Pastor General Visits England Feast Site, Meets With Dr. Eilat Mazar on First International Trip Aboard PCG Jet
Nine-day trip features two sermons, reunion with biblical archaeologist

EDMOND—Philadelphia Church of God Pastor General Gerald Flurry made his first international trip on the Church’s corporate jet from October 10–19. He spent the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day in Warwickshire, England. Three days later, he flew to Tel Aviv, Israel, and met with Dr. Eilat Mazar in Jerusalem before returning home via England.

On October 10, the sixth day of the Feast, Mr. Flurry left his home at 6 a.m. to drive to the private hangar in OKC. Due to a passport mix-up, he and his personal assistant, Grant Turgeon, had to return to the headquarters campus. During the 90-minute delay, Capt. James Gay adjusted the flight plan to make up the difference. Strong eastward winds allowed for a rare direct flight from Oklahoma City to Birmingham, England, and enabled Gay to eliminate a refueling stop in South Bend, Indiana.

After an eight-hour flight, the Gulfstream G450 touched down in Birmingham around 11 p.m. local time. Mr. Flurry said that he felt energized following the trip, the result of near-zero turbulence at 43,000 feet and a cabin pressurization of just 6,000 feet (half that of a commercial flight). A cheerful group of about a dozen pcg members stayed up late to greet him at the private terminal.

United Kingdom-Europe Regional Director Brad Macdonald and Edstone Foreign Language Translations staff member Emmanuel Michels drove Mr. Flurry and Turgeon to the pcg regional office at Edstone Hall in Warwickshire, arriving just before midnight, where they stayed at the apartment of the Stephen Flurry family.

The next day, Mr. Flurry gave the sermon and then spent a couple hours speaking with most of the 300-plus members at the Feast site.

“The brethren are always excited when Mr. Flurry visits, but I thought they were extra excited by this visit,” Mr. Macdonald said. “This was Mr. Flurry’s first visit to the region since the new revelation about his office. That understanding makes a conversation with Mr. Flurry extra special. Since the Feast, I’ve spoken with a few people who relayed how special it was for them to have a few minutes with Mr. Flurry, and how connected they felt to him. More than a few remarked on how warm and open and friendly Mr. Flurry was, and how in their conversations with him it felt as if they’d known one another for years and years.”

On the Last Great Day, Mr. Flurry delivered an offertory message and the afternoon sermon. Members lingered in the meeting hall long after sunset, lining up to chat with Mr. Flurry and give him gifts.

“I expected there to be a long line on the first day, and for the lining up to taper off or end after that,” Mr. Macdonald said. “As expected, the line on the first day was really long. Probably most of the brethren stood in line on the first day to say hello. But then the line was long the next day, and then also on the Sabbath after the Feast. It was pretty neat.”

October 13, a Friday, was a “rest day” at Edstone Hall, aside for one meeting that Mr. Flurry had scheduled with Mr. Macdonald. That evening, Australian member Jane Grellet and her sister Rachael, a Herbert W. Armstrong College senior at Edstone, hosted dinner in the spacious dining hall for Mr. Flurry, the Macdonald and Hyde families, a handful of students, and several guests. Conversation revolved around topics including Mr. Flurry’s upcoming meeting with Dr. Eilat Mazar, student life at Edstone, the recent speeches and activities of German statesman Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, and the Feast messages.

Toward the end of the Sabbath the next day, Mr. Flurry went out to dinner with local members Ian and Debbie Icasiano, Edmond Local Church Elder Mark Hyde, Mr. Macdonald, and Edstone staff members Richard Palmer, David Howard, Samuel Livingston and their wives.

The next day, Mr. Macdonald gave Mr. Flurry a tour of Edstone Hall and the 22-acre campus, including the conference room, mail processing center, student dormitories, faculty apartments, dining hall, meeting hall, basement radio studio and workout room, student office space, faculty offices, sheep paddock, garden, soccer pitch, and basketball/tennis court.

Mr. Flurry flew to Tel Aviv on October 16 with Grant Turgeon and Mr. Macdonald. They were picked up at the private terminal by Brent Nagtegaal, who has managed the Jerusalem office and the Watch Jerusalem website and podcast and is now relocating with his family to Edstone. After dinner at the Nagtegaals’, the group stayed in the Eldan Hotel that night. The next day, they toured the Gesher Center and met with Dr. Mazar, then flew back to Birmingham to spend the night at Edstone on October 18. Mr. Flurry completed the journey back to Oklahoma on October 19, arriving at the hangar at 2 p.m.