Tag Archives: FL

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 enhances 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

Convention 2019 Worship Leader Becoming Familiar Face, Voice

Josh Edington leading worship at CHOG Convention 2015.

By Carl Stagner

Some may not recognize his name, but most are beginning to recognize the face, the voice, the talent, and the heart of Josh Edington. On staff at Crossings Community Church for the past ten years, the pastor of contemporary worship arts for the largest Church of God congregation in North America has begun to build a reputation outside those walls. Beginning in 2015, at the second Church of God Convention outside Anderson, Indiana, Josh first strapped on his guitar and lifted his voice heavenward on behalf of the Movement. Then, when the traveling Regional Convention made a stop in Oklahoma City this year, Josh was there. CHOG Convention 2019 and General Assembly won’t be held in Oklahoma City, but Orlando, Florida, instead. Still, Josh will be there! Yet, as familiar as his excellence in worship leadership is becoming in the Church of God, many still may not know the young man behind the guitar. 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

Fairfax, Safety Harbor Regionals Last but Not Least!

Worship at the Fairfax Regional 2018.

By Carl Stagner

Church of God pastors and laypeople who descended on Fairfax, Virginia, and Safety Harbor, Florida, in September were the last to experience the impact of the Church of God Regional Conventions this year. By no means, however, were they disappointed. They were, in fact, the first to hear featured speaker Kevin Earley and regional guest speaker Brad Lomenick. The tested strategies and insights of host pastor Rod Stafford were only available in Virginia, and the deeply personal dare to dream came only from host pastor Terry Rolen in Florida. Jo Anne Lyon and Jim Lyon spoke at all five Regionals, but instead of tired, overdone messages, they brought refined words, fresh with content, anecdotes, exhortations, and inspiration. After the third 2018 Regional, the events took a three-month hiatus. But based on the new life breathed into the Movement this September, it was a busy summer for the Holy Spirit. 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

Kevin Earley: Aspiring Psychiatrist, Banker Becomes Pastor Instead

Pastor Kevin (far right) with his family.

By Carl Stagner

Much of the Movement knows Kevin Earley. He’s served as senior pastor for the past nine years at the church in Detroit founded by Dr. James Earl Massey. For the past three years, he’s served as the president of the National Inspirational Youth Convention (NIYC). He serves on the board of directors for Anderson University, and he authored the book Every-Member Ministry: Spiritual Gifts and God’s Design for Service, a valuable church resource published by Warner Press in 2013. But many may not know the story behind Kevin’s call to ministry and the journey that brought him to such positions of widespread influence in the Movement today. Continue reading

God Breathes New Life into Host Church Ahead of Florida Regional

When renovation was underway in the sanctuary.

By Carl Stagner

It’s been noisy, a bit dusty, and very busy in the halls, offices, classrooms, and sanctuary at Bayside Community Church. The Safety Harbor congregation is experiencing a season of expansion and growth, not due to, but rather evidenced by, the upgrades happening throughout their facility. Not exhibiting an “if-you-build-it-they-will-come” mentality, the congregation is intentionally seeking debt reduction and giving a portion to missions, all the while improving the appearance and functionality of the space God’s entrusted to them. So, while they’re certainly making final preparations to welcome a cross-section of the Movement to their home (September 25–26), the enhanced worship and meeting environment is a byproduct of the new life God is breathing in their midst. Continue reading

Former Catalyst Leader to Address Movement at Fairfax, Safety Harbor Conventions

Brad Lomenick

By Carl Stagner

Brad Lomenick served as lead visionary and president of Catalyst for over a decade. While credited with growing the conference into one of the most influential leadership brands in the United States, he hasn’t let that go to his head. In fact, one of the chief ingredients for effective leadership is humility, a virtue he’s highlighted in his latest book. Looking to Jesus as the ultimate Leader, Brad has first followed the ever-winding course his Captain has charted, even as it took him to places and heights he never planned on seeing. Born and raised in a Church of God home in Oklahoma, Brad Lomenick looks forward to speaking life into the Movement at the Church of God Regional Conventions in Fairfax, Virginia (September 18–19), and Safety Harbor, Florida (September 25–26). Continue reading

Florida Pastor Offers Fathers, Husbands Tools for Life

Joshua and family celebrating the ministry of Man Wisdoms.

By Carl Stagner

Meet Joshua Zarzana. The young pastor from the Northwest has recently moved to the Southeast, accepting the lead pastor role at Spirit Lake Community Church of God in Winter Haven, Florida. But just because his ministry setting and title have changed doesn’t mean one of his greatest passions has dried up. In fact, Joshua’s heart for men’s ministry remains strong and seems only to be growing. And it shows, as his ongoing platform to reach men can now be accessed anywhere WiFi or data is available! Through regular video posts, Joshua’s “Man Wisdoms” outreach offers nuggets of wisdom tailored especially to the particular needs of men at home, work, church, society and more. With Father’s Day in view, the need for godly husbands and dads is perhaps arguably greater than ever, and Joshua Zarzana has chosen not to sit on the sidelines. He’s cheering his fellow man on to the goal set before them through Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Spanish-Speaking Church Planted in Florida on Easter Sunday

Pastor Isaias Marquez speaks at the launch service on Easter.

By Carl Stagner

Now, more than ever, the Sunshine State is primed for the gospel. The normal flow of migration to Florida from Spanish-speaking countries presents a tremendous opportunity for Hispanic church planters. But, in the wake of last year’s hurricane disaster in Puerto Rico, Spanish-speaking people have left the territory for Florida in droves. Isaias and Laura Marquez, pastors of a congregation in Lake Wales, are always on the lookout for possible church plants. Observing the lack of Hispanic churches in the Winter Haven area, they reached out to First Church of God to consider hosting a new work. On Easter Sunday, Iglesia de Dios in Winter Haven was born, offering the hope of Christ to Spanish-speaking residents while extending the reach of First Church beyond what they could have ever imagined. Continue reading

Heart of a Shepherd: Convention 2018 Speaker Pours into Pastors, Leaders

Ben Hardman speaks at the Philadelphia Regional in 2016.

By Carl Stagner

“I have always believed everyone needs a Paul to pour into you, a Timothy to pour into, and a Barnabas to encourage you.” Ben Hardman’s words come from personal experience. Returning to the Regional Conventions this year—all five of them—the featured speaker hasn’t always lived up to this aspiration. He knows how difficult it is to lead well, make disciples in a 21st-century culture, and balance the needs of self and family. But out of his struggles, he’s celebrated numerous successes and gained a wealth of insights on the ground. The co-founder of Gravity Leadership and host of the leadership training workshop “Making Disciples in the Way of Jesus” at each Regional Convention 2018, Ben’s unique combination of life experiences has captured the attention of Church of God pastors across the country. Continue reading

Florida Congregation Offers Hope, Healing Following Parkland Tragedy

A graphic posted on the Coral Springs Church Facebook page.

By Carl Stagner

The night before the devastating tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Pastor Kimberly and her daughter Anna each had the same disturbing dream. At some point during the night, they both imagined being in the middle of a violent situation where they each had to use guns to defend themselves. They awoke and shared with each other just how terrifying their dreams were and how they hoped they’d never find themselves in such a situation. A few hours later, news broke about what had taken place a couple miles from their home. Kim’s husband, Anna’s father, is the lead pastor of Coral Springs Community Church of God, the closest Church of God to Parkland, Florida. 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