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Personal From the President: October 28, 2021

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Personal From the President

October 28, 2021

Camp Team Conference

First, we concluded our first in-person camp team conference in two years and mapped out an optimistic plan for the future of this effective youth program. This year, 14 teen camp directors and wives came together in person and discussed a host of specific topics. The meetings were held from Monday through noon on Wednesday. The main purpose of being together was to assess the United Youth Camps program that was initiated in June 1995, at the very start of the United Church of God, and discuss how to make it better.

Five summer camps were held this past summer, and Winter Camp was held in late December 2020. A total of 420 campers and 276 staff attended these camps. Each camp director gave a brief summary of his camp.

The 2022 main Christian Living theme will be “Becoming Sons and Daughters of God.” The daily Christian Living classes make up the core of all preteen and teen camps. Camp is built around these vital classes that create reinforcing discussions all day long. In our meetings, there were a lot of animated sessions focusing on building a spiritual and safe environment for campers and staff. We hope to connect our youth more directly to our Church teachings. At each camp, we plan to make available key resources/booklets tied to the theme such as What You Need to Know About BaptismWhy Were You Born?Fundamental Beliefs of the United Church of God and more.

Camp surveys have always been a valuable way of getting feedback from campers, staff and parents. In response to the survey question “What spiritual lessons did you learn at camp this year?” one camper wrote: “God has given us hope in the form of eternal life in the future and strength to get through trials.” Another camper wrote: “To teach us how to rely on God first and to rely on Him no matter what.”

I want to thank everyone for sacrificially giving their time and energy to make the United Youth Camps experience a success in the face of the various challenges. Special thanks go to Steve Nutzman who has aptly coordinated this program with great sensitivity and love for our youth.

Incidentally, this week’s podcast is with Marlette Kielczewski, daughter of Floyd and Mardelle Kielczewski who were very much a part of our previous Summer Educational Program in Orr, Minnesota. Marlette reminisces about the camp program that was a part of many of our lives.

ABC Career and Education Class

While our camp meetings were taking place down the hall this week, Ambassador Bible College was conducting career and education planning classes. We invited professionals in their fields to advise our students in these areas. Andy Lee, Michelle Waterhouse and Lisa Fenchel conducted the first of three classes focusing on career and education planning. Each class started with a biblical message. Andy Lee explored the question “How well do you know yourself?” Deepening our understanding of ourselves is a foundational life skill that can provide insight when making career and education decisions.

Students all took a personality assessment and Michelle Waterhouse walked them through how to use the results. The session ended with a panel discussion led by Lisa Fenchel offering an opportunity for students to ask questions while panel members shared lessons from their career experiences. Mike Cook joined in for this discussion.

Zambia Leadership Conference

In Eastern Zambia, our pastor Filius Jere conducted a five-day leadership seminar from Oct. 10–15 at one of our church buildings in this area. Filius Jere wrote an interesting report about this conference. You can read the full report at https://lifenets.org/leadership-seminar-in-eastern-zambia-october-2021/.

Here are some highlights:

Previously, leadership seminars were conducted by home office personnel. However, since the incidence of COVID-19 in 2019, this has not been possible and it became necessary to organize from the local level. Although never done before, the seminar was approved by senior pastor Aaron Dean and received support from home office and Beverly Kubik, President of LifeNets International, which financed this activity.

In attendance were brethren from the Ngilile Church in Petauke and from Chipata. Most of the participants are in charge of remote congregations that only receive periodic visits from the pastor.

The main resources used for the training were the Bible and relevant resources of the Church, which included Sunset to Sunset: God’s Sabbath RestFundamental Beliefs of the United Church of God and training documentation from the pastoral development program held at the home office in 2018 which was attended by Filius Jere and his wife, Chosiwe.

The program started with an outline of the history of the United Church of God from the time of the Radio Church of God. It then emphasized the mission of the Church in preaching the gospel and preparing a people. Many participants admitted that they had never imagined that the Church was anchored on such a firm foundation.

Other lessons covered voice projection techniques, songleading, and how to prepare and deliver good sermonettes and sermons. This was followed by a whole day of practicals where each participant gave a sermonette on a topic of personal choice. The critique by the group, which followed each presentation, was most thrilling and educational. Also included in the training was the approved structure of Sabbath services, Bible study sessions and songleading.

Having covered this much, arrangements for Sabbath services were handed over to the participants who chose among themselves who was to be the songleader, and who would give the sermonette and sermon. We saw an attendance of 78 brethren on the Sabbath from Chipata and the surrounding community.

“This was a most wonderful experience and we are definitely going to know the right things to do as we move onwards,” said Arnold Phiri from Ngilile congregation in Petauke. Such enthusiasm was an assurance that the additional skills and knowledge taught to these brethren will bear fruit and the United Church of God will surely preach the gospel and prepare God’s people in the remotest parts of eastern Zambia.

Finally...

The November/December 2021 issue of Beyond Today is going to press.

Printing and mailing of the November-December Beyond Today issue has been delayed about two weeks due to the printer being unable to find enough paper to print the issue. We hope this is a one-time event, but with worldwide supply-chain issues, we can’t be sure. Also, the U.S. Postal Service has announced slowdowns in mail delivery as it tries to address its chronic financial problems. This will affect the timeliness of delivery of all of our printed publications.

This past Sunday, along with Mark Welch and Chris Rowland from the home office, Bev and I attended the memorial service for Randy D’Alessandro in Chicago and joined in with many others to give support to his wife Mary, as well as the Chicago congregation.

Also, we were saddened by the death of Mary Jones, wife of retired pastor Bob Jones in Jacksonville, Florida, on Friday, Oct. 22. Bob Jones was my mentor pastor 50 years ago and I have many positive memories of Mary and Bob from that time and through our lives since.

Let’s continue to pray for the trials that so many are going through right now. We do have a God of comfort and hope who declares that our present trials are only for a short time in God’s perspective: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:6 1 Peter 1:6Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
American King James Version×
).