Tag Archives: Northwest

Pastor Engages the Enemy in Adventure of a Lifetime

Chaplain Miller prays with a Marine Corps Special Operations Team prior to a mission in East Africa.

By Carl Stagner

Calculated risk. Often used in the financial sense, Baron Miller uttered the term in the context of fear. Every time you take a drive in the car or catch a flight on an airplane, is there a chance you might not make it back? Sure, there is. But that doesn’t cancel your travel plans. When firefighters have to rush inside a burning building, or law enforcement are called to a chaotic scene, they don’t hesitate. There’s risk involved, but these community heroes trust their training and their gear to help them stand strong in the heat of the battle. The parallel to the Christian experience is inescapable; the soldier of the cross must engage the battle, must reclaim what hell has stolen. Might it get scary? Possibly. Could it get dangerous? Certainly. But at the fingertips of every believer is an arsenal of spiritual weapons and an array of training options to fully engage in the fight. Engaging the enemy—that’s what Baron Miller’s life has been about—from the halls of the Church of God he founded in Bellingham, Washington, to the shores of Guantanamo Bay. Continue reading

When Ministry Gets Messy: A Washington Church’s Incarnational Approach

RCC team at work on a Service Project Sunday.

By Carl Stagner

“In the beginning was the Word, as the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1 NIV). Community was whole and pristine, at the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. But the thief, who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), did exactly that. Community was ruptured between humanity and God, and between one another. Since the Fall, God has been working to restore that community, to bring people back to himself. Did you know he’s chosen to use you and me to accomplish the task? But we’ve lost our sense of community, downplayed the power of presence, and ignored the methods of Jesus. Our neighbors are crying out for hope all around us, we hear their voices, but we’d prefer to write a check to the nearest charity. We don’t want to get our hands dirty. In contrast, Roosevelt Community Church, a modest-size Church of God congregation in Bellingham, Washington, is taking back what hell has stolen and destroyed in their neighborhood. They’re boldly giving life where the enemy of our souls has snatched it away, simply by being in, for, and with their community. Continue reading

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

Kingdom Keys: Linda Fast Strikes Chord with Students, Neighbors

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Photo: Linda Fast (far right) stands proudly with her students who received honors at a piano competition.

By Carl Stagner

Well-known and well-loved by the community. A true heart for people. Doesn’t know a stranger. Loves the opportunity to minister. Her primary mission field: a piano studio. Forty-eight years and hundreds of piano students later, Linda Fast is still making the most of her fingers and her voice. Continue reading

CHOG Regional Convention Host Church in the Reclamation Business

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Photo: Outside the beautiful Vancouver Church facility.

By Carl Stagner

“I believe we’re not so much in the church-building business as we’re in the change-the-world business. And furthermore, I believe that we’re not so much in the reformation business as we are in the reclamation business—taking back what hell has stolen.” Jim Lyon’s bold words have set the stage for the three Church of God regional conventions this year, where the theme “Reclaim Your Neighbor[hood]” will be woven into the teaching, dialogue, and worship. Vancouver Church, host of the first of the regional conventions (April 26–28 in Vancouver, Washington), has a rich history of reclamation. As they welcome convention-goers to their campus, they’re excited to share some of the ways God has empowered them to reclaim what hell has stolen—both locally and globally. Continue reading