During the Feast of Tabernacles in 2017, God's people gathered at sites all over the world to learn, to grow, and to look forward together to the coming millennial rule of Jesus Christ and the saints! These Festival summaries include almost all of our Feast sites, and we hope you will enjoy reading about the experiences enjoyed by your brothers and sisters around the world during this special season.
Three hundred and thirty Feast-goers traveled to the largest state in the U.S., the great state of Alaska. They were greeted with mountains covered in autumn gold and an early dusting of snow! While the first week's forecast was for rain, God began His Holy Days with a marvelous rainbow that spanned Anchorage in a perfect arc! The weather from then on was magnificent.
So many of the brethren commented on the excellent spiritual messages throughout. We were certainly blessed with a spiritual banquet, making for a very thought-provoking Feast and many spiritual conversations.
The teens and families gathered for an eight-mile bike ride through glorious forests overlooking the Cook Inlet. As if on cue, a huge bull moose casually made his appearance, walking alongside the startled and amazed viewers! They finished their trek at Kincaid Park. Sunday was the Glacier Cruise, with 300 of the Feast-goers traveling through a 2.5-mile mountain tunnel to board the catamaran, Klondike Express. While the day started in Anchorage with drizzle and clouds, it appeared almost as if a huge umbrella protected the dazzling fjords. The sun illuminated the glaciers, and we traveled on calm seas while sea otters peeked out at us.
Family Day on Monday was an exceptional activity. The Alaskan brethren hosted a delicious meal of grilled salmon, along with hamburgers and additional salads, side dishes, desserts and beverages. Most Feast-goers attended, enjoying the fellowship, card games, Ultimate Frisbee, football and entertaining children's games. That evening, we viewed a professional film made by a local videographer who had spent 18 years photographing the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. Talk about heavenly beauty! It spurred many of the younger crowd to head to the outskirts of the city to see the spectacular display firsthand.
Other highlighted activities included a 1.5-mile hike gaining 1,300 feet of elevation, giving a magnificent view of the coastline of Anchorage, with Mount Denali in the background and the reflective Cook Inlet below. That evening ended with the Family Dinner Dance, which saw energetic participation on the dance floor by people of all ages.
An exceptional Feast involves enthusiastic attitudes, participation, warm fellowship, service to others, and—most definitely—spiritual nourishment. We certainly saw these attributes at this very memorable Feast of 2017!
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
This year's Feast in Hilton Head was inspiring and exhilarating! The Hilton Head Island Beach and Tennis Resort provided a large ballroom for services, and those who stayed on the resort had access to the largest pool on the island and to the beach, as well. God's Spirit filled the air with love, service and excitement!
We had a high attendance of 746, and many expressed that the messages were some of the best they could remember! We had Mr. Wallace Smith for the first half, in which he spoke twice. For his second sermon he read from three fictional letters from three imaginary people living in the Millennium, addressed to us at the Feast in 2017. These letters were meant to help everyone imagine what life might be like for individuals living in the Millennium and how it might compare to their memories of life before Jesus had returned to earth. After Mr. Smith left, Mr. Richard Ames arrived for the second half. We were able to hear two sermons from him, in which he gave a detailed overview about the establishment of God's Kingdom on earth and how that will take place, as well as the marriage of the Church to the coming King of kings!
Activities included a Family Day trip to the Coastal Discovery Museum, a Singles Dolphin Sunset Dinner cruise, and a Beach and Pool Day with sandcastle building and organized games for the kids. Many said the highlight for their Feast was the "Kingdom Dinner," which was held the night before the Last Great Day. For this dinner, those at each table discussed questions given by the presenter. First, the questions focused on getting to know more about everyone at the table, then concentrated on the lessons from the Feast, looking forward to the Millennium, and finally into the Great White Throne Judgment and beyond. This made for exciting and wonderful spiritual conversations!
The messages, the location and the blessing of God's Spirit made this Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day most memorable!
Lake Conroe, Texas
The La Torretta Golf Resort was again the location for celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles on Lake Conroe. Brethren from across the United States were joined by brethren from Ireland, Nigeria and various locations in the Caribbean to enjoy celebrating the coming establishment of God's Kingdom. Along with inspiring messages about the coming Kingdom, 254 brethren shared in our traditional activities, which included an evening dinner dance, honoring our seniors with a luncheon, and a very special Family Day at a beautiful park where we were blessed with the best day of weather during the entire Feast. The members shared in table games, a horseshoe tournament, basketball, volleyball, football, and a playground for the children—fostering lots of fellowship, all the while enjoying free refreshments. The Seniors Luncheon also gave us the opportunity to recognize a few of our seniors: the longest-baptized member attending Lake Conroe (baptized 60 years); the oldest member attending (90 years and three months); the longest marriage (63 years); and the most grandchildren/great-grandchildren (27). Then, the grand ending with the Last Great Day was accompanied by another day of beautiful weather—a great send-off to a memorable Feast.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Beautiful fall foliage and unseasonably warm weather greeted the 210 Feast-goers keeping the Feast in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. This resort town provided a scenic landscape with just enough amenities for all ages, but not so many distractions that it took away from the spiritual focus that makes the Feast successful. Many attending in Lake Geneva commented on the relaxing atmosphere that made fellowshipping the natural thing to do! The lobby of the Timber Ridge Lodge was abuzz every morning with happy Feast-goers meeting new people and rekindling old friendships.
Deacons, deaconesses, elders and wives enjoyed a special dinner at Timber Ridge. It was an evening full of laughter and reflections on the privilege and responsibility involved in serving God's people. Our dinner dance was one of the highlights of the Feast for many, and included an entertaining intermission put on by the Children's Choir and several others willing to showcase their talents. Those attending also had the opportunity to have their photos taken as special Feast mementos. After the Seniors Luncheon on Monday afternoon, there was a group activity at the Lake Geneva Clue Room downtown. This activity provided a wonderful opportunity to practice teamwork and test skills, all while having fun and building friendships! Despite the ominous forecast, God delayed the rain for those courageous members participating in the Lake Geneva Zip Line Canopy Tour Tuesday afternoon. The positive comments from participants make it easy to understand why this attraction is rated the "number one" in Lake Geneva.
Overall, the planned activities were well received and left plenty of free time to explore the area and its attractions, such as boat rides around the lake, golfing the world-class courses of Lake Geneva, or just casual walks around the unique downtown area. With all of the amenities provided by the Timber Ridge Lodge, those staying on site did not need to leave the property to enjoy recreation.
Of course, all of the activities and fellowship are secondary to the spiritual rejuvenation we receive at the Feast. All of the messages were successful in reminding us that we are pilgrims and sojourners awaiting Christ's return and our reward. We owe tremendous thanks to everyone who directly or indirectly served to make the Feast in Lake Geneva such an amazing success!
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
God graciously placed His name at the beautiful Lake of the Ozarks. Some 340 of God's family gathered to enjoy the fall colors of the Ozark Mountains. We were blessed this year to host long-time pastor and Council of Elders member Mr. Rand Millich and his wife, Gloria. Mr. Millich gave very inspiring messages, and the family Bible Study given Friday evening focused on the question "Does God Exist?"
Overwhelmingly, the Feast-goers expressed that this year's highlights were the inspired messages and the warm, encouraging fellowship. There were wonderfully inspiring messages given by additional elders of God's Church, including Mr. Joseph Brown, Dr. Richard Franz, Mr. William Oswald and Mr. Yancy Taber. The common thread tying the messages together was our preparation for and responsibility in God's Kingdom.
Other highlights included a Seniors Luncheon, which featured an encouraging message given by Mr. Joseph Brown. The teens and young adults enjoyed an afternoon of bowling, which included some imaginative score-keeping methods. Those who attended the Deacons and Elders Brunch were heartened by a message from Mr. Rand Millich. The sunny skies and mild temperatures allowed God's people to enjoy the blessing of fellowship and food during a "Roof Top Patio" dinner dance and an afternoon outside during Family Day.
Mt. Snow, Vermont
Two hundred and forty-five brethren came together at the Grand Summit Resort for the 2017 Feast of Tabernacles. The weather was in the mid-60's to low 70's, which was unseasonably warm for October. Additionally, the fall colors of the trees provided a beautiful backdrop for the meeting hall. The messages were very encouraging and instructional, as we heard a wide range of topics, including what it means to have a fear of God, true freedom in the Millennium, what our cities will be like, and serving and helping others have their greatest Feast ever.
