Author Archives: chogministries

Fairfax Regional Day 2: Better Together

Wednesday night worship at the Fairfax Regional.

By Carl Stagner

Jesus is the subject. As Jim Lyon acknowledged on Tuesday at the Fairfax Regional Convention, some who have heard the line too readily dismiss it as simply a slogan or tagline. But it is so much more, as evidenced by the weight those four words carry and the way they’ve become part of the lexicon of the Movement—and tribes beyond. A common theme emerged during the Fairfax Regional Convention on Wednesday as the implications of “Jesus is the subject” became clear in the face of generational, geographic, cultural, political, socioeconomic, and ethnic division in the world and the church. Teachers Rod Stafford, Jo Anne Lyon, Kevin Earley, and Brad Lomenick called the church to recognize the greater life that awaits all of us when we bridge the gaps that would otherwise separate. Frank and open discussion at the Town Hall on racial unity, as well as opportunities for question-and-answer throughout the day, encouraged the Church of God to address root issues that stunt growth and suppress life. Continue reading

Fairfax First Day a Joyful Celebration of Life

Tuesday evening led by a team from Celebration Church at Columbia.

By Carl Stagner

Earlier this year, an addition to the Fairfax Community Church facility was completed. The new wing, solely devoted to youth and children’s ministry, nearly doubled the size of the building. Gathering for worship and teaching sessions inside the new addition on the first day of the Church of God Regional in Fairfax, Virginia, afforded convention-goers a unique opportunity. While the five electives held on Tuesday afternoon demonstrated a rich depth of ministry insight on the part of the stellar host church staff, activity throughout the day under the church’s new roof served as a constant reminder of the life-giving DNA of Fairfax Community Church. The ideal setting for the kickoff of the fourth 2018 Regional Convention set the stage very well for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit through an interactive dialogue with Ben Hardman and Ben Sternke, moments of worship led by praise teams from Fairfax and Celebration Church at Columbia (Maryland), and an especially potent message from the general director. Continue reading

CHOG Gathers Near D.C. for Two Days of Life-Giving Teaching, Worship

Fairfax Community Church

By Carl Stagner

Three Regional Conventions have come and gone this year, and more than a couple months have passed since the last one. Church of God people from across the United States and Canada, as well as some beyond, have already tasted these life-giving experiences wrapped up in two days of top-notch teaching, worship, and fellowship. Others have yet to see firsthand the power-packed potential in the lineup of Spirit-led speakers, electives, and activities. For them (and a few for whom one Regional Convention wasn’t enough this year!), the Fairfax and Safety Harbor conventions offer much reason for anticipation and expectation. Near a city well-known for division, the Church of God gathers this week at Fairfax Community Church to live out the unity of believers, lift up the name of Jesus, and experience anew the life he offers. Continue reading

Hurricane Florence: What We Know, What You Can Do

Pastors Mike Claypool (regional pastor for the Carolinas) and Robert Neace (state pastor for Virginia) have indicated today that, while certain areas in their states were particularly hard hit, Church of God congregations under their care have sustained little damage. For this we are rejoicing! There will certainly be clean-up and some repairs necessary in the aftermath of this storm—of this we are certain. Beyond our local congregations, however, this storm provides the opportunity for our sisters and brothers in affected areas to be the hands and feet of Jesus in communities and neighborhood near our churches. Continue reading

“That They May Be One” in Southern Africa

By Mike and Heather Webb with Corey and Abby Stocksdale

Over sixty individuals from six different southern Africa countries gathered in Botswana the first week of August 2018. They traveled by bus and plane to meet together for the second Southern Africa Church of God Conference. This is a conference that was dreamed up, planned, and implemented by the national leaders in southern Africa. Continue reading

Disaster Relief Update: Hurricane Florence

As Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast of the United States, Church of God Ministries is preparing even now to assist our congregations in affected areas. It is our plan to coordinate with state and regional pastors to assure immediate and appropriate response to this looming disaster. Should you wish to assist Church of God congregations in the Carolinas, Virginia, and extended areas with disaster relief, you may do so by making a contribution to the Disaster Relief Fund, #45.04502.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. John M. Johnson, Disaster Relief Ministries coordinator at Church of God Ministries, 800-848-2464, ext. 2107, or by e-mail at JJohnson@chog.org.

Thank you for your prayerful and financial support! Learn more about Church of God Disaster Relief at https://www.jesusisthesubject.org/disaster-relief/.

Côte d’Ivoire: A Church is Being Built!

Team working together to tie a post.

By Bobby and Jenny Mihsill

On a Sunday morning in the village of Sinfra, about an hour and fifteen minutes from where we live in Yamoussoukro, people sit shoulder-to-shoulder on backless wooden benches at the local Church of God. The church has been meeting in the living room area of the house that was built for the pastor, although they outgrew the space some time ago. Continue reading

Transformation Begins Outside the Walls in West Texas

Community block party at the new church facility.

