Category Archives: Great Lakes

Michigan Church Courageously Combats Flint Water Crisis

Distribution of water at West Court Street Church of God.

By Megan DeBruyn

It has been four years, one month, one week, and one day since Flint, Michigan has had access to clean drinking water.

The crisis began back in 2014, when Genesee County implemented a new pipeline designed to deliver water from Lake Huron to the residents of Flint. Shortly thereafter, the city announced that fecal coliform bacterium had been detected in the water supply and issued a water boiling advisory to neighborhoods on the west side of town. The situation continued to escalate into early 2015, when it was announced that the water could be causing serious health issues and an increased risk of cancer. Continue reading

Building Up to IYC2018: Indiana Church Breathes Life into Students, Community

Renovation at the new NSpire Church location.

By Carl Stagner

The Latin word spīrāre inspired the name of the Church of God in Westfield, Indiana, now known as NSpire Church. In the Hebrew and Greek, its meaning is understood as having to do with breath, life, wind, and the Spirit. Building up to IYC2018 (July 2–5), the church is preparing to work with IYC students by hosting an Indianapolis-area Impact Day project. As the church transitions out of a season of building and expanding, their partnership with the International Youth Convention is but an extension of who they already are. Leading into a new season of outreach, NSpire Church is breathing life into their community and will soon breathe life into the lives of teenagers attending IYC. Continue reading

Fifty Years and Counting: Ohio Pastor’s Longevity at One Church Inspires

The congregation honoring Pastor Walls for his faithful service (Image courtesy Ferman Brown Photography).

By Carl Stagner

They came from near and far. Pastors, politicians, family, friends, and members of the community descended upon East Second Street First Church of God in Xenia, Ohio, for a very special and very unique occasion. On Sunday, March 18, notable Church of God figures addressed the over-capacity crowd, including—but not limited to—Ed Foggs, former executive secretary of the Church of God; Miki Merritt, presiding elder of the National Association; Demetrius Booker, associate state pastor of Ohio Ministries; Timothy Clarke, senior pastor of First Church of God in Columbus; and Dennis Kidd, senior pastor of Front Street Church of God in Hamilton, Ohio. Morning and afternoon services, complete with preaching, presentations, and powerful moments of worship, celebrated the sixty-five-year ministry of Dr. J. Douglas and Lady Donna Walls: fifty faithful years at one church. Continue reading

Dozens Saved, Baptized as Revival Breaks Out in West Liberty, Ohio

By Carl Stagner

Nate Wilcoxon wasn’t having the best day. It was Baptism Sunday, and four of the eight originally scheduled to be immersed had backed out at the last minute. Not only that, he’d been at the church half the night, trying to get the rusted old baptistery ready for water—something it hadn’t seen for quite a while. Still, the pastor of First Church of God in West Liberty, Ohio, persisted, preached a bold message of repentance, and told the story of his own unplanned-yet-providential baptism experience. When Nate asked if anyone else wanted to be baptized, thirty more individuals came forward, roughly half of whom accepted Christ on the spot. March 4, 2018, will go down in history as the day revival swept through West Liberty, Ohio. Continue reading

Three Children Find Family through Children of Promise

Northside supporters holding up “We love you…” signs.

By Maria Neathery

On Jan. 1, 2018, Northside Church of God in Springfield, Ohio, made the compassionate decision to sponsor three children—Simon, Natan, and Paskali—from three different countries: Nepal, India and Tanzania. When the church received the child profiles encouraging them to support Children of Promise, they felt the need to not just support one of the children, but all three. Continue reading

Faith Promise, Individuals Fuel Ohio Church Mission Trip to Belize

First Church missions team stands behind a Belize flag.

By Johnny Creasong

The First Church of God of Shelby, Ohio, will send a mission team to the Central American country of Belize for a nine-day construction work camp in March. Led by Larry Cramer, president of Quality Plumbing and Heating of Shelby, this year’s group includes Michael Graham, Lydia Laug, Gwen Robertson, Larry Cramer, Sally Bevier, Mike Skidmore, and James DuBois (not pictured), a former church member now living in Nevada. Lydia, a fourteen-year-old freshman from Crestview High School, the youngest member of the team, is following a family tradition of service. Lydia’s two older sisters have gone on work camps to Belize previously. Continue reading

Victory in Jesus: Fort Wayne Ministry Gives Life to Women in Need

Victory House leadership celebrates a success story!

By Noel Marquis

Since its creation in 2010, Victory House has offered hope and extended the message of Christ’s love to over 150 women in need. Victory House, which is hosted by Destiny Life Center, a Church of God congregation in Fort Wayne, Indiana, serves women in transition by offering them temporary housing and advancement opportunities. In addition, Victory House provides the chance to grow closer and delve deeper into God’s Word. Continue reading

Local Churches Set Aside Differences, Establish and Sustain Community Ministry

Volunteers from local churches help sustain the ministry.

