Tag Archives: multicultural

All About Jesus in Alaska: Palmer Pastor Celebrates Unity, Mission

Nora and J. R. Stepp in scenic Alaska.

By Carl Stagner

One year has passed since J. R. Stepp became the first black pastor of a predominantly white congregation in Palmer, Alaska. But to Palmer Church of God and Pastor J. R., it’s really no big deal. While they certainly acknowledge the effective witness of multicultural ministry, they’re most concerned about the advancement of the kingdom. Simply put, they’re too busy preaching the gospel in word and action to spend time thinking about their unique situation. As the Spirit convicts and compels the Church of God movement to reconciliation and greater unity, Palmer Church of God offers a glimpse of what it looks like when Jesus is truly the subject. Continue reading

Harvey Carey: Snapshots of an Inner-City Pastor, Church Planter

Harvey Carey’s heart is for all ages in the city.

By Carl Stagner

Jesus is the subject for Harvey Carey. The urban pastor and church planter—also an avid amateur photographer—isn’t affiliated directly with the Church of God, but he’s a familiar face to many in the Movement. The former IYC speaker was invited to speak again to the Church of God, this time at the Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio (June 19–20). His firsthand experience shining the light of Christ in the inner-city not only informs, but inspires listeners young and old, from downtown to down yonder. This product of the inner-city, turned proponent of the inner-city, challenges Christians to give life to their community—population three, or population three million. 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

Spanish-Speaking Church Planted in Florida on Easter Sunday

Pastor Isaias Marquez speaks at the launch service on Easter.

By Carl Stagner

Now, more than ever, the Sunshine State is primed for the gospel. The normal flow of migration to Florida from Spanish-speaking countries presents a tremendous opportunity for Hispanic church planters. But, in the wake of last year’s hurricane disaster in Puerto Rico, Spanish-speaking people have left the territory for Florida in droves. Isaias and Laura Marquez, pastors of a congregation in Lake Wales, are always on the lookout for possible church plants. Observing the lack of Hispanic churches in the Winter Haven area, they reached out to First Church of God to consider hosting a new work. On Easter Sunday, Iglesia de Dios in Winter Haven was born, offering the hope of Christ to Spanish-speaking residents while extending the reach of First Church beyond what they could have ever imagined. Continue reading

Reclaiming Life, Kingdom Territory in Central California

By Carl Stagner

Like the dawning of a brand-new day, the Holy Spirit is breathing new life into the Church of God in central California. Over the past five months, several structural and functional changes have been received warmly by a family of congregations seeking direction and revival. Under the leadership of their new regional pastor, Michael Guzman, the Central California Association of the Church of God has since developed strategies to increase efficiency, maximize potential, and take back what hell has stolen. The gates of hell have no doubt begun to shake, as these strategies are already beginning to bear fruit. Continue reading

Pastor of All People: Ministries Council Secretary Called to Lead Amid Diversity

Pastor Vincent Miller and family.

By Carl Stagner

“Everybody has a different fingerprint. I just think this is my fingerprint.” At Church of God Convention 2017 in Wichita, Kansas, many were first introduced to Vincent Miller, who accepted the role of secretary for the Ministries Council earlier this year. But he isn’t new to the Movement at all. Vincent’s ministry in the Church of God has spanned several states, as has his fingerprint, as he puts it. What is his fingerprint? To pastor ethnically and culturally diverse congregations. Because Jesus is the subject, Vincent knows that diversity does not have to equal division. Because Jesus is the subject, not skin color or language, unity amid diversity can be a powerful witness to the amazing love of God. Now entering his second year as pastor of First Church of God in Tampa, Florida, Pastor Vincent Miller is more eager than ever to give witness to the love of God available in Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Warner Pacific Featured in Book Exploring Diversity in Christian Higher Ed

The book, Diversity Matters: Race, Ethnicity, and the Future of Christian Higher Education was published on August 8, 2017, and explores the unique need for diversity in Christian universities and colleges. The book begins with various universities and colleges that have made diversity a goal and priority. Among these is Warner Pacific College, the Church of God college in Portland, Oregon. Continue reading

Multicultural and Countercultural: Native American Ministry in Nebraska

Photo: The installation service of home missionary Jonathan Ervin. Photo courtesy Anita Miller.

By Carl Stagner

The other side of the railroad tracks. That’s where, at the close of World War II, the Native Americans of Alliance, Nebraska, were required to live. A few years earlier, in 1942, extra hands were needed at the Alliance air base. The Army recruited Native Americans as civilian workers for the duration of the war. But eight Native American families remained in town after the war ended, segregated to a four-by-four block section on the south side. Even then, the Church of God took steps that were counter to the culture. Instead of remaining segregated, land was purchased in the heart of the Native American neighborhood to build the Indian Mission Church of God. It was 1952, and the pioneers of Church of God Native American Ministries were unwilling to stay separate from a people that needed the love and saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Continue reading

When Teachers Become Learners: Barefoot and Humbled in Bangladesh

Photo: Cross-cultural footwashing in Bangladesh.

