Tag Archives: Florida

Movement to Pray for the Persecuted Church this November

By Carl Stagner

Christians in Western culture may not fully appreciate the cost of Christianity, but those who put their lives on the line in other parts of the world, just to share their faith or simply gather together, understand. Depending on the source, the numbers of believers imprisoned, tortured, and/or killed may vary, but one thing is clear—the need for our prayerful support of the persecuted church is tremendous. After Church of God leaders in Texas proposed a motion during General Assembly 2019 in Orlando to ask all local Church of God congregations to set aside a Sunday each November to pray specifically for the persecuted church around the world, overwhelming approval followed. 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

CHOG Minister Completes 4,310-Mile Walk for Adoption, Foster Care

Glenn Koster wets his feet in the Pacific Ocean.

By Carl Stagner

Glenn Koster left South Miami on foot, in February 2018. He intended to reach Seattle by October of last year, but the hazards around the next curve weren’t always visible along the 4,310-mile adventure on which he’d embarked. Ultimately appearing in 51 newspapers, on NPR and K-LOVE, with 44 churches, and for 3 foster-care-related groups, Glenn Koster finally completed his walk across America for adoption and foster care awareness late this summer. As Glenn dipped his feet in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, it was clear that even those frustrating delays would serve a providential purpose. Continue reading

Reunited in Orlando: Convention 2019 Speaker, Attendee Connect 19 Years Later

Anne Nelson (far left) and Samir Salibi (second from left) in Orlando.

By Carl Stagner

All she wanted to do was feel closer to her Lebanese family. Anne’s great grandfather was Lebanese and used to write letters to her as a child. The more Anne learned, and the older she got, the more she desired to uncover her Middle-Eastern roots. What if she could communicate with her Lebanese relatives in their language? she wondered, especially after her grandfather passed away. Learning the Arabic language wasn’t in high demand among the public schools in her area, though, presenting a short-lived challenge. Since France had colonized Lebanon in the early to mid-1900s, Anne knew French would be an alternative option. It was Anne’s love for the language that led her to leave her hometown behind in 2000 for a journey that would ultimately bring together the stories of Convention 2019, Samir Salibi, and the financial controller for Servant Solutions: Anne Nelson. Continue reading

Disaster Relief Update: Hurricane Dorian

By Carl Stagner

UPDATE, as of September 10: Church of God Ministries has reached out to a partner on the ground in New Providence, Bahamas in order to support relief efforts. As many are displaced from their homes, this ministry is ready to provide immediate relief to victims through food, water, and emergency shelter. Will you join us?

ORIGINAL article, September 5: As a Category Five storm, Hurricane Dorian reached the Bahamas on Monday night, bringing with it 185-mile-per-hour winds and torrential rainfall. Though Dorian weakened to a Category Two hurricane on Tuesday, it proved no less a monster for the residents of the Caribbean country. At times, the nearly stationary hurricane moved laterally at only one mile per hour, offering little relief to the hardest-hit areas. Storm surge and rising floodwaters claimed multiple lives and forced homeowners to upper floors, trapping some on rooftops. Regaining strength over the Atlantic, Hurricane Dorian is forecast to approach South Carolina through the day on Thursday before moving on or near the North Carolina coast. Meanwhile, as the hearts of people around the world break for the people of the Bahamas, Church of God Ministries has issued an update on disaster relief. Continue reading

Japan Celebrates Increasing Number of Women in Ministry

Gathering of pastors in Japan, summer 2019.

By Carl Stagner

So much took place during Convention 2019 and General Assembly, and so much has been said about our experience together in Orlando. In all the recap and review, we certainly don’t want to overlook the international component of this pivotal gathering. Sure, there were 180 guests and a couple speakers from outside the United States and Canada. More missionaries were present than at any convention in recent memory, and a global dialogue brought some exciting new ideas to the fore. But there were testimonies given and stories shared of God at work around the world, too. One was the report of the growing representation of women among clergy in the Church of God in Japan. Continue reading

Convention 2019 & General Assembly: Pivotal

By Carl Stagner

“It feels a bit like Christmas. You plan for it, you wait expectantly for it, and then it’s over. But, is it really over?” Jim Lyon’s words resonated not only through the grand World Center Marriott ballroom, but also in the hearts of hearers full of the spiritual feast consumed for four days straight. Prayers and plans had certainly preceded such Christmas-like celebration, as members of the Church of God family from coast to coast and across the globe descended upon Orlando, Florida, for the first international reunion since 2013. It was more than a reunion, though, more than a spiritual feast, and not just a passing highlight on the calendar. As featured speaker Lori Salierno-Maldonado put it, “When we embrace our unique place in history, in his larger transcendent story, we can make our contribution to God’s kingdom for such a time as this!” What happened at Church of God Convention 2019 and General Assembly in Florida will neither stay in Florida nor in the past. This really isn’t over. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Honors Heroes, Launches Leaders

Paul Maxfield passes baton of leadership for Children of Promise to the Webbs.

