During the Feast of Tabernacles in 2016, more than 10,500 of God’s people gathered together in 50 sites across 33 countries to rejoice before their Creator and celebrate the coming Kingdom of God! This year, we have included special reports from Haiti and Seaside, Oregon about the dramatic role weather played in their Feast experiences, reminding us of God’s powerful hand in our lives—and reminding us, too, about His divine love and protection. We hope you will enjoy reading about the Feast sites your brothers and sisters in Christ enjoyed all around the world!
Charlotte, North Carolina
God’s Church in the United States experienced something new this year! A Feast site was canceled because of a hurricane (Hurricane Matthew), and at the direction of the leadership, less than a week before the Feast started, the decision was made to have an emergency “Pop-up” site. So… we organized the Feast of Tabernacles in Charlotte!
With about 200 people attending, the air was really buzzing with excitement and energy in an amazingly positive atmosphere! We all worked together to encourage one another and build one another up. By working together, God’s people took a bad situation, pulled together and made it a wonderful and memorable experience. It became what was, for many, the best Feast we’ve ever had!
When we asked for a raise of hands, we found some really interesting statistics! First, we found that because we had the Feast in Charlotte, about 40 people were able to attend who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do so! This included Mrs. Faye League, who would have missed her first Feast in 57 years, and another man who would have missed his first in 56 years! Second, having it in Charlotte made it much easier to attend the Feast for about 80 percent of the crowd who had to cancel their reservations for Hilton Head—many of whom still had their finances tied up in the cancelled site. The third exciting piece of news was that ten people in the crowd were keeping their first Feast, and another ten were keeping only their second Feast! These new people in God’s Work added even more of a thrill to the air!
We had Mr. Richard Ames and Mr. Gerald Weston as guest speakers for the first and second halves, respectively. All the messages were inspiring and encouraging, and focused on helping us prepare now for our future! We were blessed to have great activities, including a Family Day Picnic BBQ, which was a highlight for many, a seniors’ luncheon, a dinner dance and a bowling activity. We also had a trip to the “Lazy 5 Ranch” petting zoo, where participants had the opportunity to ride around in horse-drawn wagons and pet buffalos, watusis, deer, antelope, zebras, giraffes and other animals! Truly, a millennial experience!
We are thankful to God for allowing everything to work out so miraculously smoothly on such short notice!
The beauty of creation was certainly evident for the brethren attending the Feast of Tabernacles 2016 in Gatlinburg this year. The autumn leaves were turning and reaching their peak of rich fall colors in the majestic Great Smoky Mountains, helping everyone in attendance to be in awe of the Creator. Five hundred and thirty-six of God’s people were able to truly rejoice, as the weather each day could not have been more ideal, especially for outdoor activities, as it started out warm in the 80’s and cooled to the 70’s by Feast’s end.
Many enjoyed hiking, horseback riding, UTV excursions, a singles’ picnic, chairlift rides to the top of Ober Gatlinburg and simply walking through the shops and stores downtown. Additional events included a seniors’ luncheon and the DELs luncheon, each addressed by Dr. Douglas Winnail; the teens’ activity at WonderWorks; an afternoon of indoor games, enjoyed by our children; and the family dinner and dance.
“Awesome” seemed to be the word used often in messages to describe God’s special calling to further understand His purpose and plan. We were able to gain clearer and deeper vision and more zeal to continue to support this Work, of which we are all a part. The Feast was certainly motivating and rejuvenating, as as we were filled with hope for the future. Messages by Dr. Douglas Winnail, Mr. Martin Fannin, Mr. Wallace Smith and Feast Site Coordinator Mr. Ron Poole expanded our vision and gave a foretaste of God’s soon-coming Kingdom. That vital focus was complemented by many fine sermonettes.
As usual, the children’s choir was a huge success, singing a beautiful song while photos of brethren enjoying the Feast and natural scenes of the area were being shown on the large screen next to them, with words to the song displayed on the pictures. This performance followed the always-special service of the Blessing of the Children.
This truly outstanding Feast was certainly memorable and filled with God’s spirit of service, loving fellowship, and audience attention to all messages. The brethren were a shining example of love, joy and peace in their service to each other as everyone did his part in making the entire Feast one to remember.
Lake Conroe, Texas
A short one-hour drive north of Houston, Texas is Lake Conroe, where 370 people enjoyed the Feast of Tabernacles at a majestic resort location along the lake. All services and many events took place at the La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa where the majority of attendees stayed for the eight days. Others took advantage of nearby lodging in condominiums, vacation homes and motels with easy access to the facility.
Powerful messages concerning our ultimate destiny and the millennial rule of Jesus Christ spiritually uplifted all in attendance. Our traveling guest speaker, Mr. Lambert Greer, and Regional Pastor Mr. Dan Hall provided uplifting and inspiring sermons on the two Holy Days, and Messrs. Glen Harrison, Norm Aitchison and Gary Stein brought key messages in regard to the soon-coming Kingdom of God. Many brethren commented that Dr. Meredith’s Last Great Day message was very powerful and inspiring!
The resort has an onsite convention hall with several beautiful banquet rooms, where most events took place. Between services for both Holy Days, everyone gathered in the glass-walled Versailles Ballroom for exquisite buffet meals with a wonderful view of Lake Conroe. This location was also the venue for celebrating our seniors, as more than 125 “seasoned” members enjoyed a plated luncheon. The elders, deacons and department heads and their spouses were also honored with a finely prepared meal, followed by comments of appreciation and motivation by Mr. Hall.
Our younger children enjoyed activities after services at the Kid’s Corner, and the singles took advantage of quality time together by gathering on several occasions to visit and share experiences.
A very successful Family Day event took place at the Incredible Pizza Company in nearby Conroe, Texas. Many of all ages enjoyed several hours of “all you can eat” pizza and buffet, bowling, miniature golf and more!
The highlight activity of the Feast was the Family Western Dinner, Talent Show and Dance, where brethren dressed in their favorite western-wear and enjoyed a real Texas-style BBQ buffet, followed by a one-hour talent (fun) show showcasing some incredible talent! The evening was capped off by hours of “good ol’” boot-scooting and enjoyable dancing.
The Feast here was truly an inspiring and memorable experience for God’s people, with timely and meaningful messages, a spirit of teamwork, cooperation and unity, and a focus on our task of living in a manner that is reflective of the “children of God!”
Mt. Snow, Vermont
Three hundred and fifty of God’s people came together at the Grand Summit Resort in Mt. Snow for the 2016 Feast of Tabernacles. The Fall colors of the trees provided a beautiful backdrop to the Festival site. The brethren were fed inspiring messages ranging from topics on economics in the Millennium, mentoring others, and knowing the true God, as well as many other issues. There were an abundance of activities and opportunities for the brethren to spend time together, including a sock hop, a day at the Adams Family Farm, a winery tour, a dinner dance, and the always enjoyable Progressive Family Dinner afternoon. Many of the brethren from warmer regions were pleased to experience their first snowfall as the area received about an inch of snow one evening. The following morning the weather warmed and melted the snow away. Overall, it was an encouraging and pleasant Feast of Tabernacles this year in autumnal Vermont.
Osage Beach, Missouri
God once again placed His name at the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks, Osage Beach. Over 540 of God’s people enjoyed the changing fall colors of the hardwood forest covering the Ozark hills surrounding the blue waters of the lake.
We were blessed this year with Mr. Lambert Greer as our traveling speaker, who was present with his wife Nancy for the second half of the Feast. Mr. Greer gave inspiring messages dealing with the economy of the Millennium and the meaning of God’s glory and power in His Kingdom. Mr. Gene Hilgenberg, the Festival Site Coordinator, presented the Family Bible Study on Friday evening. On Sabbath morning Mr. Kenneth Frank, Registrar of Living University, along with Dr. Richard Franz, Assistant Festival Site Coordinator, presented a tag-team Bible Study for the teens, answering questions that had been submitted by the teens in attendance. Many mentioned that the highlight of the Feast was the spiritual food from the tremendous messages given by the elders that were present. Main messages from Messrs. Kenneth Frank, Daniel Friz, Gene Hilgenberg and Dr. Richard Franz continued the focus on preparing for God’s Kingdom.
