Tag Archives: Oklahoma

Oklahoma Church’s Latest Campus Thrives Behind Bars

By Carl Stagner

Oklahoma City’s Crossings Community Church has taken prison ministry to another level. For the influential capital city congregation, it’s not just about visitation, prayer, and preaching the gospel to the incarcerated. Earlier this year, Crossings celebrated the first anniversary of its satellite campus location altogether housed within the confines of Joseph Harp Correctional Center. The medium-security prison for men down the road in Lexington, Oklahoma, is not considered a mission site, a location for service projects, or even a local partner in ministry. Crossings Joseph Harp is a full-fledged campus of Crossings Community Church, and the effect of this unique arrangement on inmates and volunteers from the outside has been nothing short of life-changing. 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

Oklahoma Church Bursting at Seams Sees 2020 Vision Clearly

By Carl Stagner

When there’s not enough room for everyone in the Sunday school rooms and sanctuary, you’ve got a problem. But it’s a good problem to have when your church’s growth is also spiritual and healthy. The 107-year history of First Church of God in Pryor, Oklahoma, is one of vision, revision, stepping out on faith, and stepping out on faith again. Sure, there have been challenges and the congregation has faced its fair share of mountains. But God has proven himself true time and time again, revealing himself especially clear in recent years. Today, First Church of God is bursting at the seams as it celebrates steady growth from 248 to 409 over the last decade, and 27 souls won to Christ last year alone. This year, they’re seeing God’s vision clearly for all he will complete by the close of 2020. Continue reading

A Place for Kids: Convention 2019 is for Children, Too!

By Carl Stagner

Children’s ministry is set to make a big splash at this year’s Church of God Convention, and not just in the expansive swimming pools, water slides, and splash zone. Kid’s ministry programming has returned to the Convention, and it’s slated to be better-than-ever this summer at the World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida, a city home to Walt Disney World and other attractions families will love. Warner Press and Church of God Ministries have partnered together to create KidzLIVE!, an original VBS-like experience in the mornings and structured childcare in the evenings. Pastors and laypersons with children will be excited—and perhaps relieved—to know their kids will have a place of their own while they take in all that Convention 2019 and General Assembly has to offer. Continue reading

MLK and Faith: Former U.S. Congressman Speaks at MACU

Congressman Steve Russell speaks at MACU on January 23.

By Whitney Knight

In his first public appearance since leaving office this month, former U.S. House of Representatives member Steve Russell (R-OK) spoke at Mid-America Christian University today on the life and legacy of pastor and civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In his address, Russell called King “one of the greatest Americans” and emphasized his devout Christian faith. He said that King’s belief in God is still contested even today by the former preacher’s detractor. “He was the example of courage and a target of hate,” Russell said. “He was used by God to rally a nation.” Continue reading

Phoenix, Oklahoma City Regional Conventions Commission All

Friendships, both old and new, are a Regional Convention highlight.

By Carl Stagner

Two of the five Church of God Regional Conventions 2018 are now history, but their impact is still being felt from Alaska to Alabama. Some may have flown to Arizona to escape winter’s clutch on spring, but they stayed to drink from an oasis in the desert. Others may have descended upon Oklahoma City for the fine barbecue, but they stayed because their cravings were satisfied in the life-giving teaching and fellowship. Still others attended, many as first-time guests of a Church of God convention, because this year’s variety of regional locations afforded them accessibility. Challenged to reclaim what hell has stolen, but inspired to fully embrace the Life, attendees of the first two Regional Conventions ultimately climbed in cars or boarded airplanes to return home, ready and resourced to change the world in Jesus’ name. Continue reading

The Truth that Both Hurts and Sets Free: OKC Regional Recap, Day 2

Jeff Whye preaching the truth that sets free.

