Tag Archives: Handel Smith

Giving Life, Giving All: North Carolina Pastor’s Legacy Pays it Forward

Gary Young (far left) honored on October 6, 2019, by (left to right) Mike Claypool, Ben Shular, and Cornelius Atkinson.

By Carl Stagner

Alvin Young was a Baptist, but she was a part of the Church of God. Fueled by close proximity as neighbors in the North Carolina countryside near the town of Hickory, Alvin’s interest in her meant he would soon be attending the Church of God, too. The shift wasn’t hard for Alvin, though, for besides his love interest eclipsing denominational differences, he found the teachings of the Church of God to be more consistent with Scripture. Marriage soon secured their relationship with each other and the Church of God, but could do very little to secure their finances. While making a measly $1.15 an hour and doing his best to support a growing family, Alvin Young received a call to ministry. Continue reading

Jamaican Church of God Refocuses National Men’s Ministry

The CHOG men of Jamaica are more service-oriented than ever.

By Carl Stagner

Over time, ministries that were once powerful and effective can grow stale with little or no impact. Of course, this process is usually unintentional, but cultural shifts and other external factors deal unanticipated blows to what was once healthy and of eternal consequence. Thankfully, the God that brought life to such ministries in the first place can breathe new life into dry bones. Such is the case with the national men’s ministry of the Church of God in Jamaica. A new focus and new island-wide strategy have already demonstrated the timelessness of this divine work to reach and engage men at home, at work, in church, and in society. Continue reading

Called to Connect the Inner-City to Christ in Connecticut

Special moment of prayer at New Antioch Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

New Haven, Connecticut, is home to Esau Greene. He grew up in a family well-known to the community, achieving success in school, excelling especially in sports. After college, his story took a turn for the worse. But before it was too late, Jesus Christ not only rescued him from a life of drugs but also called him into ministry. Knowing what it’s like to live on the streets yet highly educated with a degree in human services, and coming from a family of influence yet familiar with the allure of drugs, Esau Greene is God’s man for the job—urban pastor in a college city. Though the church he leads is only three-and-a-half years old, it’s already grown from 5 to some 130 people. Continue reading

Church Pastored by CHOG Ministries’ Handel Smith Celebrates Urban Ministry Renewal

Handel Smith with Paul, sub-contractor for the church’s affordable homes ministry.

By Carl Stagner

Church of God Ministries staff are known for their roles they play in the collective work of the Movement. But among those who report to “base camp” day after day are individuals who are very active in their local churches. Some are Sunday school teachers, board members, worship leaders, associate pastors, and senior pastors. Others are laypeople who volunteer and get involved in numerous initiatives and projects at the local church level. When Handel Smith accepted the call to fill an executive leadership position at Church of God Ministries in Anderson, Indiana, he accepted a massive portfolio—oversight of the Movement’s influence and impact in the United States and Canada. His ministry Monday through Saturday—and countless Sundays, too—is extensive and expansive. Though a faithful attender of one of the Anderson-area churches when at home, it soon became apparent that he’d received a special leadership assignment that would both bring God glory and give life to a life-giving soul. Continue reading

Steadfast in Scottsbluff: An Unwavering Love for the Lord and the Lakota

Louise Deines

By Carl Stagner

Louise Deines is ninety-eight years old. That hasn’t stopped her from continuing to love the Lord and the Lakota people. Her ministry through the Church of God in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, has stretched fifty years across both seasons of challenge and blessing. Though she was never ordained as a minister, her ministry of presence, teaching, and encouragement has proved vital to home missions in the region. While her qualifications could have taken her anywhere, her heart is with Native American ministry in Scottsbluff. Accolades aren’t what matter to Louise, though she was recently honored for fifty years of home missionary service. What really matters to Louise is love. 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

Partnership Plots New Course for Georgia Fellowship

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Photo: Handel Smith, Joyce Smith, Jason McClendon, Jeff Robinson.

By Carl Stagner

Kingdom-focused ministries demonstrate a keen ability to look beyond their own plights, plans, and programs. They see God working out his big-picture plan on a much grander scale. Competition isn’t on their radar, and when another church or assembly needs a hand, they don’t hesitate to help. Sparse growth, little involvement with each other, and diminishing hope had characterized the Georgia Fellowship of the Church of God in recent years, but kingdom-focused ministries weren’t far away. Eager to see God on the move once again in the Peach State, Church of God Ministries, Florida Ministries, and Illinois Ministries have reached out with love, generosity, and a challenge to embrace a bold turnaround. Continue reading

Bringing the Message and the Mission Back into Focus

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Collage: Handel Smith, Ryan Chapman, Paul Dreger, David Ferguson.

