Tag Archives: Kansas

Black Woman Pastor Takes White Kansas Congregation to New Heights

Presephoni (center, middle row) with part of the congregation.

By Carl Stagner

Liberal, Kansas, never saw it coming. The city of only about 20,000 people couldn’t have imagined the day. Only 3.8 percent of the population is African American, and the new pastor of South Church of God is both black and a woman. Presephoni Fuller is, in fact, the first black pastor in the ninety-year history of the church. Still, Pastor Presephoni takes it all in stride. She doesn’t have time to ponder the uniqueness of her situation; she’s too busy reaching deeper into the community and taking the Kansas congregation to new heights. Continue reading

The Clerical Collar-Wearing Pastor Who Planted a Church at Age 77

Pastor Dick Ogle

By Carl Stagner

Dick Ogle’s preferred daily dress is clerical attire—characteristic among some denominations, but certainly not common in the Church of God. Funerals are one of his primary methods of outreach—unusual, but surprisingly potent. Perhaps the most unconventional thing about this eighty-eight-year-old pastor is that he came out of retirement at age seventy-seven to plant a church in Hoisington, Kansas. Today, First Street Church of God is a healthy, growing, multi-ethnic congregation that proclaims the gospel with boldness, and sings straight out of the hymnal. Continue reading

Double Adoptee Walks Across Country for Foster Care, Adoption Awareness

Glenn Koster takes a break along the scenic countryside.

By Carl Stagner

Abandoned and alone, Glenn Koster was adopted at age six. Due to neglect and abuse, he had to be adopted again at age ten. Sadly, this traumatic childhood did little to prepare him for the real world and, as such, Glenn found an outlet for his pain in alcohol and violence. The Lord turned his life around though, and in 1989, he forever left his alcohol and abuse in the past. Desiring to pay it forward, but not permitted to foster or adopt because of his record, Glenn has instead determined to raise awareness for foster care and adoption. As he walks across the continental United States, the Church of God minister and Leadership Focus participant is encountering not only a wide variety of people, but also his heavenly Father in a fresh and powerful way. Continue reading

Motorcycle Ministry and the Church of God

Bikers gearing up for a ride at Owingsville First Church.

By Carl Stagner

The Church of God movement is known for making Jesus the subject—looking past ethnic and cultural differences for the Lord’s sake. Recognizing that the call to ministry doesn’t distinguish between male and female, and reaching our hands in fellowship to every blood-washed one—regardless of color of skin, or name over the church doors, for example—the Church of God has placed a premium on unity, holiness, and the mission of reaching anyone and everyone with the gospel. It should be no surprise then, that over recent decades Church of God congregations across the country have developed motorcycle ministries that really make a difference. Often stereotyped and frequently feared by a four-wheeled society, the distinct culture and community of bikers has proved a field ready for harvest in the Church of God. Continue reading

Freedom Fight Takes Aim at Root Causes of Trafficking

By Carl Stagner

In 2014, the Church of God reintroduced its longstanding commitment to freedom with the launch of CHOG Trafficklight. Since then, the Movement has galvanized around the cause of advancing freedom for the enslaved, the overlooked, and the oppressed through awareness and through support of established organizations. On the heels of Church of God Convention 2017, the first-ever Church of God Freedom Summit not only celebrated the success of CHOG Trafficklight, but also turned our attention to the root causes of trafficking and sexual exploitation. Trafficklight 2.0: Freedom Fight will help us fight a global scourge at an international, domestic, and local church level, even down to our own homes. Continue reading

Is God Calling You to Respond?

Photo: “And may You feed a hungry world through me…” (Gaither Vocal Band)

By Carl Stagner

You were there. Or you watched the live streaming. Perhaps you couldn’t make it to Wichita, but you listened in on the social media conversation. You were inspired by the bright new day of the Church of God, culminating in a convention experience that some have reported rivals that of the largest gatherings in Christendom today. You’ve heard the reports of God at work in the movement. You’ve sensed the Spirit bringing the movement together for such a time as this. You’ve caught the vision, and you want to take it back to your circle of ministry. Could it be that now God is calling you to respond? Continue reading

Just the Beginning: Convention 2017 Charts Course for Long-Term Kingdom Impact

Photo: “For the church triumphant is alive and well…”

By Carl Stagner

Trafficklight 2.0, set to advance freedom around the world over the next two years. Partnerships between Children of Promise, Warner Press, and Stephen Arterburn, created to protect the lives of children and touch the hearts of men and women. New missionaries commissioned, called by God to go to communities both domestic and international with the hope of Jesus. A lineup of speakers, illuminating God’s Word for such a time as this. The CARE Seminar, connecting our pastors and churches with an initiative designed to strengthen the financial health and spiritual vitality of the shepherds of our movement. Pastors young and old, ready to join the movement with renewed hope and enthusiasm for the direction we’re headed. The voice of the General Assembly, heard crying out against a historical culture of oppression, supporting a unified credentialing process, and affirming the need for a movement-wide structural review. And so much more. This was Church of God Convention 2017, and this was just the beginning. Continue reading

Convention 2017: Women Lead the Way on Thursday

Photo: Thursday night worship led by choir and orchestra (photo courtesy Chris Hall).