By Carl Stagner

With the retirement of Servant Solutions’ Jeff Jenness and Children of Promise’s Paul Maxfield later this year, Convention 2019 was again an opportunity to celebrate the past. With the selection of new leaders to carry on the mantles of these ministries, and with the commissioning of missionaries Nate and Stacy Tatman, Convention 2019 also celebrated even more indications of a bright future for the Church of God. Special moments were set aside on the Convention 2019 and General Assembly schedule to mark these milestones. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Day Four: Just Do It

Harvey Carey speaks at Convention 2019

By Carl Stagner

Nike coined the phrase but, as General Assembly chair Diana Swoope insisted on Sunday at Convention 2019 and General Assembly, the Bible said it first. Before Sunday’s schedule was in full swing, Church of God people in Orlando, Florida, were likely already on information overload. After multiple messages, plenary sessions, conferences, and workshops, no one could complain about a lack of great content. But as the morning hours unfolded on Sunday, June 30, the Spirit was leading us to do something with it. As was mentioned in the General Assembly, in the context of resolutions, “let’s not sleep on it.” In the worship session that followed and closed out Convention 2019, Harvey Carey affirmed the necessary step of application. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Day Three: Rediscovering Our Mission

Samir Salibi and Jim Lyon lead Saturday morning’s session.

By Carl Stagner

Prayer has cloaked Convention 2019 and General Assembly, top to bottom, front to back, and all around. Behind the scenes, from before dawn until after dusk, formal and informal prayer gatherings and prayer walks have taken every aspect of this international event before the throne of grace. It really should come as no surprise, then, that God has come through on our behalf, delivering a Convention experience like never before. When encouragement is mixed with exhortation and inspiration is mixed with introspection, and the Holy Spirit’s orchestrating all of it, it’s hard to remain unaffected. That was certainly the case on Saturday. The General Assembly meeting, the interview with Samir Salibi, the heritage hymn sing, worship led by Amante Lacey, a timely message from Lori Salierno-Maldonado, and the commissioning of missionaries Nate and Stacy Tatman were only a few of the moments that helped us rediscover—and recommit to—our mission as individuals, congregations, and as a movement. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Day Two: History in the Making

A crowded General Assembly for the first time in a convention center.

By Carl Stagner

Were you present at Church of God Convention and General Assembly on Friday, June 28? If you tuned into the live video stream offered by Faithlife, you got a taste of the truly riveting plot that actually unfolded throughout the day. A variety of CHOG Convention firsts, a couple major transitions, an atmosphere conducive to life change, and a hearkening back to our heritage revealed a story over the past twenty-four hours that only God could write. If you were onsite, you know firsthand the powerful pieces that weaved together to make the day more than memorable. The indelible imprint left upon sisters and brothers from across the country is undeniable, as wounded hearts found healing, parched souls quenched their thirst on living water, and dry bones received life. On Day Two of Convention 2019, participants experienced nothing short of history in the making. Continue reading

Natalie Grant to Open Convention 2019 Amid Great Anticipation

Natalie Grant

By Carl Stagner

One of the biggest names in Christian music today is about to lead the Church of God in an inspirational evening of worship, and anticipation is on the rise. Natalie Grant, who has brought to the radio and Sunday morning worship services numerous hits, such as “In Better Hands,” “The Greatness of Our God,” “Your Great Name,” “Be One,” “Clean,” and “More Than Anything,” will take the platform at the Orlando World Center Marriott on Thursday, June 27, at 7:15 PM. Her debut Church of God Convention appearance is especially meaningful for many who have already been touched by her compelling songs and uniquely personal fan engagement. It is equally meaningful for those who have only observed the authenticity behind her powerhouse vocals, both in concert settings and through her involvement on a variety missional fronts, including the fight against trafficking. While her seven Grammy nominations and $4 million in career sales are certainly impressive, it’s her heartbeat for Jesus and the desire to be his hands and feet that make the Church of God especially blessed to welcome Natalie Grant into our midst. Continue reading

Convention 2019 to Honor Heroes, Launch Leaders

Jeff Jenness | Paul Maxfield

By Carl Stagner

With the retirement of Servant Solutions’ Jeff Jenness and Children of Promise’s Paul Maxfield later this year, Convention 2019 will again be an opportunity to celebrate the past. With the selection of new leaders to carry on the mantles of these ministries, and with the commissioning of missionaries Nate and Stacy Tatman, Convention 2019 will also celebrate even more indications of bright future for the Church of God. Special moments you won’t want to miss have been set aside on the Convention 2019 and General Assembly schedule to mark these milestones. Continue reading

Convention 2019: An International Affair

Convention guests from Mexico and Ghana together in 2013.

By Carl Stagner

In 2015, the General Assembly passed a resolution directing the Church of God Convention to “encourage broad participation” by the Church of God around the world every fourth year. The first of these gatherings with an international emphasis is Convention 2019 in Orlando, Florida, June 27–30 (www.chogconvention.org). With Church of God speakers from outside the United States and Canada, approximately 170 international registrants to date, and a variety of missions conferences and events, Convention 2019 and General Assembly is gearing up to be one of the most international experiences of the Church of God in North America. Continue reading

Convention 2019 Speaker Fosters Refuge and Redemption in France

Samir Salibi with wife Joanna, sons Maxim and Liam.

By Carl Stagner

The Church of God in Paris, France, is relatively new. It wasn’t until 1989 that the Church of God came to Paris, and not by way of the Church of God in the United States and Canada. The Church of God in Lebanon planted the Church of God in Paris. So when the refugee crisis of 2015 resulted in more than a million Middle Eastern refugees arriving in Europe, the Church of God in Paris was uniquely qualified to respond. Samir Salibi, leader of the Church of God ministry in Paris known as @home, was once an immigrant, himself, also from Lebanon. As you might imagine, the Church of God is especially looking forward to what God has placed on his heart for Convention 2019 & General Assembly. Continue reading