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Letter to the Brethren: October 15, 2020

Letter to the Brethren: October 15, 2020

Dear Brethren and Co-Workers in Christ:

Post Feast of Tabernacles’ greetings from California.

We were able to cover the entire “Book of the Law,” the Book of Deuteronomy during the Feast of Tabernacles in places like San Antonio, Texas this year.

Attendance in San Antonio was up by over a third from last year. We continue to have growth in the Continuing Church of God (CCOG).

The day we finished going through all 34 chapters of Deuteronomy in San Antonio, I received a report that a speaker in a group (not part of CCOG) felt that by reading Deuteronomy 31:9-11 and a few other verses, that his church had done so. Sadly, they neglected to read the entire Book of the Law as commanded in scripture.

But, as it turned out, CCOG did as the following sermon links attest to:

Other highlights from the Feast of Tabernacles in San Antonio also included five children being blessed and three baptisms. Related to baptisms, the following scripture comes to mind:

10 Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:10)

So with three baptisms in San Antonio, there was a lot of joy among the angels.

Africa Reports

Evangelist Evans Ochieng sent the following report:

Pastor Dr Bob,

Greetings from kenya.
I have received so many calls from all feasts sites in Kenya and Tanzania Telling me that the feast was so smart all over. Since the case of covid 19 was terrible in Kenya I was afraid that the feast could not go well in some areas. But I was always praying every time for the feast .I’m happy that God has answered our prayers and the feast was very smart. … there was a total piece in all sites.
We thanked God for safe and peaceful time during the feasts of Tabernacles

Deacon Ondigo Ochieng (not a relative of Evans Ochieng) sent in the following from Kenya:

Dear God’s Ministers:
We are so glad to take this opportunity to give you the report about this year’s Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day.
God made this year’s Feast to be very amazing.There was no rain and the electricity was very stable.
On the High Sabbath of the Feast of Tabernacles,we were 22 adults and 16 children,a total of  38 people.It was a joyous day and I gave out the sermon on Why are we keeping the Feast of Tabernacles.
On 6th,we went for a tour to historic,Kwirambo Dam in the outer suburbs of Kehancha town and we also went to Maasai Mara regions to observe the mining area i.e  Francis mines.
We had a family day on the afternoon of 9th,that is Friday.We played different games and and awarded different gifts to the winners.Volleybal and netball was played on the National Cereals and Produce Board field.
On the Last Great Day,we were 31 adults and 16 children,a total of 47 people.The Bible Study sessions made the Feast so very interesting to those who visited us for the first time.We hope to see more growth due to the Feast that was done here.We are very grateful to Pastor Evans who was always calling to know how we were faring. May God bless him for his love and concern for us throughout the Feast period.
Best regards
Ondigo Ochieng.
Below is just one photo taken on the second day of the Feast.

Pastor Tiongik Sawek sent the following from the Rift Valley of Kenya:

Hello and receive greetings in the name of Jesus christ. The feast of tabernacles was awesome last week, we started on 3rd october to 10th october. It was really blessed to all of us, as we had a blessed sermon.

We really appreciate the support and coordination of EvangOlist ochieng throughout the entire period.
Also, I have received the Mau and Bomet report whereby they held a feast of tabernacles well. The brethren from Mau also were requesting for the divisions into two groups as they had large congregations.
Lastly, the groups of chilani also had a blessed meeting and lessons all through, they had a chance to watch the films which you sent us and indeed we learned a lot. We also visitors from Londiani and Olenguruoni whom they were touched and feel will be visited soon in their places.
We also received a report from Takitech group from Elder Langat, he had a lot of work as there are many churches not observing the feast of tabernacles in their places. He clarifiers to be prepared early enough for the next event  come next year.
We are happy for the support of the continuing church of God and may God  bless you abundantly.
pastor sawek.
With this are the attach photos from Takitech and Chilani groups

Here is another Kenyan report from Wiclif Sang:

Receive greetings from the church of Bomet-Kiromwok Continuing C.O.G. The feast of Tabernacle was a divine blessing. Thank you very much for your support. Be blessed.

