Tag Archives: community

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

Scarred but Restored: Ministry Gives West Virginia Women Second Chance

Lori Meadows baptizing one of the ladies she’s invested in.

By Carl Stagner

Often derided and dismissed, they’re considered the fringe of society. In chains and often in danger, they stand in need of rescue. Made beautifully in the image of God but scarred within, they are the “least of these” and must not be ignored. That’s what Lori Meadows recognized while riding the roller coaster of emotions when her daughter was nearly swallowed up by the quicksand of drug abuse several years ago. While walking alongside her daughter, God opened her eyes to the brutal world of women suffering from addiction. In time, she and the ministry she founded called Recovery Warriors became inextricably connected to Southridge Church, the Church of God congregation in South Charleston, West Virginia. In mid-November, the church hosted a spiritually potent “Beauty Day” for the ladies of the local recovery home. The occasion was yet another reminder that these “warriors” are totally committed to giving West Virginia women a second chance. Continue reading

Java and Jesus: Michigan Ministry Does Discipleship Differently

Cultivate Coffee & Tea storefront in the mall.

By Beth Ehlert

Editor’s note—In July, Healthy Growing Churches began publishing a series of articles called “Fresh Expressions of the Church.” Since then, they’ve shared the stories of visionary leaders thinking “outside the box” about church. In the following article, Beth Ehlert introduces you to Matt Chesney of Eagle Ridge Church of God in Midland, Michigan. The story’s not about Eagle Ridge so much, however, as it is about a separate creative ministry given to Matt and his senior pastor, Bill Greiner. This unique, fresh approach to church isn’t a once-a-week gathering; it’s an outreach that’s making a daily impact on their community.

The Calling

The moment Matt became a Christian, he began to hear little whispers saying, “You need to be a pastor.” Over and over again, the Voice would call, and Matt would push it away, believing he already had his dream job as a teacher, school builder, and principal. What more could he want?

Continue reading

Church of God Congregations Give Life This Thanksgiving

Food distribution at Central Community Church, Wichita, Kansas.

By Carl Stagner

Though the fourth Thursday in November hasn’t yet arrived, Church of God congregations across the United States have already pulled out all the stops to celebrate Thanksgiving. While it may seem that Walmart and the Hallmark Channel have bypassed this autumn holiday for its even more commercialized wintertime counterpart, churches from Washington State to New York City and in between still make it a big deal. From special worship services to massive community service projects, Thanksgiving, for the Church of God, means giving life from a heart of gratitude. Continue reading

Fresh Expression of Church Empowers Everyday Missionaries

Amanda (far left) and team wearing aprons symbolizing servanthood.

By Carl Stagner

They don’t have their own building, and they won’t be renting a school or a movie theater as they grow. They have no ambition to get big; in fact, they’ll multiply before they ever attract a crowd. They’re not looking to raise up associate pastors who will open a second campus. If they had a website, you wouldn’t find service times listed. The Foundry, based in Columbia City, Indiana, is not your typical church plant. It’s a “fresh expression” of church, and it’s designed to train disciples to use their spiritual gifts to make more disciples—at home, at work, and at play. Continue reading

Stories Merge with Greatest Ever Told at Texas Church Plant

Merge Church team members ready to invite you to “Join the Merge!”

By Carl Stagner

Two thousand five hundred people move to the greater Houston area each week. Efrain Cirilo, pastor-turned-church-planter now living in the metro area with seven million neighbors, says you could plant a megachurch every week and not keep up with the growth. Broad and diverse, such an influx represents the widest variety of stories—Where did they come from? What brought them here? What has their experience been with church? With God? Stories of those far from God tug especially on the heart of Efrain Cirilo. Such stories are but a part of the reason Pastor Efrain and his wife Megan were willing to leave their thriving congregation—and their comfort zones—behind in Kilgore, Texas. With the official launch of Merge Church only a couple months away, they’re rejoicing as stories, disconnected from Christ, begin to intersect with his. Continue reading

Maryland Church, Community Construct Neighborhood Park in Just 8 Hours

Volunteers from across the community made Kirby Lane Park possible!

By Carl Stagner

The goal was pretty ambitious: build a park for the community in just eight hours. Of course, this wasn’t about timing, but it was a rallying call to the community to work together to achieve something they could only accomplish together. Negative news coverage of their city over the last year wasn’t going to stop them from showing their community and places far beyond who they really are. So, late this summer, Celebration Church Monroe Street in Baltimore, Maryland, came alongside government agencies, community organizations, and neighbors, channeling resources and efforts to remove blight and restore beauty. The construction and completion of the all-new Kirby Lane Park was yet another step Celebration Church Monroe Street has taken to boldly reclaim their neighborhood in Jesus’ name. Continue reading

Church of God Commemorates Veterans Day, Remembrance Day

Veterans Day 2019 tribute at Teays Valley Church of God, Scott Depot, WV.

By Carl Stagner

When cool, crisp breezes begin to blow through the colorful spread of autumn across much of the United States and Canada, you can be sure that anticipation for the Thanksgiving holiday is on the rise. Many may not know that Canada’s Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday of October and doesn’t resemble everything the American holiday has become, especially Black Friday shopping—and that’s probably not a bad thing! But on November 11, the United States and Canada set aside the same day to honor the sacrifice of servicemen and women, and such an occasion should not be bypassed for turkey and football. Canada’s Remembrance Day may look a bit more like Memorial Day in the United States, as they seek to honor those who have fallen in service but, like Veterans Day, many in the Church of God choose to acknowledge and utilize this cultural observance as an opportunity to show the love of Jesus in tangible ways. Continue reading

English + Spanish + Arabic = 3 Congregations Under 1 Roof

Pastors Tim Gould, Huber Maxwell, Mounuir Soliman leading prayer.