Other highlights included the many activities enjoyed by everyone. Seniors were treated to an elegant luncheon with musical entertainment and a short message of encouragement presented by Dr. Franz. Teens started off the Feast with an ice cream mixer, followed by a bowling and pizza party. Many enjoyed cruising the lake on Tuesday evening with a family dinner cruise and playing games and activities during the Wednesday afternoon Family Day carnival. Those who attended the DELs luncheon were encouraged by Mr. Frank to enroll in classes at Living University.
Sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 80’s started the Feast, with a short cool-down, then a rise in temperatures again to end it. God’s people were able to enjoy the blessing of fellowship with each other throughout God’s Feast of Tabernacles, reflecting Christ in all their activities.
Panama City Beach, Florida
Incredible, sunny days without rain greeted Feast-goers in beautiful Panama City. Services were held at the Boardwalk Beach Resort/Hotel and Convention Center. Whether staying there or elsewhere, special attention was given to God’s people, who could enjoy breakfast only steps away from the meeting hall. Many enjoyed accommodations in other facilities nearby, having access to many fine restaurants. Just over 1,100 brethren were assigned to the Panama Site, with an additional 300 joining us after the closing of Hilton Head, South Carolina. With this addition, the facility management and brethren went to work to ready this site for those who would have to transfer in. (And, of course, special thanks go to our Father and Savior.) Everyone sprang into action to now accommodate more than 1,400 attendees.
Though all of this was challenging, everything came together on the opening night. From there, things moved forward with messages that were inspiring and greatly needed. Messrs. Gerald Weston, Sheldon Monson, Anthony Stroud and Dr. Douglas Winnail, among others, contributed to the sermons and other beneficial messages.
For the DELs, Mr. Weston addressed us all as we enjoyed soft music in the background and a special meal prepared by the venue. For the seniors’ luncheon, Mr. Anthony Stroud encouraged them to know that they all have a special role in God’s Church to pray and teach the younger members. Our dinner dance evening was special, as everyone, young and old, took to the floor and danced the night away, having an enjoyable evening. Family day was a huge success, as about 400 brethren enjoyed bowling, pool play, skating and many games, while the DJ played music for our enjoyment. A special cruise was put together during the Feast, and just over 200 brethren were able to enjoy Shell Island and the beautiful waters. There were also many places to shop, eat and visit as family, including our extended family from various congregations around the world.
The Feast of Tabernacles is indeed a time to rejoice and celebrate preparing for a time when the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of God! Thank God for this joyous time to celebrate what lies just ahead, when Christ returns to usher in the kind of peace we can only dream of. But for now, He gave us a little taste of what it could be when God’s ways are kept!
San Diego, California
Balmy ocean breezes, sunny days, and beautiful clouds made for delightful weather for the Feast at San Diego. The Bahia Resort Hotel hosted 500 registered attendees in fine style with great service. The combination of lovely surroundings on a protected bay just a short walk from the ocean, nearby world-famous attractions, a warm and loving group of Feast-goers, and fine spiritual food made for a wonderful Feast experience. Many said that they were coming back to San Diego next year.
Dr. Roderick C. Meredith spent the entire Feast here, giving two live sermons: “Opening Night Welcome” and the “First Holy Day—the Meaning of the Day,” besides the recorded Last Great Day message. He joined the brethren for all the luncheons and the dinner dance. Mr. Rand Millich, Regional Pastor from Kansas City, was at San Diego for the second half and gave two sermons, as did Mr. Bob Rodzaj. Mr. Stephen Elliott gave three sermons, and about 20 young children were prayed over at the Blessing of the Children service on the sixth day of the Feast.
This year we had two very successful family dinner dances. The first was held on the William D. Evans paddle wheeler, a beautiful replica of an 18th-century Mississippi riverboat, as it cruised Mission Bay. The second and main semi-formal dance was held in the Mission Bay Ballroom of the Bahia Resort. Professional DJs provided a great selection of music for all ages. Both nights, the dance floors were crowded with happy, rejoicing adults and children.
Nearby attractions included world-famous SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo, the Natural History Museum, Belmont Park amusements and arcade, the U.S.S. Midway aircraft carrier and Legoland.
This Feast site exemplified what we all look forward to in the Millennium: happy people caring for and cooperating with each other to make life what it should be. Many pitched in to make all the support functions run smoothly. We all truly rejoiced before our God. It was a wonderful experience.
The weather this year created an extra buzz of excitement and reminded us of Who really controls the weather! The added weather excitement seemed to pull the brethren together even more as a family and gave a warm, Millennial environment for the Feast.
Dr. Jeffrey Fall and Mr. Rod McNair started off the Feast with messages on our amazing hope for the future and the peace we will see in the world around us. Other messages painted a picture in practical ways of what God’s Kingdom will be like, our responsibility to grow as little children, emotional leadership and the need for faith and courage as we journey toward our promised land.
Young and old alike delighted in an afternoon ride on a coastal train pulled by a 1920s steam engine. The beauty of the Oregon coastline was enhanced by spectacular sunshine, blue skies, and ocean views, especially in the open-air cars. Other activities included gathering around a bonfire on the beach, complete with s’mores and guitars. Brethren also enjoyed a beautiful coastal hike with stunning views of the coast, wooded areas with lush ferns, and even a washed-up humpback whale skeleton on the beach. After the sun set for the Last Great Day, brethren enjoyed hours of fellowship at the historic “Camp 18” giant log cabin chalet. The private banquet room provided a cozy ambiance with unique historic décor and a large rustic rock fireplace, next to which we could share our final goodbyes.
Many commented on the unity, the wonderful messages, and the many family activities that brought the brethren together, as we look forward to God’s soon-coming Kingdom.
(Please read more about the Feast observance at Seaside in the nearby column compiled by Mr. Brandon Fall.)
St. George, Utah
In the beautiful desert Southwest, nestled next to the stunning red cliffs of Zion National Park, over 400 enthusiastic brethren observed the Feast in this unique corner of Utah. The picturesque green valley of the Virgin River was a fitting place for the Feast as many enjoyed the fabulous outdoor activities and magnificent mountain, desert and scenic views. We celebrated nearby cultural venues and many great eateries, amid the warm and dry temperatures.
Feedback from attendees listed the spiritual messages and activities as their highlights, along with the stunning scenery and natural beauty of the close-by National Parks. Many also said the love and spirit of the Feast in this beautiful area typified God’s future millennial setting at Christ’s soon-coming return.
New guests attending services (including one from another church that was meeting on-site for Sunday services!), along with our tour guides and activity venue operators alike, were very impressed with the caliber and character of God’s people. The Red Lion Hotel staff also commented a number of times that they hoped we would come back and about how much they appreciated us. The owner of the hotel personally served our members as well!
God additionally blessed us with lovely special music, a great service-oriented attitude for one another, a variety of well-received activities for all ages and a thought-provoking Friday evening Bible Study. The messages were inspired, on-point and spiritually focused, concluding with the powerful Last Great Day message! The great examples of our brethren clearly showed as they collectively let their lights shine everywhere. Many thanks, truly, to all who served so diligently to make it work smoothly. This was indeed a Feast dedicated to our Father and His Son, Jesus Christ!
Traverse City, Michigan
For the second year in a row we had a beautiful Feast site in Traverse City! God’s people spent the Feast of Tabernacles in a millennial setting and enjoyed the beauty of this idyllic and historic town right on the clear blue waters of Lake Michigan. The Feast took place during the peak of autumn’s colors. The trees were fully vibrant with shades of red, orange and yellow.
