Tag Archives: baptism

Pastor Engages the Enemy in Adventure of a Lifetime

Chaplain Miller prays with a Marine Corps Special Operations Team prior to a mission in East Africa.

By Carl Stagner

Calculated risk. Often used in the financial sense, Baron Miller uttered the term in the context of fear. Every time you take a drive in the car or catch a flight on an airplane, is there a chance you might not make it back? Sure, there is. But that doesn’t cancel your travel plans. When firefighters have to rush inside a burning building, or law enforcement are called to a chaotic scene, they don’t hesitate. There’s risk involved, but these community heroes trust their training and their gear to help them stand strong in the heat of the battle. The parallel to the Christian experience is inescapable; the soldier of the cross must engage the battle, must reclaim what hell has stolen. Might it get scary? Possibly. Could it get dangerous? Certainly. But at the fingertips of every believer is an arsenal of spiritual weapons and an array of training options to fully engage in the fight. Engaging the enemy—that’s what Baron Miller’s life has been about—from the halls of the Church of God he founded in Bellingham, Washington, to the shores of Guantanamo Bay. Continue reading

When Teachers Become Learners: Barefoot and Humbled in Bangladesh

Photo: Cross-cultural footwashing in Bangladesh.

By Carl Stagner

If you’ve ever been on a mission trip, you know it’s a mistake to think you’re going to another country only to teach and bless someone else. More often than not, you end up learning more than you could offer. Instead of leaving feeling impressed by all the good you did, you feel humbled by the good people you met. When a group from Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana; First Church of God in Marion, South Dakota; and Church of God Ministries in Anderson, Indiana, came together for a missions trip to Bangladesh this year, the teachers once again became the learners. Continue reading

Spanish-, English-Speaking Churches in Texas Become One

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Photo: Pastor Carlos Lamelas baptizing a believer on Feb. 5.

By Carl Stagner

Pastor Malcolm Tyree described it as a “Super Sunday,” but not because of a certain football game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. What happened on Sunday, February 5, at New Vida Church of God in Dallas, Texas, was nothing short of incredible, especially in light of all that had transpired over the past year. Eleven people were baptized, ranging in ages from six to sixty. Wonderful, sure. But not so uncommon. Uncommon was that these individuals represented multiple cultures originating from the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Cuba. Such celebration came on the heels of a year of transition which saw the finalization of the merger between a Spanish-speaking and an English-speaking congregation. But for New Vida Church of God—once New Life Fellowship and Iglesia de Dios Vida Abundante—this wasn’t the grand finale. This is just the beginning. Continue reading

Oklahoma Unity Celebration Goes Swimmingly

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Photo: Crowd from five churches gathered for worship.

By Nathan Hinkle

On August 28, five churches banded together to celebrate each other’s company and God’s grace at Lake Keystone in Oklahoma. These five churches, Bristow First Church of God, Red Fork Church of God, First Church of God Sand Springs, Springs Church, and Reclamation Church headed outdoors to sing, eat, and have fellowship. More than three hundred people showed up to join in the celebration. Continue reading

Power Outage Relocates Sunday Baptisms to Backyard Water Slide

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Photo: Chelsea Walker baptizes one of the girls in a “Hydro Rush.”

By Carl Stagner

Anderson University squirrels—or any squirrels, for that matter—aren’t as sweet and cuddly as they may be cute. They can, in fact, do a lot of damage with those razor-sharp teeth, much to the chagrin of homeowners, electricians, and the power company. On one fateful Sunday morning in May, one of these four-legged troublemakers sunk his teeth into more than he’d bargained for. The unsuspecting squirrel fell prey to the electrical surge, but so did the worship services scheduled that morning at Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana. No light and no power meant no baptism in the church’s sanctuary. How convenient that the family of one of the soon-to-be-baptized had an inflatable water slide already set up in their backyard! Continue reading

Highview: A Priesthood-of-All-Believers, Disciples-Making-Disciples Church

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Photo: Disciple-making disciples at Highview, ready for baptism.

By Carl Stagner

Since when is it the pastor’s job to do all the work of the church? Unfortunately, the notion isn’t too far-fetched for a lot of congregations. But the task of the people-in-the-pew goes beyond making sure the yard gets mowed and the bathrooms are clean every Sunday. Brent Farmer, pastor of Highview Church of God in Washington, Illinois, reminds us that ministry is the work of all the saints. Discipleship, in particular, is a job all growing believers can do. At Highview, disciple-making efforts recently culminated in a festive baptism celebration. In a departure from what has become common practice, the pastor performed none of the baptisms. Continue reading

Baptism, Spiritual Growth Coincide with Ohio Church’s ‘Jesus B.’ Series

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Photo: Pastor Josh with three newly baptized believers.

