We printed all of the Feast reports sent to us. They came via mail, fax and various forms of e-mail. If we missed one somewhere, we are sorry. We realize that there are a great many other wonderful Feasts for which we do not have reports.
While reading these reports, I could not help but think, “Feast-keeping is here to stay!” There are now so many different people sponsoring Feast sites that the practice will be maintained for generations to come no matter what happens. Feast-keeping no longer relies on a big organization “placing their name” somewhere or even on “ordained” ministers to give sermons. Many brethren are organizing successful sites that involve the participation of most of those attending. — NSE
This site is probably the largest attended by non-aligned brethren. The beautiful Fine Arts Center at the Okaloosa-Walton Community College filled up with about a thousand brethren. With any other smaller sites being within an easy drive, this Niceville (Destin) site is an ideal place to meet old friends and make new ones. The weather was gorgeous the whole time. Rain was predicted for late in the week, but it never came. Days were low 80 degrees F (28°C), nights 50s/60s °F (10–15°C).
While this site is considered the Christian Educational Ministries’ site (CEM), it is not run by Ron Dart and his little CEM staff, but by a “Festival Association” made up of volunteers from all sorts of corporate and independent affiliations. Ron has a role of general oversight, particularly in approving speakers, but is much more a facilitator than a benevolent dictator. For instance, the woman who was running most of the details at the information table this year is actually an employee of the UCG HQ in Ohio! Many of the speakers and seminar leaders came from outside his own CEM operation. Some have no affiliation with CEM at all.
Even the offering taken up at the feast does not go to CEM. It is set aside specifically for Feast use only. Any funds not used to cover this year’s expenses are banked for next year’s. They did not take up an offering on both Holy Days as is typical in corporate COG circles. They literally follow the Biblical admonition about not “appearing empty” on three occasions in the year instead of seven. So the only offering was taken up on the first day of the Feast.
The feast began Friday night with an inspiring message about the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The first Holy Day message was about investing in God.
The Youth Day service really stood out. First, the beginner’s choir, a delightful group of 3 to 5 year olds gave their all in bringing us a joyful performance. Then the senior teen choir of about 30 teens sang a rousing number. A brother and sister give their testimony of what Christianity has meant in their lives. The “Cool Christians” of the junior choir (about 35 six to eleven year olds) finished the wonderful singing part of the performance. That was followed by an imaginative stage production of “Elijah’s Claim to Flame”. It was well presented and had everyone wondering “how are they going to make that fire appear?” The answer came with a wonderful surprise as the Eternal’s fire burned up the right sacrifice. That was all topped off with an uplifting message from a young man in his 20s about individuals who served God.
The message on the Last Great Day was about the reunion aspects of the Feast. Indeed, many were able to see and visit with old friends. That was then carried forward to some wonderful reunions all of us look forward to with loved ones and friends who have not been called at this time.
The music throughout the feast was excellent. Brent Kern had the choir sing an opening hymn to start every service, and two specials during the week. Of these eight opening hymns, five were from the Maranatha book—one used by a number of independent congregations. And one of the specials was a rousing rendition of “Shine, Jesus, Shine” complete with superb piano accompaniment. The audience was mostly wildly appreciative and clapped long and hard afterwards.
This Feast had activities for everyone—too numerous to mention There were Bible classes for children and teens as well as fun activities of all kinds. Numerous seminars were conducted in addition to the main services.
One example was Pam Dewey’s seminar on Biblical Chronology, Monday morning
at 9:15. The classroom had tables and chairs for about 75. They were all full
at “starting time”, but other people kept coming in. They filled up a row of
chairs along the back wall, and finally it really did end up standing room only!
Several either leaned against the wall or sat on the floor. There were 105 in
all. Pam started out asking how many had been in the WCG at some point in their
life, expecting it would be almost all. I was surprised when less than two thirds
raised their hands. I then expected that the rest must be former CGI, but was
pleased to find that probably 20 or more had been in neither! When they
raised their hands, a spontaneous round of applause arose from the old-timers.
CEM and other independent efforts are obviously bearing some fruit. A 16-page
handout was given
to each participant—a revised version of the Shelter in the Word “It’s
About Time” series. (They are available on the Dewey’s web site, www.youall.com/oasis/library.htm#time). The seminar went extremely well. Audience rapport and participation was enthusiastic, most were taking copious notes.