Brethren enjoyed fine dining at a variety of restaurants and wineries. Services were conducted at the Great Wolf Lodge, with many of the brethren staying on-site. Average attendance at services was 221, with maximum attendance reaching 246.
Messages were given by Messrs. Mark Sandor, Phil Sena, Alex Celan, Bill Long, and Dr. Douglas Winnail. It was clear that God inspired them to be knit together in a common theme of preparing for our future and staying focused on the soon-coming Kingdom of God. Dr. Winnail ended the Feast with sermons on restored values in religion, government and education in God’s Kingdom, and love as the Kingdom’s most important quality.
The brethren enjoyed a buffet lunch at the Great Wolf Lodge between services on the first day of the Feast and again on the Last Great Day. On Tuesday afternoon, a number of adults went on a tour of local wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula, which juts out into Grand Traverse Bay. The next afternoon brethren enjoyed bowling and games at the Family Day activity at Incredible Mo’s. Thursday evening was the dinner dance. Brethren were treated to a top-notch meal followed by dancing. On Friday afternoon the “seasoned” members of God’s Church ate together at the seniors’ luncheon and received original framed prints painted by Mrs. Shelby Vice. Later that evening, to begin the Sabbath, the brethren attended a Bible Study about developing “soft skills” (character) by the Feast Site Coordinator, Mr. Bill Long. On Sunday afternoon the deacons, elders, and their spouses enjoyed a nice lunch together. Dr. Winnail gave a short talk about how appreciative the Church is of its leaders. He encouraged them to be as active as possible in their respective congregations and to set a good example of service.
It was a memorable Feast for God’s people here. Because the Feast took place in late October, the weather was crisp but the surrounding scenery kept everyone focused on the Kingdom of God, promoting a sense of unity and family.
Charlottetown, PEI, Canada
The Feast of Tabernacles in Charlottetown went well. We had a total of 107 excited brethren attending in Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province. The hotel staff in the Best Western were wonderful. The meals and other activities were well worth the cost.
Highlighting the beginning of the Feast was the opening night message by Presiding Evangelist Roderick C. Meredith. Sermons during the Feast were also given by Messrs. Stewart Wachowicz, Jonathan Bueno, Charlie Sutton, Shane Kruse and Frank Best. Two members were ordained as deacons during the Feast and one woman was baptized.
Activities included a visit to the Anne of Green Gables House and a dinner and dance, along with assorted luncheons. It was also a real treat this year to have a live piano player and ample special music. Visitors included members from Western and Central Canada, along with some from the United States and England.
Once again this year, as in years past, a definite spirit of warm fellowship, love and thankfulness permeated the Feast.
Cypress Hills, Saskatchewan
The week before the Feast in Saskatchewan seemed ominous: Cypress Hills received two feet of snow. However, when Feast time came around, God’s protection and intervention was plain to see. The snow melted and beautiful fall temperatures settled in. The site was truly millennial, first by the messages received and then by the fellowship of kindred minds, and finally by the surroundings—a beautiful pine forest, with deer that came and ate from the hands of children. Moose and other wildlife completed the scenery.
Among the many activities of the Feast, which included a nature walk for the teens and singles, a sing-along and s’mores night, was the Dinner, Talent and Dance Night. We had the opportunity to hear yodelling and some wonderful piano pieces. The dance part saw wonderful smiles on the faces of those present and allowed those who had dancing feet to get them going. Then, after almost three hours of different styles of music, people retired to a well-deserved sleep.
The Feast this year in Cypress Hills was a success, and when the family of God comes together it is a feeling of just that: family. We had the opportunity to meet new people, whom we soon felt we had known all of our lives. The stories of how God called them to the Truth and the understanding of the hope that we have is fantastic. Many fond memories were created in the minds of those who were there for the first time in many years and of those who were there for the very first time. The sermons provided by the guest speaker, Mr. Gary Ehman, caused many people to comment on the awesomeness of God’s plan for us and for mankind. Every day, Bible trivia questions were written on a whiteboard and had people searching the scriptures and talking about what the answer could be. Furthermore, a Bible game on game night brought laughter and challenged the knowledge of many.
Overall, the more than 130 members present in Cypress Hills enjoyed the Feast and are looking forward for its realisation in the years to come.
Penticton, British Columbia
Once again Penticton came through as a very popular and friendly location for God to place His name. Since 1969, Feast-goers have enjoyed this beautiful semi-arid part of Canada, complete with its vineyard and sagebrush-covered hills set against two large blue lakes. Although the weather was a little bit cooler than usual, our generous Father in Heaven completely confounded the weatherman with better-than-predicted weather. The nicest, sunniest day was on Family Day, and everyone enjoyed a day of good food, quality fellowship and interesting games, including Corn Hole Toss, Bocci Ball, modified basketball and remote controlled car races. The day was fun for everyone of all ages.
Other activities included a South Okanagan Winery Bus Tour and a Thanksgiving-themed dinner dance. The award-winning wines of the Okanagan Valley and the turkey dinner were enjoyed by everyone.
Many brothers and sisters from south of the border joined their Canadian brethren to learn more about the Government of God. We heard many sermons on this theme, and 185 brethren took note of these lessons and admonishments as the love and concern for one another—and for our Creator—was obvious.
It was the very first Feast for a few, and for about the same number it was more than their fiftieth. The sermon highlights and Christian fellowship were enhanced with the joy of the baptism of a very happy lady, along with a special Blessing of the Children, which involved only one, beautiful little boy. Everyone went home with a renewed zeal to grow personally as the Church pushes forward doing the Work of God.
In Rockland we had 222 attendees to the 2016 Feast of Tabernacles. Meetings were held at the River Rock Inn of Rockland along the Ottawa river. Members lodged there, as well as in two other hotels in Orleans, and in a few cottages in the area.
The spiritual menu presented by our speakers was deeply appreciated by our people. Dr. Roderick D. Meredith’s messages strongly hit home. We shared two lunches together, one on the first day of the Feast and one on the Last Great Day. We also enjoyed a very pleasurable dinner dance. After dinner, the dance floor stayed full all the evening, as we enjoyed well-planned, high-quality music! Other main activities included bowling and a car ride of 22 kilometers to a beautiful wildlife park, where we traveled among animals of all kinds—even feeding some from our car.
Although there were many illnesses, the attitude was positive. People helped and encouraged each other, and they went back home uplifted and spiritually fortified. A lady attending the Quebec City congregation was baptised during the Feast, a first fruit from Rwanda. Members made a strong, positive impression on people serving them, and room maids commented on how considerate our people were. The lady overseeing our meals said she had never served such a well-behaved and appreciative group. She asked questions about the Church, our beliefs and why we are so different. God truly blessed this Feast abundantly in many ways.
Bon Accord, Tobago
Rovanel’s Resort again served as the main site for God’s Feast in Bon Accord, Tobago. The meeting hall was spacious and comfortable and the fellowship among the brethren was warm and positive.
With a high attendance of 117, God richly fed His people spiritually with main messages by Regional Director, Mr. Rick Stafford, as well as visiting speakers, Messrs. Joe Brown and Damian Weekes. We also had the annual Family Bible Study as well as special music every day.
Brethren were also well treated to a range of activities, which included a short boat cruise and ocean dip for the singles, the Family Fun Day, the ever-popular Festival Ball and the Talent Show.
The brethren served with all their hearts to ensure that each activity was a success and that every area of responsibility was handled properly. Many commented that this was a relaxing, yet rewarding Feast.
Christ Church, Barbados
One hundred and fifty-three brethren travelled from Trinidad, the United States, Canada and Britain to share in rejoicing at the Barbados Beach Club on the peaceful Maxwell Coast Road.
There were rich blessings of sunny weather and warm fellowship, with a banquet of spiritual and physical food. Sermons were presented encouraging brethren to wait for the promise and benefits of the Kingdom. Fine Christian examples of love for all humanity were shared in both sermons and sermonettes. Messrs. Paul Shumway, Richard Stafford and Clyde Skeete were ably supported by visiting ministers, Messrs. Todd Lawrence and Shannon Christal.
