The greatest Passover observance in modern times has just ended! Meanwhile, God's local churches continue to grow. Local church buildings are now almost a REALITY! WHILE the worst spring storms and floods in decades continue to rage across the country, God's church is still being BLESSED. We are to be the "light of the world" (Mat.5:16), and that light is destined to shine with increasing POWER as the end of this age approaches. So, in spite of the temporary trials and setbacks which we all have, we need to thank God that the overall picture is one of bless—ing" and progress for God's Church— and for us who are used as human instruments in it! Thousands of us were recently blessed in the wonderful Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread observed as a full eight—day festival in NINE different places throughout the world! We had reported to you last month that seven of these occasions would be held, but word has just arrived from Australia that Mr. Gerald Waterhouse conducted a full eight—day festival of preaching and Bible studies for our brethren down there as well! And, just as this is being written, word has arrived from the Philippines that a full eight—day festival was observed in that far—off land! Also, we are certain that several ministers who have accepted God's Truth have held Passover services in Africa, on Formosa and perhaps in other parts of the world. Truly, this was the GREATEST Passover ever to be held in this modern era of God's true Church!
The Passover Observed in Australia
From the continent "down under," Mr. Gerald Waterhouse reports that the brethren there had a wonderful spiritual feast during the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. To our knowledge, this was the FIRST time that God's Holy Days have been observed by His people in Australia! Many problems arose to hinder this observance, but God showed His blessing and power in helping overcome every obstacle to the observance of His commanded festival days. Mr. Waterhouse reports that up until two weeks before the Passover nothing suitable had opened up in the way of a hall which could be used for the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread there in Sydney, Australia. However, right at that time—just in time to inform the brethren—a very fine hall was made accessible to use during the festival season! Mr. Waterhouse relates: "To our utter surprise, the hall was one which was totally unfamiliar to us and in clear view from my office window! In spite of all the inquiries I had made and the number of different places which I had visited, not one person even mentioned this particular hall. God surely brought these things about to let us know He is in charge of operations here and will provide for us if we will just trust Him. Just why this hall has gone unnoticed and unrented by the organizations in this vast area is beyond me unless it is just that God reserved it for us as He did the office space we use and the home in which we live." Mr. Waterhouse writes that this hall was built by the "Australian Institute of Builders" and especially designed for lectures up to three hours' duration! It has softly cushioned, arm—supported chairs which were specially built, an acoustical system effectively installed, and very appropriate indirect lighting throughout the building with spotlights especially for the speaker's platform. It will seat up to 250 people and in an adjoining room there is a nice kitchen with a stove and refrigerator and all facilities necessary for God's festivals! "On Sunday before the Passover service," Mr. Waterhouse reports, "I held a meeting about twenty miles out of Sydney in Blacktown to discuss baptism with several who wanted to be baptized before the service and most of whom were staying at this particular place during the festival. After going into baptism and related topics for a few hours, I found that eight were ready for baptism and we proceeded with the service. In spite of our time being limited and without a knowledge of where the baptizing could be performed, God worked circumstances out so that everything had been done and we could all return to Sydney in time for the Passover. With the addition of these eight people to the members in Sydney, 29 of us took the Passover.
Healings and GROWTH in Australia
During the course of the festival, Mr. Waterhouse relates, God allowed several of the brethren to be confronted with various sicknesses, afflictions and infirmities. But in every single case God raised each person affected and not one person missed a single meeting because of any of these complications. "It seemed God was letting the significance of the unleavened bread taken at the Passover service be impressed upon our minds indelibly," Mr. Water—house stated. Mr. Frank Longuskie and Mr. Charles Hefner—both from Ambassador College and assisting Mr. Waterhouse in Australia—were a great deal of help in all of the physical work and counseling the people throughout the entire festival, he reports. In closing, Mr. Waterhouse states: "The brethren were so encouraged through the festival that they are now looking forward to Pentecost and the meetings which will be conducted for three full days. And, on beyond this festival, many are making preparations to be in attendance throughout the entire eight days during the Feast of Tabernacles and great High Day festival. In addition, we are encouraged that others unable to be here for the Passover will be here for the Feast of Tabernacles. Several have written to this effect. Too, by the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, there should be a good number added to the Church in Australia as they come to full repentance and are baptized. "As the broadcast penetrates the minds of more people and they are brought to repentance by the TRUTH set forth in the literature, I am confident that as the people in God's church throughout the world pray fervently for the people in this vast continent, Mr. Tony Hammer and I will have some fruitful baptizing tours later this year." Brethren, we hope that this detailed report of how God's people clear around on the other side of the earth are observing His feast days just as we in this country are will be as interesting and inspiring to all of you as it is to us! You have already heard that Mr. Tony Hammer—son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Hammer of the big Tabernacle in Gladewater— and accompanied by his able wife, Natalie, is being sent to Australia in June to assist Mr. Waterhouse and the work of God on the Australian continent. Will you be PRAYING that God will bless the work of His Church in Australia? Will you pray earnestly that God will STOP the hand of Satan and his persecutors in that area? Will you ask God's blessing and guidance for Mr. Waterhouse and the men and women who are assisting him in this "outpost" of God's work? Now, a decision has just been made in a ministerial conference here at God's headquarters that Mr. and Mrs. Dexter Faulkner—a young married couple in God's Church who are zealous Ambassador students—are to be temporarily pulled out of Ambassador College and rushed by plane to Australia as soon as they may obtain passports and air passage! This emergency measure is being taken because of the OVERWHELMING amount of work in the Australian office and Church. The work of Jesus Christ—the living HEAD of this Church—has grown to tremendous proportions on that continent just within the last few months! But this growth is already bringing with it persecutions by religious pressure groups in that area as Mr. Armstrong has reported to you! Be sure your fervent PRAYERS are with God's servants and His work in that continent! And let us REJOICE in the wonderful growth and blessings that God is continuing to shower upon His work around this earth in spite of every persecution and opposition of Satan the Devil and his human instruments!
