Tag Archives: Missouri

Poplar Bluff, Missouri: Capacity Crowds Require a Coliseum

Worship on Easter at the Black River Coliseum (credit: Nico Cuevas).

By Carl Stagner

Last Easter, West Side Church of God in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, welcomed a crowd of about 640 people between two services. With average attendance running 17 percent higher this year than last, they expected about 750 people to be present on April 1. Leadership had to prepare for sufficient seating and ample parking, all of which could not be found at their facility. As they dreamed of the possibilities, they concluded that capacity crowds would require booking the local coliseum for their Easter gathering. Good thing they did—some 1,400 people showed up! That’s especially remarkable when you consider the church had declined to just 25 people less than four years ago. Continue reading

Weightlifting and the Word: MO Pastor Memorizes Scripture, Lifts 300 Lbs.

By Noel Marquis

Pastor Aaron Holman of First Church of God in Thayer, Missouri, is starting a new workout regimen for both his body and his spirit. His workout routine involves lifting a barbell off the ground to the level of the hips, or “deadlifting,” 300 pounds in the gym located in the carport next to his home. In between sets of lifting, he exercises his mind and spirit by memorizing passages of the Bible. Four weeks ago, Pastor Holman finished memorizing Ephesians. Currently, he is midway through the book of Philippians. Continue reading

Missouri Church Holds VBS for Kids with Special Needs

VBS 2017 at South Side Church of God.

By Lydia Sergeant

South Side Church of God in St. Louis, Missouri, held a fantastic Vacation Bible School late in the summer. This was their second year to host a Bible school that not only included children from their own church, but also families of children with special needs. Continue reading

Floods Devastate Churches, Communities in Missouri: Your Help Needed!

Photo: Flood waters at First Church of God in Doniphan, Missouri.

By Carl Stagner

UPDATE, May 9, 2017: Church of God Ministries Disaster Relief has just sent $5,000 for flood relief in Missouri as cleanup efforts have only just begun at First Church of God in Doniphan, Missouri. Initial assessments suggest repair costs could exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s why your help is still crucial. Donate today! Church facilities, including the parsonage, were insured, but indications are that as little as 15 percent of the total repair cost will be covered. Renovations are underway in the Family Life Center so the congregation can resume worship at the church property (currently, the congregation is meeting at another local church) before the sanctuary repair is complete.

WORK TEAMS: Missouri Ministries of the Church of God has reported that they will be helping to schedule groups in the next week or so. Supplies of water, gloves, and more are needed. Please contact Missouri Ministries for more information at 573-265-8545 or visit www.cogamo.org/contact/.

Some locals say they’ve never seen it this bad. Reports indicate that between six and twelve inches of rain fell across parts of Missouri over the past week, with several more inches expected. Homes and businesses have been destroyed during this ongoing disaster, which has already claimed two lives. Water levels rose to record highs at fourteen different locations along the state’s rivers, even breaking a few records held for more than a hundred years. A few hundred roads were shut down, and many remain closed. Unfortunately, Church of God congregations have not escaped the water’s wrath. Continue reading

Missouri Church Takes Bold Step to Eliminate Debt

Photo: First Church mortgage going up in flames.

By Carl Stagner

Two thousand years ago, Jesus paid the debt we could not pay. His victory over death became our victory, setting us free to experience new life and share it with others. Until freedom reigns, debt has a way of holding us back, enslaving us to our past. First Church of God in Jefferson City, Missouri, found themselves in this very predicament. While thankful for the grace that covers their spiritual debt, the debt that stared them down, barring the way forward, was financial. This debt kept them from experiencing God’s best and embracing the future he’d planned for them. Then, early last year, the capital city congregation fixed their eyes on Christ and boldly stepped out of the boat. Continue reading

Missouri Church’s Sports Outreach a Slam Dunk for Local Kids

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Photo: Little Hoops basketball competition.

By Carl Stagner

The first time they did it, 72 kids participated. The next year, 93 showed up. This year saw 153 local children! The Little Hoops basketball outreach of First Church of God in Doniphan, Missouri, has exceeded any and all expectations since that first bold attempt at something new a little more than three years ago. While sports ministries have certainly been around for a while, this is the story of a church that decided to do things a little differently. It should be no surprise then that this small-town church with a passion for reclaiming its community for Christ is winning both games and souls. Continue reading

Ferguson, MO-Area Pastor Calls Church, Community to Reconciliation

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Photo: First Church of God community Thanksgiving meal.