Other seminars included “Understanding Personality Types” and “Gender Communication” by Trish Svehla and “Dysfunctional Families” by Tony Kuzynski. Tony’s was especially moving because he gave personal testimony and related it to the church in a poignant manner.
There was also open house for CEM, Likeminds, Likehearts and Interact forums on the Internet. Folks were welcome to drop in any time between 3 and 9 p.m. and stay as long as they liked. About 70 people visited. This gave a chance for many to meet some of the people whom they had heretofore only known via a keyboard and screen.
A favorite nearby site to visit was the Friends of the Sabbath site hosted by John Merritt. Brethren who visited there mentioned the use of esrogs and lulavs (Lev 23:40) and an interesting presentation on the Tabernacle by Charles McLendon.
— Norman Edwards, Pam Dewey, Horst Obermeit
Another delightful, spiritually rewarding Feast of Tabernacles and Great Last Day in Clearwater, Florida occurred with brethren of God’s Church, known more by its publishing name—the Church Outreach Program (COP). COP is responsible for publishing, free upon request, such articles as Man or Angel, The Beast with 7 Heads, The Mystery of 666, The Beginning and a tape cassette Album titled The Light, as well as distributing numerous sermon tapes. Approximately 80-percent more brethren attended as were present in 1999 [don’t know exactly how many —NSE]. The commanded holy convocations, or public meetings, for the First and Eighth Day both took place in Clearwater Beach at the Harborview Center.
General Pastor Robert Roenspies, COP’s featured speaker, explained how the Feast of Tabernacles pictured the celebration, in advance, of the marriage of God’s prepared/readied Bride, Firstfruits, Church, “temples,” “tabernacles,” if you will, to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. It was recommended we imagine we were 10 billion years into the future and, from that point in time, look back at the Feast of Tabernacles as a “memorial” of the Lamb’s marriage to His Bride (Firstfruits) as a predestined “done deal” in God’s eyes (Romans 4:17). The Great Last Day pictures children from this marriage.
Throughout God’s Feast excited brethren from around the Country, learning and growing together in unity, were found fellowshipping and talking about God’s wonderful true plan of salvation.
Additionally, the brethren enjoyed eating a special evening meal at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort as well as enjoyed a special family trip to Busch Gardens. Brethren also enjoyed unique dining on the107-foot Starlite Princess, a three-deck Paddle Wheel Riverboat, on smooth inland waters.
— John Gordon, 119 Pine Street, Nashua, NH; 603-889-1958, email@example.com
One hundred-twenty five of the Family of God registered at the Feast of Tabernacles at the Four Points Sheraton sponsored by the Church of God of Central Arkansas in association with the Church of God Outreach Ministries and several other independent Church of God groups. Visitors from other nearby feast sites were welcomed as family and invited to join in all activities.
Most of our worship services consisted of songs and hymns of praise and two speakers in a split sermon format. Three of our services were enriched by scripture readings by Bethea Davis, T. J. Davis and Chelsea Davis. They were heart warming and much appreciated.
Speakers were: Ron Bridges, James Ussery, Rory Reis, Ian Hufton, Herb Morrow, Marshall Bryan, Robert Marlowe, Dan Girouard, Jim Kely, Max Davis, Ken Svehla, Bill Hillbrenner and Dave Havir.
Interactive Bible Studies were presented by: Ian Hufton, John Beasley, John Havir, Jack Morgan, James Ussery, Rick Beltz, Ken Svehla, Eddie Staggs and Herbert Britt.
Seminars were presented by: Ian Hufton on “Local Church and Youth Development”, Terry and Ida Green on “Driving Safety,” Thalia Hufton on “Grief Management” and “Tips on Child Rearing”, Rory Reis on “Why Our Kids Do the Things They Do”, and Barbara Marlowe, Dot Ussery and Donna Toombs on “Women’s Role in the Church”.
Activities included: a luau at the poolside courtyard, a fishfry at Liza Jackson park, a deep sea fishing excursion, balcony dolphin watches, cookouts, dinners and breakfasts with kindred spirits, sunrises and sunsets, barefoot walks on the beach, hot tubs and swimming pools, food, fun, and best of all, fellowhip with God’s family.
