Category Archives: Southeast

Trafficklight Partner Remerge Celebrates 20 Years of Ministry

Creating art for the museum housed onsite by Remerge. Learn more at www.remerge.org.

By Carl Stagner

Twenty years ago, Church on the Street emerged in Atlanta, Georgia, radically transforming the way we do ministry to those outside the walls. Church on the Street took church to the people living without homes and beckoned traditional churchgoers into proximity with, and investment in, the lives of persons in poverty. Having become a Trafficklight partner since, Church on the Street never sought to engage the fight against trafficking; still, that fight came to them, and they’ve responded with holy boldness and love. Remerging in recent years from the starting point of reconciliation—that is, with God and neighbor—Church on the Street became known as Remerge in 2016. With intentionality, flexibility, and fervor, Remerge enters its twenty-first year, ready to change hearts from the streets to the suburbs, from underpasses to newly upholstered pews. Continue reading

Louisiana Church Planter: “The Struggle is Real”

Stephen Nelson at Awaken’s Easter Egg Dash and cupcake giveaway.

By Carl Stagner

Church planting is not for the faint of heart. Attendance ups and downs are normal. Emotional peaks and valleys come standard. Starts and stops are rocky, and twists and turns are plentiful. It’s a roller coaster of an experience and, as Stephen Nelson of Awaken Church, in Natchitoches, Louisiana, explains, “The struggle is real…but God is faithful!” With candor and confidence, Stephen opens up a window to the challenging but life-changing world of church planting as he’s experienced it over the past few years. Continue reading

Mississippi Church Makes Jesus the Subject, Rallies with Churches Statewide

By Carl Stagner

Two-and-a-half years had built up to this single moment. Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Mississippi, would be the location of a church unity event bigger than any in recent history, and representing the widest spectrum of church and cultural backgrounds. Trey Hammond, who pastors Crossroads of Life Church of God in Byram, Mississippi, has held a special place in his heart for unity in the body of Christ. With this in mind, it was a no-brainer for he and his church to support and participate in the April 27 event, and the preparation leading up to the big day, which made Jesus the subject every step of the way. Continue reading

Convention 2019 & General Assembly: Local Pastors Talk Orlando

Disney World in Orlando, Florida

By Carl Stagner

Orlando, Florida, is home to more than a dozen theme parks. If you’ve ever been there, you’ve probably at least visited Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort. Maybe you played a round of golf under the sunlit palm trees, or perhaps you hit the beach when you realized the ocean’s only an hour away. But there’s so much more to Orlando than Mickey Mouse, sunshine, and scream-inducing thrill rides. Four local pastors reveal what they love about Orlando and offer their recommendations for what to do and where to eat—in conjunction with Church of God Convention 2019 & General Assembly, of course! Continue reading

Alabama Pastor Installed as President of Korean Seminary

Installation of CHOG pastor Loren Sutton as United Bible Seminary president.

In March 1965, Loren and Elouise Sutton, with their four children, were commissioned to plant a Church of God congregation in Opelika, Alabama. They established Airview Church of God where he served for a season but returned later in life for another season of pastoral leadership. In the six decades since his call to ministry, Sutton has continued to preach as a pastor, evangelist, youth speaker and, for a season, he served as the southeast recruitment and development representative for Anderson University. The most exciting turn of events in Sutton’s sixty-five-year ministry began to take shape in the spring of 2018, however, which ultimately led him to become the president of a Korean seminary. Continue reading

Arkansas Church Reclaims Dance as Expression of Worship

First Church worship dance ministry in action!

By Carl Stagner

Though dance appears twenty or so times in the Bible, and usually in the context of worship, it’s encountered some resistance in the church over the years. Certainly dance, like other artistic expressions, can be used in ways that bring dishonor to the Lord. But like so many Church of God congregations today, First Church of God in Paragould, Arkansas, has found a way to reclaim what hell has stolen. They’ve redeemed dance, and use it regularly to worship the Lord and communicate the message of Christ. Continue reading

Spanish-, English-Speaking Congregations Unite at Altar

Pastor Karen Kier speaks at Altar’s name-change celebration.

By Carl Stagner

Over time, a model of planting Spanish-speaking churches has emerged. Often English-speaking congregations are drawn to the prospect of partnering with a Spanish-speaking church as a missional means to touch a demographic otherwise beyond their reach. In doing so, the Spanish-speaking church uses the building owned by the English-speaking church to conduct worship services. When the Spanish-speaking church gains traction and becomes self-sustaining, they may then choose to purchase their own facility. At that point, the relationship between the two churches can somewhat cease to exist, though it may never have truly materialized in the first place. Tampa, Florida’s English-speaking Oak Grove Church of God and the Spanish-speaking Arbol de Vida have decided to do things differently. Reflecting their heart’s desire to be one church with two cultures, they’ve united at (the) Altar. Continue reading

Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down: Mississippi Minister Gives Life Beyond Her Own

Elizabeth & Keith Hall (back) with Delores Bailey.

By Carl Stagner

The pastor of Shady Grove Church of God in Meridian, Mississippi, kept leading her congregation for five-and-a-half years. Others might have opted to let up, slow down, or quit altogether, but Delores Bailey wasn’t going to let cancer get the best of her. She had a divine calling on her life to go and preach the gospel, regardless of the circumstances. Her cancer journey was no cakewalk, but neither were the journeys of people all around her living without Jesus. She had peace; others within her reach needed that same peace. The day before she began her last hospital stay, only one week before she breathed her last, she led two teens to Christ. Her deteriorating condition wouldn’t allow her to baptize these new believers, but as Providence would have it, Delores’s bold witness would continue to give life beyond her own. Continue reading

Seeing God’s Vision, Joining God’s Mission: A Florida Church’s Radical Community Life

Pastor Shawn engages in conversation at a community event.

