September 2nd, 2021
Greetings from Charlotte,
Numerous countries around the world are locking down as a result of the rapid spread of the Delta and other COVID variants, making Festival planning very difficult as governments and venues impose restrictions. Mr. Rob Tyler wrote, “Much of the region is now quite affected by lockdowns and restrictions. It’s a real mess in many countries.” Mr. Paul Shumway wrote regarding Trinidad, “We were praying and expecting the government in Trinidad to lift restrictions before the Feast to allow live Church meetings for our 160 members. Unfortunately, this has not happened. Most of the members stayed in ‘temporary’ housing last year and are planning to do the same this year. Surprisingly, I heard more comments from Trinidad last year that it was ‘the best Feast ever’ than I’ve heard in a long while!” He went on to report that in Barbados there is a 25-person limit for churches and a 90-minute limit to services. “One of the biggest challenges is dealing with the uncertainty. The landscape is constantly changing and in a number of cases, it is impossible to make definite plans. This does encourage remaining flexible and looking more to God for His guidance and direction. A real faith builder!” This is once again a very challenging year for our Festival planners, especially those in our international areas. Those of us who are able to attend in person should be thankful when we consider the lockdowns many of our brethren around the world face. As we approach these special days, let us take time to review and meditate on Philippians 2:3–8.—Gerald Weston
Virtual Choir – 2021 Feast of Tabernacles
Thanks to all of you who contributed to the outpouring of singing! We have received dozens of recordings for our Virtual Choir. Now comes the work for our staff, editing and weaving them all together for our Special Music piece for the Feast. Thank you, thank you!—Jonathan McNair
Feast of Tabernacles
With the Feast only a few weeks away, USA Festival Site Coordinators and Business Managers—46 people in all—met online this week to discuss Accounting procedures at the Feast. COVID protocols for all U.S. Feast sites were also discussed. This coming week, the Festival Office will be holding an online meeting with international Feast coordinators.
Self-Screening Questionnaire—Must Read and Must Complete
With the rise in cases of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, each LCG member and guest planning to attend the Feast with the Living Church of God this year MUST complete the Self-Screening Questionnaire before arriving at their Feast site. The Self-Screening Questionnaire and a complete list of this year’s COVID protocols (USA) is located on the Festival website. To access, go to the LCG.ORG website, click on “Members Area,” and scroll down to the bottom of the page to “Feast of Tabernacles.” That link will then take you to the page on which you can access the questionnaire.
Sending Checks to Pre-Pay for Activities, USA Only—Must Read Where Applicable
If you have signed up for any activities at U.S. Feast sites that require pre-payment and you are paying by check, please send that payment to Headquarters immediately. The Accounting department needs time to process these checks so the Business Office at your Feast site can confirm your payment.
Children and the Feast
Blessing of the Little Children: It is the practice of the Living Church of God to have the Blessing of the Little Children at the Feast. This practice follows the example of Jesus Christ (Matthew 19:13; Mark 10:13). When parents of small children came to Him and asked Him to bless their children, He did not forbid them. If you have small children (“babes in arms” whom you can pick up for this special blessing), listen for announcements from your Festival Site Coordinator to find out which day the Blessing of the Little Children will take place. If you have any questions, please contact your Festival Coordinator.
Caring For—and Watching—Our Children at the Feast: Parents, please remember that children are not permitted to run or engage in horseplay before, during, or after services at the Feast. Children playing on the stage or near speakers and microphones can damage expensive equipment. Children darting in and out among fellowshipping brethren can be a trip hazard. For the elderly, this can be dangerous, even life-threatening.
Children Must Be Supervised: Parents should always be vigilant when it comes to their children at the Feast. Parents have full responsibility for their children at the Feast of Tabernacles, including at services. Although precautions are taken and there are activities for children, the Church meeting or event is not a childcare facility. The Church does not take responsibility for the care of children at Church meetings or events. Their absolute safety cannot be guaranteed. The ultimate responsibility for the care of children always remains with parents or guardians. Please ensure that the conduct of your children and young people is adequately supervised throughout their attendance, and that your children are fully under your control. Parents should be aware of where their children (including their teens) are, and not allow small children to wander around unsupervised.
