Any major endeavor takes preparation. Planning for three or four hundred brethren to spend more than a week together takes forethought and planning. As you prepare for worshipping God this year, we have compiled a list of the major things we all need to remember for planning purposes. Please take note of the following items as you prepare for this Fall's Holy Days—and have a great Feast!
Feast Site Registration (Ongoing)
Festival registration is open! All members and guests of the Living Church of God are encouraged to register for the site of their choice. You can find all the information you need at the Festival website (fot2018.lcg.org) or by going on lcg.org and clicking on "Feast of Tabernacles" on the left menu. Once you are successfully registered (or if your transfer request has been approved), you may begin making housing arrangements.
Which is My Assigned Feast Site?
How do you know which Feast site you are assigned to? Assignments are according to congregation. For easy reference, we have included the U.S. congregation site assignments below:
La Quinta, California
California: Banning, Concord, Eureka, Fresno, Garden Grove, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego
Nevada: Las Vegas, Reno
Arizona: Phoenix, Prescott Valley, Tucson
Colorado: Colorado Springs, Denver, Grand Junction
New Mexico: Albuquerque, Santa Fe
Wyoming: Casper, Saratoga, Thermopolis, Wheatland
Panama City, Florida
Alabama: Athens, Birmingham, Montgomery
Florida: Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Lake City, Ocala, Pensacola, Tampa
Georgia: Columbus, Thomasville
Louisiana: Baton Rouge, Ferriday, Lafayette, Monroe, New Orleans
Mississippi: Columbus, Jackson, Laurel, Ocean Springs
Puerto Rico: San Juan
Alaska: Anchorage, Homer
Indiana: Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Knox, Terre Haute
Kentucky: Berea, Louisville
Michigan: Kalamazoo, Lansing, Traverse City
Ohio: Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus, Lima
West Virginia: Bluefield, Charleston, Morgantown
Tennessee: Chattanooga, Clarksville, Crossville, Etowah, Knoxville, Nashville
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Arkansas: Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Little Rock, Russellville
Iowa: Des Moines, Dubuque, Keokuk
Kansas: Chanute, Wichita
Missouri: Columbia, Joplin, Kansas City, Rolla, St. Joseph, St. Louis, Springfield
Nebraska: Lincoln, Omaha
Oklahoma: Oklahoma City, Tulsa
Montana: Great Falls, Helena
Oregon: Myrtle Creek, Portland
Washington: Richland, Seattle/Tacoma, Tonasket
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Georgia: Atlanta, Augusta, Blairsville, Braselton, Macon
North Carolina: Asheville, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Jacksonville, Raleigh, Statesville, Sylva
South Carolina: Anderson, Walterboro
Virginia: Bristol, Norfolk, Richmond, Williamsburg, Winchester
Marble Falls, Texas
Texas: Abilene, Amarillo, Austin, Beaumont, Big Sandy, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Houston, Lufkin, Midland, San Antonio, Temple, The Valley
Mount Snow, Vermont
District of Columbia: Washington
Maryland: Baltimore, Salisbury
New Hampshire: Tilton
New Jersey: Hammonton, Rahway
New York: Albany, Binghamton, Corning, New York City, Plainview, Rochester, Syracuse
Pennsylvania: Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Tannersville
Rhode Island: Providence
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Illinois: Chicago, Joliet, Peoria, Springfield
Minnesota: Duluth, Minneapolis
North Dakota: Bismarck
Wisconsin: Appleton, Merrill, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Dells
You Can Sign Up (and Pay) for Activities Starting August 1
Activity Registration opens for most Feast sites on August 1. So, on that date, you can begin signing up for activities at the Feast site for which you are registered (and have been approved, if transferring). Payments for activities can also be made, for most sites, when you sign up for activities. To sign up for activities, simply go to lcg.org, and click on the "Feast of Tabernacles" link to gain access to registration and payment pages. If you have any questions, please contact your Festival Site Coordinator.
Tithe of the Second Tithe
The "tithe of the second tithe" is a practice that the Church has followed for decades. The general principle is that, in the command to keep a Festival tithe, there is a mention of "the Levite." What this means is when we save our second tithe, we should contribute a small portion of it to aid in the actual logistics necessary to set up the Feast. This small portion is used to pay for hall rentals and other expenses associated with arranging for the annual Festival observances, as well as to help brethren with limited funds attend the Feast of Tabernacles. If you haven't yet sent your "tithe of the second tithe" to Headquarters, please do so. Your generosity is much appreciated.
Preparing Messages for the Feast
Each year, the Festival Office, in conjunction with International Offices, sets up a speaking schedule for each Feast site. The goal of the Festival Office is to provide our members and guests with inspiring and encouraging messages about the coming Kingdom of God. Truly, the sermons and sermonettes at the Feast are the highlight of the season! With that in mind, we plan to have all speaking assignments completed and distributed by August 1, and we ask all speakers to send the titles of their messages to their Festival Site Coordinators by August 31. And, for the rest of us, please remember to pray for all of our Festival speakers and their messages!