Our seniors were honoured with a buffet in the “Reef-View” Restaurant overlooking the blue ocean. Some other highlights of the Feast were the catamaran cruise, the family day at Mangrove, and the dinner dance in the beautiful setting of the Dome restaurant.
What a great time of learning, rejoicing and fearing our great God!
The 2016 Feast of Tabernacles was held in Le Gosier. Guadeloupe is actually divided into two large islands, and the Feast was held on the eastern island, which includes soft, rolling terrain, white-sand beaches, resort areas and Guadeloupe’s largest city, Pointe-à-Pitre. The western island offers a dramatic rain forest, towering waterfalls, magnificent beaches, a dormant volcano and Guadeloupe’s capital city, Basse-Terre.
French-speaking brethren from Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Quebec, Montreal and Paris enjoyed a wonderful spiritual and physical Feast, along with English-speaking visitors from New Jersey, Rhode Island, Florida, Georgia and Texas. Translation was provided by brethren from Canada, New Jersey and Georgia.
Dr. Wilner Pierre, the area pastor for the French-speaking Caribbean, arrived in Guadeloupe after being with the brethren in Haiti. He and Mr. Rick Stafford, Regional Director for the Caribbean, who arrived in the second half of the Feast, delivered two sermons. There was also an inspiring Bible Study, which was followed with a question-and-answer session that could have continued even longer if time had permitted.
One of the highlights of this year’s Feast of Tabernacles was the baptism of two new Church members from French Guiana. Other special highlights, the Blessing of the Children and a performance of the children’s choir, touched the hearts of everyone.
Brethren took advantage of several Church-sponsored activities, along with beach activities such as snorkeling, kayaking and jet-skiing. The Saturday evening family dance was one of the highlights of the Feast. Music was provided by one of Guadeloupe’s local steel drum bands. As a special treat, the band played a song from the Church hymnal while the brethren sang along.
The Feast in Guadeloupe was just a small foretaste of what God’s people all around the world can look forward to in His Kingdom. Peace, harmony and family unity could be felt throughout the entire Festival.
Those of us in Port-au-Prince lodged at the hotel “La Reserve” in Pétion-Ville, because it was not possible for us to go elsewhere due to the bad weather. The Opening Night service was conducted by Dr. Pierre, with the viewing of a special message from the Presiding Evangelist, Dr. Roderick C. Meredith.
On the first day of the Feast, we had an attendance of 27 brethren. The sermonette was presented by the local elder, Mr. Jove Jean-Pierre, titled “What Motivates Us to Serve God?” The sermon was given by our Pastor, Dr. Wilner Pierre. We had the same attendance on the second service of the first day and we watched a DVD.
Since we only received one DVD for the Last Great Day, brethren received an additional sermon from Mr. Jean-Pierre titled “The Depth of God’s Mercy.”
We thank God for His many blessings before, during and after the Feast of Tabernacles this year. We claim more blessings from our Great God for the coming days, months and years, while we patiently wait for His Kingdom of peace.
(Please read more about the Feast observance in Haiti in the nearby column by Dr. Wilner Pierre.)
Montego Bay, Jamaica
For the eighth consecutive year, we celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles on the north coast resort town of Montego Bay, our island’s premier tourist destination. Brethren from Australia, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom and the United States joined the Jamaican brethren to celebrate the Feast at the Holiday Inn Resort. Opening Night began with 289 brethren in attendance. The atmosphere was absorbing as the fellowshipping began. The brethren lifted up their voices and sang, giving glory, honour and praise to the Great God. We had 15 individuals attending their first Feast ever, and there were nine who were celebrating 50 or more!
A family atmosphere permeated the gathering. The messages were focused on the Millennium and what we should be doing to prepare for it. There was camaraderie, warmth and friendliness, before and after services, at meal times and at the activities as the Feast progressed. Our premier activity was the “Family Cookout and Fun Day,” where the brethren enjoyed mouthwatering local foods and table games under the cool, covered areas of the Montego River Gardens for five hours. We also enjoyed a designated tour day, which, like the Family Fun Day, allowed the brethren more time for fellowship and for enjoying the attractions. Other activities at the Feast included an “ice breaker” for pre-teens, teens, and singles, an evening of games and an off-site get-together with our visiting and Jamaican brethren, the Seniors’ Appreciation Luncheon, a family Bible study, a family dance and a hymn-sing. On the weekly Sabbath, we had the Blessing of the Little Children, and five children were blessed.
We recorded our highest attendance on the morning of the first day of the Feast (342). Many visiting and local brethren alike indicated their satisfaction with how things were organized. The majority commented on the warmth and friendliness of the Jamaican brethren and that the highlights of the Feast were the messages and fellowshipping. They also indicated that they enjoyed the other activities as well. God willing, we all look forward with anticipation to another memorable Feast in 2017!
San Martin, Argentina
Argentina is south of the equator, so when it is time for the Fiesta de la Tabernaculos, the countryside is enjoying beautiful springtime weather. This year’s Feast was held in the province of San Luis in the small city of Villa de Merlo. Sixty enthusiastic brethren from eight countries met at the Hotel Torres del Sol, where accommodations and all meals were provided. Brethren visiting from other countries often take a side trip to Buenos Aires, either going to or coming home from the Feast.
Visiting minister Mr. Dexter Wakefield provided the sermons, along with videos by Dr. Roderick C. Meredith and Mr. Mario Hernandez, with translations by Miss Deborah Lincoln-Strange and Mrs. Priscilla Lyons.
Activities included rock climbing and horseback riding in the high sierra near the Feast site.
In addition to the spiritual food, the Fiesta featured a special type of Argentine BBQ called an asadoro. These cookouts are an important part of the Argentine culture, and the Fiesta there usually features one or two. The usual BBQ or asado features beef and lamb cooked over coals similar to an American BBQ. In the asadoro prepared by local minister, Sr. Aaron Bravo, kid goats were filleted out on vertical grills and slow-cooked by the radiant heat of an open fire. The result was most delicious! If you go to the Feast in Argentina, be prepared to eat a lot of carne (meat) and to enjoy Argentina’s good Mendoza wines if you so desire. When bought domestically, the better Argentine wines are a pleasant bargain compared to their prices in the U.S. and other countries.
When everyone lives and eats together, as is the case with the Feast in Argentina, the members get to know each other and form lasting friendships. A Felice Fiesta, indeed!
Punta Leona, Costa Rica
One hundred and five brethren coming from Canada, the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Bolivia, Trinidad & Tobago, Puerto Rico, Wales, Holland and Spain this year successfully celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day in the Hotel and Club Resort Punta Leona on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
The messages were truly inspiring and helpful for everyone, and we truly enjoyed the fellowship with so many brethren coming from different nations—so much so that at the end of services we stayed for quite a long time fellowshipping in the meeting hall.
The majority of the brethren said that they enjoyed the natural environment, such as the flora and fauna in the resort, and we truly enjoyed that picture of peace that we all desire for the whole world.
On the Church survey, all the brethren said they recommended this site for the year 2017. The brethren in Costa Rica are very grateful for brethren from other countries who visited us, and for all the brethren who participated and helped us with service and dedication to make all the activities successful.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
This year in Mexico we once again celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles in San Miguel de Allende—a colonial city with a pleasant climate.
Brethren from the United States and Puerto Rico joined us in the celebration, and the attendance was 144. We received spiritual nourishment, which helped us to have the vision of the Kingdom and the future restoration when our King of kings will begin to govern this earth. On top of this, we had fellowship, which allowed us to share meals together and partake in activities. We enjoyed a children’s fiesta and a children’s class, which included children and parents, alike. Likewise, we had a young adult activity in Queretaro and a congregational dance. God blessed us greatly and we thank Him for giving us the knowledge and opportunity to celebrate His Feasts.
