Pastoral Development Program
We completed a most wonderful session of the Pastoral Development Program yesterday. We are impressed with the caliber, zeal and character of the 32 men and women who came from around the world. We look forward to their continued service to our congregations.
We continually refine our presentations to offer the most relevant material needed to do the work of the ministry in speaking, doctrine, counseling, integrity, time management, administration and much more. We believe that we have provided effective tools and guidance for those who came to learn and interact with us and with one another.
In the almost two weeks of the program, we were able to spend a lot of personal time with our new ministers and ministerial candidates. We appreciated having two long-time pastors, Randy D'Alessandro and Vince Szymkowiak, provide healthy reinforcement and a positive spirit to the program. I recorded podcasts with three of the attendees that will be available online in the coming weeks.
On the last day of the program, in the question and answer session, we discussed the next 25 years of the United Church of God and what we could do reinvent ourselves to become more effective and relevant. If you have any thoughts about these subjects, please write me directly at email@example.com.
German Beyond Today recording
Paul Kieffer came to the home office this past week to record two new Beyond Today programs. This now makes 18 programs available online in the German language. They have been drawing good response and have resulted in new baptisms in Germany.
North Central Regional Ministerial Conference
This coming week we will meet with our North Central ministry in southeastern Minnesota for a ministerial conference. We have six regions in the United States and we hold a conference with the ministry in each region every two years.
I want to share this encouraging note regarding the Beyond Today television program from a Church member in Mississippi:
"I'm late writing, but this letter is to everyone that has had a part in the Beyond Today television programs. I applaud the vision that is evident in the content, in the presentation, and in the studio design. They work! The messages excite me and I have been in the church for 40 years. I try to listen as if I have never heard the truth of God. The presenters go right to the core of the topic they will cover with powerful but simple words that grab the attention of anyone within earshot. These programs speak to the masses, the elite and the simple. They are so easy to understand that it almost seems that anyone could understand them except that we know that God calls whom He will. I believe that God and Christ are pleased with the work that all of you are doing to carry this message of hope and of warning to this world. Thank you."
Here is another note from a member in Minnesota:
"I just finished reading What Does the Bible Teach About Grace? and found it to be excellent. Thanks for all of your hard work at the home office!"
No Update from the President Next Week
Due to the ministerial conference and Thanksgiving holiday in the United States next week, my next update will be published on December 5.
Giving Thanks for our Brethren
One week from today, we will observe Thanksgiving Day in the United States. We have much to be thankful for. I always thank God for His calling in this age; I thank God for my wife, Bev, and for our children and grandchildren. I thank God for my dear friends and for those I work with. I'm most grateful for the relationships. We all need to be thankful to God for our dear brethren who share in this age the greatest of callings to a fellowship with the true God. I would like to conclude with these appreciative comments from the Apostle Paul that describe how he felt about the Church in Philippi:
"Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
"So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.
"I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation-the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ-for this will bring much glory and praise to God" (Philippians 1:3-11 Philippians 1:3-11  I thank my God on every remembrance of you,
 Always in every prayer of my for you all making request with joy,
 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
 Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my grace.
 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
 That you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.
 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
American King James Version×New Living Translation).