Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread will be observed for the full seven days at the sites listed below. The red number after the dates is the calendar method – for further information, please refer to the Biblical Calendar 2018
The attendance for Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread in 1952 in Gladewater, Texas, was so large that Herbert Armstrong declared:
“God has made it plain we MUST HAVE an adequate place, the most centrally located possible, so that the largest number can attend, for the Festival of Unleavened Bread …”
The Festival of Tabernacles had been held at Belknap Springs in Oregon, but this site was now too small, so a large festival site began to be constructed at Gladewater (Big Sandy), Texas, to house both seven day festivals. Increasing numbers wishing to attend soon required regional sites to be added.
Some members could not get time off to attend two annual seven day festivals – and most of the workers who could do so were not paid for both weeks. Consequently, for the middle five days of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, shortened services and bible studies were arranged in the evenings. This practice is continued today by the Eternal Church of God in Billings, Montana.
The 1967 Festival (report begins on p.5) was the final Festival of Unleavened Bread to be held for the full 7 days.
Why did the Radio (Worldwide) Church of God then reduce the observance of this festival from 7 days to only the 2 high days?
Days of Unleavened Bread – How Should They Be Observed? [p.4] by the Church of God the Eternal (which observes only the 2 high days), explains why the full 7-day observance was discontinued:
“Many Church of God members remember the marvellous spiritual sermons and exciting fellowship that went along with this festival. But some time during the mid-sixties, the practice was discontinued.
The reason was twofold. First, many of the members were being forced to use personal savings to attend the Feast of Tabernacles, because of a shortage of second tithe brought about by observing the full seven days in the Spring. Second—and by far the primary reason for discontinuing the full seven-day observance—the receipt of income for the ‘Work’ was appreciably reduced each Spring, because most of the members did not receive any salary or wages during the week they attended the seven Days of Unleavened Bread. Consequently, tithes and offerings dropped off alarmingly in the Spring.
Again, the decision to discontinue the practice of observing the Days of Unleavened Bread for the full seven days was a ministerial judgment, based on a need at the time. While the reduced income for the ‘Work’ was the major consideration in the decision, the financial strain placed upon the membership was also a factor. It was felt by Mr. Armstrong that if the Gospel were to continue to go forth with growth and power, the membership would have to be in a financial position to contribute heavily. The observance of the Days of Unleavened Bread for the full seven days was thwarting this effort.”
The late Richard Nickels compared Roderick Meredith’s festival reports of 1962 and 2002 in Days of Zeal Gone By :
“Roderick C. Meredith noted that the 1962 Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread Festival demonstrated the unusual dedication and LOVE among God’s people, the deep understanding and POWER of God’s ministers, and the tremendous world-wide work being carried on by a comparatively few people. Perhaps because of this emphasis on CHRIST’S great sacrifice and love, each year the Passover season seems to point up the deep warmth, love and DEDICATION of God’s people. In other words, the way the 1962 Passover Feast was observed showed the zeal of God’s people to do His Work!
Forty years later, quite a different Feast of Unleavened Bread was observed by Rod Meredith and others in the Church of God, as he reported in the July-August 2002 issue of Living Church News. On March 20, Meredith traveled to New Zealand to visit Living Church of God offices there, and then he went to Brisbane, Australia, to visit the LCG leader of Australia, Bruce Tyler. Meredith conducted Passover services Tuesday night, March 26, in Brisbane. On Wednesday morning, Passover day, Meredith toured Brisbane. Then he preached on Thursday, the first Day of Unleavened Bread to 58 brethren, followed by a covered dish meal and long fellowship. Then, the same day, Meredith flew the 2200-mile journey to Perth in Western Australia, arriving late and going to bed.
On Friday morning, he and the local elder toured Perth’s Kings Park and dined at a fish restaurant in Fremantle. On Sabbath, he preached to 49 brethren in Perth, followed by a patio dinner at a member’s home. On Sunday, he flew back to Sydney, did not have a service because there are so very few Church people there, but instead toured the city and took a boat trip on Monday. On Tuesday, still during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Meredith flew to Melbourne, touring interesting areas, including a war museum, met with Church elders, and on Wednesday, the last Day of Unleavened Bread, he preached to about 55 people in Melbourne. On Thursday, he toured Melbourne more thoroughly.
Notice the contrast between 1962 and 2002. In 1962, the Church observed a Feast, the whole eight-day festival together, marked by twice-daily services during the entire time. The Church of 1962 was dedicated, inspired to identify sin, to overcome sin, and to put out sin, through the power of the Spirit of God made possible by the sacrifice of the Messiah. The focus was Christ’s sacrifice and love. God’s people demonstrated love, dedication, and zeal. There were outstanding, unusual, miracles of healing.
On the other hand, in 2002, there was no mention of a Festival, the Feast of Unleavened Bread; instead, Meredith referred to the First Day of Unleavened Bread and the Last Day of Unleavened Bread. There were no daily inspiring sermons during the Festival, no miraculous healings. Instead, there were meals, site-seeing tours, and fellowship, mainly minister to minister, instead of the whole Church together for the entire eight days of scintillating spiritual feasting. The intervening days between the first and last holy days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread were filled with business, meals and entertainment, touring, and traveling. Or, as they say in Australia, holiday. Instead of a Festival, a holy convocation, the 2002 Feast of Unleavened Bread was a holiday for Rod Meredith. Most of God’s people continued their daily routine, pausing only briefly for the first and last Holy Day services.
If you had to judge the character of the Church of God in 1962 versus 2002, which one would you say was zealous? Which one would you say was lukewarm, watered down?”