Brethren from southern Guyana and northeastern Brazil, as well as a couple from Trinidad and Tobago and one from the United States gathered in the village of Moscou, in the state of Roraima, Brazil for God’s Feast this year. The weather was quite humid, and the warmth was matched only by the fellowship among the brethren.
With a high attendance of 139, God richly fed His people spiritually with main messages by Elder Mr. Laurus Alfred, as well as visiting speakers Messrs. Hugh Stewart and Damian Weekes. Messages covered the following topics: “The Holiness of God’s Promise,” “Follow God’s Pattern” and “Lessons to Be Learnt at the Feast.”
We were blessed to have special music most days and most meals were shared in the common eating area next to the meeting hall. There were lots of sporting activities during the afternoons, a family Bible study, and an impromptu sing-along one evening.
Lican Ray, Chile
Thanks to God this year that the brethren from Chile were able to keep the Feast in the city of Concón, surrounded by beautiful nature and ocean views. During our stay we visited a botanical garden and the cities of Viña del Mar, Quintero and Maitencillo (a Feast site in years past).
The spiritual and physical nourishment was abundant, and being able to eat three meals together with the brethren was very special, as was being able to enjoy the children’s company. From the children, we learned to enjoy the Feast, like our Lord Jesus said: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
La Tebaida, Colombia
In Colombia we had a spectacular Feast. Eighty-two people attended from eleven countries: Columbia, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the United States, Guatemala, Israel and France. For nine people, it was their first time celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles, and they said it felt like a family. There were four baptisms, three of which came from the preaching of the radio, and one came to the Church via our website.
We celebrated in a zone of Colombia that is best known for its coffee production, and we enjoyed the nature, peace, harmony and fellowship. There were activities for everyone each night, and we had a theme oriented to help us identify the deceit that is in the world and how to come out of that deceit. We celebrated a pleasant family Feast, and everyone participated. The theme of the Feast in Colombia was enjoyment and reflection, celebrating the future restored world, and being conscious that we live in a world that needs restoration.
Located 10,498 meters above the sea in the Huaychulo Resort in Peru, in the midst of nature and surrounded by woods where eucalyptus trees are abundant, 69 spiritual Israelites congregated, coming from different cities of Peru, Chile and Colombia to celebrate the Feast to our heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. God provided a spirit of service, joyfulness and fellowship to all the brethren.
We enjoyed meat in due season and fellowship activities, which made us desire all the more the true Kingdom. We also had tasty meals typical of the Peruvian country. We thank God for all His mercies and endless kindness, and our thanks to each of the brethren for the love they showed during this Festival season.
Baguio City, Philippines
The City of Baguio, set high in the Cordillera mountain range, again hosted the Feast of Tabernacles. We were joined by and welcomed guests from Australia, Hong Kong, China and Canada.
Sadly, we were also joined by (though did not welcome) Typhoon Lawin. This typhoon struck the Philippines the day before the Feast started, bringing with it some of the strongest winds ever recorded. So, for the first part of the Feast, Baguio was subjected to drenching, lashing rain and very fierce winds resulting in local flooding. Baguio was without electricity for a couple of days, but the administrators of the Feast site were able to provide a limited power supply from generators and we were able to hold services as planned.
Festival- and Millennial-themed sermons were delivered by local ministers Messrs. Basilio Osillos and Kinnear Penman. Halfway during the Feast, we were joined by Headquarters minister Mr. Gaylyn Bonjour, who had spent several days with the brethren in the southern Philippines. Everyone enjoyed and benefitted from his messages.
Of course, the Feast presents many opportunities to fellowship with each other. Forty-five of our senior citizens were hosted at the popular Good Taste Restaurant, where they enjoyed a luncheon of chicken and beef dishes. Our youngest attendees appreciated Mrs. Noemi Agravante’s children’s activity, where they enjoyed games and treats. At a sports afternoon, games of volleyball and basketball were played by members of all ages. On the evening after the first day of the Feast, a “Getting to Know You” activity did, indeed, allow many to meet those who had been strangers but soon became friends. One of the memorable highlights of the Feast was the fun show, which was ably emceed by Ms. Regina Abelardo. One memorable presentation was a traditional Philippines bamboo dance, the “Tinikling.” The Baguio Feast Choir, led by Mr. Joseph dela Cruz and other talented musicians and singers, enhanced our worship services with special music.
By the end of the Feast the sun had returned to Baguio. The brunt of the typhoon was borne by provinces north of Baguio. There are a few Living Church of God congregations and video groups in the north. Members returned home to survey and report on the damage. At the time of this writing, their farms and homes appear to have suffered relatively little damage, for which we thank God.
Davao City, Philippines
Eighty-five people convened at Lantaw Bukid to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. Brethren from congregations in Davao City and a few from Luzon stayed in cottages, huts and dormitories, which brought everyone closer together. The green scenery encouraged the brethren to fellowship, and area attractions included a swimming pool, basketball court, and swimming pond for the families to enjoy.
For the first half of the Feast, brethren were blessed to hear messages from a guest minister, Mr. Gaylyn Bonjour, who spoke on “Catching the Vision” and “Path to the Kingdom.” He emphasized that God’s people are in the same boat but we use different oars. Festival Site Coordinator Mr. Felipe Casing emphasized the nature of God’s Kingdom and that His people should be an example of peace and service.
There was a spirit of unity throughout the Feast, and as a result, all the various activities were greatly enjoyed. The Festival talent show demonstrated the talents and skills of the brethren in singing, dancing and participation in parlor games. Children also participated in games and enjoyed prizes followed by spaghetti and ice cream for dinner. The sports day was cheerful as all basketball and volleyball enthusiasts showed their skills in front of the cheering crowd. The senior citizens also became participants in the 300-meter run, which proved that their legs are still just as capable as their minds.
The Festival this year was another memorable Feast for the people of God. As Psalms 133 says, “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”
Filled with enthusiasm and joy, 112 people from Iligan, Sindangan, Cagayan de Oro, Claveria and Zamboanga made their way to the Feast site at Maranding. The attendees had a taste of what it would feel like in God’s Kingdom, as they were filled with an abundance of food for both body and soul, with genuine happiness, authentic freedom and internal peace.
Many brethren commented that the Feast was filled with spiritual meat, right from the opening message from Dr. Roderick C. Meredith, which warmly welcomed everyone. While the Feast’s activities were instructive and fun and helped all to bond with each other, as usual, the highlight of the Feast were the spiritual messages that prompted us all to take a deeper look into God’s word and His coming Kingdom. The children’s activity event, special nights for different groups—such as couples, singles, youths and families—a film showing, and even the daily services all created happy memories and filled us with much instruction that will help us in our walk towards God’s Kingdom.
At the end of the feast, everyone, most with some hint of sadness, said their farewells, bid one another good-bye, and went home with hearts filled with delight as the Last Great Day came to a close. All are already looking forward to next year’s Feast and are intent on preparing for it in every way through the next twelve months.
Warm days and cool evenings with the occasional tropical downpour welcomed 34 brethren, 23 adults and 11 children to the resort city of Batu, East Java where they experienced a wonderful and joyous Feast of Tabernacles. The sermons and sermonettes as well as the “Behind the Work” presentation truly inspired God’s people to stir up His Spirit and become even more involved in His Work. The attendance of brethren from Malaysia and Australia was greatly appreciated by the local brethren.
Besides the spiritual food, the brethren enjoyed a day trip to the beach, a visit to a local theme park, a stroll through a transport museum and daily frolics in the swimming pool, as well as a special dinner, a talent show and a movie evening. The attitudes of love, cooperation and caring between the brethren will long live in the memory of all who were there.
Mae Sot, Thailand
Mae Sot is a district in western Thailand that shares the border with Burma. It is notable as a trade hub and for its substantial population of Burmese migrants and refugees, and this is where God placed His name this year. Twenty-five brethren gathered together at the Im Boutique Hotel to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day.