By Carl Stagner

Deep in the heart of west Texas, surrounded by semiarid plains and prized oil country, you’ll find the small city of Odessa. Though it may not garner much media attention, a remarkable story of transformation is developing out of the city’s young Church of God congregation known as New Dawn Fellowship. Focusing more on discipling new believers and not simply packing the pews, the church has celebrated relatively slow, but healthy growth. The congregation, 90 percent previously unchurched, has rejoiced at more than 30 salvations, more than 30 baptisms, and multiple rededications in just three years. On August 5, after outgrowing its previous facility, the community-oriented church enjoyed a grand opening worship service in their new home, welcoming 154 people through their doors. Continue reading

AU Biblical Languages Professor Removes Barriers to Learning

By Carl Stagner

Two years ago, Church of God Ministries celebrated through a CHOGnews article the remarkable kingdom contributions of a blind minister to scholarly Bible study. Already awarded by the National Federation of the Blind, Sarah LaRose never set out to be recognized. This AU School of Theology and Christian Ministry professor had contributed to the improvement of tools commonly used by visually impaired persons to read documents, including the Bible. In the past two years, her love for ancient languages and her love for the Word of God have inspired her to continue doing as much as possible to remove barriers for the blind. One of her most recent accomplishments was translating the two-thousand-page Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English dictionary into braille, resulting in eighty braille volumes. Continue reading

Youth Pastors, Regions Unite to Prepare Students for Christ-Centered Leadership

Students worshiping the Lord at 3SLI.

By Carl Stagner

IYC and state youth conventions do a tremendous job inspiring students to come to Christ, to rededicate their lives to the Lord, and to accept the unique call God has placed on their lives. Most of the students leave these mountain-top experiences having experienced life change to one degree or another, but some also leave recognizing God has called them to lead. Just after the turn of the new century, several youth pastors from the Midwest came together to identify the best way to prepare such students for lifelong Christ-centered leadership. In 2003, 3SLI (then the Tri-State Student Leadership Institute, now Tri-Level) was launched to serve students in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. When West Virginia was added, the name 3SLI didn’t change—and neither did its resolve to come alongside emerging leaders. Continue reading

Church Pastored by CHOG Ministries’ Handel Smith Celebrates Urban Ministry Renewal

Handel Smith with Paul, sub-contractor for the church’s affordable homes ministry.

By Carl Stagner

Church of God Ministries staff are known for their roles they play in the collective work of the Movement. But among those who report to “base camp” day after day are individuals who are very active in their local churches. Some are Sunday school teachers, board members, worship leaders, associate pastors, and senior pastors. Others are laypeople who volunteer and get involved in numerous initiatives and projects at the local church level. When Handel Smith accepted the call to fill an executive leadership position at Church of God Ministries in Anderson, Indiana, he accepted a massive portfolio—oversight of the Movement’s influence and impact in the United States and Canada. His ministry Monday through Saturday—and countless Sundays, too—is extensive and expansive. Though a faithful attender of one of the Anderson-area churches when at home, it soon became apparent that he’d received a special leadership assignment that would both bring God glory and give life to a life-giving soul. Continue reading

Detroit-Area Churches Continue to Pursue Unity

Detroit-area pastors and leaders together in July.

By Albert Grant

Editor’s note—The Detroit, Michigan, metropolitan area is home to more than twenty Church of God congregations. While much of contemporary society seems to be looking for more reasons to divide, local Church of God pastors and laypeople of these churches are actively seeking ways to unite. They already have one reason to unite, and his name is Jesus. Of course, Jesus is the subject for these congregations, and they’re demonstrating once again this summer the power of uniting under the Name above all names. In January, we told the story of their efforts, and we’re blessed to report their pursuit of unity continues.
Continue reading

Unity in the Caribbean: Convention Helps Re-establish Regional Assembly

Lennox Boyce addresses the Caribbean-Atlantic Assembly in July.

By Carl Stagner

We love to talk about unity in the Church of God, but putting it into practice is often another story. Over the past two years, the national churches of the Caribbean-Atlantic region have taken steps to move beyond theoretical to functional unity once again. Though an assembly of national churches came together formally in the 1970s, recent years had seen a downturn in participation and interest. Until 2018, more than seven years had passed without a convention of the Caribbean-Atlantic Assembly. From July 28 through August 3, seven of fourteen national churches united in a visible recommitment to worshiping and working together for the advancement of the kingdom in their region. Continue reading

When Jim Lyon Invites You on a Mission Trip

(From left to right) Jim Lyon, Marcus Archer, TJ Samuelu, Sanjay Murmu, and Don Armstrong.

By Carl Stagner

There are some opportunities you just don’t pass up. One of them is an international journey with Jim Lyon. Perhaps you’ve experienced the wonder of a CBH trip to Israel with Jim as your tour guide. You know there’s nothing like it. Maybe you’ve not been blessed to go yet, but you’re already considering January 2020. After all, it’s not hard to imagine the general director of Church of God Ministries, who the Movement has come to know as a master storyteller, describe in vivid and fascinating detail the people and places of the Bible. Though not everyone has the chance to travel one-on-one with Jim, the pastor of Crosspoint Church in Natchez, Mississippi, recently did. But as Marcus Archer saw the effect it would have on his life, church, and community, he was reminded it wasn’t so much Jim who made it all possible; this was the hand of Providence at work. Continue reading

Kevin Earley: Aspiring Psychiatrist, Banker Becomes Pastor Instead

Pastor Kevin (far right) with his family.

By Carl Stagner

Much of the Movement knows Kevin Earley. He’s served as senior pastor for the past nine years at the church in Detroit founded by Dr. James Earl Massey. For the past three years, he’s served as the president of the National Inspirational Youth Convention (NIYC). He serves on the board of directors for Anderson University, and he authored the book Every-Member Ministry: Spiritual Gifts and God’s Design for Service, a valuable church resource published by Warner Press in 2013. But many may not know the story behind Kevin’s call to ministry and the journey that brought him to such positions of widespread influence in the Movement today. Continue reading