Rejuvenating the Church of God in New England

Peace Dale Church of God (Rhode Island) elders in fellowship.

By Angela Sagesse

The Church of God in New England consists of ten congregations dispersed between Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. All six states that comprise “New England” consistently are ranked within the top ten of the nation for having the lowest church attendance, thus making this the least-churched area of the country. Yet, the New England Church of God is wanting to turn that around! Continue reading

Carols of a Reformation

By Carl Stagner

Editor’s note—This article from December 2010 was one of the first feature stories Church of God Ministries’ staff writer Carl Stagner ever wrote for the CHOGnews. This year, we bring it back for your Christmastime delight. Enjoy!

The Church of God is known for its singing. Early pioneers of the reformation movement expressed their joy in the Lord through the writing and singing of songs, such as “I’m Redeemed,” “A Child of God,” and “I Will Praise Him, Hallelujah!” Many of the heritage songs of the Church of God are still being sung today. But did you know that these heritage composers wrote Christmas carols? Continue reading

Seeing God’s Vision, Joining God’s Mission: A Florida Church’s Radical Community Life

Pastor Shawn engages in conversation at a community event.

By Carl Stagner

“Church in the Palms” is spelled out in large letters on the side of the building at 3812 Jog Road in Greenacres, Florida. This does not mean the congregation that goes by the name feels any sense of ownership of the place. For them, the property is God’s to accomplish what he wants done on it. Is it really any wonder then that the ministry hub houses a variety of nonprofits, including ten other churches with worship services taking place in English, Spanish, and Creole? In the past few years alone, Pastor Shawn Allen has led the church to embrace a strategic vision that would inspire as many Christians as possible in Palm Beach County to see God’s vision, connect with God’s people, and join God’s mission. The radical, yet conceptually simple approach to what the pastor calls “missional unity” is already bearing tremendous fruit in and for the community. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Welcomes Return of Beloved Heritage Sing

Joe Gregory leads the event back in 2011.

By Carl Stagner

At Christmastime, it’s music which inspires the heart and stirs the soul for the season. Throughout the year, music activates memories and improves mood. In worship, it’s a vehicle of praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to the Lord Most High. But perhaps like no other genre of music, it is the heritage songs, in particular, that communicate the theology and core doctrines of the Church of God movement. These songs resonate warmly with the Christian experience, telling in joyful tones all Jesus is, what he has done, and what he promises to do. Powerful new songs may be heard more often today in most of our congregations, but the heritage songs have proved timeless through the years. That’s why Church of God Ministries is excited to announce the highly anticipated return of the beloved Heritage Sing to the Church of God Convention next June. Continue reading

Retired Police Chaplain Looks into Rearview Mirror, Sees Ripe Mission Field Ahead

By Carl Stagner

John Crose is the son of influential Church of God missions figures, Lester and Ruthe Crose. With a name like Crose, you might assume he’d follow in his family’s footsteps abroad. God did call John to the mission field, but of a different kind. For twenty-one years, John Crose took the hope and healing of the gospel into all the world of police chaplaincy. His new book, The Exciting World of a Police Chaplain, chronicles firsthand accounts of ride-alongs with law enforcement, difficult death notifications, pastoral counseling, and sharing the gospel with unbelieving officers, family members, and persons affected by police-related matters. Though retired today, his experiences of the past predict an ever-increasing need for police chaplains. Continue reading

From the Archives: The Annual Christmas Rush

By Gary L. Kendall

Christmastime always brings a mixture of emotions for me. I love to celebrate the Lord’s birth and it is a thrill to see so many catch God’s spirit of giving. People seem to smile more, laugh more easily, and enjoy life more in general during this season. But life always takes on a hectic side, too, with packed parking lots, people standing impatiently in checkout lines, and advertisers rudely taking advantage of our generosity. Unfortunately, this frantic flurry often overshadows that little town of Bethlehem lying so still and peaceful, nestled back in the hills. Continue reading

All-Volunteer Parachurch Ministry Meets Needs, Gives Life in Arkansas

Lines of people waiting to be blessed by Healing Waters.

