June 18th, 2020
Greetings from Charlotte,
Mr. Jamie Meakin reported in the U.K. update last week that May saw 3,671 literature requests and 735 new subscribers there, both new records! These are great results for which we can give thanks. So far this year in the U.K., we already have a 25 percent increase in new subscribers over the entirety of 2019, and we should overtake the entire number of literature requests for 2019 within the next six weeks.
We are receiving a strong response everywhere to Dr. Douglas Winnail’s booklet Biblical Principles of Health. The timing with the COVID-19 pandemic could not have been better. So far we have received more than 35,000 requests for the booklet, and this does not include members.
Festival plans are coming along well in most areas of the world. Arrangements are taking a little longer here in the U.S. simply because of the number of members, and therefore sites needed, but plans are moving along. Be sure to read the note from the Festival Office below. The June member and coworker letter was mailed this week. Regular income remains strong. Please be sure to thank God for the way He is blessing His Work at this time.—Gerald Weston
Church-Wide Livestream on June 27—Repeat Announcement
Please note that we will livestream Sabbath services from Charlotte on the Sabbath of June 27. This will be a full service, with the sermon given by Mr. Gerald Weston. All brethren from all LCG congregations should plan to tune in to the Charlotte service at 1:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time (USA) on June 27. A phone number will also be available for those who do not have Internet access. For those who live in time zones where this is not feasible, or for those who need a translation of the message, a recording (and/or translation) will be available soon after June 27. Note: The link to connect to this service and other access information will be made available next week.
Church-Wide Livestream Plans From Now Until the Feast
Pastors: Please also note that Mr. Weston has recently made the decision that we will be streaming a live service from Charlotte on the last Sabbath of each month up until the Feast. That means that we will have a Church-wide livestream on July 25, August 29, and September 26. Each of these services will be at 1:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time (USA). Please plan your schedules accordingly.
Hymns for Living Church of God Services
One way we honor God is by praising Him in song. In the Scriptures, we have the benefit of the words of many songs composed by David and his musicians, as well as Moses and others. We have also been blessed with a recent legacy of a musical version of these songs, primarily through the work of Mr. Dwight Armstrong. More recent additions to our compilation of hymns were made by others during the latter years of Mr. Herbert Armstrong’s life. We sing many of these hymns every week in our congregations around the world.
With our recent reliance on streaming technology, including our musical praise of God, it seems appropriate to revisit our recorded versions of our hymns, and consider updating the audio using the most recent recording technology. As part of this effort, Mr. Weston has approved including additional hymns that have been written by talented musicians in the Living Church of God. As we read in Psalm 98:1, it gives glory to God to “sing to the Lord a new song!”
If you would like to submit a hymn for possible inclusion in our updated collection, please bear the following guidelines in mind.
- Submitted hymns should be based closely upon scriptural passages.
- Much “Christian music” today expresses religious feeling but does not reflect the words of the Bible.
- Submissions should be in the traditional format that we use for congregational singing, typically with two to four verses in a four-stanza framework.
- A song written for congregational singing is arranged differently than a song performed for special music. For example, some of the songs in our current hymnal were initially written for special music and later modified for congregational hymns.
- Melodies should be clear, simple and singable, able to be quickly learned and easily remembered.
- Lyrics should be well-formed and pleasing to the ear, maintaining the clear, powerful style of the written word of God.
- Complete arrangement of a hymn is not required for consideration.
- Complete compositions are certainly acceptable. However, simply submitting lyrics and melody together would be adequate for initial consideration.
If you are interested, stay tuned for upcoming announcements for more information on submitting a composition.—Jonathan McNair
This week, our enrollment for the Pentecost Focus Unit passed the 900-person mark! Currently, 916 people are making use of this latest addition to the Living Education library! If you have tried to log into our library of classes and have had difficulties, please e-mail us at [email protected] so we can assist you. Our next class will begin in mid-July. Stay tuned for more details!