By Carl Stagner

Pastor Josh Chaffin has made it clear that he wants to do whatever he can to spread the good news that Jesus is the subject and is still in the business of changing lives. This Creston Community Church pastor rejoices to report evidence for such a claim among the Church of God congregation he serves in the small town of Creston, Ohio. As it turns out, some of the most recent evidence of God’s hand at work at Creston surfaced when Pastor Josh began preaching a series based on the book by Jim Lyon, Jesus B. Certainly the book itself has no intrinsic power. But the biblically based concepts illustrated through the pages of this Church of God Convention 2015 freebie were tools in the hands of the Lord to touch a handful of lives—even as the series opened on April 10. Compelled to follow Jesus’ example in baptism, three believers were baptized two weeks later. But the story behind the story reveals again how God often works in mysterious ways. Continue reading

Growing Hispanic Church Plant Emphasizes ‘Jesus is the Subject’

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By Carl Stagner

Salvation, baptism, healing, spiritual growth, and numerical growth. Pastor Ramon Rivera has witnessed each of these take place at the church plant he and his wife started less than a year ago in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Perhaps that’s why Ministerio de Adoración y Restauración has opted to emphasize Jesus above all else. Jesus is the source of the salvation, baptism, healing, spiritual growth, and numerical growth this Spanish-speaking church has experienced. Jesus is therefore the subject of everything that is said and done, including their church’s website address—a Spanish translation of “Jesus is the Subject.” Continue reading

Heroin Addicts, Dealers Turn to Christ at Ohio Rally

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By Carl Stagner

Heroin use may be more pervasive than you think. Statistics estimate that as many as 900,000 people regularly take heroin in the United States alone.* Because heroin doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, race, or location, it’s likely that you may know someone who has either tried heroin or is affected by heroin abuse in some way. Relative to other drugs, heroin is inexpensive, especially addictive, and overdose generally leads to death. Of all the counties in Ohio, Clinton County is the sixth highest county in heroin overdose deaths. Unable to ignore the epidemic, First Church of God in the Clinton County community of Wilmington joined several other local churches to seek solutions. The results were of eternal consequence. Continue reading

Never Prepared Enough: Baptisms in Ecuador

By Jon and Karen Lambert

Whenever we are with our indigenous congregations, there are always surprises. Sunday, May 31, was no different. We were supposed to meet the Pisimbilla congregation for a baptism. We were to meet at a gas station in the town of Cayambe at 9:30 AM. We left Quito early to ensure we had enough time. We arrived early and waited…and waited…and waited. Everyone finally arrived at 11 AM. Thus my OCD was beginning to surface! We next drove to a part of Cayambe known for warm volcanic springs. Cayambe can be very cool, and warm water seemed a good idea to me since I was doing the baptizing. As we drove to the springs, Pastor Carlos informed us that he had not been to these springs in thirty-five years. Continue reading

Punxsutawney Praise: Baptism Spans Three Generations

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By Carl Stagner

Every Sunday in the United States and around the world, a Church of God congregation celebrates the baptisms of a new believer. Though exact figures are difficult to determine, the social media savvy rejoice in the weekly reports of known baptisms across the movement. This spring, one unique report came from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where a special baptism service spanned three generations. Continue reading

Revival Breaks Out in Kentucky Congregation

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Photo: Pastor Jason Johnson and Pastor Daniel Castle share in the joy of baptizing a new believer.

By Carl Stagner

Daniel Castle became the senior pastor of Prestonsburg Church of God in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, this past November. In December, the church rejoiced over ten baptisms. More baptisms are expected, as three lives were just rededicated to Christ. These figures may not seem noteworthy—until you consider the size of the church. Eighteen people were around to vote Daniel in as pastor in November. At morning worship in February, the church welcomed fifty-nine people through their doors. Continue reading

Camp Meetings Connect CHOG Congregations Across Country

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Photo: Pastor Robert Rensberger baptized several believers at Yellow Creek Lake Camp Meeting in late July 2014.

By Carl Stagner

Where can Church of God people find relief from contemporary culture’s fast-paced daily grind? Believers often find they need a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a respite from the pressing demands of ministry, and a setting far from the noise of convention halls in congested city centers. Many Church of God district, state, and regional camp meetings still convene every summer across the country, offering rest, solitude, and spiritual rejuvenation for ministers and laypeople alike. Continue reading

On Baptisms, Outreach, and Revival: An Interview with Pastors of a Thriving Church

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By Carl Stagner

In an interview with Church of God Ministries (CGM), the pastoral staff at County Line Church of God in Auburn, Indiana, recently celebrated 126 baptisms and a move of the Holy Spirit beyond what they could have ever imagined. In this exchange, senior pastor Stuart Kruse, children’s pastor Mary Ellen Rayle, congregational care pastor Steve Schlatter, outreach pastor Nathan Tatman, and high school ministry pastor Dane Kruse relived the amazing experience of Baptism Sunday, and offered experienced insights on baptisms, outreach, and revival. Continue reading

Revival at Warner University: 71 Students, 1 Faculty Baptized

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By Chloé Boehm

Anyone who has ever attended a past Warner University chapel would agree that Tuesday’s was uniquely different from any other. Seventy-two people were baptized by Bob Beckler, the senior pastor of South Lake Wales Church of God. Continue reading