Servants' News

Sep/Oct 2000

Port Austin, Michigan Feast of Tabernacles 2000

The Feast of Tabernacles at Port Austin, Michigan was unquestionably the most diverse Feast I have attended. Many who attended said it was their best feast ever—it was not just a feeling they had, they explained exactly why. There were others who said it was their worst feast ever and that they would never attend a site like it again—and they wrote long letters explaining exactly why.

How could such a thing happen?

I think I understand the reasons why—and I hope my explanation will be a benefit to many readers who will be facing the issue of “with whom should I fellowship” in the future. Even though we did not originally plan it, a number of people associated with the Port Austin Center came to keep at least part of the Feast with us. They also spoke at some of the services and studies and participated in the music. Some of our practices and beliefs were the same, but some were quite different. That was the source of most of the good and bad feelings that were created.

Some views of Port Austin

How this Feast Came About

Before I go any further, I think it is important to understand that the way the Port Austin site turned out this year was certainly not my own design. I prayed that the Eternal would send people to me who would help me find a site that would serve people and help them to grow. I asked for a place where people could live and eat together inexpensively, but where there would also be motels nearby for those who wanted them. Beyond that, I asked for His wisdom for what we really needed.

At our Feast of Trumpets service in 1999, a visitor brought a Saginaw, Mich. newspaper with an article about a Christian music festival celebrating the 2000th birthday of Christ on the Feast of Trumpets. I asked him for a copy, and several months later he mailed it to us. It sat in a pile on my desk for several more months. Meanwhile, Kevin Pomaville, who lives in central Michigan, found a nearby site which both of us planned to visit together. Out of curiosity I called the Port Austin Center in April just to see what they were about and I was surprised to find that they intended to rent out their facilities as a retreat center until their school was in full operation. They seemed eager to have us there for the Feast. So my friend and I planned to visit both Port Austin and the other site, but after being in Port Austin and finding the facilities to be adequate, very inexpensive, but what I believe we needed for the Feast, I felt we should work with them. I was also intrigued that the man representing Port Austin Center at that time mentioned that others in his group also believed in the Feast Days and Sabbath. I paid $1,000 down to reserve the facilities and we did not even visit the other possible site which clearly would have been more expensive and had less facilities.

Later, the Port Austin Center management decided that the retreat idea was distracting them from other projects, so they canceled all of their retreat bookings except a football camp and ours. Our file was temporarily lost, so they did not call us. It was not until I called late in July that I found out about this change. They stopped doing major repairs and they tried to get us to go somewhere else several times—indicating bathrooms and other promised facilities would not be ready. I told them that I could not find another site with comparable facilities in time and that I thought most people would simply go to another site and some would not go to the Feast at all if I canceled Port Austin. About two weeks before the Feast, I wrote and called those planning to come that we would have lessor accommodations, but not one of them changed their plans based on this information. It was at this same time that Warwick Potts, the present manager of the Port Austin Center, told me that he was inviting thirty or more people to come. I told him that I would schedule a couple of speaking time slots for him, and we agreed that we would add whatever evening and afternoon studies we thought appropriate. With many last-minute preparations to be made, I had little time to determine exactly what would be said at the meetings.

I cannot prove to anyone that the circumstances of this Feast were orchestrated by the Eternal. I believe they were because I believe I received what I prayed for, plus a few things I needed but didn’t know to pray for. I remember Danny Smith calling to tell me he would arrive at the Feast site two days early to help. I wasn’t going to be there that early and I had no idea what he would do. But with all the work of preparing food, facilities and other things, there was no one to make the beds or clean many of the rooms which had not been slept in since the remodeling was completed. But others may conclude that this Feast was a big mistake or a trick of Satan. I know that I acted according to what I believed would be best for everyone at the Feast. I am sure that Christ will sort it out in the Judgment.

The rest of this article will be divided into three sections: 1) those things that worked well at the Feast, 2) those things that were mistakes that I will try to avoid in the future and 3) things that were a problem to some people and not to others. The final category contains many of the lessons I think we need to learn in working with other groups.

Family Environment Was Great

Over half of the people stayed in the dormitories and houses right at the Port Austin facility. Most of the others were within a very few miles. About three fourths of the people shared meals with everyone in the dining hall. The meeting room, dining room, dormitories and indoor recreation facilities were all less than a minute’s walk away from each other. (The indoor facilities included basketball, volleyball, racquetball, pool, ping pong and a video room.) Bowling and outdoor recreation facilities were only two to three minutes away.

