Category Archives: Church of God Convention

Columbus Convention Host Pastor a Husband, Father First

Lady “C” and Bishop Clarke.

By Carl Stagner

Timothy Clarke wears a lot of hats, and not the kind that cover his head. For example, he’s the founder and chief prelate of Berean Fellowship, an international assembly and partnership with pastors of small to mid-sized churches and young pastors, and those new to pastoral ministry. He’s served as president of the National Inspirational Youth Convention. He’s the author of numerous books, including Bind Up Your Broken Heart, available from Warner Press. His title of bishop (also translated in Scripture as overseer or elder) is no misnomer; his spiritual oversight and influence is widespread across the Church of God. Among his numerous other roles, he’s served as senior pastor of First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio—host church for the next Regional Convention (June 19–20)—for the past thirty-six years. But of all the hats Timothy Clarke wears, his favorite are husband, father, and grandfather. 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

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

Times of Refreshing Descend on the Desert: Phoenix Regional Day 1

Ben Hardman, Matt Tebbe lead a training at Mountain Park.

By Carl Stagner

There was not a cloud in the sky as the sun rose on the first day of the Church of God Regional Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. April is no doubt one of the most beautiful months of the year in the Valley of the Sun. But when summer monsoon rains fall in July and August, locals know the dry desert becomes a flood plain. Hardened by weeks and often months with little to no rain, the desert floor cannot receive, but instead initially rejects, the life-giving droplets. Rainwater collects without absorbing into the ground, turning ordinarily dry washes into sometimes deadly, raging rivers. Like pastors and laypeople who minister to others but ignore their own souls, work must be done below the surface to prepare the soil for times of refreshment and revival. Beginning with an anointed discipleship training seminar led by Ben Hardman and Matt Tebbe, and continuing through a variety of excellent events held at Mountain Park Church on Tuesday, convention-goers were encouraged, convicted, and inspired to receive, hear, and embrace the Life. Continue reading

Church of God Gathers in Phoenix for First of Five Regionals

A desert Palo Verde tree in bloom Monday outside the incredible architecture of the new Mountain Park Church facility.

By Carl Stagner

Some are delighted to leave the spring snowstorms behind. Others are grateful to host the Church of God in their part of the country. Certainly the next couple of days at Mountain Park Church in Phoenix, Arizona, will be, for many, a reunion with friends from years past. The first of five Regional Conventions this year will also give attendees the chance to taste fried rattlesnake and cactus fries for the first time, whether or not that freedom is exercised at a nearby steakhouse. Everyone, however, will rejoice in the chance to receive, hear, and embrace life to the full, the kind of experience available exclusively in Jesus Christ. Through enriching conferences, inspirational worship, and powerful preaching—surrounded by desert scenery and warmed by Southwest sunshine—#LifePhoenix is set to spark a spiritual fire in the souls of Church of God pastors and laypeople alike. Continue reading

Heart of a Shepherd: Convention 2018 Speaker Pours into Pastors, Leaders

Ben Hardman speaks at the Philadelphia Regional in 2016.

By Carl Stagner

“I have always believed everyone needs a Paul to pour into you, a Timothy to pour into, and a Barnabas to encourage you.” Ben Hardman’s words come from personal experience. Returning to the Regional Conventions this year—all five of them—the featured speaker hasn’t always lived up to this aspiration. He knows how difficult it is to lead well, make disciples in a 21st-century culture, and balance the needs of self and family. But out of his struggles, he’s celebrated numerous successes and gained a wealth of insights on the ground. The co-founder of Gravity Leadership and host of the leadership training workshop “Making Disciples in the Way of Jesus” at each Regional Convention 2018, Ben’s unique combination of life experiences has captured the attention of Church of God pastors across the country. Continue reading

Jo Anne Lyon: Wesleyan Leader Influenced by the Church of God

Jo Anne Lyon

By Carl Stagner

No, she is not related to Jim Lyon. But, like the general director of Church of God Ministries, her influence stretches across the globe. Jo Anne Lyon, ambassador of the Wesleyan Church and former superintendent, has established herself more so a bold ambassador for Jesus Christ, both across the denominational spectrum and society. As one of the featured speakers scheduled for each of the five Regional Conventions of the Church of God this year, she is looking forward to spending extended time with a family of believers with whom she already feels close. Many may not know that Jo Anne Lyon was influenced herself by the Church of God as a young girl. Continue reading

Arizona Pastors Invite You to the Sunny Southwest

Sunset over the brand-new Mountain Park building.

