Mississippi Church Makes Jesus the Subject, Rallies with Churches Statewide

By Carl Stagner

Two-and-a-half years had built up to this single moment. Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Mississippi, would be the location of a church unity event bigger than any in recent history, and representing the widest spectrum of church and cultural backgrounds. Trey Hammond, who pastors Crossroads of Life Church of God in Byram, Mississippi, has held a special place in his heart for unity in the body of Christ. With this in mind, it was a no-brainer for he and his church to support and participate in the April 27 event, and the preparation leading up to the big day, which made Jesus the subject every step of the way. Continue reading

Convention 2019 & General Assembly: Pivotal

By Carl Stagner

“It feels a bit like Christmas. You plan for it, you wait expectantly for it, and then it’s over. But, is it really over?” Jim Lyon’s words resonated not only through the grand World Center Marriott ballroom, but also in the hearts of hearers full of the spiritual feast consumed for four days straight. Prayers and plans had certainly preceded such Christmas-like celebration, as members of the Church of God family from coast to coast and across the globe descended upon Orlando, Florida, for the first international reunion since 2013. It was more than a reunion, though, more than a spiritual feast, and not just a passing highlight on the calendar. As featured speaker Lori Salierno-Maldonado put it, “When we embrace our unique place in history, in his larger transcendent story, we can make our contribution to God’s kingdom for such a time as this!” What happened at Church of God Convention 2019 and General Assembly in Florida will neither stay in Florida nor in the past. This really isn’t over. Continue reading

Arise! CWC Announces Ministry to Empower, Equip Women in Ministry

By Carl Stagner

The Church of God has a long, rich history of affirming women in ministry. While the movement hasn’t been flawless in it support for women clergy, great strides have been made in recent years to return to our roots. After all, we stand upon a foundation today laid long ago by early women leaders in the Church of God movement, not to mention the women leaders recorded in Scripture. A new season of support for women in ministry has begun as Christian Women Connection announced Arise at Convention 2019 and General Assembly in Orlando, Florida. Formerly Qara, the new ministry branch of CWC stretches beyond its own history of rallying all women of the Church of God to a specific area of need—coming alongside and resourcing women in ministry. Continue reading

Faithlife Partners with the Church of God

Faithlife, which offers a suite of church management solutions, including its flagship product Logos Bible Software, will provide access to a unified platform for all Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) congregations through a new strategic partnership. On June 30, during Church of God Convention 2019 and General Assembly in Orlando, Florida, Jim Lyon, general director of Church of God Ministries, and Bob Pritchett, founder and CEO of Faithlife, officially announced the partnership that will provide a way to streamline the global movement’s communications and community. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Honors Heroes, Launches Leaders

Paul Maxfield passes baton of leadership for Children of Promise to the Webbs.

By Carl Stagner

With the retirement of Servant Solutions’ Jeff Jenness and Children of Promise’s Paul Maxfield later this year, Convention 2019 was again an opportunity to celebrate the past. With the selection of new leaders to carry on the mantles of these ministries, and with the commissioning of missionaries Nate and Stacy Tatman, Convention 2019 also celebrated even more indications of a bright future for the Church of God. Special moments were set aside on the Convention 2019 and General Assembly schedule to mark these milestones. Continue reading

From the Archives: The Church of the Living God

By Wayne M. Warner

Calvary knew neither candle nor cathedral. Roman overseas veterans crucified Jesus on crossbars between two filching thieves. This took place near the city dump of a community so cosmopolitan that Jesus’ title was lettered in three languages. Calvary provided a hangout for beatniks and social dropouts who ran the gamut of smut and filth. Thieves cursed. Soldiers gambled. Ladies avoided the place, but God was there. It was the place where Jesus died. Continue reading

Honduras: Hope in the Midst of Suffering

Special visitors in English class.

By Sarah Hunnicutt

Sometimes the broken things can threaten to overwhelm me, to overwhelm us. Sometimes it’s easier to look away from the broken parts and hope for the best. Sometimes it’s a balance knowing when to go deeper and when to step back. Maybe it’s not a matter of choosing all light or all dark, all rainbows or all difficulties. Perhaps the best way to bring a little heaven to earth, and a little healing to this brokenness, is to keep our eyes up and our feet on the ground. Maybe this is what Jesus meant when he said to be in this world but not of it. When you know who and whose you are, you can join this world in its brokenness because you know each person has a story, and each broken bit of yourself is what makes it possible to pour out the healing grace and love that’s become a part of you. Maybe this is what it means to love God and love others. Eyes up. Heart up. Hands open. Feet grounded. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Day Four: Just Do It

Harvey Carey speaks at Convention 2019

By Carl Stagner

Nike coined the phrase but, as General Assembly chair Diana Swoope insisted on Sunday at Convention 2019 and General Assembly, the Bible said it first. Before Sunday’s schedule was in full swing, Church of God people in Orlando, Florida, were likely already on information overload. After multiple messages, plenary sessions, conferences, and workshops, no one could complain about a lack of great content. But as the morning hours unfolded on Sunday, June 30, the Spirit was leading us to do something with it. As was mentioned in the General Assembly, in the context of resolutions, “let’s not sleep on it.” In the worship session that followed and closed out Convention 2019, Harvey Carey affirmed the necessary step of application. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Day Three: Rediscovering Our Mission

Samir Salibi and Jim Lyon lead Saturday morning’s session.