Since we have just begun to offer Children’s Bible Lessons in Spanish, we were curious to see how many people are taking advantage of the children’s lessons in English. Surprisingly, since January 1, we’ve recorded more than 3,000 pageviews of our main Children’s Lessons landing page on lcgeducation.org, with thousands of additional views on the 171 individual lessons that have been created. Thanks especially to the efforts of Mrs. Burnetta English, who has authored most of the lessons, we will continue to produce these lessons to serve you and your children.—Jonathan McNair
A big congratulations to Mr. Weston and Mr. Ames for each receiving a 2020 Telly Award! Mr. Weston’s program, “Apollo 11: Fifty Years Later,” received a silver award, and Mr. Ames’ program, “The Powerful Privilege of Prayer,” received a bronze award. The Telly Awards are given by an independent organization that evaluates all types of videos according to standards of excellence in various categories, such as quality of message, production and execution, and overall experience of the video. These awards provide Tomorrow’s World with context relative to industry standards of quality and are hard earned. Again, congratulations to Mr. Weston and Mr. Ames, as well as our Television Production crew.—Mike DeSimone
Feast of Tabernacles
In the Festival Office this week, Festival Site Coordinators and HQ staff have been working together on finalizing more contracts which should be signed soon. We are also surveying Area Pastors for selections of Festival Advisors for each congregation, which is a crucial step leading up to registration. Area Pastors please note: If you have not yet replied to our Festival Advisor Survey e-mail, please do so immediately. We are also working out which congregations will be assigned to which Feast site, and working on ministerial assignments.
In next week’s World Ahead, we plan to announce the Feast sites for which we have completed and signed contracts and the congregations assigned to them. That way, brethren in those congregations may begin making their housing arrangements for their assigned site. We will still have our normal online Festival Registration coming later, in a few weeks, so we can get accurate counts of how many are planning to attend each site. Stay tuned for next week’s World Ahead!
As mentioned before, this year we should all be planning to attend our assigned site, unless we have unusual circumstances. Some exceptions may be based on service needs in one site or another, special family circumstances, etc. And again, we caution brethren from making housing arrangements if we have not announced a signed contract for a site—things can change quickly until the contract is “signed on the dotted line.”
International Feast plans are going forward as well. Our Regional Directors and Festival Site Coordinators are monitoring official regulations in each country (and state or province within each country, in some cases) and making plans accordingly. If you live outside of the United States and have any specific questions about Feast site plans, please consult your Regional Office.
Thank you for your patience and your prayers!—Festival Office
Living Youth Program
2020 Texas Teen Camp—Important Announcements: Must Read Where Applicable
For those accepted to the Teen Camp in Athens, Texas, please note that Staff Assignments and the Camp Activity Schedule have now been posted on the Youth website.
For all participants:
- We will be having a “5K Fun Run/Walk” during camp on Sunday, July 19. Please bring a pair of shoes and shorts that you don’t mind getting stains on for this event. Shirts will be provided.
- If you have not paid your camp bill and are able to do so, please send in payment at this time. If you need more time, please let Jenny Penman ([email protected]) know and copy Mr. Monson ([email protected]).
- Due to COVID-19, we have to limit interaction with anyone outside of camp. Therefore, we will NOT be inviting members of the local congregations to the Talent Show, final banquet, Bible Studies, or Sabbath Services. No visitors will be allowed at any point during camp.
- All participants at the camp will be required to sign a COVID-19 waiver form. There is one form for minors and another for adults. If you have not received a waiver to sign and submit, please contact Jenny Penman. These need to be signed and submitted right away.