Children could play while parents and singles took as little or as much time talking and eating. Adults and children frequently played together. If there was a need to find someone for a music rehearsal or to simply take part in a conversation, one could usually find them simply by walking through the several buildings that we were using. I personally only left the Port Austin Center only three times during the entire Feast—always with other people, and just a few miles away to visit the beach.

I think it is important to note that the Feast of Tabernacles is called the “Feast of Tabernacles”, not the Teaching of Tabernacles or the Services of Tabernacles. The emphasis in the scriptures is on feasting and rejoicing—not on the messages delivered. In many past Church of God Feasts, brethren were together primarily for 10 services, and then spent most of their time in restaurants and entertainment places—among people who knew nothing of the Feast. The Bible does command the reading of the Law once every seven years at this Feast (which was done in afternoon sessions at Port Austin), but there is no particular command for extensive teaching the other six years. Actually, there is no command even to assemble on all the days—only on the first and eighth day. There is nothing wrong with services every day and we had them, but they should never be taught as a biblically commanded part of the Feast.

Eating and living in close proximity naturally creates many opportunities for conversations between people who do not know each other and would not speak to each other if they were rushing off to their own hotel or restaurant. It was wonderful to sit and ask people how they had begun studying the Bible and how God had changed their lives. It is nice to overhear an interesting conversation and ask to join in. It’s nice for single people, young and old, to be able to sit and talk to people of the opposite sex, yet still be among other brethren knowing that “anytime this guy (or girl) gets weird on me, I can just get up and leave”. This is much better than going on a “feast date” (even a “group date”) with people one does not know very well.

The rooms were not at all fancy, but we had everything we needed. The high ceilings in the main room made for good sound. There was a room for children’s classes nearby which were well-organized by Ruth Smith. There was no stage in the room (which makes it very difficult for the back rows to see when a presenter or musician sits down—or when children are involved), but Kevin Pomaville and several others precut the pieces and then put a stage together in just a few hours before the feast began.

The music of the Feast was excellent. Many talented people—young and old—shared their ability with both vocal and instrumental music. We had a morning singing service for 45 minutes before the main service where we sang anything from old standards to modern praise music. We used an overhead projector to display the words and music for many of the hymns. A couple days into the feast, we found that our 6×6-foot screen was a little small to see in the back, so we began using the white wall as a huge screen that all could easily see. Special music was performed at every service. It included a children’s choir and an original praise dance performed by some of the teens. The family variety show and karaoke night went from 7:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. and was more enthusiastically received than any previous Feast show that I remember. There were still plenty of people left to help clean up the room at that early morning hour.

With the great diversity of people attending, some were staying in nice hotels and wearing expensive suits every day. Others were staying in the campground and wearing jeans and t-shirts. This did not appear to bother anyone while I was there, as the first day I read from James 2:2-4 where it specifically says that a person who comes to a service should be equally treated no matter how nice or poorly he is dressed. It does not say that the person “must be wearing the best they have”. (Nevertheless, after the Feast, one person wrote a whole page complaining about the way others were dressed, referring to scriptures about how Levites were required to wear linen and about the man without a wedding garment (Matt 22:12)—which is not about services or clothes, but about being clothed in righteousness to be a part of the bride of Christ (Rev 19:7-8). I do not know if he applied Galatians 6:1 and Matthew 18:15-17 and attempted to correct the people whom he thought were poorly dressed or not.)

In general, most people went away from this Feast quite refreshed. There were 120 on the first day, about 30 associated with Port Austin Center. I did not keep a careful count, but I think attendance was in the 70s to 90s for most of the rest of the services. Most of the Port Austin people went home before the end of the Feast, as they were keeping the Feast for the first time and had not planned for it all year. (Remember your first feast!) Some of them were already keeping the Sabbath, others have begun to meet on the Sabbath after this Feast. Many of them had begun to eat only clean meat just a few months before this meeting.

The Port Austin people are strictly non-denominational—so they do not all believe or practice the same things. If they had one person telling them what they should all believe, or if they got together and voted on what they would believe, they would simply become another denomination with another doctrinal statement. Is it “confusion” to have a lot of people in a room worshiping together and apparently getting along with each other even though they do not all believe the same thing? I think that is far less confusing than having hundreds of separate groups all claiming to be “Christian” and claiming to have the “right” doctrinal statement, but refusing to work with each other. The first method encourages people to hear each other and study the scriptures to see what is true. The latter encourages people to rally behind their group and its doctrinal statement and to shut out any truth that the other groups might have.