By Carl Stagner

Consider what just happened the weekend before Thanksgiving. Three hundred thirty meals were served and over two hundred bags of food were given away. For free. No catch. Even more exciting—thirty-eight individuals accepted Christ. But this wasn’t a special holiday outreach. Revival services weren’t planned, and no traveling evangelist had been brought in to deliver an impassioned sermon. Obviously, this wasn’t Easter, yet numerous non-churchgoers were within earshot of the gospel. Far from an unusual occurrence at Healing Waters Outreach Center in Shannon Hills, Arkansas, these kinds of Holy Spirit-happenings take place on a weekly basis! The parachurch ministry supported by the Church of God in Arkansas now has a connection through one of its founding members to the Urban Missions team of Church of God Ministries. Robert Holt gives us a glimpse into the life-giving, far-reaching impact of Healing Waters, and why so many—at least 125 people—choose to volunteer their time every week for the work. Continue reading

Drunkenness: A Sobering Reality in Church and Society

By Carl Stagner

A November 16, 2018, article published in USA Today spells out the latest statistics on the rise of alcohol-triggered deaths in the United States, especially over the last decade. While the media has shone the spotlight on the horrific and very real epidemic of opioid abuse, the article suggests the alarming truth that alcohol kills far more people each year through liver cirrhosis, cancer, pancreatitis, and suicide—not to mention traffic accidents. Meanwhile, the conversation about alcohol has started again in the Church of God, as the general director of Church of God Ministries issued a column on the subject in the October issue of Move! in the wake of the hotly debated Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings. David Sebastian, dean emeritus of Anderson University School of Theology and Christian Ministry, has talked about the subject for years in the classroom, at conferences, and at camp meetings. As he’s observed, drunkenness is a sobering reality in church and society. That’s also the title of his new book, which challenges Christians to re-examine the issue of alcohol use and abuse. Continue reading

The Small-Town Texas Church with a Big Heart

Burkeville Church of God exercising down-home hospitality.

By Carl Stagner

Blink and you might miss Burkeville. The Texas town boasts a four-way stop, a bank, a few businesses, and a school. If you ever find yourself passing through, keep your eyes open—you don’t want to miss Burkeville Church of God. There you’ll find some of the most down-to-earth, welcoming people you could ever meet. They’ll treat you with hospitality fueled by their love for the Lord, the family of God, and those not yet adopted into the family. The oldest Church of God in Texas is certainly not the biggest, but they’ve got a heart that exceeds the size of the state. Recent upgrades and a deep desire to reach the youth and teens in their community warrant a closer look at the Christ-centered congregation. Continue reading

Lilly Endowment Awards Church of God Ministries Grant for CARE 2.0

By Carl Stagner

Earlier this year, Church of God Ministries was invited by Lilly Endowment to apply for a grant to extend the fruitful ministry of CARE—Clergy Advocacy and Resource Effort. The week of Thanksgiving brought with it news that a $500,000 grant has been awarded to carry on the program until at least 2021. No longer an initiative, the program known as CARE has been so well received by the Church of God movement that the goal is to sustain the work indefinitely. CARE 2.0 will bring with it continued engagement of pastors and congregational boards in pastoral retirement assistance and educational debt relief that have become synonymous with the program since it began in early 2016. Continue reading

If You’re Thankful

By Carl Stagner

In 1985, Laura Numeroff wrote a book that would become a modern children’s classic. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie soon led to numerous children’s books that filled in the blanks of a variety of “if-then” statements. For example, “if you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.” I’ve discovered the same theme in my daily life. Continue reading

Disaster Relief Update: California Wildfires

By Carl Stagner

The multiple wildfires raging in California are reported to be the deadliest in history. Entire communities have been wiped off the map, as the list of missing persons has climbed to well over a thousand. Even the East Coast has observed the effects of the fires as haze drifts across the country. Though rain is in the forecast, the much-needed moisture is also likely to cause dangerous mudslides and even more devastation. Since the wildfires began, Church of God Ministries has urged prayerful support over social media. Now your financial support is desperately needed, too. Continue reading

Children of Promise and the Role of Women

Romina Portillo and Marlene Viray

By Kirk Bookout

Children of Promise was founded with a heartfelt desire to help children among the poor of the world by meeting immediate needs, and by making a long-term impact. In doing this, other positive things have happened, and continue to happen, in powerful ways. One way we see this is in the role of women in many countries we serve. This is often reflected in societies that have not traditionally offered opportunities for women. Continue reading

Seasons of Ministry Shift for IYC Director, Global Strategy Specialist

Andy Stephenson and Debbie Taylor

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. Continue reading

Learning Curves in Botswana

Long lines form outside ATMs in Botswana.

By Tim and Joy Coppess

We have encountered several learning curves in adapting to our new home. Our role in this first year is to build relationships and begin learning the language (Setswana) and culture of Botswana. Since people are drawn to their mother tongue, this focus will help us more effectively carry out our assignment of facilitating discipleship and leadership development. Continue reading