For the past three years, the Feast in Thailand has been kept in the city of Mae Sot. It is a closed site, only serving the brethren in Thailand. The brethren there are very humble, loving, caring and welcoming. All the brethren live in Thailand. Most of them come from the district of Tha Song Yang, a few live in Mae Sot, and the rest are from Mae La Camp.
The Feast started with a strong recorded message from Mr. Rod King entitled: “Come Let Us Tabernacle with God,” reminding the brethren of the purpose of the Feast and the lesson that God wants His people to learn. With the focus on the spiritual food, and the millennial picture, the sermons provided the brethren with detailed information of what the Kingdom of God is and how God uses the Holy Days as a tool to teach His people about His master plan.
The brethren were uplifted and spiritually fed by the inspiring messages, and they were also well-fed physically with a variety of good Thai food. The fellowship was great during outdoor activities. However, the highlight of the Feast was the Bible quiz that started with a crossword-puzzle warm-up then ended with questions surrounding this year’s Feast theme. At the end of the quiz, the brethren were so excited that they asked that this kind of activity should be done more often, as it helps them to revisit the scriptures and the notes taken during the sermons, and also provides a way for them to test their own biblical knowledge.
This year’s Feast concluded with great joy as—on the morning of the Last Great Day—Mr. Rajan Moses baptised a new member into the Body of Christ and blessed a child in the afternoon service. Nonetheless, it was with great sadness that we said goodbye to each other, as many of our brethren did not want to go home because of the warm, loving, caring atmosphere of the past eight days. But, we finally did, in the hope that we will see each other again next year at the same time, though maybe in a different place.
We are thankful and grateful for God’s blessings and protection throughout His Feast here in Mae Sot, as it went very well. And as we departed to our dwelling places, we began, once again, preparing for and looking forward to the next year’s Feast.
The Feast of Tabernacles 2016 was held at the Flamingo Hotel by the Beach. It was a very joyful Feast in Penang for about 78 local and overseas brethren, including children. There were visitors from Australia, the Philippines and the United States.
Ministers and wives present during the Feast were Mr. and Mrs. Michael and Heather Gill from Adelaide, Mr. and Mrs. Rajan Moses from Kuala Lumpur for the first half of the Feast, and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Gonzales for the second half.
During the “Get Together Night,” visitors introduced themselves and there were some lively games. An activity for children and teens was conducted in the afternoon of the second day. There were plenty of laughs at the Bible Quiz. At the BBQ night there was happy singing and dancing. The beach games on one of the afternoons had good weather instead of rain. The fun talent show was viewed by an enthusiastic audience. There were acts of singing, dancing, whistling and plays about the ten plagues in Egypt found in the book of Exodus and about the parable of the ten virgins of Matthew chapter 25.
A family Bible study was given by Mr. Gill on Friday night about building the mind of Jesus Christ, using the example of King David, a man after God’s own heart. An interesting and amazing tour to the 3D Penang Trick Art Museum in Georgetown City was arranged. The senior buffet luncheon was enjoyed with abundance by 16 seniors.
Adult and children’s choirs sang praises to our glorious Creator who gave us His wonderful plan of salvation. There were helpful sermonettes and sermons. There were many occasions to take happy and memorable photos among the brethren. The Blessing of the Children was one such special occasion.
There was a group photo taken by the steps beside the swimming pool after the encouraging 2016 Last Great Day sermon by Dr. Roderick C Meredith.
It was a wonderful Feast picturing God’s wonderful Kingdom.
This year for the Feast of Tabernacles, about 66 members of God’s Church in Myanmar attended in Sakhangyi. Burma (Myanmar) is one of the poorest countries in the world, but God’s people came together joyfully.
One of the highlights of the Feast was that our first baptized member of God’s Church in Myanmar, who had been baptized in 1972, came to the Feast accompanied by his daughter. We were so happy, and enjoyed the Feast more powerfully because of this. As the sermon tapes came too late, Mr. Thomas Tial Hoe preached from some of the tapes and booklets we have here. Though the Sakhangyi brethren are of limited means and are but a tiny presence in a country of over 51 million, God did not forsake our Myanmar members.
We kept the Feast with a unified spirit of love, togetherness and selfless service to one another. We ate together, stayed together, listened to the sermons together, and were happy. Our days were joyful, and we enjoyed delicious meals that we never have during the year.
This Feast was an opportunity for the brethren to spend time together, as a family. Thank you very much for your help, your assistance and your deep concern for us.
The South Pacific
Hanmer Springs, New Zealand
One hundred and sixty-nine Living Church of God brethren and guests enjoyed the stunning Festival site of Hanmer Springs this year for the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day. The attendance is a record figure for the Church in New Zealand, which is encouraging! Many commented that the site was the most millennial they have experienced, including some who have been attending the Feast for over 50 years!
The grand snow-capped mountains, stunning turquoise lakes and relaxing thermal pools provided the ideal environment for a millennial context. The brethren were well fed by inspiring sermons from Dr. Scott Winnail and Messrs. Tanner, Niehoff, Leman, and Kearns. It was certainly a privilege to have the Winnail family with us for the first half of the Feast and it was encouraging to see them serving in various ways.
Perhaps the three best social highlights of the Feast were the dinner dance, animal park and talent show, the last of which involved Pacific Islander brethren showcasing amazing dances from various Pacific nations.
What a wonderful Feast it truly was!
The island of Santo is a popular tourist destination, with diving as the principle attraction. The tourist presence in the township, though, is barely noticeable as the locals go about their daily routines.
This year was the second time the Feast was held at this location and, it was enjoyed by over 100 enthusiastic, happy brethren and their families. Most travelled by ferry from the Islands of Malekula and Efate, with others attending from Australia and Noumea to rejoice before God at His chosen Feast site.
This Feast was very much a family affair, with many children helping to fulfil the objective of a family-oriented Feast. There was much laughter and joy seen clearly on the faces of all who attended. One outstanding feature of the Ni-Vanuatu people is their capacity to enjoy themselves. Our talent evening had full participation and extended well into the night with a variety of acts—over three-and-a-half hours with no intermission.
During the Feast, the brethren experienced a good balance between timely sermon and sermonette messages and the fine fellowship enjoyed on a daily basis. Two beachside picnics were held—one at World Heritage-listed Champagne Beach. The highlight of that picnic was the baptism of a woman from the Port Vila congregation.
Elder Jerry Sam, his wife Colette and all the dedicated brethren did a great job of helping to make this a very memorable Feast indeed. The Last Great Day ended with some very emotional farewells, with brethren lining up to shake hands with the ministry and sermonette men, then in turn with each other. Many photos were taken along the way—many happy memories for the year ahead.
Nelson Bay, New South Wales
The Feast of Tabernacles in Nelson Bay was a wonderful opportunity to be spiritually refreshed, uplifted and made ready for the year ahead. It was a great opportunity for brethren to rediscover the things that matter and to consider the splendour of our magnificent future.
We had a total of 225 Feast-goers, including a wonderful mix of American guests. We were also blessed to have Dr. Scott Winnail and his family join us for the last half of the Feast, after spending the first half with our brethren in New Zealand.
To help us grasp and appreciate why we were at the Feast, Mr. Rod King spoke about “Catching the Vision” of what it will be like in God’s Kingdom and the roles we will potentially play as spirit beings. Regional Director Mr. Robert Tyler taught us about the coming Kingdom of Peace, Dr. Scott Winnail reminded us about how desperately the world needs the coming Kingdom of God and the role of the firstfruits in God’s Kingdom. The detail that was presented was both encouraging and exciting and this vision of the coming Kingdom became the dominant theme.
Special music was enjoyed every day and ranged from the very young in the Children’s Choir to international performances and the full-blown sounds of the Festival choir, as they sang “Strangers Here Below” by Mark Graham and the rousing “New Heavens, New Earth” by Charles Romer, which only gave more meaning to the vision of the wonderful world ahead.
