Category Archives: Southeast

Georgia Church Gives Food, Health, and Life to Community

Children, families are important to Community Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

When Jason McClendon was a child, there were grown-ups in his life who spent quality time with him. One gave him his first Bible, and said, “Jason, God will do something special in your life.” That moment may have seemed insignificant to the one who said it, but to Jason, it meant the world. Over the years, he’s not forgotten that blessing, he’s learned to love authentically, and he’s developed an especially soft heart toward children. The pastor of Community Church of God in Macon, Georgia, says, “Now, I have the privilege to look into a child’s eyes and say, “God has the ability to take you to places you’ve never been!” It should come as no surprise then, that when the need became clear for a summer feeding program for local children, Community Church of God rose to the occasion. 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

Florida Pastor Offers Fathers, Husbands Tools for Life

Joshua and family celebrating the ministry of Man Wisdoms.

By Carl Stagner

Meet Joshua Zarzana. The young pastor from the Northwest has recently moved to the Southeast, accepting the lead pastor role at Spirit Lake Community Church of God in Winter Haven, Florida. But just because his ministry setting and title have changed doesn’t mean one of his greatest passions has dried up. In fact, Joshua’s heart for men’s ministry remains strong and seems only to be growing. And it shows, as his ongoing platform to reach men can now be accessed anywhere WiFi or data is available! Through regular video posts, Joshua’s “Man Wisdoms” outreach offers nuggets of wisdom tailored especially to the particular needs of men at home, work, church, society and more. With Father’s Day in view, the need for godly husbands and dads is perhaps arguably greater than ever, and Joshua Zarzana has chosen not to sit on the sidelines. He’s cheering his fellow man on to the goal set before them through Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Hurricane Sunday: Florida Churches, Ministries Unite for Puerto Rico

By Carl Stagner

September 20, 2017. To most of the country, that date holds no particular significance. But in Puerto Rico, that date will long be remembered as the day everything changed for almost everyone. Hurricane Maria, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in one hundred years, left widespread devastation in its wake. Utility companies have struggled to restore power, businesses have struggled to reopen, and some churches have even closed their doors. A mass exodus of citizens, without precedent in the history of the territory, has only made the problem worse. Though media coverage has waned, the need for restoration of property—and hope—is more critical than ever. Moved with compassion and compelled by the Spirit, Florida Ministries, the Hispanic Council (Concilio Hispano), Helping Hands in Motion, and Florida congregations are coming together for Puerto Rico on the third of June for what they’re calling Hurricane Sunday. Continue reading

Friendships Forged in Post-Hurricane Harvey Texas

All ages got involved in the building restoration.

By Noel Marquis

When Fairview Church of God of Falkville, Alabama, composed a work team to help with the restoration process at Orange Church of God in Orange, Texas, they expected to encounter hurricane damage. What they didn’t expect was the new and beautiful relationships they gained through the process. Continue reading

Spanish-Speaking Church Planted in Florida on Easter Sunday

Pastor Isaias Marquez speaks at the launch service on Easter.

By Carl Stagner

Now, more than ever, the Sunshine State is primed for the gospel. The normal flow of migration to Florida from Spanish-speaking countries presents a tremendous opportunity for Hispanic church planters. But, in the wake of last year’s hurricane disaster in Puerto Rico, Spanish-speaking people have left the territory for Florida in droves. Isaias and Laura Marquez, pastors of a congregation in Lake Wales, are always on the lookout for possible church plants. Observing the lack of Hispanic churches in the Winter Haven area, they reached out to First Church of God to consider hosting a new work. On Easter Sunday, Iglesia de Dios in Winter Haven was born, offering the hope of Christ to Spanish-speaking residents while extending the reach of First Church beyond what they could have ever imagined. Continue reading

Church Scraps Traditional Palm Sunday Programming for 33 Service Projects

Wildwood team serving at a local school.

By Carl Stagner

They’d never done Palm Sunday like this before. Instead of the usual Sunday morning programming, Wildwood Church of God in Ashland, Kentucky, dared to be different. The church has a history of serving their community but, until Palm Sunday 2018, hadn’t attempted something on such a grand scale. After gathering for a brief worship service, more than 700 people left the church building to go out and be the church in a wide variety of settings. Through 33 different service projects, they would demonstrate the love of Jesus in tangible and meaningful ways to their neighbors. In the end, however, it was clear that the congregation also experienced God’s love on a whole new level. Continue reading

How a Growing Nontraditional Traditional Church Plant Began in Arkansas

Packed house for worship at Faith Fellowship.

