United Church of God adopts national webcast for weekly service, suspends in-person gatherings for hundreds of congregations

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To promote the safety and well-being of its members and families, the United Church of God, an International Association, suspended in-person church services and gatherings, including services for hundreds of congregations in the United States and abroad. A weekly online Sabbath service to unite members in the United States and internationally will now be offered "to any and all" on Saturdays at ucg.org/webcast. The online church service will begin at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

The United Church of God is active on every inhabited continent.

The United Church of God, an International Association, is active on every inhabited continent.

We invite any and all to join us online...God is indeed a refuge for those who seek Him.

“The safety and well-being of our members and families comes first, so we have adopted an expanded online format for our church services on the weekly Sabbath,” said Victor Kubik, president of the United Church of God, an International Association. “This will continue for the next several weeks, allowing the time needed for this coronavirus crisis to safely abate.”

“We invite any and all to join us online on Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. EDT,” he continued. “Although I know all of our members in hundreds of congregations worldwide would prefer to worship and fellowship in person, this online church service gives us all an opportunity to be united together regardless of national borders or inability to travel.”

The United Church of God is also exploring opportunities for online hymn sings and songs of praise. The URL for the global online service is https://www.ucg.org/webcast.

“We consider these positive actions to be biblical in nature, and remain supportive of our respective governments and public health departments in both their self-quarantine measures and setting aside a time of prayer to seek and honor God,” Mr. Kubik said. “God is indeed a refuge for those who seek Him.”

The church first suspended services in the United States and international areas on March 14. Steve Myers, a host of the Beyond Today television program and local Cincinnati pastor, delivered the online sermon from the church’s home office.

Interested people can also access a wide variety of archived sermons from United Church of God ministers and presentations of the Beyond Today television program at https://www.ucg.org/. Search for topics online.

Local congregations of the United Church of God in cities around the world will also be making arrangements for online worship services and opportunities to worship together for the Christian Passover and the contemporary observation of the Days of Unleavened Bread from a New Testament Christian perspective.

“Observing these days is critically important to us, as we mark the death and sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as our Passover lamb,” said Mr. Kubik. “We as modern day disciples of Jesus Christ follow the admonition of the apostle Paul, as he instructed the disciples living in the ancient Greek city of Corinth, ‘Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth’” (1 Corinthians 5:8, English Standard Version).

Biblical scholars note that this statement referred to the Greek Christians in Corinth observing the Days of Unleavened Bread, a period of seven days where disciples of Jesus Christ remove leavened products and refrain from eating same. “The ‘puffing up’ nature of leaven is pictured as a metaphor for the process that leads to Christian sin,” explained Mr. Kubik. “During His ministry, Jesus Christ magnified the traditional Hebrew understanding of the Passover and high days, setting us an example.”

The annual Passover service will now be conducted by baptized members in their homes, with an option to link to a live webcast. The Passover service, which includes the taking of a small amount of wine and unleavened bread as the biblical symbols of the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, will be conducted after sunset on Tuesday, April 7. The first Holy Day of the seven-day Festival of Unleavened Bread will take place on April 9, followed by a second Holy Day on April 15. Online services will be conducted on those days.

The Church also changed its planned annual business meeting of church ministers at its General Conference of Elders (GCE) in early May, to a videoconference. Church GCE activities required by the Church’s Bylaws will be conducted online.

About the United Church of God, an International Association: More information about the United Church of God is available at http://www.ucg.org . The Church publishes a Bible study guide titled “God’s Holy Day Plan – The Promise of Hope for All Mankind ,”which describes the biblical foundation for the ancient Hebrew Holy Days in detail. The Church publishes the Beyond Today magazine and sponsors the weekly television program (now airing on WGN-America on Saturdays and Sundays) of the same name: Beyond Today .

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Peter Eddington

Michael Snyder
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