Tag Archives: Phoenix

A Sure Bet: West Virginia Pastor’s Kid Reclaims “Wasted Years”

Duane singing “He’s All I Need.”

By Carl Stagner

Duane Clarke was raised in a Christian home with loving, godly parents. As a PK—“pastor’s kid”—he heard the gospel preached more times than he could count, whether at Middle Grave Creek Church of God near Moundsville, where his father was senior pastor, or at Ash Avenue Church of God, where his father had served as Sunday school superintendent. At age fifteen, while attending youth camp, Duane went to an old-fashioned altar and asked Jesus into his heart. Soon after, he followed Jesus’ example in baptism. But when this young sports fan checked into a local bar to purchase Lakers tickets, he was inadvertently introduced to sports betting. It wasn’t long before he was thrust into the world of gambling, and for thirty years, he couldn’t find his way out. Hell stole much from Duane Clarke’s life, but Jesus would have the last word. Continue reading

History in the Making: Arizona Church Unearths Time Capsule

Digging up the time capsule.

By Carl Stagner

At 5536 N. 6th Street in Phoenix, Arizona, you’ll find sacred grounds. On these grounds, souls have been won to Christ. Believers have been baptized. Lives have been transformed. Memories—of both challenge and triumph—have been made. Of course, it’s not the address, the parking lot, or the building that make it so special; it’s the Lord, whose providential hand has preserved that space for his glorious work for three decades. And it’s the believers themselves, who had worshiped at another location even longer—since the 1940s. Though the name over the door has changed over the years, the Lord over all has remained the same. In view of The Gathering Place Church of God positioning itself for expansion, congregants from generations past-to-present recently reunited to unearth a time capsule, whose contents not only bring back cherished memories, but speak of an unchanging, eternally faithful God. Continue reading

Simply Ministry: Arizona Churches Respond to Teacher Walkout

By Carl Stagner

There wasn’t much time to respond, but there was no question what had to be done. When public school teachers in Arizona went on strike beginning on Thursday, April 26, the church community didn’t hesitate. Uninterested in taking sides or entering the political fray, the church saw their role as simply ministry. For the single parent who must work during the school day, the church was there. For the student who relies on the school for daily sustenance, the church was there. For a community divided, the church was there with a message of hope. With no certain end to the teacher walkout in sight (as of Tuesday, May 1), Church of God congregations were among those hardest at work to meet the needs of their neighbors. 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

Regional Day 2: Church of God Unleashed for ‘Greater Works’

Don Wilson challenged and inspired on Wednesday night.

By Carl Stagner

Daring to do something about racial reconciliation, champion those far from God, challenge the status quo, or lift up Jesus over all other subjects, the Church of God was inspired Wednesday to reclaim what hell has stolen. It didn’t matter that the sermons stung a bit; truth can hurt, and we needed to hear the truth. It didn’t matter that a Church of God Ministries employee missed the first session of the morning; he encountered a homeless man, was compelled to pray with him, and took the time to purchase the T-shirts he was in need of. It didn’t matter that students from the school across the street from the convention host church hung out on church property, inside and out, after the dismissal bell rang; those students need Christ, and they’ve learned they’re more than welcome at Mountain Park Church—even when a convention is taking place. Continue reading

Times of Refreshing Descend on the Desert: Phoenix Regional Day 1

Ben Hardman, Matt Tebbe lead a training at Mountain Park.

By Carl Stagner

There was not a cloud in the sky as the sun rose on the first day of the Church of God Regional Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. April is no doubt one of the most beautiful months of the year in the Valley of the Sun. But when summer monsoon rains fall in July and August, locals know the dry desert becomes a flood plain. Hardened by weeks and often months with little to no rain, the desert floor cannot receive, but instead initially rejects, the life-giving droplets. Rainwater collects without absorbing into the ground, turning ordinarily dry washes into sometimes deadly, raging rivers. Like pastors and laypeople who minister to others but ignore their own souls, work must be done below the surface to prepare the soil for times of refreshment and revival. Beginning with an anointed discipleship training seminar led by Ben Hardman and Matt Tebbe, and continuing through a variety of excellent events held at Mountain Park Church on Tuesday, convention-goers were encouraged, convicted, and inspired to receive, hear, and embrace the Life. Continue reading

Church of God Gathers in Phoenix for First of Five Regionals

A desert Palo Verde tree in bloom Monday outside the incredible architecture of the new Mountain Park Church facility.