By Carl Stagner

Prayer has cloaked Convention 2019 and General Assembly, top to bottom, front to back, and all around. Behind the scenes, from before dawn until after dusk, formal and informal prayer gatherings and prayer walks have taken every aspect of this international event before the throne of grace. It really should come as no surprise, then, that God has come through on our behalf, delivering a Convention experience like never before. When encouragement is mixed with exhortation and inspiration is mixed with introspection, and the Holy Spirit’s orchestrating all of it, it’s hard to remain unaffected. That was certainly the case on Saturday. The General Assembly meeting, the interview with Samir Salibi, the heritage hymn sing, worship led by Amante Lacey, a timely message from Lori Salierno-Maldonado, and the commissioning of missionaries Nate and Stacy Tatman were only a few of the moments that helped us rediscover—and recommit to—our mission as individuals, congregations, and as a movement. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Day Two: History in the Making

A crowded General Assembly for the first time in a convention center.

By Carl Stagner

Were you present at Church of God Convention and General Assembly on Friday, June 28? If you tuned into the live video stream offered by Faithlife, you got a taste of the truly riveting plot that actually unfolded throughout the day. A variety of CHOG Convention firsts, a couple major transitions, an atmosphere conducive to life change, and a hearkening back to our heritage revealed a story over the past twenty-four hours that only God could write. If you were onsite, you know firsthand the powerful pieces that weaved together to make the day more than memorable. The indelible imprint left upon sisters and brothers from across the country is undeniable, as wounded hearts found healing, parched souls quenched their thirst on living water, and dry bones received life. On Day Two of Convention 2019, participants experienced nothing short of history in the making. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Day One: On the Move!

The Church of God was “on the move” at Convention 2019 on Thursday; the Pink Door 5K was only the start. Credit: Rebecca New-Edson.

By Carl Stagner

While most of the guests of the sprawling Orlando World Center Marriott were still sleeping on Thursday morning, June 27, some were lacing their sneakers and lining up at dawn’s early light. From the blast of the air horn signaling the start of the Pink Door 5K, to the last prayer breathed with a pastor in response to the opening worship session, the Spirit was active and effective on Day One of Church of God Convention 2019. So were those moved by the Spirit, who raced from start to finish and trekked from bedroom to ballroom, all the while shedding calories and burdens amid engaging electives, powerful preaching, and refreshing reunions. Continue reading

Convention 2019: God is Doing a New Thing!

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. Continue reading

Natalie Grant to Open Convention 2019 Amid Great Anticipation

Natalie Grant

By Carl Stagner

One of the biggest names in Christian music today is about to lead the Church of God in an inspirational evening of worship, and anticipation is on the rise. Natalie Grant, who has brought to the radio and Sunday morning worship services numerous hits, such as “In Better Hands,” “The Greatness of Our God,” “Your Great Name,” “Be One,” “Clean,” and “More Than Anything,” will take the platform at the Orlando World Center Marriott on Thursday, June 27, at 7:15 PM. Her debut Church of God Convention appearance is especially meaningful for many who have already been touched by her compelling songs and uniquely personal fan engagement. It is equally meaningful for those who have only observed the authenticity behind her powerhouse vocals, both in concert settings and through her involvement on a variety missional fronts, including the fight against trafficking. While her seven Grammy nominations and $4 million in career sales are certainly impressive, it’s her heartbeat for Jesus and the desire to be his hands and feet that make the Church of God especially blessed to welcome Natalie Grant into our midst. Continue reading

Convention 2019 to Honor Heroes, Launch Leaders

Jeff Jenness | Paul Maxfield

By Carl Stagner

With the retirement of Servant Solutions’ Jeff Jenness and Children of Promise’s Paul Maxfield later this year, Convention 2019 will again be an opportunity to celebrate the past. With the selection of new leaders to carry on the mantles of these ministries, and with the commissioning of missionaries Nate and Stacy Tatman, Convention 2019 will also celebrate even more indications of bright future for the Church of God. Special moments you won’t want to miss have been set aside on the Convention 2019 and General Assembly schedule to mark these milestones. Continue reading

Convention 2019: An International Affair

Convention guests from Mexico and Ghana together in 2013.

By Carl Stagner

In 2015, the General Assembly passed a resolution directing the Church of God Convention to “encourage broad participation” by the Church of God around the world every fourth year. The first of these gatherings with an international emphasis is Convention 2019 in Orlando, Florida, June 27–30 (www.chogconvention.org). With Church of God speakers from outside the United States and Canada, approximately 170 international registrants to date, and a variety of missions conferences and events, Convention 2019 and General Assembly is gearing up to be one of the most international experiences of the Church of God in North America. Continue reading