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Church of God convention to bring 700 members here

September 29, 2004

The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau has announced that the United Church of God, an international association, will be holding its "Feast of the Tabernacles" in Hagerstown. The eight-day event is expected to draw more than 700 church members to the city.

Denomination members are coming to Hagers-town from across the nation for this event.

The United Church of God will observe its annual "Feast of Tabernacles" this year from Sept. 30 through Oct. 7, according to Tom Riford, CVB president.

The world-wide event is observed in more than 30 nations. Attendees for the Hagerstown festival will be arriving here as early as today. Church services will be held daily in the Grand Ballroom of the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center Antietam Creek in Hagerstown.

A world-wide audience will also participate, because the Hagerstown site was selected for its services to be Web cast. Riford noted that there is a 7:30 p.m. opening service scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 29.

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"United Church of God members will be participating in services and seminars, family activities, and enjoying the many recreational opportunities that the Hagerstown area provides," Riford said.

According to CVB Director of Sales Betsy De Vore, "These church members make a tremendous positive financial impact on our local area hotels, restaurants and other businesses during this event. Many restaurants see tremendous business from the festival attendees. Some restaurants are placing welcome signs, and know that the church attendees have dietary needs, which includes not eating pork or shellfish." De Vore said many businesses have been contacted by the CVB, to help welcome the attendees of this large religious convention.

De Vore said several area hotels are working together to host Church of God members. Hotels that have been identified by the CVB include: the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, Days Inn, Microtel, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, and Super 8 - Dual Highway.

"This event means nearly 3,000 'room nights' for our community, which creates at least a $500,000 total economic impact for the citizens of Hagerstown and Washington County," Riford said.

He said the staff of the Convention and Visitors Bureau has been working very hard to bring this convention to Hagerstown. "We welcome this family event to our hometown. We're very pleased to be able to provide the Church of God with the amenities and facilities required to host such a significant group." Riford also indicated that the group would be welcome to return to Hagerstown. "We understand that we have the chance to bring this event back to our community for two more years. I am hoping that their positive experiences here this year will convince them to return."

According to United Church of God organizers, the Hagerstown attendees are part of a group of more than 17,000 people meeting simultaneously in locations around the world, including Australia, Barbados, Canada, Cameroon, Chile, France, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, Tonga, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe. There are 12 American sites that have been selected for observances, from Alaska to Florida.

The United Church of God celebrates the annual Holy Days found in the Bible, including the Feast of Tabernacles. These holy days were observed in Old Testament times as well as by Jesus, the Apostles and the early New Testament Church. The Feast of Tabernacles is an important annual reminder to church members of the promise of Jesus Christ to return to this earth and establish the Kingdom of God. The event also coincides with traditional fall harvest festivals.

Schedules of services and other events are available online at www.ucg.org.

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