By Carl Stagner
It has been said that Harvey Carey is a “fire-starter”—that he “sets people and churches ablaze.” Of course, spiritual fire and fervor is the kind of blaze Harvey Carey’s high-octane preaching is known for producing. Those who attended the Church of God Regional Convention last year in Columbus, Ohio, have firsthand experience, as do thousands of others who attended IYC in the early 2000s. Thankfully the rest of the Church of God have another opportunity to sit under the explosive Spirit-led preaching of urban pastor Harvey Carey: Convention 2019 and General Assembly.
How does Harvey Carey understand the fires he starts through work of the Spirit? “Acts 1:8 speaks of the promise of power when the Holy Spirit would fall on the awaiting believing community in the Upper Room,” Harvey explains. “The Greek word for power is how we get our English word dynamite. I believe that encounters with God through his Word bring about power that is equivalent to dynamite being set off. Setting people and churches ablaze is the work of the Holy Spirit through the preached and taught Word.”
At the 2018 Regional in Columbus, convention-goers were drawn in by Harvey’s words and tone, committing to memory a meaningful message straight from the Lord. One of Harvey’s illustrations exemplified his unique, bold, and engaging style. “I’ve never seen salt do any good while it’s still in the shaker,” he quipped. Urging listeners to forego fear of contamination by being in the world, he continued, “Have you ever tasted ‘steaky’ salt? Neither have I! The steak tastes like the salt!” And Harvey should know. He’s the founder and pastor of a church in the urban heart of Detroit, Michigan. When others fled the inner-city for the suburbs, Harvey was moving into the neighborhood.
Dedicated to restoring the inner-city, Harvey Carey and Citadel of Faith have utilized community partnerships to advance God’s kingdom in areas hit hard for generations by poverty, drug addiction, homelessness, and hopelessness. Through his inspirational leadership, Harvey has helped bring people together across ethnic, cultural, and generational lines.
“I realize that marginalization and lack of hope can be one of the greatest deterrents of success,” Harvey explains. “I have a burden for the city. The word inner-city often connotes poverty, minorities, and those on the fringe of society. Although this is true, the inner-city is often an eclectic array of all kinds of people struggling to find out how to not only break out of cycles of poverty, but often how to co-exist, as well. I find the tug so strong to the inner-city because I feel this is where the greatest needs often reside in our American culture. I feel uniquely equipped to love, encourage, and empower those who are most vulnerable. I also feel a unique call to bridge the resourced to the under-resourced. If we are the ‘light of the world,’ I have always run to the darkest corners to ‘let my little light shine.’”
Harvey Carey’s deepest desire for his moment at the pulpit this June is for people to have a true encounter with God. Like IYC, Convention 2019 and General Assembly is fashioned for this very purpose, with an underlying prayer that lives will be forever changed. “Fire is rarely an end, but rather a means to an end,” Harvey reflects. “Setting people ablaze is the work of the Spirit to ignite change, movement, encouragement, and evangelistic fervor. Encounters with God that don’t change things are not true encounters with God! I pray that genuine encounters with God bring about change that is tangible and lasting.”
Register for Convention 2019 and General Assembly at www.chogconvention.org.