!” The apostle Paul’s words to young evangelist Timothy express well the purpose of the scriptures: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 2 Timothy 3:16-17  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.
American King James Version×).
Last Sunday, Aug. 22, ABC alumni welcomed 17 new students to the program at a picnic featuring not only an enjoyable meal but fun games and challenges to help participants get to know each other informally.
On Monday, the faculty led the students through an orientation explaining how ABC works and what it does. Along with the other faculty, Frank Dunkle and Steve Myers described how Ambassador Bible College is not just another educational institution. It studies the Word of God and teaches godly principles of living for a lifetime. Thus, being in a class in person and sharing experiences is a valuable part of the learning process. A thorough academic program will cover all the books of the Bible and students also have the opportunity to serve in the Cincinnati congregations and the home office while preparing for the future.
Aaron Dean commented: “The ABC class of 2022 is off to a good start with 17 U.S. students. (COVID-19 has blocked all international students.) The class of eight men and nine women is energetic and bonding together.
“We were able to purchase new desks at auction that have connecting electrical outlets for computers and locking wheels to roll the desks to the warehouse, making set up and take down for church easier in our multi-use hall.”
In the orientation this past Monday, I acknowledged the sacrifice of devoting an academic year to studying the Bible and encouraged our students to make the most of their time at ABC. I compared their opportunity to my own Ambassador College experience decades ago. Today’s students have access to many references and resources that were not available a few years ago. During this coming academic year, they will have unique opportunities to serve God’s people and the community.
“‘I’m so excited to be here,’ ‘I’ve waited my whole life to study God’s Word this way,’ ‘Studying at ABC has been a goal of mine ever since I can remember.’ Those are the words that students of the incoming class of Ambassador Bible College mentioned to me as they arrived in Cincinnati,” commented Steve Myers. “During our very first class, they reflected those words as they asked questions, listened to teachings, and were ready to respond enthusiastically. One student told me, ‘I know this will be the best experience of my life.’ I couldn’t agree more, since thoroughly studying God’s Word at ABC is a life-changing experience. We certainly are off to a wonderful start!”
This group of students comes from 11 different states and ranges from recent high school graduates to retirees. Their focus and enthusiasm show they share the desire to study and to understand God’s Word.
The state of Ohio currently has not mandated restrictions affecting the conduct of ABC classes, so the program is progressing normally. Teens and young adults who are not certain about their educational plans should consider ABC as a part of their preparation for the future.
Please pray for an unimpeded year of study. Thank you all for your support and prayers for this fine program!