By Carl Stagner

Just in case anyone had forgotten, Thursday at Church of God Convention 2017 was a reminder to everyone that an anointed woman of God cannot be discounted. On June 22, the Church of God Convention featured not one, not two, but three different women leaders who have had an extensive impact on the church and culture around us. Ann Smith, Anita Renfroe, and Danielle Strickland offered messages oozing with wisdom, wit, and, in Anita Renfroe’s case, sheer hilarity, too. It was the women—not the men—who led the way on Thursday. Continue reading

Convention Wednesday: A Walk-On-Water Kind of Day

Photo: Worship on Wednesday with Sarah Scharbrough McLaughlin (photo courtesy Ashley Cunnington).

By Carl Stagner

Day Two of CHOG Convention 2017 is now one for the history books. It wasn’t just an ordinary day at Central Community Church in Wichita, Kansas. This was a time of awakening to a new day which continues to unfold before our eyes. Focused on Jesus as the subject, churches across the movement are discovering a flag everyone can wave. The General Assembly, convention worship services, and extra events spread across the day each pointed to the centrality of Christ. So did the challenge Nick Vujicic issued for listeners to step out of the boat. Continue reading

CHOG Convention 2017: Day One Delivers Power-Packed Punch

Photo: The Gaither Vocal Band on Tuesday night.

By Carl Stagner

From the prayer session at 8:00 in the morning to the last note of “It is Finished” in the evening, opening day at Church of God Convention 2017 saw the power of God on display among his people—power in the five incredible voices of the Gaither Vocal Band; power in the dynamic preaching of Paul Sheppard; power in the Spirit that moved among the people. Continue reading

Welcome to Wichita: Church of God Convention Kicks Off in Kansas

By Carl Stagner

Today we get to see what all the buzz has been about. Today we get to experience a gathering of people boldly committed to Christ, determined to take back what hell has stolen. Today we, the Church of God, make history as we gather as a movement for the first time ever in Wichita, Kansas. Starting today, for four days, we once again realize the collective potential of God’s power at work as we move together. This week we will be reaffirmed that, truly, we are better together. Before we get too far down the road, however, let’s take a look at what Tuesday, June 20, has to offer. Continue reading

Join Us in Wichita, Celebrate Movement’s International Reach

Photo: Missionary commissioning prayer in Philadelphia last year.

By Carl Stagner

The Church of God is so much bigger than most of us can imagine. With nearly 900,000 believers around the world, attending nearly 8,000 churches in 89 different countries, the international reach of the Church of God is both broad and diverse. It can be hard to visualize the magnitude of that which God has allowed us to be a part, especially when our only consistent interface with the movement is from fifth pew back, piano side, once or twice a week. One of the best things about the Church of God Convention is the opportunity to see, hear, and participate in what God is doing outside our regular sphere of ministry. Church of God Convention 2017 will once again celebrate the international reach of our movement during worship gatherings and extra events. Continue reading

It’s a Family Affair: Three Convention 2017 Speakers Reflect on the Church of God

Photo: When the family gets together, God is glorified.

By Carl Stagner

Family has always been an important concept to the Church of God, and family continues to describe the multigenerational relationships built and sustained across the years and across the miles. Drawn together by a commitment to Jesus Christ and his church, and propelled by a desire to carry out his mission, the movement born in the early 1880s is still better—and stronger—when we’re together. The invitation has been given, and many have RSVP’d, for another big reunion slated to take place toward the end of June. Three Church of God Convention 2017 speakers recently reflected on the family nature of the movement and why they’re excited to attend the family reunion. Will you be there, too?

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Convention 2017 Worship Pastor a Product of Church, Family Heritage

Photo: George Skramstad (left) on the violin.

By Carl Stagner

Church of God heritage is in his bones. Music flows in his veins. George R. Skramstad is third-generation Church of God and the product of a family steeped in classical, folk, and church music. He started playing piano at the age of three, and at the age of eleven he picked up the violin. Over the course of his ministry, he’s served several congregations, and led worship for many churches through seasons of incredible growth, including North Hills in Phoenix, Arizona; Crossings in Oklahoma City; and Central Community in Wichita, Kansas—the host church of CHOG Convention 2017. Today he serves as music and worship arts pastor at Central Community. In a recent interview with Church of God Ministries, Pastor George Skramstad shared some insights gleaned from his church, music, and family experiences, and offered a preview of how these influences will translate into his worship leadership at Church of God Convention 2017. Continue reading

Trafficking Victims Find Hope, Healing at Reclaim 2017 Host-City Haven

Photo: Mentoring based on God’s Word at Hope Ranch.

By Carl Stagner

In February 2015, we first shared the story of how Hope Ranch for Women in Wichita, Kansas, came to be. A little over two years later, their story of reclaiming what hell has stolen from the lives of victims of exploitation continues to unfold. With its origins in one of several strong Church of God congregations in Wichita—Christ Church—Hope Ranch will be celebrated at Church of God Convention 2017 for its highly effective ministry. Those who attend the Freedom Summit on Friday, June 23, will also have the chance to tour their life-giving campus. Before you go, get to know a bit about the ministry which has forever changed the course of sex trafficking survivors. Continue reading