Tag Archives: Ohio

Churches Bless Schools, Families as Fall Semester Dawns

Back-to-school haircut at Bedford First Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

Teachers making final preparations for their classes, students dreading the end of summer, parents adjusting to new routines, and school buses on the streets again (drivers, be careful!)—it can only mean one thing: it’s that time of year again! School is back in session or will begin again soon across much of the country, signaling a community-wide shift from one season to the next. Sometimes that shift can be anything but smooth for families, just as it can be for teachers, administrators, and staff. We celebrate the Church of God congregations across the country that recognize the need and do what they can to meet the need. School supply drives, special prayer gatherings, and “back-to-school bashes” are just a few of the ways numerous congregations are coming alongside schools and families as the fall semester dawns. Continue reading

Dayton Churches Distribute Love in the Wake of Disaster

Salem Church disaster relief team removing debris from yard.

By Carl Stagner

Memorial Day weekend wasn’t all barbecues and sunshine across the Midwest. Especially from central Indiana to the Dayton, Ohio, area, festivities were cut short on May 27 due to an outbreak of tornadoes, the likes of which most residents had never seen. More than a dozen tornadoes touched down between the state line and the Interstate 75-Interstate 70 interchange, with winds up to 170 miles per hour in the worst twisters, one of which was a half-mile wide. To make matters worse, these storms came after dark and hit many low-income neighborhoods the hardest. Without hesitation, the Church of God sprang into action, offering assistance wherever it was needed. Even since the newness of the tragic events has worn off and the national spotlight on Dayton has dimmed, congregations like Salem and Hopeland continue to distribute helping hands, supplies, and love in the wake of disaster. 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

Multiplication in the Midwest Changing the Conversation on Church Planting

Tom Planck leading a CHOG conference at Exponential 2019.

By Carl Stagner

We’re simply not keeping up. Statistics show 4,000 churches are planted each year in the United States and 3,700 churches close. That leaves a gain of only three hundred churches. The overall population continues to rise, while the number of churches to reach people with the gospel lags behind. Perhaps now, more than ever, it’s time to change the conversation on church planting. That’s precisely what Tom Planck and Healthy Growing Churches are doing. The Church of God pastor and church planter is now actively pouring into the hearts of churches and regions to reverse a trend through basic math—multiplication. The numbers are starting to turn in their favor, as multiplication in the Midwest has captured fresh interest and mobilized existing churches like never before. Continue reading

Midnight Meditations: Gethsemane Experience Draws Church to Watch and Pray

Maiden Lane congregants gather to “watch and pray.”

By Carl Stagner

Unless you work third-shift or suffer insomnia, chances are you were asleep at midnight on Good Friday this year. Not Pastor Mark Martin and a good crowd of people from Maiden Lane Church of God, in Springfield, Ohio, though! With the aid of the Holy Spirit—and perhaps an extra cup of coffee—they could be found gathered at church, embarking on a unique adventure like never before. Inspired and challenged by Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:36–46 to “watch and pray,” even for just an hour, they took a spiritual journey back to the Garden of Gethsemane to reflect on the gravity of that historical moment, and ultimately prepare the way for a victorious Easter celebration. Continue reading

Dynamite Regional Convention Speaker Returns for Convention 2019

Harvey Carey’s communication style is bold and engaging.

By Carl Stagner

It has been said that Harvey Carey is a “fire-starter”—that he “sets people and churches ablaze.” Of course, spiritual fire and fervor is the kind of blaze Harvey Carey’s high-octane preaching is known for producing. Those who attended the Church of God Regional Convention last year in Columbus, Ohio, have firsthand experience, as do thousands of others who attended IYC in the early 2000s. Thankfully the rest of the Church of God have another opportunity to sit under the explosive Spirit-led preaching of urban pastor Harvey Carey: Convention 2019 and General Assembly. Continue reading

“Culture-Changer” Gospel Artist Added to Convention 2019 Schedule

Amante Lacey

By Carl Stagner

It’s no secret that a wide variety of music styles characterize worship services in churches across the country. Too often, those styles divide churches and keep them from remembering that Jesus is the subject. But it’s not often that believers consider the culture of worship and the effect it has on the congregation and the surrounding community. Sometimes the culture of a Sunday service is really no culture of worship, at all. Amante Lacey, world-renowned gospel artist—and worship pastor at First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio—is committed to be a culture-changer in the arena of worship. His eclectic background, and his exposure to sanctuaries and auditoriums across the country as a road artist, have led him to recognize the need for worship that brings all of God’s people together in heart and voice. It will be no different for him when he steps up on the platform to lead worship at Church of God Convention 2019 and General Assembly. Continue reading

Youth Pastors, Regions Unite to Prepare Students for Christ-Centered Leadership

Students worshiping the Lord at 3SLI.