Improvement Needed

I apologized to several people for not clearly stating before the Feast that there would be speakers about which I knew very little. They came expecting to hear messages along standard church of God themes and were not given a clear way to know that they would be listening to people with rather different ideas. Some people look forward to the Feast as a time to get away from the false teachings that they are among at their school or work and to “hear truth”. Some see the feast as a time to teach others and are willing to listen to teachings that they might find false in order that those others will hear their true teachings. A person ought to be able to know the nature of the Feast they are going to, and I will certainly make that clear in future Feasts.

The First Day of the Feast, we had a “meet the church” service where someone in each family had a few minutes to stand up and say something about their spiritual background. That practice has worked very well in previous years—especially when the number of families attending was smaller. But this time there were more people who spoke and some spoke for ten or fifteen minutes. Some of the long-winded ones were just visiting for the day. I found most of the speeches quite interesting, and so did many others, but they lasted considerably longer than I had hoped and I did not have time for the many scriptures I hoped to read about the Feast of Tabernacles. (I ended up reading them on the Eighth Day). In the future, I think I may plan a “meet the church” session on the evening after the first day or on the second day.

The speaking portion of the Feast also needed improvement. I am opposed to requiring every speaker to have his presentation ready long in advance of the Feast—because sometimes the Eternal simply gives words to people when they need them (Luke 12:11-12; 21:14-15; Eph 6:19). On the other hand, if one schedules a speaker whom one knows little about and who does not give a topic in advance, then it is difficult to know what to expect. Many of the speaking sessions would have been better if the speakers had a better understanding of the background of their listeners.

Diversity of Doctrine

Some doctrines, such as British Israelism and no eternal punishing in hell were accepted by nearly everyone at the Feast. But there was some teaching at the Feast that was new to most everyone who was from a Church of God background. I found some of it to be wrong, some questionable, some not worth the time to study and some good. I was amazed that some of their teaching was in agreement with things I had studied but never wrote about. Their explanations for some scriptures were better than any I had previously heard. Other people found much of the teaching “heretical”, others agreed with more of it, and others agreed with different parts. At least, we can be fairly sure that people were actively thinking because I do not know of anyone who “agreed with all of it.”

I cannot possibly cover everything that was said at the Feast in this short article, but I will try to cover some of the more important examples.

Steven Jones

Before this Feast, I did not even know Steven Jones (6269 University Ave NE Suite 1, Fridley, MN 55432), but Warwick Potts gave him one of his service speaking slots and then Stephen spoke at two other evening studies. Steven Jones has had a national newsletter, booklet and tape ministry, circulation about 2500, for a number of years.

He moved from Arkansas to Minnesota a few years ago to teach regularly at a non-denominational congregation there, but is not considered the pastor there and only some of the people there regularly help in his ministry. Steven believes that local congregations should be governed by elders, not by one “pastor” or some far-away church headquarters. (This is actually very similar to the size and operation of Servants’ News—I do not “run” any local congregations either.)

Steven Jones did come from the Identity movement—people who believe that the USA and other nations are modern Israel, but who also believe that non-Israelite races are not offered salvation by God in the same way that Israelite races are. He has since renounced this teaching and now preaches universal salvation—that everyone of all races will be saved. Nevertheless, links to his site still appear on some of the Identity movement web sites and he has spoken at some of their conferences as little as a year ago. Why? Because they still like some of his teaching, they invite him to speak—and he believes he has helped many hundreds out of the “only Israelites can be saved” movement. Again, we need to look at ourselves.

But when a group has such a vile doctrine that writes off 90% of the world as unsavable, should he simply have nothing more to do with it? We ought to look at ourselves. People have asked me, “Why, do you have anything at all to do with the former-WCG groups and leaders? Don’t you know about all their extravagance and sexual sins? Don’t you know that they used to command happy families to break up? Don’t you know that they falsely claimed they were the one and only group that God was working with?” When I respond, “Yes I know about those things, but there are many people I know and love that are still in those groups, but they do not see these things as such a big problem and I want to help them.” Sometimes they understand, but other times they chuckle and say they cannot believe that I would have anything to do with those “oppressive, hierarchical Church of God groups”.

