Black Woman Pastor Takes White Kansas Congregation to New Heights

Presephoni (center, middle row) with part of the congregation.

By Carl Stagner

Liberal, Kansas, never saw it coming. The city of only about 20,000 people couldn’t have imagined the day. Only 3.8 percent of the population is African American, and the new pastor of South Church of God is both black and a woman. Presephoni Fuller is, in fact, the first black pastor in the ninety-year history of the church. Still, Pastor Presephoni takes it all in stride. She doesn’t have time to ponder the uniqueness of her situation; she’s too busy reaching deeper into the community and taking the Kansas congregation to new heights. Continue reading

From the Archives: Are We Thankful?

By W. E. Monk

Editor’s note—The following article by W. E. Monk was published in The Gospel Trumpet in February 1919. The first World War had come to an end only a few months earlier.

It has not been so very long since, when in almost every prayer that was uttered, God was besought to bring the war to a close; in fact, special meetings were called in many communities for the purpose of beseeching God to bring to an end the awful carnage. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Worship Leader Becoming Familiar Face, Voice

Josh Edington leading worship at CHOG Convention 2015.

By Carl Stagner

Some may not recognize his name, but most are beginning to recognize the face, the voice, the talent, and the heart of Josh Edington. On staff at Crossings Community Church for the past ten years, the pastor of contemporary worship arts for the largest Church of God congregation in North America has begun to build a reputation outside those walls. Beginning in 2015, at the second Church of God Convention outside Anderson, Indiana, Josh first strapped on his guitar and lifted his voice heavenward on behalf of the Movement. Then, when the traveling Regional Convention made a stop in Oklahoma City this year, Josh was there. CHOG Convention 2019 and General Assembly won’t be held in Oklahoma City, but Orlando, Florida, instead. Still, Josh will be there! Yet, as familiar as his excellence in worship leadership is becoming in the Church of God, many still may not know the young man behind the guitar. Continue reading

New “Jesus is the Subject” Resources for the Local Church

By Carl Stagner

In the years since Jim Lyon’s 2013 speech before the General Assembly, the phrase “Jesus is the subject” has proven to be far more than a tagline; it’s now part of the language that unites the Church of God as a movement. It’s a statement that encapsulates and energizes the Christ-centered focus that’s helping churches from coast to coast take giant steps to advance the kingdom. At the same time, the church visitor brochures Meet Us at the Cross and Who is the Church of God? are in high demand, though their content is becoming more and more outdated. Especially as congregations are sensing new wind in the sails of the Movement, a desire to inform the first-time guests and person-in-the-pew about the Church of God has only increased. On the heels of the popular “Jesus is the subject” word search puzzle books, Warner Press has responded to the need by producing a booklet that churches can buy in bulk for informational displays, guest gift bags, and discipleship classes. Continue reading

Servant Solutions: Seven Decades of Dedication to the Movement

Servant Solutions staff meeting.

By Carl Stagner

In 1949, what was once strictly a retirement program for ministers of the Church of God came into being. Not everyone was ready for such a program, however, as a few questioned the lack of faith in God’s provision that allegedly accompanied enrollment. Received initially with mistrust, Servant Solutions has since become one of the most trusted partners of the Movement. With time, training, and technology, the former Board of Pensions of the Church of God has morphed into the holistic ministry of “improving financial security for servants of the church.” As Servant Solutions nears its seventy-year mark in ministry, it’s clear that the endorsed agency of the Church of God looks very little like it did at the beginning. But that’s more than okay with our pastors and their families, our missionaries, our local churches, and our educators. They’ve been unleashed to do what God has called them to do, more confident than ever in the expertise and faithfulness of today’s Servant Solutions. Continue reading

Pastor Engages the Enemy in Adventure of a Lifetime

Chaplain Miller prays with a Marine Corps Special Operations Team prior to a mission in East Africa.

By Carl Stagner

Calculated risk. Often used in the financial sense, Baron Miller uttered the term in the context of fear. Every time you take a drive in the car or catch a flight on an airplane, is there a chance you might not make it back? Sure, there is. But that doesn’t cancel your travel plans. When firefighters have to rush inside a burning building, or law enforcement are called to a chaotic scene, they don’t hesitate. There’s risk involved, but these community heroes trust their training and their gear to help them stand strong in the heat of the battle. The parallel to the Christian experience is inescapable; the soldier of the cross must engage the battle, must reclaim what hell has stolen. Might it get scary? Possibly. Could it get dangerous? Certainly. But at the fingertips of every believer is an arsenal of spiritual weapons and an array of training options to fully engage in the fight. Engaging the enemy—that’s what Baron Miller’s life has been about—from the halls of the Church of God he founded in Bellingham, Washington, to the shores of Guantanamo Bay. Continue reading

Excellence in Ecuador: Seminary Intensive Trains Growing Number of Leaders

Ecuador Seminary Intensive 2018

By Timothy and Angelita Downing

We tried something different, and…it was a success! Each year, the Church of God seminary in Ecuador offers a week long intensive to help train leaders in the Ecuadorian church. This year, we expanded the reach of the seminary by offering more class options, moving to a more spacious location, and including more Ecuadorian leadership. Last year, we had a total of twenty-five participants, with one international student. This year, we had seventy-six participants, with several international students! Continue reading

When Ministry Gets Messy: A Washington Church’s Incarnational Approach

RCC team at work on a Service Project Sunday.

