Category Archives: Church of God Convention

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

Former Catalyst Leader to Address Movement at Fairfax, Safety Harbor Conventions

Brad Lomenick

By Carl Stagner

Brad Lomenick served as lead visionary and president of Catalyst for over a decade. While credited with growing the conference into one of the most influential leadership brands in the United States, he hasn’t let that go to his head. In fact, one of the chief ingredients for effective leadership is humility, a virtue he’s highlighted in his latest book. Looking to Jesus as the ultimate Leader, Brad has first followed the ever-winding course his Captain has charted, even as it took him to places and heights he never planned on seeing. Born and raised in a Church of God home in Oklahoma, Brad Lomenick looks forward to speaking life into the Movement at the Church of God Regional Conventions in Fairfax, Virginia (September 18–19), and Safety Harbor, Florida (September 25–16). Continue reading

Columbus Convention Calls Church to Courageous, Contagious Christianity

Altars in use at the Church of God Regional in Columbus.

By Carl Stagner

Salt does no good inside the shaker. A candle is useless unless it’s lit. Though Jesus called the church both salt and light, many in the Church of God have observed that we’ve not lived up to that description, often shirking back, afraid of the darkness. At the Church of God Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio, pastors and lay leaders were present, but the especially powerful presence of the Holy Spirit was what really got people talking. The worship, the fellowship, the electives, and the spoken messages seemed finely tuned, clarifying the charge to the Church of God to boldly reclaim what hell has stolen. At a time when life is so widely taken for granted, when signs of true life are hard to find, and when lives are at stake for people around the world, the Church of God Regional Conventions this year are championing life at all stages, all ages, among all races, and under all circumstances. Perhaps like no convention before it, the Regional Convention in Columbus called the Church of God to courageous, contagious Christianity. Continue reading

Closing Day at Columbus Regional Catalyzes Church to Give Life

Harvey Carey speaks at the Columbus Regional.

By Carl Stagner

You would’ve thought you were in a sports stadium. The sanctuary at First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio, was loud—not because a celebrity athlete was making a great play, but because the Word of God was being preached with conviction and the Spirit’s presence was powerful. From the worship to the fellowship to the receptions, everything came together to drive home the theme of the Regional Convention and hint at next year’s Convention theme. For when God’s people are gathered with Jesus as the subject and begin to reclaim what hell has stolen, the life received is life that cannot be contained! Even Church of God Ministries staff who have attended two or three Regionals to this point have said there was something uniquely special about #LifeColumbus. Continue reading

Columbus Convention Opening Day “Spirit-filled,” “Tremendous,” “Great!”

The fellowship at First Church on Tuesday was sweet.

By Carl Stagner

The first day of the Church of God Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio, is now history, and the second day is now underway. Nearly five hundred people have enjoyed the numerous teaching sessions, electives, and meetings, as well as the incredible hospitality of First Church of God. Under the leadership of the praise team at First Church, convention-goers have experienced the presence of God in powerful ways—and neither the event, nor the Spirit’s active role, is over yet. As Day Two of the Regional Convention continues, many are still reflecting on the blessings of Day One. Continue reading

Church of God Gathers for Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio

By Carl Stagner

With outside temperatures high and the A/C cranked high in the sanctuary at First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio, this year’s third Church of God Regional Convention is up and running. Anticipation has also been high for this gathering, in particular, as it takes place in the Midwest (only a few hours from Anderson), and during the traditional “Camp Meeting” week. But the location and time of year aside, a quick glance at the schedule for those gathered for #LifeColumbus indicates two days of life-giving, life-transforming experiences ahead. Continue reading

Harvey Carey: Snapshots of an Inner-City Pastor, Church Planter

Harvey Carey’s heart is for all ages in the city.

By Carl Stagner

Jesus is the subject for Harvey Carey. The urban pastor and church planter—also an avid amateur photographer—isn’t affiliated directly with the Church of God, but he’s a familiar face to many in the Movement. The former IYC speaker was invited to speak again to the Church of God, this time at the Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio (June 19–20). His firsthand experience shining the light of Christ in the inner-city not only informs, but inspires listeners young and old, from downtown to down yonder. This product of the inner-city, turned proponent of the inner-city, challenges Christians to give life to their community—population three, or population three million. Continue reading

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