I know that Steven Jones has rejected the “only Israelites can be saved” idea because I visited the congregation he attends and there are non-white people who attend and work with him in his congregation. Also, he is making quite an effort to translate his work into Spanish—a non-Israelite language.

Most of Stephen Jones’ work is about prophecy, chronology and Biblical symbols. When I was invited to speak to the congregation he meets with, I thought I might talk about the difficulties that the WCG had with their prophetic scenarios that there is a need to serve and teach others now, not just to speculate about the future. But when I arrived, I quickly found out that they were involved in a prison ministry, a ministry to street people, a Wycliff Bible translation project, and some other local ministries. This group of less than 50 people was clearly doing far more than most Sabbatarian congregations I know about, so I felt I would be completely out of place speaking about “showing some fruit”. Instead, I delivered a message on why I keep the Seventh-day Sabbath. I later realized that Steven Jones did not need to write a lot of basic booklets because this group, being non-denominational, used a number of other basic booklets (about repentance, faith, baptism) in their ministry that were produced by other groups. (Corporate Church of God groups generally have to write all of their own literature because they do not believe that other groups have worthwhile knowledge of God.)

Stephen Jones has a chronology worked out for most of scripture. He wrote a book explaining how Christ was born at the Feast of Trumpets, 2 BC. I have only studied parts of his writings and I disagree with some, but have, in general, found his work better than most of the other chronologies sent to me. In 2 BC, the Jewish calendar shows Friday Passover, which would not allow for three days and three nights in the grave. I pointed out to Mr Jones that the calculated Hebrew calendar was double-postponed that year and that it is quite possible that the actual calendar in use was being observed—which would have placed Passover on a Wednesday and allowed for three days and three nights. He did not say, no I have it all right, but he was receptive to the idea. However, I completely disagree with his statement in that book that says, “Jupiter rules Jerusalem.”—though I might accept proof that historic events in Jerusalem in some way match Jupiter’s orbital cycles. (See more about astronomy/ astrology under “Warwick Potts”, below).

I found Stephen’s concepts interesting regarding an “age of Passover” (a time of animal sacrifices up to the death of Christ), an “age of Pentecost” (a time where the holy spirit is poured out on men who are still flesh, sin and die) and an “age of Tabernacles” (which roughly corresponds to the “Church of God” concept of the “Millennium”). He teaches many of the details differently, and I would have to study them a lot more before reaching a conclusion, but I find it very helpful to have a fresh look at prophecy from someone who believes the Bible, but is not basing his study on any previous literature. Also, I have found him less dogmatic about being “right” than most other chronologists.

In addition to Chronology, Stephen Jones does a lot of teaching about symbols and numbers from the Bible. There are some that I disagree with, but I found some very helpful. For example, Leviticus 14 goes on at length explaining the priestly procedure for cleansing a leper. We do not have Levitical priests now and I don’t know of anyone with leprosy, so what use is that scripture now to me? Should I reread it every time I go through the Bible? Mr. Jones taught that leprosy, an incurable disease, symbolizes our sin. Two birds were required to cleanse the leper, one was killed and the other was dipped in the blood and let go. He tied this to the Day of Atonement procedure in Leviticus 16 where one goat was killed and the other was sent away bearing the sins. In order to remove human sins, Christ first had to be sacrificed, but then he also had to live and physically remove our sins so that we sin no more. We can only be completely “at one” with Christ when both of these things are done. We have accepted the sacrifice of Christ, but He has not yet completely removed sin from within us.

Jory Brooks

Mr. Brooks has served as the pastor of a variety of congregations for a number of years. He was involved with the Identity movement and ultra right-wing groups at one time, but has since abandoned that. I witnessed him working to make a presentation more acceptable to Jews. He gave a slide-show on British-Israel history, which was interesting and largely well accepted.

Warwick Potts

Warwick Potts and his family were very likeable and easy to get along with. They provided some fine music and were quite helpful in taking care of the accommodations—as the circumstances would allow. He is the son of a non-denominational preacher, so he has lived with that all of his life. His father had a gift for simply walking up to people, talking about the Bible and starting a new congregation. Later on, some of those congregations were taken over by a local “king”, who would no longer let Warwick’s father come back to speak. Warwick has observed the seventh day Sabbath for a number of years.

