Category Archives: Church of God Convention

Big Apple is Mission Field for Regional 2020 Host Church

Brooklyn Bridge, New York City

By Carl Stagner

Home to more than 8.6 million people, New York City is the most populous city in the United States. The “Big Apple,” as it’s commonly called, is also the mission field for the Church of God of East New York, a congregation which has had a growing influence on the borough of Brooklyn for ninety years. Before a portion of the Church of God descends on the “city that never sleeps” next September 18–20 for the third-and-final Regional Convention 2020, ministry leaders from across the city and places far beyond will return for an anniversary homecoming at the church pastored for the last thirty-eight years by Clifton McDowell. A recent interview with Pastor McDowell shed light on what healthy, enduring ministry looks like among millions of neighbors in such a diverse, fast-paced, and densely populated environment. Continue reading

Unconditional Love Defines, Directs Regional 2020 Host Church

Madison Park lives out the love of Christ locally and globally.

By Carl Stagner

What drives the arms of the heavenly Father to welcome back the prodigal son? What brings the wanderer out of long-term drug rehab and back into fold? What then transforms him and ultimately calls him to pastor one of the most influential Church of God congregations in the country? What motivates those under his leadership to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and care for the orphans and widows in their community? What causes them to add tremendous hospitality, for the Church of God movement next June, to their already full ministry plates? At Madison Park Church of God in Anderson, Indiana, the answer is no secret. It’s unconditional love. Continue reading

Regional Convention 2020 Host Church a “Center of Hope” in Los Angeles

Pastor Geremy Dixon encouraging the saints at Center of Hope LA.

By Carl Stagner

Convention 2019 and General Assembly have come and gone, but the Regional Conventions scheduled across the country next year are on the horizon. Registration is now open for all three events as program details continue to be finalized for Inglewood, California (April 22–24); Anderson, Indiana (June 24–26); and Brooklyn, New York (September 16–18). Pastor Geremy Dixon, who spoke at CHOG Convention 2017 in Wichita, Kansas, says his Los Angeles congregation is “pulling out all the stops” for the three-day gathering next April. An interview with the influential leader offers a glimpse of the people and the ministry giving life to their city in such a way that merits the name “Center of Hope.” Continue reading

Regional Conventions 2020: The Way of Jesus

By Jim Lyon

Embracing the gospel of the kingdom has often been reduced to a simple and straightforward decision—a climactic choice “to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.” To be “saved” (and persuade others to become so) has pervasively been the focused target of much of American Christianity. Sometimes, this ambition has emphasized “church membership,” baptism, or an “altar call” as the end game. Continue reading

Reunited in Orlando: Convention 2019 Speaker, Attendee Connect 19 Years Later

Anne Nelson (far left) and Samir Salibi (second from left) in Orlando.

By Carl Stagner

All she wanted to do was feel closer to her Lebanese family. Anne’s great grandfather was Lebanese and used to write letters to her as a child. The more Anne learned, and the older she got, the more she desired to uncover her Middle-Eastern roots. What if she could communicate with her Lebanese relatives in their language? she wondered, especially after her grandfather passed away. Learning the Arabic language wasn’t in high demand among the public schools in her area, though, presenting a short-lived challenge. Since France had colonized Lebanon in the early to mid-1900s, Anne knew French would be an alternative option. It was Anne’s love for the language that led her to leave her hometown behind in 2000 for a journey that would ultimately bring together the stories of Convention 2019, Samir Salibi, and the financial controller for Servant Solutions: Anne Nelson. Continue reading

Convention 2019 & General Assembly: Pivotal

By Carl Stagner

“It feels a bit like Christmas. You plan for it, you wait expectantly for it, and then it’s over. But, is it really over?” Jim Lyon’s words resonated not only through the grand World Center Marriott ballroom, but also in the hearts of hearers full of the spiritual feast consumed for four days straight. Prayers and plans had certainly preceded such Christmas-like celebration, as members of the Church of God family from coast to coast and across the globe descended upon Orlando, Florida, for the first international reunion since 2013. It was more than a reunion, though, more than a spiritual feast, and not just a passing highlight on the calendar. As featured speaker Lori Salierno-Maldonado put it, “When we embrace our unique place in history, in his larger transcendent story, we can make our contribution to God’s kingdom for such a time as this!” What happened at Church of God Convention 2019 and General Assembly in Florida will neither stay in Florida nor in the past. This really isn’t over. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Honors Heroes, Launches Leaders

Paul Maxfield passes baton of leadership for Children of Promise to the Webbs.

By Carl Stagner

With the retirement of Servant Solutions’ Jeff Jenness and Children of Promise’s Paul Maxfield later this year, Convention 2019 was again an opportunity to celebrate the past. With the selection of new leaders to carry on the mantles of these ministries, and with the commissioning of missionaries Nate and Stacy Tatman, Convention 2019 also celebrated even more indications of a bright future for the Church of God. Special moments were set aside on the Convention 2019 and General Assembly schedule to mark these milestones. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Day Four: Just Do It

Harvey Carey speaks at Convention 2019

By Carl Stagner

Nike coined the phrase but, as General Assembly chair Diana Swoope insisted on Sunday at Convention 2019 and General Assembly, the Bible said it first. Before Sunday’s schedule was in full swing, Church of God people in Orlando, Florida, were likely already on information overload. After multiple messages, plenary sessions, conferences, and workshops, no one could complain about a lack of great content. But as the morning hours unfolded on Sunday, June 30, the Spirit was leading us to do something with it. As was mentioned in the General Assembly, in the context of resolutions, “let’s not sleep on it.” In the worship session that followed and closed out Convention 2019, Harvey Carey affirmed the necessary step of application. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Day Three: Rediscovering Our Mission

Samir Salibi and Jim Lyon lead Saturday morning’s session.