By Carl Stagner

They have no formal training in church planting, but they’ve planted a church. Their worship and ministry style is neither flashy nor trendy, yet they’ve attracted a crowd. There was no market research conducted before their launch service, yet they’re already making disciples. Kevin and Danielle Edgar recently returned to a community they knew and loved, and simply began preaching the Word of God, singing a few gospel songs and hymns, and building friendships. Faith Fellowship Church of God is a growing, nontraditional, traditional church plant in Paragould, Arkansas. They may be doing things differently, but they’re certainly getting things done, and the results are both God-glorifying and hell-shaking. Continue reading

From Alabama to Destination Unknown: Church Launches Leaders Around the World

Special service at Riverchase Community Church.

By Carl Stagner

Regional consultant for Latin America, Abby Torgeson. Missionary to Germany, Joshua Weiger. Missionaries to Japan, Christy and Terence Van Dam. Pastors to the Middle East, Ken and Keli Oldham. Matt Anderson, pastor of the thriving desert oasis in Scottsdale, Arizona, McDowell Mountain Community Church. Besides their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, each one of these has something unique in common: Riverchase Community Church. To one degree or another, these and numerous other Christ-centered leaders were formed and/or launched into ministry from this modest-sized Church of God congregation in Birmingham, Alabama. Considering the church’s heart for missions and intentional discipleship strategies, it’s no wonder that they can’t hang on to their brightest and best. But, they wouldn’t want to. Continue reading

Florida Congregation Offers Hope, Healing Following Parkland Tragedy

A graphic posted on the Coral Springs Church Facebook page.

By Carl Stagner

The night before the devastating tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Pastor Kimberly and her daughter Anna each had the same disturbing dream. At some point during the night, they both imagined being in the middle of a violent situation where they each had to use guns to defend themselves. They awoke and shared with each other just how terrifying their dreams were and how they hoped they’d never find themselves in such a situation. A few hours later, news broke about what had taken place a couple miles from their home. Kim’s husband, Anna’s father, is the lead pastor of Coral Springs Community Church of God, the closest Church of God to Parkland, Florida. Continue reading

Partnership Vital to Ministry for The Church at Bradenton

Kid’s ministry is extremely important to the The Church at Bradenton.

By Carl Stagner

Pastor Ancil Abney says their church is all about “storming the gates of hell and making a difference for eternity.” For some, such a bold statement might be dismissed as a tagline without substance or a catchphrase without strategy. But for The Church at Bradenton, it’s not just theory; it’s practice. Something as dangerous as storming the gates of hell should not be attempted alone, though, and this Florida church knows it. That’s why they’ve strategically assembled a stellar staff, partnered with the city, and offered space and grace to other churches committed to advancing the kingdom. Especially as Easter 2018 approaches, they’re making it clearer than ever that Jesus is the subject. Continue reading

She Went to Rehab Five Times, Now She’s Helping Others Recover

Tami Dean (photo courtesy Billy Watkins).

By Billy Watkins

It doesn’t take long to find someone who needs addiction recovery. “Just look in the mirror,” says Rev. Calvin D. Waddy Jr., of Central Community Church of God in west Jackson, Mississippi. “When we hear the word recovery, we automatically think about drugs, alcohol or gambling. But everyone—and I do mean everyone—needs recovery of some sort.” 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

Kentucky Congregation Puts Community First this Christmas

First Church group distributes a “blessing bag.”

By Megan DeBruyn

As the days grow chillier and the Advent season unfolds before us, many churches launch a special sermon series or begin lighting a symbolic candle each week. But First Church of God in Winchester, Kentucky, is hitting the streets. Why? Because they believe in being the church rather than simply coming to church. Continue reading

Leadership and Longevity: An Alabama Pastor’s Personal Experience

Pastor Milan with friend Domique Billups, special needs ministry.

By Carl Stagner

Statistics don’t tell an altogether encouraging story when it comes to the average stay of a pastor. Some recent surveys suggest the average is on the rise, but the present picture of pastoral tenure in the United States and Canada could certainly improve. Milan Dekich accepted the senior pastorate at Fairview Church of God in Falkville, Alabama, when the size of the church was about twenty-five. Thirty-seven years later, he preaches to a gathering of 450 strong, and has helped plant two churches and assisted in the revitalization of a third. Just because the congregation is doing well today doesn’t mean the struggle hasn’t been real. In fact, it has, and there were times Milan might have preferred to throw in the towel. But a commitment to God’s plan kept him there, and today he’s blessed to share a few of the experiences he’s had, as well as a few of the lessons he’s learned along the way. Continue reading