Tag Archives: Missouri

Church of God Congregations Give Life This Thanksgiving

Food distribution at Central Community Church, Wichita, Kansas.

By Carl Stagner

Though the fourth Thursday in November hasn’t yet arrived, Church of God congregations across the United States have already pulled out all the stops to celebrate Thanksgiving. While it may seem that Walmart and the Hallmark Channel have bypassed this autumn holiday for its even more commercialized wintertime counterpart, churches from Washington State to New York City and in between still make it a big deal. From special worship services to massive community service projects, Thanksgiving, for the Church of God, means giving life from a heart of gratitude. Continue reading

Tornadoes, Flooding Wreak Havoc Across Plains, Midwest

Dayton-area home damaged by tornado (photo courtesy Chris Hall).

By Carl Stagner

UPDATE, as of May 31, 11:15 AM EDT: As floodwaters continue to devastate parts of Oklahoma, Church of God Ministries has authorized $5,000 in relief funds to be sent to aid relief efforts in coordination with Crossings Community Church (Oklahoma City) and First Church of God (Nowata, Oklahoma). Wendell Abbott, pastor in Nowata, reports that the need is great and most homeowners do not have flood insurance. The emergency manager for the county is also a part of the Nowata congregation and the church has become a staging facility for the Red Cross. In Muskogee, also inundated, Pastor Gary Underwood of Eastside Community Church is helping flood victims in a variety of ways, including gathering hay for farm animals. While the story continues to develop, we rejoice that great things are happening through the Church of God in Oklahoma in the name of Jesus! To continue to distribute disaster relief funds, we need your financial support: www.jesusisthesubject.org/disaster-relief.

UPDATE, as of May 30, 3:55 PM EDT: Kevin Clouse, of Oklahoma Church of God Ministries, has reported that no Church of God buildings have been damaged from recent storms and flooding. One pastor’s rented house sustained some roof damage, and some churches are hard to reach due to flooded roads. Of course, numerous homes and churches beyond the Movement have been damaged or destroyed, and we continue to lift in prayer those affected, including Church of God congregations engaging in relief efforts for their communities.


ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT: It’s been a rough few weeks from Oklahoma to Pennsylvania and states in between. While weather records reveal an average of 276 tornadoes nationwide during the month of May, as of May 29, more than 460 tornadoes had been reported. While much of the media has focused its attention on the dramatic destruction of structures due to recent tornadic activity, parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri remain underwater. Church of God congregations near and far from the affected regions have already mobilized work teams, supply drives, and represented Jesus in tangible ways, but there is so much more to be done. Church of God Disaster Relief continues to gather information and determine the scope of the affect of such severe weather on our churches and congregants. Continue reading

Daughters of the King: Missouri Church Leads Effort to Reach Girls for Christ

High-energy worship experience at Jesus Girls 2019.

By Carl Stagner

Four years ago, the children’s pastor at First Church of God in East Prairie, Missouri, was in the middle of a conversation with a group of moms about issues their daughters were facing. It seemed that a common problem among the church girls was the presentation of an image at church on Sundays that didn’t match the one they lived out during the week. Dawn Walters recounts how she and this group of moms envisioned an evening experience designed especially for girls where the gospel would be presented clearly, where such topics would be addressed from a biblical perspective, and where the girls would make wonderful memories. Considering prevalent bullying, stressful relationship dynamics, social media craziness, and more, it was clear something needed to be done, particularly before those trying teenage years, to instill in the hearts of girls the love, acceptance, and security found in Jesus alone. Continue reading

Church Planting Made Easy?

Mark Bane (center) cares deeply about his TLC friends.

By Carl Stagner

If the title of this article doesn’t get your attention, perhaps Mark Bane’s life goal will: “to win as many people to Jesus as possible, then die!” Mark Bane has a lengthy résumé, with everything from youth pastor to “church planting master,” and perhaps that’s why he’s qualified to make such a bold assertion. Can church planting really be made easy? The director of evangelism and new church development for the USA/Canada region of the Church of the Nazarene will join us at Church of God Convention 2019 & General Assembly to explain. A provocative question like this begs for an answer, so, in a recent interview with Church of God Ministries, Mark Bane offers some hints. Continue reading

Messy but Miraculous: Missouri Churches Merge to Maximize Kingdom Impact

Co-pastors Rick & Johnny conduct salt ceremony to signify the merger.

By Carl Stagner

Johnny Phifer was serving as the pastor of Walnut Lawn Church of God in Springfield, Missouri. Rick Herald was the pastor of LifeQuest Church, also in Springfield. Neither church was on life support or even in serious trouble. Still, each church did have its fair share of challenges; in particular, the average age of the Walnut Lawn congregation was progressively older, while LifeQuest faced a sizeable debt. But, while it’s true that the notion of a merger seemed to address these basic needs, these were not the primary motivators for a decision of such far-reaching implications. There had to be more. And there was. Continue reading

Disaster Relief Update: Flooding Devastates Craig, Missouri

Approaching the church’s front doors by boat.

By Carl Stagner

On March 20, the levee holding back the steadily rising Missouri River broke in more than one place, forcing the town of Craig, Missouri, to evacuate, and leaving behind flooded homes and churches—including First Church of God. Inside the house of worship, chest-deep water inundated parts of the facility, while two feet of water was visible inside the sanctuary, damaging carpets, pews, books, tables, and their piano and organ. With homes underwater, at least two members of the small congregation have also had to find temporary shelter. The river has receded somewhat but, with more snowmelt and rain in the forecast, it’s not certain Craig will dry out. In the meantime, First Church of God finds itself in a difficult situation—without flood insurance, as this kind of flooding had never happened before. Continue reading

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