The Passover Observed in Britain and the Philippines
Mr. Raymond McNair—evangelist in charge of the work in the British Isles— reports that our brethren in Britain had a wonderful Passover festival this spring. Starting with a Passover observance participated in by only about 15 people three years ago, the converted membership of God's Church in London has multiplied five times so that this year there were 75 baptized adult members who partook of the Passover service in London! In addition, 14 brethren partook of the Passover in Bristol, England. Mr. McNair reports that there were about 120 present for the feast day and several dozen remained for regular Bible studies and preaching services during the entire period of the Days of Unleavened Bread. The wonderful and beautiful grounds and buildings of our future Ambassador College campus there had proved to be a perfect setting for God's feast days in England! Mr. McNair states that our brethren in England are feeling continually closer and more a part of God's work from headquarters here in the United States, and they send "greetings" to all of you brethren here. Let us remember our brethren in Britain in earnest prayers of thanksgiving for the many blessings God has granted His church there—and supplication that He will continue to bless, strengthen and keep them unreprovable until the day of Jesus Christ's coming! From the Philippine Islands, Mr. Pedro Ortiguero reports that they had a full quota of daily preaching services during the Days of Unleavened Bread. A total of 23 baptized adult members of God's Church in the Philippines partook of the sacred Passover service. Most of these remained throughout the entire eight—day period for a spiritual feast of daily preaching and Bible study. Mr. Ortiguero was assisted in conducting these services by Mr. Dionicio Descargar —a dedicated servant of God who has proved an able assistant to Mr. Ortiguero in ministering to our small congregation in the Philippines. Mr. Ortiguero reports: "I surely believe that the Church in the United States was mentioning us many times in their prayers during the feast that we might experience a very wonderful time. For this we are here sending our thanks to all of you who have remembered us in prayers during the spring festival." Let us all, brethren, pray more fervently that God will guide and bless those who yield to Him in the Philippine Islands and other men in scattered areas throughout this earth who are beginning to see His truth and walk in it—and teach others as a last witness before the end of this age.
Passover Observed at the Big Tabernacle, near Gladewater
Here in the United States, the largest single gathering for the Passover took place at our own big Tabernacle near Gladewater and Big Sandy, Texas. As usual, Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Ted Armstrong were present to conduct these important services which lasted through— out the entire eight or nine—day festival. A total of 792 baptized adult members took the Passover and about 1500 people, including children, attended the feast and most of these stayed throughout the entire period for the preaching and Bible studies! Lending valuable assistance in the preaching and counseling were Mr. Jon Hill, pastor this semester of the churches in Gladewater and Minden, Mr. Allen Manteufel and Mr. Richard Prince, who are respectively pastors in the San Antonio—Corpus Christi and Dallas—Houston church areas. Also, Mr. Tony Hammer and Mr. Cecil Battles assisted in bringing helpful and inspiring sermonettes during the services. Mrs. Armstrong stated that she felt that this was undoubtedly the best spring festival which has ever been held at the Tabernacle, and many commented that the ministers there gave especially helpful and powerful sermons on everyday Christian living. It was noted that Mr. 'Tony Hammer showed tremendous growth and potential in preaching, and he will undoubtedly be of great help to Mr. Waterhouse in God's work on the Australian continent.