By Carl Stagner

“In the beginning was the Word, as the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1 NIV). Community was whole and pristine, at the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. But the thief, who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), did exactly that. Community was ruptured between humanity and God, and between one another. Since the Fall, God has been working to restore that community, to bring people back to himself. Did you know he’s chosen to use you and me to accomplish the task? But we’ve lost our sense of community, downplayed the power of presence, and ignored the methods of Jesus. Our neighbors are crying out for hope all around us, we hear their voices, but we’d prefer to write a check to the nearest charity. We don’t want to get our hands dirty. In contrast, Roosevelt Community Church, a modest-size Church of God congregation in Bellingham, Washington, is taking back what hell has stolen and destroyed in their neighborhood. They’re boldly giving life where the enemy of our souls has snatched it away, simply by being in, for, and with their community. Continue reading

Renewed into the New Year: NIYC Gives Believers Wintertime Boost

Worship at the NIYC.

By Carl Stagner

In the Church of God, the summer months are known for conventions and camp meetings. A variety of retreats and conferences often take place in the spring and the fall. But as the chill of winter sets in across much of the country, few spiritual retreats and getaways are available. In the wake of the commonly exhausting Christmas season, in view of the blues caused by all the grays outside, and in response to cabin fever, perhaps winter is when retreat is most vital! Thankfully, the Church of God has an answer—the National Inspirational Youth Convention (NIYC). Between Christmas and the end of the year, believers spanning generations and racial lines come together for an annual experience of worship, community, and renewal as the New Year dawns. Continue reading

Christ’s Birthday Observance 2018: Great Joy for All

By Shelly Short

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” —Luke 2:10 NIV

Advent is a time for adoring Jesus, waiting, watching, and having hopeful expectations. We remember the first coming of Jesus, we celebrate his presence among us, and we pray for his glorious return. One of the ways Christian Women Connection helps you keep Jesus at the center of the Christmas season is by offering a meditation journal and prayer guide. Dive into his living Word each day and come away with something to feed your joy. We live in tumultuous times filled with uncertainties. As we celebrate Christ’s birthday, remember he is our source of living water and can quench all our thirst. Continue reading

Complementary Resources for Movement Address Doubt, Suffering

By Carl Stagner

“Life is less about waiting for the storm to stop and getting all the answers to our ‘why’ questions. Life is more about learning to dance in the rain, living joyously by faith, without all the answers.”

These words continue to echo in the minds of listeners who tuned in to the Beeson Podcast late this summer to hear Dr. Timothy George interview prolific Church of God author, and former seminary dean, Barry Callen. The topic: suffering. As Barry Callen contends, suffering is one of the most meaningful ways Christians experience the heart of God. His 2018 book The Jagged Journey demonstrates this in the person and passion of Jesus, as it offers practical theology to encourage readers to embrace, instead of avoid, suffering. A complementary work, God in the Shadows, confronts the seemingly contradictory themes of faith and doubt. For such a time as this, these two books bring the Movement face-to-face with issues as relevant as ever, yet too often swept under the rug. Continue reading

A Sure Bet: West Virginia Pastor’s Kid Reclaims “Wasted Years”

Duane singing “He’s All I Need.”

By Carl Stagner

Duane Clarke was raised in a Christian home with loving, godly parents. As a PK—“pastor’s kid”—he heard the gospel preached more times than he could count, whether at Middle Grave Creek Church of God near Moundsville, where his father was senior pastor, or at Ash Avenue Church of God, where his father had served as Sunday school superintendent. At age fifteen, while attending youth camp, Duane went to an old-fashioned altar and asked Jesus into his heart. Soon after, he followed Jesus’ example in baptism. But when this young sports fan checked into a local bar to purchase Lakers tickets, he was inadvertently introduced to sports betting. It wasn’t long before he was thrust into the world of gambling, and for thirty years, he couldn’t find his way out. Hell stole much from Duane Clarke’s life, but Jesus would have the last word. Continue reading

Michael Aftermath: Post-Hurricane Help Needed Now (updated Oct. 31)

The cross remains on the Panama City church’s sign!

By Carl Stagner

One hundred fifty-five miles per hour. That’s how powerful Hurricane Michael’s winds were when the Category Four monster made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, on October 10. Meteorologists are calling the storm the strongest to ever hit the continental United States since Hurricane Andrew of 1992. In its wake, Michael left behind widespread catastrophic damage, leveling homes and businesses, and claiming the lives of at least nineteen, as the search for missing persons continues. The Church of God was not left unscathed; to date, two congregations have reported damage to their church building and their homes. As information continues to be collected by state ministry offices and Church of God Ministries, Church of God congregations across the country are already responding to the imminent and critical needs of funds, supplies, time, and labor. Continue reading

Former Inmate Empowers Others through Education

Joel Whiteside

Joel Whiteside’s first stint in prison lasted twenty-eight months when he was just seventeen. After release, Joel struggled to make good decisions and soon his life was spiraling out of control. A three-year sentence in 2008 was a turning point. He realized that it was time to change the trajectory of his life. Joel’s personal story of transformation fuels his nonprofit organization, Been There, Done That, which supports those who are re-entering society in Cowlitz County, Washington, after incarceration. Continue reading

Disaster Relief Update: Hurricane Michael

As of 12:00 PM EDT, October 10:

Church of Ministries has contacted Pastors Ken Love (state pastor for Florida), Tim Teague (chairperson for the General Assembly in Alabama) and Mike Claypool (regional pastor for the Carolinas) ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Michael. Lines of communication have been established and we are now awaiting the onslaught of this storm. Please join us in praying that this major storm will pass through quickly with a minimum of damage. After having seen the devastation of Hurricane Florence (thankfully, Church of God congregations in the Carolinas did not experience major difficulties in that storm), we anticipate extensive wind and water damage across the region. Continue reading