Church of God Gathers for Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio

By Carl Stagner

With outside temperatures high and the A/C cranked high in the sanctuary at First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio, this year’s third Church of God Regional Convention is up and running. Anticipation has also been high for this gathering, in particular, as it takes place in the Midwest (only a few hours from Anderson), and during the traditional “Camp Meeting” week. But the location and time of year aside, a quick glance at the schedule for those gathered for #LifeColumbus indicates two days of life-giving, life-transforming experiences ahead. Continue reading

Delaware Church Strategy: Surprising the World with God’s Love

Pastor Edward and Jean Cross.

By Carl Stagner

After forty-seven years shepherding the flock at New Community Church of God in Wilmington, Delaware, Pastor Edward Cross has made more than a few observations about the surrounding culture. For example, there’s a prevailing suspicion that nothing’s ever really free, and if you’ve got something to offer, you must want something in return. But by building authentic relationships in the community, not just hosting events and doing more programs, the Delaware congregation is catching a few people off guard—in a good way! They’re demonstrating that they really do care, surprising the world with God’s love. Continue reading

Florida Pastor Offers Fathers, Husbands Tools for Life

Joshua and family celebrating the ministry of Man Wisdoms.

By Carl Stagner

Meet Joshua Zarzana. The young pastor from the Northwest has recently moved to the Southeast, accepting the lead pastor role at Spirit Lake Community Church of God in Winter Haven, Florida. But just because his ministry setting and title have changed doesn’t mean one of his greatest passions has dried up. In fact, Joshua’s heart for men’s ministry remains strong and seems only to be growing. And it shows, as his ongoing platform to reach men can now be accessed anywhere WiFi or data is available! Through regular video posts, Joshua’s “Man Wisdoms” outreach offers nuggets of wisdom tailored especially to the particular needs of men at home, work, church, society and more. With Father’s Day in view, the need for godly husbands and dads is perhaps arguably greater than ever, and Joshua Zarzana has chosen not to sit on the sidelines. He’s cheering his fellow man on to the goal set before them through Jesus Christ. Continue reading

All About Jesus in Alaska: Palmer Pastor Celebrates Unity, Mission

Nora and J. R. Stepp in scenic Alaska.

By Carl Stagner

One year has passed since J. R. Stepp became the first black pastor of a predominantly white congregation in Palmer, Alaska. But to Palmer Church of God and Pastor J. R., it’s really no big deal. While they certainly acknowledge the effective witness of multicultural ministry, they’re most concerned about the advancement of the kingdom. Simply put, they’re too busy preaching the gospel in word and action to spend time thinking about their unique situation. As the Spirit convicts and compels the Church of God movement to reconciliation and greater unity, Palmer Church of God offers a glimpse of what it looks like when Jesus is truly the subject. Continue reading

Harvey Carey: Snapshots of an Inner-City Pastor, Church Planter

Harvey Carey’s heart is for all ages in the city.

By Carl Stagner

Jesus is the subject for Harvey Carey. The urban pastor and church planter—also an avid amateur photographer—isn’t affiliated directly with the Church of God, but he’s a familiar face to many in the Movement. The former IYC speaker was invited to speak again to the Church of God, this time at the Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio (June 19–20). His firsthand experience shining the light of Christ in the inner-city not only informs, but inspires listeners young and old, from downtown to down yonder. This product of the inner-city, turned proponent of the inner-city, challenges Christians to give life to their community—population three, or population three million. Continue reading

Church of God in Nicaragua Takes Steps Forward Amid Challenges

Feeding ministry program in Nicaragua.

By Jason and Abby Torgeson

An important part of our new role as regional consultants involves traveling to check on the missionaries and projects in our area. For our first such trip, we decided to pay a visit to our neighbors to the north. Guillermo Herrera and his son Lesly are the pastors and leaders of the two Church of God congregations in Nicaragua. They are currently in process of transitioning from being launched by the Costa Rican church and funded by outside resources, to a self-sustaining ministry. The process has been challenging, as Nicaragua is one of the top-three most impoverished nations in the Western hemisphere. As Pastor Guillermo Herrera said, “Our congregation has eighty members. Eleven have jobs, and, of those, seven tithe.” Continue reading

Disaster Relief Update: Guatemala “Volcano of Fire”

On Sunday, June 3, Guatemala’s Volcán de Fuego—“Volcano of Fire”—erupted, spewing dangerous ash, gases, and lava from its 12,346-foot summit. To date, various news sources have indicated that at least 109 persons have been killed. Media coverage has shown footage of the massive and tragic devastation through the week, and now Church of God Ministries has heard from the Church of God in Guatemala. Continue reading

AZ Churches Coordinate Discipleship Strategy, Share Resources Nationwide

Matt Anderson uses the Journal with the Bible for a daily devotion.

