Tag Archives: Michigan

Adopted Daughter Discovers the Road to Truth Leads to Grace

Laura Tonks (right) with brothers at time of adoption.

By Megan DeBruyn

Growing up in a large family in Flushing, Michigan, American life was all that Laura Tonks ever knew. That is, until a chance encounter with her Korean birth mom forty-three years after she was given up for adoption changed everything. Continue reading

The Faster Pastor: Michigan Minister Competes for Charity

Photo: Pastor David Aukerman preparing to race!

By Carl Stagner

“…As the pastor behind me started to pass me on the inside, I gave the car more gas and tried to speed through the turn while staying high on the track. Turns three and four went well, but I had too much speed coming through turn one. I slipped up and over the edge of the track in turn two, down a short hill, and ran into the retaining wall on the other side—all in the span of two or three seconds.” No, this wasn’t the Brickyard 400, and the setting was neither Talladega nor Daytona. The competition was fierce, but not against each other; these pastors were racing for a charity of their choice. Though Pastor David Aukerman of Mt. Haley Church of God in Midland, Michigan, wasn’t ultimately named on the six-foot-tall cross-adorned traveling trophy, he did raise nearly $2,500 for the local homeless shelter. Continue reading

Michigan Ministry Blankets Cold World with Love

beaverton_chog_mi_kids_quilts_forweb

Photo: School children blessed by the quilting ministry.

By Carl Stagner

The world can be a cruel and cold place. Especially for children and families living in poverty. Especially for the homeless. Especially for inhabitants of third-world countries. Congregations and ministries of the Church of God are known across the country and around the world for bringing the light and warmth of God’s love to “the least of these.” One such ministry creates and distributes quilts and blankets to those in need both here and abroad. Mary Scott joins approximately fifteen other ladies and three gentlemen who meet on Mondays at Beaverton Church of God in Beaverton, Michigan. More than a social club, this quilting ministry she leads warms both the body and the soul. Continue reading

Veteran Church of God Pastor Honored by West Point

danwhiting_speaks_westpoint2016_forweb

Photo: Dan Whiting speaks at West Point in late October 2016.

By Carl Stagner

Being accepted for admission to the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point is an exceptional honor reserved for our nation’s most promising students. But it takes more than excellent grades to be accepted for admission. West Point wants leaders who are not only intelligent, but those who are physically fit and of outstanding character.

Those are pretty high standards expressed on the front page of the West Point website. Still, Dan Whiting, executive pastor of Clarkston Community Church in Clarkston, Michigan, was one of those exceptional students to receive the honor of admission to West Point. Recently he was honored again by the prestigious institution when asked to speak at the chapel of his class reunion. Dan’s remarks at the special service reflect the heart of a man shaped by his military experience but transformed by Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Churches Share Youth Pastor, Maximize Kingdom Impact

mattderby_family_photo_forweb

Photo: Pastor Matt Derby and family.

By Carl Stagner

For two years, the two Church of God congregations of Ithaca, Michigan, have shared a youth pastor. The radical arrangement simply makes it possible for one to have a youth pastor, while the other church now has resources it didn’t have before. Ithaca Church of God and Edgewood Church of God have discovered that competition crumbles when it’s all about the common mission. That mission isn’t to outdo one another, see who can fill more pews, or beat each other to the buffet! While churches in America have been known to act like they’re on different teams, the truth is we’re on the same team when we seek God’s kingdom first. Not only do Ithaca and Edgewood share a youth pastor and various activities through the year, but they also team up with churches of a variety of denominations to meet the community’s needs. Perhaps that’s why the recent joint fundraiser for the local food pantry brought in record crowds and dollars. Continue reading

Churches Discard Sunday Schedules, Cross Racial Lines to Worship Together

WestCourtStreet_DamascusRoad_unity_FORWEB

Photo: Niki Christiansen stands with Demetrius and Latoya Hunter.

By Carl Stagner

We can plan all we want, but sometimes the Holy Spirit just takes over. Sunday, July 10, was scheduled to be the continuation of a sermon series delivered by Niki Christiansen at West Court Street Church of God in Flint, Michigan. But how could the church ignore the tragic events which had since unfolded in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas? Niki and her husband Paul serve as co-interim pastors for the church, and they knew something had to be done. After all, the sermon she was scheduled to preach was about unity—a topic we love to talk about, but don’t always put into practice. Since November 2014, a multiethnic church has met for worship in the West Court Street building at the same time, in another room. The stage was set perfectly for what would happen next. Continue reading

Canceling Sunday Worship Service at Michigan Church a ‘No-Brainer’

By Carl Stagner

Ithaca Church of God recently canceled their Sunday morning worship service at 624 East Barber Street in Ithaca, Michigan. The pastor went so far as to say it was a “no-brainer.” But it’s not what you might think. Instead of gathering at the church, the congregation decided to meet at the local park to be the church. For the second year in a row, their Community Service Sunday made a bold statement to the community that they care. While much of our society looks upon the visible expression of the body of Christ with distrust and disdain, locals in Ithaca, Michigan, saw only love. Continue reading

Youth Group Decides Their Annual Fundraiser Shouldn’t Be for Themselves

dinner_stock_FORWEb

By Carl Stagner

The youth group at New Horizons Community Church of God in Jackson, Michigan, just flexed its generosity muscle. Every February they hold a fundraiser to support youth activities throughout the year. With the help of their parents and other church volunteers, the youth prepare a banquet, guests from the church and community dine on fine food, and donations are encouraged. But this year, the issue of human trafficking has been on the hearts and minds of the students. Why should they revel in their revenue when girls are being trafficked in their own communities? This year, the teens boldly decided that their annual fundraiser shouldn’t be for themselves. Continue reading

Michigan Welcomes New Church to the Movement

Berrien_footwashing_FORWEB

Photo: Footwashing at Berrien Community Church.

