Tag Archives: Reconciliation

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

Safety Harbor Regional Day 2: Daring to Dream Again

Wednesday evening worship at the Safety Harbor Regional.

By Carl Stagner

Do you dream of a local church that is healthy and growing? Do you dream of unity across racial lines? Do you dream of those “greater works” that Jesus talked about, or victory in a particular spiritual battle? Wednesday, Day Two of the Church of God Regional Convention in Safety Harbor, Florida, was a day of rekindling the fire, reclaiming the passion, and resurrecting dreams once lost in a world prone to busyness, burnout, and a blurring of what matters most. Continue reading

CWC Today: Standing in the Gap for All Women (and Men, Too!)

CWC’s Arnetta Bailey and Global Strategy’s Colleen Stevenson.

By Carl Stagner

Women were among the earliest pioneers of the Church of God movement, and some of our most outstanding preachers have been, and continue to be, women. In spite of such a rich history dating back to the beginning, not to mention the wealth of biblical support, women—both pastors and laypeople—have not always been given the same opportunities as men. But since 1932, women of the Church of God have rallied together to stand in the gap, not only providing necessary care to countless missionaries, but also being a voice for Christian women everywhere. Though the name of the affiliated agency of the Church of God is different now than it was then, Christian Women Connection’s timeless mission has remained the same, returning to its roots even more in recent years. Still, many men and women are unaware of the incredible depth of vital ministry made possible by CWC today. A recent interview with CWC executive director Arnetta McNeese Bailey takes us behind the manger scenes and beyond the sewing circles to discover there’s far more to CWC than you may know. Continue reading

Massey Legacy Lives On through Newly Published Book

By Carl Stagner

On Sunday, June 24, Dr. James Earl Massey’s life on this earth came to an end. But his incredible legacy has only just begun to affect the lives of students, pastors, and parishioners. One of the many ways his legacy lives on is through his latest book, Views from the Mountain. Published within days of his passing, the compilation of select writings from the brilliant mind of Massey was co-edited by Barry Callen and Curtiss DeYoung. As the back cover of the book states, “Rarely does one voice speak with equal wisdom on fields as diverse and demanding as Bible interpretation, Christian education, inspired preaching, seminary education, and ministries of reconciliation.” Indeed, Dr. Massey did all that and so much more, for the Church of God movement and beyond. Now the Church of God—no, all of Christendom—has the opportunity to glean wisdom from the pages of what Dr. Massey called the “last great goal” of his life. 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

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

firstchog_stlouismo_thanksgivingmeal_forweb

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

IYC, NIYC and Concilio Hispano Youth to Hold Unity Event in 2017

one_unitytogether_postcard_front_forweb

By Carl Stagner

Two of our partners in ministry celebrate vibrant youth ministry outside of involvement in the International Youth Convention, including the National Association’s NIYC (National Inspirational Youth Convention) and the student ministries of the Hispanic Council (Concilio Hispano). For many youth in the Church of God, IYC is not the pinnacle of their year; NIYC or the youth events of the Hispanic Council take that description. It is with great anticipation then, that in 2017, students of IYC, NIYC, and the Hispanic Council will come together for a groundbreaking unity event. ONE will gather youth across ethnic and cultural lines together under the banner of Christ to worship and serve together. When unity becomes more than just talk, incredible things begin to happen. Continue reading

Soldier-Turned-Pastor Washes Feet of World War II Enemies

Bible_and_FelipeMerioles_with_MitsuoFuchida_FORWEB

Photo: Felipe’s Bible (left); picture of Felipe & Mitsuo Fuchida (right).

By Carl Stagner

We cherish the stories of God’s grace and power at work among his people. They have become a part of who we are. We’re eternally grateful to God for preserving his Word through the ages, often in spite of opposition. We’re thankful for our church historians and writers who have told and retold the stories of our pioneer pastors and missionaries in the Church of God. From the biblical narrative, to our earliest days as a movement, to the kingdom activity of our local churches and missionaries today, such stories inspire us, remind us of God’s faithfulness, and bind us together. This year the gripping account of a World War II-ravaged Filipino pastor has come to light. It’s a story which few have heard, but no doubt one for the history books. Continue reading

Church of God to Have Conversation about Race, Reconciliation

Swoope_Moore_Lyon_combined_FORWEB

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

Dindial_Pooran_FORWEB

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

Neighboring Churches Partner to Host Town Hall on Racial Unity

First_TallmadgeOH_RacialUnityEvent_hosts_FORWEB

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

Churches Discard Sunday Schedules, Cross Racial Lines to Worship Together

WestCourtStreet_DamascusRoad_unity_FORWEB

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

Sowing Seeds of Reconciliation, Restoration in Missouri

Handel_Smith_FirstCHOG_PoplarBluffMO_FORWEB

Photo: Handel Smith speaks at First Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

Pastor Scott Andrews farms for a living. He also serves as interim pastor for First Church of God in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. His experience as a bivocational interim pastor hasn’t precluded him, however, from ministering through some of the most challenging and blessed times. In fact, it’s often the interim pastor who is called to walk congregations through the difficulties of church-wide transition. But the story unfolding at First Church of God isn’t just about an interim, bivocational pastor who sows seeds of hope in addition to corn. The story there is about a church that was struggling, uncertain of its future, and nursing the wounds of broken relationships. This is a story of reconciliation and restoration at the southeastern edge of the Ozarks. Continue reading

Reconciliation: The Time is Now!

arnetta

Photo: Arnetta McNeese Bailey

By Arnetta McNeese Bailey

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”—2 Corinthians 5:18 NIV

Just recently I watched a video by comedian Michael Jr. He introduced a segment called “Break Time.” It is an opportunity to take a break from what you are doing and ask yourself why you are doing this activity. This video has had a profound impact on my life. Michael ended the segment by saying, “When you know why you are doing what you do, then your what will have purpose and passion.” So how does all of this translate to a call for reconciliation? This statement so adequately describes my journey as a reconciler to Christian Women Connection. Continue reading