By Carl Stagner

IYC and state youth conventions do a tremendous job inspiring students to come to Christ, to rededicate their lives to the Lord, and to accept the unique call God has placed on their lives. Most of the students leave these mountain-top experiences having experienced life change to one degree or another, but some also leave recognizing God has called them to lead. Just after the turn of the new century, several youth pastors from the Midwest came together to identify the best way to prepare such students for lifelong Christ-centered leadership. In 2003, 3SLI (then the Tri-State Student Leadership Institute, now Tri-Level) was launched to serve students in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. When West Virginia was added, the name 3SLI didn’t change—and neither did its resolve to come alongside emerging leaders. Continue reading

Culinary Craftsmanship and Christ: A Columbus Caterer’s Calling

Michael Mayfield and team at First Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

Those who attended the Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio, in June came for connection and conversation, for worship and the Word. Others came for resources, and for reunion with friends and family. Few came expecting to tickle their taste buds, but for those who experienced the culinary craftsmanship of the catering at First Church of God, that’s exactly what they did. While the desserts and dishes at convention meals and receptions were a delicious delight, the sweet spirit of Michael Mayfield and his team is what left convention-goers most impressed. Continue reading

A Year of Living with Less: Ohio Pastor’s Family Accepts Radical Challenge

The Deeter family.

By Carl Stagner

No more trinkets or toys. No more new clothes or that pair of shoes you’ve just got to have. No more DVDs, home décor, or kitchen appliances—even if they’re on sale! Absolutely no more trips to the department store or the mall simply to browse the selection—that would be too tempting. Josh Deeter, pastor of First Church of God in Tallmadge, Ohio, and his wife Emily, accepted the challenge early this year to make 2018 their “year of living with less.” The goal: to stop buying things for an entire year. Don’t worry—they’re still buying deodorant, tooth paste, food to eat, and necessary items that break. Half-way through the year, they’ve learned a lot about themselves, how much God has truly blessed them, and that living with less can mean living for so much more. Continue reading

Students Exemplify Unity Amid Diversity at ONE Event

ONE Event 2018 scenes (credit: Handel Smith).

June 20 and 21, 2018, marked another historic event for youth ministry in the Church of God. The ONE Event was designed to celebrate unity among students, and was sponsored by a leadership team that included representation from the Hispanic Council (Concilio Hispano), IYC, and NIYC. Continue reading

Out of Death, Life: Gathering Celebrates CHOG History, Ohio Church’s Unique Story

Nyle Kardatzke highlighting stories of the CHOG in Elmore, OH at the recent Historical Society retreat.

By Carl Stagner

Stories connect us. They connect us to each other, to our roots, to our God. Stories help us learn from our past—to repeat the good and avoid the mistakes. Jesus used stories to communicate concepts with his listeners, and preachers do the same today. Individuals like the Church of God historian (Gary Agee) and our archivist (Nicholas Stanton-Roark), as well as groups like the Historical Society, strive to preserve, tell, and retell stories, too. Their stories take place within the context of the Church of God movement, and all point to the love of an eternal Father whose provision is not bound by time and space. At a late-June gathering of the Church of God Historical Society in Anderson, Indiana, Nyle Kardatzke was invited as a guest speaker to highlight some of the common experiences of “growing up Church of God”—both serious and whimsical—as well as the unique story of one Ohio church that came to life in the wake of death. Continue reading

Columbus Convention Calls Church to Courageous, Contagious Christianity

Altars in use at the Church of God Regional in Columbus.

By Carl Stagner

Salt does no good inside the shaker. A candle is useless unless it’s lit. Though Jesus called the church both salt and light, many in the Church of God have observed that we’ve not lived up to that description, often shirking back, afraid of the darkness. At the Church of God Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio, pastors and lay leaders were present, but the especially powerful presence of the Holy Spirit was what really got people talking. The worship, the fellowship, the electives, and the spoken messages seemed finely tuned, clarifying the charge to the Church of God to boldly reclaim what hell has stolen. At a time when life is so widely taken for granted, when signs of true life are hard to find, and when lives are at stake for people around the world, the Church of God Regional Conventions this year are championing life at all stages, all ages, among all races, and under all circumstances. Perhaps like no convention before it, the Regional Convention in Columbus called the Church of God to courageous, contagious Christianity. Continue reading

Closing Day at Columbus Regional Catalyzes Church to Give Life

Harvey Carey speaks at the Columbus Regional.

By Carl Stagner

You would’ve thought you were in a sports stadium. The sanctuary at First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio, was loud—not because a celebrity athlete was making a great play, but because the Word of God was being preached with conviction and the Spirit’s presence was powerful. From the worship to the fellowship to the receptions, everything came together to drive home the theme of the Regional Convention and hint at next year’s Convention theme. For when God’s people are gathered with Jesus as the subject and begin to reclaim what hell has stolen, the life received is life that cannot be contained! Even Church of God Ministries staff who have attended two or three Regionals to this point have said there was something uniquely special about #LifeColumbus. Continue reading