May 2019 Member Letter
May 9, 2019
The month of May is shaping up to be one of the busiest of the year! In addition to dozens of small items to be completed in and around the new building, we have graduation for Foundation Institute on May 12, the building dedication on May 19 and our biennial International Ministerial Conference on May 20-22. This year we are expecting our largest conference attendance, with potentially more than 350. We don’t have a firm number just yet, since we are still in the process of registering everyone.
There are several unique aspects to this year’s Foundation Institute (FI) graduating class. This will be our seventh graduation since our beginning in the fall of 2012 and will be our smallest graduating class, with 12 students. (We have already accepted 18 students for the next year with a month yet to go for applications.) And it is the only class that met in two different locations—at our old office in Allen and our new office in McKinney.
Graduation is set for Sunday, May 12, at the Plano Event Center in Plano, Texas, just a few miles south of the office. There will be a commencement address from Clyde Kilough, Media operation manager and Student Affairs officer, followed by the presentation of certificates. Afterward everyone will enjoy a catered lunch.
A week after the FI graduation, we will formally dedicate the new office building on Sunday evening, May 19, followed by two full days of meetings for the ministers and wives. With four new elders ordained during the recent Feast of Unleavened Bread, we now have 220 elders worldwide. The four new elders ordained are Matthew Pavlik from Cleveland, Ohio; Joel Waterhouse from Tallahassee, Florida; David Rand from Leicester, Massachusetts; and Gustavo Mellado from Santiago, Chile.
On Wednesday, May 22, approximately 70 ministers and wives who live and work outside the U.S. will meet to discuss the international work of the Church. This year several of the international ministers had their visitor visa requests turned down by the U.S. State Department. No reason was given; their applications were simply denied. This is very sad since two ministers who had their applications denied were planning to visit the U.S. for the first time—Elifazi Salawila from Malawi and Emori Toloi from Fiji.
We have chosen as the theme for the conference “Unless the Lord Builds the House” (taken from Psalm 127:1) to remind us that it is God who makes all things possible. Before starting construction on the new building, we agreed to seek God’s involvement every step of the way. Psalm 127 was recommended by the Ministerial Services team, and we all agreed it was a good summary of how we felt and would make a good theme for this year’s conference.
This year we are asking the presenters to do more than give a report with a lot of facts, but to tell personal interest stories along with the facts. Since some of our ministers who were asked to make presentations won’t be able to attend because of their visa situation, we are recording their messages for showing during the conference. To give you an idea of what we have planned, here is a copy of the schedule for the two days of general meetings.
This year during the conference eight men will be honored for having completed 50 years in the ministry. These are (in alphabetical order) Bob Peoples, Harold Rhodes, Richard Rand, Larry Salyer, Paul Suckling, Richard Thompson, Lyle Welty and Roger West. We are deeply thankful for their faithfulness to God’s way of life and pleased to honor them (1 Timothy 5:17).
I want to conclude this letter by asking for your prayers for these upcoming events. In his second epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul made a request of the Church: “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you” (2 Thessalonians 3:1). I would like to make the same request of all of you. Please pray for all those who will be traveling to and involved in the FI graduation, the building dedication and the International Ministerial Conference. We are truly thankful for all that God has done in our lives. Everything we do in the Church has a single purpose—to glorify Him. Please pray that we will be successful during this very busy month!
Sincerely, your brother in Christ,