Online Payments Close on Wednesday, September 12
Online pre-payments for Festival activities for U.S. sites must be made by 8:00 a.m. (Eastern Time Zone), Wednesday, September 12. This will give the Accounting Department at Headquarters time to disburse funds to the U.S. sites. If you have any questions about paying for activities at your site, please check with your Festival Site Coordinator. For international sites, please check with your Festival Site Coordinator for more information.
Sabbath Times and Contact Information for the Day of Atonement and the Sabbath ofSeptember 22
A chart listing the places, times and contact information for Living Church of God services on the Day of Atonement and on the Sabbath of September 22 will be posted on the MyLCG website. Log in to your MyLCG account at the following address to access the chart: cogl.org. We hope this information will be helpful for you as you plan your travel, especially so you can minimize travel on God's Sabbath.
Serving at the Feast is Fun!
Thank you to all our brethren who have volunteered or will volunteer for the many necessary functions at the Feast. Volunteering for service is a crucial function that enables the Feast to run smoothly—and it's fun, too! If you have any questions about what service area you signed up for during registration, you can log in to your Feast registration and see it there. If you volunteered and haven't yet heard what area you will be assigned to serve in, please contact your Festival Site Coordinator. You can find his contact information by going to the Festival website (go to lcg.org, click on "Feast of Tabernacles," and follow the links).
Schedule of Services
This year, the Opening Night service will be Sunday evening, September 23. Brethren are encouraged to make every effort to arrive at their Feast site in plenty of time to attend this opening service at the beginning of the Holy Day, which is the first day of the Feast. As last year, there will also be a special DVD welcome message from Mr. Weston during this service. Be sure to check the Feast website or talk to your Feast Site Coordinator for the exact time of the Opening Night service at your site.
Holy Day Offerings If Transferring to a Different Country
If you are traveling internationally for the Feast, it is recommended that you send in your Holy Day Offering in your home country. This will ensure that you receive proper documentation for a tax deduction, if your country allows it. You should make an additional offering at the international site you attend, and can plan accordingly. Your attention to these instructions and your use of the preprinted Holy Day envelopes is greatly appreciated.
If You Travel: Beware of Bed Bugs!
In recent years, bed bugs have made a "comeback," especially in hotels at some popular vacation spots. Therefore, it is prudent to check the beds of your accommodations when you check into your Feast hotels. If you see signs of bed bugs, you should request a different room. Here is a summary from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on how to check your room for bed bugs. Essentially, one should look for physical signs of bed bugs, which include:
• Rusty or reddish stains on the bed sheets or mattresses.
• Tiny dark spots (about the size of a "period" on a typed document) on bed sheets or mattresses.
• The actual bugs themselves, in the seams of mattresses or cushions.
Bed bugs not only inflict painful and irritating bites, but they can travel back home with you and are difficult and expensive to eradicate. God can and will protect His Feast-goers from bed bugs, if we are prayerful and vigilant. We also know that a prudent man foresees danger and hides himself (Proverbs 22:3).
Before You Go… Take a Hymnal!
Brethren who don't have a personal hymnal to take are encouraged to bring a hymnal (one or two songbooks per household) from their local congregation's supply for use at the Feast. For those who do take a blue congregational hymnal, please be sure to bring the same hymnal(s) back to your congregation after the Feast, so that the number of hymnals returned to each congregation is equal to the number of hymnals taken. Please make sure that all hymnals are clearly marked as to which congregation they belong.
Stay Healthy as You Prepare for—and Travel to—the Feast!
As we prepare to depart for the Feast of Tabernacles, it is not uncommon for many of us to push ourselves and compromise on our sleep and diet. Then, when we finally get in the car, on the train, on the bus, or on the airplane, our bodies slow down and we get sick. In past years, this has resulted in some bringing the flu or a cold to the Feast site and spreading it to other Church members. If we do arrive at the Feast feeling ill, for the benefit of our brethren, it is important to avoid fellowshipping and attending services until all our symptoms are gone. Taking measures to stay healthy and even improve health before the Feast will mean we are more likely to arrive at the Feast "healthy," less likely to be temporarily detained by local health officials (if traveling abroad), and we will be physically and mentally prepared to partake of the powerful spiritual food and fellowship that God is preparing for us.
What Is Appropriate Dress at the Feast?
As we prepare to be "lights to the world" at the Feast, it's good to review some basic principles about our outward decorum and dress. When we look to the Holy Scripture we find definite instructions about dress for both men and women—instructions that our modern liberal societies and even some members of God's Church seem to forget or ignore, unless we are reminded periodically. Jesus stated in a parable that some invited to the wedding supper will be turned away because they are not dressed appropriately (Matthew 22:8–14). While the parable is certainly spiritual in intent, Christ used the fact that some occasions require appropriate clothing to make His point. Individuals who feel that, because He looks on the heart, God is not concerned about how we choose to dress when we come before Him, are simply missing the point that how we choose to dress is a reflection of what's in our heart. We have taught for decades that when we come to services, we are coming before the God of the universe and we should dress in the best appropriate clothing we have, to show proper respect to God.