Passover in New York City and Pittsburgh
This year, for the second time, the Passover and a full eight days of services were conducted in New York City. The attendance there was nearly double that of last year since a local church has now been established. A total of 150 adult members partook in the sacred service of God's Passover, and about 220 were present for the feast. Mr. Raymond Cole, evangelist and supervisor over the field ministers in the United States, flew back to New York to help conduct these services. He was joined by Mr. Carlton Smith, pastor of the New York church, and for part of the festival by Mr. Wayne Cole, his brother, who is pastor of God's churches in Pittsburgh and Akron. Mr. Cole reports that the church in New York is strong and enthusiastic and that they had a most inspiring eight days of preaching services during the festival of Unleavened Bread. Before coming to New York, Mr. Wayne Cole conducted the Passover services in our church at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with 168 baptized members partaking of the Passover there. Also, Mr. Bob Hoops, who is acting as assistant pastor in these two churches, conducted the Passover service in Akron, Ohio, with 45 adults partaking. With both churches joining together for the feast in Pittsburgh on the first Holy Day, there were over 400 in attendance.
The Passover in Chicago
Another full festival with eight days of preaching services was held in Chicago, Illinois, with Mrs. Meredith and me flying back to join Mr. Dean Blackwell, pastor of the churches in Chicago, Milwaukee, and El Paso, Illinois. We were ably assisted by Mr. Frank McCrady and Mr. Harold Jackson—both ordained local elders in this area. Also, outstanding sermonettes were given by Mr. Arthur Mokarow—a zealous member of the Chicago congregation, and Mr. Richard Pinelli and Mr. Richard Plache—both advanced students in Ambassador College who were visiting home during this season. A total of 383 adult members partook of the Passover service and about 650 people, including children, attended on the first Holy Day. There were three to four hundred present throughout the entire eight days for preaching services each night, and a smaller number for afternoon Bible studies. This was a real spiritual "feast" and the brethren in the Illinois—Wisconsin—Indiana area became much better acquainted with each other in love and Christian fellowship.
A Busy Time
This trip also gave me a much better opportunity to get acquainted with the huge ministerial area which is the responsibility of Mr. Dean Blackwell, God's minister in that area. Flying from Pasadena, our plane touched down at O'Hare field, just outside of Chicago, about 3:30 Friday afternoon and we were greeted at the terminal by Mr. and Mrs. Blackwell and Mr. McCrady. From the airport, we drove immediately to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for the Sabbath services there which have to be held on Friday nights in this most busy circuit. Before the services, we had time for only a brief evening meal and then drove immediately to the hall and began the services soon after arrival. The Milwaukee church is young and small but very enthusiastic. However, with slow but steady growth, its membership is now approaching 100. After the service, we visited for some time with the brethren, and then drove to the outskirts of the city to our motel to gain a few hours of sleep before the heavy schedule the next day. Arising early after only about five or six hours' sleep, we ate a hasty breakfast, jumped in the car and headed for Chicago to preach to the brethren there. The Chicago congregation has grown to be our second largest church outside of Pasadena headquarters. In this church, God has called an unusual mixture of nearly every race which is found in the United States! We have brethren there who are English, Irish, Scotch, Polish, Czech, Russian, German, Italian, Armenian, Mexican, Negro and even one or two Jewish brethren! It was a memorable experience to preach for the first time to this warm and responsive congregation, to visit with them briefly, and then "take off" again to another church! This time we drove south to a quaint little country church building near El Paso, Illinois. Mr. Blackwell has been able to secure this little church edifice for our services in that area because the other local churches have simply not put it to any use and it is completely community property—available to any in that area who will keep it up. What a change from the big city atmosphere of Chicago! Here in El Paso, we found brethren who were farmers and small town business men and workers in various trades. After the service there, we had a baptismal service in a portable tank situated just outside the church and in the almost icy cool of the evening, eight new brethren were immersed into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—IN the name, or by the authority, of Jesus Christ, our Savior and living HEAD! These brethren were so enthusiastic that most of the church stayed until after 8:00 P.M. that evening in Christian fellowship and visiting! We finally left, ate our first real meal of the day on the way home, and arrived at Mr. Blackwell's home in Joliet, Illinois, about 1:00 A. M. Sunday morning. Relating these details, brethren, should give all of you a better idea of the tremendous load of WORK which is carried by many of our ministers and of how they have to drive themselves on in order to accomplish the job God has laid upon them. Also, perhaps this will give all of you an idea of the church area in and around Chicago and encourage all of you to pray more for the brethren and God's ministers in that area.
