Tag Archives: Washington

Pastor Engages the Enemy in Adventure of a Lifetime

Chaplain Miller prays with a Marine Corps Special Operations Team prior to a mission in East Africa.

By Carl Stagner

Calculated risk. Often used in the financial sense, Baron Miller uttered the term in the context of fear. Every time you take a drive in the car or catch a flight on an airplane, is there a chance you might not make it back? Sure, there is. But that doesn’t cancel your travel plans. When firefighters have to rush inside a burning building, or law enforcement are called to a chaotic scene, they don’t hesitate. There’s risk involved, but these community heroes trust their training and their gear to help them stand strong in the heat of the battle. The parallel to the Christian experience is inescapable; the soldier of the cross must engage the battle, must reclaim what hell has stolen. Might it get scary? Possibly. Could it get dangerous? Certainly. But at the fingertips of every believer is an arsenal of spiritual weapons and an array of training options to fully engage in the fight. Engaging the enemy—that’s what Baron Miller’s life has been about—from the halls of the Church of God he founded in Bellingham, Washington, to the shores of Guantanamo Bay. Continue reading

When Ministry Gets Messy: A Washington Church’s Incarnational Approach

RCC team at work on a Service Project Sunday.

By Carl Stagner

“In the beginning was the Word, as the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1 NIV). Community was whole and pristine, at the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. But the thief, who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), did exactly that. Community was ruptured between humanity and God, and between one another. Since the Fall, God has been working to restore that community, to bring people back to himself. Did you know he’s chosen to use you and me to accomplish the task? But we’ve lost our sense of community, downplayed the power of presence, and ignored the methods of Jesus. Our neighbors are crying out for hope all around us, we hear their voices, but we’d prefer to write a check to the nearest charity. We don’t want to get our hands dirty. In contrast, Roosevelt Community Church, a modest-size Church of God congregation in Bellingham, Washington, is taking back what hell has stolen and destroyed in their neighborhood. They’re boldly giving life where the enemy of our souls has snatched it away, simply by being in, for, and with their community. Continue reading

Fairfax First Day a Joyful Celebration of Life

Tuesday evening led by a team from Celebration Church at Columbia.

By Carl Stagner

Earlier this year, an addition to the Fairfax Community Church facility was completed. The new wing, solely devoted to youth and children’s ministry, nearly doubled the size of the building. Gathering for worship and teaching sessions inside the new addition on the first day of the Church of God Regional in Fairfax, Virginia, afforded convention-goers a unique opportunity. While the five electives held on Tuesday afternoon demonstrated a rich depth of ministry insight on the part of the stellar host church staff, activity throughout the day under the church’s new roof served as a constant reminder of the life-giving DNA of Fairfax Community Church. The ideal setting for the kickoff of the fourth 2018 Regional Convention set the stage very well for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit through an interactive dialogue with Ben Hardman and Ben Sternke, moments of worship led by praise teams from Fairfax and Celebration Church at Columbia (Maryland), and an especially potent message from the general director. Continue reading

CHOG Gathers Near D.C. for Two Days of Life-Giving Teaching, Worship

Fairfax Community Church

By Carl Stagner

Three Regional Conventions have come and gone this year, and more than a couple months have passed since the last one. Church of God people from across the United States and Canada, as well as some beyond, have already tasted these life-giving experiences wrapped up in two days of top-notch teaching, worship, and fellowship. Others have yet to see firsthand the power-packed potential in the lineup of Spirit-led speakers, electives, and activities. For them (and a few for whom one Regional Convention wasn’t enough this year!), the Fairfax and Safety Harbor conventions offer much reason for anticipation and expectation. Near a city well-known for division, the Church of God gathers this week at Fairfax Community Church to live out the unity of believers, lift up the name of Jesus, and experience anew the life he offers. Continue reading

D.C.-Area Church to Host Fourth Regional Amid Incredible International Impact

Fairfax Community Church baptism celebration.

By Carl Stagner

On September 18 and 19, Fairfax Community Church in Fairfax, Virginia, will host the fourth Church of God Regional Convention of the year. Though they look forward to this opportunity to welcome a cross-section of the Movement to their campus, their day-to-day ministry will not come to a halt. At any given moment, life-giving ministry is made possible somewhere in the world because of this congregation. Their work with refugees at home and abroad, the twenty churches they’ve planted or restarted across the globe, and their bold neighborhood-by-neighborhood reclamation in and around the nation’s capital, are only three of numerous areas of incredible impact. Convention-goers will be inspired to see and hear more of Fairfax’s story in person with their stellar staff, but a recent interview with Pastor Rod Stafford offers the entire Movement a glimpse of just how they give life to their city, state, country, and world. Continue reading

Fairfax Host Pastor Furthers Family’s Influential Legacy

Rod Stafford preaching at Fairfax.