— Theda Horton, 3105 Tyler St, Little Rock, AR 72204, 501-663-9712
The United Christian Ministries Feast of Tabernacles 2000 is now “in the books”. I hope your feast was as inspiring and energizing as mine. Our attendance was around 240 on the first day. It dropped off some during the week and swelled back up for the last day. The attendance did not fluctuate as much as it does in some places. There are not many independent sights in the area.
I certainly want to thank everyone who participated in what I feel was the most peaceful, as well as energizing feast that I can recall, ever.
Jeff and Sharon Ledy presented an outstanding seminar: “Building Godly Families” which was in keeping with the theme of the feast. Building God’s Family by Building Godly Families.” I cannot stress enough the dire need in the world today for Godly families. Satan has focused on our families and is constantly trying to destroy them. Therefore, it behooves us to understand God’s will for our families.
There were so many positive comments about the messages, the music, the physical blessings, etc, in Sevierville that we simply cannot share them all. There were many raving reviews. Rather than write a report on this feast myself, I am including some comments made by some of the attendees.
— Ray Wooten
We had a great Feast of Tabernacles in Sevierville, TN. We went with the UCM group and the theme of the Feast was “building God’s family by building Godly families.” It was an awesome Feast…great to see so many families recognized.
We had lots of every age group and so many were recognized during the feast. There was a two-week old infant and someone who was I believe 93. It was one of the most open and tolerant feast sites in my memory, with everyone from a WCG minister to many who were meeting alone.
There were numerous bible studies. The messages were outstanding! This is one Feast when every message really touched my heart and my mind in some way to draw me closer to God. The most important aspect of the Feast was the spirit. On the first day, Ray rebuked Satan and asked God to bar him from the feast, and I believe God did. Never have I seen a more loving and tolerant Feast site. We did have some healings take place at the site, which was also very encouraging to the group.
— Heather Kemp
Beautiful red and yellow foliage and bright blue skies in Sevierville, TN helped 240 attendees rejoice in a truly fall festival sponsored by UCM.
The theme of building godly families was a much-needed one, with excellent sermons by several of the men, gifts for children and teens, and fun activities. As one man who had come from NY commented to me, the atmosphere was that of a warm and loving family. He had heard about the UCM group when he was with the Living COG in Pigeon Forge.
Jeff and Sharon Ledy also conducted a series of workshops on the same theme. They have taken training in series of courses by Gary Smalley. I would recommend the workshops to everyone, even if you think you should be the one doing the courses!
Since we had quite a few musicians and singers at the feast, Wes hopes to get a band (country and classic) developed for next year’s feast. If we have a large enough facility, we can make the Feast even more family friendly by holding a free family dance on one evening and maybe an outdoor carnival on family day. UCM did a great job of hosting this year by having coffee, teas, juice, and assorted cookies and snacks every day of the feast, plus a very inexpensive but well prepared luncheon on the first Holy Day for all who wanted to attend.
— Linda H. White
“We said we would and we did!” To quote a phrase from Prof. Harold Hill. One hundred and sixty eight happy people rejoiced before God and partook of eight days of His wonderful physical and spiritual blessings.
I’m sure we shared the sentiments of all Feast keepers in the usual fare of great sermons, bountiful food and great fellowship. Unique to Lake Texoma was our nightly prayer service which has grown slightly from last year. About 8-10 of us gathered to consider needs and problems and present them to our loving Father.
Wednesday afternoon, a flotilla of three fishing boats invaded 93,000 acre Lake Texoma loaded with 12 highly trained and experienced fishermen (women and boys). Together the catch equaled 90 stripped bass from 1.5 to 5 lbs; and 2 catfish which were promptly returned. The next day all at the feast were invited to a fish fry but were unable to consume it all.
Other neat additions were a Bible quiz game, two barbershop quartets from Dallas, a cobbler and ice cream social, and mini bible study sessions.
We were well pleased to have nearly 30 children who kept the bible school teachers very busy. Afternoons and evenings they were kept active with bowling, a fun park, kids carnival, and a fort outing.
Decorations were plentiful and beautiful and music filled the room often. Much of it was supplied with the harmonies of the Tulsa church choir which were greatly enjoyed.
On the Last Great Day, a seminar and bible study were held in the afternoon and we hope to continue this tradition.