Besides the spiritual food, there was plenty of physical food, and activities through the week. There was the Sock Hop, the dinner dance, the always popular Progressive Fellowship Afternoon, "Mountain Activites" where brethren were able to take a chair lift up the mountain to view the area, a tour of the Honora Winery, as well as an afternoon hearing music and tasting German food and beer at the annual Oktoberfest. Once again, Mt. Snow provided a wonderful, peaceful setting for another inspiring Feast of Tabernacles.
"Splendid," "Awesome," and "Best Feast ever!" were just three of the comments given on festival surveys to describe the 2017 Feast of Tabernacles in Northern Kentucky. The Holiday Inn Cincinnati Airport in Erlanger was the location for daily services and many activities for this site.
Evangelist Richard Ames was the guest speaker for the first half, giving two sermons, a Bible Study, and addressing both the ordained individuals at the Leaders Mixer and the more "seasoned" folks at the Seniors Luncheon. Another Tomorrow's World presenter, Wallace Smith, also gave two sermons during his second-half visit. In addition, Mr. Smith, along with Assistant Festival Site Coordinator Mark Sandor, answered questions at the Noah's Ark Bible Study. This was a follow-up to one of the most anticipated activities, a visit to the Ark Encounter—a life-size re-creation of Noah's Ark. Other Bible Studies given were for teens and singles. Many expressed appreciation for the Millennium-themed messages given by Messrs. Ames, Smith, Sandor and Festival Site Coordinator Phil Sena.
One emphasis was fellowship among all ages offered through activities such as the Fun & Fellowship Night in an indoor recreation facility rented for our exclusive use, and Family Day at Kinman Farms, an actual working farm that offered a relaxing day of hay rides, a corn maze, outdoor games and food for everyone. One unique activity was Date Night—an opportunity for parents to have a night out while their children were engaged in creative activities offered by brethren. Other activities included a Kids' Bible Adventure Club for the little ones, and a semi-formal dinner dance.
Many praised the host hotel for the high-quality food offered during the various luncheons and dinners throughout the Feast and its friendly, service-oriented staff. The hotel's large atrium lobby encouraged fellowship throughout each day, adding to the close atmosphere of this site. For many, this was a very special Feast in Northern Kentucky.
Panama City Beach, Florida
Beautiful sunny days greeted Feast-goers in beautiful Panama City Beach, Florida. Services were held at the Boardwalk Beach Resort Hotel and Convention Center. Many of the brethren took advantage of the convenient opportunity to have meals together only steps away from the meeting hall. Many also enjoyed accommodations in other facilities nearby.
Prior to the start of the Feast, just over 1,000 brethren had registered to attend the Feast in Florida. Despite hurricane Nate blasting the area with high winds and a short period of rain, the Feast continued uninterrupted. Panama City Beach presented brethren with many places to shop, eat, and fellowship together as family.
From the Opening Night message, things moved forward with inspiring, beneficial and much-needed messages.
For the Deacons and Elders Luncheon, Mr. Stroud addressed the attendees, thanking them for their service to God's people. We enjoyed soft music in the background with a special meal prepared by the venue. For our Seniors' Luncheon, we also enjoyed music while eating, and Pastor Eddie Breaux addressed the seniors, thanking them for their example to God's people. Our dinner dance evening was wonderful, and seniors, young adults, teens and children alike took to the floor and enjoyed themselves. Family Day was a huge success with over 400 brethren attending, and a cruise was put together during the Feast where just under 200 brethren enjoyed a visit to Shell Island, seeing various ocean creatures and the beauty of the waters. The singles also enjoyed a meal and fellowshipped together and met new brethren.
The Feast is a time to rejoice and celebrate as a family that will serve humanity in the soon-coming Kingdom of God. It will be a time when the whole world will be filled with the knowledge of God under the righteous government of our Living High Priest! Thank God for this joyous time to celebrate what lies just ahead when Christ returns to usher in the kind of peace man can only dream of!
San Diego, California
More than 300 of God's people had a wonderful Feast of Tabernacles on scenic Mission Bay in San Diego by the majestic Pacific Ocean. This relaxing beach site provided a truly ideal setting for the Feast and a foretaste of the wonderful world to come.
Inspiring messages focused on the importance of having a spiritual Feast, running the race of endurance toward our ultimate destiny and God's plan in dealing with the economy during the Millennium, to name a few. Brethren also had a wonderful time fellowshipping at the various activities, including a group lunch on the beach, the superb dinner cruise on San Diego Harbor, and various interesting motor coach tours, including the Bernardo Winery, Southern California's oldest.
Members were also able to visit the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Midway, followed by dinner in Old Town, San Diego. Family Day at San Diego's Safari Park allowed brethren to enjoy God's creative handiwork up close. The spirit of unity and cooperation we experienced at the Feast this year was truly a foretaste of "Tomorrow's World"—a time we are all looking forward to with eager anticipation!
Seaside provided a taste of the Millennium, with both beautiful scenery and spiritually uplifting messages that focused on the coming millennial rule under Jesus Christ and the saints. Brethren enjoyed outstanding scenery and many opportunities for fellowship. Seaside offered a beautiful setting with forested mountains, coastal trails and sandy beaches. The weather was truly one of the highlights of the week, even though rain was forecast. There were unusual amounts of sunshine and clear views of the ocean throughout the Feast!
Mr. Jonathan Bueno kicked off the first Holy Day, encouraging the brethren to prepare for their glorious coronation in the Kingdom of God. Mr. Ron Poole gave an overview of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. Guest speaker and Regional Pastor Lambert Greer talked about the economy and value system in the coming Millennium. Other uplifting messages focused on our amazing role as kings and priests and the spiritual and physical restoration the whole world will experience in the future, making this Feast a life-changing experience.
The activities began on the evening ending the first Holy Day, as brethren gathered around a fire on the beach to enjoy s'mores as they listened to the sound of the waves and the crackling fire. Brethren also enjoyed a beautiful hike with stunning views of the coast and wooded areas with lush ferns. Some of the other activities included a fun show, zip-lining and a dinner dance with live dinner music performed by the talented Marshall family. As the Last Great Day came to a close, brethren enjoyed several hours of fellowship at the historic "Camp 18" giant log cabin chalet. The private banquet room provided a cozy ambiance with unique historical décor and a large rustic rock fireplace, as the brethren said their farewells.
Tremendous examples of outgoing concern and brotherly love were seen throughout the Feast. A number of brethren commented on the wonderful messages, the warmth and unity, and the many family activities that brought everyone together. Seaside sharpened our focus and recharged our spiritual batteries as we look forward to God's soon-coming Kingdom.
A little over 300 brethren spent the Feast in breathtakingly beautiful Snowmass. This charming village is nestled in a spectacular valley of the majestic Rocky Mountains. Although it is a bustling ski village in the winter and filled with outdoor adventurers in the summer, it was quiet and peaceful during the Feast and full of bright and colorful trees with gold, orange and red leaves. Services were held at the Westin Snowmass Conference Center in Snowmass Village. Inspiring messages that focused on rejoicing before God as we prepare for our future in the Kingdom of God and beyond were enhanced with lovely special music, and we were blessed to have Mr. and Mrs. Rand Millich join us for the second half of the Feast.
Fellowship was abundant, and an attitude of service and giving prevailed throughout the Feast. Activities included a fun-filled evening of bowling and pizza, a semi-formal dinner dance, a twelve-mile teen bike ride from Snowmass to Aspen through incredible fall foliage, a family games night, Deacons and Elders Dinner, and Seniors Luncheon. In their spare time, brethren enjoyed visiting Aspen and surrounding towns, hiking in the region, and visiting the picturesque Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness. Members saw a variety of wildlife in the area—including elk, moose, deer, bears and foxes.
Six to eight inches of snow fell three days prior to the Feast and again on Sunday night during the Feast. This added to the beauty of the area and did not prove to be a hindrance to most. Brethren, especially our teens, let their lights shine and set a wonderful example that was noted by area businesses, and the Westin Conference Services Manager said the Living Church of God is his favorite group to have worked with. Snowmass provided a millennial setting that was a backdrop to a wonderful Feast experience!