By Carl Stagner

Yuma, Arizona, is the sunniest city in the United States. Ninety percent of the time, residents bask in sunshine, while even a couple hours to the northeast, the Phoenix area still sees an annual average of 85-percent sunshine. While no meteorologist or travel agency can guarantee beautiful weather, the odds are good that conditions will be pretty incredible for the kickoff Regional Convention of the Church of God in Phoenix, Arizona, April 17–18. I should know; I grew up just northwest of downtown. Continue reading

Influential Phoenix Church Founder Brings Fresh Perspective to First Two Regionals

Don Wilson

By Carl Stagner

Four families composed Christ’s Church of the Valley (CCV) when it began in 1982. It didn’t take long, however, for the church plant to outgrow the pastor’s Phoenix-area house, and numerous temporary sanctuaries in the years since. A movie theater, strip mall, school, and a giant tent were among the gathering places of CCV attendees until they were so numerous that one location couldn’t contain the crowds or their enthusiasm to take the gospel across the whole metropolitan area. In 2017, Don Wilson accepted his new divine assignment to channel what he’s learned to help other local churches and pastors thrive. Now the chance to hear from Don is available to the Church of God, an upcoming opportunity you won’t want to miss. Continue reading

The Last Shall Be First to Hear Convention 2018 Speaker Terry Rolen

By Carl Stagner

Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Columbus, and Fairfax. The Regional Convention makes a stop at these four locations before it ever gets to Safety Harbor, Florida. But the event in Safety Harbor will be no afterthought; neither will be the opportunity to hear from the Lord through his servant Terry Rolen. The lead pastor of Bayside Community Church looks forward to hosting the grand finale Regional Convention next year, September 25–26. While much of the movement won’t wait until then to receive, hear, and embrace all God has for them through next year’s Regional Conventions, those who do—and those who choose to visit more than one location—won’t be disappointed. Continue reading

Convention 2018 Speaker: Light to Hollywood, Living Water to the Desert

Jeff Whye

By Carl Stagner

All the glitter, glamor, and glitz of Hollywood can’t be outshined by the light of Christ reflecting through one of his own. Jeff Whye, known across the Church of God for his high-octane personality and knack for making people laugh, rocked Hollywood for a season but never lost his footing on the solid Rock. When God called him to the dry soil of the Southwest, his ambition was to point people to the source of Living Water. At Anderson University and Long Reach Church of God in Columbia, Maryland, before that, Jeff was molded and made into the man of God he is today. Overflowing with a love for reconciliation and restoration of relationships—between people and to the Lord—Jeff Whye looks forward to the opportunity to speak to the Church of God at the five Regional Conventions in 2018. Continue reading

Is God Calling You to Respond?

Photo: “And may You feed a hungry world through me…” (Gaither Vocal Band)

By Carl Stagner

You were there. Or you watched the live streaming. Perhaps you couldn’t make it to Wichita, but you listened in on the social media conversation. You were inspired by the bright new day of the Church of God, culminating in a convention experience that some have reported rivals that of the largest gatherings in Christendom today. You’ve heard the reports of God at work in the movement. You’ve sensed the Spirit bringing the movement together for such a time as this. You’ve caught the vision, and you want to take it back to your circle of ministry. Could it be that now God is calling you to respond? Continue reading

Just the Beginning: Convention 2017 Charts Course for Long-Term Kingdom Impact

Photo: “For the church triumphant is alive and well…”

By Carl Stagner

Trafficklight 2.0, set to advance freedom around the world over the next two years. Partnerships between Children of Promise, Warner Press, and Stephen Arterburn, created to protect the lives of children and touch the hearts of men and women. New missionaries commissioned, called by God to go to communities both domestic and international with the hope of Jesus. A lineup of speakers, illuminating God’s Word for such a time as this. The CARE Seminar, connecting our pastors and churches with an initiative designed to strengthen the financial health and spiritual vitality of the shepherds of our movement. Pastors young and old, ready to join the movement with renewed hope and enthusiasm for the direction we’re headed. The voice of the General Assembly, heard crying out against a historical culture of oppression, supporting a unified credentialing process, and affirming the need for a movement-wide structural review. And so much more. This was Church of God Convention 2017, and this was just the beginning. Continue reading