— Steven & Suzanne Kieler, 2193 Sheker Drive, Fort Dodge, IA 50501-8707; 515-576-5743; firstname.lastname@example.org
Shalom!! May Yahweh’s name continue to be praised! We had a blessed celebration for the Feast of Ingathering in Clipper Mills, CA. There was an attendance of 47 people. We had many days of inspiring topics of study about the present times we live in and how to let Yahweh lead us to His glory. We had a variety of speakers each day with a wide range of topics.
We fashioned our site after the group in Fir Point, Oregon. We worked together and built a sukkah, which could hold many people. We decorated it with lights, corn stalks and various types of foliage from the area. We also held our kiddush and havdalah services sitting inside and outside of the sukkah. Each day people had the opportunity to sit inside and reflect on their life and the direction that Yahweh is guiding them. There were water-pouring ceremonies done in front of the sukkah and everyone participated. By doing so, we learned the importance of Yahweh’s spirit being poured out upon us.
There were many other activities that included; dancing, bible studies, fellowship and plenty of family games. There was a game we called: “How well do you know the twelve tribes of Israel?” And we also set up a small reward store from which to buy gifts and treats. At the close of the store on Thursday, we raffled the remainder of the items. Others took the opportunity on our free day to explore some old ghost towns and gold mines.
There was messianic circle dancing at each service which was for all to participate! It was lots of fun! The Torah was read and discussed, and a sermon was given daily. After services we set up for our lunch meal. As an incentive for cleanup participation, we gave “Tabby-bucks” to all that had helped. We had children of all ages helping to receive their bucks, so they can buy items from the store.
The night of the Last Great Day, we had a wedding supper. At the supper, all the parents said a special blessing upon each of their children. We also offered bread and wine respectfully and asked the Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to bless us and keep us. The women lit candles and children had hands laid upon them.
This Feast of Tabernacles was full of serving and sharing with each other. Everyone was active in doing something. There was not a moment that something was not going on. Everyone was excited to take his or her turn at blowing the Shofar each day to call everyone to assemble!!
Yahweh be praised!
— Rick and Theresa Bates, Hallel Fellowship, 1701 Judy Court, Modesto, CA 95358
[This is more of an evaluation than a report, but it shows the effect that independent Feast sites are having on people in the corporate churches.]
I attended four services this year at the independent Feast site at Sunriver, about fifteen miles south of Bend in central Oregon. There were 140-150 people attending on the Holy Day weekends and an average of over one hundred during the week days (this information supplied by Steve Moyers, one of the Feast organizers).
The weather was generally chilly in the evenings and mornings, usually warming up to about 55 to 65 degrees by noon. One day did break 70. Another day rained heavily; the next morning the rain had turned to ice for a few hours in the early morning before rising to the 50s as I recall. New snow on the mountain peaks was another result. Pine trees predominate; other trees were at their peak fall colors. All very beautiful.
I was amazed to meet several brethren from one of the Oregon congregations in the David Hulme organization (Church of God an International Community). I know many of the brethren from that group in my San Francisco-Oakland California region. They tend to be conservative and exclusive. Sure enough, these brethren were being pressured and cajoled by their pastor because of the decision to attend this site. Some had already been advised to stop attending their congregation.
The messages were sound and biblical (both Old Testament and New). There was no pressure to conform to any doctrinal statement or to support any organization; or not support same.
Steve Wineinger from Spokane, Washington, gave a fascinating sermon interspersed with some references to another group (which he did not identify) where he had been a principal speaker up till a message he gave on a Holy Day some years back in which he spoke of some not-well-received points including his belief that brethren should utilize the gifts God gave them in whatever group they were in. He said the pastor in the afternoon sermon on the same day spent the first half of his message publicly refuting and chastising Steve for his morning sermon. Steve seemed to allude to being disfellowshipped later, assumedly by this same pastor.
This Feast site has been there since 1986. It is organized and run by voluntary efforts of the brethren involved and attending. It is relaxed, unpretentious and welcoming. I highly recommend it. If your local pastor gives you a bad time for attending here, then he’s the one with the problem.
They mentioned that their Bible Studies at the site were interactive and that others were invited to express their views and scriptures and contribute to mutual understanding. They said that is how they normally moderate such studies in their respective home areas. How refreshing!