By Carl Stagner

Imagine a world where churches were less focused on method, and more focused on message. Picture a scenario where more congregations were so busy with the mission that they didn’t have time or energy to bicker over which programs get the largest share of the budget. What if believers were known everywhere as disciples who make disciples, who make disciples? It’s possible. It’s even biblical. But it’s not commonplace. In mid-October, three members of the Domestic Ministries Team of Church of God Ministries returned from a pastoral leadership summit in Akron, Ohio, that zeroed in on this divine dream. Several Church of God leaders are now gearing up for training over the next year to help Church of God congregations bring the message and mission back into focus. Continue reading

Reclaim 2016 Philadelphia Wednesday: When God’s People Come Together

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Photo: When God’s people come together…

By Carl Stagner

Incredible things happen when God’s people come together. The presence of God is powerful when God’s people come together. When God’s people come together, regardless of ethnicity or culture, differences diminish and Jesus Christ is magnified. Hope shines bright, the body of Christ is strong, and the kingdom advances when God’s people come together. In a world so strongly divided by race and politics, Jesus Christ was the clearly the unifying subject on Wednesday at the Regional Convention of the Church of God at New Covenant Church in Philadelphia. In a culture exemplified by competing aspirations and agendas, Church of God pastors and lay leaders came together Wednesday to embrace a common mission: to reclaim our neighborhoods in Jesus’ name. Continue reading

Sowing Seeds of Reconciliation, Restoration in Missouri

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Photo: Handel Smith speaks at First Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

Pastor Scott Andrews farms for a living. He also serves as interim pastor for First Church of God in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. His experience as a bivocational interim pastor hasn’t precluded him, however, from ministering through some of the most challenging and blessed times. In fact, it’s often the interim pastor who is called to walk congregations through the difficulties of church-wide transition. But the story unfolding at First Church of God isn’t just about an interim, bivocational pastor who sows seeds of hope in addition to corn. The story there is about a church that was struggling, uncertain of its future, and nursing the wounds of broken relationships. This is a story of reconciliation and restoration at the southeastern edge of the Ozarks. Continue reading

Church of God Ministries Reignites State, Regional Assemblies with ‘Boot Camps’

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Photo: Handel with Church of God leaders in Georgia.

By Carl Stagner

God is truly moving in the Church of God. From the local church, to the state and regional assemblies, to the offices of Church of God Ministries, real change is taking place to position the movement for maximum kingdom impact. Baptisteries are getting wet again. Altars are filling up again. Churches are making more and better disciples. Walls that recently separated saints from one another are crumbling. As ministries coalesce around our common subject, Jesus, we’re reclaiming what hell has stolen. Many of our state and regional assemblies are seeing renewed unity and fresh missional fervor thanks in part to what are being called revitalization “boot camps.” These opportunities, offered by Church of God Ministries, and led by Handel Smith and the domestic ministry team, are now open to any district, state, or regional assembly that longs to see revitalization. Continue reading

Legacy of Love: Rev. Janice Turner’s Ministry of Presence to Native Americans

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By Carl Stagner

Her adventure of a lifetime began with simple obedience to God. Considering the proximity of other Native American communities, this Georgia woman could have easily found ministry opportunities closer than Allen, South Dakota. But God’s call didn’t have to make sense; she was told to go. Rev. Janice Turner knew she was called to do more than apply Band-Aids to societal maladies. Thus, one summer mission experience led to numerous 1,300-mile trips across the country since 2008. God called Janice to invest for the long-term, to build relationships, and to effect substantial and sustainable change in a culture that resembles that of a third-world country. Not limited to the gifts she brought to the local children each December, Janice Turner’s ministry was truly a ministry of presence. Continue reading

Church of God Ministries Relaunches Home Missions

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By Carl Stagner

We end up like islands. The enemy of our souls says, “Don’t talk to each other; die where you are—alone and without hope.” Through years of transition and financial difficulties, Native American Ministries unintentionally slipped through cracks. We helped to create the isolation. A lack of resources and support have drained the life out of vital mission efforts here at home—on our own soil. Critical cultural deterioration among Native American tribes has only compounded the challenges faced by our home missionaries, each crying out for you and me to bridge the vast waters that otherwise separate and destroy. This year we confessed where we’ve fallen short and renewed our commitment to Native American Ministries. Church of God Ministries is humbled to announce a relaunch of Home Missions that has already begun to reclaim what hell had stolen. Continue reading

Leadership Summit 2015 Launches Leaders of Today and Tomorrow

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By R.W. Moody and Carl Stagner

Remain Connected to the Vine

Have you ever taken a walk through a vineyard? There are a few things you will notice if you do. First, the vine. It spreads out in many directions as it meanders its way across the field. It is the source for everything that grows out from it. Second, the branches. These branches carry all of the nutrients that the vine gives. Third, there is the fruit. This is the product of the vine. All of the resources that the vine pushes through the branches shows itself in the fruit. The health of the fruit depends on the connection of the branch to the vine. The vine is the source of life.

In John 15, Jesus compared himself to the vine. He is the source of life. We are the branches. Our connection to the vine is critical if we are to bear fruit. As Christ-followers, if we want to grow, we must remain in him. This is the lesson that more than two hundred student and adult leaders learned at this year’s Leadership Summit. Continue reading

Revolutionary Resource Portal Coming This June

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By Carl Stagner

Wouldn’t it be nice if all the ministry resources you need could be accessed through a single online portal? Whether curriculum, discipleship books, supplemental teaching material, training guides for counseling, youth ministry tools, or personal access to coaching experiences, a revolutionary resource portal will offer these, and much, much more. Since 1881, the Church of God has not seen a discipleship tool of such magnitude. Church of God Ministries is pleased to present Be Bold Academy—not a school, but a door of possibilities for spiritual growth through which all Church of God pastors and lay leaders will have the opportunity to walk. This June, during Church of God Convention in Oklahoma City, this value-added smorgasbord of ministry resources will be fully unveiled. Continue reading