Tag Archives: Ohio

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

Columbus Convention Opening Day “Spirit-filled,” “Tremendous,” “Great!”

The fellowship at First Church on Tuesday was sweet.

By Carl Stagner

The first day of the Church of God Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio, is now history, and the second day is now underway. Nearly five hundred people have enjoyed the numerous teaching sessions, electives, and meetings, as well as the incredible hospitality of First Church of God. Under the leadership of the praise team at First Church, convention-goers have experienced the presence of God in powerful ways—and neither the event, nor the Spirit’s active role, is over yet. As Day Two of the Regional Convention continues, many are still reflecting on the blessings of Day One. Continue reading

Church of God Gathers for Regional Convention in Columbus, Ohio

By Carl Stagner

With outside temperatures high and the A/C cranked high in the sanctuary at First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio, this year’s third Church of God Regional Convention is up and running. Anticipation has also been high for this gathering, in particular, as it takes place in the Midwest (only a few hours from Anderson), and during the traditional “Camp Meeting” week. But the location and time of year aside, a quick glance at the schedule for those gathered for #LifeColumbus indicates two days of life-giving, life-transforming experiences ahead. Continue reading

Columbus Convention Host Pastor a Husband, Father First

Lady “C” and Bishop Clarke.

By Carl Stagner

Timothy Clarke wears a lot of hats, and not the kind that cover his head. For example, he’s the founder and chief prelate of Berean Fellowship, an international assembly and partnership with pastors of small to mid-sized churches and young pastors, and those new to pastoral ministry. He’s served as president of the National Inspirational Youth Convention. He’s the author of numerous books, including Bind Up Your Broken Heart, available from Warner Press. His title of bishop (also translated in Scripture as overseer or elder) is no misnomer; his spiritual oversight and influence is widespread across the Church of God. Among his numerous other roles, he’s served as senior pastor of First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio—host church for the next Regional Convention (June 19–20)—for the past thirty-six years. But of all the hats Timothy Clarke wears, his favorite are husband, father, and grandfather. Continue reading

Fifty Years and Counting: Ohio Pastor’s Longevity at One Church Inspires

The congregation honoring Pastor Walls for his faithful service (Image courtesy Ferman Brown Photography).

By Carl Stagner

They came from near and far. Pastors, politicians, family, friends, and members of the community descended upon East Second Street First Church of God in Xenia, Ohio, for a very special and very unique occasion. On Sunday, March 18, notable Church of God figures addressed the over-capacity crowd, including—but not limited to—Ed Foggs, former executive secretary of the Church of God; Miki Merritt, presiding elder of the National Association; Demetrius Booker, associate state pastor of Ohio Ministries; Timothy Clarke, senior pastor of First Church of God in Columbus; and Dennis Kidd, senior pastor of Front Street Church of God in Hamilton, Ohio. Morning and afternoon services, complete with preaching, presentations, and powerful moments of worship, celebrated the sixty-five-year ministry of Dr. J. Douglas and Lady Donna Walls: fifty faithful years at one church. Continue reading

Heart of a Shepherd: Convention 2018 Speaker Pours into Pastors, Leaders

Ben Hardman speaks at the Philadelphia Regional in 2016.

By Carl Stagner

“I have always believed everyone needs a Paul to pour into you, a Timothy to pour into, and a Barnabas to encourage you.” Ben Hardman’s words come from personal experience. Returning to the Regional Conventions this year—all five of them—the featured speaker hasn’t always lived up to this aspiration. He knows how difficult it is to lead well, make disciples in a 21st-century culture, and balance the needs of self and family. But out of his struggles, he’s celebrated numerous successes and gained a wealth of insights on the ground. The co-founder of Gravity Leadership and host of the leadership training workshop “Making Disciples in the Way of Jesus” at each Regional Convention 2018, Ben’s unique combination of life experiences has captured the attention of Church of God pastors across the country. Continue reading

Three Children Find Family through Children of Promise

Northside supporters holding up “We love you…” signs.

By Maria Neathery

On Jan. 1, 2018, Northside Church of God in Springfield, Ohio, made the compassionate decision to sponsor three children—Simon, Natan, and Paskali—from three different countries: Nepal, India and Tanzania. When the church received the child profiles encouraging them to support Children of Promise, they felt the need to not just support one of the children, but all three. Continue reading

Faith Promise, Individuals Fuel Ohio Church Mission Trip to Belize

First Church missions team stands behind a Belize flag.

By Johnny Creasong

The First Church of God of Shelby, Ohio, will send a mission team to the Central American country of Belize for a nine-day construction work camp in March. Led by Larry Cramer, president of Quality Plumbing and Heating of Shelby, this year’s group includes Michael Graham, Lydia Laug, Gwen Robertson, Larry Cramer, Sally Bevier, Mike Skidmore, and James DuBois (not pictured), a former church member now living in Nevada. Lydia, a fourteen-year-old freshman from Crestview High School, the youngest member of the team, is following a family tradition of service. Lydia’s two older sisters have gone on work camps to Belize previously. Continue reading

Christmas Across the Church of God

Crossroads Church (Yuba City, CA) drive-through nativity (& more!).

By Carl Stagner

The Christmas season is upon us; a quick glance at the social media of a handful of Church of God congregations suggests we are a Movement that knows how to celebrate! Certainly, the birth of Jesus gives us many reasons to celebrate, and that celebration has taken the form of hanging of the greens services, advent readings and candlelighting, choral cantatas, Christmas pageants, caroling, dinners (also known as potlucks, pitch-ins, and carry-ins!), and much, much more. Because the gift of Jesus is meant to be shared with as many people as possible, Church of God congregations have come up with a variety of creative means to share the reason for the season. A number of churches have already reported lives won to Christ, too! The following are just a few of the ways Church of God congregations are celebrating. Continue reading