Category Archives: Central

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

MACU Highlights Hispanic Heritage with Celebration of Culture

By Whitney Knight

Beginning Friday, October 5, Mid-America Christian University will host its semiannual Celebration of Culture event with an up-close look at Hispanic culture. At 10 AM on October 5, the university’s semiweekly chapel services will kick off with praise and worship by the OKC Family Church and Latina recording artist Jacqueline Chavez. Following musical performances, several MACU students will take to the stage to share culture and traditions from their home countries in Latin America. Their testimonies will be followed by a keynote address on the richness of various Latino cultures from Rev. Daniel Caceres from Iglésia Bautista Hispana Church in Norman, Oklahoma, with interpretation provided by MACU’s Dr. Enrique Cepeda. 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

The Clerical Collar-Wearing Pastor Who Planted a Church at Age 77

Pastor Dick Ogle

By Carl Stagner

Dick Ogle’s preferred daily dress is clerical attire—characteristic among some denominations, but certainly not common in the Church of God. Funerals are one of his primary methods of outreach—unusual, but surprisingly potent. Perhaps the most unconventional thing about this eighty-eight-year-old pastor is that he came out of retirement at age seventy-seven to plant a church in Hoisington, Kansas. Today, First Street Church of God is a healthy, growing, multi-ethnic congregation that proclaims the gospel with boldness, and sings straight out of the hymnal. Continue reading

Church of God-Christian Church Merger Still Loving, Serving Minnesota

Discovery Church providing a free oil change.

By Carl Stagner

In 2002, “the talks” started. Two churches, only about two blocks apart, in Saint Paul Park, Minnesota, were loving and serving in a strikingly similar fashion, with nearly identical theology and doctrine. The Church of God congregation was without a pastor at the time, and the youth groups had begun to participate in activities together, discovering they were better together than apart. As is often the case, the younger generation set the example, essentially paving the way for who would ultimately follow: the adults! Authors Barry Callen and James B. North had recently written a book about the similarities between the two Christian fellowships, and they’d heard about the possibilities in Saint Paul Park. Joining the meetings and helping foster dialogue, they celebrated when the Christian Church and Church of God congregation each voted unanimously to merge. A decade-and-a-half later, Discovery Community Church is still loving, still serving their community, state, and world for Christ. Continue reading

Phoenix, Oklahoma City Regional Conventions Commission All

Friendships, both old and new, are a Regional Convention highlight.

By Carl Stagner

Two of the five Church of God Regional Conventions 2018 are now history, but their impact is still being felt from Alaska to Alabama. Some may have flown to Arizona to escape winter’s clutch on spring, but they stayed to drink from an oasis in the desert. Others may have descended upon Oklahoma City for the fine barbecue, but they stayed because their cravings were satisfied in the life-giving teaching and fellowship. Still others attended, many as first-time guests of a Church of God convention, because this year’s variety of regional locations afforded them accessibility. Challenged to reclaim what hell has stolen, but inspired to fully embrace the Life, attendees of the first two Regional Conventions ultimately climbed in cars or boarded airplanes to return home, ready and resourced to change the world in Jesus’ name. Continue reading

Friendships Forged in Post-Hurricane Harvey Texas

All ages got involved in the building restoration.

By Noel Marquis

When Fairview Church of God of Falkville, Alabama, composed a work team to help with the restoration process at Orange Church of God in Orange, Texas, they expected to encounter hurricane damage. What they didn’t expect was the new and beautiful relationships they gained through the process. Continue reading

The Truth that Both Hurts and Sets Free: OKC Regional Recap, Day 2

Jeff Whye preaching the truth that sets free.

By Carl Stagner

It wasn’t so much the wind sweepin’ through the plain, but there was quite a bit of rain at Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Nevertheless, the dreary skies seemed to have little or no impact on the mood of those gathered for Day 2 of the Regional Convention of the Church of God; after all, God was busy raining down blessing after blessing throughout the day. From a riveting message by host pastor Marty Grubbs, to an evening graced with the amazing voices of Sandi Patty and Don Peslis, the closing day of #LifeOKC was anything but dreary. During the day and after the closing service, convention-goers absorbed as much as they possibly could from every hard-hitting sermon, uplifting worship song, meeting, seminar, reception, and divinely orchestrated encounter. As a result, the portion of the Church of God that chose to make the second of five Regional Conventions this year their event-of-choice went away with tablets full of notes and quotes, hearts full of awe and wonder, and stomachs full of great Oklahoma City barbecue. Continue reading

Coming Home, Sending Out: OKC Regional Reflections, Day 1

Commissioning prayer for Sarah Hunnicutt.