Kimberley, British Columbia
Beautiful yellow and red autumn colours, along with a light dusting of snow in the Rocky Mountains, greeted 220 Feast-goers in Kimberley this year. The weather and location were ideal, and the warmth and love of brethren dwelling together in unity was obvious. There were many acts of kindness, which enabled everyone to have an enjoyable and memorable Feast.
All who were able participated in the activities, which included a dinner dance with entertainment by "Adi the Yodelling Woodcarver," Family Day with games for all and a Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner. Several meals were also enjoyed together by the deacons and elders, our seniors and, on the High Days, by most of the brethren.
The spiritual guidance was also very gratifying, with clear themes about the importance of God's law and the restoration of God's ways. Prayers were answered concerning the speaking, as all were inspired by the sermons and sermonettes to push forward into the coming year as we move closer to the Kingdom of God. Many commented on how inspired and motivated they were by the "Behind the Work" tribute to Dr. Roderick Meredith. It certainly was a highlight of the Feast.
A few were attending their very first Feast, and several were celebrating their fiftieth. Everyone, including our guests from the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, enjoyed the opportunity to witness the blessing of five beautiful small children.
All did their part with zeal and enthusiasm to make the Feast in Kimberley successful and memorable.
Liverpool, Nova Scotia
One hundred and two happy, joyful brethren attended the Feast of Tabernacles in beautiful Nova Scotia. Days were sunny and warm, while the nighttime contained an awesome display of stars over the Atlantic Ocean. That, combined with beautiful Autumn foliage, seemed to add an extra measure of inspiration to the Feast in Liverpool. Sermons and sermonettes were millennial, with messages on a variety of subjects.
Activities included a fun night of dancing, music and song provided by the Feast of Tabernacles "scrap band," consisting of an assortment of guitars, a fiddle and various singers. We had the opportunity to learn about emergency "first aid" from a church member who is an advanced paramedic, as well as an occasion to experience an exercise class presented by an accredited instructor.
Feast-goers took advantage of the scenery and tourism sites along the beautiful south shore of Nova Scotia, including Lunenburg, where the refurbished Bluenose II launched on September 30, 2013 and was on display.
Many people mentioned the feeling of love that prevailed at the site.
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Niagara Falls hosted 345 enthusiastic brethren for eight wonderful days of rejoicing before God. The site offered activities for all ages. A short drive away is the town of Niagara on the Lake, the original capital of Upper Canada—a quaint New England-style historic town out of the past, which provided a quaint, small-town setting.
This year involved many activities in addition to the first day and Last Great Day luncheons, including the Family Dance, Games Night and Bible Trivia Night. There was also a seniors bus tour along the Niagara Parkway to see the floral clock, the view at the Spanish Aero Car, and a Singles Adventure that included finding their way through a "Mystery Maze" and a walk down the Niagara gorge to the Niagara River. These were all wonderful opportunities to get to know each other and share a foretaste of the blessings that God will bring in the Millennium.
Not only did brethren have the opportunity to go visit the water park at the Americana Resort where we stayed, but also two people were baptized in the pool there and were welcomed joyfully into the fellowship of God's family. There was truly much to be joyful about at the Feast.
The heart of the Feast was the wonderful spiritual rejuvenation that God provided. We were blessed with many messages to direct and guide us in the time ahead. The Regional Director for Eastern Canada, Mr. Winston Gosse, spoke on the first day and spent the first half of the Feast with us. We had Mr. Kinnear Penman travel in to speak and spend the last half of the Feast with us. With seven other ministers giving various messages, God provided much spiritual food at this Feast. Combined with the many activities, this gave us lots of time to grow and develop together as God's people.
People left with renewed energy to go forward to accomplish the Work that God was doing through Mr. Herbert Armstrong and Dr. Roderick Meredith and is continuing to do through Mr. Gerald Weston.
In Sorel, we had 106 Feast-goers. Meetings were held at the Hôtel de la Rive Inn of Sorel on the shore of the beautiful St. Laurent River. Most of the members lodged there while a few stayed in cottages or condos in town.
The spiritual menu was strongly inspired and very encouraging. The "Behind the Work" video was very moving and powerfully hit home, with some shedding tears. 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 with well-planned, good quality music.
We had three main activities during the Feast: an afternoon of bowling, a visit to a quite special local museum, and a much-appreciated afternoon of Bible Quizzes conducted by Mr. Marc Arseneault.
Very few suffered illnesses this year; there were only three anointings for the whole nine days! We enjoyed a very serene family atmosphere. The hotel personnel and management were impressed by our members. People in town were very receptive, friendly and welcoming. God truly blessed this Feast abundantly in many ways.
The Feast of Tabernacles in Colombia was held in the Armenia region, a site with cabins surrounded by beautiful vegetation. The attendance was 68. A few brethren came from the United States, Bolivia, Puerto Rico, and México, while the rest were from Colombia. Some of us had difficulties traveling from our homes to the Feast site, but once we arrived, all the troubles were left behind and we had the joy of celebrating the Feast. It was a beautiful opportunity for visitors to be able to celebrate with the brethren of Colombia, and they gave abundantly of their love and appreciation.
During the Feast we had several activities. One of them was a visit to Finlandia, which turned out to be a great blessing; it seems that God took us to this place to protect us from a strong wind that came over the Feast site. This climate phenomenon left the site without electricity for a couple of days, and there were fallen trees and power lines. But, it did not bring down the spirits or the happiness of the brethren. We traveled to Finlandia in a bus adapted with interior lights and a sound system so we could dance to the rhythm of Colombian music.
We thank God for the abundant spiritual and physical food, and all the spiritual blessings received during these Holy Days. And God keeps calling children to His Family! We had one baptism during the Feast. We also thank God for giving those who came from afar the desire of their hearts: to meet the Colombian brethren.
In northern Brazil, on the border with neighboring Guyana, is the sparsely populated municipality of Bonfim. There, at the Bonfim Rodeo Ground, God chose to place His name for the Feast of Tabernacles. An average of 107 individuals from Guyana, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago and the U.S. experienced miracle after miracle as our Great God protected and empowered His people to overcome many challenges and to experience what many have said is their best Feast ever! The highest attendance was 134 on the first Holy Day; 40 percent of the attendees were children!
The miracles began when God put it in the heart of His people in the U.S. and Trinidad to share their second tithe with their South American brethren. As a result, many at the Feast experienced a number of firsts, including the following: A dinner dance with catered meal and dessert, ice cream night, rented indoor playground for the many children present, field trip to a millennial park with a lake for swimming, watching the "Behind the Work" video, and Mr. Gerald Weston's closing message on the Last Great Day! These firsts added to a greater appreciation for the meaning of the Feast and a deeper understanding that we are all part of a greater Work than just ourselves, our families and our villages. Other activities included soccer, volleyball and dominoes. When the Feast ended, there were long hugs and tearful goodbyes.
There was an abundance of physical and spiritual food with enriching fellowship as brethren ate their meals together on-site. The main messages were delivered by Elder Laurus Alfred from Awarewaunau and visiting minister Mr. Hugh Stewart from Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. David Grant, a Deacon from Trinidad, also gave two split sermons. The messages covered topics such as marriage and Christ's relationship to the Church, God's financial system and focusing on His promises, and our future bodies after the resurrection. The Sabbath evening Bible Study took the form of questions and answers as members and prospective members sought to better understand God's Word. Children's Day saw the blessing of three children.
There were many challenges in Bonfim, but God powerfully made His presence known. We learned many lessons, including ways to eliminate many of the problems that were encountered with the Festival grounds. By the end of the Feast, almost all said they hope to be back in Bonfim next year!
The Feast of Tabernacles in Georgetown, Guyana was an excellent one. There was great fellowship with the brethren, ministers and their wives. The conversations were enlightening and uplifting, and we felt rejuvenated once more.
The brethren were very happy to host our overseas brothers and sisters, and they were delighted by our warmth.
The many activities included hymn singing, a dinner dance, a family day and a movie night. Many came to see the movie, but the hymn sing was a delight since we got to choose our favorite hymns and sing praises to our Creator. This was exhilarating!
It was a bittersweet moment when the Last Great Day arrived. We pray for that day when we will no longer have just a foretaste of the Kingdom, but will forever be with Christ and all the saints.