One memorable moment was when Dr. Winnail presented Mrs. Sondra Tyler with a beautiful clock bearing an inscription honouring Mr. Bruce Tyler’s service, as well as a Living University Certificate dedicated to Mr. Tyler’s service and position as regent with Living University. It was very stirring to watch, as our lives have all been touched by Mr. Tyler’s diligent, loving, devoted service. His memory is ever-present with us.
There were a number of organised activities that included a very successful whale and dolphin tour, which culminated in a magnificent twin breach by two large Humpback whales. Much fun and fellowship was enjoyed at the family picnic, the fellowship dance evening and the sunrise walks.
The Feast in Nelson Bay was filled with inspiring sermonettes, sermons and activities encouraging all to rejoice in the coming kingdom together and to most assuredly catch the glorious vision as we go forward!
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
This year’s Feast in Papua New Guinea was again held in the capital, Port Moresby. The weather was hot and humid (as is normal for this time of year), and the spirit of togetherness was evident among the 23 brethren attending from around the country.
Brethren enjoyed a Bible quiz, a ladies’ afternoon tea, a song-leading session for the men, a special presentation on where the sons of Cush went, and two barbecues around the swimming pool in very balmy conditions in the late afternoon/evening. The brethren also enjoyed several hymn sing-alongs after lunch where the ladies chose the hymns and the men took leading songs, resulting in much joy and merriment for everyone.
Every day, the brethren brought food to share for lunch after services, and many commented on the abundance that we all enjoyed. This Feast was a wonderful opportunity to fellowship with each other, especially with those who came from the more remote areas of the country and who can’t meet on a regular basis. Some were attending their first Feast.
Messages focused on learning more about the Kingdom of God and what we need to do to develop our relationship with God and be part of His Family. Many face much difficulty in their lives living God’s way, but here at the Feast they found peace and joy.
There was much rejoicing before God and much thankfulness for His protection and provision during the eight days. Everyone is looking forward to the Feast next year.
Two hundred and forty-two rejoicing Feast-goers, representing 30 different countries and nationalities, gathered in Carry-le-Rouet to keep the Feast this year. Carry-le-Rouet is a seaside resort situated on the spectacular Mediterranean coast, about 30 kilometers from Marseille. All of the members stayed in a Vacanciel, a French resort. This provided the opportunity for “full-time fellowship,” as the members ate their meals together, attended services together, and enjoyed most of their activities right at the resort.
Services alternated between French and English, with translations provided into multiple languages for each service. Messrs. Ben Whitfield, Ray Clore, Rees Ellis, David Chornomaz, Adam West and Vincent Larde spoke on many important subjects. During the Sabbath Bible Study, entitled “Jerusalem in the World Tomorrow,” Mr. Clore offered a first-hand glimpse into the city of Jerusalem, complete with a slide presentation.
In addition to the strong messages, the brethren were treated to fabulous French cuisine at each meal. There was a host of on-site activities, including a dance lesson and dance, a game-filled family day, arts and crafts, a nearby hike, a park frequented by the children, a lesson in making tapenade, and a variety show showcasing the musical and comic talents of many of our brethren. In the evening, there was a family-friendly bar, complete with table games, at which we could gather and continue the conversation. In addition to this, there were excursions to the picturesque village of Baux-de-Provence, atop the Alpilles Mountains, as well as to the historic town of Arles.
God’s hand of protection was clearly seen at the Feast this year. This past July, the hills all around the Feast site experienced a massive wildfire, which stopped exactly where the Vacanciel property started. God spared His Feast site from the devastation. Many brethren enthusiastically stated that this was their “Best Feast Ever!”
Great Malvern, England
Two hundred and fifteen brethren from the United Kingdom and Ireland gathered with visitors from Canada, Honduras, Malta, South Africa, Sweden and the United States in the charming English town of Great Malvern. We enjoyed the blessing of autumnal sunshine as we soaked up the panoramic views from the vantage point of the Abbey Hotel, where services were held.
Feast surveys indicate highlights for many members were the excellent sermons and wonderful, relaxed fellowship, especially during meals. The attendees’ Feast experience was very inspiring, uplifting and motivating and the excellent service from the hotel staff made it all the more enjoyable.
Feast messages meshed together well. Regional Director Mr. Adam West spoke on “The Product of the Kingdom”and “Untying the Knot” before leaving for the French Feast site. Other speakers were Messrs. Wyatt Ciesielka, John Strain, John Meakin and the Festival Site Coordinator, Mr. Simon Roberts.
The planned activities included the Avoncroft Historic Building Museum, which provided a chance to practice hands-on temporary dwelling construction skills like brick-making and wattle-and-daub techniques. Also, many enjoyed the eclectic Hampton Court Castle and gardens. A tour of the Morgan Cars factory was a highlight, providing an opportunity to see traditional sports cars built by hand. An evening family dance with Cole Valley Ceilidh Band, ice skating, two millennial-themed children’s art activities and a sports afternoon rounded off the events.
Delightful special music was provided by piano and vocal soloists, as well as the Festival and Children’s Choirs. Thanks to all those who, officially and unofficially, quietly served others at the Feast to make it so successful—it certainly contributed to the atmosphere of unity and outgoing concern experienced by so many of our wonderful brethren.
Thanks to the Eternal God for the joy, provision and assurance He gave the brethren who were able to observe this year’s Feast of Tabernacles in Nigeria.
We had planned to observe the Feast on a government facility this year. However, just three months before the Feast, the management of the facility reneged on the agreement we reached with them. Therefore, we had to start looking for alternatives, eventually choosing to return to a familiar facility we had used for three years—Soketta Hotels, in the historical town of Badagry, near Lagos.
We enjoyed the uplifting messages by way of sermon DVDs from Charlotte, supplemented by spiritual messages presented locally. The messages were well received by the brethren, who realized the importance of the Feast of Tabernacles in helping us “rehearse” the Way of God as we prepare for His soon-coming Kingdom.
Mr. Oladele Akin-Ogundeji organised an interactive workshop/class on “Proverbs for Living.” The interactive class examined the purpose of the book of Proverbs, learning wisdom early, the difference between worldly and godly wisdom, key benefits of godly wisdom, dealing with peer/social pressure (including social media), and gleaning wisdom from everyday living. Brethren also enjoyed indoor games and an uplifting sing-along. Some of our brethren from nearby Cotonou, in the Republic of Benin, once again came to celebrate the Feast with their brethren in Nigeria.
The Eternal God commanded us to rejoice before Him. He made it possible!
Kendu Bay, Kenya
Over 500 brethren from Kenya together with visitors from Uganda and Ethiopia gathered together to observe the Feast of Tabernacles at the property of the Church in Kendu Bay, close by the shores of Lake Victoria. One Kenyan travelled from Dubai, where he has been working to be able to attend the Feast.
A feature of the Feast this year was the introduction of a Spokesman’s Club to the Kenyans as a means of developing leadership within the Church. As only one Kenyan member has ever experienced a Spokesman’s Club, a video was taken of the Charlotte Spokesman’s Club meeting as a way of introduction. Commentary to provide a context for the club activity was provided. Two visitors from the United States served as club officers. They were appointed to be the president and vice president for the meeting and took leading roles for both the Table Topics and Toast Master duties. The result was a very enjoyable afternoon for all, with the rest of the congregation watching eagerly from the sidelines. The immediate question was when could they have another meeting. So another club was arranged for the Sunday afternoon, allowing some of the local men to act as officers and lead as Topics Master and Toast Master. Kenyans of all ages were keen to take part in the clubs.
Health problems at the Feast this year, especially from malaria, were at a minimum, enabling the brethren to rejoice. Problems the Kenyans face include taking children out of school for the Feast period. One congregation had put real effort into working with school principals in their area and were successful in establishing a great example for the rest of the congregations. Almost all of the children from that congregation were able to attend the Feast.
