Feast Reports

These 1998 Feast reports come from a variety of authors and often reflect just one person’s opinion of a particular Feast. The person writing may not necessarily represent the views of those organizing the site. We edit and print all Feast reports that are sent to us. If a site is not included here, it is because we did not receive a report. We will accept additional reports and print them in the next issue.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

The Feast in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, was sponsored by United Christian Ministries, and held in Mills Auditorium. The peak attendance was 300 with as many as 500 different people attending, most for some part of the Feast. Speakers included Ray Wooten (UCM), Ed Martell (UCM), John Merritt (Friends of the Sabbath), Paul Haney (Christ Fellowship Ministries), Mark Gulley (independent Waco, Texas congregation), Jeff Ledy (UCG, Lansing), George Dewey (Servants’ News), Rick Stanczak (Likeminds COG Internet Forum), Norm Edwards (Servants’ News), Wes White (independent Dallas, Texas congregation), and Ben Mauldin (independent Waco, Texas congregation).

Special Music was presented by various vocalists, and also a Feast choir, which was directed by David Duff. Children’s classes met daily, and several activities and studies were provided for the teens. Interactive Bible Studies were available most days before services. Youth Day activities included praise and worship songs, a skit, and special music presented by the teens. Seminar Day contained a 20-minute song service, and five different time slots, each with four seminars. Most of the seminars were repeated so that brethren could attend nearly every seminar that interested them. Nearly all seminars contained a discussion session.

Other activities of the Feast included get-acquainted hors doeurves buffet, a fun show, several hymn-a-longs combined with family games, and a family buffet dinner. Besides all the local tourist attractions and restaurants, there were many nature activities and hiking trails.

Ludington, Michigan

"For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." (Matt 18:20). At Ludington, about 65 people met daily during the Feast. Others joined in the fellowship on the Sabbath. Over 90 people spent at least one day at this beautiful Michigan location. Each daily service began with special music, a short scripture reading and prayer. After group singing, a volunteer would read a section of appropriate scripture followed by opportunity for comments and questions from those in the assembly. Each service also included at least one prepared message, fifteen to twenty minutes in length, again followed by opportunity for comments and questions. We finished each service with singing and prayer. Over 30 of those attending participated directly in services.

No other activities were planned ahead of Feast time, but many activities did take place as the people made suggestions and others responded. These activities included dance instruction, discussion of the use of computers for study, bowling, swimming, volleyball, a trip to the state park, mini-golf, and go-carts. Of course there was much eating, shopping and visiting. The small group atmosphere made it possible to really visit with nearly everyone during the Feast.

Most of the people who attended live in Michigan. Some families came from Illinois, Maine, and Wisconsin. We were blessed with good weather most of the Feast. It was an especially great blessing to share in rejoicing and praising our Creator.

—Darrell West

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

At Ocho Rios, Jamaica, over 150 gathered together at the Church of God International (CGI) Feast site to enjoy powerful sermons, inspirational music, and solid fellowship. Although giving doctrinal sermons on the potential divinity of man and the Sabbath, Jamaican pastor Ian Boyne’s leading spiritual theme concerned true Christians’ need to actually practice a faith that requires hard choices and suffering to serve God by obeying His law while realizing we only temporarily live as exiles in this evil world. He asked Festival goers about whether they were willing to give up their "Isaac," i.e., their foremost material desires. For the second half of the Feast, CGI ministerial chairman Ben Chapman spoke on such topics as the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Y2K problem, and what occupations would and wouldn’t exist in the World Tomorrow.

A unique aspect of the Ocho Rios CGI Feast was an evangelistic campaign service which about 30 members of the general public attended and which defended the belief that the Seventh-day Sabbath is still binding on Christians today. An ad in the local newspaper and tracts handed out by members advertised the service. Another unusual part of the Feast was the first annual awarding of the Herbert W. Armstrong Memorial Prize to one of seven laymembers who participated. This speaking contest was organized to defend and explain traditional COG doctrines while honoring Herbert Armstrong’s memory. Each speaker was given up to 15 minutes to defend and explain why the Pentecostalist understanding of "tongues" as non-human languages was incorrect, which was this year’s assigned topic.

The many social activities organized for this Feast site increased its necessarily fast pace. They included a nighttime barbecue on the beach, a sports day, a chance to climb Dunn’s River Falls, a family fun and music show, a picnic (and swimming) at Cranbrook gardens, a singles mingle (group discussion), and rap sessions for the youth and married couples. This Feast site in Jamaica expertly combined inspirational messages, innovative practices, and solid fellowship activities, making it a model for emulation by brethren in America and elsewhere.

