Upcoming AU Events Attract Community Interest, Involvement

Truth, Faith, and Service Speaker Scott Russell Sanders

Writer and conservationist Scott Russell Sanders will be speaking in Nicholson Library on the campus of Anderson University on Friday, September 8, at 7 PM as part of the Truth, Faith, and Service speaker series. The event is free and open to the public.

Sanders’ work examines the human place in nature, the pursuit of social justice, the relationship between culture and geography, and the search for a spiritual path. He has written more than twenty books exploring these topics, and retired in 2009 as distinguished professor of English after thirty-eight years at Indiana University. Continue reading

Concerning Clergy Compensation: Concilio Connects with CARE

Photo: Concilio pastors pray together at the CARE seminar in Houston.

By Joseph Cookston

¡Buen trabajo! ¡Excelente! ¡Muchas gracias! We want to contextualize the information to our culture—thank you for the great desire to help us!

Openness and expectancy abounded throughout the CARE Seminar that opened the convention of the Hispanic Council (Concilio Hispano) of the Church of God in Houston, Texas, near the end of July. Pastors and spouses gathered and processed together for the three-and-a-half hour dialogue regarding pastoral compensation and financial planning. Again and again, participants expressed their gratitude for the intentional reach into the world of Spanish-speaking congregations of the Church of God. Continue reading

UPDATE: Northern California Seeking Regional Pastor

UPDATE: The Church of God of Northern California Association has resumed accepting applications for the position of regional pastor/executive director. Minimal requirements include a university degree; significant pastoral experience; strong written, oral, and change management skills; strong interpersonal skills, and a passion for church revitalization/planting. Recommendations and resumes can be sent to Roger Gilleland, Selection Committee, 1419 Eastern Ave., Sacramento, CA 95864, or by e-mail to rogernccog@gmail.com.

The deadline for submissions is August 31.

From the Archives: Vital Prayer—A Conversational Relationship with God

By Richard Willowby

Vital Christianity requires a vital prayer life. Most of us pray. It’s a daily habit: at meals, when we go to bed, in church—and fervently in times of desperation.

Some of us feel guilty about our prayer life. It is not regular enough, or long enough, or not spiritual enough. Guilt trips have been laid on us and unrealistic ideals of what prayer time should be like have been given as models for us. I once was told that Martin Luther said (probably a misquote), “I have so much to do today that I must pray at least seven hours.” Or perhaps you have heard that E. Stanley Jones spent two hours in prayer every evening—even when he was a guest at someone’s dinner party. Continue reading

Southern CA Church Restarts as Oasis in the Desert

The church’s worship team went from a pianist only, to a full band!

By Carl Stagner

Drought was setting at the church which had once been home to several high-caliber leaders, such as Herschel Rice and Dean Schield. Numbers had dwindled to thirty on a good Sunday, and a clear vision for the future didn’t exist. New direction was needed to make Oak Park Community Church of Claremont, California (formerly First Church, Pomona) the beacon of hope it once was. Under Jeff Comb’s pastoral leadership, could the congregation again become a wellspring of Living Water? Signs of life in the desert suggest an Oasis is on the horizon. Continue reading

Mountain-top Experience Affords Tremendous ViewPoint

The Cove on a clear, moon-lit evening.

By Carl Stagner

At 3,885 feet above the cares of the world, Cedar Cliff Overlook, just minutes from the Billy Graham Training Center, reminds guests that the Artist who painted such breathtaking scenery is the same God who wants to give us a chance to catch our breath. Even in ministry—or especially in ministry—moments of rest and renewal are a must! When the vantage point of a pastor or layperson constantly focuses the eyes on the next task, it’s time to retreat. The CBH Retreat to the Cove has long served as a prescription for long seasons of work, ministry, and hurry. This October 15–18, join Jim Lyon, Larnelle Harris, Joe and Merry Cookston, Melissa Pratt, Wesley Duff, and Rob Kespelher for a mountain-top experience unlike any other. And, as you pull away from the crowd, you’ll find yourself in good company with Jesus (Mark 6:31). Continue reading

On Bended Knee: Prayer Perspectives from the Pulpit and the Pew

Redmond Church of God prayer walk.

By Carl Stagner

Maybe it was a passage that seemed to leap from the pages of Scripture. But perhaps it was a pastor or a trusted friend. Or it might have been a mother whose bedside “Now I lay me down to sleep…” made an eternal impact. For so many believers, prayer is not simply taught; it’s modeled by another. That’s how it was for Jamie Wilkerson. Her mother would faithfully kneel down and pray with young Jamie morning and night, instilling in her a passion for prayer which burns to this day. Like Jamie, Joe Arena sees prayer as one of the most vital practices of the Christian. Involved in numerous prayer ministries inside and outside the church, Joe’s pursuit of God on bended knee isn’t unlike that of Pastor Dave Thompson and the Church of God in Redmond, Oregon. Their desire to intercede on behalf of church, community, nation, and world is nothing short of infectious. As the Church of God prepares for the 360 Revolution prayer and evangelism initiative this September, these three individuals offer some timely perspective on prayer. Continue reading

Warner Press Releases Outreach Resource for Children’s Ministry

Warner Press continues to grow its church and ministry books category with the recent release of Go: Beginning a Kid’s Outreach Ministry by Rachael Groll. Go will add depth to teaching resources for the church, bringing together new ideas and solid experience while working with often overlooked youth. Groll’s book can transform entire communities through a hands-on “sidewalk” ministry. Continue reading