By Carl Stagner

Bob Brooke, pastor of visitation at Shartel Church of God in Oklahoma City, perhaps put it best: “[Yesterday was the] beginning of two glorious days at Crossings Community Church for the Regional Convention of the Church of God.” A review of Tuesday at the second 2018 Regional Convention reveals a day marked by inhaling and exhaling life—of coming home and sending out. It was a reunion of a portion of the Church of God family, but it was also a rally to mobilize believers for ministry and mission. Considering the moments of inspirational worship led by Josh Edington and the Crossings worship band, the soul-nourishing seminar with Ben Hardman, and the beautiful commissioning of a new missionary for Global Strategy—only a part of the blessings that define the opening day of #LifeOKC—it’s no wonder one would label such an experience glorious. Continue reading

Crossings Community Welcomes Movement Back for 2018 Regional

The Chapel at Crossings ready to receive Convention guests!

By Carl Stagner

The first Church of God Regional Convention of 2018 has come and gone, but the impact is still being felt by those who descended upon the desert Southwest last week. For several days, social media was abuzz with pictures and posts from the event, giving people across the country a glimpse of what these events have to offer. Beginning Tuesday, April 24, for much of the Church of God, especially those in the central region of the country, the “Receive, Hear, Embrace Life” experience will come into full view. A tremendous lineup of speakers and worship leaders are slated to inspire, challenge, and equip pastors and laypeople to reclaim what hell has stolen in their cities and towns. Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City is perfectly suited to open their doors, once again, for another life-giving gathering of the Church of God. Continue reading

Poplar Bluff, Missouri: Capacity Crowds Require a Coliseum

Worship on Easter at the Black River Coliseum (credit: Nico Cuevas).

By Carl Stagner

Last Easter, West Side Church of God in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, welcomed a crowd of about 640 people between two services. With average attendance running 17 percent higher this year than last, they expected about 750 people to be present on April 1. Leadership had to prepare for sufficient seating and ample parking, all of which could not be found at their facility. As they dreamed of the possibilities, they concluded that capacity crowds would require booking the local coliseum for their Easter gathering. Good thing they did—some 1,400 people showed up! That’s especially remarkable when you consider the church had declined to just 25 people less than four years ago. Continue reading

Trusting the Healer: A South Dakota Woman’s Testimony

By Michael Smith

Editor’s note—The belief in divine healing has been a long-emphasized doctrine in our movement, from before the days of the “crutches on the wall” in E. E. Byrum’s Gospel Trumpet prayer room, to modern-day testimonies of healing around the world shared in person, in books, through videos, and in CHOGnews articles. Though perhaps not understood the same way it always has been, healing certainly continues to come from a merciful, all-powerful God. The following is a story of healing from Rustic Hills Community Church of God in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Our prayer is that it will encourage you and serve as a reminder that God still works miracles today. Continue reading

Jesus, Stewardship, and KFC: Minnesota Church Seizes Local, Global Opportunities

Children’s ministry at New Life Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

In a town of fewer than 500 people, 100 to 110 children and youth can be found hanging out at one local hot spot in Bertha, Minnesota: New Life Church of God. A hub of community activity and a beacon of hope, the church is uniquely positioned to reach the next generation for Christ. Seizing the opportunity God’s given them, they’ve placed special emphasis on their youth ministry and their children’s ministry, which is called Kids For Christ (KFC). While New Life Church of God nears their final mortgage payment this year, they’re definitely not waiting to walk through every open door for the kingdom locally, nationally, and globally. Continue reading

Texas Church Tackles Trafficking on Freedom Sunday

By Jim Feirtag

At Parkgate Community Church, our vision is: “As Jesus gave his life for us, we give our lives for others in our community and world.” For us, that means we love God, love people, and love now! Partnering with CHOGTrafficklight falls well in line with that vision and mission. We were honored to join our brothers and sisters in the Church of God to commemorate Freedom Sunday again this year. We have been engaged in CHOGTrafficklight since the beginning. We believe strongly in this important cause for justice. We are convinced that it’s absolutely in line with our biblical mandate as a church. Continue reading

Making Waves in South Dakota: Radio Reaches Across Reservation

Tim Wardell on KJCD radio.

By Noel Marquis

In the midst of despair caused by grief, illness, joblessness and substance abuse, God is making waves in Allen, South Dakota—radio waves, to be exact.

Since CHOGnews last spoke to missionaries Tim and Kim Wardell in February 2017, the pastors have witnessed the incredible love of God at work on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the Oglala Lakota Nation. Before the end of 2017, the pastors prayed for direction regarding how Pass Creek Mission could serve God in the coming year. In response, Tim received a vision for a radio ministry that would reach listeners on the reservation and beyond. However, without necessary equipment, the Wardells were left to question how such an extraordinary idea could become a reality. Soon after receiving the vision, Tim was inexplicably inspired to attend a meeting in Pine Ridge; once there, he would realize why. Continue reading