Tag Archives: racial unity

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

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

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