Category Archives: Church of God Convention

Convention 2019 Welcomes Return of Beloved Heritage Sing

Joe Gregory leads the event back in 2011.

By Carl Stagner

At Christmastime, it’s music which inspires the heart and stirs the soul for the season. Throughout the year, music activates memories and improves mood. In worship, it’s a vehicle of praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to the Lord Most High. But perhaps like no other genre of music, it is the heritage songs, in particular, that communicate the theology and core doctrines of the Church of God movement. These songs resonate warmly with the Christian experience, telling in joyful tones all Jesus is, what he has done, and what he promises to do. Powerful new songs may be heard more often today in most of our congregations, but the heritage songs have proved timeless through the years. That’s why Church of God Ministries is excited to announce the highly anticipated return of the beloved Heritage Sing to the Church of God Convention next June. 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

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

Fairfax, Safety Harbor Regionals Last but Not Least!

Worship at the Fairfax Regional 2018.

By Carl Stagner

Church of God pastors and laypeople who descended on Fairfax, Virginia, and Safety Harbor, Florida, in September were the last to experience the impact of the Church of God Regional Conventions this year. By no means, however, were they disappointed. They were, in fact, the first to hear featured speaker Kevin Earley and regional guest speaker Brad Lomenick. The tested strategies and insights of host pastor Rod Stafford were only available in Virginia, and the deeply personal dare to dream came only from host pastor Terry Rolen in Florida. Jo Anne Lyon and Jim Lyon spoke at all five Regionals, but instead of tired, overdone messages, they brought refined words, fresh with content, anecdotes, exhortations, and inspiration. After the third 2018 Regional, the events took a three-month hiatus. But based on the new life breathed into the Movement this September, it was a busy summer for the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

Safety Harbor Regional Day 2: Daring to Dream Again

Wednesday evening worship at the Safety Harbor Regional.

By Carl Stagner

Do you dream of a local church that is healthy and growing? Do you dream of unity across racial lines? Do you dream of those “greater works” that Jesus talked about, or victory in a particular spiritual battle? Wednesday, Day Two of the Church of God Regional Convention in Safety Harbor, Florida, was a day of rekindling the fire, reclaiming the passion, and resurrecting dreams once lost in a world prone to busyness, burnout, and a blurring of what matters most. Continue reading

Tuesday’s Scorching Sunshine Eclipsed by Light of Christ at FL Regional

Moments of blessed fellowship were plentiful on Tuesday.

By Carl Stagner

Less than a year out from the Church of God Convention 2019 and General Assembly in Orlando, many Church of God people got their first taste of Florida on Tuesday at the Regional Convention near Tampa. Sunshine, palm trees, and the Bay nearby were certainly sights to behold; more so was the prayerful response at the altar on Tuesday evening. During the day, convention-goers satisfied their cravings at the Melt Machine Food Truck but didn’t linger long, as the air-conditioned space within the walls of Bayside Community Church offered relief from the unseasonably hot and humid weather. Inside they found a diet of Living Water and the Bread of Life to be most refreshing, as anointed messages, inspirational times of worship, engaging conferences, and rich conversation marked the day. Continue reading

Final of Five 2018 Regionals Begins in Florida

Worship service at Bayside Church.

By Carl Stagner

Four Regional Conventions down, one to go! The fifth-and-final 2018 Regional Convention of the Church of God begins today at Bayside Community Church in Safety Harbor, Florida. On the heels of the Fairfax Regional last week, the Regional Convention in the Sunshine State will also feature some of the finest voices inside and outside the Movement: Jo Anne Lyon, Kevin Earley, Brad Lomenick, Ben Hardman, Terry Rolen, and Jim Lyon. Of course, the fellowship and fun is certain to follow, as festivities throughout the two-day experience focus on Jesus and the life he so richly offers his followers. Continue reading

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

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

God Breathes New Life into Host Church Ahead of Florida Regional

When renovation was underway in the sanctuary.

By Carl Stagner

It’s been noisy, a bit dusty, and very busy in the halls, offices, classrooms, and sanctuary at Bayside Community Church. The Safety Harbor congregation is experiencing a season of expansion and growth, not due to, but rather evidenced by, the upgrades happening throughout their facility. Not exhibiting an “if-you-build-it-they-will-come” mentality, the congregation is intentionally seeking debt reduction and giving a portion to missions, all the while improving the appearance and functionality of the space God’s entrusted to them. So, while they’re certainly making final preparations to welcome a cross-section of the Movement to their home (September 25–26), the enhanced worship and meeting environment is a byproduct of the new life God is breathing in their midst. Continue reading

Culinary Craftsmanship and Christ: A Columbus Caterer’s Calling

Michael Mayfield and team at First Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

Those who attended the Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio, in June came for connection and conversation, for worship and the Word. Others came for resources, and for reunion with friends and family. Few came expecting to tickle their taste buds, but for those who experienced the culinary craftsmanship of the catering at First Church of God, that’s exactly what they did. While the desserts and dishes at convention meals and receptions were a delicious delight, the sweet spirit of Michael Mayfield and his team is what left convention-goers most impressed. Continue reading

D.C.-Area Church to Host Fourth Regional Amid Incredible International Impact

Fairfax Community Church baptism celebration.

By Carl Stagner

On September 18 and 19, Fairfax Community Church in Fairfax, Virginia, will host the fourth Church of God Regional Convention of the year. Though they look forward to this opportunity to welcome a cross-section of the Movement to their campus, their day-to-day ministry will not come to a halt. At any given moment, life-giving ministry is made possible somewhere in the world because of this congregation. Their work with refugees at home and abroad, the twenty churches they’ve planted or restarted across the globe, and their bold neighborhood-by-neighborhood reclamation in and around the nation’s capital, are only three of numerous areas of incredible impact. Convention-goers will be inspired to see and hear more of Fairfax’s story in person with their stellar staff, but a recent interview with Pastor Rod Stafford offers the entire Movement a glimpse of just how they give life to their city, state, country, and world. Continue reading

Fairfax Host Pastor Furthers Family’s Influential Legacy

Rod Stafford preaching at Fairfax.

By Carl Stagner

Growing up in the shadow of his older brother isn’t an accurate description at all. Seventeen years separated the two of them, but very little else did. Sibling rivalry wasn’t an issue, neither was the need for either brother to be in the Church of God limelight. In fact, Gilbert Stafford was more of a second father figure for Rod, the senior pastor of Fairfax Community Church in Fairfax, Virginia. Rod Stafford considered Gil a role model, though he never planned to follow in his family’s ministerial footsteps. As the Church of God Regional Convention at his home church nears (September 18–19), Pastor Rod Stafford opens up about life, family, and calling. Continue reading