Tag Archives: urban

Local Churches Set Aside Differences, Establish and Sustain Community Ministry

Volunteers from local churches help sustain the ministry.

By Carl Stagner

Another title of this article could have appropriately been, “Local Churches Set Aside Differences, Discover They Can Do More Together.” That’s because this is exactly what happened when Operation Love Ministries was formed in Anderson, Indiana. The collaboration and unity among churches representing multiple denominations and cultures make this yet another Jesus-is-the-subject story, and a potential model for other communities. Today, twenty-seven area churches prayerfully and financially support the parachurch organization, also giving governance to the work. As a result, these local churches have access to a tried-and-tested resource to more effectively help neighbors in need. Continue reading

The Gift Goes On: California Church Captures the Essence of Christmas

Pastor Eric knows by name many who attend Jackets for Jesus.

By Carl Stagner

Sometimes we’re compelled to offer the spare change from the car console, though our default response might be to look the other way. Homeless people are a part of our towns and cities, yet even the Christian community too often turns a blind eye. Everybody’s encountered a homeless person at some point in life, but few choose to respond. Fear isn’t always the cause; it’s often simple lack of know-how. How do God’s people effectively minister to those who don’t have a place to lay their heads at night? Pastor Eric Denton and Central Community Christian Fellowship, a Church of God congregation in Riverside, California, wholeheartedly embraces Jesus’ command to love “the least of these.” Perhaps that’s why they’re willing to hang out on the streets of downtown Los Angeles every Sunday night. Continue reading

Paris, France: Revolutionary Ministry Celebrates First Anniversary

@home Church’s first anniversary celebration.

By Patrick Nachtigall

When Samir Salibi moved to Paris, France, as a twelve-year-old, non-Christian immigrant from Lebanon, little did he know that one day, two decades later, he would be coming to the rescue of many migrants and displaced people himself. But that is exactly what happened, and on December 2, members of the Three Worlds missionary team of the Church of God in Europe and the Middle East were in Paris to celebrate the first anniversary of this revolutionary new ministry. Continue reading

A Glimmer of Hope in the United Kingdom

By Carl Stagner

Hope is at a premium in the United Kingdom. Recent terrorist attacks have ignited fears among many, but desperate poverty has been widespread in parts of the country for years. The city of Birkenhead, 227 miles northwest of London, exemplifies a post-Christian culture where the traditional role of church in society seems to have disappeared. Though just across the river sits the affluent city of Liverpool, Birkenhead faces all the usual struggles of a city stigmatized by economic decline and rampant unemployment. In the midst of this dark environment, Egan Road Church of God has been a constant glimmer of hope for ninety years. Today, Global Strategy missionaries Zach and Audrey Langford lead the congregation, now positioned to reach the community—including, and especially, the younger generation. Continue reading

Oregon Church Journeys with Jesus through Service, Partnership

Photo: The church working with Habitat for Humanity.

By Carl Stagner

“Eighth and River Street is what God has given us, so that is where we are.” Matt Ingalls reflects on the ministry of the church he has served as senior pastor for almost seven years. He’s grateful for the chance to serve where God has planted them. Sure, there may be ritzier, more glamorous ministry venues. But this is their “little slice of God’s universe,” as Pastor Matt has explained. The needs are great, and the work isn’t easy. But this church is on a journey with Jesus. For them, Jesus is the subject. Like Jesus, River Street Church of God in Newberg, Oregon, has made the people around them—not ideology, programs, or traditions—the priority. Continue reading

Florida Ministry Exemplifies ‘the Innkeeper’ in Good Samaritan Story

By Carl Stagner

Jesus told it first. Countless preachers and teachers have expounded on it since. The Parable of the Good Samaritan has captured the attention and the hearts of men and women around the world with its profound, yet simple message of love expressed in action. As church leaders renew the call to boldly move outside the walls of the church, more and more believers are identifying with the character of the Samaritan. But every Good Samaritan needs a good innkeeper! Lake Wales Care Center in Lake Wales, Florida, not only provides a place to stay (and numerous other services) for people in need, but also bridges the gap between the heart to serve and the means to do it effectively. 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

Barney Warren, David Biggers, You, and Me

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Photo: David Biggers (far right) greets a member of the community.