—Eric Snow, reporter

snoweric@pilot.msu.edu

480 East Lewiston, Ferndale, MI 48220; (248) 548-9380

[I see many good ideas in use at this feast site—especially the seminar for people who do not normally attend the Feast. However, I would hope that the speaking contest would be changed to expound a particular doctrine from the Bible, not specifically from WCG tradition. If people are limited to teaching from Church of God tradition, there is no room for Christ to lead us into more truth. —NSE]

Daytona Beach, Florida

The Church of God Outreach Ministries site in Daytona Beach, Florida was managed by former CGI minister Manuel Rojas. It was quite an experience! Over 100 brethren gathered, many from Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Texas and the Caribbean for 8 fantastic days of edifying sermons, stimulating fellowship, utopian weather, and outstanding food. It truly was a "feast to remember."

Concerning the devastation in Puerto Rico, I thought that the island would almost be back to normal coming back from the Feast. It turned out, to my chagrin, to be the worst hurricane in 70 years.

—Angel Oyola

Giant’s Causeway, Ireland

Greetings from Belgium. We’ve had a peaceful FOT in Ireland where about 30 interdependents met. Gregg and Caroline Gault did a fine job of organization. Some brethren had prepared messages and we had several Bible studies. We agreed to say that we were united in the Spirit, although we never met before and we had some minor differences in "opinions". We managed to do a lot of rejoicing together and participated in many group activities. It is amazing how much experience we had to share.

—Mireille Hodiamont

UCMSite in Keystone, Colorado

This was an absolutely wonderful Feast in Keystone, Colorado. There were about 115 of us at this UCM site, plus a few that wandered in and out from other nearby sites. We had great messages and wonderful fellowship with lots of folks from various backgrounds. God’s spirit of peace and harmony was felt by everyone there. We got to meet a whole lot of Crows (the George, Richard and Bill Crow families), the Ed, Jr. and Patrick Martell families, Peter and Linda Huizer and daughter and son-in-law Andrea and Richard Beymer, a whole raft of folks in the Jim Aschenbrenner family, Scott and Carolyn Scharpen, Pat and Nancy Arnold and family, and many more.

Ray Wooten and Larry Hendricks flew in on Thursday and were with us for Friday and Saturday. The weather was spectacular! We arrived on Sunday with snow falling and awoke Monday to about 3 inches of white stuff. The snow melted and it was warm (even hot) and sunny from Tuesday onward. The mountains were magnificent, the traffic non-existent, and the fellowship wonderfully warm.

We pray that everyone of you had a "best feast ever" and that you return home edified and rejuvenated.

—Linda Gentry

Felton, California

Wow! What an awesome Feast we enjoyed in Felton, California. There was definitely a diverse group there. People were free to be themselves.

There was clothing of all kinds: shorts & Tshirts, jeans and polo shirts, suits and ties, prayer shawls and yarmulkes. There was a great variety of music—a few WCG songs, Messianic music, contemporary praise & worship and old standard songs.

And there were lots of ways to praise our great Eternal and His Son—songs, musical instruments, hand raising and circle dancing. A large portion of each service was devoted to praise and worship. What a great way to start each day.

The Feast site was small—I’m guessing about 100. Just the perfect size to get to know basically everyone there. It had an intimate family atmosphere and everyone really enjoyed the two potluck nights we had to fellowship all together. It was small enough that the services were interactive which is just what we’re used to.

Most important to us was that the children were an important part of each service. Almost all the music offerings were given by the youth. There was a scripture reading each day by at least one child. Our child, Justin, read twice and did a great job (if I do say so myself). They also participated in the circle dancing. And, of course, they enjoyed the musical instruments during congregational singing.

—Missi Lara

Ozarks, Missouri

We started the feast under cloudy skies and thunderstorms. By Tuesday afternoon the clouds cleared and we enjoyed beautiful, mild weather. We heard messages from Jon Pike, Jim Rector, Helm Hobrath, Al Winters, Jim Wolfe, Jerry Simmons, Richard Close, Doug Kincaid, Henry Anderson, and Ed Harrison.

Margie Rogers from Roswell, NM, who is considered legally blind, was anointed and prayers offered. Her eyesight has begun to return as she is able to make out images and to navigate unaided. Nine individuals were baptized during the feast and two others planned to be baptized later.

We had one afternoon devoted to "drop-in" for the purpose of everyone getting better acquainted. On one afternoon we had a pot-luck picnic. On Thursday evening we had fun night where those who wanted to contribute could perform by singing, playing an instrument, or telling a joke. The program lasted for three hours!

The children and teens were included in our celebration of God’s feast. The teens contributed to each service by reading from the scriptures. The younger children learned about building booths, the meaning of the feast, and making crowns. The teens, who had not known each other before coming together during the feast, came together with love and friendship. They performed as a choir—"Friends of Jesus"—and on Sunday they went to a local nursing home where they performed for the residents. I think they came away from this experience with a new perspective on life.

