GREETINGS, again, in the name of Jesus Christ! Mrs. Armstrong and I have just returned to Pasadena from the college in England. I have to write you, immediately, this letter about the approaching Feast of Tabernacles. This is vitally important—be sure you read carefully every word.
Here is BIG NEWS! Many of you already have heard it—we are going to have to hold the great Festival this year in two different locations within the United States.
So first of all, I want to explain to you WHY this has become necessary—and HOW we know that God has set His name for holding this Festival at Squaw Valley, California, as well as near Big Sandy, Texas.
I'm sure you realize that God does not allow us, ourselves, to decide where to hold this great Festival. It MUST be at the place He selects, and where He "places His name", for this purpose.
Most of you brethren will remember the tremendous decision confronting us at the close of the Festival last year. Through the years, attendance at the Feast of Tabernacles has been increasing at the rate of 30% a each year. It doubles in less than three years—multiplies eight times in eight years! Large as our present Tabernacle is, it seats about a maximum of 7,500. Seven thousand attended last year. We anticipate more than 9,000 at this coming Feast. We expected attendance to swell to nearly 12,000 next year—1962. You will remember we were actually faced with having to consider construction of the largest indoor auditorium ever built by man on this earth! By 1970 there probably will be 100,000 or more attending!
To take care of 9,000 or more this 1961 Festival, we simply were going to be forced to add another $165,000 addition to the big Tabernacle—beside a new dining hall and kitchen facilities, the addition of from $150,000 to $200,000 additional housing, and sanitary facilities. All this was going to have to be built before this coming Festival, just a few weeks from now. It meant an expenditure of $450,000 to $600,000 or more—all to be paid inside of some 10 months—or, payments of $45,000 to $60,000 per month.
Last fall we found that hundreds were still standing in line, waiting for the noon meal, even with services starting at 2:30 p m. I mentioned to all of you who were there, how even with almost double the membership, you brethren—GOD'S OWN PEOPLE—were not responding with the special building and property fund as well as two years before. But though I spoke to you about it—though I wrote strong letters to the entire membership—you brethren FAILED TO RESPOND. Frankly, dear brethren, this has been mighty discouraging!
Yet I knew we had to find a way! Since YOU brethren were letting down, I could only call out to GOD, asking Him to have mercy and forgive you and PROVIDE THE WAY. Through the winter months and into the spring, the situation did not improve. You brethren still failed to respond. Christ had not, as yet, shown me any solution. But I knew He would! Meanwhile, I had gone ahead having the architect draw up plans ready to start construction on the additional wing on the big Tabernacle, feeling that surely God would somehow MOVE on your hearts and consciences to start increasing the monthly special offerings for the special building fund.
Meanwhile, the living Jesus Christ who is the HEAD of this Church flung open to us new important radio doors for proclaiming His Message. This included several vitally important 50,000-watt stations we had been trying to get on for many years. Every one of these stations was the dominant, most-listened-to, high prestige station in the area. Jesus Christ directed us to go on more super-power radio stations in a shorter period of time than ever before.
By the scores, people were being converted and baptized, and added to God's Church. The great addition to the broadcasting expense of these new stations made it doubly IMPOSSIBLE to start construction of the tabernacle new wing, the dining hall and new housing at Big Sandy, Texas. The business office at Headquarters was being thrown into a desperately tight bind.
Then, suddenly, like a bolt out of the blue—like an awe- inspiring miracle, Squaw Valley opened!
At the college in England, I received a big fat long letter from my son, Garner Ted Armstrong. One of our men had discovered Squaw Valley. He and some of our top executives and ministers from Pasadena Headquarters had flown up there and looked all the facilities over. These men all felt that God had CLOSED the doors for the additional construction at Texas, but had opened a superb, exciting NEW door at Squaw Valley, California, which requires NO outlay for building whatsoever—and not even any rental expense, except nominal rental from each member or family for housing, and cost of meals. The letter was very enthusiastic.
But, frankly, I was decidedly NOT enthusiastic!
To me, it was a bitter disappointment. I still hoped we could all meet together at the Texas grounds.
I have said that I could find no direct instruction in the Bible for holding the Feast of Tabernacles in more than one place; and also that there is no specific definite historic account of where the early Church ever did hold this Festival in more than one place—Jerusalem.
On the other hand, we know God has removed His name from Jerusalem, UNTIL THE COMING OF CHRIST—and we know that the Passover and Pentecost Festivals were held simultaneously at different places—and also we know that the Apostle Paul kept the Feast or Tabernacles every year, except when imprisoned—and we know that on many such occasions, Paul was NOT at Jerusalem. Also we know the churches at Rome, Ephesus, Corinth, Galatia, etc., observed this Festival, and they did not go to Jerusalem, and yet the Festival was held at Jerusalem also during those years!
So, after all, we are faced with indirect absolute PROOF that the Feast of Tabernacles WAS HELD IN several different locations each year!