By Carl Stagner

The Phoenix Collective was born out of a desire between Arizona Church of God congregations McDowell Mountain, Arcadia City, and Desert City—each with similar missional DNA and past working relationships—to be stronger together. While no legal binding exists, the three churches have formed an LLC to strategically share administrative services, payroll services, and health insurance. Beyond the practical nuts and bolts, there was a desire to be more creative in each church’s discipleship strategy. What if they united to produce a tool that would boost the effectiveness of discipleship among their three congregations? And what if other churches wanted to get involved? Last year, these what-ifs became reality as the first Journal was released. Since then, the results have been perhaps beyond anyone’s expectations. Continue reading

Moss Expands His Service in the Church of God

Bob Moss will soon become an off-site employee with Church of God Ministries. As he assumes the lead pastor role at Hope Community Church in Niles, Michigan, he will continue his responsibilities with Project Imagine and serve as a field representative and cabinet-level leader of Church of God Ministries, working to achieve functional unity within the Movement. Continue reading

Michigan Church Courageously Combats Flint Water Crisis

Distribution of water at West Court Street Church of God.

By Megan DeBruyn

It has been four years, one month, one week, and one day since Flint, Michigan has had access to clean drinking water.

The crisis began back in 2014, when Genesee County implemented a new pipeline designed to deliver water from Lake Huron to the residents of Flint. Shortly thereafter, the city announced that fecal coliform bacterium had been detected in the water supply and issued a water boiling advisory to neighborhoods on the west side of town. The situation continued to escalate into early 2015, when it was announced that the water could be causing serious health issues and an increased risk of cancer. Continue reading

From the Archives: Life Through Dying

By G. Q. Coplin

The student of botany is familiar with a species of plant known as the agave. This name is from the Greek, and means illustrious. The same plant is now commonly known as the century plant. It received this name because it was supposed to live one hundred years, at the expiration of which it put on its bloom. No one has seen this plant at its best without admiring its stateliness and beauty. However. the idea that the century plant does not bloom until it is a hundred years old is a mistake, for it often sends up its tall spike of flowers when only a few years old; but no sooner does it blossom than the plant begins to wither and die. It has reached the object and goal of its existence, and so it passes away. But from that tall spike falls the matured seed, and a hundred new plants spring up from the soil about the mother stalk. The parent plant gave up its life that new life might spring up in its stead. It meant sacrifice on the part of the old plant, but through its death, life has sprung up a hundredfold. Had the parent plant continued to live this would have been impossible. Continue reading

Hurricane Sunday: Florida Churches, Ministries Unite for Puerto Rico

By Carl Stagner

September 20, 2017. To most of the country, that date holds no particular significance. But in Puerto Rico, that date will long be remembered as the day everything changed for almost everyone. Hurricane Maria, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in one hundred years, left widespread devastation in its wake. Utility companies have struggled to restore power, businesses have struggled to reopen, and some churches have even closed their doors. A mass exodus of citizens, without precedent in the history of the territory, has only made the problem worse. Though media coverage has waned, the need for restoration of property—and hope—is more critical than ever. Moved with compassion and compelled by the Spirit, Florida Ministries, the Hispanic Council (Concilio Hispano), Helping Hands in Motion, and Florida congregations are coming together for Puerto Rico on the third of June for what they’re calling Hurricane Sunday. Continue reading

Church of God Côte d’Ivoire: Speaking French, Broadcasting Hope

John Walters (far left) and Jim Lyon (far right) with Radio Continental Convention attendees.

By John Walters

Côte d’Ivoire, formerly known as the Ivory Coast, is a French-speaking nation of over 23 million people. Nestled among 25 other French-speaking countries of West Africa, nearly 50 percent of its population is 25 years of age or younger. Although contributing factors to this discrepancy in demographic include HIV, AIDS, and war, this huge younger class is maturing and bringing a vibrancy and energy into the social fabric of Côte d’Ivoire that has great potential for the future. Continue reading

IYC Intern Engages in Sports Ministry, Captures Media Attention Abroad

Mark Shaner (left) with Austin Shaner (right) in India.

By Carl Stagner

Meet Austin Shaner. The December 2017 Warner University graduate and IYC2018 intern has his sights set on Christ and his heart tuned to students at home and abroad. An interdisciplinary ministry concentration on sports ministry from Warner left Austin with a deeper desire to spread the hope of Christ through relatable methods like recreation, but that’s not what recently captured the attention of the international media. With his father Mark Shaner, Austin traveled to Bangladesh and India this spring for a few scheduled—and a few unscheduled—ministry engagements. While in India, certain circumstances put him unexpectedly on the front page of the newspaper. Continue reading

History in the Making: Arizona Church Unearths Time Capsule

Digging up the time capsule.

By Carl Stagner

At 5536 N. 6th Street in Phoenix, Arizona, you’ll find sacred grounds. On these grounds, souls have been won to Christ. Believers have been baptized. Lives have been transformed. Memories—of both challenge and triumph—have been made. Of course, it’s not the address, the parking lot, or the building that make it so special; it’s the Lord, whose providential hand has preserved that space for his glorious work for three decades. And it’s the believers themselves, who had worshiped at another location even longer—since the 1940s. Though the name over the door has changed over the years, the Lord over all has remained the same. In view of The Gathering Place Church of God positioning itself for expansion, congregants from generations past-to-present recently reunited to unearth a time capsule, whose contents not only bring back cherished memories, but speak of an unchanging, eternally faithful God. Continue reading