Tag Archives: ecumenical

South Dakota Church: Farmers, You’re Not Alone

Very few fields looks this good (at least this one’s been planted!).

By Carl Stagner

This has not been a good year for farmers. Actually, agricultural conditions have taken an economic and emotional toll on farmers for the past year-and-a-half, though much of the country is only beginning to take notice. While American routine often involves that indispensable weekly trip to the supermarket, requiring little to no thought of the origins of their convenient purchases, farmers bear the brunt of the material and mental cost. A May 29 article published in FarmWorld reported that the USDA’s assessments showed corn planting across the country was at its “slowest pace” since 1980. It’s no wonder, considering much of the country—from the Rocky Mountains to the Midwest and through the South—has been locked in a seemingly never-ending cycle of rain. With uncertain days upon farmers, as well as everyone connected to the agricultural industry, First Church of God in Marion, South Dakota, addressed the need early this month in the best way they knew how—prayer. Continue reading

Daughters of the King: Missouri Church Leads Effort to Reach Girls for Christ

High-energy worship experience at Jesus Girls 2019.

By Carl Stagner

Four years ago, the children’s pastor at First Church of God in East Prairie, Missouri, was in the middle of a conversation with a group of moms about issues their daughters were facing. It seemed that a common problem among the church girls was the presentation of an image at church on Sundays that didn’t match the one they lived out during the week. Dawn Walters recounts how she and this group of moms envisioned an evening experience designed especially for girls where the gospel would be presented clearly, where such topics would be addressed from a biblical perspective, and where the girls would make wonderful memories. Considering prevalent bullying, stressful relationship dynamics, social media craziness, and more, it was clear something needed to be done, particularly before those trying teenage years, to instill in the hearts of girls the love, acceptance, and security found in Jesus alone. Continue reading

Virginia Church Commemorates Arrival of First Africans in English North America

By Carl Stagner

Four hundred years have passed since the first recorded African landing in English-occupied North America. It was in 1619 at Point Comfort, now part of Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, that twenty-some Africans from Angola stepped off the transatlantic White Lion and set the stage for the slaves of the subsequent two-and-a-half centuries of American history. Joynes Road Church of God in Hampton has played an integral role to-date in the official commemoration of the pivotal events that unfolded so long ago. Though the special activities and events began during Black History Month this year, community and social involvement is nothing new for Joynes Road. Pastor Simeon Green provides a closer look. Continue reading

Kansas Congregation Leads Effort to Unite Local Churches for Community

Pastor Clint beams with four church ladies who have been a part of the congregation for over 45 years each.

By Carl Stagner

Newton, Kansas, is home to about 20,000 people. But it’s also home to more than fifty churches! If everyone in town attended church and each church had an equal number of people, you’d have four hundred people in each church. But that’s not the case at all. Instead, most of the churches are small, and much of the population of Newton is still unreached. Not unlike towns and cities across North America, Newton’s churches and ministers had little or no connection with one another. Sure, there was a ministerial assembly, but “Kingdom-of-God unity,” as Pastor Clint McBroom puts it, simply wasn’t happening. He and the congregation of First Church of God decided something had to change. Continue reading

Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy Find Renewal in the Rockies

The Church of God group represented at the conference.

By Carron Odokara

The Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy (WHWC) organization held its biennial conference in April at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. Amid the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, over 300 women and men gathered to worship, learn, and be revived. The conference welcomed the Church of God (Anderson), Brethren in Christ, the Free Methodist Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Wesleyan Church, and other groups. These faith groups came together under the banner of Jesus Christ to celebrate the biblical foundations of gender equality being fully lived out across the church as women and men lead together, following their holy callings. 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

Renovation for a Church, Renewal for Far Rockaway

Pastor Arthur Davenport speaks at the building dedication.

By Emily Ploetz

On Sunday morning, October 8, worship filled the room in the First Church of God of Far Rockaway, New York. The service was unlike any typical Sunday morning gathering for a very special reason, six months in the making! Far Rockaway had been under a full-scale renovation for half a year and, after everything had been completed, Pastor Arthur Davenport invited the congregation to join in a procession of prayer and worship. There was much rejoicing at this celebration because everyone there knew that God had blessed them in so many ways. Continue reading

Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy: Advocating for Women in Ministry

Back row: Carron Odokara, Deidra Johnson, Joy Sherman, Randee Doe, and Rebecca New-Edson. Front row: Ann Brandon, Melissa Pratt, MaryAnn Hawkins, and Cheryl Sanders. Ron Duncan was also in attendance as executive director for the Global Wesleyan Alliance.

By Carron Odokara and staff

The Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy (WHWC) organization held a “think tank” Congress on February 23–24, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia. Forty representatives, both women and men, from five member-church groups, came together to discuss the state and mission of the twenty-five-year-old organization. The Congress welcomed representatives from the Church of God (Anderson), Brethren in Christ, Free Methodist Church, Church of the Nazarene, and the Wesleyan Church. These faith groups came together not only under the banner of Jesus, but also because they’ve each taken a stand in support for women in ministry. Continue reading

Jesus Message Sweeps Across Dominican Republic, Thousands Saved

Photo: Prayer at the Church of God where Juan Santos is pastor.