Find the attached photos

Here is something from Mozambique:

i’m verry happy because the feast was do well without any problem in mozambique

Here is a Last Great Day report from Ethiopia:

Dear elders:

Thanks be to the Lord God Almighty for giving his sure knowledge and more loving of those keeping his Law.
Yesterday, we did celebrated eight day of Last Gread Day,which is a day we (ccog) has deep knowledge than others cog groups.
 I understood many times when i was in  a group cog7 day, cog7day just keeping that a day not because to know the  God’s last plan, simply because was the day to end the Feast of Tabernacle.
 Only ccog has more sure words in Bible prophecy.
May the Lord God’s bless be on us all Amen.
Koang Deng

In Ethiopia and Ghana most of our members have some type of CG7 background–which, among other things, means they did not keep the Fall festivals until after coming with CCOG.

Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines

We received the following report from Jamie Stonham in Australia:

Hello Dr. Thiel,

We had a fantastic Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day at Boomerang Beach on the Nth Coast of NSW, Australia.
Unfortunately due to the Covid border restrictions, no other members of CCOG were able to make the trip to Boomerang Beach for the Feast.
We still made the most of it though and had a nice family Feast. Six of us went to Boomerang Beach. … I held services and listened to sermons each day and learnt a lot from how you explained the book of the law.
We all had a great time and it was wonderful to be able to engage in so many enjoyable family activities before and after services, after what has been a difficult year with limited quality family time together due to my study requirements. Some of the activities we did included swimming at the numerous beaches and the beautiful salt water Wallis Lake; hiring a boat and taking Noah fishing on the lake; camel riding; sand boarding down giant sand dunes at Anna Bay and eating out at a beautiful Italian restaurant in Forster overlooking Wallis lake.
A great time was had by all and Tanya and I were refreshed both physically and spiritually by the time away for the Feast.
Kind regards,
Jamie Stonham

If the governments in Australia will quickly eliminate many of their travel restrictions, and if airline flight get back to previous levels, we hope to possibly hold a Feast of Tabernacles in the Brisbane region next year. However, this morning we received an email from Jamie Stonham where he mentions that the governments there are saying they may not be open for tourism until at least the end of 2021–if that remains the case, then we will not plan on Australia for 2021. Yet, things can change and I wrote Jamie Stonham back and said we would try to wait a couple of months before making a decision.

Please put this situation in your prayers as we would like to perform a couple of baptisms in Australia next year.

Sharon Perry sent the following report from New Zealand:

It was wonderful to be together in person, singing praises with joyful, loud voices after a few months  of Skype services on Sabbath here in NZ.  We fed on the Word and then had a relaxed meal together which had all been prepared the day before, with more fellowship, before dessert!

Shirley said this venue was the most beautiful service site she has attended. It was lovely to be able to fellowship in unity of Spirit in such a wonderful part of this country and to have peaceful beautiful surroundings with calm and warm weather to enjoy. All thanks and praise to our Eternal Creator.   We send our love and warm greetings to all the other brethren around the world and look forward to hearing from everyone.


Sharon,  Bay of Islands, New Zealand

We are glad things went well in New Zealand this year.

Joe Lumpay sent the following report and photograph:

Dear Dr. Thiel,

This could be an eleventh-hour change of Feast venue that happened. Because of the sudden rise of positive COVID cases in our city, which resulted the death of three prominent personalities here and many other being brought to the hospitals including our city Vice Mayor, three neighbouring municipalities had declared lock down. One of these is the municipality of Mainit, where we do have our booking for the feast. This purposely to bar entry especially people from Surigao City.
Nonetheless, this left us not without another place to go. I tried to call up a friend of mine who owned a resort but has been closed for sometime due to COVID. I asked him a favor for his door to open for us for this very important religious event. I thank God for his positive response.
JB NATURE FARM & RESORT is so far the largest inland resort in the province of Surigao del Norte, that can be found in Sukailang, Surigao city, a 14 kilometer distance from the city. …
Best regards,

Despite last minute complications, we are glad that the Feast of Tabernacles was able to be held in a facility in the Philippines.

