By Stephanie Collins
[Yesterday] I left my home in Anderson, Indiana, and made my way by plane to Orlando, Florida. It is here, this week, where the Church of God will hold its national Convention. It is not lost on me that I now live in the town where Anderson Camp Meeting took place in the old, historic “dome.” I have so many memories as a child and teenager, wandering around Anderson University’s campus, chasing fireflies, playing Frisbee in the fields by the concession stands, and catching the heritage and culture of this Movement, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. I didn’t realize, as I sat in those seats with thousands of people, that the pastors who spoke night after night would impact my life and my journey so greatly. It was mesmerizing. Even as a child, it was captivating to hear God’s Word spoken and proclaimed in what felt much to my little heart like holy ground. I now know that it was mesmerizing because the Holy Spirit was there, pursuing my heart in the mid-June heat of Indiana. I didn’t realize that, as I attended Kid’s Place, and later on the teenage conference sessions, how those volunteers and speakers would invest in me and have a part in God’s call on my life to ministry. I didn’t realize that one day those memories would only be memories and that a new day in the Church of God would come.
I am now thirty years old and I knew this year I needed to make the trip to Orlando. To be here, among God’s people, among my people—my tribe. It’s not an open dome in the middle of a college campus, but it is here, surrounded by palm trees and sunshine and children’s excitement for Disney, that I believe God is going to do a new thing. He is going to make imprints in the lives of children, teenagers, young adults, and senior adults. He is going to call us to something new, here and now. God is doing a new thing—do we perceive it? Are we anticipating a move of God and are we expecting his Holy Spirit to be here?
I encourage us—you and me—to be prayerful, truly prayerful—for this Convention. God is here, in Orlando, Florida, and he is calling us into deeper relationship and leadership in this Church of God movement. Let’s sit across from tables and connect over the broken bread placed before us. Let’s ask each other how we are doing, how we are really doing, and let’s stop long enough to listen. Let’s speak life over one another and over our Movement and let’s find out what God is doing in one another’s lives—what he’s speaking to us and to our congregations. My hunch is he is speaking similar things throughout our country.
Let’s pursue unity this week, Church of God. Let’s come eagerly and expectantly.
Stephanie Collins is the NextGen pastor of Madison Park Church of God in Anderson, Indiana.