At Kendu Bay, the majority of the brethren sleep in tents and services are held under a large marquee. An occasional torrential rainstorm is common during the Feast. Keeping water from pooling on the roof of the marquee is important to prevent collapse. This year a rainstorm came through early in the Feast, catching people unaware and necessitating much drying of bedding and clothes. Being only 20 kilometers from the equator, the daytime temperatures soon took care of that need. A second rainstorm a few days later found the brethren ready for a deluge.
The Feast videos were well received by the brethren. Videos had to be shown in the evenings, as the sides of the marquee needed to remain open during the daytime for ventilation. The bright colors of the marquee illuminated by the bright sunshine cast interesting hues on the people attending services!
Brethren and families departed from the Feast excited by the opportunity of knowing the plans of our Heavenly Father and having a part in their fulfillment. One enthusiastic Feast-goer wrote a message that speaks to their takeaway this year: “This year’s Feast of Tabernacles was a wonderful one ever since creation. We need to commit our lives to Christ and always meditate upon His Holy Scripture. Thank you [for introducing] unto us the Ambassador Spokesman club, which we really enjoyed.”
Brethren had a very lovely and uplifting Feast in Ukerewe Island, Tanzania. The event took place at the Monarch Beach Resort, which is situated along Lake Victoria. About 100 individuals attended, including children.
The spiritual food all pointed to the coming of God’s Kingdom, the purpose of the Festivals, the meaning of the Holy Days and the life Christians should live in order to enter God’s Kingdom. Dr. Meredith’s closing message was read by Mr. Cooper and translated by Mr. Mwanzia for the benefit of all who were present.
It was a pleasure to have Mr. and Mrs. Cooper from Ireland, Mr. and Mrs. Cegelski from California, Mr. and Mrs. Abok from Kendu Bay Kenya and Mr. Jacob Hall from the Church Headquarters for a day’s visit. It was short but profitable. Mr. Cegelski’s comments on faith were very encouraging, as he told the incident about his daughter’s fingertip being cut off in a slamming door. He said the doctor told them that there was only a two-percent chance that the fingertip would heal properly after attaching it back. But he said they all prayed, family and friends, and God restored the finger to good health.
There were two messages from two different elders regarding the keeping of the Sabbath. Mr. Hall gave a sermonette on hope and encouraged everyone to use the Feasts to strengthen our hope. The Blessing of the Children took place on the Last Great Day, and twelve children were blessed by Messrs. Cooper, Muthama and Mwanzia.
The seniors’ dinner was held on Sunday in the dining room at the Monarch Beach Resort with 13 members in attendance. Other activities throughout the week included a talent night, swimming, canoeing, a visit to Church meeting sites and properties, and many walks in the surrounding area.
Everyone had a wonderful Feast, and some have expressed that it was the best Feast and site they have attended.
Port Shepstone, South Africa
With the rolling hills, green shrubbery and banana trees providing a picturesque backdrop and the friendly Indian Ocean contributing to the festive milieu, 146 brethren gathered at the Banana Beach Holiday Resort in Port Shepstone for the fifth year running. Most of the brethren stayed in the resort, which made fellowshipping at short notice an everyday occurrence. Early morning services left ample time for activities in the afternoon. Sermons were given by the visiting speaker, Mr. Jim Meredith, and Messrs. Louis Bouwer, Roger Herbert and Lawdi Ferreira.
The spiritual menu was supplemented by diverse physical activities. The “first-timers” function was held at the close of the first Holy Day, which is a custom that allows those who are attending the Feast for the first time to get to know the ministers and their families and to share their stories about how they came to learn about the Truth.
While the senior citizens enjoyed a scrumptious catered lunch on Tuesday, the kiddies got playfully creative, and the singles and youth went to Lake Eland for zip-lining, which was not for the fainthearted. On Wednesday, the weather turned out beautifully for the traditional family day braai (barbeque) at the nearby Marlon Resort. There were games to keep the young ones entertained, and the older folks all relaxed under the thatched lapa and around the swimming pool while the younger men cooked all the meat. On Friday, we arranged an outing to Mac Banana, a banana plantation outside Margate, where a lecture was given on bananas and a visit was paid to the butterfly dome.
Friday evening activities started with a Bible Study on building character through developing soft skills, and the evening was rounded off with a Bible Quiz in which the Banana team triumphed.
The Feast was over too soon, and on the Last Great Day as everybody said their goodbyes, many were already looking forward to seeing their friends, new and old, again next year.
Stilbaai, South Africa
The venue for the Feast of Tabernacles this year for the Western Cape, South Africa was Stilbaai, also known as the Bay of Sleeping Beauty. The average attendance was 156 with visitors from Australia, Zambia, Botswana, Lesotho, United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
Activities included a horseback safari for the young singles, shark diving, a seniors’ luncheon, a traditional braai (barbecue) at the family day and—a first in LCG South Africa—a family dance. All activities were very well attended and thoroughly enjoyed by all.
A true Philadelphian spirit was very evident throughout the Feast, as brethren used every opportunity to fellowship. The messages were very positive, directing us to the soon-coming Kingdom of God, encouraging us to develop the mind of Christ and those abilities He is going to need in us to be able to help restore a physically devastated humanity. But, more importantly, we learned more about how to teach mankind God’s laws and thus restore their relationship with God the Father.
The facilities in Stilbaai have already been booked for the 2017 Feast—all visitors are more than welcome to join us next year!
We held the first Feast of Tabernacles of the Living Church of God in Afagnan, Togo this year, with a high attendance of 29. Services were held in the hotel Chic Millennium and were led by local video recipient, Mr. Koffi Martin. Recorded sermons in French were viewed every day. Speakers included Dr. Meredith via recorded video, and Messrs. Yvon Brochu, Rees Ellis and Jean Matte. Attendees shared a meal together on the first day of the Feast and on the Last Great Day.
Kalutara, Sri Lanka
Twenty-three brethren representing six countries—Sri Lanka, India, Canada, Puerto Rico, the United States and Australia—kept God’s Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day in a beautiful tropical setting by the ocean, at the Hibiscus Hotel in Kalutara, South Coast, Sri Lanka.
They were all well-fed—spiritually as well as physically—with many culinary delights being served by the hotel on a daily basis. Sermons focusing the brethren towards our Creator and the Millennium were given by Messrs. Kuma De Silva, Zig Svalbe and Malcolm Jennings.
The hotel staff was delightful and waited on our group with a smile. The room boys—not to be outdone—decorated our beds daily with fresh hibiscus and frangipani flowers and with amazing towel creations of swans, elephants, turtles and monkeys. Frogs, tortoises and a variety of fish in the lotus pond adjacent to the restaurant delighted the guests and the sounds of a variety of birds were ever-present. A family of monkeys prancing in the surrounding gardens was a common feature.
Activities during the Feast included a visit to a turtle hatchery, where holding baby and adult turtles was a real treat. It also included a visit to the historic Galle Fort, first built by the Portuguese in 1588 and then fortified extensively by the Dutch from 1649 onwards, with the original solid stone churches and buildings still standing today. Shopping within those malls and arcades was an interesting experience. Other Feast activities included daily pre-breakfast beach walks for the early risers, an energetic cricket match, a “Fun and Games” afternoon, a seniors’ luncheon, a talent night filled with talent and a stimulating “Bible Quiz” night were enjoyed by all the brethren.
Some visitors had the opportunity to purchase jewelry consisting of locally mined and cut gems, while others were given gifts of gems by the local gem-shop owner.
The brethren in Sri Lanka look forward with eager anticipation to having more visitors attend the Feast 2017, as they are unable to travel overseas. For those who missed out this year, an after-Feast trip can provide a wonderful, enriching experience in Sri Lanka—an island rich in colour and tropical beauty and with a history dating back to Biblical times.