Tag Archives: reclamation

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

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

Texas Church Targets Drug Abuse, Domestic Violence, Education Issues

Pastor Darius Miller at food giveaway.

By Carl Stagner

One church’s ministry to their community might not be the best for your community. You can’t address the needs of your neighbors until you know your neighbors. Motivated by a genuine love for people—not just a goal to see more bodies fill the pews—Shadydale Church of God in Houston, Texas, conducted a survey of their area. The survey, designed to determine how they could best take care of their neighbors, revealed that drug abuse, domestic violence, and educational issues were of greatest concern. In 2006, to maximize the long-term impact on the community on what mattered most, the church established what’s known as the Shadydale Community Development Corporation. More than a decade later, Pastor Darius Miller is at the helm, leading the church and community to take back what hell has stolen. Continue reading

Kentucky Pastor Embraces Movement, Celebrates Church Turnaround

Photo: Pastor Jason smiles during a baptism.

By Carl Stagner

Jason Johnson was not the only one. Whether an e-mail from Church of God Ministries about the latest movement-wide emphasis, a letter from “Anderson,” asking the local church to take up a special offering, or a phone call from the “national offices” asking for a donation, if it originated from central Indiana, it was met with skepticism. After all, the landscape of the Church of God resembled less and less the reformation movement of its earliest days, and it seemed that “Anderson” was largely responsible. This was once the sentiment of Jason Johnson of Prestonsburg, Kentucky. Fast forward a few years. Pastor Jason and Prestonsburg Church of God are some of the loudest champions of the movement today. What happened? Continue reading

First Church of God, Marion, SD: Small Town, Big Impact

Photo: First Church of God, Marion, South Dakota

By Emily Ploetz

On a map of South Dakota, the town of Marion may not catch your eye. The whole community consists of about 800 people total. However, First Church of God in Marion, and its impact on God’s kingdom, should capture your attention. Out of the 800 residents of Marion, 125 of them attend the church! A church with an influence over the majority of a town isn’t something you see every day. The town and the church have a unique background and, because of some key decisions they’ve made, First Church of God continues to be a shining light. Continue reading

Kingdom-Minded in Muncie: Mary and Cornelius Dollison

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Photo: The Dollisons and Kirby Avenue Church of God.

By Rachel Eldridge

Unity. Reclamation. These are tough goals. It’s easier to think about them than to do them, far simpler to dismiss them as buzzwords than carry them out, day by day, in the messiness of life. But for Mary and Cornelius Dollison and Kirby Avenue Church of God, unity and reclamation are part of life itself.

“‘Working together, involving all’ has been my motto, and I strive to live it every day,” Mary wrote in a recent column in her local newspaper, expressing gratitude for a Lifetime Achievement Award she recently received. Continue reading

The Power of the Cross to Take Back a City

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Photo: Crosses displayed with victims’ pictures inside the church.

By Carl Stagner

Approximately eight hundred murders rocked Chicago in the last year alone. Gang violence is on the rise in many large cities across the country, and Chicago is no exception. While many would rather retreat to the suburbs and write off urban centers as a loss, there is a growing movement of people that won’t give up on the youth, the children, and the families of densely populated areas. The grim statistics might suggest the forces of evil have completely taken over cities like Chicago. But soldiers of the cross like Greg Zanis are fighting side-by-side with congregations like Restoration Church of nearby Aurora, Illinois, to take back their cities. Recently, this reclamation effort took the form of one cross built for each of the eight hundred victims. 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

Pastor Robert Hendrix: A Life Reclaimed

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Photo: Pastor Robert “Spanky” Hendrix

By Carl Stagner

Ten minutes. Possibly fifteen. That’s how long Robert Hendrix lay lifeless following a drug overdose. And that was just the first time he died. For a season in his young life, the forces of hell substituted real peace and joy for the empty promises of sex, drugs, and alcohol. Thanks to the amazing grace of God, and the support of Church of God brothers and sisters, Pastor Robert “Spanky” Hendrix has reclaimed, and continues to reclaim, the peace and joy that hell had stolen. Continue reading

Baltimore Church to Reclaim, Revitalize Urban Neighborhood

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Photo: A game of basketball in the Franklin Square neighborhood.

By Emily Ploetz

West Baltimore—one of the lowest socioeconomic areas in the state of Maryland. Over 84 percent of Baltimore city residents qualify for free or reduced lunches. This area is also close to the violence and unrest that made headlines in 2015. All of these hardships from the past continue to affect residents in the present, but there is a resiliency that is carrying the community to a brighter future. In January 2016, the nonprofit community development corporation, known as Operation Win in Life CDC, was launched. This program came from a dire urge to fight back against past struggles and enhance the quality of living for the people in West Baltimore, focusing specifically on the square block area surrounding Celebration Church at Monroe Street. Continue reading

Reclaim 2016 Philadelphia Wednesday: When God’s People Come Together

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Photo: When God’s people come together…

By Carl Stagner

Incredible things happen when God’s people come together. The presence of God is powerful when God’s people come together. When God’s people come together, regardless of ethnicity or culture, differences diminish and Jesus Christ is magnified. Hope shines bright, the body of Christ is strong, and the kingdom advances when God’s people come together. In a world so strongly divided by race and politics, Jesus Christ was the clearly the unifying subject on Wednesday at the Regional Convention of the Church of God at New Covenant Church in Philadelphia. In a culture exemplified by competing aspirations and agendas, Church of God pastors and lay leaders came together Wednesday to embrace a common mission: to reclaim our neighborhoods in Jesus’ name. Continue reading