November 10, 2022
The Feast of Tabernacles 2022 is now history! From the reports I received, it seems many of you faced some unusual challenges this year during the Feast. My wife and I certainly did!
With the cancellation of Fort Myers, we found ourselves, along with 150 others, scrambling to make alternate plans. We settled on going to Barbados for the entire Feast instead of half as we had originally planned. But even that had its challenges. After considerable difficulty and additional cost, we secured seats on a flight from Miami to Barbados on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 9. All seemed good until we faced two hours of weather delays followed by four hours of mechanical delays and finally a cancellation of the flight at around midnight. We were rescheduled for the next day.
Sadly, for the first time in more than 60 years of observing the Feast, I missed the opening night and first day of the Feast. In spite of these challenges, once we finally arrived on the beautiful island of Barbados, we had a wonderful Feast with several family members and 122 of our brethren.
Now, with the Feast behind us, I anticipate a period of nonstop activity in the McKinney office through the end of this fiscal year. In the month of November, as I write, the camp directors are having their annual meeting, to be followed in three weeks by the annual meeting of the Feast coordinators. After those meetings, we will have only a few days to submit our budget for the fiscal year 2023 and to prepare for the annual meeting of the Ministerial Board of Directors, scheduled for Dec. 5-7. In addition to these activities, we are preparing for the next International Leadership Program conference, to be held in the Philippines Dec. 16-19, followed by the Winter Family Weekend. It will be a busy eight weeks!
All in all, 2022 has been a remarkable year. Our income has increased each year since our beginning in 2010, and this year we project that our income will be double what it was during our first full year of 2011. Because of the projection of additional funds for this next fiscal year, we have set lofty goals. We are planning new media programs, new proposals to hire up to four new ministers and a proposal to fill one or two positions in Media. We are deeply committed to fulfilling our two primary objectives—preaching the gospel to the world and caring for the brethren. As the pandemic subsided around the world this year, we actually saw growth in our in-person Feast attendance when compared to the pre-pandemic Feast of 2019. This has been very encouraging!
This November will also mark the launch of work on our new video program. Our four presenters will come to the office for a week to develop the format and the material for the program. We still hope to complete several programs before the end of the year, but that will be a challenge for our small studio crew. In fact, we are looking for one or two additional employees with video experience for the studio. If you know of someone who might be a possible fit, please encourage him or her to apply.
At the end of the month of October and only two weeks after the Feast, the administration traveled to San Luis Potosí, Mexico, for our third International Leadership Program for this fiscal year. After two years without conferences, we now have completed three—Chile, Barbados and Mexico. The conference in Mexico was one of our most encouraging to date. We had a higher percentage of young people than any of our previous conferences. We had 55 participants, with more than a third of those attending in their late 20s and early 30s.
As I have explained before, the need for leadership training is critical in areas outside the United States. In the past five years four pastors have died suddenly, and three of those were outside the U.S. Replacing them has been a major challenge. Our goal hasn’t been just to replace those four, but to have trained, dedicated and converted young men and women to take on the responsibility of serving in congregations. This is proving to be one of our biggest challenges. Through the ILP3 (International Leadership Program, Phase 3) conferences, with follow-up Internet classes, we are now making good progress.
One of the most exciting additions to this round of conferences has been personal interviews of the participants. I cannot begin to tell you how inspiring it has been to interview these couples. During the most recent conference in Mexico, several couples stood out for their extraordinary stories. Keep in mind that “no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44). The amazing circumstances surrounding their calling and conversion were very inspiring to hear. Their stories were extraordinarily encouraging!
More than anything else, my intent in this letter has been to bring you up to date on the work of the Church and to pass on information. With the pandemic mostly, though not entirely, behind us, we have big plans for moving the work forward and continuing to develop our plan to provide pastoral care for brethren in all parts of the world.
We take seriously Christ’s admonishment to Peter in John 21, where three times He asked Peter if he loved Him. Following each question, Christ told Peter that if he loved Him, he should “feed My lambs . . . tend My sheep . . . feed My sheep” (John 21:15-17). These were some of Christ’s final recorded words. We intend to put our effort into preaching the gospel without ever ignoring the need to care for those whom God has called. Thank you for your prayers, your dedication and your generosity. We will do our best to respond to Christ’s words to Peter and do both—preach the gospel and care for the brethren.
Sincerely, your brother in Christ,