Passover Services in Denver and Portland
Coming west from Chicago, the next area where we had a full eight—day Festival of Unleavened Bread was in Denver, Colorado. Here, Mr. Burk McNair—local minister in the Colorado—Kansas area—was joined by Mr. A1 Portune from Pasadena to conduct the preaching services and Bible studies. They were very ably assisted in this by Mr. Roger Foster—recent graduate of Ambassador College and assistant pastor in this area. Mr. McNair reports that an outstanding festival was enjoyed by everyone there and that a great deal of love was shown by everyone throughout the entire Passover season. Mr. McNair and Mr. Roger Foster both gave very helpful sermons on Christian living. And Mr. McNair said he was very thankful to have the help and outstanding messages brought by Mr. Portune during his stay there. Mr. McNair reports: "We had a great blessing having Mr. A1 Portune and his family with us and wish it were possible they could be here for the three days during the feast of Pentecost, but know that might be a bit selfish on our part. We enjoyed some inspiring sermons from Mr. Portune. Many have commented about the good they received from his messages and how wonderfully he had been inspired." A total of 217 baptized members took the sacred symbols of the bread and wine in the Passover service. About 360 remained for the first Holy Day services, and nearly 200 remained steadily throughout the entire eight—day festival in Denver. Further west, in Portland, Oregon, another full eight—day festival was enjoyed by the brethren in the Oregon and Washington churches. Mr. Benjamin Rea, minister and also professor in Ambassador College and now slated to be the first Dean of our new college in Britain, drove up to Portland to take charge of the services there. Accompanying him were Mr. Dale Hampton—elder from the Pasadena church—and the wives of both men. Mr. Hampton is slated to take over as pastor of the Portland church in June. 220 adults partook of the Passover there and over 475 were present for the first Holy Day service. Over 100 stayed throughout the entire period for the week—day preaching services and Bible studies. Assisting and conducting the preaching and Bible studies were Mr. Jim Friddle, pastor of God's churches in Seattle and Tacoma, Mr. Les McColm, local elder in the Portland church, and Mr. David Antion, graduate of Ambassador College and now acting as assistant pastor to Mr. Raymond Cole of the Portland Church of God.
Passover Observance in Pasadena and other California Churches
At God's headquarters Church in Pasadena, 747 baptized members partook of the Passover observance, and about 1000 were present for the feast. As you brethren can see, Pasadena has really GROWN! Mr. Herman Hoeh remained at headquarters and took charge of the services in Pasadena, assisted by Mr. Norman Smith, Mr. Ernest Martin, and Mr. Leroy Neff. Bible studies were held each evening throughout the entire festival season, and very enlightening sermons were given by Mr. Hoeh and Mr. Martin related to the theses on which they are both working for advanced degrees from Ambassador College. Also, Mr. Norman Smith brought a very moving sermon on the persecutions that are beginning to set in against God's work. While this comes to mind, brethren, let me remind you that God's work NEEDS your prayers that He will withstay the hand of Satan and protect the "doors" of radio and of the printing press which He has opened for His work to use as instruments in reaching this world with His gospel! Because our hall in Pasadena could not even accommodate all those in this area, the Passover was also held in God's church at Long Beach, California, with 83 partaking of the Passover and about 160 brethren attending the feast. Mr. Leroy Neff, Long Beach pastor, conducted these services and stated that they had a fine festival and an enthusiastic group there. Elsewhere in California and around the nation, Passover observances were held in San Diego, California, with 89 partaking of the Passover there and about 140 present for the feast. Mr. Norman Smith was in charge and some of the brethren report that he preached a most inspiring and helpful sermon on what Christian love really is—as well as other helpful and important messages that were delivered on the Sabbath and Holy Days. Mr. Kenneth Swisher—here at Ambassador this semester for work in the graduate school—took charge of the Passover observance at Fresno with 150 brethren partaking of the Passover and about 210 present for the first Holy Day. In Houston, Texas, 109 took the Passover with 173 brethren in attendance on the first Holy Day. Mr. Prince, minister of the Houston and Dallas churches, took charge of the service assisted by Mr. Cecil Battles. In Springfield, Missouri, Mr. Bryce Clark conducted Passover services with 178 adults partaking, and over 250 present for the Feast. This shows real GROWTH in our new church in Springfield! As this goes to press, final reports on the Passover and feast are not in from other local church areas or from some of our cooperating pastors abroad. But from every report, this has undoubtedly been the GREATEST Passover observance in modern times—with a total attendance of converted, baptized adult members of God's true Church ranging well over 3600 brethren—plus hundreds of children and young people who sat in on the preaching and Bible studies but were not yet able to take the Passover! In addition, of course, literally hundreds of you brethren across the nation and around the world observed the Passover quietly in your own homes if you were simply unable to assemble with God's people in one of these great convocations God has made possible.