September 15th, 2021
Greetings from Charlotte,
One great blessing of God’s Festivals is that they teach us lessons in the use of money. We learn budgeting from faithfully saving a second tithe, but there are other lessons. A lesson I learned early on was that it is okay to spend money. My parents came through the Great Depression and taught me to save, but not how to spend on myself—and that was not all bad. But guilt is removed when you save for a specific goal and spend it accordingly: “I know that nothing is better for [men] than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3:12–13). Another lesson is found in Acts 20:35: “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Enjoy the fruits of this past year’s labors, share with others, and have a profitable and wonderful Feast of Tabernacles!—Gerald Weston
COVID-19 Immunization Exemption “How-To” and Forms (U.S. only)
The recent focused attention on COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine mandates in the United States has caused some brethren here to ask if the Church has any more up-to-date material on this subject. The answer is “Yes.” The Office of Legal Affairs and Risk Management in Charlotte has produced or updated a number of documents, including:
- “How to Request A Religious Exemption for Vaccines from your Employer or School”
- “Immunization Exemption Package – General”
- “Immunization Exemption Package – Child”
These documents are designed to provide general information (as well as references and links to resources) about this subject. Your pastor can access and download the “How-To” document, as well as relevant forms, from the “U.S. Forms” section of the Risk Management page via his MyLCG account. Please contact your U.S. pastor for more information.
Feast of Tabernacles
Self-Screening Questionnaire CLARIFICATIONS (USA Only)
Several questions have come up regarding the Self-Screening Questionnaire for the Feast of Tabernacles. Please note the following clarifications (this is specific to United States Feast sites—check with your Regional Office if you live outside of the United States):
- Do I have to submit my answers to the Church?
Answer: No. You do not need to submit anything. All you need to do is ask yourself the questions in the Questionnaire.
- Will I be stopped at the door at the Feast and asked the same questions?
Answer: Only the first time you enter the Festival hall at the beginning of the Feast. On the following days, your temperature will be taken each time you enter, but you will not have to answer the questions at the door.
- Should I self-screen each day at the Feast in my place of residence?
Answer: Yes. Ask yourself the same questions each morning before coming to the Festival service. If you answer “YES” to any of the questions, you should not attend the Festival service until you are tested for COVID and the results come back negative. (For incidents of exposure, take a COVID test no less than five days after exposure occurred.) Contact your Festival Site Coordinator if you have any more specific questions.
The Self-Screening Questionnaire and a complete list of this year’s COVID protocols (USA) is located on the Festival website. To access it, just go to fot2021.lcg.org.
Services on the Day of Atonement and the Weekly Sabbath Before the Feast—Repeat Announcement
For the benefit of those who may already be traveling to the Feast by the Day of Atonement and/or the weekly Sabbath immediately before the Feast, we are posting information about where services will be conducted on those days. This list includes which congregations will hold services, what time services will be held, and whom to contact for more details. You can access this information at MyLCG.
Streaming/Phone Connection Information for Shut-Ins—Repeat Announcement
If you will have to stay home from the Feast for health reasons, please contact the Festival Site Coordinator for your assigned site. He will be able to provide you with the log-in information for that site’s livestream and/or phone hookup. For those assigned to Feast sites using the Church’s streaming platform, just go to webcast.lcg.org, select your site, and click on the link to request a password from the Feast Coordinator. Festival Advisors, please assist those brethren who don’t have Internet access to contact their Feast Coordinator.
Be Lights at the Feast: The Feast of Tabernacles is the highlight of the sacred year. It pictures the soon-coming Kingdom of God when the saints will rule with Jesus Christ and bring peace to the earth. It will truly be a joyous time! To keep us mindful of this major step in the Plan of God, we are to keep the Feast for seven days and rejoice before God (Leviticus 23:39–44), just as Jesus admonished His brothers (John 7:2–39). We also read in Zechariah 14:16 that “all the nations” will keep the Feast in the coming Kingdom of God. As we rejoice at the Feast, let’s remember to be “lights” and examples to everyone we encounter (Matthew 5:13–16). How we conduct ourselves at the Feast—at services, in hotels, and in restaurants—will reflect either positively or negatively on God’s Church and His way of life. We are instructed to be “ambassadors of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20), so let’s all strive to let our light shine to everyone this year at the Feast.
Have a profitable Feast,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—September 15, 2021
New Hard-Line Japanese Prime Minister? Japan’s current prime minister will soon step down, and the nation will hold new elections on September 29. A leading contender for the top job is former foreign minister Fumio Kishida. Mr. Kishida is more hard-line than the current prime minister, and he wants Japan to develop more powerful military strike capabilities, believing that “Japan needs to consider building a missile-strike capability against potential foes, including China and North Korea” (Wall Street Journal, September 7, 2021).
Japan is within striking distance of both nations, and China’s expanding territorial ambitions are a real threat to Japan. In his interview, Kishida noted China’s rapidly advancing offensive weapon capabilities, and he urged his country not to sit idly by while “the other side” could attack.
Whether or not China ever attacks, or even threatens to attack, is a moot point. The reality is that many in Japan see China and North Korea as a clear and present danger, and this could prod the nation to rearm. In addition to the Middle East, the Pacific region is rapidly becoming another powder keg. End-time Bible prophecy reveals that the largest army the world has ever known will emanate from the “east”—an area geographically east of the Euphrates River (Revelation 9:13–20; 16:12). How Japan will figure into this eastern superpower remains to be seen. However, Japan’s arming against its neighbors could push further unification of “the other side.” For more insights about this coming eastern superpower, be sure to read Armageddon and Beyond.
Collapse of Morality in Israelite-Descended Nations: Globally, the Israelite-descended nations—the United States, nations deriving from Britain, and many nations of western Europe—are actively promoting their “liberated” views on morality. These once-conservative nations, which based many of their moral values in the Bible, have rid themselves of this supposedly antiquated text and its moral teachings—going so far as to pressure other nations who do not want to adopt their new “liberating” values.
Ironically, numerous nations that, unlike the West, have never claimed to be “Christian,” are attempting to resist this pressure and hold on to what has often been termed “traditional moral values”—many of which are biblical. Quite a reversal! For example, as of one year ago, thirteen nations had criminalized transgenderism (Forbes, September 30, 2020). Such nations include Brunei, the Gambia, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malawi, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, South Sudan, Tonga, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran. A total of 47 nations have outlawed attempting to change one’s gender—most of them non-Israelite nations. Nearly half of the nations that criminalize homosexuality are in Africa (BBC, May 12, 2021). In China, the state-run media recently banned effeminate men in an effort to strengthen and masculinize boys and men in an age when they are being feminized (NPR, September 2, 2021). China has also introduced school curricula to reinforce traditional gender roles (NBC News, March 5, 2021).
Although the actions by these nations are not intended to increase “godliness”—and some of their inhumane means of enforcement and punishment are to be condemned—the reversal of affairs is sobering: Nations that have traditionally rejected any association with Christianity are seeking to defend biblically consistent morals even as those same morals are being utterly abandoned and ridiculed by nations that once claimed to be “Christian.” While Western nations of Israelite-descent were once respected for their morality, these same nations are now promoting immorality around the world. God warns that if Israelite-descended nations reject His laws, He will bring on them serious consequences (see Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28). As their morality declines, so too does their power and prowess. To learn more about why this is happening and where this trend is leading, be sure to read or listen to The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy.—Scott Winnail, Francine Prater, Lenny Bower, and Stuart Wachowicz