— Bruce Lyons
We at Omega Praise Fellowship hope the memory of the wonderful time of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) will remain for a long while with those who came to Fir Point Bible Conference [Center] in Glendale Oregon. From our view, all the brethren brought something: willing hands, inspiring music, grateful hearts and loving attitudes. We thank each and every one who made the Lord’s Feast so very, very special.
We especially thank those families whose children brought such joy to us. They were a living torah (instruction) of how our Messiah wants us to come to Him—without guile, without ego—yet with an enthusiastic desire to please Him!
The Feast of Tabernacles provides many different kinds of “dishes” for us to ingest—The Word as spoken, The Word as it is read, The Word expounded upon and, last but certainly not least, the Word set to music. This year, with double the attendance of last year, Fir Point feasters were given special music offerings, spiritual and uplifting, every day, morning and evening! We had family groups and fellowship groups, not to mention a few soloists. Music ranged from traditional (Amazing Grace) to religious rock (When the Children Cry), a dose of “messianic” (Yahweh) thrown in for good measure, plus contemporary instrumental (Autumn Journey Home).
Congregational music, mostly tape or CD accompaniment, included many songs that also have “Davidic dance” steps designed for them. Thus, brethren were able to not only vocalize their musical praise, they had the opportunity to dance it as well. For some this was the first time they had been exposed to this type of worship. As the Feast days progressed the number of participants in the Davidic worship grew and grew. Many found that to focus on the King of the Universe and on His son, while singing and dancing a worshipful song (e.g. Kadosh which means “holy”) can be very prayerful and meaningful. One participant expressed it this way: “to dance my praise, to use my whole body in praise, made me feel completely free to express my love for Yahweh and Yeshua.”
Feastgoers heard from three different teachers: Lionel Nightingale, a “scholar of the Greek language”, gave presentations on the first Holy day and the 8th Day; James Sorenson, our own “resident chronologist” and author of his own book on that subject (The Appointed Times), gave teachings on the 2nd and 8th day; Robert (Sam-Bob) Salmon, one of Omega Praise Fellowship’s originators, our own Messianic Jew, was the featured speaker on the other days. Tapes for most of these teachings are available. Simply write to us and make your requests known.
Five different participants gave seminars at the Feast. Topics were: “Song and Dance in Worship” by Deirdre Salmon, “Blessings” by Sharon Bonney, “Family Purity Laws of the Bible” by Diana Wells; “Health” by Majorie Qualls and “Matthew 18” by Jim Snyder. Tapes of all but the seminar on Matthew 18 are available for the asking.
This was the sixth Feast hosted by Omega Praise Fellowship. We hope we have learned a few things along the way that have helped us to develop a formula which we hope can be useful to other small groups who want to sponsor a Feast. The “feast equation” is fairly simple but the results can be pretty amazing. It goes something like this:
1. Pray for Guidances—put aside egos, and ask for Abba’s [father’s] direction in all things.
2. Find a site that is “self contained”—where housing, meals and daily services can be provided.
3. Divide the work among as many as possible in your fellowship—participation makes for enthusiasm!
4. Publicize as early as possible—make your site available to other brethren. It is part of “iron sharpening iron”!
5. Provide for the “fatherless” and the “widow”—it is the stuff of which “pure religion” is made.
6. For your service, focus first and foremost on the Word of God, both reading it and singing it.
7. Incorporate into services those “show and tell” things that help us understand the Word of God. For example, wave the Lulav and recite Psalm 107:1 to show how God blesses all His people; read John 7:37-38 noting that Yeshua spoke this on the “last and great day”—the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles—the same day the “water pouring ceremony” is conducted in synagogues around the world. Then, demonstrate the “waterpouring”.
— Sharon Bonney, Omega Praise Fellowship of Souther Oregon, PMB 48, 1720-A Redwood Ave, Grants Pass, OR 95727-6075; email@example.com
This site was hosted by the Canadian Church of God. The feedback I received throughout and at the end of the Feast, to say the least, was “great”. The highlight for me was the participation of the people. Our numbers continued to grow again as it did last year and we counted between 150 to 170 people throughout the eight days.
The sad part was the dinner that was so greatly attended on the Thursday that the establishment, even though they had to truck in additional tables, could not hold all the people and some, the late comers, had to return to their temporary dwellings. This is what a feast means to me. When almost all the people attending want to be together for all the activities.