Calm in Canada, Terror in Haiti

Gisele Haddon sent the following report on Monday from Canada:

Good morning Dr. Thiel. I hope you had a safe return home from the Feast.

We kept up with the emails from the brethren and wished we could have been there with you all.
Our Feast went well but was very relaxing. We went for a two and a half hour ferry crossing to Nova Scotia where we spent one night. The weather was exceptionally good. This was the highlight of our Feast. We are now back home. …
Now for the Feast in Haïti. Moïse wrote to us this morning to brief us. The Feast itself went very well. They had borrowed equipment to film the different activities and events. Everyone was very happy and glad for this time together. Their return trip yesterday was however everything but.
They were all together in a minivan along with other people. They were high jacked by two individuals with guns. The {robbers} went through all their belongings. Stole all of the electronic equipment, cell phones, drone, laptop and video camera. These had been borrowed by Moïse from a friend. Then the gunmen proceeded to search everyone of them. One gentleman {in another vehicle} refused (he was not a member of the  church) and they killed him there in front of everyone. Then left. All the brethren are safe but very traumatized.
I cannot imagine the fear they must have felt when all this was happening. A first-hand experience of the terror and lawlessness that prevails in that country. Last week they killed a lawyer who was Moïse’s neighbor.
I feel that God is protecting them from this evil.
I will send a prayer request to the group.
(Moïse wrote to me in french. I have translated the message.)

While it is great that the Feast in Canada and Haiti went well, robbery and murder are terrible. In addition to prayers, we will try to see if there is anything we need to do to assist. More than many other places, those in Haiti understand the need for God’s Kingdom to come.


From eastern Europe, elder Sasha Veljic reported about Serbia:


Elder Sasha Veljic sent the following:

Dear Bob,
We started the Feast on Friday night with sheer joy.  During the first day, which was also the Sabbath, we video recorded the first 6 chapters of Deuteronomy in Serbian. …
Five of us are keeping Feast.  Attached are some photos.
With joy and gratitude,


Dear Bob,

            The Feast of Tabernacles 2020 in Serbia can be described in one word – joy!  After various trials we have been through in this year, the Feast came as a spiritual refreshment.  Five of us came to celebrate it predetermined to make it a time of sheer joy.  Reading the entire Law of God was an amazing new experience.  …

Since we haven’t been able to socialize live as much as we wanted to in the past several months, and having been through a curfew and the state of emergency which lasted from March until May due to COVID 19, our priorities were to spend as most time in fellowship rather than having extensive, and often tiring Feast activities.

This Feast of Tabernacles was a historic one in Serbia because, for the first time in the Serbian history, someone read the entire Law of God and recorded it for a witness to a Bible illiterate nation.  Serbia is one of the least Bible literate nations in the world.  On top of that, all the members in Serbia had a unique opportunity to step out of anonymity and read portions of the Law of God.  They all took turns reading particular sections of the Law.  After each chapter was read, I expounded certain verses that may not appear as clear for the general public.  Nothing of the kind has ever happened in this country.  It was a new experience for all of us and we found it uplifting and joyous! …

During the Last Great Day, I delivered a memorable sermon in Serbian on the Book of Ezekiel and its 13 prophecies.  I presented our traditional understanding of the Book, with the emphasis on the Second Resurrection.

After the Feast, we have resolved not to let the usual post-Feast depression hit us.  We plan to keep up with the joy about serving God and keeping His eternal Law.

With gratitude,


Glad that the Feast there seemed to go very good as well.

Feast Slide Show

Steve Dupuie would like any who are willing to send him photographs from the Feast of Tabernacles all around the world.

This includes not only North America, but Haiti, Serbia, India, Africa, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Australia.

