Tag Archives: First Church of God

Renovation for a Church, Renewal for Far Rockaway

Pastor Arthur Davenport speaks at the building dedication.

By Emily Ploetz

On the 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

Weightlifting and the Word: MO Pastor Memorizes Scripture, Lifts 300 Lbs.

By Noel Marquis

Pastor Aaron Holman of First Church of God in Thayer, Missouri, is starting a new workout regimen for both his body and his spirit. His workout routine involves lifting a barbell off the ground to the level of the hips, or “deadlifting,” 300 pounds in the gym located in the carport next to his home. In between sets of lifting, he exercises his mind and spirit by memorizing passages of the Bible. Four weeks ago, Pastor Holman finished memorizing Ephesians. Currently, he is midway through the book of Philippians. Continue reading

Illinois Church Makes Jesus the Subject, Sees Record Growth

The community knows!

By Megan DeBruyn

From 17 to 100 in just a few short years, the congregation at First Church of God in Marseilles, Illinois, continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. According to Pastor Brian Hefner, the increase in both attendance and congregational participation was entirely the work of the Lord. “Words can hardly describe what has happened here, but I know this: if we can do it, so can you,” Hefner says. “If you are willing to step aside and let God actually take the reins, it can happen.” Continue reading

Church Steps Out in Faith for the Children, Teens of Atwater, California

Some of the youth group of First Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

Take a look at 2100 Fruitland Ave, Atwater, California, on Google Maps. What you’ll find is that First Church of God is literally a stone’s throw away from Atwater High School. The front-row seat the California congregation has to roughly 1,800 students and their families is certainly incredible, but the church hasn’t sat down to enjoy the scenery. They’ve seized a number of opportunities God has presented them to minister to these teens and their families. What’s more, through their preschool established in 1964, they minister to children who one day accept their diplomas right across the street. Recently the church stepped out in faith to expand the preschool facility, as teachers reap the benefits of a Fruitland Christian School early education, and as parents on a waiting list eagerly knock on the door. Continue reading

Pastor of All People: Ministries Council Secretary Called to Lead Amid Diversity

Pastor Vincent Miller and family.

By Carl Stagner

“Everybody has a different fingerprint. I just think this is my fingerprint.” At Church of God Convention 2017 in Wichita, Kansas, many were first introduced to Vincent Miller, who accepted the role of secretary for the Ministries Council earlier this year. But he isn’t new to the Movement at all. Vincent’s ministry in the Church of God has spanned several states, as has his fingerprint, as he puts it. What is his fingerprint? To pastor ethnically and culturally diverse congregations. Because Jesus is the subject, Vincent knows that diversity does not have to equal division. Because Jesus is the subject, not skin color or language, unity amid diversity can be a powerful witness to the amazing love of God. Now entering his second year as pastor of First Church of God in Tampa, Florida, Pastor Vincent Miller is more eager than ever to give witness to the love of God available in Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Oklahoma Church Constructs Park for the Community

By Noel Marquis

When First Church of God in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, decided to invest in new playground equipment, they received much more than they asked for. William Wimmer, who has served as pastor of the church since 2013, was surprised when a longtime member of the congregation approached the board of trustees with plans for a park, complete with sidewalks, trees, a horseshoe pit, basketball court, soft turf, and sheltered pavilions. Continue reading

The Michigan Church Now Known as the Do Something! Church

First Church volunteers sporting their Do Something! T-shirts (from the book with the same title by Miles McPherson).

By Megan DeBruyn

It wasn’t just the bright T-shirts matching the even brighter smiles worn by First Church of God volunteers that inspired their new nickname. The southwest Michigan church was unofficially dubbed the “Do Something! Church” by the surrounding local community after launching a work day in the summer of 2009 that encouraged members of the congregation to get out and serve. Armed with work gloves, paint brushes, and cleaning supplies, the mob of roughly 800 First Church of God volunteers took to the streets on a Sunday morning in early June and began to serve the most basic needs of their community. Continue reading

Western PA Churches Band Together for Hurricane-Hit Texas

CHOG Albuquerque team members unloading material in Texas.

By Carl Stagner

Pastor Greg Smith lived in Houston, Texas, from 2010 to 2013, where attended First Church of God. Over those three years, he got to know Texas pastors Tim Gould, Jim Fiertag, and Tim West. During that period, he also worked on a Homeland Security grant, and was a part of a three-person team that wrote the Mass Fatality Incident Response Plan for the city of Houston and thirteen surrounding counties. Though he now lives in Pennsylvania and pastors First Church of God in Punxsutawney, the Hurricane Harvey disaster hit home for Greg. It should come as no surprise that Greg’s church would respond. But what he might not have expected was the incredible show of support from a dozen churches across Western Pennsylvania. Continue reading

Tenacity Tested: Texas Pastor, Church Poised for Turnaround

Fun at a drug awareness event sponsored in part by the church.

By Carl Stagner

It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. Pastor Lila Clay is acutely aware of the fact that leading a declining church into a new season of growth is no easy task. She pastors NorthPointe Church of God in Nacogdoches, Texas, a small-but-growing congregation on the cusp of turnaround. Though the congregation has grown from eight to an average of forty on Sunday mornings, they’re not taking a timeout to look back at their exciting journey. There’s too much kingdom work yet to do, and there’s simply too much at stake. Still, NorthPointe is one church whose struggles have met their match against a commitment to prayer, patience, and purpose. Continue reading

UPDATE 8-29: SE Texas Underwater as Disaster Relief Prep Underway

Houston First Church of God flooding (courtesy Tim Gould).