It certainly was not MY DOING—or my desire, to hold this coming Festivals in two different locations inside the United States. Nevertheless, already it has been made necessary to hold the Feast in Australia, in England, in the Philippines, and in Africa, in addition to Big Sandy, Texas. So at least I had to agree to stop by at Squaw Valley on my return to America in late May, and look at it, even though I was hoping we would not have to go there.
This I did. I found it far different than I had expected. It really is an amazing, inspiring, exciting place. I was forced to admit that it is just PERFECT—as if MADE TO ORDER—for our purpose! There is the great pavilion built for the ice skating contests for the winter OLYMPICS, now turned into an auditorium that will seat around 9,000 or 10,000—even more than we can seat at Big Sandy, Texas! There are dormitory buildings, lodges, camping grounds, motels near by. There is a big cafeteria dining hall, built to handle big crowds. And it takes NO MONEY from our business office!
It was still utterly IMPOSSIBLE to finance the expanded building program in Texas. God allowed YOU BRETHREN, (most of you, but surely not all) by becoming lax and neglecting to send in special offerings for the building fund, to SLAM SHUT the door for this year's expansion at Gladewater. GOD HIMSELF, as if by a dramatic, exciting, breath-taking MIRACLE, had OPENED THE DOOR without any cost to THE WORK, at Squaw Valley!
It became strikingly plain and clear to me, by then, that GOD HAD SELECTED THIS PLACE, AND PLACED HIS NAME THERE FOR THIS FESTIVAL AS WELL AS AT BIG SANDY, TEXAS.
We would have been utterly UNABLE to get all of you brethren inside of the Tabernacle for services this autumn at Big Sandy. There would not have been any housing available for at least 2,000 of you! We could not have fed you.
GOD MADE THIS DECISION! I did not. But I had to bow to it. And I had to admit, after all, that GOD'S WAY IS BEST!
Now God is not going to require Mrs. Armstrong and me to give up meeting with you brethren at our own grounds in Texas—nor to be deprived of being with all you West Coast brethren coming to Squaw Valley. God willing, WE ARE GOING TO BE BOTH PLACES—one half of the Festival at Squaw Valley—the other half at Big Sandy!
That is not all. Garner Ted Armstrong will be at the Texas grounds for one half, and at Squaw Valley the other half. Also, Mr. Roderick C. Meredith and Mr. Herman L. Hoeh will be half time at each place. This way, we four will be privileged to meet with and speak to ALL of you brethren, at BOTH places!
The Feast of Tabernacles begins Sunday evening, at sunset, September 24. Since many brethren will have to leave early, to arrive at Squaw Valley in time for the Feast, we have made special arrangements with the management of the facilities, to have the Blythe Arena for the weekly Sabbath services preceding the Feast. There will be an afternoon service only, beginning at 1:30 P.M.
All reservations for the Festival should have already been made. However, if some of you have NOT as yet received confirmation of reservations, you should immediately send your $50.00 deposit in the enclosed envelope, to be sure of being properly registered.
Those of you already having reservations, but who are planning to arrive early, to be in Squaw Valley for the weekly Sabbath preceding the Feast, should immediately go upon arrival at Squaw Valley to the place where you are holding reservations. You will need to make any arrangements for staying either before, or after the Festival on your own. However, be sure to go to the place your reservations specify, so as to avoid moving within only a day or so to a different location.
As you know, we arrived at a bulk price for meals served in the spacious cafeteria based upon feeding 2,000 persons per meal. However, we find there may be several hundred who have not yet purchased meal tickets, believing they may want to eat elsewhere.
Remember, brethren, the outside facilities, such as cafes and restaurants are very limited. It would be impossible for up to one thousand eight hundred of you to eat three meals a day outside of the valley,a nd yet near enough to attend services. You will not be able to find the beauty, the really excellent food, the fine fellowship and the convenience anywhere else but in the large, modern, cafeteria in the Olympic Village. If any of you still need to purchase your meal tickets, you should not delay another moment! Remember, the price for the three meals daily will be $4.65 per adult per day, and $3.45 per child. Your meal ticket will be sent promptly upon receipt of your payment.
And now, brethren, pay special attention! Some of you may still be holding reservations for facilities near Big Sandy, Texas. If so, be sure you write immediately, cancelling such reservations, so other brethren from the East may find them available.
Finally, brethren—BE SURE TO MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO ATTEND! It would be a terrible shame to miss the wonderful, jam-packed days of spiritual food, happy fellowship and real JOY together with your brothers and sisters in Christ!
The Feast of Tabernacles is certainly one of the most important phases of your Christian life—vital to your own spiritual growth! Don't miss the inspired sermons, the Bible studies, the chance for personal counseling with God's ministers, and all the wonderful recreational facilities in the beautiful place God has opened to us.
Also, remember to be very careful. WATCH your driving— be alert for some who may be drunk or careless. Remember, none of us are leading "charmed" lives. Please let's not have any accidents this year with some of God's people perhaps dead or injured—just from human carelessness.
We are looking forward to the greatest Feast of Tabernacles ever, and hope to see you there, rejoicing with all of us! May God bless and keep you all safe until we meet together in Squaw Valley!