By Carl Stagner

Prayer has cloaked Convention 2019 and General Assembly, top to bottom, front to back, and all around. Behind the scenes, from before dawn until after dusk, formal and informal prayer gatherings and prayer walks have taken every aspect of this international event before the throne of grace. It really should come as no surprise, then, that God has come through on our behalf, delivering a Convention experience like never before. When encouragement is mixed with exhortation and inspiration is mixed with introspection, and the Holy Spirit’s orchestrating all of it, it’s hard to remain unaffected. That was certainly the case on Saturday. The General Assembly meeting, the interview with Samir Salibi, the heritage hymn sing, worship led by Amante Lacey, a timely message from Lori Salierno-Maldonado, and the commissioning of missionaries Nate and Stacy Tatman were only a few of the moments that helped us rediscover—and recommit to—our mission as individuals, congregations, and as a movement. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Day Two: History in the Making

A crowded General Assembly for the first time in a convention center.

By Carl Stagner

Were you present at Church of God Convention and General Assembly on Friday, June 28? If you tuned into the live video stream offered by Faithlife, you got a taste of the truly riveting plot that actually unfolded throughout the day. A variety of CHOG Convention firsts, a couple major transitions, an atmosphere conducive to life change, and a hearkening back to our heritage revealed a story over the past twenty-four hours that only God could write. If you were onsite, you know firsthand the powerful pieces that weaved together to make the day more than memorable. The indelible imprint left upon sisters and brothers from across the country is undeniable, as wounded hearts found healing, parched souls quenched their thirst on living water, and dry bones received life. On Day Two of Convention 2019, participants experienced nothing short of history in the making. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Day One: On the Move!

The Church of God was “on the move” at Convention 2019 on Thursday; the Pink Door 5K was only the start. Credit: Rebecca New-Edson.

By Carl Stagner

While most of the guests of the sprawling Orlando World Center Marriott were still sleeping on Thursday morning, June 27, some were lacing their sneakers and lining up at dawn’s early light. From the blast of the air horn signaling the start of the Pink Door 5K, to the last prayer breathed with a pastor in response to the opening worship session, the Spirit was active and effective on Day One of Church of God Convention 2019. So were those moved by the Spirit, who raced from start to finish and trekked from bedroom to ballroom, all the while shedding calories and burdens amid engaging electives, powerful preaching, and refreshing reunions. Continue reading

Natalie Grant to Open Convention 2019 Amid Great Anticipation

Natalie Grant

By Carl Stagner

One of the biggest names in Christian music today is about to lead the Church of God in an inspirational evening of worship, and anticipation is on the rise. Natalie Grant, who has brought to the radio and Sunday morning worship services numerous hits, such as “In Better Hands,” “The Greatness of Our God,” “Your Great Name,” “Be One,” “Clean,” and “More Than Anything,” will take the platform at the Orlando World Center Marriott on Thursday, June 27, at 7:15 PM. Her debut Church of God Convention appearance is especially meaningful for many who have already been touched by her compelling songs and uniquely personal fan engagement. It is equally meaningful for those who have only observed the authenticity behind her powerhouse vocals, both in concert settings and through her involvement on a variety missional fronts, including the fight against trafficking. While her seven Grammy nominations and $4 million in career sales are certainly impressive, it’s her heartbeat for Jesus and the desire to be his hands and feet that make the Church of God especially blessed to welcome Natalie Grant into our midst. Continue reading

Convention 2019 to Honor Heroes, Launch Leaders

Jeff Jenness | Paul Maxfield

By Carl Stagner

With the retirement of Servant Solutions’ Jeff Jenness and Children of Promise’s Paul Maxfield later this year, Convention 2019 will again be an opportunity to celebrate the past. With the selection of new leaders to carry on the mantles of these ministries, and with the commissioning of missionaries Nate and Stacy Tatman, Convention 2019 will also celebrate even more indications of bright future for the Church of God. Special moments you won’t want to miss have been set aside on the Convention 2019 and General Assembly schedule to mark these milestones. Continue reading

Convention 2019: An International Affair

Convention guests from Mexico and Ghana together in 2013.

By Carl Stagner

In 2015, the General Assembly passed a resolution directing the Church of God Convention to “encourage broad participation” by the Church of God around the world every fourth year. The first of these gatherings with an international emphasis is Convention 2019 in Orlando, Florida, June 27–30 (www.chogconvention.org). With Church of God speakers from outside the United States and Canada, approximately 170 international registrants to date, and a variety of missions conferences and events, Convention 2019 and General Assembly is gearing up to be one of the most international experiences of the Church of God in North America. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Speaker Fosters Refuge and Redemption in France

Samir Salibi with wife Joanna, sons Maxim and Liam.

By Carl Stagner

The Church of God in Paris, France, is relatively new. It wasn’t until 1989 that the Church of God came to Paris, and not by way of the Church of God in the United States and Canada. The Church of God in Lebanon planted the Church of God in Paris. So when the refugee crisis of 2015 resulted in more than a million Middle Eastern refugees arriving in Europe, the Church of God in Paris was uniquely qualified to respond. Samir Salibi, leader of the Church of God ministry in Paris known as @home, was once an immigrant, himself, also from Lebanon. As you might imagine, the Church of God is especially looking forward to what God has placed on his heart for Convention 2019 & General Assembly. Continue reading