We baptized two new members at the feast and give God thanks and praise that others have joined the body of His beloved Son.
The feast started with a Hymn sing on the Friday night for those that showed up early and the fellowship was great. The Saturday services were spliced with teachings on the closeness that God wants with His children. The phrase was that “many people know about God from reading about Him in the Bible but cannot be certain that He is working in their lives”. This topic about getting to know God and letting Him work in our lives became the focus for the Feast and resonated in the Breakfast Seminars that followed.
A teaching course from “Shelter in the Word” was used on “Spiritual Harvesting” for one seminar and the audience participation showed us how we have to plant good seed if we will ever get a good harvest with an emphasis on improving the harvest every time.
The evening Bible studies emphasized the fact that God is reproducing Himself and growing his family. This was a topic that went into the technicalities of the two YAHWEH found in the Psalms. The studies also showed that this awesome destiny is not reserved for the angels, but is something that men, mere human beings will arrive at.
We had a fun night of variety shows which included a little light magic that mesmerized and left people in awe. There were lots of comedians coming out of the woodwork and caused us to spend two solid hours of rip roaring fun.
This fun night was different to the Pizza Night that had so many boxes of pizza that the stacks were climbing to the roof. The sing-a-long that followed was a joy to listen to and participate in.
For an independent Feast site, the joy of having people from The Worldwide Church of God, Church of God International, The Living Church of God, the United Church of God and many independent groups shows that with God as the focus, we can all put aside our differences and concentrate on rejoicing before Him for eight days.
— Syd Merchant; firstname.lastname@example.org
Thirteen seniors who did not have the resources to travel to distant Feast sites, observed the Feast of Tabernacles in Edmonton, Alberta. These folks, who normally attend with various organizations, met daily at normal Festival times utilizing Feast videos supplied by several COG organizations. The fellowship among these attendees was joyful—spiritually and physically. No permission was sought for this unauthorized but very successful event.
Ironically, there was an “official” Feast site only 100 miles away sponsored by the Philadelphia Church of God. However, it was open only to their members, so none of these 13 seniors were welcome to attend that “place where God placed his name”.
Next year, the small group should double in size providing some parent organization does not interfere with this unauthorized Feast gathering.
— Bill Storey, 11817 62 St, Edmonton, Alberta, T5W 4C5, Canada.
There was a wonderful feeling of peace at the Festival this year, as some 25 brethren met up with each other again at Kendal. We were thankful for the fact that we were together; that God had protected us during the year and made it possible for Frank and Pat Scherich to return. The surroundings were beautiful and historical, the meeting hall very light and comfortable.
The services were uplifting and the messages varied. We feel blessed, having heard from a number of local speakers, namely David Kingston, Anthony Miles and Trevor Smith as well as Frank Scherich who was our Festival elder. The main theme that remained with us after the Festival is the fact that the God we serve is very merciful and kind. This was the subject of one of Frank Scherich’s sermons during the Festival. Other topics were Paul’s letter to the Philippians, A search for God, The work of the Spirit and one about how God works through little things.
One day we took a trip over the mountains and continued with a ride on a narrow gauge steam train to the coast. Much to our surprise we found the remains of an old Roman fort high up there in the hills with a lot of interesting historical information about the Romans. Even though English mountains are relatively low, seldom have we experienced steeper, narrower mountain passes. It was quite an adventure to drive there and we decided not to take the same way back, opting for a longer but less demanding route.
Another day several of us went for a boat trip on lake Windermere. As some feared the water, afraid that the boat might sink, they sadly had to stay behind. The boat took us to a large aquarium just off the lake where we could walk under the water and view fish from many different angles. At this aquarium they also kept otters and we enjoyed seeing the otters running around, playing with pebbles.
Being a small group we were very encouraged by the baptism of a new member, David Appleby. There was also a little child, Randy Scherich, who was blessed at the Festival. It brings joy to see growth. We look forward to being able to meet up with everyone again next year, as that is the only opportunity some of us have for fellowship during the course of the year.
After the Festival Frank and Pat Scherich came to Norway for a few days meeting up with the brethren on the Sabbath. Tore Sørensen, who attends regularly here, wanted to be baptized, requesting that this be done outside somewhere in a forest lake. He came to us on the Sunday, it was absolutely bucketing it down with rain and we had sleet during the night—but, shortly before he arrived, the clouds parted and the sun came through with a beautiful large rainbow.