By Carl Stagner

If you’ve ever been on a mission trip, you know it’s a mistake to think you’re going to another country only to teach and bless someone else. More often than not, you end up learning more than you could offer. Instead of leaving feeling impressed by all the good you did, you feel humbled by the good people you met. When a group from Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana; First Church of God in Marion, South Dakota; and Church of God Ministries in Anderson, Indiana, came together for a missions trip to Bangladesh this year, the teachers once again became the learners. Continue reading

Gathering Connects, Trains Young Leaders Across Europe, Middle East

Photo: Multinational prayer at the gathering.

By Carl Stagner

Across much of Europe and the Middle East, evangelical Christians compose only 0.25 to 4 percent of the population. While young Christians in North American have been given the opportunity to experience worship and fellowship with thousands of other believers—such as IYC—many Christians across European and Middle Eastern countries have never been in the same room with more than a dozen young adults who share their faith. The presence, support, and comradery of other believers is often a breath of fresh air among those for whom isolation is the norm. The second gathering of the Three Worlds Leadership Network commenced in beautiful Switzerland in early May this year, bringing with it that much-needed breath of fresh air. Continue reading

ONE Gives Students Glimpse of Heaven, Desire to Change the World Together

By Carl Stagner

Some had likely never worshiped in Spanish before. Others had probably never experienced firsthand the high-octane energy of urban gospel. History suggests that few had likely ever been in a setting where three cultures converged in the name of Christ. But that’s exactly what happened at the first-ever ONE event, which took place at Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 21 and 22. The result was a glimpse of heaven and a renewed desire to change the world together. Continue reading

Mississippi Church Adapts to Cultural Shift to Reach Community

Photo: Pastor Trey locks hands and hearts with basketball ministry youth.

By Carl Stagner

The culture of your community has shifted over the past five, ten, perhaps twenty years. The shift may have been gradual, but somehow you feel blindsided. Your church probably has three choices: adapt with the culture, relocate to another culture, or continue a futile fight against it. Adapting to the culture doesn’t mean changing the message or compromising principles; only the methods change when Jesus is the subject. Crossroads of Life Church of God in Byram, Mississippi, had to make a decision as they watched their community’s culture shift dramatically, largely over the past decade alone. But they’ve chosen to stay put, and they’re certainly glad they did. Continue reading

Creativity, Generosity, Boldness Characterize Easter Celebrations

Photo: Lord’s Supper drama at First Church, Inverness, Florida.

By Carl Stagner

As a pinnacle in the church year, some might get the feeling that it’s all downhill from Easter. But perhaps Pastor Paul Strozier of Madison Park Church of God in Anderson, Indiana, said it best last year in an article he wrote: “The baskets have returned to the attic, the plastic eggs are being recycled, somewhere in the house there is at least one purple Peep left unconsumed—at least until the toddler finds it…But can we really let the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ wait a whole year to be acknowledged and celebrated again? Easter never ends for the follower of Jesus Christ…Imagine how it might change our homes, our families, and our communities if we lived every day with resurrection power, hope, and joy.” For Church of God congregations across the country, Easter has only just begun! Here’s a look at how churches observed Easter week. Continue reading

Kingdom-Minded in Muncie: Mary and Cornelius Dollison

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Photo: The Dollisons and Kirby Avenue Church of God.

By Rachel Eldridge

Unity. Reclamation. These are tough goals. It’s easier to think about them than to do them, far simpler to dismiss them as buzzwords than carry them out, day by day, in the messiness of life. But for Mary and Cornelius Dollison and Kirby Avenue Church of God, unity and reclamation are part of life itself.

“‘Working together, involving all’ has been my motto, and I strive to live it every day,” Mary wrote in a recent column in her local newspaper, expressing gratitude for a Lifetime Achievement Award she recently received. Continue reading

Youth to Participate in Historic Unity Event this April

one_unitytogether_postcard_front_forweb

By Carl Stagner

It’s at the core of who we are. We preach about it. We sing about it. We read books about it by pioneers of our movement. But we don’t have a flawless record of living it out. The perfect love which unites us all in Jesus must translate to how we function as individual churches and as a movement. A new generation is rising up in the Church of God less connected to “the way we’ve always done it.” They are challenging the status quo; they are daring to do things differently. They’re setting the example for the rest of us as they come together in Indianapolis, Indiana, April 21–22 to worship under one roof. No, it’s not the International Youth Convention. No, it’s not NIYC. And no, it’s also not a youth convention of the Concilio Hispano. It’s ONE gathering, hosted by all three groups, that your church’s youth group won’t want to miss. Continue reading