Tag Archives: Reclaim 2017

Convention 2017: Women Lead the Way on Thursday

Photo: Thursday night worship led by choir and orchestra (photo courtesy Chris Hall).

By Carl Stagner

Just in case anyone had forgotten, Thursday at Church of God Convention 2017 was a reminder to everyone that an anointed woman of God cannot be discounted. On June 22, the Church of God Convention featured not one, not two, but three different women leaders who have had an extensive impact on the church and culture around us. Ann Smith, Anita Renfroe, and Danielle Strickland offered messages oozing with wisdom, wit, and, in Anita Renfroe’s case, sheer hilarity, too. It was the women—not the men—who led the way on Thursday. Continue reading

Convention Wednesday: A Walk-On-Water Kind of Day

Photo: Worship on Wednesday with Sarah Scharbrough McLaughlin (photo courtesy Ashley Cunnington).

By Carl Stagner

Day Two of CHOG Convention 2017 is now one for the history books. It wasn’t just an ordinary day at Central Community Church in Wichita, Kansas. This was a time of awakening to a new day which continues to unfold before our eyes. Focused on Jesus as the subject, churches across the movement are discovering a flag everyone can wave. The General Assembly, convention worship services, and extra events spread across the day each pointed to the centrality of Christ. So did the challenge Nick Vujicic issued for listeners to step out of the boat. Continue reading

Children of Promise Celebrates 25 Years of Hope

Photo: Children of Promise blessings in Tanzania.

By Emily Ploetz

Bishu was a young boy who lived with his family in the remote rice fields of eastern India, in a state called Odisha. His family worked alongside many other families from sunrise to sunset in the rice fields, earning only thirty to forty cents per day. Somehow, Bishu’s family went into debt to the landowner. This put the landowner in control of their home and ultimately, their lives. The only way the family could pay back the landowner was to sell Bishu as a slave. Paul Maxfield, director of Children of Promise, was traveling in Bishu’s village in 2010 and heard about his story when he did not show up for a scheduled interview. After many prayers and hard work with local volunteers, Bishu was released from slavery. Three years later, Paul had the chance to talk with Bishu. He asked him, “What is the most important thing that has happened in your life?” To this day, Paul has never forgotten Bishu’s answer: “The day Children of Promise rescued me.” Continue reading

It’s a Family Affair: Three Convention 2017 Speakers Reflect on the Church of God

Photo: When the family gets together, God is glorified.

By Carl Stagner

Family has always been an important concept to the Church of God, and family continues to describe the multigenerational relationships built and sustained across the years and across the miles. Drawn together by a commitment to Jesus Christ and his church, and propelled by a desire to carry out his mission, the movement born in the early 1880s is still better—and stronger—when we’re together. The invitation has been given, and many have RSVP’d, for another big reunion slated to take place toward the end of June. Three Church of God Convention 2017 speakers recently reflected on the family nature of the movement and why they’re excited to attend the family reunion. Will you be there, too?

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Convention 2017 Worship Pastor a Product of Church, Family Heritage

Photo: George Skramstad (left) on the violin.

By Carl Stagner

Church of God heritage is in his bones. Music flows in his veins. George R. Skramstad is third-generation Church of God and the product of a family steeped in classical, folk, and church music. He started playing piano at the age of three, and at the age of eleven he picked up the violin. Over the course of his ministry, he’s served several congregations, and led worship for many churches through seasons of incredible growth, including North Hills in Phoenix, Arizona; Crossings in Oklahoma City; and Central Community in Wichita, Kansas—the host church of CHOG Convention 2017. Today he serves as music and worship arts pastor at Central Community. In a recent interview with Church of God Ministries, Pastor George Skramstad shared some insights gleaned from his church, music, and family experiences, and offered a preview of how these influences will translate into his worship leadership at Church of God Convention 2017. Continue reading

Trafficking Victims Find Hope, Healing at Reclaim 2017 Host-City Haven

Photo: Mentoring based on God’s Word at Hope Ranch.

By Carl Stagner

In February 2015, we first shared the story of how Hope Ranch for Women in Wichita, Kansas, came to be. A little over two years later, their story of reclaiming what hell has stolen from the lives of victims of exploitation continues to unfold. With its origins in one of several strong Church of God congregations in Wichita—Christ Church—Hope Ranch will be celebrated at Church of God Convention 2017 for its highly effective ministry. Those who attend the Freedom Summit on Friday, June 23, will also have the chance to tour their life-giving campus. Before you go, get to know a bit about the ministry which has forever changed the course of sex trafficking survivors. Continue reading

Worship Leader Brings Eclectic Style to Convention 2017

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Photo: Sarah Scharbrough McLaughlin with her family.

By Carl Stagner

“I grew up somewhat of a spiritual mutt.” The words of Sarah Scharbrough McLaughlin make sense when you consider that, at the time she was introduced to the Church of God through Anderson University, her faith background had consisted of Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, and Syrian Orthodox experiences. Resonating right away with the AU freshman were the loving unity of believers and the strong emphasis on Jesus and his Word so central to Church of God teaching. Kerry Robinson of East Side Church of God was one of many influential pastors, while worship artists Jay and Amy Rouse were two of several Christ-centered musicians, who took time to invest in the rising leader. Rivaling only her journey of faith in all its diversity is the eclectic style this mother of five now brings to the body of Christ gathered for worship. You can be sure a blessing is on its way when Sarah Scharbrough McLaughlin steps onto the platform at Central Community Church in Wichita, Kansas, for Church of God Convention 2017. Continue reading

Church of God Family’s Museum in Convention Host City a Must-See

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Photo: The Museum of World Treasures, founded by the Kardatzkes.

By Carl Stagner

In Philadelphia last year, many convention-goers were privileged to see the Liberty Bell and sink their teeth into mouth-watering cheesesteak. Near Vancouver, the breathtaking Multnomah Falls received a lot of attention before and after the first Regional Convention of 2016. Two years in Oklahoma City afforded the opportunity to solemnly remember victims of the 1995 federal building bombing, but also the chance to taste some of the best barbecue around. While in Wichita this June for Church of God Convention 2017, you may want to plan a visit to one Old Town Wichita museum which sprang forth from the story of one influential Church of God family. Continue reading

Convention 2017 Speaker Reclaims Destiny Once Stolen by Hell

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Photo: Paul Sheppard

By Carl Stagner

“I am a witness that, not only does God’s grace save us and give us right standing with him when we first accept Christ, but it reclaims and restores us when we’ve failed as believers.” Paul Sheppard, longtime Church of God pastor and scheduled speaker for Church of God Convention 2017, knows firsthand that God is not only in the saving business, but also the reclamation business. His story of failure and forgiveness that we first broke in November 2015 melts even the heart of stone. But more than a year later, the message of reclamation radiates now more than ever from his renewed life and ministry in the one of the largest communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Continue reading

Convention 2017 Host Church a Hub for the Community

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Photo: Worship service in the expansive Central Community Church.

By Carl Stagner

“I have never been more excited than I am now about how God is moving the Church of God into a bright future!” Sounds like something the general director of Church of God Ministries might say. Or a member of the Ministries Council. Maybe even someone applying for a leadership position in the General Assembly. But these words come from the pastor of one of our most influential churches in the movement: Bob Beckler, of Central Community Church in Wichita, Kansas. The Wichita congregation will host what is shaping up to be a must-attend Church of God Convention in June 2017. Before you go, get to know this 110-year-old church whose vitality and drive for ministry is nothing short of contagious. Continue reading