Tag Archives: Florida

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

Christmas Across the Church of God

Crossroads Church (Yuba City, CA) drive-through nativity (& more!).

By Carl Stagner

The Christmas season is upon us; a quick glance at the social media of a handful of Church of God congregations suggests we are a Movement that knows how to celebrate! Certainly, the birth of Jesus gives us many reasons to celebrate, and that celebration has taken the form of hanging of the greens services, advent readings and candlelighting, choral cantatas, Christmas pageants, caroling, dinners (also known as potlucks, pitch-ins, and carry-ins!), and much, much more. Because the gift of Jesus is meant to be shared with as many people as possible, Church of God congregations have come up with a variety of creative means to share the reason for the season. A number of churches have already reported lives won to Christ, too! The following are just a few of the ways Church of God congregations are celebrating. Continue reading

The Last Shall Be First to Hear Convention 2018 Speaker Terry Rolen

By Carl Stagner

Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Columbus, and Fairfax. The Regional Convention makes a stop at these four locations before it ever gets to Safety Harbor, Florida. But the event in Safety Harbor will be no afterthought; neither will be the opportunity to hear from the Lord through his servant Terry Rolen. The lead pastor of Bayside Community Church looks forward to hosting the grand finale Regional Convention next year, September 25–26. While much of the movement won’t wait until then to receive, hear, and embrace all God has for them through next year’s Regional Conventions, those who do—and those who choose to visit more than one location—won’t be disappointed. Continue reading

Warner University Reintroduces Greek, Enhances Study of God’s Word

A student studies Greek.

By Tim Dwyer

After a hiatus of several years, Warner University ministry students are tackling Greek once again, preparing themselves to study the New Testament in its original language in depth and in detail. The fall semester began with a bad case of “Greekophobia” for our ministry students—a fear of that ancient language, of how hard it would be, and what it would do to their grades. After eleven weeks, that fear has passed away! Continue reading

Convention 2018 Speaker: Light to Hollywood, Living Water to the Desert

Jeff Whye

By Carl Stagner

All the glitter, glamor, and glitz of Hollywood can’t be outshined by the light of Christ reflecting through one of his own. Jeff Whye, known across the Church of God for his high-octane personality and knack for making people laugh, rocked Hollywood for a season but never lost his footing on the solid Rock. When God called him to the dry soil of the Southwest, his ambition was to point people to the source of Living Water. At Anderson University and Long Reach Church of God in Columbia, Maryland, before that, Jeff was molded and made into the man of God he is today. Overflowing with a love for reconciliation and restoration of relationships—between people and to the Lord—Jeff Whye looks forward to the opportunity to speak to the Church of God at the five Regional Conventions in 2018. Continue reading

CWC Convention 2017 in Words and Pictures

Christian Women Connection (CWC) strives to serve Christ through equipping and empowering women for Christian ministry. CWC aims to provide positive relationships, as well as ministry resources to the Church of God and other groups in order to connect women through relationships, spiritual formation, and service. They are also committed to training and empowering women for leadership in peace-building and reconciliation. One of the ways in which they are able to carry out this goal is through their biennial convention. 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

Your Support Needed as Hurricane Irma Relief Underway

A symbol of hope post-hurricane at Warner University.

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UPDATE 9-12: Hurricane Irma Disaster Assessment Begins

Warner University students safe in their shelter (credit: David Hoag).

By Carl Stagner

UPDATE, Tuesday, September 12: The following report came from Warner University president, David Hoag, this afternoon:

As you may know, over one million Floridians do not have power. Warner University is one of the institutions still without power. We are working with Duke Energy to get that restored as soon as possible. We are canceling classes for the remainder of this week (on campus and online). Pending power being restored, we are planning to resume classes beginning Monday morning and allowing students to return Sunday after 6:00 PM. Students are not permitted to return to campus until power is restored.

Our campus was very fortunate, however we did have damage from the hurricane. Insurance will cover some of the damages, but not all. If you would like to help with a gift towards the restoration of the campus you may make a gift online.

Thank you for your patience as we await more damage reports and a disaster assessment from our churches and area organizations. You can support Church of God Disaster Relief anytime at give.jesusisthesubject.org/disasterrelief.
Continue reading

Hurricane Irma Disaster Assessment Begins

Warner University students safe in their shelter (credit: David Hoag).

By Carl Stagner

More than six million people in Florida remain without power today as the remnants of Hurricane Irma batter much of the southeastern United States. What once was a Category Five storm has been downgraded to tropical storm status, but not without leaving behind damage across much of the state of Florida and utter devastation on some Caribbean islands. Residents in much of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina are not yet out of the woods. At last count, Irma’s wrath has claimed nearly forty lives across the Caribbean and some reports suggest up to 95 percent of buildings on the island of Barbuda. As of Monday, September 11, assessment is ongoing. Continue reading

Students Experience Cross-cultural Community, Ministry at A.One.8

The A.One.8 group of students and leaders!

By Andrew Gale

On July 6, twelve students began their journey to Lake Wales, Florida, for the start of A.One.8 2017. The students came from nine different states from across the country. For some, it was their first-ever flight, beginning a journey of firsts. Continue reading

Disaster Relief Urgent Request

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” —Isaiah 41:10 NIV

In light of what has been classified as truly extraordinary need, the Church of God Disaster Relief Committee is highlighting an urgent request. The current scope of devastation from natural disasters around the world is beyond our scale of imagining. The Disaster Relief Committee is working with national leaders and regional pastors in the affected regions to meet needs. Would you help? Donate now to Disaster Relief. Continue reading