September 2019 Member Letter
September 5, 2019
August was a busy month for the administration of the Church! In less than a month we completed the final three International Leadership Program weekend conferences. We were in Johannesburg, South Africa, the last week of July; Runaway Bay, Jamaica, the first week of August; and finally, near London, in the U.K., the third week of August.
The meetings in England took place at Cranfield University, about 30 miles north of London. Because of the schedule and the less expensive ticket prices for midweek flights, we found ourselves with a day in London to see the sights. London is one of my favorite cities in the world because of all the history. Wherever you look, you discover sights that date back hundreds of years.
From London, we took a minibus up to Cranfield University for our weekend seminar. The Cranfield campus turned out to be a most delightful setting, located in the middle of farmland and small towns. We were secluded, and because the school year had not yet begun, we basically had the property to ourselves. Over a three-day period, we held Sabbath services for 54 individuals and conducted classes and social activities for 39 conference attendees. This group was perhaps our most cosmopolitan group, with seven countries represented: the United Kingdom (we even had one attendee from Northern Ireland); France; Martinique; Bahamas; Greece; Germany; and, of course, the United States. Most of our attendees from France and Martinique required translation from English into French, so Bernard Hongerloot and Joel Meeker came from the McKinney office to take care of those duties.
We have now finished the first phase of the International Leadership Program. From this series of 10 regional conferences, we have developed a leadership program that is still in its infancy but already bearing fruit. We now have a website totally devoted to leadership programs. We have collected classes, seminars and documents from our previous programs and placed them on this new website. The next phase of the International Leadership Program will involve Internet classes and studies. We are also planning a second round of regional conferences to provide additional educational material for those involved in the program. Our plan is to provide the outline for phase 2 of this program by the end of this calendar year.
With 10 regional seminars behind us, and more than 400 attendees from 42 countries, we are now ready to focus on leadership development outside the U.S. And, of course, we are not leaving out the United States. In the next few weeks, all U.S. pastors will be asked to recommend couples for the 2020 Focused Mentoring Program. There will be no slowdown in the next calendar year! In fact, I suspect activity will even pick up!
In the middle of all this, we are working hard at upgrading our Internet presence. For the past 18 months, our unique visitors to Life, Hope & Truth has leveled off at just under 500,000 per month. This is about half the number we were getting at our high point. We are investing resources to develop a strategy to increase our numbers. There are some technical things that we can do with the Internet, but we also realize the need for more compelling articles that get people’s attention and that proclaim the true gospel to a world that is spiritually starving. This is an exciting time to preach the gospel and to see how many God may choose to call (John 6:44). Our part in preaching the gospel isn’t complicated. We want to get the gospel out to as many people as possible with whatever means are available, so that God the Father can call those whom He chooses.
We currently have almost 10,000 contacts in our system. These are individuals and families who have donated to the Church at least once. We know that from this group some are already members and others will become coworkers, making regular financial contributions to the Church; and from this smaller group of coworkers, some will begin attending services, and some will be baptized. We believe that it is God the Father who does the calling, but it is our job to spread the seed far and wide, looking for the good soil, as Christ explained in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13).
It has been a most encouraging summer. We set new records for income in the months of July and August. This has given us the ability to invest resources into training new leaders, to increase our Internet presence, and to hire new ministers. We have more to do as we approach another holy day season. When you consider the conditions in the world, I believe this year’s festivals, and especially the Feast of Tabernacles, will be some of the most important ones in recent memory.
In our recent trip, we could see that the United Kingdom is deeply divided over Brexit. Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on Oct. 31, with or without a deal. Being in Britain, one realizes what a big issue this will be. This is scheduled to take place one week after the Feast of Tabernacles.
In the United States, August was one of the worst months in our history for mass shootings, with multiple people losing their lives at the hands of three random shooters—in Dayton, Ohio, and in El Paso and Odessa, Texas. As I write this letter on Sept. 1, we are also well into the hurricane season, and possibly one of the most powerful storms in recent history is poised to strike the southeastern part of the U.S., having ravaged the Bahamas. As of this writing, we have no word from any of the members in the Caribbean as to their condition after Hurricane Dorian. We pray all are okay.
Our trip around the world for the International Leadership Program in the past 18 months has opened our eyes to the fact that there is no place on earth that isn’t being affected by bad news these days. But in a few weeks we will be at the Feast of Tabernacles celebrating a very different world under the reign of Jesus Christ. Let’s not miss the point of this year’s Feast—only the return of Jesus Christ can remove the violence, defuse the storms, and bring peace to this earth!
Our real hope is, and always has been, the fulfillment of the next four festivals—Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles and the Last Great Day!
Sincerely, your brother in Christ,