Those in attendance who are on the Likeminds forum gathered Sunday for a cookout and fellowship. Of course, anyone who wanted to attend was welcome and many did.

On Monday, the Last Great Day, everyone was invited to put all their leftover supplies and food into a pot-luck meal. This was an opportunity to share any food that was still in the refrigerator or ice chest that we didn’t want to let go to waste and that we could share with brethren. It was one more chance to have a gathering of brethren.

Typical attendance was 300 people with a high count of 375. Although we didn’t all share the same points of doctrine, we came together with brotherly love, and all showed tolerance for brothers and sisters who didn’t agree on all points. We joined together where we agreed and we didn’t let any areas where we didn’t agree cause any division among us.

This feast was one of the most rewarding, the most loving, the most peaceful, and the happiest feast I have ever attended.

—Gene Phelan

We will not be going back to Lake of the Ozarks next year as the Marina Bay facility has already been reserved by another group during that time slot. We will begin our search for a new location right away. Your prayers would be most appreciated in this regard.

I hope that all of God’s people had a wonderful Feast of Tabernacles. It is quite a remarkable event that we continue to relive in our minds and hearts throughout the year.

—Jim Rector

Destin, Florida

The CEM Feast in Destin was terrific! They had over 1000 registered, with many other visitors. The weather was absolutely lovely. The messages were great, music was enthusiastic. We enjoyed the carnival and the fun show. Most of all, we’ve enjoyed some friends from long ago We came away pumped up and enthused, ready to face the next year.

It was great to see the cooperation between CEM and the United Big Sandy feast organizers—many events were held in common. We were impressed by how hard the teens worked in setting up and providing music for the teen dance. We had about 150 (as near as we could tell) teens from at least three different church fellowships.

—Paula Frazee & Barbara Cain

San Antonio

Seth and I celebrated the Feast in San Antonio. It was a wonderful Feast for both of us. Seth felt that it was the best he had ever attended. This Feast was filled with friendship, laughter and sharing. We had several catered buffets. On the night the Feast began we had a meal of sandwiches and vegetables before the "Welcome to Feast" short service. The spotlights were never pointed on the folks who ministered from the podium. They were focused on the banner which proclaimed, "Rejoice before the Lord". This action established the mood of the Feast. We had a Mexican buffet one night with a Mariachi band entertaining us. The music, food and fellowshipping was fabulous.

Another night, we had a barbecue while members of the group entertained by playing my era music. This was especially great because we got a chance to see Jim and Dot Ussery dancing. That same evening a clown came and entertained the children and the child in each of the adults. Most evenings ended in the hot tub, which was large enough to accommodate forty or so. We had one baptism, which was the highlight of the Feast for many of us. What a joyous occasion this is...to see someone come into the family.

There was much to do in San Antonio: market square, the Alamo, Planet Hollywood (which the teens visited along with the Imax), the missions which surround San Antonio, La Villita, Fiesta Texas, Sea World, great restaurants.

San Antonio was a great place to feast with God’s family. There was not much problem with people pushing their own agendas, although there was someone who told some women who had participated in the Bible study that "women were not to speak in church". At least this was done later on an individual basis, rather than interrupting the study. The sermons were interesting. Ian Hufton especially used humor in his sermon, which is always nice. The humor was used well and helped make his points. Lovely!!!

—Wendy Hendrickson

Destin Sacred Name Site

I just got through talking to a friend who went to the Destin Sacred Name site, where about 175 assembled. Some of the leaders of this group had been having discussions on the Hebrew calendar and during the Feast they held a Bible study on the issue. Basically, the conclusion of the leaders was that the Jews have no authority and the church should go by an observed calendar. They then passed out a paper with all the "correct" dates, and the people were informed that the Feast would be held next year about one month later than the Hebrew calendar. Since there was some dissension, they have decided to hold a fast day on the 24th for the "unity" of the group.

—Linda White

[This is the difficulty that always surrounds calendar issues. People are sincere in wanting to obey the scripture, but the scripture is not explicit on this issue. Where should the moon be observed? Locally? In Jerusalem? What happens if it is cloudy? When does the new year start? Can a calculated "time of probable observation" be used? Who has authority to decide if the moon was visible or to determine the "right" calculations? It has been my experience that most groups which attempt to determine a calendar for themselves split up into smaller groups—diminishing the clear command to assemble on the Feast days. —NSE]

"True Harvest Feast"

A small independent group of those the Creator has called from Eastern Canada met recently for a "true harvest" festival in the idyllic setting of the 1000 Islands in Ontario East. The Feast of Tabernacles was kept from September 20-27 according to the "observed calendar" revealed in scripture.