In his message during a service, Warwick made the mistake of starting his message by asking people not to have fear of learning new truth, then went on to present new ideas without substantiating them from the scriptures. I think he was a little amazed at how scripture-oriented the church of God audience was.

One of the controversial subjects he brought up was numerology—the idea that numbers stand for certain things in the Bible. Obviously, the Bible teaches this to some degree in that there are 12 tribes in Israel, twelve Apostles, 12 gates in the new Jerusalem and all of these things are specifically tied together in various verses (Matt 19:28; Rev 21:12). The Old Testament contains numerous specific numbers in regard to offerings, dates and times. The New Testament chronology of Christ actually skips a couple of generations in order to end up with three nice sets of 14 generations (Matt 1:1-17 & 1Chr 3). When Peter becomes a “fisher of men”, the Bible says he got a net “full” of fish which is enough to tell the story, but then goes on to specify 153 fish. Does that number mean anything?

Obviously there are a great many people who add up Bible numbers, make all kinds of exciting conclusions and turn a great many followers after themselves. One should never think that a person is a great spiritual teacher because of the neat mathematical things he can do with Bible numbers—it is better to look at his character. One should never disobey the clear commands of scripture based on some complicated number theory. On the other hand, to say that God has not placed significance in Biblical numbers just because some misuse them is a mistake. There is no scriptural command to find essential Bible truth by doing mathematical operations on Bible numbers, but for those who can study, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter” (Prv 25:2). How much better is it to learn the details of God’s doings rather than the details of TV, movies, sports, video games, etc?

Maybe the most difficult teaching was the idea that astronomy, even astrology has a Biblical place in showing future events. Warwick did not recommend that one go to a local astrologer to “get a reading”, but he and his audience did point out some of the scriptures that show that there might be some good purpose in looking into the skies to know about future events. My notes do not clearly show which scriptures were actually discussed at the service but I will list relevant ones here.

“Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs [distinguishing marks] and seasons [appointed times], and for days and years… He made the stars also’” (Gen 1:14-16). This verse clearly says that the lights in the heavens were made for, among other things “signs”—that Hebrew word is used elsewhere to indicate important events. The Holy Days are obviously the most important, shown by the moon and sun.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Pslm 19:1-4). These verses, unless they are symbolic in some way, say that knowledge is available from the night sky. Bullinger and other authors of many years have claimed to show how the night sky stars reveal God’s plan of salvation.

He made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south” (Job 9:9). “He made the Pleiades and Orion; He turns the shadow of death into morning and makes the day dark as night; He calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth; the Lord is His name” (Amos 5:8). Here are clear references to three of the constellations of the “zodiac”. My research indicates that the twelve constellations are truly ancient—they are not an invention of some pagan religion of the last few thousand years.

“Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations [Hebrew Mazzaroth] in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs?” (Job 38:31-32, NIV). Here, the Eternal himself is speaking and He inspired the Hebrew word Mazzaroth, which, according to any information I could find, means the 12 constellations of the “zodiac”. This is the only place in the Bible where this word occurs. The KJV does not attempt to translate it, but just leaves it: “Mazzaroth”. Job is often considered the oldest book of the Bible. Job may well have had some knowledge that has now been lost.

“…and King Nebuchadnezzar your father—your father the king—made him [Daniel] chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers” (Dan 5:11). These verses do not say that Daniel ever became a magician, astrologer, etc. He could have been in charge of them, but relied upon God rather than their methods. Or he may have used some of their methods, sorting out the truth from the error.

Are there “good astrologers” and “false astrologers” just like there are “true prophets” and “false prophets”? In Isaiah 47:13 the Hebrew chozeh (Strong’s #2374) is translated as “stargazer”—which is used negatively with “astrologer”, but everywhere else the word is translated “seer”, in a good sense. Similarly in the New Testament, we find the Magi or “wise men” coming to visit Christ near the time of his birth (Matt 2). They receive instruction from God in a dream, yet they also claimed to find Him due to a star (which may have been an angel). The Greek word for these men is magos (Strong’s #3097) and is also used for an ungodly sorcerer in Acts 13:6-8.

An exhaustive concordance will show three Hebrew words that are translated “astrologer(s)” in the Bible, used in 9 verses. One is Isaiah 47:13, and the others are in the book of Daniel. These verses never condemn people because they are “astrologers”, but there methods are continuously shown to be inferior to revelation from the Eternal. Jeremiah 10:2 says: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, For the Gentiles are dismayed at them.’” This verse does not condemn learning from the heavens, but simply tells us not to be afraid of what we see. People should fear to disobey God rather than fear that some “heavenly ordained disaster” is coming upon them. The Bible never talks about an “astrologer for God” or recommends that believers listen to one, but there are numerous commands to listen to God’s true prophets.

