Tag Archives: Maryland

Governor Appoints CHOG Pastor as Faith Commissioner on Suicide Prevention

Kevin Wayne Johnson

By Carl Stagner

The former pastor of First Church of God in Accokeek, Maryland, was intent on cultivating a congregation-wide heart for community and societal transformation. In the last five years of his thirty-four working for the federal government, Kevin Wayne Johnson served the local church faithfully as a bivocational senior pastor. For Kevin, this calling was far more than filling the pulpit; it was about shifting the gears of the congregation to a more community-oriented direction, all the while laying the groundwork for evangelism and discipleship that would continue long after his tenure was complete. Observing national holidays and marking months of societal awareness quickly became a tangible step toward accomplishing these goals. One of the church’s annual emphases, in particular, caught the attention of the governor’s office—suicide prevention. 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

Fairfax First Day a Joyful Celebration of Life

Tuesday evening led by a team from Celebration Church at Columbia.

By Carl Stagner

Earlier this year, an addition to the Fairfax Community Church facility was completed. The new wing, solely devoted to youth and children’s ministry, nearly doubled the size of the building. Gathering for worship and teaching sessions inside the new addition on the first day of the Church of God Regional in Fairfax, Virginia, afforded convention-goers a unique opportunity. While the five electives held on Tuesday afternoon demonstrated a rich depth of ministry insight on the part of the stellar host church staff, activity throughout the day under the church’s new roof served as a constant reminder of the life-giving DNA of Fairfax Community Church. The ideal setting for the kickoff of the fourth 2018 Regional Convention set the stage very well for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit through an interactive dialogue with Ben Hardman and Ben Sternke, moments of worship led by praise teams from Fairfax and Celebration Church at Columbia (Maryland), and an especially potent message from the general director. Continue reading

D.C.-Area Church to Host Fourth Regional Amid Incredible International Impact

Fairfax Community Church baptism celebration.

By Carl Stagner

On September 18 and 19, Fairfax Community Church in Fairfax, Virginia, will host the fourth Church of God Regional Convention of the year. Though they look forward to this opportunity to welcome a cross-section of the Movement to their campus, their day-to-day ministry will not come to a halt. At any given moment, life-giving ministry is made possible somewhere in the world because of this congregation. Their work with refugees at home and abroad, the twenty churches they’ve planted or restarted across the globe, and their bold neighborhood-by-neighborhood reclamation in and around the nation’s capital, are only three of numerous areas of incredible impact. Convention-goers will be inspired to see and hear more of Fairfax’s story in person with their stellar staff, but a recent interview with Pastor Rod Stafford offers the entire Movement a glimpse of just how they give life to their city, state, country, and world. Continue reading

Maryland Church Selected to Receive Funds for Community Transformation

Photo: Pastor Kevin (second from right) with state government staff.

By Carl Stagner

On March 11, the pastor of Accokeek First Church of God in Accokeek, Maryland, represented his congregation during testimony before the Maryland State General Assembly in Annapolis. Kevin Wayne Johnson was humbled to present the church’s plans to help bring about community transformation, even if just for a few minutes. Recently the church was one of three in their entire district to be selected to receive bond bills to enhance the lives of their neighbors. While it was certainly exciting to speak before a gathering of state senators, it was even more exciting to first hear of the funds that would come their way. But for Pastor Kevin, neither experience can compare to the thrill of new opportunities to see lives changed for the cause of Christ. Continue reading

Barney Warren, David Biggers, You, and Me

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Photo: David Biggers (far right) greets a member of the community.

By Carl Stagner

Barney Warren, Adam Miller, Eugene Newberry, Hollis Pistole, and David Biggers. David who? In a lineup of prominent ministers of the Church of God, the name David Biggers may seem out of place. But that is not the case at all. Transforming Life Church of God of Baltimore, Maryland, has a rich history of outstanding leaders, a history which continues to unfold. Before Pastor David entered the scene, the congregation had dwindled down to about thirty, mostly white believers in a predominantly African American neighborhood. Four years later, the church sees an average weekly attendance of about three hundred. Continue reading

Baltimore Church to Reclaim, Revitalize Urban Neighborhood

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Photo: A game of basketball in the Franklin Square neighborhood.

By Emily Ploetz

West Baltimore—one of the lowest socioeconomic areas in the state of Maryland. Over 84 percent of Baltimore city residents qualify for free or reduced lunches. This area is also close to the violence and unrest that made headlines in 2015. All of these hardships from the past continue to affect residents in the present, but there is a resiliency that is carrying the community to a brighter future. In January 2016, the nonprofit community development corporation, known as Operation Win in Life CDC, was launched. This program came from a dire urge to fight back against past struggles and enhance the quality of living for the people in West Baltimore, focusing specifically on the square block area surrounding Celebration Church at Monroe Street. Continue reading

CHOG Congregations Offer Hope, Healing for Baltimore

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By Carl Stagner

It’s been all over the news. You’ve no doubt seen the coverage of the protests and the riots that rocked Baltimore, Maryland, for several weeks. On April 19, 2015, twenty-five-year-old Freddie Gray died following injuries sustained while in police custody five days earlier. Navigating the maze of media punditry has been no easy task in the weeks since the tragedy. Regardless of one’s opinion on the matter, one thing is abundantly clear: where and when Jesus Christ is the subject, light has permeated the darkness. Though it was the looting and hostility that dominated television screens across the country, our Church of God congregations on the ground tell a different story—a story of hope and healing. Continue reading

Maximum Impact: Virginia and Maryland Congregations Unite

By Carl Stagner

Harvey Edge was a young evangelist in the Church of God who once spoke at a series of revivals in northern Virginia. Out of his work, the Fairfax church was born. It was his preaching at another revival in Maryland that led to the birth of the Church of God congregation in Rockville, Maryland. That Rockville congregation ultimately became Lakewood Church of God in Clarksburg, Maryland. Now, eighty-five years later, Fairfax and Clarksburg join a common heritage with a common ministry. Continue reading

Church of God Ministries Announces Domestic Ministries Director

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Photo: Rev. Handel Smith and family.

By Mary Baker-Boudissa

Church of God Ministries (CGM) has named Rev. Handel Smith as the new director of domestic ministries.

“Churches grow through God’s power,” says Rev. Handel Smith. “My desire is to be used by God to help our churches continue to discover God’s purpose.” Smith will join the executive leadership team at Church of God Ministries later this summer, under the direction of Jim Lyon. Continue reading