If you wish to celebrate the festival for more than the two high days,
the following festival sites are open for the full week.
The dates in the Hebrew calendar are April 16-22, and
counting from the sighting of the new moon April 17-23.
Past Observance of the Festival
For most people who were in the Worldwide Church of God, “The Feast” means Tabernacles. Very few are aware that the Church, under its former name, the Radio Church of God, celebrated Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread for the full 8 days – just like Tabernacles/Last Great Day. Then in 1968 (the year the church was renamed Worldwide) all the Passover/Unleavened Bread festival sites were discontinued.
Why did Herbert Armstrong start the practice and then discontinue it?
“The May, 1962, issue of The Good News magazine reported on God’s Passover Observed World-wide. This article was written by Evangelist Roderick C. Meredith. Over 10,000 brethren of the Radio Church of God in seven major Festival locations in America, plus others in England, Australia, and around the world, observed a glorious Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Unlike the common practice today of having Passover and Night to Be Remembered locally in homes, and perhaps Holy Day services on the first and last days of unleavened bread, the practice then was to observe an eight-day festival with the whole church in central places, with multiple sermons and Bible Studies every day, just like the Feast of Tabernacles.”
(Days of Zeal Gone By, Richard Nickels)
In 1952 Herbert and Loma Armstrong travelled to Gladewater, Texas, for Passover and the 1st holy day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread. They were overwhelmed by the large numbers who came, not only from Texas, but as far afield as Wisconsin and Michigan.
As they were returning home to Pasadena, Herbert Armstrong wrote:
“We know now – God has shown us plainly and unmistakably – that we must have an adequate place of our own in this central location for the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread EVERY YEAR.
There were probably a few hundred others who would have wanted to be at this Festival this week, had they known in time, and if we had an adequate assembly place for so many to meet…
The proper place for meetings of this kind is not an expensive brick or stone or concrete church building on a main corner of a city in all the traffic and noise of the world – but to get CLEAR AWAY FROM THE WORLD – out into God’s own open beautiful nature, utterly secluded from the world!
Next Spring, we shall plan a full eight-day festival, to last thru the entire seven days of unleavened bread following the Passover, and all who plan to come are urged now, with a year ahead to plan, to start laying plans to come for the entire eight days …
Yes, this opens up AN ENTIRE NEW PHASE of God’s great work. This will provide a place for annual great conclaves of God’s people, where many who cannot come as far as Pasadena can meet together at God’s great festivals. What has happened assures that in a year or two there will be several hundred attending. WHAT A BLESSING THIS WILL BE! We who are co-workers together need to MEET TOGETHER as often as possible. The United States is a great nation, and we live long distances apart. We cannot all meet together every Sabbath. But most of us can, and WILL, meet and feast together in these SPIRITUAL feasts which God has appointed, and where we have HIS VERY OWN INVISIBLE PRESENCE with us!”
The Radio Church of God continued observing both festivals at many regional feast sites for the full 7 days until 1967. Why was observance of the full 7–day observance discontinued in 1968? Herbert Armstrong’s wife Loma died in 1967 and, lacking her counsel, he was quickly persuaded that maximizing church income for “the Gospel” should in future be the priority.
The article Days of Unleavened Bread – How Should They Be Observed? [p.4] by the Church of God the Eternal (supporting the change to observing only the 2 high days), explains:
“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 receipt of income for “the Gospel” 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 … 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.”