Punta Leona, Costa Rica
When you go to the Feast in Punta Leona, Costa Rica, it is necessary to leave the main road, pass through a guard gate and drive down a winding road of brick pavers for about ten minutes through the lush, mountainous tropical rain forest that comprises the large preserve in which the resort is located. The resort is on the Pacific Ocean, and Feast-goers stay in attractive units near the meeting hall and restaurant.
After 48 hours of uninterrupted rains caused by Tropical Storm Nate, the 85 attendees from Central America, North America and Trinidad rejoiced in the exotic millennial setting. Because of Costa Rica's southern latitude, such storms are unusual there. As the storm traveled northward, it strengthened to hurricane status and hit the Gulf Coast of the United States. Early in the Feast, many roads in Costa Rica and Nicaragua were closed due to the rains, and this prevented some brethren from arriving until the second day. All of our brethren arrived safely, and the rains did not dampen anyone's Feast enthusiasm. The weather cleared by day three, and the brethren could once again enjoy Punta Leona's beautiful nature trails and sandy beaches. The beautiful mountainous setting of the Feast was a constant reminder that God's Holy Mountain will grow to fill the whole earth!
Also at the resort, huge trees provided a shady canopy that had toucans, scarlet macaws and other parrots in their top branches. There were also monkeys cavorting in the lower branches and hummingbirds buzzing among the bright flowers that were everywhere near the ground.
The spiritual food was provided by Mr. George Schaubeck in Spanish and by Mr. Dexter Wakefield in English. In addition, there was plenty of fine physical food provided by the open-air restaurant near the meeting hall.
A highlight of the Feast was the excellent special music for services. The Feast-goers enjoyed instrumental performances, an adult and children's choir, and the beautiful tones of the famous Trinidad and Tobago "steelpan" instrument.
The brethren in Costa Rica are very thankful for the members who visited us from Canada, the United States, Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago. Many expressed their desire to come back to Costa Rica for the Feast of Tabernacles 2018.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
2017 Feast of Tabernacles in Mexico was held in San Miguel de Allende—a colonial-era city in Mexico's central highlands that was voted "Best City in the World" by Business Insider and Travel & Leisure Magazine.
This year's Feast in the "Best City in The World" was attended by an array of very excited and enthusiastic Church members from Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru and Haiti. A total of 147 gathered together to share in the spiritual meat, the activities, the dining, the fellowship, and the talents of their fellow Feast-goers.
The Spirit of God was evident throughout the week; the unity and the exercising of the fruits of the Holy Spirit was impressive and encouraging. A formal gala event (black-tie) for the brethren was organized, where all were escorted, in pairs, into the ballroom. There the decor, white table cloths, white plates, silverware, buffet food, candy buffet, drinks, service, fellowship, dancing and dance shows all contributed to a complete success. Attendance was high for all of the events. Everyone worked together closely to ensure that others had their best Feast ever—and it was! We look forward to hosting you at next year's Feast of Tabernacles in the "Best City in the World," San Miguel de Allende.
This year, 150 of God's people met at the Magdalena Grand Beach Resort in Lowlands for the Feast. The meeting hall was spacious and somewhat chilly at times, but the fellowship and overall temperature outside was warm.
There was a healthy serving of rich spiritual food regarding preparing our hearts and minds for the Kingdom. Messages covered topics such as what it means to be counted worthy, and the peace that will come and how to increase it.
We were blessed to have special music every day and site activities included a singles mixer, Family Fun Day, Cultural Night and Festival Ball.
There were some unusual challenges during the Feast—even preventing some individuals from attending—but God saw us through each situation, and we all left noting lessons to be learned throughout the period and already looking forward to next year.
The spirit of unity was shared by 60 brethren keeping the Feast of Tabernacles at the millennial setting of Masseillant, Haiti, which is located in the southwestern part of the country.
The brethren were blessed with beautiful weather throughout the entire Feast. The lush greenery and a variety of colorful tropical flowers created a lovely environment for the site. God's presence was evident, constantly providing each individual with a foretaste of God's future Kingdom through sermons and Bible studies throughout the Feast. There was also an abundance of physical food that was shared by everyone. One of the highlights of the Feast was the joy of spending time with 20 prospective members who were keeping the Feast for the first time.
The Feast activities began with a great start at the annual Family Dance, and continued with a talent show, a movie night for the youth, an annual soccer game, a hiking trip, and other excursions throughout the city of Masseillant.
Brethren faced trials during the Feast, with the sudden tragic illness and death of Elder Jove Jean-Pierre. However, the brethren also learned to put their total faith in God by keeping His commandment to rejoice during the Feast. Through sermons and Bibles Studies focused on the Millennium, brethren ended the Feast with the truth of knowing that a better world is coming, where disease and sickness will no longer exist.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
For the past nine consecutive years, God has placed His name on the north coast resort town of Montego Bay at the Holiday Inn Resort. God's people truly rejoiced this Feast, and the 345 attendees were blessed with beautiful weather. Brethren from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States joined the Jamaican brethren to observe God's Festival. Among those gathered, we had seven attending their first Feast ever and four who were celebrating fifty or more.
The themes from the inspiring messages included subjects such as the Father's good pleasure at giving us the Kingdom, building bonds of friendship by promoting a family atmosphere, the blessings and perks that come with being called now, and an end to terrorism. God's Holy Spirit was certainly guiding the speakers as all of the messages came together in a remarkable way.
At our premier activity, the Family Cookout and Fun Day, the brethren enjoyed mouth-watering local foods, table games and some field events at the Montego Bay River Gardens. The attendance at the activity was 262, which was a 31 percent increase over last year.
Other activities at the Feast included an icebreaker for youth and singles, an evening of games, a Seniors Appreciation Luncheon, a Bible Bowl, a talent show, and a hymn sing. Thirteen persons—ranging from age 6 to over 70—performed at the talent show to the delight of the brethren. The choir presented Handel's "And the Glory of the Lord" on the first Holy Day and Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" on the Last Great Day. Both performances were well received by the brethren. The hour-long hymn sing we enjoy to begin the Last Great Day is always too short for the brethren, and this year was no exception.
Some of the visiting brethren mentioned how well things were organized. The majority commented on the warmth and friendliness of the Jamaican brethren and mentioned that the highlights of the Feast were the messages and the fellowshipping. The Feast was truly a positive and memorable experience.
Pebbles Beach, Barbados
Nestled in picturesque Carlisle Bay, minutes from Bridgetown, the Radisson Aquatica Resort was host for the Feast of Tabernacles 2017. This new venue proved to be popular with locals and international visitors alike. Designated a UNESCO (United Nations) World Heritage Site, there were numerous attractions, some located within walking distance of the hotel.
We were blessed to have three full-time pastors: Mr. James Sweat, Mr. Bill Whitaker and Festival Site Coordinator Paul Shumway. We were inspired by the wonderful sermons, and everyone was deeply moved by the "Behind the Work" DVD!
In reflecting upon the Feast, two aspects vividly come to mind: Great participation and seeing God's hand at work in a powerful way throughout the Feast! Average attendance was 113 with a maximum of 121.
One highlight was the Catamaran Dinner Cruise. One of the most eagerly anticipated aspects of the cruise was being able to swim with majestic hawksbill sea turtles. The recent hurricanes changed the habits of these lovely creatures and made it difficult to locate them. Members prayed fervently and God sent one turtle to our boat. Remarkably, this one turtle actually went up to virtually every swimmer and allowed them to touch it! Normally, they swim away from humans. Also, while the coastland—a mere half-mile away—was pounded with rain to the point of flooding, we had clear skies overhead. God's loving hand was evident throughout the entire Feast!
A first-time activity that proved to be a favorite was a Bible Bowl with professional lights and buzzer. Six teams of six took part answering general Bible questions and reciting a number of "meditation scriptures." The Barbadians have been studying one meditation scripture each week as a Church project, giving them an advantage in this area. Members commented about how much they enjoyed activity and were inspired to see how well they knew their Bibles!
God blessed us with a wonderful Feast in every way. Several new individuals joined us for their very first Feast and many commented that this was their best Feast yet. The helpful, kind Radisson staff was pleased with the Church and requested that we return next year!
Playa Larga, Cuba
For the very first time, the Feast of Tabernacles was held on the sunny and beautiful island of Cuba. The Feast site was located in the Bay of Pigs area in Playa Larga, Matanzas, three hours from Havana.
