August 27th, 2020
Greetings from Charlotte,
I am pleased to let you know that Mr. Ames’ telecast dubbed into Spanish, “Who Changed the Sabbath to Sunday?,” just surpassed a million views and produced well over 11,000 subscribers to the Spanish YouTube channel! Another of Mr. Ames’ videos, “Seven Signs of the Second Coming,” uploaded February 6, 2020, just surpassed 1.8 million views and produced another 19,000 subscribers to the YouTube Spanish channel! This last achievement was accomplished in a little over six months! Regular, in-person, Living Education classes are now underway, and in addition, Mr. Mario Hernandez and Dr. Douglas Winnail gave forums this week. The students have also begun work for the Church, filling in positions where we are shorthanded. Over the years, we have discovered some very valuable employees through the work/study program. The Feast of Trumpets is now only three weeks away!—Gerald Weston
Online Study Resources for Brethren
During this difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Church is faced with the challenge of making decisions about services and our weekly and Festival practices. As always, Church leadership looks to the inspiration of Jesus Christ and the laws and statutes of God to guide these decisions, not to mention a “multitude of counsel,” which has included the Council of Elders, Feast of Tabernacles Site Coordinators, and numerous field ministers. And the Church Headquarters leadership frequently revisits these decisions, looking for opportunities to move past this “present distress” and back to the normal services we all love.
As we move through this unprecedented time together, we want to make all brethren aware of study resources that may be helpful in light of the issues the Church is facing today.
The following study guides are available on the lcg.org website, by clicking on the “Bible Study” link:
1. Study Topic: Singing, Masks, Livestreaming, and Faith, by Mr. Wallace Smith:
2. Study Topic: Does Psalm 81 contain a commandment for singing?, by Mr. Dexter Wakefield:
3. Study Topic: Masks and Singing—Is one forbidden at Sabbath Services while the other is commanded?, by Mr. Peter Nathan:
The following are recent HQ sermons, available on the lcg.org website:
- “Faith to Be a Light in a Darkened World,” by Mr. Gerald Weston (7/25/2020):
- “A Time of Distress,” by Mr. Gerald Weston (8/8/2020):
- “Moving Forward,” by Mr. Richard Ames (8/15/2020):
- “New Commandment,” by Mr. Mario Hernandez (8/22/2020):
Upcoming Headquarters Livestream Schedule
Please note the following:
- There will not be a Church-wide livestreamed Sabbath Service from Headquarters, this Sabbath, August 29. Each congregation will hold its regular local or regional service.
- Both the morning and afternoon services on the Feast of Trumpets will be livestreamed Church-wide from Headquarters on September 19.
- Pastors are welcome to have their congregations tune in to one or the other or both of the HQ services, if needed.
- It is not mandatory to tune in to the HQ services.
- The HQ streamed services will be at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. (EDT). The morning sermonette will be an offertory message, and a sermon by Mr. Gerald Weston. The afternoon service will include a sermon by Mr. Richard Ames.
- There will be no Headquarters livestreamed service on September 26.
- There will be no Headquarters livestreamed service on the Day of Atonement. Atonement services will be conducted locally or regionally.
Virtual Worldwide Children’s Choir—More Details
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the “Virtual Worldwide Children’s Chorus.” We’ve had over 100 responses from 13 countries! French and Spanish translations are being made, so we welcome these contributions as well! Parents, if you have children ages 3 to 13 years old and would still like them to participate in a virtual worldwide children’s choir to be played at the Feast, please contact Mr. Marco Manzo III at [email protected] by Wednesday, September 2 for more information and instructions on how to proceed. For those who have already submitted videos, please remember to submit your waiver forms as well. We cannot use your child’s submission without the appropriate forms signed, granting us your permission.
Our Media Department is hard at work to finalize our Virtual Worldwide Choir project, with 160 members participating. This performance will be part of the “Behind the Work” video for the Feast this year. While this project has taken precedence at the moment, we’re still accepting contributions to our pool of potential songs for a new hymnal. We’ve received dozens of songs, and will continue to accept contributions to this project until the Feast of Tabernacles, after which songs will be organized and selected. To those of you who uploaded your recording for the Feast song—thanks! And to those who are participating in the “New Hymn Project,” thanks to you also!
As a reminder, to learn more about contributing to the “New Hymn Project,” go to the following address: https://www.lcgeducation.org/new-hymn/.—Jonathan McNair, Director of Living Education
Feast of Tabernacles
Prayer Request: Sites Under Restrictions
Please continue praying that God will guide the situation regarding our Feast sites. As has been mentioned before, many countries where we have Feast sites have issued more stringent travel and meeting restrictions in recent weeks. Even in the United States, we have a few sites where tight restrictions mean we need to have alternate plans ready, or perhaps divide the congregation into separate groups because of space, rotate some in and out, etc. As the government regulations can change very quickly—for good or for bad—your continued prayers are requested that God would continue to open doors for His people to meet together at the Feast!
We are working on the Feast speaking schedules, and hope to have them ready to start distributing by the end of next week.
Upcoming Holy Day Offerings: U.S. Churches Only
As we prepare for the upcoming Holy Days, we want to let the brethren know how we will be handling Holy Day offerings. Just as we did at Unleavened Bread and Pentecost, we are encouraging all brethren to donate online as possible. This greatly cuts down on the time and work required to process checks. With that said, congregations that hold in-person services on the Holy Days will have an offertory message and offering, as we have normally done. Below are the guidelines we will follow at the Holy Days of the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, and Last Great Day.
