January 21st, 2021
Greetings from Charlotte,
Most of us do very simple accounting. We keep records of money deposited in and withdrawn from the bank to find the bottom line of what we have. However, when it comes to business accounting for non-profits like Living Church of God, things are not so straightforward. Those not familiar with GAAP accrual accounting practices may find things a bit confusing. For example, if we were notified of an estate donation in November of 2015, we had to estimate the amount and put it on the books as a receivable asset for 2015, even though we may not have received the money until 2016. Therefore, if we had a large estate “booked” in the income column in 2015 and none in 2016, it makes 2015 look better than it was when it comes to what we had in the bank, and 2016 look worse than it was, when in fact the actual money arrived and was expensed that year. This happens every year to one degree or another, and 2020 was no exception. We booked some one-time extraordinary items last year in 2020, but much of the actual money will not be received until this year. Nevertheless, 2020 was a very good year for the Work. We had an 8.6 percent increase over 2019 in regular tithes and donations (that was money put in the bank), plus we had some estate income arrive during the year that was booked previously in 2019. Additionally, some estates were booked in 2020 and we expect them to actually arrive this year, although the amounts and times of arrival are often difficult to predict. This may seem like a crazy way to do things, but this is standard GAAP accounting practice required by U.S. law and our independent auditors, and I wanted to explain this to help you understand our annual financial reports when they are published. The details of these transactions are published in the “Notes” portion of the audited financial statement, which can be found on the lcg.org website.—Gerald Weston
Tomorrow’s World Presentations Re-Started in 2021!
After closing down the Tomorrow’s World Presentations for most of 2020, it is inspiring to be re-starting this dynamic program once again! With the challenges of the ongoing pandemic, we are experimenting with a number of methods, including small groups (with masks, social distancing, etc.) as well as online. Our first events of 2021 have been small but encouraging. Over the last several weeks, we’ve been conducting TWPs in Fayetteville, North Carolina (in-person and online), and Minneapolis, Minnesota (online only). The introductory presentation conducted in Fayetteville by Mr. Gerald Weston had six in-person guests and ten online guest connections, in addition to local brethren. The one in Minneapolis, conducted by Mr. Wallace Smith, had 16 online visitor connections, in addition to local brethren. Pastors Wyatt Ciesielka and Mark Sandor have also been conducting follow-up meetings since then. Other TWPs are being planned for February and March. Your prayers for the success of these events would be much appreciated!
COVID Guidelines—Singing at Services
During his sermon of December 26, Mr. Weston explained the updated policy regarding singing hymns during congregational services. In case some brethren did not hear the sermon, we will briefly summarize his comments in this issue of The World Ahead. He explained that last summer it was decided we would not sing aloud because of reports of how the virus is transmitted. We’ve also been wearing masks and social distancing since that time (in the United States—in some cases outside the United States, the protocols have differed). Thanks to God, we have not had any major outbreaks from Sabbath or Feast services during this time. Therefore, Mr. Weston explained we would like to carefully move forward with singing softly while wearing masks, if local regulations and restrictions allow it. He explained that singing softly is reasonably similar to what we are already doing in fellowship. The overall format of services—two songs at the beginning, and one at the end—will stay the same for now. We can be thankful for this decision and encouraged by the opportunity to sing as we worship God together!
COVID Guidelines—Passover and Night to Be Observed Protocols
We are working on a memo to all pastors regarding how to conduct the Passover and Night to Be Observed in regard to COVID issues. You should be getting an email in the next few days addressing these issues.
Online Ministerial Meeting
All pastors and elders are invited to attend the online ministerial meeting to be conducted next Tuesday, January 26, at 3:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time, USA). An email was sent out earlier this week with the connection information. If you are a pastor or elder and you did not receive the connection information, please contact Church Administration at [email protected].
Requests for Passover Supplies
Important Notice to All Pastors: In 2021, the Passover Service will be observed on Friday evening, March 26. Please let us know as soon as possible if any of the congregations you serve will need additional Passover Service supplies (bread trays and/or wine trays or glasses) or a copy of the Passover Service recording and letter instructions (available in English, French, and Spanish). Passover Service recordings for 2021 have been made by Mr. Rod McNair in English and by Mr. Yvon Brochu in French. We need this information before March 5 for U.S. congregations, in order to ensure timely delivery and to save on shipping costs. International requests should already have been submitted. These dates take into consideration the slowdown of mail service in some places because of the pandemic.