The Feast was a success but began with some serious obstacles. First, the camp site that was contracted wanted to change the date of the event due to the disruptions caused by Hurricane Irma. However, they finally agreed to maintain the original scheduled date.
Second, our flight from Puerto Rico to Havana was cancelled due to the effects of Hurricane Maria, the biggest natural disaster in the history of Puerto Rico. Airlines flights were limited to a bare minimum. Finally, the airline allowed us to reschedule the flight for our timely arrival in Havana.
Third, when we were ready to start the Feast, the camp staff indicated that no religious activities were allowed in the site. Finally, by the evening of October 4, just before Opening Night, we were given the approval to go ahead as planned.
God had mercy on the 70 Feast-goers, 60 of whom enjoyed the Feast for the first time. Most of them are prospective members and diligent students of the Bible. With so many challenges to overcome, it is clear that this Feast resulted in God's victory, supporting those who have confidence in Him. The messages and Bible Studies from Mr. Mario Hernandez, Mr. Raúl Colon and Mr. Joel Real were especially encouraging and helpful to everyone.
We will never forget the 2017 Feast in Cuba. May God help every Cuban who seeks Him wholeheartedly.
St. Luce, Martinique
The Feast of Tabernacles was held this year in St. Luce, on the island of Martinique. Festival participants from the French-speaking islands of Guadeloupe, St. Lucia and French Guyana attended the Feast in Martinique, along with visitors from Trinidad, Quebec, the United States and France. English translation services were provided with the help of eight translators who served the entire Feast. The average daily attendance was around 96.
Mr. Rick Stafford, Regional Director of the Caribbean, and his wife joined us for the second half of the Feast. Our pastor, Dr. Wilner Pierre, was unfortunately unable to be with us as planned, following the hospitalization of Mr. Jove Jean-Pierre in Haiti. Mr. Jove Jean-Pierre suffered a stroke during the night after the Opening Night service and was transported to the hospital, but his Christian race ended during the Feast of Tabernacles.
Most brethren enjoyed meals together. They also participated in activities, such as a visit to protected natural settings of coastal forest, salt marshes and mangroves unique to the southern part of the island. One of the highlights of the Feast activities was sailing in a glass-bottom boat. Participants were able to jump off the boat and swim in the ocean, while others went scuba diving.
Brethren also had a wonderful time at the family dance and talent show. Seniors were treated to a dinner in their honor, served by the younger generation.
A traditional farewell cocktail reception was held after sundown following the Last Great Day service, and members left late in the evening, hoping to meet again next year.
The Feast in the British Isles this year was situated at the south coast seaside resort of Bournemouth. Three hundred and fifteen brethren gathered from the UK and Ireland, with visitors from Canada, France, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. We enjoyed pleasantly warm weather and stunning views from the cliff tops along the miles of sandy beaches.
The majestic and appropriately named Kings Hall at the Royal Bath Hotel provided the meeting place for services. Highlights for members were the messages, inspirational fellowship and the pleasant location.
Many planned activities were within walking distance of the Hotel. These included the zip line at the pier and indoor rock climbing, the Bournemouth Oceanarium visit, and an evening at the Pavilion Theatre listening to the Mantovani Orchestra, which was a highlight for many. There was also a family Ceilidh dance on Saturday evening, two children's art activities run by the young adults and a coach trip to nearby Corfe Castle, including a ride on a historic steam train.
Feast messages highlighted the coming restoration of right education and how we must prepare to rule and enlighten the world, and touched on many topics, including the prophesied "second exodus" and our future inheritance of the universe.
Wonderful special music was provided by instrumental and vocal contributors as well as the Festival and Children's Choirs. Thanks to all those who—officially and unofficially—quietly served at the Feast to make it so successful. It certainly contributed to the atmosphere of unity and outgoing concern so many experienced. Members from the UK and Ireland look forward to welcoming guests in 2018.
Carry-le-Rouet, known for its warm Mediterranean climate and the allure of French culture, was home to 200 brethren from across the globe as they kept the Feast this year. The spectacular views of the late harvest moon on October 4 and the shimmering effects it had on the port's Mediterranean waters, lit up nearby Marseille and the surrounding distant islands. The scene was spectacular and the beauty breathtaking.
The Opening Night service was preceded by what felt like a reunion dinner. Many had been to the Feast in Carry-le-Rouet before. For some it was their first visit to France, and for others it was their first Feast ever. There was lots of excitement as everyone looked forward to the fulfilment of Gods plan, and the awesome and incredible privilege of being called to serve as kings and priests with Jesus Christ.
Despite the recent attack at the Marseilles St. Charles train station, brethren were protected and felt safe, even while walking through the town. Inspiring messages delivered by local and international ministers and deacons expounded on this theme of bringing peace to a troubled world, and provided valuable spiritual lessons to stay vigilant and true to our calling.
The Festival coordination team worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make the Feast well-organized and enjoyable. Services were conducted in English and French with cross translations. Dutch translation was available, as well. This was a challenging task for our hard-working translators that was managed with grace, professionalism and attitudes of love and service.
Carry-le-Rouet was blessed to have Dr. Douglas Winnail for the first half of the Feast. Before he left, Dr. Winnail conducted a Bible Study on Church history, which highlighted the pre-Feast trip to the Lubéron area, where the Waldensians fled persecution.
There was a Talent and Camp Evening, a Senior Citizens Lunch, and a hike to discover local flora and fauna. A few local excursions included a trip to a nearby olive oil mill and a visit to an exhibition of the Mediterranean Sea adventurers, where Feast-goers learned about the different civilizations that existed around its shores. All the activities were family oriented and provided plenty of opportunity for fun and fellowship.
Despite the differences in culture, language and backgrounds, true Christian love, attitudes of service, generosity and kindness abounded at this beautiful seaside town. Feast-goers left the Feast filled with hope for the future and looked forward to Christ's return as King over all the earth
La Alberca, Spain
The first Feast of Tabernacles of the Living Church of God in Spain was exciting, inspiring and warm. The hotel surrounded by green fields and forests, evoked a sense of medieval times. The site was ideal for living the Feast in a warm environment far away from noises and the anxiety of this modern society.
Eighty brethren met at this Festival site, and we had the opportunity of visiting two of the most ancient and beautiful towns in Spain: Salamanca, having the most ancient university in the world, and Rodrigo City, surrounded by castles and ancient buildings.
Dr. Douglas Winnail was with us the second half of the Feast and contributed to the spiritual enrichment, which was very inspiring and motivating and charged our batteries to continue strong in our walk until we arrive at the Millennium.
Baguio City, Philippines
God placed His name at a new location for the Feast of Tabernacles in Baguio City. Our temporary dwelling place was placed near the foothills of Mount Cabuyao, which is one of the city's highest mountain peaks. This mountain provided a scenic panorama of the whole city from its top, rising up from the West Philippine Sea towards the Cordillera mountain ranges on a very clear day. God's creation provided our service hall with a millennial backdrop, making it the best view to remind God's people of His creative power. Due to its relatively higher elevation from Baguio City, the new Feast site at the Green Valley Hotel provided cooler temperatures and beautiful surroundings.
Blessed with accessible facilities for Feast activities and good weather, the brethren did not need to worry about rain and travelling far to hold activities such as volleyball, duckpin bowling and basketball. Youth and singles enjoyed waking up early to enjoy a 45-minute hike through Mount Cabuyao to see the natural beauty that surrounds the Feast site, while having their breakfast above the clouds. Our seniors also braved being transported through the mountain cliffs of Mount Cabuyao to have their Seniors Luncheon, overlooking the city briefly only to be engulfed in thick clouds for the rest of the activity. Young children also enjoyed painting over smooth river stones artistic images of wild animals they would love to have in the Millennium. Energetic singles enjoyed some pizza and games as they tried to work out ways to communicate properly through drawing and strategic moves.
One of the highlighted activities was the outdoor family picnic, which was short but sweet—short because it rained halfway through the activity, but sweet enough to look forward to an even more enjoyable one next year. The Talent Night also gave us a glimpse into new skills and abilities from new and old members, as well as from both the young and not so young.
