Arkansas Church Reclaims Dance as Expression of Worship

First Church worship dance ministry in action!

By Carl Stagner

Though dance appears twenty or so times in the Bible, and usually in the context of worship, it’s encountered some resistance in the church over the years. Certainly dance, like other artistic expressions, can be used in ways that bring dishonor to the Lord. But like so many Church of God congregations today, First Church of God in Paragould, Arkansas, has found a way to reclaim what hell has stolen. They’ve redeemed dance, and use it regularly to worship the Lord and communicate the message of Christ. Continue reading

Called to Connect the Inner-City to Christ in Connecticut

Special moment of prayer at New Antioch Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

New Haven, Connecticut, is home to Esau Greene. He grew up in a family well-known to the community, achieving success in school, excelling especially in sports. After college, his story took a turn for the worse. But before it was too late, Jesus Christ not only rescued him from a life of drugs but also called him into ministry. Knowing what it’s like to live on the streets yet highly educated with a degree in human services, and coming from a family of influence yet familiar with the allure of drugs, Esau Greene is God’s man for the job—urban pastor in a college city. Though the church he leads is only three-and-a-half years old, it’s already grown from 5 to some 130 people. Continue reading

CHOG Congregations Celebrate Black History Month

Church of God of East New York dressed for Black History Month.

By Carl Stagner

Cultural traditions and observances have long been a part of the church calendar. While they don’t demand acknowledgement in worship settings, they’ve been used effectively to establish connections between Christ and community, and between the present-day congregation and faithful servants of the past. From “Souper Bowl” Sunday to fall (Halloween?) festivals, from Labor Day picnics to celebrations of God and country (Independence Day), celebrations of otherwise secular occasions are often used by the church to reach neighbors, encourage fellowship, and/or put into practice biblical values. Each February, numerous Church of God congregations celebrate Black History Month and, in so doing, build bridges between church and society, often shining a light on topics sometimes overlooked or ignored by popular culture. Three Church of God congregations in the Northeast offer a snapshot of Black History Month in the Movement. Continue reading

Hunger Relief Funds Sent to Venezuela

“Christ Loves You” bags for Venezuela.

Venezuela has been experiencing a severe economic crisis since 2014. Hyperinflation is out of control, and regular minimum wage hikes have not kept up with the rising costs of food. It is reported that inflation is approaching 1 million percent annually! For example, in December a bag of sugar cost 500 bolivares soberanos. In the same bag of sugar in January cost 5,000 bolivares soberanos. Continue reading

“Culture-Changer” Gospel Artist Added to Convention 2019 Schedule

Amante Lacey

By Carl Stagner

It’s no secret that a wide variety of music styles characterize worship services in churches across the country. Too often, those styles divide churches and keep them from remembering that Jesus is the subject. But it’s not often that believers consider the culture of worship and the effect it has on the congregation and the surrounding community. Sometimes the culture of a Sunday service is really no culture of worship, at all. Amante Lacey, world-renowned gospel artist—and worship pastor at First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio—is committed to be a culture-changer in the arena of worship. His eclectic background, and his exposure to sanctuaries and auditoriums across the country as a road artist, have led him to recognize the need for worship that brings all of God’s people together in heart and voice. It will be no different for him when he steps up on the platform to lead worship at Church of God Convention 2019 and General Assembly. Continue reading

Serving Hope in Venezuela

Serving food – and hope – in Venezuela.

By Jason and Abby Torgeson

One of the countries of our region that has been making the news lately is Venezuela, and it’s a country that is particularly close to our family’s heart. Abby’s sister Emily studied in Caracas for a year and a half in 2003–04, and Abby had the opportunity to spend a month there in her first real overseas Spanish-immersion experience. Both were struck by the country’s tremendous beauty and rich culture. While the rumblings of discontent were evident even then, it’s been impossible to wrap our minds around the crisis that has exploded there over the past few years. Continue reading

A Place for Kids: Convention 2019 is for Children, Too!

By Carl Stagner

Children’s ministry is set to make a big splash at this year’s Church of God Convention, and not just in the expansive swimming pools, water slides, and splash zone. Kid’s ministry programming has returned to the Convention, and it’s slated to be better-than-ever this summer at the World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida, a city home to Walt Disney World and other attractions families will love. Warner Press and Church of God Ministries have partnered together to create KidzLIVE!, an original VBS-like experience in the mornings and structured childcare in the evenings. Pastors and laypersons with children will be excited—and perhaps relieved—to know their kids will have a place of their own while they take in all that Convention 2019 and General Assembly has to offer. Continue reading

From the Archives: God’s Moment

By Benjamin F. Reid

The pastor must not be a person who simply presides as a benevolent, kindly referee over a multitude of squabbling children.

