Tag Archives: race

Black Woman Pastor Takes White Kansas Congregation to New Heights

Presephoni (center, middle row) with part of the congregation.

By Carl Stagner

Liberal, Kansas, never saw it coming. The city of only about 20,000 people couldn’t have imagined the day. Only 3.8 percent of the population is African American, and the new pastor of South Church of God is both black and a woman. Presephoni Fuller is, in fact, the first black pastor in the ninety-year history of the church. Still, Pastor Presephoni takes it all in stride. She doesn’t have time to ponder the uniqueness of her situation; she’s too busy reaching deeper into the community and taking the Kansas congregation to new heights. Continue reading

Renewed into the New Year: NIYC Gives Believers Wintertime Boost

Worship at the NIYC.

By Carl Stagner

In the Church of God, the summer months are known for conventions and camp meetings. A variety of retreats and conferences often take place in the spring and the fall. But as the chill of winter sets in across much of the country, few spiritual retreats and getaways are available. In the wake of the commonly exhausting Christmas season, in view of the blues caused by all the grays outside, and in response to cabin fever, perhaps winter is when retreat is most vital! Thankfully, the Church of God has an answer—the National Inspirational Youth Convention (NIYC). Between Christmas and the end of the year, believers spanning generations and racial lines come together for an annual experience of worship, community, and renewal as the New Year dawns. Continue reading

All About Jesus in Alaska: Palmer Pastor Celebrates Unity, Mission

Nora and J. R. Stepp in scenic Alaska.

By Carl Stagner

One year has passed since J. R. Stepp became the first black pastor of a predominantly white congregation in Palmer, Alaska. But to Palmer Church of God and Pastor J. R., it’s really no big deal. While they certainly acknowledge the effective witness of multicultural ministry, they’re most concerned about the advancement of the kingdom. Simply put, they’re too busy preaching the gospel in word and action to spend time thinking about their unique situation. As the Spirit convicts and compels the Church of God movement to reconciliation and greater unity, Palmer Church of God offers a glimpse of what it looks like when Jesus is truly the subject. 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

Pastor of All People: Ministries Council Secretary Called to Lead Amid Diversity

Pastor Vincent Miller and family.

By Carl Stagner

“Everybody has a different fingerprint. I just think this is my fingerprint.” At Church of God Convention 2017 in Wichita, Kansas, many were first introduced to Vincent Miller, who accepted the role of secretary for the Ministries Council earlier this year. But he isn’t new to the Movement at all. Vincent’s ministry in the Church of God has spanned several states, as has his fingerprint, as he puts it. What is his fingerprint? To pastor ethnically and culturally diverse congregations. Because Jesus is the subject, Vincent knows that diversity does not have to equal division. Because Jesus is the subject, not skin color or language, unity amid diversity can be a powerful witness to the amazing love of God. Now entering his second year as pastor of First Church of God in Tampa, Florida, Pastor Vincent Miller is more eager than ever to give witness to the love of God available in Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Warner Pacific Featured in Book Exploring Diversity in Christian Higher Ed

The book, Diversity Matters: Race, Ethnicity, and the Future of Christian Higher Education was published on August 8, 2017, and explores the unique need for diversity in Christian universities and colleges. The book begins with various universities and colleges that have made diversity a goal and priority. Among these is Warner Pacific College, the Church of God college in Portland, Oregon. Continue reading

Statement from the General Director: Charlottesville

By Jim Lyon

Paul Goodloe McIntire was an investment genius, whose savvy management of stock portfolios in both Chicago and New York empowered him to be one of his hometown’s preeminent philanthropists. Inspired by the City Beautiful movement dramatically brought to life at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, he dedicated himself to funding monumental public spaces, city parks and squares, most often featuring heroic sculpture. He was born in 1860 and polished his fortune in New York City before retiring in 1918; he then returned to the beloved city of his birth: Charlottesville, Virginia. Continue reading

The Faster Pastor: Michigan Minister Competes for Charity

Photo: Pastor David Aukerman preparing to race!

By Carl Stagner

“…As the pastor behind me started to pass me on the inside, I gave the car more gas and tried to speed through the turn while staying high on the track. Turns three and four went well, but I had too much speed coming through turn one. I slipped up and over the edge of the track in turn two, down a short hill, and ran into the retaining wall on the other side—all in the span of two or three seconds.” No, this wasn’t the Brickyard 400, and the setting was neither Talladega nor Daytona. The competition was fierce, but not against each other; these pastors were racing for a charity of their choice. Though Pastor David Aukerman of Mt. Haley Church of God in Midland, Michigan, wasn’t ultimately named on the six-foot-tall cross-adorned traveling trophy, he did raise nearly $2,500 for the local homeless shelter. Continue reading

MACU Hosts Luncheon Celebrating Legendary Race Relations Victory

Photo: Dick Soergel and Russell Perry today.