Summer Camp will be here soon. This year will be epic!—Sheldon Monson, Living Youth Programs Director and Jason Fritts, Assistant Living Youth Director
Needed: Real Philadelphia Christians: The Bible predicts that in the last days, people will be focused on themselves and will treat others with disrespect, disdain, and even brutality (2 Timothy 3:1–5). However, Jesus urged His followers to be lights to the world (Matthew 5:13–16). One aspect of being a light to the world is to carry out Jesus’ instructions. His followers are to preach the Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God (Mark 16:15) and warn the world of the troubles ahead (Matthew 24), and to prepare a people to reign with Christ in His Kingdom (Luke 1:17; Revelation 5:10). The Bible uses the term “Philadelphia” to refer to His Church—a name that means “brotherly love.” True Philadelphians will strive to follow Jesus’ admonition to “love one another” (John 15:12–17). They understand that instead of attacking and abusing and sitting in judgment of others, showing compassion and unselfish, outgoing concern for others are the distinguishing marks of real Philadelphia Christians (John 13:34–35). As the world becomes more selfish, crass, disunited, and violent, let’s look for ways to show more brotherly love to others we come into contact with. In this way, we can be real Philadelphia Christians and shine as lights in a darkening world.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—June 18, 2020
India and China Preparing for War? Concerns are rising that the ongoing border dispute between India and China in the Himalayas will expand to include military action. At the end of May, many sources reported that troops on both sides have engaged the other in physical attacks, though both sides claim no shots have been fired and that altercations have been limited to clubs and stones, injuring dozens. Each side has accused the other of crossing the border into its territory, with one source claiming that at least 10,000 Chinese troops were camped inside Indian territory (Al Jazeera, May 28, 2020). But, with the killing of a number of Indian soldiers, the conflict has turned deadly (BBC, June 16, 2020).
The border between the two nations spans roughly 3,500 kilometers, and in recent weeks, clashes have occurred at multiple points along that border. India is building a road along the border, which appears to have triggered the recent altercation, and China moved an additional 5,000 troops into the area. Both nations have claimed to seek peace, and China reports that the situation is “stable and controllable.” However, as Nikkei reported on May 28, this standoff “appears to be the worst since the 2017 confrontation at a strategic junction of the Doklam plateau where the boundaries of India, China and Bhutan meet.”
Tensions between the two nuclear-armed nations had cooled (South China Morning Post, June 14, 2020) but are now beginning to boil again. While this latest confrontation may lead to war, it has certainly generated more “rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6)—a situation that Jesus Christ predicted would occur as the end of the age approaches. Jesus warned that one ethnic group will rise against another and “kingdom against kingdom” at the end of the age (Matthew 24:7). We will see more of these confrontations in different parts of the globe in the days ahead. To learn more about end-time events, be sure to watch “Discerning the Signs of the Times.”
Will Freedom of Religion Disappear in Finland? Finnish politician Päivi Räsänen is a physician and a Lutheran who has written on and spoken extensively about homosexuality and the Bible. Her views on homosexuality reflect the Bible’s clear teaching that homosexuality is a sin. As Jonathan Van Maren describes in a May 28 article for First Things, her position and writings on the matter have resulted in her being interrogated by Helsinki police on several occasions. Following a four-hour interrogation last autumn, related to a booklet she wrote on the topic, the police determined that there was nothing criminal in the booklet. “Despite that,” Maren writes, “the Prosecutor General has reopened the case and directed the police to conduct another preliminary investigation of the booklet—along with fresh criminal investigations.”
In another situation, Räsänen tweeted her concern about her own church’s leadership acting in contradiction to the clear teachings on homosexuality in the first chapter of Romans. However, someone from the general public saw her tweet and lodged a complaint. While Finland has clear freedom of speech and freedom of religion statutes, detailed in international treaties as well, these freedoms appear to be coming to an end in many nations around the globe as certain special interest groups cry out while others are ignored.
Students of Bible prophecy should not be surprised by growing efforts to quell the sharing of biblical truths. The Apostle Paul was inspired to prophesy that “in the last days” people would become “despisers of good” and “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1–4). He also warned that worldly minded people, devoid of God’s Spirit, naturally oppose the laws of God (Romans 8:6–7). This doctrine of lawlessness—standing against the laws of God—will become even more prevalent as the end of the age approaches. For greater insights into this topic, be sure to read or listen to Who or What Is the Antichrist?—Scott Winnail, Chris Sookdeo, and Francine Prater