By Carl Stagner

Another title of this article could have appropriately been, “Local Churches Set Aside Differences, Discover They Can Do More Together.” That’s because this is exactly what happened when Operation Love Ministries was formed in Anderson, Indiana. The collaboration and unity among churches representing multiple denominations and cultures make this yet another Jesus-is-the-subject story, and a potential model for other communities. Today, twenty-seven area churches prayerfully and financially support the parachurch organization, also giving governance to the work. As a result, these local churches have access to a tried-and-tested resource to more effectively help neighbors in need. Continue reading

Detroit-Area Churches Practice Unity, Partner for Community

Detroit-area Church of God leaders gathered together.

By Carl Stagner

Unity, one of the Movement’s foundational doctrines, has, for too long, been preached but not practiced. The move from theory to practice, from conceptual to functional, is desperately needed, and is possible when Jesus is the subject. Church of God congregations in the Michigan cities of Detroit and Flint, for example, understand this. That’s why they’ve come together to worship the Lord and to partner for the betterment of the cities. When the people of God are united, not only is the community better off, but so is the church. In southeastern Michigan, a historic fall gathering demonstrated this blessed reality. Continue reading

From 30 Times Behind Bars to 30 Years in the Pulpit

By Carl Stagner

He was barely a teen when he was arrested the first time. Between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five, Paul McCulley was put behind bars a total of thirty times. Charges ranged from truancy to assault, and he was also court martialed three times. His shackles—both seen and unseen—would soon fall off after Jesus Christ changed his life, however. Not only did Paul McCulley become a Christian, but he also entered full-time ministry. Until he retired in 2014, he served the Lord as a senior pastor for thirty years. But he never really retired. Paul McCulley’s gripping testimony is too good to put on the shelf, there are too many people that still need to hear it. Today Paul continues a dynamic ministry program to the incarcerated and their families, turning what the devil meant for bad into something very, very good. Continue reading

A Pastor’s Amazing, Agonizing Adventure of Adopting Special Needs Children

Ralph loves Ana and each of his adopted children.

By Carl Stagner

If you’ve been to many camp meetings across the country, chances are you’ve sat under the bold preaching or inspirational worship leading of pastor and evangelist Ralph Watts. The pastor emeritus of Columbus West Church of God in Columbus, Ohio, is used to sharing Bible stories and passages that point to Jesus Christ. But his own story points to Christ, too, one that is nothing short of remarkable. He and his wife Karen have fostered a total of thirty-five special needs children over the years, and have adopted fourteen. Continue reading

Illinois Church Makes Jesus the Subject, Sees Record Growth

The community knows!

By Megan DeBruyn

From 17 to 100 in just a few short years, the congregation at First Church of God in Marseilles, Illinois, continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. According to Pastor Brian Hefner, the increase in both attendance and congregational participation was entirely the work of the Lord. “Words can hardly describe what has happened here, but I know this: if we can do it, so can you,” Hefner says. “If you are willing to step aside and let God actually take the reins, it can happen.” Continue reading

Northeast Ohio Church Fall Fest Attracts Unprecedented Crowd

Lines forming at the Eleventh Street Church of God Family Fall Fest.

By Carl Stagner

Like other parts of the country, weather in the Midwest can be unpredictable. Eleventh Street Church of God in Canton, Ohio, knows this fact firsthand. But one thing they can predict is God’s blessing when his people choose to be the hands and feet of Christ for a community event. As the northeast Ohio congregation recently discovered, the combination of great weather, effective promotion, and an amazing God is a recipe for unprecedented response. After preparing for a crowd of up to 300, following a year where only a couple hundred showed up, the church welcomed an estimated 1,000 people to their annual fall festival. Continue reading

The Michigan Church Now Known as the Do Something! Church

First Church volunteers sporting their Do Something! T-shirts (from the book with the same title by Miles McPherson).

By Megan DeBruyn

It wasn’t just the bright T-shirts matching the even brighter smiles worn by First Church of God volunteers that inspired their new nickname. The southwest Michigan church was unofficially dubbed the “Do Something! Church” by the surrounding local community after launching a work day in the summer of 2009 that encouraged members of the congregation to get out and serve. Armed with work gloves, paint brushes, and cleaning supplies, the mob of roughly 800 First Church of God volunteers took to the streets on a Sunday morning in early June and began to serve the most basic needs of their community. Continue reading

Chicago-Area Church Plant Gains Momentum

By Charlie Arms

In 2014, after consultation with Indiana Ministries, our family moved from sunny Florida and took on the responsibility of planting a church in northwest Indiana. Locals refer to this area of Indiana as “the Region,” primarily because we are part of Indiana, yet in many ways more closely connected through business and lifestyle with Chicago. Continue reading