His email address is

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is a suggested Sabbath service for this week:

  • 2-3 hymns (our songbook, The Bible Hymnal, contains the materials from the 1974 Bible Hymnal from the old WCG with new covers, plus ten additional hymns; there is also some Choral Accompaniment online).
  • Opening prayer.
  • Sermonette, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: Amy Coney Barrett and Prophecy? Other sermonettes are available at the Bible News Prophecy channel.
  • Announcements (if any; though for many it will be this letter) and one hymn.
  • Sermon, which for most who receive this letter via email will be a recorded one. The one suggested for this week is: The Septuagint and its Apocrypha. Other sermons are also available at the ContinuingCOG channel.
  • Final hymn.
  • Closing prayer.

Note: If you have a slow internet connection, you can watch these by starting the video, then below it (and towards the right) look for an outline of a gear–if you click on that, it will allow the YouTube video to be played with lower video quality, but at least it will not stop often–you can select a quality as low as 144p. If your internet connection is still too slow (as my home one is) and/or you prefer audio messages to audio-visuals ones, go to the YouTube link for the message, click on SHOW MORE related to the description. You will then see something that says, “Download MP3.” Below that is a link to an MP3 file. Most computers (and even some cellular telephones) will allow MP3 files to be downloaded and played. This is an option we have made available (but we are also looking into ways to improve that as well)–and, of course, we have written article options. Some people have found that if their internet connections are not fast enough, that they can simply listen to the messages that are found at the Bible News Prophecy online radio channel.


World News Items

More officials are willing to publicly state that the COVID lockdowns are not the answer (see ABC: WHO doctor says lockdowns should not be main coronavirus defence). Yet, the lockdowns have shown governments that they can relatively easily ratch up totalitarian measures–totalitarian controls are prophesied (cf. Revelation 13:14-18) and we are getting closer to that time.

COVID-19 policies have increased the level of food insecurity in parts of the USA and the world (see CBS: “Staggering” need: COVID-19 has led to rising levels in food insecurity across the U.S.’ EN: Oxfam analysis says that the international community’s response to global food insecurity has been dangerously inadequate).

The USA itself is besieged by partisan political matters and control (e.g. see Pelosi’s 25th amendment committee: A prelude to a Harris Administration? and Politics dominates Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings). Jesus warned “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:25)–this will not end well for the USA.

Concluding Comments

The Apostle Paul, after the Christ’s death and resurrection indicated that it was important to keep the Feast–and this looks to have been the Feast of Tabernacles:

21 I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing. (Acts 18:21)

So, the Apostle Paul traveled to keep the Feast. Jesus kept God’s Feasts (Luke 22:8,14-16) and also traveled to do so (John 7:11-39).

If you have not yet committed to going to a CCOG Feast of Tabernacles’ site next year, have you looked at every possible means to do so?

For those wondering how to afford it financially, notice the following from the late evangelist Leroy Neff:

One major concern in planning for and attending the Feast is finances.

Thankfully, God has shown us the way to handle the financial aspect of attending His annual feast days.

God explains feast finances for us in Deuteronomy 14:22-27: “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed, which comes forth from the field year by year. And before the Lord your God, in the place which he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstlings of your herd and flock; that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to bring the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money, and bind up the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses, and spend the money for whatever you desire, oxen, or sheep, or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves; and you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. And you shall not forsake the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you” (Revised Standard Version).
We have called this tithe or tenth part of our income a second tithe; however, the Bible nowhere calls it by a specific name. We have more commonly referred to it in recent years as the festival tithe, as that is what it is used for.

This tenth of our income is not used for God’s Work or the preaching of the Gospel, as the festival tithe belongs to us, to use in the way God specifies. God provides for the needs of His

Work by His first tithe. The first tithe belongs to God and is not for personal use.

Here are some commonly asked questions about the festival tithe and their answers, based on biblical principles.

What is the festival tithe?

Simply stated, the festival tithe is a tenth of one’s increase (income from personal effort), which is set aside for use in attending the annual festivals ordained by God.

How is the amount of the festival tithe calculated?

It is a tenth of your … income, exactly the same amount as God’s first tithe or tenth.

Is this amount commanded, or is it optional?

