United Church of God

2023 Feast of Tabernacles: Mossel Bay, South Africa

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2023 Feast of Tabernacles

Mossel Bay, South Africa

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Attendance in Mossel Bay this year was slightly up over last year, with our highest attendance on the third day at 157 (121 adults and 36 children). Included in this, we had the pleasure of hosting a total of 20 visitors from the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, Philippines, Australia and a South African family living in Scotland.

Messages this year, while always pointing to the Millennium and God’s Kingdom, seemed to emphasize more than ever our responsibility to reflect godly character now.

Visitors added a wonderful international flavor to services almost every day, either speaking or contributing to special music, which was an inspiring mix of solo performances, duets, as well as a festival, youth and children’s choirs. In the Blessing of the Children ceremony, held on the last day of the Feast, three little ones were blessed.

As always, our welcome evening provided lots of opportunities to interact and get to know each other—something which has the potential to change one’s entire Feast.

We were able to enjoy a number of outdoor activities, such as a family picnic and “braai” (barbecue), as well as daily morning beach walks before services. These have often produced some of the most unexpected and enjoyable conversations with people one might not ordinarily have had the opportunity to speak to.

This year’s hymn sing-along and musical evening was more fun than ever and included more hymn-favorites being requested and lots of talent on display from all ages on the piano, recorder, saxophone, clarinet and vocals. A rousing sing-along, to traditional South African music, ended with a spontaneous everybody-join-in musical train, done to a song popular across all of our diverse cultures, “Shosholaza,” a word that comes from a conglomeration of South African languages, and loosely means “push forward.” Very appropriate encouragement for the Feast!

There was also a well-attended seniors’ lunch, a ladies’ tea and Bible discussion centered around biblical women of courage, and a very enjoyable teen discussion and activity, which saw almost 30 young people racing from one location to another solving clues and fulfilling tasks in order to find dinner.

With some free time made available, international visitors were able to experience something unique to South Africa, a game drive at the nearby Botlierskop Game Reserve, where they had the rare privilege of witnessing a cheetah hunt.

For the second year, one of our elders, and those in his accommodation (including his brother, the festival coordinator) invited all, on any evening without a planned function, to join them for a meal and fellowship, so nobody was left out. And what enjoyable evenings they proved to be, with a highest attendance of about 20 on the Sabbath evening before the Eighth Day.

Our loving Father once again blessed us with a wonderful oasis of hope, encouragement and fellowship in an increasingly troubled world.