By Carl Stagner

With increasing regularity, congregations and local fellowships are seeking affiliation with the Church of God. Drawn by the dawning of a bright new day, reflecting the light of Christ at the center, established bodies of believers are asking the question, How can we join the movement? From the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the Middle East, Christians have observed that God is on the move in the Church of God. Recently, the Church of God in Michigan rejoiced as Berrien Community Church in Bridgman, Michigan, became the newest Church of God congregation in the state. Continue reading

Urban Tutoring Ministry Changes Students’ Lives

KevinEarley_and_WilhelminaHall_FORWEB

Photo: Pastor Kevin Earley & Wilhelmina Hall at the CHAMPS dedication.

By Carl Stagner

When Jaden was just four years old, he was diagnosed with a mild form of autism spectrum disorder. Entering first grade, his teacher noticed the difficulty Jaden had understanding and following instructions. Though he has access to a resource teacher at school who sees him a few times a week, Jaden hasn’t always received the additional attention he needed. That was, however, until a tutoring ministry of Metropolitan Church of God in Detroit, Michigan, stepped in. CHAMPS, a new initiative made possible by funds from the Church of God Change the World grant, has given Jaden and other young students the educational and spiritual boost they need to succeed. Continue reading

Flint Water Crisis: Local Pastors Offer Perspective, Prayers

water_faucet_stock_FORWEB

By Carl Stagner

Will it ever end? That’s the question lingering in the minds of the people of Flint, Michigan. Home to some 100,000 residents, the city has undergone its fair share of setbacks through the years including, but not limited to, the downsizing of General Motors. Though recently gaining more attention from the media, Flint now seems locked in a drinking water contamination crisis that hasn’t let up since April 2014. Corrosive water has loosened lead in supply lines to homes, businesses, and churches, making tap water unsafe to drink. Muddied by a divisive political environment, little progress seems to have been made to resolve the issue. Local Church of God pastors are now shedding some light on the problem, offering insights underemphasized by the media, prayers we can pray, and things we can do to help. Continue reading

CBH ViewPoint to Present Don’t-Miss Christmas Series

Christmas_CBH_2015_FORWEB

By Carl Stagner

Frankenmuth, Michigan, might sound more like a Halloween town than the home of the largest Christmas store in the world. But at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the most wonderful time of the year is, in fact, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Bronner’s is also the location at which five broadcasts of CBH ViewPoint were recorded, just in time for the season! Perhaps you’ve never tuned in to ViewPoint before, or maybe it’s been awhile. Be sure to tune in to this special, don’t-miss Christmas series, which will bring peace to your soul and, at times, tears of joy to your eyes. In each broadcast you’ll discover the deeper meanings behind the majesty of the manger. Continue reading

Where Everybody Knows Your Name (and His!)

Washington_Ave_CHOG_picnic_adj_FORWEB

By Carl Stagner

Sometimes smaller churches feel like they serve in the shadow of the larger churches around them. But not Washington Avenue Church of God in St. Joseph, Michigan. According to their pastor, Washington Avenue is an intimate community where everybody knows your name. But not just your name. To the post-millennial generation surrounding the church, the name of Jesus Christ is largely unknown. But when these young people walk through the doors of their neighborhood church, they discover the God behind what they’d thought was just an expletive. Continue reading

Do Something: Putting Faith into Action in St. Joseph, Michigan

Do_Something_StJosephMI_flowers_FORWEB

By Emily Ploetz

Action. This small word can be strongly defined as “an exertion of power or force” on Dictionary.com. There is no greater example of the kind of action that God calls us to than the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Neither of the religious leaders were willing to exert any energy into helping the beaten man. But a Samaritan exerted as much power as he could to help a complete stranger. How many times does the church walk past those who are hurting and only pray that things will get better? As the hands and feet of Jesus, there is incalculable potential to do something.

A few years ago, leaders from First Church of God in St. Joseph, Michigan, traveled to California to listen to Pastor Miles McPherson, author of the book Do Something! Make Your Life Count. This book is about how important it is for the church to be the hands and feet of Jesus and reach out into the community. Pastor David Colp, and Chris Britton, the missional outreach director, were both inspired by this book, and decided to make change a reality in their community. Continue reading

Farmington Hills: Multiple Cultures Serving One God

FarmingtonHills_multicultural_dinner_FORWEB

By Emily Ploetz

God. Dios. Gott. It does not matter what language or tongue is used to call on the name of the Lord, because he is still the same. In a world where accents, clothing, and skin color are used to divide those whom God created, there are still people willing to come together in unity to serve the God they love. Take for instance the Farmington Hills Church of God located in southeast Michigan in a suburb of Detroit. This area has been witness to an ever-changing population due to the many industries around it. Farmington Hills was created from a merger between a Greek church and a Caucasian church in the 1970s. In the late 1980s, Farmington Hills hired a German Canadian pastor who served the church for twenty-five years. This may sound like a pretty unique background for a church to have, but no one could have predicted how God would bring people together through this church. Continue reading