June 8, 2023
All of God’s holy days are special with lots of symbolism and meaning. This year, there was a personal reason that made the celebration of Pentecost even more special. I was ordained into the ministry on Pentecost in 1973, making this year the 50th anniversary of my ordination. Being in the ministry for 50 years has not really sunk in for me. I joked that I must have been ordained when I was 12, since I still feel so young! This year on Pentecost, Sharron and I were in Bogota, Colombia, and after sunset on the holy day, the members had a special celebration for my 50 years in the ministry, with lots of singing, music and food. It was an evening that I will never forget!
Although the official start of summer is three weeks away, summer has definitely arrived in North Texas! The temperatures are rising, and as the heat builds up each day, rainstorms, occasionally mixed with hail, are regular events. In the office, as we get deeper into the summer season, we are in the midst of finalizing speaking schedules for the Feast of Tabernacles, which this year begins at the end of September, four months from now. Originally, that seemed a long time away, but as I look at my schedule and see all the upcoming events, I realize that summer will be a blur of activities and then fall will be here before you know it.
We are still planning to launch the Life, Hope, & Truth video program this summer. The new studio set is complete except for the lighting, which should be finished in the next few days. When this is all complete, we will begin the actual recordings. To refresh your memory, we have selected four ministers to form the first group of presenters. These four are Phil Sandilands, Joel Meeker, Gary Black and James Capo. Once these men get a few programs under their belts, we will assess our progress and determine what changes, if any, we may want to make for the future. This will be a work in progress, with the ability to change as we get a better feel for our audience. We are excited about the program and believe it can become a major voice on world conditions and biblical solutions. It will be our first effort at a regular weekly program of 20 to 30 minutes in duration, which will be launched on all the social media platforms that are available to us. Keep an eye out for our inaugural program. It will be coming soon!
The just completed International Ministerial Conference was a huge success! The conference began on Sunday morning, May 21, and concluded on Tuesday afternoon, May 23. The three days went by very quickly and were packed with lectures, discussions, program updates and much more. We had approximately 330 in attendance (including the office staff), which was our largest group for a conference since we began in December of 2010. Our first ministerial conference was held in Louisville, Kentucky, in January of 2011 and was attended by 150 elders and wives.
I am sure you have already heard or will be hearing reports from the conference, but I thought I would add a few of my own comments in this month’s member letter. The theme for the conference was “Workers Together: Proclaiming and Protecting God’s Truth.” There were 19 different speakers over the three days. Some were tasked with giving reports or updates on programs and projects; others were asked to give motivational and inspirational presentations on the theme; and some were asked to give insights on what they have learned during their ministry. We also had special presentations for those who were celebrating their 50th anniversary in the ministry. I felt honored to be included in this group, along with Jim and Lois Haeffele, Steve and Vivian Moody, David and Linda Register, and Britt and Donna Taylor. We also paid tribute to those who died over the past two years. This was very sobering and brought back a lot of memories of those who are no longer here with us.
One of the most encouraging and inspiring portions of the conference was one that we have included for the past few conferences. We asked three of our newest pastors to give a review of their ministry at this early stage. This year we had Chad Messerly, Tim Rickard and Dennis Fultz. All three have been appointed as pastors in the past two years. Their insights into the role of the ministry and the lessons they have learned as new pastors were inspiring. I believe all those present appreciated what each of these men had to say. It was reassuring to see how these men stepped up to take on the role of pastor at this time, when the need for church pastors is as critical as it has ever been. The three of them gave us reason to be very positive about the future of the Church and provided a very encouraging conclusion to the 2023 conference. According to our plans, the next conference will be in May of 2025. It will be hard to beat what took place in 2023.
This next week, the administration, along with Ralph Levy, will head down to Guatemala. This will be our final International Leadership Program conference for this phase of the program. When we finish this phase of the program, there will have been a total of eight conferences with an attendance of 400 leaders and potential leaders. After Guatemala, we will work on plans for the next phase. This program is intended to be never-ending, since the need for leadership will never end. It is our desire to announce the future plans for the program during the summer and before the Feast of Tabernacles. To date we have produced 41 hours of classes specifically for this program. We have done a lot, but there is more to do! We cannot rest on what we’ve already done to develop strong, spiritual leaders for the future of the Church.
I could write much more, especially from our Media department, where some amazing things are taking place. Currently, we are seeing a huge surge in people downloading our literature, subscribing to our magazine and writing to our personal correspondence department. Our two most popular booklets—The Book of Revelation and Change Your Life—have exceeded, or will exceed very shortly, 100,000 downloads each. Six months ago, the total downloads were around 30,000. We are in the position that Christ spoke about in Matthew 9:37-38: “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
Please join me in praying for the success of our plans to preach the gospel of the Kingdom to the world and to care for those whom God has called and will call. By working together, as the theme of the conference advocated, we can do some amazing things. Many of our proposed plans to accomplish these goals have been completed, others are in the process, and even more are being planned for the future. Thank you in advance for your prayers and your support!
Sincerely, your brother in Christ,