By Carl Stagner
For the better part of two decades, Andy Stephenson and Debbie Taylor have served the Church of God movement with excellence and integrity. Under the leadership of Andy Stephenson, for example, the International Youth Convention has flourished, and because of Debbie Taylor’s diligent formation of ministry partnerships, the Church of God has launched missionaries into all the world. This year, they both responded to the Spirit leading them to new ministry settings and opportunities. As 2018 comes to a close, it is with mixed emotion that Church of God Ministries announces a shift in the seasons of ministry for these two ministry assets.
Though perhaps most well-known for directing IYC, Andy Stephenson has also revolutionized the youth ministries of the Church of God over the last seventeen-and-a-half years. From leadership development, to training opportunities for students and leaders, to networking and resourcing, Andy has raised the bar of student ministry in the movement. In recent years, he’s also served under Handel Smith as the associate director of U.S.-Canada Strategy, also blessing the Church of God Convention with his second-to-none event planning gifts and talents. Hearing and accepting the closure of this season, and the dawn of the new, was far from easy. Still, the divine call to return to the local pastorate must be heeded.
“Over the last couple of years, I have had such a renewed hope and expectation for where God is taking the movement,” Andy reflects. “But in the last few months, out of the blue, God opened some doors that Candace and I can only attribute to divine appointments. After much prayer and many discussions, I will take the campus pastor role at the Carmel (Indiana) campus of Northview Church. We weren’t seeking anything out. I loved being able to see God move at Church of God Ministries, but after much prayer, we believe this is God’s appointment for us at this time in our lives. I believe God is at work in the Church of God movement and that God has Jim Lyon in the general director seat to help us move forward.”
Thankfully, Andy has agreed to stay involved in the ministry of Church of God Convention 2019 and IYC2020 during this time of transition for the movement. He’ll continue his role officially through December.
Also aiding in this time of transition, Debbie Taylor has agreed to remain at her post through the end of the year. She, too, has shed bittersweet tears at the coming change of seasons. When she looks back at her sixteen years of service with Church of God Ministries, she recounts her roles in missionary itineration and with Living Link. Because of Debbie’s efforts, pastors, churches, and individuals across the United States and Canada have successfully connected their ministry passions with global work and workers that match those passions. Debbie will never forget the relationships, the prayers, and the visible indications of God multiplying her impact at home and abroad. She welcomes this shift in seasons in order to help her husband get a brand-new business off the ground, utilizing the same relational and administrative skills that made her such an asset to Global Strategy. Debbie also looks forward to spending more quality time with her twenty grandchildren.
“Throughout the years, I’ve worked alongside some incredible leaders and co-workers at Church of God Ministries,” Debbie reflects. “I have gained a deeper global awareness and a better understanding of cultural differences through serving in missions. I’ve been blessed to have experienced firsthand the amazing work that God is doing through our missionaries and the national church. I believe that Church of God Ministries is at a good place with so much to anticipate and look forward to in the days ahead.”
With their departure, Andy Stephenson and Debbie Taylor leave behind a legacy of love and shoes very hard to fill. But they also leave behind their blessing for Church of God Ministries and for the movement across the country and around the world. Thank you for your prayers for them, their transition from one season to the next, and for the Church of God Ministries team and mission they so dearly love.
Learn more about the Church of God at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.