Tag Archives: Ohio

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

From 30 Times Behind Bars to 30 Years in the Pulpit

By Carl Stagner

He was barely a teen when he was arrested the first time. Between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five, Paul McCulley was put behind bars a total of thirty times. Charges ranged from truancy to assault, and he was also court martialed three times. His shackles—both seen and unseen—would soon fall off after Jesus Christ changed his life, however. Not only did Paul McCulley become a Christian, but he also entered full-time ministry. Until he retired in 2014, he served the Lord as a senior pastor for thirty years. But he never really retired. Paul McCulley’s gripping testimony is too good to put on the shelf, there are too many people that still need to hear it. Today Paul continues a dynamic ministry program to the incarcerated and their families, turning what the devil meant for bad into something very, very good. Continue reading

A Pastor’s Amazing, Agonizing Adventure of Adopting Special Needs Children

Ralph loves Ana and each of his adopted children.

By Carl Stagner

If you’ve been to many camp meetings across the country, chances are you’ve sat under the bold preaching or inspirational worship leading of pastor and evangelist Ralph Watts. The pastor emeritus of Columbus West Church of God in Columbus, Ohio, is used to sharing Bible stories and passages that point to Jesus Christ. But his own story points to Christ, too, one that is nothing short of remarkable. He and his wife Karen have fostered a total of thirty-five special needs children over the years, and have adopted fourteen. Continue reading

Convention 2018 Speaker: Light to Hollywood, Living Water to the Desert

Jeff Whye

By Carl Stagner

All the glitter, glamor, and glitz of Hollywood can’t be outshined by the light of Christ reflecting through one of his own. Jeff Whye, known across the Church of God for his high-octane personality and knack for making people laugh, rocked Hollywood for a season but never lost his footing on the solid Rock. When God called him to the dry soil of the Southwest, his ambition was to point people to the source of Living Water. At Anderson University and Long Reach Church of God in Columbia, Maryland, before that, Jeff was molded and made into the man of God he is today. Overflowing with a love for reconciliation and restoration of relationships—between people and to the Lord—Jeff Whye looks forward to the opportunity to speak to the Church of God at the five Regional Conventions in 2018. Continue reading

Northeast Ohio Church Fall Fest Attracts Unprecedented Crowd

Lines forming at the Eleventh Street Church of God Family Fall Fest.

By Carl Stagner

Like other parts of the country, weather in the Midwest can be unpredictable. Eleventh Street Church of God in Canton, Ohio, knows this fact firsthand. But one thing they can predict is God’s blessing when his people choose to be the hands and feet of Christ for a community event. As the northeast Ohio congregation recently discovered, the combination of great weather, effective promotion, and an amazing God is a recipe for unprecedented response. After preparing for a crowd of up to 300, following a year where only a couple hundred showed up, the church welcomed an estimated 1,000 people to their annual fall festival. Continue reading

Dale Gruver: Known for Worship, Called to Preach

Photo: Dale Gruver

By Carl Stagner

You know it when you see it—that deep love for Jesus, visibly overflowing from a heart that understands the gravity of what the Savior has done. It’s truly contagious, clearly communicating the reality of Christ to a world devoid of hope. Dale Gruver’s got it, and believes everyone can have it, too. Widely known for high-energy, joy-filled worship leading, Dale was called first and foremost to preach the gospel. After nearly a decade-and-a-half of providing worship leadership for the local church, camp meetings, and conferences, Dale accepted a senior pastorate in Alliance, Ohio, with similar enthusiasm. Though Dale’s full embrace of God’s call only came to pass a couple of years ago, extensive investment from mentors and his wide variety of ministry experiences prepared the man who rises to the pulpit at First Church of God. Continue reading

On a ‘Vision’ Trip to Africa

By Kyle Hayes

When we finalized the plans to join other Church of God leaders on a “vision” trip to visit Mike and Heather Webb last year, I was excited. But I was also completely unaware of how transformational the trip could be. Though my wife and I had traveled internationally, we had never been on the African continent. We were very much in over our heads. Continue reading

Then and Now: A Closer Look at Two Women Pastors in the Church of God

Photo: Lillie S. McCutcheon

By Megan DeBruyn

The Church of God movement is one born out of a devout commitment to telling the ongoing story of how God is at work among his people. The Church of God is in the business of changing the world around them by making Jesus the subject, and by demonstrating the love of Christ, just as Jesus did. A large part of this narrative, that is both historical and still permeates into congregational discourse communities today, is the role of women within the scope of the movement. 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

Bringing the Message and the Mission Back into Focus

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Collage: Handel Smith, Ryan Chapman, Paul Dreger, David Ferguson.

By Carl Stagner

Imagine a world where churches were less focused on method, and more focused on message. Picture a scenario where more congregations were so busy with the mission that they didn’t have time or energy to bicker over which programs get the largest share of the budget. What if believers were known everywhere as disciples who make disciples, who make disciples? It’s possible. It’s even biblical. But it’s not commonplace. In mid-October, three members of the Domestic Ministries Team of Church of God Ministries returned from a pastoral leadership summit in Akron, Ohio, that zeroed in on this divine dream. Several Church of God leaders are now gearing up for training over the next year to help Church of God congregations bring the message and mission back into focus. Continue reading

Timothy J. Clarke Releases New Book through Warner Press

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Photo: Timothy J. Clarke

Do you sometimes feel trapped or wounded by painful relationships? You are not alone. The Bible tells the stories of men and women who learned to trust God when they suffered pain at the hands of people they loved. Bind Up Your Broken Heart by Timothy J. Clarke reminds us that when others fall, we can find healing with the Lord. Continue reading

Neighboring Churches Partner to Host Town Hall on Racial Unity

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Photo: Pastor Bryndon Glass and Pastor Josh Deeter

By Carl Stagner

It’s been on the news. It’s all over social media. People are talking about it. Matters related to race are once again hot-button across the country, whether or not we want to admit it. Lives have been forever altered on all sides of the issue. The headlines elicit disgust, disbelief, painful sorrow, and sheer outrage. The pundits and politicians are quick to air their opinions, but we the church know that the wisdom and solutions for such a complex subject can only come from above. After the tragic events unfolded in Minnesota, Louisiana, and Texas over the first week of July, Pastor Josh Deeter of First Church of God in Tallmadge, Ohio, knew the church could not stay silent. By the end of the month, this resolve culminated in an event at the church that brought together a predominantly white church, a predominantly black church, and the community. Continue reading