EDMOND—Approximately 4,300 Philadelphia Church of God members attended the 2018 Feast of Tabernacles at 18 sites in 13 countries from September 23 to October 1. The largest attendance, approximately 700, was at the Church headquarters in Edmond, Oklahoma.
The day before opening night, members around the world arrived at their sites and prepared for the Feast, attending organizational meetings and four-hour choir rehearsals and readying their belongings and their minds for the experience ahead. In Edmond, hundreds of seniors, adults and children unpacked at hotels, members’ homes and other accommodations, attending meetings at Armstrong Auditorium with festival elder Fred Dattolo, and festival choir rehearsal at Armstrong Auditorium with conductor Mark Jenkins. Throughout the afternoon, members stopped by the auditorium portico to pick up their name badges, which this year had their activity and meal ticket information printed on the reverse.
That evening, members settled in to their auditorium seats to hear live the same message that their brethren around the world were seeing on a recorded video: the opening night message by Pastor General Gerald Flurry. Mr. Flurry spoke about the Church’s Bible Hymnal, saying that it was prophesied in Psalm 137 and that God’s people who are taken captive by the revived Holy Roman Empire will sing “By the Waters of Babylon” as a witness to their captors. (Mr. Flurry would return to the subject of praising God through music after the Feast with a Key of David program taped on October 17 that offered a new booklet The Measure of Music.)
The following day included an offering and a luncheon between services. Mr. Flurry delivered the holy day’s main sermon, focusing on the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Church’s need to be bold and “roar” with God’s message. He also spoke about Mr. Armstrong’s prayer rock and the fact that the pcg is the only Church era in which God has combined the scepter and the law. Members at other sites viewed a recording of the message the following day.
After sunset on the holy day, most every site in the world held a singles mixer. In Edmond, the activity included a progressive mixer between an Italian restaurant, an Asian fusion restaurant and an ice cream parlor, each within walking distance of the next.
The second day of the Feast began early for approximately 30 Herbert W. Armstrong College students and about five members who set up tables and chairs and made other preparations for family day after services. Following the last hymn and the closing prayer, hundreds of members went to the John Amos Field House for a catered barbecue meal, with Armstrong students assisting the elderly members and families with small children as they went through the food line. After the meal, small children played in an inflatable bounce house, and children, adults and seniors played soccer and basketball. Family day activities at other sites included a visit to an orchard and lawn games, pool games, extra-large Jenga and chess games, cornhole, kayaking, as well as lakeside and oceanside activities.
On the third day, Mr. Flurry delivered his third Feast message, focusing on the combination of the scepter and the law, the Lion of Judah, learning to fear God, and being accountable for “what the stone has heard” from the beginning of Mr. Armstrong’s ministry until now. Following services, performers auditioned for entertainment night that evening, which in Edmond included vocal, piano, clarinet, trumpet, Irish bones and Spanish dance performances.
Day four was filled with activities: The teen outing at the field house included dodgeball, bubble soccer and a human version of Hungry Hungry Hippo. Teens at other sites worked together in an “escape room” team building activity, participated in a scavenger hunt, took part in a boat-building race, kayaked, and rock climbed. Younger singles in Edmond played miniature golf, toured the Bricktown district by canal boat and dined on the rooftop at a pizza parlor. Some singles at other sites rode horseback, cruised aboard a private boat charter, and drove go-karts. Singles 40 and over shared dinner and a topics session: In Edmond the venue was a restaurant featuring Italian cuisine.
The following day, seniors shared fellowship at luncheons, and members viewed the 2018 Behind the Work video, themed with the new throne of David.
In their free time, members visited the beach; joined each other for morning coffee; hosted small gatherings in their accommodations; visited museums together; toured scenery; went swimming; visited a palace; rode steamboats; went parasailing. In Edmond, members toured the campus, including the Seals of Isaiah and King Hezekiah exhibit.
The Feast also included Sabbath luncheons, a blessing of the little children ceremony, children’s choir rehearsals and performances, Sabbath luncheons, and a total of seven and a half hours of messages. Topics included child-like humility, the nature of animals in the World Tomorrow, and God building his spiritual temple in silence.
After delivering three messages in Edmond, Mr. Flurry took a two-hour flight aboard the Church’s corporate jet to Palm Harbor, Florida, on September 27. He delivered a sermon there on Friday regarding his office being like no other human office in the Bible—that message was played at the other sites on the Last Great Day. He then flew to Lexington, Kentucky, after sunset on the Sabbath, and delivered a similar live sermon there on the Last Great Day, departing after sunset to return to Oklahoma.
“My first Feast experience was more superior to than what I expected,” said one member who was attending her first Feast of Tabernacles. “This year’s Feast substantially impacted me already to ‘Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.’”
“It was good to see a lot of the headquarters ministers there and the families because I hadn’t seen them for quite a while,” said one member who was attending her 39th Feast, in Kentucky. “Awesome messages, getting ourselves ready for what is ahead.”
As sunset arrived, members here and in Florida, Kentucky, California, New York, Washington, British Columbia, Ontario, England, St. Lucia, Australia, the Philippines, South Africa, Colombia, El Salvador, Papua New Guinea and Fiji shared their last Feast conversations together, with the same family spirit, whether packing away hymnals, loading up lecterns, splitting a dessert or merely lingering together in the lobby, discussing Feast messages, life at home and the year ahead.
PCG Festival 2018 Sites
- Baguio City, Philippines
- Blaine, Washington
- Edmond, Oklahoma
- Henley-in-Arden, United Kingdom
- Invermere, British Columbia
- Lake George, New York
- Lake Arrowhead, California
- Lexington, Kentucky
- Limpopo, South Africa
- Medellin-Guatape, Columbia
- Palm Harbor, Florida
- Perkin, El Salvador
- Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
- Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
- St. Lucia, Caribbean
- Suva, Fiji
- Tweed Heads, Australia
- Zacatlan, Mexico