By Carl Stagner

UPDATE, August 29: “It feels like we are stuck living in a long, dirty shower that never stops.” The words of Jim Feirtag late Monday express what countless Texans are feeling as rains from Tropical Storm Harvey persist. The church Jim pastors, Parkgate Church of God in Pasadena, Texas, has already helped some people displaced by the storm and has made preparations to do much more in the coming weeks.

Houston First Church of God reported late Monday that the water had receded from their building with no visible damage. They thank everyone for their prayers. Unfortunately, the Church of God in Texas reports that an estimated forty-two Church of God congregations were affected by this disaster. Assessment is ongoing, but Tim Gould, pastor of Houston First Church, is now receiving e-mail inquiries about work teams and the need for physical labor. When assessment is complete, inquirers will be notified with specific opportunities. Churches and individuals may contact him at pastortim@hfcog.org. Thank you for your continued prayers, support, patience, and willingness to serve!

The average annual rainfall for Houston, Texas, is 49.76 inches. Forecasters suggest parts of southeast Texas could surpass that amount of rain before Hurricane Harvey—now a tropical storm—moves out. As the Church of God assesses the developing situation on the ground, the need for disaster relief is imminent. While reports of loss may not be complete for several weeks, experts predict that an estimated 30 thousand people will need temporary shelter in the wake of widespread flood damage. Opportunities to give time, supplies, and resources will become more clear in the coming days. Until then, the Church of God Disaster Relief Team is urging you to pray and give. Continue reading

Dale Gruver: Known for Worship, Called to Preach

Photo: Dale Gruver

By Carl Stagner

You know it when you see it—that deep love for Jesus, visibly overflowing from a heart that understands the gravity of what the Savior has done. It’s truly contagious, clearly communicating the reality of Christ to a world devoid of hope. Dale Gruver’s got it, and believes everyone can have it, too. Widely known for high-energy, joy-filled worship leading, Dale was called first and foremost to preach the gospel. After nearly a decade-and-a-half of providing worship leadership for the local church, camp meetings, and conferences, Dale accepted a senior pastorate in Alliance, Ohio, with similar enthusiasm. Though Dale’s full embrace of God’s call only came to pass a couple of years ago, extensive investment from mentors and his wide variety of ministry experiences prepared the man who rises to the pulpit at First Church of God. 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

Floods Devastate Churches, Communities in Missouri: Your Help Needed!

Photo: Flood waters at First Church of God in Doniphan, Missouri.

By Carl Stagner

UPDATE, May 9, 2017: Church of God Ministries Disaster Relief has just sent $5,000 for flood relief in Missouri as cleanup efforts have only just begun at First Church of God in Doniphan, Missouri. Initial assessments suggest repair costs could exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s why your help is still crucial. Donate today! Church facilities, including the parsonage, were insured, but indications are that as little as 15 percent of the total repair cost will be covered. Renovations are underway in the Family Life Center so the congregation can resume worship at the church property (currently, the congregation is meeting at another local church) before the sanctuary repair is complete.

WORK TEAMS: Missouri Ministries of the Church of God has reported that they will be helping to schedule groups in the next week or so. Supplies of water, gloves, and more are needed. Please contact Missouri Ministries for more information at 573-265-8545 or visit www.cogamo.org/contact/.

Some locals say they’ve never seen it this bad. Reports indicate that between six and twelve inches of rain fell across parts of Missouri over the past week, with several more inches expected. Homes and businesses have been destroyed during this ongoing disaster, which has already claimed two lives. Water levels rose to record highs at fourteen different locations along the state’s rivers, even breaking a few records held for more than a hundred years. A few hundred roads were shut down, and many remain closed. Unfortunately, Church of God congregations have not escaped the water’s wrath. Continue reading

Truth, Love Preached and Practiced at Pastors’ Fellowship 2017

Photo: Pastors’ Fellowship 2017

By Carl Stagner

Another Pastors’ Fellowship has come and gone, yet its impact on those who attended, the movement, and the culture remains. As it always does, this year’s gathering of pastors and laypeople at First Church of God in Winchester, Kentucky, featured dynamic doctrinal preaching and wholehearted singing of heritage hymns. The fellowship was as sweet as the iced tea, and the moments of prayer were powerful and potent. What really left a lasting impression, however, was the way these men and women of God responded to the Spirit. When word got out about the devastating floods wreaking havoc across Missouri, directly affecting Church of God brothers and sisters, God’s love turned into action. Continue reading

Creativity, Generosity, Boldness Characterize Easter Celebrations

Photo: Lord’s Supper drama at First Church, Inverness, Florida.

By Carl Stagner

As a pinnacle in the church year, some might get the feeling that it’s all downhill from Easter. But perhaps Pastor Paul Strozier of Madison Park Church of God in Anderson, Indiana, said it best last year in an article he wrote: “The baskets have returned to the attic, the plastic eggs are being recycled, somewhere in the house there is at least one purple Peep left unconsumed—at least until the toddler finds it…But can we really let the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ wait a whole year to be acknowledged and celebrated again? Easter never ends for the follower of Jesus Christ…Imagine how it might change our homes, our families, and our communities if we lived every day with resurrection power, hope, and joy.” For Church of God congregations across the country, Easter has only just begun! Here’s a look at how churches observed Easter week. Continue reading