By Carl Stagner
Family has always been an important concept to the Church of God, and family continues to describe the multigenerational relationships built and sustained across the years and across the miles. Drawn together by a commitment to Jesus Christ and his church, and propelled by a desire to carry out his mission, the movement born in the early 1880s is still better—and stronger—when we’re together. The invitation has been given, and many have RSVP’d, for another big reunion slated to take place toward the end of June. Three Church of God Convention 2017 speakers recently reflected on the family nature of the movement and why they’re excited to attend the family reunion. Will you be there, too?
Allan Fuller had no idea what God had in store for his life when he stumbled through the church doors across the street from his childhood home. First Church of God in Edmonton, Canada, was the expression of Jesus to a young man who would ultimately serve one of the largest Church of God congregations in the country, Mountain Park Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona. “I love pastoring in the Church of God because I view it as the best of both worlds,” Allan explains. “Our church is not floating aimlessly in a sea of theological thought and practice. We are part of something bigger than ourselves—something that has deep roots and relationships. And, we get to do ministry in the way we feel led by the Holy Spirit. There is not a human authority that tells us what we can teach or who can be in leadership in our church. It’s the best of both worlds.”
Deep roots and relationships are important to Mike Fackler, too. The lead pastor of the thriving Highland Park Community Church in Casper, Wyoming, is looking forward to catching up with old friends and making new ones. “I love the people,” he explains. “Some of my dearest friends are a part of this tribe. Theologically, I line up, and I appreciate the doctrinal beliefs, but it’s the people and who they are in Christ that is the glue for me. Without the Church of God, I wouldn’t have the friendships with people I love so much. I thank God for his church!”
Not surprisingly, it all comes down to the bond between family members for Ann Smith, too. The former missionary to Asia and encourager-to-all is on a “journey of discovery,” and couldn’t be happier to share it with fellow journeyers in the movement. “The Church of God family has made it possible for me to live out God’s call on my life,” she reflects. “It has truly been about the richness of the relationships. In the Church of God, I think I have had some of the richest relationships that have so contributed to my faith journey and who I am.”
No wonder Ann, who has no qualms about revealing her age of ninety-two, longs to pass along this rich heritage to those who come after her. Therefore, what she is most concerned about revealing is “something of her heart” at the convention in Wichita. She explains, “I have a heart for the Church of God and the richness that has been mine. I want those who come after me to experience the same fellowship and richness of relationships that the church has made possible for me.”
Allan Fuller also wants to share from his heart at CHOG Convention 2017. “The room will be filled with men and women that I have grown to respect and appreciate in so many ways,” he explains. “I have never addressed a group of people with such global influence and relational depth.”
Mike Fackler, too, is humbled by the opportunity to address the family at this year’s reunion. “Fifteen years ago, when I went through the ordination process in the Church of God, I remember thinking that, if there’s any way I can ever serve the church as a whole, it would be an honor. I see this opportunity as an avenue to serve God’s church. It’s an honor because so many are more deserving than I. But I realize this, and I am humbled by it. So, my promise is simple: it will be Spirit-led, inspiring, and encouraging.”
Without a doubt, Church of God Convention 2017 will be Spirit-led, inspiring, and encouraging. But it simply won’t be the same without you there: June 20–23, at Central Community Church in Wichita, Kansas. Register before rates increase on June 5 at www.chogconvention.org!