As the previous quote from Deuteronomy showed, saving the festival tithe is commanded by God, just as much as God’s first tithe is commanded. Since it is a part of God’s law, it is sin not to set a full tenth aside for the specified purpose.

How is it to be used?

The basic use of this money is to finance attendance at God’s festivals, including (as specifically mentioned) food and beverages. The festival tithe would also cover travel expenses to and from the feast site, motel or hotel expenses and other related costs.

May any of this money be used to buy clothing?

The primary use of the funds is for travel, lodging and food.

However, in some cases, people may not have sufficient or proper clothing to attend the Feast of Tabernacles. In such cases, where there is sufficient money to take care of the other needs as well, it would be permissible for a person to use some funds to buy proper clothing so that he might be better able to go to the Feast and rejoice as God commands (Deut. 16:11).

This permission in unusual circumstances, however, has been used by some to justify large or expensive purchases of clothing or even whole wardrobes. Using the festival tithe in this way violates the basic spiritual intent of the law.

What about using some of the funds for car repairs?

In some cases the family or personal car is not in condition to make the trip, or to safely make the trip, to the Feast site. Under such rare circumstances, if sufficient funds are available for the other necessities as well as minor car repairs, it would be within the spirit of the law to make repairs. In other cases it would be wiser to consider alternate transportation.

What about purchasing gifts?

Some members have purchased gifts for their children so that the children might better enjoy the Feast. Gifts for small children at Feast time helps make the Feast special for them a time to look forward to each year.

But in other cases, some people have overdone the giving of gifts at Feast time, sometimes buying expensive items they couldn’t really afford. Usually such items are used during the rest of the year as well. This goes far beyond the principle of using the festival funds to provide a joyous, happy Feast.

Is it proper to use the festival tithe for side trips?

The use of this money to visit natural wonders or special scenic areas or places of historical interest on the way to or from the Feast certainly could make the Feast more enjoyable as well as profitable.

Some scenic wonders, such as the Grand Canyon or Carlsbad Caverns, can preach eloquent sermons to the glory and magnificence of the God who created them. Limited funds for even short side trips to such areas would certainly be well spent.

However, long trips involving excessive costs and time and taking you away from the direction of the Feast site should not be paid for with festival funds. If in doubt, counsel with your minister about this or any other questionable expense. …

I have more festival tithe than I need. What should I do with the excess?

There are always those who have insufficient tithe to attend the Feast, or not enough to go and pay for normal expenses.

To provide for this need, it has always been the practice of the Church members who have more than they need to turn in this excess to the Church. The Church then, through the local church pastors, uses these funds to take care of such needs.

In the past, unfortunately, there have often been insufficient funds to send every less fortunate person every year. It would be wonderful if everyone could attend every year. The following scripture indicates that such people should be provided for:

“You shall keep the feast of booths seven days, when you make your ingathering from your threshing floor and your wine press; you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your manservant and your maidservant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns” (Deut. 16:13-14, RSV).

The only way some of these people would be able to attend would be for others who have excess funds to assist them. Jesus said that it was more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Those who do give for this purpose will have the special joy that comes from being generous and having an unselfish attitude. (Neff L. The Festival Tithe – Your Questions Answered. Good News, September 1981)

Second tithe (also known as festival tithe) is not something you send to the church (though sending a portion to support others to attend is appropriate)–it is for you and your family to come and enjoy the festivals, which mainly means the Feast of Tabernacles (see also Is Second Tithe and Third Tithe Still Valid Today?).

Do not think that you are to poor to save second tithe. When I first started to do so, I was one of the poorest Americans in the WCG, was in debt, and did not see how it could possibly work out–but I stepped out on faith and it worked out. So much so, that I have been able to attend 44 Feast of Tabernacles, without missing one. No, it was not easy at first, but we need to believe God (Romans 4:3) and believe He is faithful (Hebrews 10:23; Malachi 3:8-10).

Hopefully, you will strive to “by all means” keep God’s feasts next year, including attending the Feast of Tabernacles.

The time to plan is now as you save second tithe so you will be able to afford to do so.


Bob Thiel
Pastor and Overseer