Abundant spiritual food was provided through instructive and inspiring messages from guests and local ministers, Messrs. Tanner, Osillos and Gonzales. Time was well spent by brethren fellowshipping on Sabbath evenings and "breaking-bread" at each other's "new" temporary dwellings. Recorded DVD messages from Headquarters were excellent and produced a very moving tribute to the late Dr. Roderick Meredith. This was indeed an inspiring and spiritually uplifting Feast for approximately 200 Feast-goers from around the Philippine Islands of Luzon and Visayas, as well as international guests from Australia and New Zealand.
Overall, we had a very successful Feast, which can only be attributed to the power of our great God! We thank God the Father and Jesus Christ for providing the place and capable men and women who gave themselves to God's Work and helped create another peaceful and meaningful Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day!
Batu is a Dutch-era tourist city in East Java, Indonesia, where the weather is warm during the day and cool in the evening. It is visited by many people seeking a cool mountain retreat away from the hot and humid surrounding areas. Thirty-three brethren—twenty-three adults, including two from Australia, and ten children—came together at the Villa Bagus complex to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day and be spiritually fed and inspired by the wonderful plan of God. The sermons and sermonettes as well as the "Behind the Work" presentation truly stirred up the Spirit in God's people, guiding them to become even more involved in His Work.
Besides the spiritual food, there were several social activities enjoyed by the brethren. These included a visit to the "Predator Fun Park," where the youth were able to feed piranhas and other predatory fish, a day trip to the beach, and a visit to a local waterfall and nature park, as well as fun in the hotel swimming pool. During the Feast, the members experienced two special dinners and a talent show. We also enjoyed a locally produced film involving all of the brethren about the coming Kingdom of God. This Feast, which will live long in the memory of all in attendance, gave the brethren the opportunity to spend time together, to serve and care for each other and most of all to learn even more about the soon-coming Kingdom. Everyone involved this year is already excited about next year's Feast.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
A beautiful resort in northern Thailand was where God chose to have His 189 people from ten countries celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day.
With much excitement and enthusiasm, we all settled down in preparation for the upcoming messages and activities planned for us.
With the theme "Philadelphia Pioneers: Onward to the Kingdom," we heard messages about what our roles would be in the millennium. Mr. Jonathan McNair's sermon about the varying teams that will be needed in helping those people who survive the destruction and devastation on the earth was especially thought-provoking.
We were also admonished throughout the Feast to think about our roles as future leaders, as well as the importance of observing and attending the Feast. Here, we learned that our yearly attendance is to allow us to develop a deeper understanding of the plan of God.
Many commented on the spiritual meat provided to the brethren via the various live sermons, DVD sermons, and sermonettes. The attendance at each Church service spoke volumes of the excitement prevalent among the brethren.
This was the first time in more than 20 years the Thai and Malaysian brethren were able to join the overseas brethren to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. Karen brethren were able to see the live-streamed sermons in their own language.
There were many activities, including zip-lining, a Thai cultural show, a karaoke session, shared meals, elephant rides, rafting and ox-cart rides for all to share.
The hallmark of the Festival was plain for all to see: it was the intense and heartfelt fellowship of the brethren. There was not a day when groups of Church members were not seen together in fellowship. Overall, it was a great time for us all to spend with each other and build bonds as a family, and to be reminded of God's ultimate plan for mankind. We pray that His Kingdom come—may God speed that day.
Davao City, Philippines
The Feast in Davao City was profoundly cherished by 86 brethren coming from congregations in Southeastern Mindanao, Palawan and Canada. I believe many would declare it as another "best Feast ever."
The messages were interesting, fit for the season, and stirring. Mr. and Mrs. Jose Arendain came, and he spoke on keeping the Feast in the fear of God, promoting love to one another, and our future with God versus our "temporary dwellings." Mr. Freddie Benitez also spent a couple of days here and spoke about spiritual recovery and righteous leadership.
Many brethren were moved during the "Behind the Work" video, and some shed tears during Dr. Roderick C Meredith's farewell message.
Mr. Felipe Casing finished his Feast travels in Davao and was joyfully received by the brethren, bringing messages about our destiny and the Last Great Day. We were also privileged to have Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Bolences remain on site for the whole Feast, serving tirelessly and speaking.
It was indeed a memorable and enjoyable Feast! We appreciated the harmony and love that was apparent, and all parted on the Last Great Day—saying "goodbye" until we meet again next year at the Feast, or, as it may be for some, at the return of Jesus Christ in the coming Kingdom of God.
We thank God that the Karen and Chin brethren could celebrate His Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day in a millennial setting surrounded by mountains, in a village called Kyarinn (Kyar-Inn), Kalaymyo, Chin State, Myanmar.
The 18 Karen brethren, including adults and children from the Sakhangyi, Irrawaddy Delta area, commenced their journey to Myaungmya (Myaung-Mya) on the early morning of Thursday September 28, at 2:30 a.m. by boat. Then, at 5:00 a.m., they continued their journey from Myaungmya to Rangoon, and reached Rangoon by 9:00 a.m. After a short refreshment in Rangoon, they resumed their journey to Kalaymyo for another 19-hour ride on the bus.
After the long journey, they finally reached Kalaymyo on Friday morning, September 29 at 9:30 a.m. Prior to the commencement of the Feast of Tabernacles, with one accord, both Karen and Chin brethren were observing the Day of Atonement together at Mr. Thomas Tial Hoe's place. It had been over a decade since the two congregations met. After so many years, both Karen and Chin brethren shed tears of joy.
On the evening of October 4, 72 brethren congregated again at Mr. Tial Hoe's home for the Feast of Tabernacles. Hymns were sung and Mr. Tial Hoe translated the Opening Night Message by Mr. Weston to the brethren. All the transcribed messages for the Feast were translated to Burmese by Mr. Tial Hoe during the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day.
Special music was performed by both Karen and Chin brethren daily, and the Feast activities included visiting various places in Kalaymyo and the Chin hills.
Mr. Tial Hoe and all the Burma brethren were extremely grateful and thanked God for opening the door for this special opportunity, which enabled the brethren in Burma to come together once again to learn and worship Him with joy and gladness in a millennial setting. All look forward to the soon-coming Kingdom of God.
Madang, Papua New Guinea
Twenty-two brethren were enthralled with the first Feast held at the Madang Resort. Previously, Feasts had been held in a cosy apartment block in Port Moresby, but we thank God for guiding and blessing us with this new venue. This year the brethren experienced an even better foretaste of the coming Kingdom of God. Madang Resort is truly a beautiful place, with blue ocean waters and lush green landscapes making this an ideal millennial setting.
Here in Papua New Guinea, a country that has undergone much change since achieving independence in 1975, God has called a tiny nucleus from which He will grow the Body of Christ.
Feast activities involved a picnic in the park, a Bible Quiz, a shopping morning and the highlight—the Holy Day lunches served in the Madang Restaurant. This was very much appreciated, especially by some of the brethren who, as subsistence farmers, have never had such an experience.
While the brethren came from different areas and with different backgrounds, God's Spirit was evident among all who attended. There was a real spirit of giving and sharing.
It was inspiring to witness the members' hunger for fellowship and their desire to develop a deeper understanding of the word of God and their part in His plan to save all of mankind.
This year's Festival in Maranding was attended by more than 90 cheerful brethren coming from areas of the Zamboanga Peninsula and the province of Lanao del Norte. It is well known that terrorist rebels are active in this area, but thankfully this was not true during the Feast of Tabernacles, where everyone enjoyed the foretaste of a peaceful and solemn environment. Sadly, the imposition of martial law by the Philippines government prevented any non-Filipino ministry from visiting the Island of Mindanao this year.
To make up for this situation, we had three ministers from different parts of Mindanao swapping between Feast Sites to give us various delicacies of spiritual food. Mr. Freddie Benitez started the Feast with us and delivered the opening night message when he precisely translated the message of Mr. Gerald Weston into the local vernacular, and he then stayed for a couple of days, delivering two more sermons in the vernacular. Mr. Felipe Casing arrived on the third day of the Feast, bringing with him some spiritual "cargo" in the form of strong and powerful messages. He also stayed for two days delivering his messages, also in the local language. Our final "visiting minister," Mr. Jose Arendain—our Festival Site Coordinator and local pastor—arrived for the remainder of the Feast and the Last Great Day, and he gave some inspiring messages, as well. The messages of the three ministers had a great impact on the brethren and were the highlights of the Feast. Mr. Arendain also translated Mr. Weston's Last Great Day message.