Honoring 32 Years of Home Missions Dedication

Paul and Kathy Bentley; Barry and Shelly Bentley

By Carl Stagner

Thirty-two years of ministry dedication is no small feat, especially under challenging conditions. While it’s true that the kind of kingdom laborer deserving of recognition is also the kind that acknowledges no need of earthly honor, honor is nevertheless warranted. For more than three decades, the Bentley family has served among the Lakota people in Allen, South Dakota, without a lot of recognition. Despite the ebb and flow of resources, a society plagued by addiction, and the inescapable loneliness of the remote Upper Great Plains, their resolve could not be shaken. Paul and Kathy Bentley, and Barry and Shelly Bentley, who followed in their footsteps, would endure for the cause of Christ. They were committed. Now the Church of God is committed to honoring these heroes of the faith in a ceremonial celebration on August 19. Continue reading

IYC High School Band Goes ‘On Tour’

Photo: Liberation sporting their IYC2016 T-shirts.

By Carl Stagner

Just a few weeks remained until the big event. Though it was the first time these seven high school students had met, the responsibility to lead worship for thousands of teenagers in San Antonio, Texas, was on their shoulders. Whether they liked it or not, they had to learn to work together quickly. But almost immediately, it was clear that these once-strangers would become forever friends. After fulfilling their second and final obligation this July—leading worship for Leadership Summit in Anderson—they knew it wasn’t the end. God was calling the IYC2016 High School Band to keep it going, under a new name. Liberation has created quite the spiritual stir, exemplifying the rise of young leadership in the Church of God, and catching the attention of churches and state youth conventions across the country. Continue reading

Dale Gruver: Known for Worship, Called to Preach

Photo: Dale Gruver

By Carl Stagner

You know it when you see it—that deep love for Jesus, visibly overflowing from a heart that understands the gravity of what the Savior has done. It’s truly contagious, clearly communicating the reality of Christ to a world devoid of hope. Dale Gruver’s got it, and believes everyone can have it, too. Widely known for high-energy, joy-filled worship leading, Dale was called first and foremost to preach the gospel. After nearly a decade-and-a-half of providing worship leadership for the local church, camp meetings, and conferences, Dale accepted a senior pastorate in Alliance, Ohio, with similar enthusiasm. Though Dale’s full embrace of God’s call only came to pass a couple of years ago, extensive investment from mentors and his wide variety of ministry experiences prepared the man who rises to the pulpit at First Church of God. Continue reading

Before Disaster Strikes

Photo: Earthquake damage in Ecuador last year.

By Christy Anderson

Homes are lost, illnesses are spreading, and lives are shaken. These are the effects of disaster. When a hurricane strikes or when people are displaced by terrorism, help is always needed. It is easy to collect donations and say thank you, but what happens once those donations are given? Where do they go? What are they used for? In places like Haiti, where hurricanes and earthquakes strike, the funds are used to provide immediate relief and to rebuild homes. While it’s sometimes easy to forget to support Church of God Disaster Relief in relatively “quiet” seasons, the Church of God must be ready to provide relief before disaster strikes. Continue reading

School at the Shelter Prepares to Celebrate 100th Anniversary

Photo: Shelter Primary School girls

By Carl Stagner

In 2014, the Church of God was reintroduced to the Shelter at the Church of God Convention. That year, the ministry, which began housing unprotected orphan girls a hundred years earlier, held a grand celebration of God’s goodness and provision. At the same time, the Church of God rallied around the Shelter and Church of God Trafficklight in the preventative role it plays in the fight against trafficking. A few years have passed since the spotlight was shone brightly on this life-giving work in Cuttack, India, but now they’re gearing up for another celebration with similar significance. This November, the Shelter Primary School, on the same grounds as the Girls Shelter Home, will set aside three days of centennial ceremony and activity to commemorate its impact on the church and community. Continue reading

The Faster Pastor: Michigan Minister Competes for Charity

Photo: Pastor David Aukerman preparing to race!

By Carl Stagner

“…As the pastor behind me started to pass me on the inside, I gave the car more gas and tried to speed through the turn while staying high on the track. Turns three and four went well, but I had too much speed coming through turn one. I slipped up and over the edge of the track in turn two, down a short hill, and ran into the retaining wall on the other side—all in the span of two or three seconds.” No, this wasn’t the Brickyard 400, and the setting was neither Talladega nor Daytona. The competition was fierce, but not against each other; these pastors were racing for a charity of their choice. Though Pastor David Aukerman of Mt. Haley Church of God in Midland, Michigan, wasn’t ultimately named on the six-foot-tall cross-adorned traveling trophy, he did raise nearly $2,500 for the local homeless shelter. Continue reading

Jewel of the Philippines Glistens in Office of the President

Photo: Jewel Leodones speaks to the Church of God in North America.

By Carl Stagner

Every child is a treasure in God’s sight. Of this assertion, there is no discrepancy in the Church of God. As Jesus welcomed the children into his presence, congregations and individuals offer open arms to children all over the world, most of the time without even crossing an ocean. Through the child sponsorship ministry of the Church of God, individual and congregational reach is extended to parts of the world where hope for a brighter future is often only a dream. In this twenty-fifth year of ministry for Children of Promise, there is one Jewel that glistens especially bright, shining the light of Christ in church, community, and government. She’s living proof that dreams do come true. Continue reading