By Carl Stagner

August 9, 2014. That was the day Michael Brown was shot and killed in a city which has sadly become emblematic of recent racial tensions in our country. Ferguson, Missouri, drew massive media attention in the days and weeks following the tragedy, but there was one near-tragedy that took place in another St. Louis, Missouri-area municipality which few know about. Five days earlier, Brian Burton found himself looking into the barrel of a gun which discharged; no explanation as to why the officer’s gun went off, nor why there was no bullet to be found. But Brian Burton, now pastor of First Church of God in St. Louis, considers it only by the grace of God that he’s alive today. Based on his perspectives growing up within a few minutes of Ferguson, as well as his experience leading a multicultural church today, Pastor Brian offers a clarion call to the church for reconciliation. Continue reading

No Ordinary Church Plant: The Table, St. Peters, Missouri

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Photo: Worship at The Table.

By Heidi Tarin

When Jon Simmonds felt the call to plant a church, he didn’t know what he was getting into. He didn’t necessarily follow the set play book for planters and his church, The Table, in St. Peters, Missouri, is not your average church plant. Jon had been in ministry for over a decade and was serving as a youth pastor when he felt led to plant a church. He gathered a team and they began meeting as a small group in January 2015. Just a few months later, the Table’s story starts to deviate from normal. 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

Jars for Justice: Missouri Church Champions Cause with Apple Butter

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By Carl Stagner

Sometimes the best way to champion a cause is also the sweetest. First Church of God in Farmington, Missouri, wanted to make a difference in the fight against human trafficking, but needed to find a way to avoid breaking the budget. Selling apple butter was their solution. With a little effort, First Church of God is proving that churches of all sizes can do something to advance freedom for the captives. Continue reading

Fresh Vision, Lasting Legacy: Two Missouri Churches Pursue Future as One

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By Samantha Brown

“We will just have to start praying for God to give us a building.” These are the words that pastor’s wife, Amanda Simmonds, spoke to The Table’s leadership team in July 2014 before moving to St. Charles, Missouri on their church planting journey. And so they began to pray. One year later, they never expected that the facility God would provide would come with a group of amazing people who desire to leave a lasting legacy for the kingdom. Continue reading

St. Louis, Missouri: VBS Has Left the Building

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By Carl Stagner

A few years ago, South Side Church of God in St. Louis, Missouri, poured significant resources into marketing their summer Vacation Bible School. VBS attendance had waned, and nearly all participation came from the children of the church. They determined to make sure every family in the area knew about VBS at South Side. After hand-delivering 1,500 flyers to homes in the community, reality hit them square in the face. Not uncommon to cities across the country, it seemed that the church on every corner was holding a VBS. South Side was in competition with the other, larger churches with bigger budgets and more to attract children. That summer, two families ended up coming from the community—and they only came because they mistakenly thought they’d come to a church down the street from South Side. Maybe there was a better way. Maybe God was calling South Side Church of God to take VBS on the road. Continue reading

From 25 to 125 in 1 Year

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By Carl Stagner

Just one year ago, Jason Jordan and his family took the reins of leadership at West Side Church of God in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Average Sunday morning attendance in August 2014 was down to 25. The church had entered into a season of decline and discouragement. As the average age of the congregation climbed, cobwebs formed in the baptistery. Flash-forward one year—125 people gather for worship each week, the cobwebs were swept out of the baptistery out of necessity, and up to fourteen infants recently needed care in the church’s nursery. Continue reading

Church of God Pastor’s Wife Pens Mystery Novel

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By Carl Stagner

Watch out. There’s a pastor’s wife on the loose, and she’s wanted for the murder of an old high school friend. But she claims innocence. Yet while she attempts to discover who actually committed the crime, she puts herself in grave danger. Fortunately the experiences of this pastor’s wife are purely fictional, but the author who penned the new mystery novel from the perspective of the parsonage is 100-percent real. Carole Morden, wife of South Side Church of God pastor John Morden in St. Louis, Missouri, dared to practice what she preached to her small group and, as a result, saw her manuscript get published. Continue reading

Sex Trafficking: From Awareness to Action

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Photo: Awareness materials distributed at the youth convention in Missouri.

By Randee Doe

The average age at which a child is exploited through prostitution is just thirteen. Take a moment to process that statement. Thirteen years old!

When most people think of sex trafficking, they think of a kidnapped child enslaved in a foreign brothel, not too different than depicted in the 2009 movie Taken. In reality, commercial sexual exploitation of minors does occur internationally, but it also occurs in every corner of the United States. In the United States, sex trafficking typically occurs through the manipulative tactics of suave, predatory pimps. The United States Department of Justice has reported that there are 100,000 to 300,000 American children at risk of being trafficked for commercial sex in the United States. Continue reading