By Carl Stagner

Barney Warren, Adam Miller, Eugene Newberry, Hollis Pistole, and David Biggers. David who? In a lineup of prominent ministers of the Church of God, the name David Biggers may seem out of place. But that is not the case at all. Transforming Life Church of God of Baltimore, Maryland, has a rich history of outstanding leaders, a history which continues to unfold. Before Pastor David entered the scene, the congregation had dwindled down to about thirty, mostly white believers in a predominantly African American neighborhood. Four years later, the church sees an average weekly attendance of about three hundred. 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

There’s a Song in the Air Over Albuquerque

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Photo: New Beginnings carolers bring guitars and other instruments.

By Carl Stagner

You don’t have to be in the Church of God very long to know we’re a singing church. We always have been. New Beginnings Church of God in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is just one example of that. The song in the air over Albuquerque today is simply a natural overflow of the song of salvation which God placed in the hearts of the believers at the thriving church situated at the base of the rugged Sandia Mountains. Their recent Christmas caroling outreach in one of the most socioeconomically challenged areas of the city is only one of numerous reasons more and more people are joining in the heavenly refrain. Continue reading

AU Student Group Fights Trafficking, Experiences Church on the Street

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Photo: Bound members at Art in the Park, Atlanta.

By Carl Stagner

Some students gather to play chess, raise support for sports programs, or promote social activities and events. Bound is different. The Anderson University student-run, extra-curricular group has sought to put a dent in the epidemic of trafficking since the 2011-2012 school year. Started by now-Global Strategy missionary to Germany, Audrey Weiger, the group was actively championing the cause for freedom before CHOG TraffickLight came on the scene. From raising awareness to raising dollars, Bound is offering more and more hands-on assistance for Stripped Love in central Indiana. Not content to simply read or hear about what God is accomplishing in the work beyond Indiana, the group recently took a trip to Atlanta, Georgia, to experience Church on the Street firsthand. It was an experience they’ll never forget. Continue reading

Give Me Your Eyes: Portland Project Puts People in Perspective

By Carl Stagner

In 2008, contemporary Christian recording artist Brandon Heath recorded “Give Me Your Eyes,” a song which many radio stations are playing to this day. Those familiar with the song know its pointed challenge to open our eyes to see men and women as made in the image of God—to put on God’s eyes and see them like he sees them. Ken Loyd has observed that often the most overlooked and ignored in our society are the people of the street, particularly those of the younger generation. Motivated by a love for the disenfranchised in Portland, Oregon, and empowered by funds from the Change the World grant awarded last year, this Warner Pacific College professor and local pastor is doing something about it. He’s preparing a training package to help open the eyes and hearts of the Church of God to the people behind the faces of those in our cities we might prefer not to notice. Continue reading

In the Shadow of the Capitol: An Inside Look at Ministry in D.C.

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By Carl Stagner

Less than three miles to the Lincoln Memorial. Only two to the Washington Monument. Just one mile to either the Capitol or the White House. Proximity to these national icons make ministry in Washington, D.C., anything but typical. Though she has crossed paths with Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, this pastor takes it all in stride. Cheryl Sanders and the flock she pastors at Third Street Church of God have a job to do, and they will not be deterred. They’re ambassadors for Christ in the nation’s capital. Continue reading

Never Leave nor Forsake: Indiana Church Committed to its Neighborhood

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By Emily Ploetz

Ministry starts as soon as you take that first step outside your door. This is a statement that the South Meridian Church of God does not take lightly. South Meridian, located in Anderson, Indiana, is what many churches would call “outward-focused,” but not in the way you might think. South Meridian is a church known for specifically reaching out to their immediate environment: their neighborhood. As much as the church does care about the city of Anderson, they realize that God has called their church to be a light in the small neighborhood in which the church building stands. The congregation of South Meridian is very aware that their neighborhood has plenty of needs, since the vast majority of those who live there are low-income families. The church decided many years ago that, as the church, as the hands and feet of Christ, they should fill as many of those needs as possible. Continue reading

Urban Missions: Ohio Church Buys Two Inner-City Homes, Commissions Residents

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By Serena Ellens

What does it mean to be a missionary on the home front—on our very own American soil? The church often hears about missionaries that travel to exotic locations and third-world countries to spread the gospel. While their work is absolutely vital, sometimes we as Christians in the United States forget the importance of mission work in our own nation. As present trials continue to ravage the country and draw people farther and farther away from the church, the emphasis on home missions is becoming increasingly imperative in our efforts to spread the hope of Christ. Continue reading