December 10th, 2020
Greetings from Charlotte,
Following the breakup of the Worldwide Church about 25 years ago, there were those who said the Work of preaching the Gospel to the world had been completed and that all we needed to do was get the Church ready for Christ’s return. However, in a report out of Canada, we learn some interesting facts. The Living Church of God in that country is now larger than those splinter groups who said the Work was finished. Over the last 25 years we have grown from 493 members up to 874, with attendance increasing 16 percent over the last five years, and nearly two-thirds of Canadian members have been baptized since the year 2000. Similar statistics can be seen in other countries around the world. While our Work is still very small, the evidence is there for anyone with eyes to see—God is still calling people from around the world to be His children. Mr. Armstrong died almost 35 years ago, and I’m sure when the resurrection comes that he will be pleased to know that Dr. Meredith and members of this Body carried on the Work. Perhaps those who made the false claim that the Work was finished need to rethink their decision and join us to continue the commission God has given His Church.—Gerald Weston
Livestreamed Sabbath Services on December 26, 2020, and First Holy Day of Unleavened Bread 2021
Although the Charlotte Family Weekend has been postponed, the Headquarters Sabbath Service will be livestreamed as planned on December 26. All U.S. and Canadian congregations, and other congregations for whom it is practical, are requested to tune in. Services will begin at 1:00 p.m. EST, USA. Livestream access information will be announced soon, and a phone number will be available for those who do not have Internet access. For those who live in time zones where tuning in to the live service is not practical, or for those who need a translation of the message, a recording and translation will be available later.
No Church-wide livestreamed services are planned for January and February.
The Headquarters Holy Day service on the First Day of Unleavened Bread, March 28, 2021, at 1:00 p.m. EDT, USA is scheduled to be livestreamed to all congregations.
We look forward to meeting virtually together!
Report from the LCG Office in South Africa
I officiated at the funeral of an 87-year-old widow in eSwatini on Sunday, December 6, 2020. She was the widow of a prince who was, from 1993 to 1996, the prime minister of what was then known as Swaziland—nowadays eSwatini. She and her husband had been members of WCG from 1974, and her husband was instrumental in Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong visiting Swaziland’s King Sobhuza II in November 1976. The couple took under their wings those who were unsure about where the whole truth was being preached after the split in WCG and in 2008, they contacted the South African office of the Living Church of God. He died soon after and was given a state funeral. The Swaziland congregation of LCG officially started in July 2008.—Christo Botha
Charlotte and Kansas City Family Weekends Both to Be Rescheduled
Thank you to everyone who showed interest in the Charlotte and Kansas City Family Weekends. We are certainly disappointed that the rising rates of COVID-19 infections and tighter, more complicated government restrictions have meant that they cannot go forward as planned. We hope to reschedule these events at a future time.
To those of you who contributed to our new hymnal project over the past months—thank you! We have had a wonderful outpouring of songs from members around the world. It’s encouraging to see the interest in this project, and the talent of so many of our members. We have received almost 130 songs, including 60 that have been submitted with full scores. The remainder include combinations of lyrics, melody, and accompaniment parts. Our task now is to organize, categorize, and begin to prepare these materials to be reviewed for possible inclusion in our new hymnal. This is going to take a number of months, so please be patient! Again, thank you!—Jonathan McNair
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Age of Skeptics: The Apostle Peter warned that in the last days, “scoffers will come” who will ridicule biblical ideas such as Jesus’ promise to return (2 Peter 3:3–4). Today, skeptics also claim that God does not exist and that the Bible is just a collection of myths and legends. These ideas have permeated our society and fostered attitudes of disrespect for authority figures such as parents, teachers, government officials, policemen, and even religious leaders. We need to be careful that these critical attitudes do not spill over into the Church of God and affect our views toward the leaders and members of the body of Christ. Peter also warned that false teachers would come who “despise authority” and “speak evil” of those in authority, because they are self-willed and presumptuous and determined to do their own thing (2 Peter 2:1, 10–12). The Apostle Paul urged Christians to respect authority and be subject to governments because God is the Author of structure and organization (Romans 13:1–2). Questioning, criticizing, disrespecting, and ignoring authority only leads to chaos and confusion—and God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). We need to be aware of the fruits that have emerged in the age of skeptics and avoid getting caught up in these ideas and attitudes.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—December 10, 2020
Hunger in America: Hunger is a problem historically limited primarily to the developing world. But that is changing, due in part to COVID-19. Public school closures and job loss can be blamed for removing both food sources and money to buy food. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, “nearly 26 million adults do not have enough food. Among households with children, the number was as high as 1 in 6 adults” (The Hill, November 25, 2020). In the city of Houston, Texas, “20 percent of adults in the city of 7 million people reported going hungry, including 30 percent of adults in households with children.”
The non-profit organization Feeding America reports a 60 percent increase in food assistance needs since March (CNN, November 12, 2020). It also predicts more than 54 million Americans are in danger of food insecurity. Forty percent of those seeking food assistance have never sought it before. Other developed nations, including Britain, are also experiencing increased first-time food assistance needs.
God promised the Israelite-descended nations an abundance of food—if they obeyed His laws (Deuteronomy 28:1–4, 11). However, God warned these nations that food shortages and hunger would occur if they turned away (vv. 15–18). What we are seeing now in the U.S., Britain, and other Israelite-descended nations is the start of something prophesied to get worse if our nations do not turn to God. God is not harsh nor willing that people should die, but He will use hunger to get the attention of a disobedient people. For more insights into this biblical subject, be sure to read “Famines and Food Shortages Ahead!”
Shrinking the EU: One of the greatest barriers to the growth and progress of the European Union is its structure—that all 27 member nations must agree on nearly every decision. A good example of just two nations blocking internal progress can be seen in the power of Poland and Hungary to block EU coronavirus recovery plans (Euro News, November 27, 2019). Simply put, there are too many people making decisions and they cannot all agree. Because of this, some analysts believe that the EU must create a “coalition of the willing” in order to truly advance (Carnegie Europe, September 17, 2020). A “coalition of the willing” would involve a small number of member states with resources to deploy and motivation to act together to effect change. Experts are trying to figure out how to make this happen without destroying the EU in the process. As one think-tank writer recently noted, “France and Germany must press forward with smaller ad hoc constellations of member states to advance particular issues where more action is needed… To be successful, these ‘flexible coalitions’ must involve the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy to ensure legitimacy and to not undermine the cohesion of the twenty-seven EU member states.”
Today, EU member nations cannot agree on even simple matters—like who should take the lead on the Conference on the Future of Europe (Politico, September 21, 2020). Because they cannot agree or even “go along to get along,” there have been calls to remove “troublemaking” nations like Poland and Hungary.
Will the EU create a coalition of the willing? Will the Union shrink? Or will the bloc dissolve and nations go their own way? Bible prophecy gives us some insight. In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John wrote that an end-time European “beast” power will be composed of ten kings (possibly nations or political entities) who will be of “one mind” and “give their power” to a central figure for a brief time (Revelation 17:12–14). The details of how this will play out remain to be seen, but prophecy is clear that Europe will move in the direction described in the pages of the Bible. To learn more about Bible prophecies that pertain to Europe, read or listen to The Beast of Revelation: Myth, Metaphor or Soon-Coming Reality?—Scott Winnail, Deborah Lincoln-Strange, and Francine Prater