In most modern cultures, coats, collared shirts, ties and nice slacks are considered appropriate attire for men on special occasions. Jeans, T-shirts, tennis shoes or other sportswear are simply not in good taste at Church services or other special occasions. This may vary in tropical climates, yet, in all climates there is a distinction between what is appropriate and what is not. 1 Timothy 2:9–10 explains that ladies should dress "in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation." This does not include the trendy and immodest apparel that is commonplace for many women in our society today: short, tight, form-fitting dresses, necklines displaying cleavage, bare shoulders, backless dresses, belly-baring tops, etc. These are simply not appropriate forms of attire for Church services and many other situations!
We come to services to worship God, not to display our bodies. Just because something is comfortable or acceptable in our modern society does not make it appropriate at Church. When people dress in a manner that attracts attention to their bodies, they become a distraction to others from the real reasons for being at services, and may put a stumbling block before others. Our challenge as Christian men and women is to come out of this world (2 Corinthians 6:17) and recapture true values so we can be lights to a world that has lost its way (Matthew 5:14–16). This is especially true as we gather to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles—picturing Christ's glorious reign on earth!
What About at the Beach?
Appropriate beach attire for men and women is swimwear that is modest and in good taste. We are to be guided by the two great commandments—to love God and love neighbor (Matthew 22:37–39; Mark 12:29–31)—so as not to offend God or neighbor by our dress at the Feast. Fathers and husbands have a responsibility to be leaders in their family to teach and guide regarding what is appropriate and what is not (Ezekiel 22:26).
Caring for—and Watching—our Children at the Feast
Children are a joy to parents and fellow Feast-goers. The Feast is great family time—and it's inspiring seeing children attend the Feast with their families! But parents, please remember that children are not permitted to run or engage in horseplay before, during, or after services. 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. Ushers or deacons don't need to physically restrain children who are misbehaving—unless required to avoid injury—but they should tell them to stop if need be.
Parents should also 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. While 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. Children/teenagers under the age of 18 years should never be wandering around unsupervised.
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.
Do You Love Your Brother or Sister? Go Light on the Perfume
We want to remind everyone to be aware while at the Feast of some people's serious sensitivities to perfumes and colognes. For some of our brethren, even being in the same room as someone with a lot of perfume or cologne can send them to the Emergency Room. Let's use extra care to show love to others in this way at the Feast—please use moderation.
If You Can't Go to the Feast
While many of us will prepare to leave our homes to attend this annual highlight of the year, we must not forget those who cannot attend the Feast, for health or other reasons. Make sure to remember our shut-ins in your thoughts and prayers while at the Feast. And if you are among those not able to attend the Feast, please note that Feast sermons are uploaded (one per day) during the Feast at lcg.org for those who have Internet access. Also, many of our Festival sites will offer remote, live services to shut-ins in the areas assigned to that site. These sites will offer either livestream (Internet), telephone connection, or both. Here are instructions for connecting to video or audio livestreaming:
Directions to Access Livestream Services during the Feast:
• Go to the website lcgwebcast.org.
• Click on the "Request Password" link in the top center of the page.
• Find your assigned Feast site and select the password contact for your site. Please e-mail him at the e-mail address listed to request a password.
• Once you receive the password, return to the lcgwebcast.org siteand click on your Feast site from the list of Feast sites, then enter the password to access services. Please follow the instructions to enter your full name and the number of people viewing the services.
Telephone Access to Services during the Feast:
Some sites will offer telephone services for those assigned to their site but who cannot attend. For information on how to connect, contact the Festival Coordinator directly.
When You're Expecting…
Women going to the Feast in the late stages of pregnancy can face unforeseen complications. If you are pregnant and will be due around Feast time, please exercise caution and discretion when making your decision about attending the Feast. The long-standing tradition of the Church is to recommend that you stay home from the Feast if your due date is around Feast-time, for the sake of yourself and your unborn child. As in all matters of health, it is a personal decision, which must be weighed carefully and prayerfully, and with the advice of your physician or midwife. The Church provides pre-recorded sermons on CD and posted online for shut-ins, and you can certainly avail yourself of those. And, as mentioned above, some Feast sites will also provide livestream or call-in telephone service for members assigned to that site.
We Want to Know What You Think!
Every year we take a survey to get valuable feedback from brethren attending the Feast. We will again have the Festival Survey available online, as well as having paper survey forms handed out at the Feast. The web address for filling out the Feast survey will be fotsurvey.lcg.org. We ask everyone at the Feast to be sure to fill out the survey form (either the hard copy or the online version) during or soon after the Feast, as it provides us with helpful information to assist with Festival planning for future years.
This year's Feast of Tabernacles will no doubt be an exciting and memorable highlight for God's people! As we gather together, let's remember why we are going—to "learn to fear the Lord your God always" (Deuteronomy 14:23). Let's be grateful for the Feast, and the opportunity to draw closer to our Father—and each other—at this special time.