The problem with nearly everything called “astrology” today is that it is nearly always mixed up with the occult, demonism and other false religion. The Bible clearly condemns such practices. If the Eternal intended us to learn about future events from the stars, how does one go about learning how to do it? Even if an astrologer’s predictions (or anyone else’s predictions) do come to pass, we should not follow them if they do not obey God (Deut 13). One could attempt to learn righteous knowledge from the stars by correlating historical events with astronomical data and looking for patterns, but I know of very few who do this without reading other “astrology books”.

I see no biblical purpose in consulting the stars on a daily basis for what I should do with my life—I should go to God in prayer for that. But if someone believes that they understand part of the timing of God’s plans by observing the stars, I cannot say that the Bible is against it. But before I would teach it, I think I would insist upon a using a whole new vocabulary so that what I did would not be confused with largely ungodly astrologers of today. I don’t know how much of this article the Port Austin speakers would agree with, but I only heard them talk about using the stars to understand timing of historical events—not for governing one’s personal life.

Most of the Port Austin Speakers

I found most of the Port Austin teachers too much on the side of “the world is all predetermined”, so I showed them some scriptures that show where individuals made decisions and God changed. They tended to believe that God had this great plan from creation and has caused each person to fit into it every step of the way. I attempted to show them that if the world is a predetermined script, then people cannot be responsible for their own adultery because the children born from it had to exist according to God’s predetermined script. Actually, God would be responsible for all sin if he predetermined it to happen in advance and men were powerless to stop it. I further attempted to show you that God is so brilliant and capable that He can make a master plan in advance, give billions of people free will (but limited resources), and still bring about His plan by simply making little—often imperceptible—changes here and there. They listened. At another time, they agreed that even though the scriptures say to them that all people will eventually be saved, there are a few scriptures that might mean that some people will refuse salvation—and that whatever God does in the end will be acceptable to them. I said that I think the scriptures indicate some people will reject salvation and be forever destroyed, but if I am wrong and God has a plan to save them all, then I am all for it.

Several of the Port Austin speakers would occasionally say “God told me” or “Father said to me” and then go on to explain something that they did or were going to do. While this kind of talk is fairly common in some religious circles, I think it can be taking God’s name in vain if a person uses it to attribute their own ideas to God. Was God or the Spirit really speaking to them? The New Testament surely indicates many instances where the Spirit spoke to people (Acts 8:29; 10:19; 11:12; 13:2; 16:6-7; 20:22-23; 1Tim 4:1). Of all the things that they claimed “Father Said”, I did not hear anyone say anything that I thought was unbiblical. On the other hand, I do not believe I saw enough fruit come from these statements to be convinced they were messages from God. I asked at least one person the exact means where by they heard from God, and he indicated that several prayed the same thing separately, and they all would receive the same answer. Since neither I nor the group was asked to do or believe anything based on these things that “Father said”, I was not too concerned about these claims. If anyone had begun demanding that others or I do things based upon their “word from God”, then I would have felt compelled to come to a decision (either become convinced that the messages were from God, or ask them to stop.) The New Testament has many examples of God directly guiding His people, but I have also seen many people think they are being guided and later conclude they were not. Each person is responsible to God for “testing the spirits” (1Jn 4:1).


I did not cover everything that people found significant at this Feast. One person wrote a couple of paragraphs about methods for improving the method for selecting a person to give opening and closing prayers. I would have printed one of the letters that found difficulty with the Feast, but even after several requests, the people who wrote the letters declined to have them printed.

I believe many people learned valuable lessons from this Feast and I know of many who have renewed interest in studying the scriptures because of it. I do not know of anyone who has accepted what I consider “error” as a result of this Feast.

If I had a chance to do it all over, I would do it again, hopefully fixing some of the problems. As a matter of fact, for the Feast of Tabernacles 2001, we are planning to meet with a Sabbath-keeping group of about 40 with no Church of God background in the Nebraska/Colorado area. They are just beginning to keep the holy days. I hope those who would like to meet with, befriend and help teach brethren from a different perspective will come to this site. Details will be announced in future issues.

Norman Edwards

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