We decided, therefore, to drive out into the woods and walk to a nearby lake. Frank Scherich and Tore waded out into the cold water. The baptism took place with only friends present, we were there totally alone, but it must have been cold, though they both assured us it was nowhere near as bad as one might think. We drove back to our house with the sun still shining. Tore had hands laid on him there and shortly after that the clouds came back and it poured with rain again.
— Anthony Miles
The Church of God—Internationally Affiliated Associates (COG-IAA) sponsored the Feast of Tents with a theme of “NOSTALGIA: A Perspective to Recapture our First Love.” Brethren traveled from Metro Manila, Bataan, Cavite and Laguna to Baguio early morning of Friday (10/13/2000). They were was welcomed by Pastor Enrique Gabuyo.
An aggregate attendance of 35 brethren joined us in Baguio, with several first-timers. The brethren were elated when Miss Auria Delfino, after attending the church’s regular Weekly Sabbath services and Bible Study Campaigns for almost a year, decided to go through the water of the baptism. The baptism was held at the swimming pool of Hotel Supreme. The baptism ceremony was performed by Pastor Enrique Gabuyo and was assisted by Melanie Chua and Mina Ho. We had morning and afternoon services on the first and last day and morning services in between. The women brethren performed daily morning intercessory prayer from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.
Pastor Enrique Gabuyo, Mr. Rodel Carating and Mr. Raul Hipe spoke on different technical and inspirational topics which were geared towards helping the brethren recollect and recapture his or her first love. Faith and Obedience to God, Seeking first His Kingdom and believing that all these things shall be added unto us, the temporal nature of our physical life, possessions and the world we live in, Knowledge and Deception, Worship, Marriage, Family and Children, Millennium and the White Throne Judgment were the central focus of the messages.
The Book of Haggai and Ecclesiastes were also reviewed with emphasis laid on priorities and vanities of life. Stressing the point that Life without God is Vanity (Meaningless). At the end of the sermon, everyone agreed with one accord that the Book of Ecclesiastes is not teaching us the vanity or meaninglessness of life but is teaching us that we need God to put meaning in our life.
Activities during the Feast included a Baguio tour. Being so close to nature one can’t help but praise God and imagine how the earth was during the days of Eden when His creation was brand new and free from human abuses. The brethren attended a concert sponsored by COG-Manila. Our very own teen and children choir contributed two songs for the show. Everyone was jubilant with the splendid performance by our younger brethren.
Aside from the traditional Bible bowl, a number of new games were introduced including Charade, Husband and Wife game which put to the test how well each couple knew each other, Math Scramble, and Bible Character Guessing Game [similar to “20 Questions”] wherein a representative was called from each group one after the other and given a name of a Bible character, the group members then asked question that can be answered only with “yes” or “no”. Once the last member asked the final question, the group should guess the correct Bible character.
The brethren also enjoyed games of Ten Pin and Duck Pin Bowling, Billiards and Basketball. We were able to play basketball with brethren from other Churches of God. The teens took a good jog at the oval track of Teacher’s Camp. The brethren also enjoyed biking and boating at Burnham Park, one of the city’s popular park.
We also had the traditional potluck dinner on the eve of the eighth day as a get-together meal. And on the Last Great Day (Shemini Atzeret), we were treated by a children’s choir under the guidance of Mrs. Vivian Hipe and was accompanied on Guitar by Miss Gina Constantino, a brethren from the Church of God—Manila.
At the conclusion of the Feast, the brethren by His grace and the power of His Holy Spirit have with conviction recollected and recaptured their first love. One of the verses read was (1 John 2:15-17) “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” With the final hymn “Till we meet again” sang, the Feast came to an end with love and unity abounding between brethren. With the renewed zeal and commitment to do the commission, the brethren left for home with the hope and faith in the coming Kingdom of God.
The Church of God-IAA congregation will be holding the next Feast of Tents 2001 at Baguio also. Reservation for the Feast site was already made. We hope and pray that you will be able to join us next year as we rejoice in this God-given Feast.
— Herbert Chua
COG-IAA, Mandaluyong City, Philippines