Children Sitting with Parents: Experience has shown that children and teenagers pay better attention and therefore learn more from the messages when sitting with a parent than when sitting elsewhere with a group of other young people. Therefore, it is the policy of the Church to have children and teens sit with their parents during services. An exception may be where an individual child or teen may sit with a friend’s parents and family. Obviously, a teen attending whose parents are not also in attendance would be exempt.
U.S. Deadline for Payments Before Feast—Repeat Announcement
Please note that our last scheduled day to print checks will be Wednesday, September 15. After that date, we will not be able to print any checks again until Monday, October 4. Any invoices we receive before September 13 will be paid before the Festival break. Any invoices we receive after September 13 may not be able to be paid until October 4.
If you have any questions concerning specific invoices or payments, please contact Michelle Broussard in the Accounts Payable Department at 704-708-2234 or Rylyn Mooney at 704-708-2237. You can also email [email protected].
Fall Holy Days: In the weeks ahead, we will be reminded of the culminating events in God’s Great Plan of Salvation for all human beings. These Holy Days reveal how God will put an end to deception and suffering by sending Jesus Christ to banish Satan and set up the Kingdom of God on earth, where the saints will reign for one thousand years and eventually all who have ever lived will have a chance to learn the true purpose and way of life (see Revelation 20). Although Satan has blinded the world to the meaning of the Holy Days, we need to remember that Jesus told His disciples, “blessed are your eyes for they see… because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (Matthew 13:16, 11). As we observe the coming Holy Days, let’s rejoice and be deeply grateful for the incredible privilege we have been given to understand these “great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:2-4).
Have a profitable Sabbath and Fall Holy Day season,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—September 2, 2021
Afghanistan May Spur EU Army: Some in the European Union have wanted an EU army for nearly two decades, but this ambitious goal has been fraught with setbacks. Now, as the Afghanistan situation deteriorates and EU ministers sense what they see as a betrayal by the United States, the chaotic exodus in Kabul could become a catalyst to finally push the creation of that army. Many Europeans appear to be concluding that America no longer “has their back.”
A recent report by Euractiv.com begins, “The fall of Kabul to the Taliban and the chaotic international evacuation effort shows that Europe needs to develop its own military capacity independent of the United States” (August 22, 2021). The article was summarizing the argument of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who expressed his frustration with the recent unilateral U.S. withdrawal. In a press interview, Borrell said, “Some countries are going to have to ask themselves questions about an American ally which, as Joe Biden said, doesn’t want to fight other people’s wars for them.” He and others plan to propose “a 50,000-strong expeditionary force, capable of acting in circumstances like we’re seeing in Afghanistan.” Seeing the United States’ choices in that troubled nation, more EU members of parliament may be willing to sign on.
Bible prophecy foretells a German-led European beast power that is not aligned with the U.S. or most other Israelite-descended nations (Revelation 17). In fact, at the end of the age, there will be so much friction between the European beast and these Israelite nations, they will be taken into some type of captivity by the beast! The actions we are now watching on the world scene may tie directly to the fulfillment of this Bible prophecy. To learn more about the future of the coming European army, be sure to read or listen to The Beast of Revelation: Myth, Metaphor or Soon-Coming Reality?
Turning to Astrology: During the last year and a half of the COVID pandemic, many have sought some type of spiritual experience. CNN reports on the observations of James Alcock, psychology professor at York University, who suggests that tumultuous times tend to prompt people to turn to spiritualism and the occult. As the article continues, “That’s why interest in the occult was already increasing before the pandemic, with the chaotic political climate in the US and existential issues like climate change haunting the global consciousness” (August 19, 2021).
Social media platforms like TikTok have enabled a wave of interest in astrology and the occult. One astrology app has been downloaded 20 million times in the United States alone—even without advertising! One online “spiritual” guide’s following increased from 50,000 to 300,000 during the pandemic. We are even seeing occult symbols and tools advertised for home decorating. People are using astrology and occult practices in an attempt to add some sense of connection and meaning, however illusory, to their lives, as the article notes: “What unites these various actions is a desire to reach out and connect with each other, and touch parts of our existence that can’t be understood or controlled.”
The Apostle Paul prophesied that many will be looking for answers at the end of the age, but they will be “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). The Bible reveals that widespread religious deception will occur before Christ’s return (Matthew 24:3–4) and this will be promoted by the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4) who has deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9). To learn more about the dangers of the occult, be sure to watch “The World of Angels and Demons.”—Scott Winnail, Francine Prater, and Danielle Pierre