Guidelines for in-person Holy Day offerings:
- Because we are social distanced and rows are farther apart, when the ushers collect the offering, they will not “pass” the baskets around but physically carry the baskets down the rows.
- For those who are able to donate online during the Holy Day, we still encourage them to do so.
- Those who have made an online Holy Day donation can just write “Online” on a blank, green HDO envelope and place it in the basket, if they so choose.
- For those who do donate in person, we advise using a check if at all possible, as the offerings will be shipped back to Charlotte.
- The offerings will not be counted locally, but will be sent back to Charlotte using the provided FedEx envelope.
The Tithe of the Festival Tithe—Repeat Announcement
For many decades now, the Church of God has continued the practice of the “tithe of the Festival tithe.” What this means is that brethren who can afford it are asked to send a tenth of their Festival tithe to the Church in advance of the Feast, to help pay for Feast halls and other expenses involved in organizing the Feast, as well as to help brethren around the world with limited resources to attend the Feast (Deuteronomy 14:27; 16:14). This year, some of our brethren and Church areas around the world have been hurt financially by the pandemic. Now is the time to send in your tithe of the second tithe, if you are able and you have not already done so. Thank you very much!
Loose Bricks or Big Picture? How do you view the Church of God and the Work of God? Many who come into contact with the Living Church of God are excited to learn the Truth of God for the first time. Others are grateful to reconnect with the Truth they once learned from the Scriptures, after a time away. Yet, from time to time, some, who are actually part of the very Church that is doing this Work, begin to look for loose bricks. They begin to compile lists of what they think are problems in the Church—editorial mistakes, misspoken words in a sermon, offenses caused by a minister or a member, doctrinal disagreements, or decisions they disagree with—and they drift off in different directions. However, we need to remember that David, Samuel, Peter, and Paul each had their problems, and they also had their detractors, yet God used these imperfect human beings to carry on His Work. The human leaders of God’s Work today are no different, and detractors have not disappeared. During challenging times, we need to maintain our focus on the God-given mission of His Church: preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom to the world (Mark 16:15), warning the world of end-time events (Matthew 24; Ezekiel 3 and 33), and preparing a people to reign with Jesus Christ in the coming Kingdom of God (Luke 1:17; Revelation 5:10). That message is going forth with increasing power from the Living Church of God publications, television programs, and Internet operations. This is the big picture that we need to keep in mind, instead of getting caught up looking for loose bricks.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—August 27, 2020
Peace with Israel? The Times of Israel reports, “The impending peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates [UAE] is more than just a stunning diplomatic breakthrough. It represents a fundamental shift in the paradigm of peace-making” (August 14, 2020). In a region where Middle East peace has long been thought to hinge on the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, this new deal—called the Abraham Accords—is unique and unexpected. While critics abound, others see this new peace deal as having great potential. The peace accord, to be signed at the White House in the near future, includes “opening embassies, trade and technology exchanges, direct flights and tourism, and cooperation on energy, security, and intelligence” (The New Yorker, August 14, 2020).
The Israeli prime minister observed, “This is a historic step that advances peace with the Arab world, and eventually will also promote peace—real, secure, and supervised peace—with the Palestinians as well” (I24 News, August 16, 2020). However, Palestinian leaders have warned the UAE to “reverse” their decision immediately.
The quest for peace is ever-present, yet success seems an elusive dream. Throughout history, societies have sought for peace, and for brief moments there have been peaceful interludes in certain areas of the globe. However, lasting peace has never been achieved. While the desire for peace is real, the Bible records that human leaders will proclaim “‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). Sadly, human beings do not know the way to peace (Isaiah 59:8). There is only one way to true and lasting peace, and that will come when Jesus Christ, the “Prince of Peace,” returns to this earth to show the way (Isaiah 9:6). To learn more about the way to peace, be sure to read or listen to our brief commentary “The Impossible Dream.”
Infants, Air Pollution, and Lung Disease: Emerging research supports the current understanding that infant exposure to air pollution has long-lasting effects on their lungs. Not only does lung capacity decrease for teenagers who were exposed to air pollution as infants, but they are also at much greater risk of developing asthma (The Guardian, August 24, 2020). In fact, this increased risk of asthma occurred even when air pollution levels were lower than legal limits set by the government! A researcher from the University of Copenhagen commented at a recent conference, “The fact that we found a link with asthma, even at relatively low levels of exposure, suggests that there is no safe threshold for air pollution.”
Early research during the coronavirus pandemic indicates that the greatest number of deaths from the virus seemed to occur in areas of the world with the highest rates of air pollution (The Guardian, April 20, 2020). In fact, one researcher noted that “long-term exposure to this pollutant [nitrogen dioxide, a chemical present in air pollution] may be one of the most important contributors to fatality caused by the Covid-19 virus in these regions and maybe across the whole world.”
The Apostle Paul observed that “the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (Romans 8:22). Our planet looks forward to a time when it “will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (v. 21). The real hope for humanity and creation is the return of Jesus Christ, who will establish His Kingdom on earth and make pollution, and other societal woes, a thing of the past. To learn more about this awesome future time, read The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?—Scott Winnail and Francine Prater