Also, please let us know of any scattered members who are unable to keep the Passover with a congregation and who need to receive the Passover Service recording and letter instructions for observing it at home. U.S. requests should be received before March 5, and international requests should already be here. Please direct your requests to the Church Administration Department at [email protected] as soon as possible.
Feast of Tabernacles
Feast of Tabernacles Update
The Festival Office is finalizing 2021 Feast of Tabernacles sites for the United States—contracts are being prepared to finalize the last few remaining sites and should be signed soon. We’re also getting reports from our Regional Directors about planned sites in other countries. We plan to open Feast registration after the Spring Holy Days and will provide occasional updates in The World Ahead between now and then to keep everyone informed.
Keys to Working Together: Jesus referred to His disciples as His “friends” and encouraged them to “love one another” (John 15:12–17). The Apostle Paul referred to those who assisted him in his ministry as “my fellow workers” (Romans 16:3). He also referred to members of God’s Church as “God’s fellow workers” (1 Corinthians 3:9) and “workers together [coworkers] with Him” (2 Corinthians 6:1). These were exciting opportunities that came with important responsibilities. In the Scriptures, we find practical guidelines about how to work together. We are instructed to be “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” and not allow contentions to divide us (1 Corinthians 1:10–13). We are also advised to learn to get along and live in harmony, to avoid being haughty and conceited or ambitious for a position, but to be humble and do what is right, and to strive to work together peacefully (Romans 12:16–18). We are told that repeating rumors disrupts friendships (Proverbs 17:9), that “a soft answer” avoids stirring up anger (Proverbs 15:1), and that a converted person is approachable and “easy to be entreated” (James 3:17, KJV). If we learn to “love one another” and treat each other as “friends” we will be more effective “fellow workers” both now and in the Kingdom of God.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail
News and Prophecy—January 21, 2021
China-EU Trade Deal Implications: As 2020 drew to a close, the European Union and China tied up a trade deal known as the “Comprehensive Agreement on Investment”—a deal that, only a year earlier, Chinese leaders thought very unlikely (The Diplomat, January 4, 2021). Ultimately, the agreement seeks to level the playing field for EU investments in China. In turn, more sectors of the European economy will open up for Chinese investment.
Critics of the agreement note that the EU and China have different intentions behind their investments in each other’s nations. Under the agreement, Chinese investments in Europe will be a boon to China’s political goals (Politico, January 6, 2021). Meanwhile, European investments in China are almost completely focused on profit.
Bible prophecy offers some interesting insights into the future of the European economic machine and agenda. The Apostle John foretold that a future German-led European “beast” power will emerge as a powerful trading entity that will bring wealth to much of the world (see Revelation 18). It would be wise to watch Europe’s global economic efforts as prophecy marches forward. To understand what to expect from the EU in the years ahead, read or listen to The Beast of Revelation: Myth, Metaphor or Soon-coming Reality?
Will North Korea Start an Arms Race? North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently “boasted of deploying hypersonic missiles, spy satellites, multi-warhead intercontinental ballistic missiles and the North's own nuclear-powered submarine” (Deutsche Welle, January 14, 2021). In response, South Korean officials are contemplating developing their own nuclear-powered submarine. Analysts are concerned “that North Korea is provoking an arms race with its southern neighbor and, potentially, Japan.”
North Korea appears to be concerned about a preemptive attack by the United States and feels that nuclear submarines will give them one way to stave off such an attack. Related to its leader’s boasts about a submarine, in a parade last week the North Korean government displayed what appeared to be ballistic missiles designed for submarine launch (Reuters, January 14, 2021). Despite a severely strained North Korean economy, Kim Jong Un is still focused on continued military advancement and build up—to the detriment of his people.
As relationships between nations deteriorate and despot nations appear more emboldened, we need to remember Jesus Christ’s admonition that “wars and rumors of wars” will abound before Christ’s return (Matthew 24:6). Yet, Jesus warned that we should not become overly worried as these events must come to pass! The world will have to learn mankind does not know the way to peace (Isaiah 59:8). It is only through the return of the “Prince of Peace” that true peace will come to this earth. To learn more about this soon-coming reality, be sure to read “The Prince of Peace.”—Scott Winnail and Francine Prater