Those who lived nearby brought the harvest of their gardens to share at the Feast in the form of barbecues and lunches made with natural foods.

The small amount of prepared messages was greatly multiplied through the interactive study-based meetings leaving everyone with more than enough "baskets" of spiritual food to last until the spring festival season.

We rejoiced before our Father while enjoying the beauty of the area. We fished, golfed, took a boat tour to the renowned "Boldt Castle", played volleyball and baseball and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the site. We gained greater understanding of our Creator’s plan for mankind as depicted through the harvest analogies at our first "true harvest feast".

—the MacPherson Family,

Summerside, PEI, Canada

Ocean Shores, Washington

Wow!! This year’s Sukkot [Hebrew name for Feast of Tabernacles] celebration at Ocean Shores was the most joyful and spirit-filled I have ever experienced. There was a spirit of unity & love among all of the 120 participants at this festival, in spite of the fact that we represented several different independent congregations, denominations, and religious traditions. We had some terrific teachers, music, dancing and celebration. People traveled from as far away as Florida to celebrate with us.

This year’s festival included a variety of teachers and speakers from divergent backgrounds. We were blessed to be able to meet, fellowship, form new friendships and learn from: Stephen Berkowitz, Robert Bodkin, John Christopher, Eddie Chumney, Doug and George Dolly, and Robert Somerville.

The speaking list for next year (Sept 24 - Oct 3) looks to be even better.

Dr Brad Young, www.gospelresearch.org/

Randy Fenton www.haydid.org/potter.htm

Dr John Garr, www.restorationfoundation.org/

Ken & Lenore Mullican, www.hakesher.org/

Doug & George Dolly www.ahavta.org/

Dean Wheelock (still tentative),

www.geocities.com/~hebrew_roots/

EddieChumney, www.geocities.com/heartland/2175/

Robert Somerville www.awareness.org/

Dr. Danny Ben-Gigi (Hebrew instructor)

Steven Berkowitz

The Feast of Tabernacles at Ocean Shores is a non-denominational, non-sectarian event sponsored by Christian Renewal Ministries International (CRMI). Attendance is open and free to all. There are no "required" hotel-stays or meals. Since we provide airfare and accommodations for our guest speakers our expenses are quite high. If you would like to help us in this effort you can send a tax-deductible donation to: CRMI

Most of our speakers come from a "Hebrew-Roots" perspective. Only the Dollys and Berkowitz come from a "Messianic Jewish" perspective. (I do, of course, realize that the distinction between "Hebrew-Root" and "Messianic" is somewhat blurry at times). With the exception of these two and Dean Wheelock, our speakers come from a mainstream Christian background. In fact, Brad Young and Lenore Mullican are both professors at ORU.

We have specifically chosen these people because of the knowledge that they have to share. We feel that it is non-productive to invite speakers from the Church of God pool, because (with the exception of Dean Wheelock and Brian Knowles) they tend to be very limited in their knowledge and understanding.

We observe God’s Feasts as joyous celebrations. Messianic dancing and singing have become an important part of this celebration. The Feast of Tabernacles at Ocean Shores may appear, to many, to be "Jewish" in its presentation, because we have added many of the "Jewish" customs that are given support in the Apostolic Writings (NT) and the Tanakh (OT). It is definitely not a place for those who lean toward anti-semitism or who hold to a dispensationalist theology. The Ocean Shores festival is also not a place for exclusivists; it is an inclusive feast that is open to all.

We have been seeing mainstream Christianity moving toward an acceptance of the Biblical Holy Days and we are trying to build as many bridges as we can to facilitate that movement. We are bringing COG’s, Messianics, mainstream Christians, and Jews together to celebrate the Feasts of the Lord. God has called us to be bridge-builders and wall-razers.

More information about the 1999 Feast of Tabernacles at Ocean Shores, Washington is available at: www.Shalom-CRMI.org/html/ftos.html

—Gregory Richardson

Christian Renewal Ministries International

P.O. Box 111 Auburn, WA 97071-0111

1-800-333-5208

Possible 1999 Feast Sites

Occasionally, Servants’ News receives suggestions for possible Feast site locations. We have information packets on two possible sites which we would be happy to mail to anyone who is interested. The first site is the Best Western, Newton Inn, 2000 W 18th St S., Newton, Iowa 50206; 800-373-6350. It is located right off of I-80, 30 miles east of Des Moines. This motel could provide meeting, lodging, and dining space for 100 to 300 people. It would be a nice, all-in-one meeting place. There are interesting things to do in the area.

The other site is Ft. Worth, Texas. No specific facility was suggested, but several are available. For more information, ask for our package, or contact Phil Keener, PO Box 6993, Ft Worth, TX 76115; 817-921-2250.

—NSE &


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