By Carl Stagner

Some are delighted to leave the spring snowstorms behind. Others are grateful to host the Church of God in their part of the country. Certainly the next couple of days at Mountain Park Church in Phoenix, Arizona, will be, for many, a reunion with friends from years past. The first of five Regional Conventions this year will also give attendees the chance to taste fried rattlesnake and cactus fries for the first time, whether or not that freedom is exercised at a nearby steakhouse. Everyone, however, will rejoice in the chance to receive, hear, and embrace life to the full, the kind of experience available exclusively in Jesus Christ. Through enriching conferences, inspirational worship, and powerful preaching—surrounded by desert scenery and warmed by Southwest sunshine—#LifePhoenix is set to spark a spiritual fire in the souls of Church of God pastors and laypeople alike. 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

Jo Anne Lyon: Wesleyan Leader Influenced by the Church of God

Jo Anne Lyon

By Carl Stagner

No, she is not related to Jim Lyon. But, like the general director of Church of God Ministries, her influence stretches across the globe. Jo Anne Lyon, ambassador of the Wesleyan Church and former superintendent, has established herself more so a bold ambassador for Jesus Christ, both across the denominational spectrum and society. As one of the featured speakers scheduled for each of the five Regional Conventions of the Church of God this year, she is looking forward to spending extended time with a family of believers with whom she already feels close. Many may not know that Jo Anne Lyon was influenced herself by the Church of God as a young girl. Continue reading

Arizona Pastors Invite You to the Sunny Southwest

Sunset over the brand-new Mountain Park building.

By Carl Stagner

Yuma, Arizona, is the sunniest city in the United States. Ninety percent of the time, residents bask in sunshine, while even a couple hours to the northeast, the Phoenix area still sees an annual average of 85-percent sunshine. While no meteorologist or travel agency can guarantee beautiful weather, the odds are good that conditions will be pretty incredible for the kickoff Regional Convention of the Church of God in Phoenix, Arizona, April 17–18. I should know; I grew up just northwest of downtown. 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

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

Freeway Forces AZ Church Relocation, Opens Doors of Opportunity

Carrying the cross from the old property to the new.

By Emily Ploetz

Looming highway construction, a church situated in its projected path, and a ticking countdown to a deadline. A greater, divine plan might be hard to imagine. But such a plan had been in the works for years, and when the time finally came, Mountain Park Community Church of God in Phoenix, Arizona, knew they had quite a task on their hands. The church was built back in 1997 and, even at that time, the church was informed that plans to build a freeway through the area were being discussed, but that no action would be taken for years. It did take many years but, in 2015, everything had been decided. ADOT, the Arizona Department of Transportation, confirmed the $1.9-billion project to build a twenty-two-mile extension of Loop 202 from Interstate 10 through the Ahwatukee area of Phoenix, including the property on which the church was currently located. Mountain Park Community Church was given a two-year deadline to find land, design, and build a new church building. Continue reading

Christmas Outreach Brings Snow to the Desert

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Photo: Crowds gathered at Arcadia City Church for the snow day!

By Carl Stagner

When the mercury was pushing 110 degrees this summer, Arcadia City Church in Phoenix, Arizona, was dreaming about a winter wonderland. They weren’t going to get it from the sky, however; the last time an inch of snow fell in Phoenix was 1937. They also weren’t planning on a two-hour trek up to Flagstaff high in the mountains north of the Valley of the Sun. But they were thinking about hiring a company that grinds one-ton bags of ice cubes into “snow” as the perfect Christmastime outreach for their community. Continue reading

Arizona Youth Groups Band Together, Experience Revitalization

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Photo: Youth worship at Arizona Youth Camp 2016.

By Carl Stagner

Incredible things happen when churches sacrifice their own agendas and ministry plans to unite under the banner of Christ. Apart from each other, congregations are making great strides to advance the kingdom. But together, they can do what none could accomplish alone. In Arizona, students and youth leaders are setting the example for their older counterparts. Organized youth gatherings had ceased, yet the need for relational connectivity was palpable. The budget for a major production did not exist but, working together, several churches could make a life-changing convention possible. For the past five years, they’ve made it a reality. Continue reading