By Carl Stagner

While race, language, culture, and politics are just a few of the things that often keep people apart, at 14400 Northwest Freeway just off US Highway 290 in Houston, Texas, Jesus Christ brings people together under one roof. Houston First Church of God, Houston Primera Iglesia de Dios, and Arabic Christian Church offer weekly ministries separately in English, Spanish, and Arabic, but each of these Church of God congregations come together for different purposes throughout the year. One recent example of such unity took place in early October when the three churches gathered at the table for their annual “International Feast.” Continue reading

Pastors Help Pastors Reach New Heights of Wholeness, Wellness

Tom Pelt and Jonathan Absher hiking in Colorado.

By Carl Stagner

At 14,000 feet, the views are breathtaking, but so is the air. Lower levels of oxygen—considered “thin” air—combined with unpredictable weather and potentially hazardous trail conditions, can pose health risks, at minimum, to even the most avid athlete. Hiking alone is not recommended at such altitudes, though many insist on doing so. Church of God pastors Tom Pelt and Jonathan Absher have reveled in the mountaintop experience among Colorado’s highest peaks and have recognized the vivid parallels to ministry. In an effort to see pastors minister at their peak, they’ve championed the holistic health vital to the daily climb. Without reinventing the wheel, but with intentionality and a genuine love for fellow pastors, they’ve taken specific strides in recent years to come alongside pastors, pull them out of isolation into community, and help them reach new heights of wholeness and wellness. Continue reading

Politics and the Pulpit: Kansas Pastor Runs for Office

Clint McBroom preparing flyers for his campaign.

By Carl Stagner

Some say politics and the pulpit don’t mix. Some say Christians should leave politics to the politicians. Others say whatever they want from the pulpit, even alienating individuals who may not share their perspective. But with Christians, posture and practice concerning politics should be guided from above. That’s the perspective of Clint McBroom, pastor of First Church of God in Newton, Kansas. Believing that Christians should be involved in every arena of life, Clint’s running for city commissioner. As a Christian and pastor first, he’s set out to represent Jesus through his campaign and eager to discover even more ways to serve his community. Continue reading

Oklahoma Church’s Latest Campus Thrives Behind Bars

By Carl Stagner

Oklahoma City’s Crossings Community Church has taken prison ministry to another level. For the influential capital city congregation, it’s not just about visitation, prayer, and preaching the gospel to the incarcerated. Earlier this year, Crossings celebrated the first anniversary of its satellite campus location altogether housed within the confines of Joseph Harp Correctional Center. The medium-security prison for men down the road in Lexington, Oklahoma, is not considered a mission site, a location for service projects, or even a local partner in ministry. Crossings Joseph Harp is a full-fledged campus of Crossings Community Church, and the effect of this unique arrangement on inmates and volunteers from the outside has been nothing short of life-changing. Continue reading

New Jersey Church Faithful in the Face of Adversity

Volunteers from Highland Park assist local community for veterans.

By Carl Stagner

Sometimes, on the scale of size and influence, smaller churches can feel insignificant. The truth is that the impact of the smaller churches among us cannot be overstated. The Church of God in Gloucester City, New Jersey, for example, has a rich history of impact for the kingdom. Highland Park Church of God also has benefited from pastoral longevity; as senior pastor Bill Dilks prepares for retirement later this year after twenty years, associate pastor Debra Conner surveys the faithfulness of Highland Park, encouraging the congregation to press on in ministry during this time of transition. Through community partnership, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, the New Jersey church believes God will do many more amazing things in their midst. But they’re not waiting for some elusive big breakthrough to live out their purpose—Highland Park carries on the work of the gospel, even in the face of adversity. Continue reading

Churches Bless Schools, Families as Fall Semester Dawns

Back-to-school haircut at Bedford First Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

Teachers making final preparations for their classes, students dreading the end of summer, parents adjusting to new routines, and school buses on the streets again (drivers, be careful!)—it can only mean one thing: it’s that time of year again! School is back in session or will begin again soon across much of the country, signaling a community-wide shift from one season to the next. Sometimes that shift can be anything but smooth for families, just as it can be for teachers, administrators, and staff. We celebrate the Church of God congregations across the country that recognize the need and do what they can to meet the need. School supply drives, special prayer gatherings, and “back-to-school bashes” are just a few of the ways numerous congregations are coming alongside schools and families as the fall semester dawns. Continue reading

Christmas Outreach on a Small Budget

By Tammy Tilley

Everybody tunes in to Christmas. On December 25, stores close, work shuts down, and everyone stops what they normally would be doing to celebrate.

What, exactly, they’re celebrating is a different story. As culture grows more post-Christian, no longer can we assume families know the story of Christ coming to earth as a baby; if they do know the story, they may see it only as a legend or myth.

What do we do to redeem the season in our communities? How do we point our neighbors, schools, and family members back to Jesus in any sort of resonant, meaningful way? Continue reading