On Saturday evening we had Family Night, where the brethren displayed their talents, particularly in dancing and singing. Kind-hearted brethren donated "delightful dozens" of gallons of ice cream with different flavors, which served as delicious attractions for everyone. On Tuesday evening the Deacons and Elders Luncheon was held at Mattheus Haven restaurant, and everybody enjoyed the food while camaraderie and good fellowshipping energized the entire activity. Mr. Jose Arendain encouraged the leaders to have a spirit of humility, teachability, and obedience to God's Church government, all the while displaying a heart of service for the brethren.
The eight days of this Feast catered both the spiritual and material food that fully nourished all the brethren who attended. Many were feeling nostalgic as the Feast drew to a close, remembering that on the first day of the Feast, they were hoping that the Feast would never end. Alas, we had to go home, and we all are praying for the Kingdom of God to be set up on this earth at Jesus Christ's return, so that we can fulfill our destiny and be together for eternity as sons and daughters in God's family.
A total of 131 Feast-goers from the San Fernando, Kiara, Mauswagon, Don Carlos and Cagayan de Oro congregations were overwhelmed to once again meet their scattered brethren and have some wonderful fellowship here in Don Carlos, Bukidnon, to happily celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day. The family atmosphere was wonderful, due to the fact that most of the brethren were accommodated within 180 to 200 meters of the Church's Feast Hall, allowing them to easily attend services and activities, especially those scheduled at night.
The brethren were enlightened by the quality sermonettes and the sermons. We were blessed to have the Mindanao ministry rotate through Don Carlos as visiting ministers. Our first visiting minister at the start of the Feast on the opening night was Mr. Felipe Casing, who translated into the local vernacular the sermon from our Presiding Evangelist Mr. Gerald Weston. On the first day of the Feast, Mr. Casing delivered a very inspiring sermon. Mr. and Mrs. Jose C. Arendain arrived from Davao the third day of the Feast here in Don Carlos, and stayed for two days. All of his messages were very inspiring, particularly since they were delivered in our local dialect. Mr. Jose Arendain departed after the morning services bound for Maranding.
Finally, Mr. and Mrs. Freddie Benitez arrived from Davao to lead us for the remaining days of the Feast of Tabernacles and The Last Great Day. He was also able to speak in the vernacular the messages he had received from HQ for use at the Feast. He also translated Mr. Weston's Last Great Day message so that everyone fully understood.
The Festival was far more than simply "fun" and "entertaining." There were many different activities—including the Singles and Youth Night, Seniors Night, Children's Activity, Couples Night, Sports Day, Film Showing, Leaders Fellowship and Farewell Party—that saw everyone actively participating. But we were also all given a generous serving of spiritual food and of knowledge and understanding regarding God's coming Kingdom.
God's commanded Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day 2017 here in Don Carlos, Bukidnon, gave us a wealth of life-changing instruction and much encouragement that we surely want to have remain in our hearts and minds for a lifetime.
Negombo, Sri Lanka
Twenty delighted brethren representing five countries—Sri Lanka, United States, South Africa, Australia and the Philippines—kept God's Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day in a serene beachside setting at the Goldi Sands Hotel in Negombo, Sri Lanka (the Pearl of the Indian Ocean).
God provided an abundance of both physical and spiritual food. Not only were the brethren treated to delicious buffet meals, they also had the privilege of hearing inspiring and informative sermons by the local elder, Mr. Kuma De Silva.
The hotel staff was friendly and eager to attend to any requests. The accommodations were comfortable and clean. Overall, the hotel exuded a millennial atmosphere, with beautiful sunsets and the sound of the ocean making this Feast of Tabernacles a real treat.
For some, the mornings started with a walk on the beach at 6:45—daylight approaches early in Sri Lanka! Others preferred breakfast and a swim in the beautiful pool before morning services. Activities during the Feast included a hymn sing accompanied by acoustic guitar. Family Day and Family Night gave brethren team-building opportunities through a variety of creative and fun indoor activities and games. Some of the other activities included an afternoon of shopping, a Bible Quiz and a Seniors Luncheon. There was also a talent show, which was an enjoyable evening of song, dance, poetry, instrumental music and digital show that involved all of the brethren and really showed their God-given talents.
After this wonderful Feast of Tabernacles, many were teary-eyed when saying their goodbyes to the international guests. They look forward to next year where they anticipate seeing old and new faces. The Feast in Sri Lanka was like no other. With warm and friendly locals and beautiful scenery, one day it will go on for 1,000 years.
La Pointe Denis, Gabon
The Feast site in Gabon was an exceptionally small site—the more so as hoped-for attendees from Cameroon could not come. It is, however, a beautiful setting on what is effectively a trackless island beach/sand bar across the estuary, about 20 minutes by boat from Libreville. There were no shops or anything commercial, just a number of empty neighboring chalets.
The very small group of local brethren (five adults, one teen, two children and one baby) were joined by Henry and Rosemary Cooper from Ireland. One other local member travelled abroad. The little group resides in Libreville, and meets there each Sabbath. They were particularly excited that a visitor came to join their Feast after so many years without. Song leading and singing were of high standards.
The site was striking in its location and environment. All food, provisions and utensils had to be brought in by the membership on the ferry crossing. All meals were cooked on-site and were top class.
Accommodation was very rustic but fully adequate—typically African shanty style. Westerners would be challenged to adapt. The spirit of serving and co-operation was outstanding. There were few outsiders in proximity.
This year, we observed the Feast of Tabernacles at Presken Villa, a part of the Presken Hotels, in Ikeja, Lagos. This was the first time the Church in Nigeria observed the Feast in this area of Lagos.
Presken Villa was chosen because of the privacy, serenity and facilities it offers. We were able to use the villa exclusively for the 23 brethren who were able to attend. The location was easily accessible to places of interest in the Lagos metropolis.
Brethren enjoyed the uplifting messages by way of sermon DVDs from Charlotte, supplemented by spiritual messages presented live. The messages were well received by the brethren, who really rejoiced before the Eternal God, practiced God's way of giving and were at peace with one another. Brethren demonstrated kindness, warmth, understanding and collaboration throughout the Feast. One couple visited from the United States and one came from Gabon, and of course we have a few brethren from Cotonou, Benin Republic, who actually are an integral part of the Church in Nigeria.
Brethren enjoyed the "Behind the Work" video, and were particularly sobered but encouraged by the DVD on the late Dr. Roderick C. Meredith.
A highlight of the Feast was an interactive seminar on "Difficult Scriptures Explained." The seminar was decided upon to acquaint the brethren with how God's Church has traditionally and scripturally explained some difficult scriptures.
We went on an excursion to the National Museum in central Lagos, which was very informative, particularly viewing the various artifacts on the culture of major tribes in Nigeria and a pictorial history of governance in Nigeria beginning from the colonial era. The traditional sing-along, usually held on the eve of the Last Great Day, was uplifting and exhilarating.
Thanks to the Living God for the joy, comfort, provision and security He gave us during this year's Feast of Tabernacles in Nigeria. He commanded us to rejoice before Him, and He made it possible!
Port Shepstone, South Africa
Along the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal lies the holiday town of Port Shepstone, where 160 brethren gathered at the Banana Beach Holiday Resort to enjoy a brief foretaste of the Millennium. Most stayed at the resort itself, which contributed to a feeling of togetherness, love and unity that was a hallmark of this Feast. The messages were meant to inspire everybody to persevere through the hard times that lie ahead before God's glorious Kingdom. The guest speaker from Atlanta, Mr. Dan Hall, arrived on Sunday to spend the last half of the Feast with the brethren who gathered from all over South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Europe.
An effort was made to include as many people as possible in the activities. The youth had lunch on the beach and then spent the afternoon playing games and rounding it off with sundaes for dessert. At the same time, the senior citizens enjoyed a three-course catered lunch with fellowshipping at the dining hall, and the singles and "in-betweeners" went for waffles at a well-known waffle house. Inclement weather caused the picnic on the beach to be postponed by a day, but in the end, all the participants showed great enthusiasm and expertise in building large sand castles, much to the delight of the littlest Feast-goers.
