Heritage United Methodist Church in Van Buren will celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for two weekends in September with a two-day retreat and worship celebrations.
A two-day overnight event will be held Sept. 13-14 at Oaks Manor Conference and Retreat Center in Van Buren. The gathering will include camping and two meals, the main “feast” Friday at 6 p.m. and breakfast Saturday at 7 a.m.
Each meal will be followed by a worship service open to any who wishes to attend, said Becki Kneeland, welcome minister with Heritage Church.
“It’s an overnight stay where we will be putting up tents and just having prayer and worship,” Kneeland said.
Campsites will be divided into the 12 tribes of Israel, Kneeland said. Other activities during the retreat include crafts for kids, fishing and Israeli folk dancing, she said.
A worship service will be held Sunday, Sept. 22 at 10 a.m. to end the celebration. Heritage Church Choir and Arrows International Dancers will perform, Kneeland said.
Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, is the third of three annual feasts which the people of Israel are commanded to celebrate in Jerusalem.
During the Feast of Tabernacles is recalled the 40-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert and also is considered a harvest festival. It is also traditionally identified among Jewish people with the coming of the Messiah, according to International Christian Embassy Jerusalem website.
Chuck King, worship arts minister for Heritage, for 17 years was the music director at the Feast of Tabernacles celebration for the ICEJ, he said. That celebration has been held since every year since 1980.
“It became an event held specifically for Christians to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, but also to show solidarity with Jerusalem and it’s people,” King said. “And also to remind us of our Jewish roots.”
King added that all the Feasts of Israel - there are seven in total - are “significant and important” for Christians, and that Christians “have lost that heritage.”
“People are familiar with Passover, but not Feast of Tabernacles, which was a feast Jesus celebrated,” King said.
Christian churches across the world have entered into a “movement” to celebrate the Feasts, King said, but admits the idea for the celebration at Heritage came from Wes Hilliard, lead pastor.
“He said he wanted to be part of restoring the Biblical Feasts,” King said.
Heritage ministers also will be educating the church’s congregation about the other fall Feasts including Rosh Hashanah, or the Feast of Trumpets, and Yom Kippur, King said.
Heritage has held Passover celebrations for the past two years, but this is the first year for it to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.
“It’s a new experience for all of us,” Kneeland said. “It’s always been a huge blessing for us just to get back in touch with our Jewish-Christian roots.”
Tickets for the event can be purchased online or at the church. Registration for the event ends Sept. 10 at 5 p.m.