By Carl Stagner

“Church in the Palms” is spelled out in large letters on the side of the building at 3812 Jog Road in Greenacres, Florida. This does not mean the congregation that goes by the name feels any sense of ownership of the place. For them, the property is God’s to accomplish what he wants done on it. Is it really any wonder then that the ministry hub houses a variety of nonprofits, including ten other churches with worship services taking place in English, Spanish, and Creole? In the past few years alone, Pastor Shawn Allen has led the church to embrace a strategic vision that would inspire as many Christians as possible in Palm Beach County to see God’s vision, connect with God’s people, and join God’s mission. The radical, yet conceptually simple approach to what the pastor calls “missional unity” is already bearing tremendous fruit in and for the community. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Welcomes Return of Beloved Heritage Sing

Joe Gregory leads the event back in 2011.

By Carl Stagner

At Christmastime, it’s music which inspires the heart and stirs the soul for the season. Throughout the year, music activates memories and improves mood. In worship, it’s a vehicle of praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to the Lord Most High. But perhaps like no other genre of music, it is the heritage songs, in particular, that communicate the theology and core doctrines of the Church of God movement. These songs resonate warmly with the Christian experience, telling in joyful tones all Jesus is, what he has done, and what he promises to do. Powerful new songs may be heard more often today in most of our congregations, but the heritage songs have proved timeless through the years. That’s why Church of God Ministries is excited to announce the highly anticipated return of the beloved Heritage Sing to the Church of God Convention next June. Continue reading

All-Volunteer Parachurch Ministry Meets Needs, Gives Life in Arkansas

Lines of people waiting to be blessed by Healing Waters.

By Carl Stagner

Consider what just happened the weekend before Thanksgiving. Three hundred thirty meals were served and over two hundred bags of food were given away. For free. No catch. Even more exciting—thirty-eight individuals accepted Christ. But this wasn’t a special holiday outreach. Revival services weren’t planned, and no traveling evangelist had been brought in to deliver an impassioned sermon. Obviously, this wasn’t Easter, yet numerous non-churchgoers were within earshot of the gospel. Far from an unusual occurrence at Healing Waters Outreach Center in Shannon Hills, Arkansas, these kinds of Holy Spirit-happenings take place on a weekly basis! The parachurch ministry supported by the Church of God in Arkansas now has a connection through one of its founding members to the Urban Missions team of Church of God Ministries. Robert Holt gives us a glimpse into the life-giving, far-reaching impact of Healing Waters, and why so many—at least 125 people—choose to volunteer their time every week for the work. Continue reading

Michael Aftermath: Post-Hurricane Help Needed Now (updated Oct. 31)

The cross remains on the Panama City church’s sign!

By Carl Stagner

One hundred fifty-five miles per hour. That’s how powerful Hurricane Michael’s winds were when the Category Four monster made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, on October 10. Meteorologists are calling the storm the strongest to ever hit the continental United States since Hurricane Andrew of 1992. In its wake, Michael left behind widespread catastrophic damage, leveling homes and businesses, and claiming the lives of at least nineteen, as the search for missing persons continues. The Church of God was not left unscathed; to date, two congregations have reported damage to their church building and their homes. As information continues to be collected by state ministry offices and Church of God Ministries, Church of God congregations across the country are already responding to the imminent and critical needs of funds, supplies, time, and labor. Continue reading

Safety Harbor Regional Day 2: Daring to Dream Again

Wednesday evening worship at the Safety Harbor Regional.

By Carl Stagner

Do you dream of a local church that is healthy and growing? Do you dream of unity across racial lines? Do you dream of those “greater works” that Jesus talked about, or victory in a particular spiritual battle? Wednesday, Day Two of the Church of God Regional Convention in Safety Harbor, Florida, was a day of rekindling the fire, reclaiming the passion, and resurrecting dreams once lost in a world prone to busyness, burnout, and a blurring of what matters most. Continue reading

Tuesday’s Scorching Sunshine Eclipsed by Light of Christ at FL Regional

Moments of blessed fellowship were plentiful on Tuesday.

By Carl Stagner

Less than a year out from the Church of God Convention 2019 and General Assembly in Orlando, many Church of God people got their first taste of Florida on Tuesday at the Regional Convention near Tampa. Sunshine, palm trees, and the Bay nearby were certainly sights to behold; more so was the prayerful response at the altar on Tuesday evening. During the day, convention-goers satisfied their cravings at the Melt Machine Food Truck but didn’t linger long, as the air-conditioned space within the walls of Bayside Community Church offered relief from the unseasonably hot and humid weather. Inside they found a diet of Living Water and the Bread of Life to be most refreshing, as anointed messages, inspirational times of worship, engaging conferences, and rich conversation marked the day. Continue reading

Final of Five 2018 Regionals Begins in Florida

Worship service at Bayside Church.

By Carl Stagner

Four Regional Conventions down, one to go! The fifth-and-final 2018 Regional Convention of the Church of God begins today at Bayside Community Church in Safety Harbor, Florida. On the heels of the Fairfax Regional last week, the Regional Convention in the Sunshine State will also feature some of the finest voices inside and outside the Movement: Jo Anne Lyon, Kevin Earley, Brad Lomenick, Ben Hardman, Terry Rolen, and Jim Lyon. Of course, the fellowship and fun is certain to follow, as festivities throughout the two-day experience focus on Jesus and the life he so richly offers his followers. Continue reading