A dinner dance also took place where young and old showed their moves. This was preceded by a talent show, where the youngest singer was only four years old and the oldest was 78. Friday evening as the Sabbath began, a Bible Study was held, followed by an impromptu question and answer session.
Brethren remarked about the love and unity fueled by God's Spirit that brought all these diverse souls together.
As someone commented, "It was an outstanding fun-filled, spiritually and physically amazing Feast" and "I am going home with more answers than questions."
Stilbaai, South Africa
God and Christ were the gracious hosts to 158 happy brethren at the Stilbaai Feast site for the fifth year. Stilbaai is situated on one of the prettiest bays in South Africa. The millennial setting of rolling hills and green and gold wheat fields contributed to our visualizing the serenity of the coming Kingdom.
Brethren were inspired by messages on Christian faith and hope, and pointers on how to remain on track. We were greatly encouraged to face the world again after the Feast with reminders to go forward with renewed zeal, focusing on Christ in order to complete our spiritual building of God's character. Mr. Dan Hall, our visiting speaker from the United States, as well as several visitors from the U.S. and Australia, added an exciting flair to our fellowshipping and activities.
The lazy river running through the town of Stilbaai was the venue for the singles to have an exhilarating opportunity to go kayaking—albeit in some cases hilariously rowing around in circles! Team effort and returning to base against the incoming ocean tide encouraged personal self-discipline and willpower. The teens embarked on a scavenger hunt in and around the town center, which encouraged them to sharpen their awareness of their surroundings and how to approach strangers in a friendly and confident way. Children had a fun time playing games and building dams and sandcastles on a shelly beach, watching how the incoming tide caused a tsunami effect and flooded their building projects.
The young children participated in craft sessions a few times before services. They learned the Ten Commandments by heart and were guided in understanding some Bible stories while developing their artistic skills. The enthusiastic young voices of the children's choir (singing "Dreaming about the Kingdom") brought a lump to many a throat.
For the first time, a Family Fun Afternoon was held. The hall was decorated in a 1960s theme and many participants dressed accordingly. A variety of music from that era, played on an old record player—had old and young alike bouncing about on the dance floor.
This year's Feast ended on an especially high note, with three people being baptized into the family of God.
We had a very wonderful Feast in Ukerewe, with approximately 110 brethren. The Opening Night message by Mr. Gerald Weston was read in English and translated into Swahili. All our messages were translated either to English or Swahili for the benefit of those who were present.
We were blessed with members from Burundi, Tanzania, and the Republic of Congo, as well as two visitors from the Seventh Day Church of God. We also had guest speakers from Headquarters: Regional Director Peter Nathan, Mr. Jacob Hall and Mr. Travis Cole. With them was Samuel, an elder from Kendu Bay. They joined us on Monday evening. They all gave spiritually uplifting messages, touching on the weekly and annual Sabbaths, Holy Days and the coming Kingdom.
The "Behind the Work" video was very interesting to many, as they learned more about Dr. Roderick C. Meredith and his role in the Work—of which they are now a part.
There was a Seniors Luncheon on Tuesday with 25 present, including our guest speakers. On the same day there was a Children's Presentation, which focused on God's Feasts. At Talent Night, individuals had the opportunity to express themselves through singing, poems or reciting scriptures.
On Wednesday there were two baptisms, and we had the pleasure of blessing 15 children on the morning of the Last Great Day.
Hanmer Springs, New Zealand
One hundred and twenty excited Feast-goers "set up camp" at the millennial site of Hanmer Springs, New Zealand, for the second consecutive year. Although the weather was not perfect, the small amount of snow on the mountain tops added to the beauty of the site.
We had the privilege of hosting our Presiding Evangelist, Gerald Weston, and his wife, Carol, for the first half of the Feast, as well as Elder Zig Svalbe and his wife from Melbourne, Australia. Another 20 international guests attended, all adding a special atmosphere to this Festival. Our visitors expressed appreciation for the family atmosphere that was evident amongst the New Zealand brethren and they appreciated being so warmly embraced.
The messages were inspiring as members were exhorted to stand in awe of the power and might of God, whether it be the heavenly stars, the microscopic cell, or the grandeur of the coming New Jerusalem. Activities included the hot pools, a 1950s-themed dinner dance, a vintage steam train ride, and mountain biking. God's Spirit was clearly evident amongst His people in Hanmer Springs and there was an abundance of love and unity present throughout the festival!
Nelson Bay, Australia
The Feast of Tabernacles in Australia was held for the second consecutive year at Nelson Bay, about three hours north of Sydney. Two-hundred and fifty registered members and visitors joyfully kept the Feast, picturing the millennial rule of Jesus Christ and the saints.
Nelson Bay is an ideal setting for this special time in God's Holy Days. It is a beautiful small beachside destination in a very millennial area of Port Stephens. God blessed us with a wonderful venue and much favor by the management and staff.
We had overseas visitors from the Netherlands and United States of America, South Africa and, for the last few days, were visited by Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Weston. Mr. Weston spoke on important and relevant topics focusing on the Coming Kingdom of God. We thank the Westons for visiting Southeast Asia, making it truly a Feast to remember and their visit was greatly appreciated by the brethren.
We experienced wonderful teaching and inspiring sermons pertaining to the Millennium, the Kingdom of God and the Last Great Day. The fellowship was warm and encouraged by the "Get to Know Your Brethren" evening. The Family Barbeque and Games afternoon is always a highlight for many. Our "Senior Seniors" (those over 80) were blessed to have the Westons join them for a special afternoon at Nelson Head lighthouse, which offered spectacular panoramic views of Port Stephens. To add to the experience, a friendly Rainbow Lorikeet landed on Mr. Weston's arm, hoping for a morsel of food.
The Feast of Tabernacles ended so quickly, but everyone went home, ready to face the challenges of the year ahead, feeling well fed and spiritually uplifted!
The Feast for 2017 in Vanuatu was held at Orap Village on the Island of Malekula.
Average attendance was 130, with brethren from the main islands of Efate, Tanna, Malekula and Santo. We also had visitors from New Caledonia and Australia. Although the area has been without decent rain for some months, the setting at pastor Jerry Sam's property was millennial. A number of the brethren had literally built temporary dwellings from palm branches and other locally sourced material. The brethren had been very busy over the last few months modifying the meeting hall to accommodate the large numbers attending. This involved removing the entire rear wall of the hall and extending the length by erecting a temporary tarpaulin roof. This area accommodated an extra 40 people. The brethren in Vanuatu are very resourceful and have a "can do" attitude to most challenges.
The Feast atmosphere was enhanced by the wonderful, uplifting sermons, fellowship, food and activities for the full eight days. The activities involved a picnic and swim day at a beach in Northwest Malekula and was a lot of fun for everyone and included a lively treasure hunt organised for the young people.
We had a sports day in which the main activities were volleyball and soccer, played vigorously by young and old. The energy of the Vanuatu brethren is amazing. On Wednesday evening, we had Talent Night under the stars. With music, comedy and poetry being the main acts, there was much fun and laughter throughout the entire evening. There was also an introduction to Spokesman Club one afternoon, which resulted in some lively discussion and questions from the men.
An evening of discussion was held with the sermonette men, who did a great job at the Feast and presented some very insightful and meaningful sermonettes.
A truly wonderful and exceptional Feast was had by all.
The preceding Festival report contributions were created, compiled and edited with the enthusiastic help and support of many Feast-goers and Church personnel, including Deborah Lincoln-Strange, Nate Thomas, Rod McNair, Oladele Akin-Ogundeji, P. Arendain, Deonarine Arjune, Michael Aviles, Freddie Benitez, Frank Best, Christo Botha, Conie Casing, Raúl Colón, Henry Cooper, Mike DeSimone, Lawdi Ferreira, Richard Franz, Lascelles Fraser, Thomas Tial Hoe, Paul Kearns, Shane Kruse, Htoowah Laybeh, Ruben Lujan Jr., Vicki Montgomery, Tanya Moodley, Rajan Moses, Simon Muthama, Peter Nathan, Arius Nusantara, Cristian Orrego, Wilner Pierre, Simon Roberts, Joseph Ryan, George Schaubeck, Richard Sedliacik, Phil Sena, Hugh Stewart, John Strain, Dexter Wakefield, Barry Walker, Stefan van der Watt, Damian Weekes, Ian West, and Brenda White.