By Whitney Knight

As a part of Mid-America Christian University’s monthly E-Club lunch series for athletics supporters, local football legends Dick Soergel and Russell Perry held a Q&A session on March 29 at MACU’s campus in south Oklahoma City. In 1955, Soergel and Perry broke racial barriers when they quarterbacked opposing high school teams—Capitol Hill and Douglass—in the state’s first integrated football game. Continue reading

Ferguson, MO-Area Pastor Calls Church, Community to Reconciliation

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Photo: First Church of God community Thanksgiving meal.

By Carl Stagner

August 9, 2014. That was the day Michael Brown was shot and killed in a city which has sadly become emblematic of recent racial tensions in our country. Ferguson, Missouri, drew massive media attention in the days and weeks following the tragedy, but there was one near-tragedy that took place in another St. Louis, Missouri-area municipality which few know about. Five days earlier, Brian Burton found himself looking into the barrel of a gun which discharged; no explanation as to why the officer’s gun went off, nor why there was no bullet to be found. But Brian Burton, now pastor of First Church of God in St. Louis, considers it only by the grace of God that he’s alive today. Based on his perspectives growing up within a few minutes of Ferguson, as well as his experience leading a multicultural church today, Pastor Brian offers a clarion call to the church for reconciliation. Continue reading

A United Church for a Divided World: An Illinois Snapshot

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Photo: Gathering Place Church of God marriage retreat.

By Carl Stagner

Remember that slogan? “A United Church for a Divided World.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t have to be just a slogan, and it doesn’t have to only represent a theme of days gone by. For The Gathering Place Church of God in Fairview Heights, Illinois, it represents present reality. They’re the product of two churches coming together; that is, a predominantly black church and a predominantly white church. While the rest of the world is busy arguing over this, that, and the other, this unified church across the Mississippi River from St. Louis is preoccupied with communicating Jesus to a lost and hurting community. Continue reading

Church of God to Have Conversation about Race, Reconciliation

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Photos: Diana Swoope, Vivian Moore, Jim Lyon

By Carl Stagner

Ferguson. Baltimore. St. Paul. Dallas. Baton Rouge. At the mention of these cities, a range of emotions is awakened in a time when issues of race and reconciliation once again dominate the headlines. The tragic deaths of young black men and police officers over the past few months have not only incited rage, sorrow, and further exacerbated racial tensions, but have also surely grieved the very heart of God. Does the church have anything to say? Would it be easier to avoid the issue because it’s so contentious? Politicians and pundits have weighed in and offer no shortage of opinions. No, the church cannot stay silent. We need to talk. Continue reading

From Hinduism to Christ: Another Grace-in-Guyana Story

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Photo: Dindial “Daniel” Pooran

By Carl Stagner

If you’ve attended any of the Church of God Regional Conventions this year, you’ve heard the gripping account of unfettered grace offered to a young boy in Guyana who ultimately became the founding co-pastor of New Covenant Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But Milton Grannum’s isn’t the only grace-in-Guyana story. The story of Dindial “Daniel” Pooran is another testimony to the transformation that can take place when believers invite, and invest in, others. Because of one invitation to church, and the investment that followed, this young man traded Hinduism for Christ. Continue reading

Churches Discard Sunday Schedules, Cross Racial Lines to Worship Together

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Photo: Niki Christiansen stands with Demetrius and Latoya Hunter.

By Carl Stagner

We can plan all we want, but sometimes the Holy Spirit just takes over. Sunday, July 10, was scheduled to be the continuation of a sermon series delivered by Niki Christiansen at West Court Street Church of God in Flint, Michigan. But how could the church ignore the tragic events which had since unfolded in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas? Niki and her husband Paul serve as co-interim pastors for the church, and they knew something had to be done. After all, the sermon she was scheduled to preach was about unity—a topic we love to talk about, but don’t always put into practice. Since November 2014, a multiethnic church has met for worship in the West Court Street building at the same time, in another room. The stage was set perfectly for what would happen next. Continue reading

Warner Pacific Honored with Education in Equity Award

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Photo: Dr. Cook w/ Joyce Coleman (ORCC board).

On Wednesday, April 13, 2016, Warner Pacific College was presented with the Education in Equity Award from the Oregon Campus Compact at their 20th Anniversary Celebration.

“This award represents a significant achievement in advancing equity within higher education and it is our honor to recognize the hard work that Warner Pacific has put into improving its practices, policies, and programs to improve the quality of the educational experience and the outcomes for students of color and first-generation students,” explained Josh Todd, executive director of Oregon Campus Compact. Continue reading