Forum Summary: Festival 2020 — Like No Other

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2020

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 11 seconds.

This year, total Living Church of God Feast attendance increased 1% over last year: 11,183 members were able to worship God online or in-person.  Those who couldn’t attend in person (30% of the total) were able to connect to online, streamed services. Some governments, like Quebec, Canada, Victoria, Australia, and Trinidad and Tobago shut down gatherings, making it impossible for brethren to meet in person. 91% of members in Latin-America kept the Feast online, and, in the Philippines, members could only meet locally. Yet, according to surveys, Festival 2020 was unforgettable and meaningful to many brethren—even in some surprising ways.

Mr. Rod McNair, Assistant Director of Church Administration, gave a behind-the scenes look at the Festival Office and the Feast of 2020.

Over 10 years ago, the main Feast registration webpage was custom-built by a Church member.  The registration website encompasses “an incredibly complex process,” according to Mr. McNair. The site incorporates members’ login information, accommodates the transfer process, and grants separate festival coordinator access. Sites are chosen and contracts are signed sometimes years in advance. The transfer approval process ensures attendance is in accordance with the contract.   

Planning for each year’s Feast of Tabernacles is a constant, year-long project, only made more challenging by COVID-19. But what made this Feast stand out for members?

First, many were just glad to be there. This simple appreciation was a common theme in the festival surveys.

Second, there were unexpected blessings. Assigned seating brought ease of access, local speakers were given opportunities, and several new members attended the Feast. Anointings and common illnesses were even down.  Some few brethren did contract the COVID virus during the Feast, but most had mild symptoms.  Thankfully, those with more severe symptoms are recovering. 

A third reason is a shift in the focus of the activities. To limit large groups, Feast schedules were more relaxed and most activities were planned individually. Many enjoyed this change and took advantage of the free time to be more well-rested and focused during services

Finally, the role of technology was significant. Streaming technology benefited thousands of members in an unprecedented way. Mr. McNair says, “As a Church, we are better placed now than a year ago to be able to connect online.”

“This was by far the best Feast that we can remember.”

Florence, OR.

Every year, we seek to have “the best Feast ever.” But the feeling from the quote above was representative of many who responded to the Feast survey. Mr. McNair gave us a glimpse of how the Festival Office operates every year and how the Feast of 2020 was “a feast like no other.”

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.