The pastor must lead! He or she must develop firmness with love but must sense where the Spirit is leading and then call upon the saints to follow. The pastor must be both prophet to proclaim the will of God and overseer to coordinate all aspects of the church’s life and to channel its varied energies toward the accomplishment of God’s purposes. Continue reading

Lori Salierno-Maldonado: A Marvelous Heritage, A Reclaimed Future

Lori Salierno-Maldonado

By Carl Stagner

The daughter of longtime evangelist Gerald Marvel really needs no introduction. In fact, her influence is so broad that family heritage needs no mention to solidify her place in Church of God history. Still, a telling of her story, without the impact her family, and her brothers and sisters in the Movement, have had on her life, is anything but complete. Lori Salierno-Maldonado has been in the company of such notable influencers like Mother Teresa, but she couldn’t be more excited to spend time with her Church of God family in June. Her marvelous heritage, unexpected journeys, and reclaimed future combine to position her well to breathe, speak, and give life this year at Convention 2019 & General Assembly in Orlando, Florida. Continue reading

Côte d’Ivoire: Missing Miracles in Our Midst

Abigail and her friend who had been blind.

By LeAnn Sellers

We get busy with so many things in our lives, that we sometimes miss important things in the lives of our family or friends. Do we not also get so busy that we miss something amazing that God is doing right in our midst? Continue reading

President of Servant Solutions to Retire, New President Sought

Jeff Jenness to retire at close of 2019.

Editor’s note—On January 28, 2019, Jeff Jenness announced his plans for retirement from his twenty-six year post as president of Servant Solutions. A letter from Jeff to the Church of God movement follows, as does a letter from board chair, Merv Bennett, about the search process for the next president of Servant Solutions:

Dear friends throughout the church,

I have had the rich privilege of serving the Church of God and the broader church for the last twenty-six years. There are simply no words that I can capture to express the joy I have received in doing this work of “improving financial security for servants of the church” through Servant Solutions. Over these years I have been privileged to intersect with countless church pastors and leaders, agencies of the Church of God, local church elders and boards, Christian higher education institutions, and many parachurch ministries. I have been enriched in ways so much greater than what I have given. Continue reading

Deaf Ministry Family’s Inspirational Story Captured in 90-Minute Documentary

By Carl Stagner

Rachel was like any other newborn—cute, cuddly, curious. The daughter of Church of God music minister Marshall Lawrence and communication professor Terry appeared to be a perfectly healthy baby, even receiving an all-clear from her pediatrician. But there was one thing that set her apart, one thing that ultimately proved not a disability but a special ability. At fifteen months of age, Rachel was diagnosed as deaf, turning her parents’ world upside down and charting a course the family would never have expected to take. The emotionally gripping, thoroughly fascinating, and powerfully inspirational story of the Lawrence family’s journey with Rachel premiered late last year in Indianapolis as a ninety-minute documentary. Don Boggs, former Anderson University faculty member and producer of the early Gaither Homecoming videos, offers a close look at the making of his film. Continue reading

Congregations Take Advantage of Free Tax Resources

New e-books offered through ChurchEXCEL.

By Carl Stagner

In case you haven’t been following the news, a variety of changes to tax law in the United States went into effect last year. The resulting impact on Church of God ministers and congregations must not be ignored. Pastor, are you aware of how the legislation effects minister’s taxes? Has your church accountant considered the tax law changes and what they mean for IRS reporting? Thanks to Church of God Ministries’ partnership with ECFA through ChurchEXCEL, Church of God congregations are already taking advantage of online access to everything you need to know about minister’s taxes and church reporting—absolutely free. Continue reading

MLK and Faith: Former U.S. Congressman Speaks at MACU

Congressman Steve Russell speaks at MACU on January 23.

By Whitney Knight

In his first public appearance since leaving office this month, former U.S. House of Representatives member Steve Russell (R-OK) spoke at Mid-America Christian University today on the life and legacy of pastor and civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In his address, Russell called King “one of the greatest Americans” and emphasized his devout Christian faith. He said that King’s belief in God is still contested even today by the former preacher’s detractor. “He was the example of courage and a target of hate,” Russell said. “He was used by God to rally a nation.” Continue reading

The Future of Tech: Warner Pacific Launches SourceU

Ben Sand, Dr. Andrea Cook, Luke Goble

Warner Pacific University is excited to announce the launch of sourceU, a school of innovation and technology that will empower students with the right skills, education, and support to become leaders in tomorrow’s tech industry. In partnership with Portland, Oregon’s top code school, Epicodus, and the innovative team of cybersecurity professionals and educators at Riperia, sourceU combines the industry-focused skills that a code school brings with the supporting resources and expertise of a well-rounded Christian education from Warner Pacific University. Continue reading