By Carl Stagner

It wasn’t so much the wind sweepin’ through the plain, but there was quite a bit of rain at Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Nevertheless, the dreary skies seemed to have little or no impact on the mood of those gathered for Day 2 of the Regional Convention of the Church of God; after all, God was busy raining down blessing after blessing throughout the day. From a riveting message by host pastor Marty Grubbs, to an evening graced with the amazing voices of Sandi Patty and Don Peslis, the closing day of #LifeOKC was anything but dreary. During the day and after the closing service, convention-goers absorbed as much as they possibly could from every hard-hitting sermon, uplifting worship song, meeting, seminar, reception, and divinely orchestrated encounter. As a result, the portion of the Church of God that chose to make the second of five Regional Conventions this year their event-of-choice went away with tablets full of notes and quotes, hearts full of awe and wonder, and stomachs full of great Oklahoma City barbecue. Continue reading

Coming Home, Sending Out: OKC Regional Reflections, Day 1

Commissioning prayer for Sarah Hunnicutt.

By Carl Stagner

Bob Brooke, pastor of visitation at Shartel Church of God in Oklahoma City, perhaps put it best: “[Yesterday was the] beginning of two glorious days at Crossings Community Church for the Regional Convention of the Church of God.” A review of Tuesday at the second 2018 Regional Convention reveals a day marked by inhaling and exhaling life—of coming home and sending out. It was a reunion of a portion of the Church of God family, but it was also a rally to mobilize believers for ministry and mission. Considering the moments of inspirational worship led by Josh Edington and the Crossings worship band, the soul-nourishing seminar with Ben Hardman, and the beautiful commissioning of a new missionary for Global Strategy—only a part of the blessings that define the opening day of #LifeOKC—it’s no wonder one would label such an experience glorious. Continue reading

Crossings Community Welcomes Movement Back for 2018 Regional

The Chapel at Crossings ready to receive Convention guests!

By Carl Stagner

The first Church of God Regional Convention of 2018 has come and gone, but the impact is still being felt by those who descended upon the desert Southwest last week. For several days, social media was abuzz with pictures and posts from the event, giving people across the country a glimpse of what these events have to offer. Beginning Tuesday, April 24, for much of the Church of God, especially those in the central region of the country, the “Receive, Hear, Embrace Life” experience will come into full view. A tremendous lineup of speakers and worship leaders are slated to inspire, challenge, and equip pastors and laypeople to reclaim what hell has stolen in their cities and towns. Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City is perfectly suited to open their doors, once again, for another life-giving gathering of the Church of God. 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

Spotlight on Schools: Oklahoma Churches Band Together for Students, Teachers

By Carl Stagner

For the past few months, the eyes of the country—and much of the world—have been on schools. Tragic shootings, student walkouts, student walkups, and teacher strikes are among the issues that have sparked more than a few arguments in the breakroom, the dining room, and on social media. But while the media, politicians, and pundits have debated the issues, believers have been busy being the body of Christ. As the national spotlight shines on schools, churches in Nowata, Oklahoma, have been shining the light of Christ in schools. Continue reading

Influential Phoenix Church Founder Brings Fresh Perspective to First Two Regionals

Don Wilson

By Carl Stagner

Four families composed Christ’s Church of the Valley (CCV) when it began in 1982. It didn’t take long, however, for the church plant to outgrow the pastor’s Phoenix-area house, and numerous temporary sanctuaries in the years since. A movie theater, strip mall, school, and a giant tent were among the gathering places of CCV attendees until they were so numerous that one location couldn’t contain the crowds or their enthusiasm to take the gospel across the whole metropolitan area. In 2017, Don Wilson accepted his new divine assignment to channel what he’s learned to help other local churches and pastors thrive. Now the chance to hear from Don is available to the Church of God, an upcoming opportunity you won’t want to miss. 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

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

Oklahoma Church Constructs Park for the Community

By Noel Marquis

When First Church of God in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, decided to invest in new playground equipment, they received much more than they asked for. William Wimmer, who has served as pastor of the church since 2013, was surprised when a longtime member of the congregation approached the board of trustees with plans for a park, complete with sidewalks, trees, a horseshoe pit, basketball court, soft turf, and sheltered pavilions. Continue reading