By Carl Stagner

Though some might consider it overused, there’s likely no better word to describe what’s happening today among Christians in the Dominican Republic. Revival can be seen breaking out in churches, on street corners, in sports, in the media, and even in politics. Unconcerned with denominational differences and squabbles over style, churches are banding together under one unifying message—Jesus. Church of God pastor Juan Santos recently led his Santo Domingo congregation to participate in a weeklong evangelism initiative, a national effort which resulted in several thousand souls won to Christ. He’s delighted to report on the incredible impact of the experience and reveal insights into the cultural transformation permeating nearly every level of society. Continue reading

Kingdom-Minded in Muncie: Mary and Cornelius Dollison

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Photo: The Dollisons and Kirby Avenue Church of God.

By Rachel Eldridge

Unity. Reclamation. These are tough goals. It’s easier to think about them than to do them, far simpler to dismiss them as buzzwords than carry them out, day by day, in the messiness of life. But for Mary and Cornelius Dollison and Kirby Avenue Church of God, unity and reclamation are part of life itself.

“‘Working together, involving all’ has been my motto, and I strive to live it every day,” Mary wrote in a recent column in her local newspaper, expressing gratitude for a Lifetime Achievement Award she recently received. Continue reading

Michigan Ministry Blankets Cold World with Love

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Photo: School children blessed by the quilting ministry.

By Carl Stagner

The world can be a cruel and cold place. Especially for children and families living in poverty. Especially for the homeless. Especially for inhabitants of third-world countries. Congregations and ministries of the Church of God are known across the country and around the world for bringing the light and warmth of God’s love to “the least of these.” One such ministry creates and distributes quilts and blankets to those in need both here and abroad. Mary Scott joins approximately fifteen other ladies and three gentlemen who meet on Mondays at Beaverton Church of God in Beaverton, Michigan. More than a social club, this quilting ministry she leads warms both the body and the soul. Continue reading

Miracles in Homeland: California Church Rises from the Ashes

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Photo: Fire engulfs Community First Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

A raging inferno blazed all around it, but it did not burn. The roof collapsed above it, but it didn’t budge. Thousands of gallons of water poured onto it, but it remained in place. The seven-foot wooden cross in the sanctuary of Community First Church of God in Homeland, California, which stood tall in the midst of piles of charred rubble, has since become a visible reminder of God’s faithfulness. Over the next few months, the church’s nightmare would set into motion a series of developments leading to a stronger, healthier congregation and community. Several hours earlier, however, Pastor Mike Gratzke found himself staring in disbelief at the sickening orange glow that illuminated the night sky. Continue reading

Church of God at Front Lines of Societal Transformation

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By Carl Stagner

The world is hungry. Starving, in fact. Decades of devolution into trite programs and a focus on religious rituals have often offered only gristle in lieu of hearty spiritual meat. Regardless of cultural background, people today are craving convictions that lead to meaningful action. They’re searching for answers amid a smorgasbord of platitudes and pretense. But at the forefront of change is the Church of God movement, revitalized by a bright new day of reclaiming what hell has stolen and changing the world by making Jesus the subject. Such theology really isn’t new; it’s New Testament, and it’s leading Church of God ministers and ministries to lock arms with like-minded brothers and sisters in spite of what name may be over the door of the church they attend. A new book edited by Barry Callen celebrates the multitude of faith groups connected by their Wesleyan roots which, through their distinct voices united under Christ, are living out common-held truths and transforming society. Continue reading

Churches Share Youth Pastor, Maximize Kingdom Impact

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Photo: Pastor Matt Derby and family.

By Carl Stagner

For two years, the two Church of God congregations of Ithaca, Michigan, have shared a youth pastor. The radical arrangement simply makes it possible for one to have a youth pastor, while the other church now has resources it didn’t have before. Ithaca Church of God and Edgewood Church of God have discovered that competition crumbles when it’s all about the common mission. That mission isn’t to outdo one another, see who can fill more pews, or beat each other to the buffet! While churches in America have been known to act like they’re on different teams, the truth is we’re on the same team when we seek God’s kingdom first. Not only do Ithaca and Edgewood share a youth pastor and various activities through the year, but they also team up with churches of a variety of denominations to meet the community’s needs. Perhaps that’s why the recent joint fundraiser for the local food pantry brought in record crowds and dollars. Continue reading

Jesus is the Subject on the Reservation, Too!

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Photo: Volunteer and child at Wounded Knee.

By Carl Stagner

They may not agree on everything, but they agree on the mission. You have to understand: on the Pine Ridge Reservation, hope is as sparse as the vegetation. All of the mission teams that come to Wounded Knee Church of God in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, know that what the Lakota people need so desperately is Jesus. They don’t first need a lesson on a distinguishing doctrine of the Church of God. They don’t need bickering. They don’t need a divided church. They need Jesus. Continue reading