By Carl Stagner

Growing up in the shadow of his older brother isn’t an accurate description at all. Seventeen years separated the two of them, but very little else did. Sibling rivalry wasn’t an issue, neither was the need for either brother to be in the Church of God limelight. In fact, Gilbert Stafford was more of a second father figure for Rod, the senior pastor of Fairfax Community Church in Fairfax, Virginia. Rod Stafford considered Gil a role model, though he never planned to follow in his family’s ministerial footsteps. As the Church of God Regional Convention at his home church nears (September 18–19), Pastor Rod Stafford opens up about life, family, and calling. Continue reading

God is On the Move in Egypt

Jim Lyon speaks to leaders in Egypt.

By Ken Oldham

The birth of the Protestant Reformation is attributed to Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church (Germany) on October 31, 1517. All across the region, this 500th anniversary has been remembered, and the evangelical churches in Egypt began planning months ago to have a special event of their own, encouraging each church group to seek international guests to join the celebration. The Church of God in Egypt was delighted to have Global Strategy regional coordinator Patrick Nachtigall, U.S.-Canada general director Jim Lyon, and Pastor Marcus Archer of Crosspoint Church (Natchez, Mississippi) accept their invitation to join the celebration, November 17–19, in Cairo. Continue reading

Creativity, Generosity, Boldness Characterize Easter Celebrations

Photo: Lord’s Supper drama at First Church, Inverness, Florida.

By Carl Stagner

As a pinnacle in the church year, some might get the feeling that it’s all downhill from Easter. But perhaps Pastor Paul Strozier of Madison Park Church of God in Anderson, Indiana, said it best last year in an article he wrote: “The baskets have returned to the attic, the plastic eggs are being recycled, somewhere in the house there is at least one purple Peep left unconsumed—at least until the toddler finds it…But can we really let the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ wait a whole year to be acknowledged and celebrated again? Easter never ends for the follower of Jesus Christ…Imagine how it might change our homes, our families, and our communities if we lived every day with resurrection power, hope, and joy.” For Church of God congregations across the country, Easter has only just begun! Here’s a look at how churches observed Easter week. Continue reading

Church of God Gears Up for Easter

Photo: Cornwall Church’s Skagit Valley “Tulip Team” members.

By Carl Stagner

Jesus is the subject, no doubt about it. The life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—from birth, to death, to resurrection—is one we exalt from Sunday to Sunday, Christmas to Easter, and throughout the year. It’s no wonder that Church of God congregations across the country and around the world are pulling out all the stops for a week of worship, reflection, outreach, community service, and celebration. Throughout the movement, churches are preparing for community Easter egg hunts and festivals, Communion, Good Friday gatherings, Sunrise services, breakfasts and brunches, stations of the cross, special music and drama—and of course, footwashing. Continue reading

Longtime Missionary Turns 100

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Photo: Bob Moss and Ernest LaFont

By Carl Stagner

1916. That was the year former missionary Ernest LaFont was born. Well-known across the movement throughout the 20th century, he and his wife Grace were regarded by both pastors and laypeople, at home and abroad, as exemplary pillars of the faith. Chances are pretty good that either you are someone who was blessed by the ministry of the LaFonts, or you know someone who was. From Panama to Egypt, to Lebanon and finally Washington State, the widespread reach of this Pacific Bible College (now Warner Pacific) graduate over the span of a lifetime has not ceased, but continues to this day. Family member and friend Bob Moss of Church of God Ministries knows firsthand the incredible impact of Ernest LaFont on the movement, and is honored to offer just a glimpse of the harrowing circumstances that shaped this man of God. Continue reading

Olympia-Lacey Children’s Ministry Joins the Movement

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Photo: Children on the move at Olympia-Lacey block party.

By Carl Stagner

There’s no question the children’s ministry at Olympia-Lacey Church of God in Washington State is a part of the Movement. After all, it’s a part of Olympia-Lacey Church of God. But there’s another kind of movement taking place among us; a movement within the movement. It’s that movement which is presently making waves across the Church of God and inspiring the young to set an example for the young at heart. Continue reading

Kingdom Keys: Linda Fast Strikes Chord with Students, Neighbors

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Photo: Linda Fast (far right) stands proudly with her students who received honors at a piano competition.

By Carl Stagner

Well-known and well-loved by the community. A true heart for people. Doesn’t know a stranger. Loves the opportunity to minister. Her primary mission field: a piano studio. Forty-eight years and hundreds of piano students later, Linda Fast is still making the most of her fingers and her voice. Continue reading

Highview: A Priesthood-of-All-Believers, Disciples-Making-Disciples Church

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Photo: Disciple-making disciples at Highview, ready for baptism.

By Carl Stagner

Since when is it the pastor’s job to do all the work of the church? Unfortunately, the notion isn’t too far-fetched for a lot of congregations. But the task of the people-in-the-pew goes beyond making sure the yard gets mowed and the bathrooms are clean every Sunday. Brent Farmer, pastor of Highview Church of God in Washington, Illinois, reminds us that ministry is the work of all the saints. Discipleship, in particular, is a job all growing believers can do. At Highview, disciple-making efforts recently culminated in a festive baptism celebration. In a departure from what has become common practice, the pastor performed none of the baptisms. Continue reading

First of Three Regional Conventions Kicks Off in Vancouver

vancouver-dates

By Carl Stagner

Reports on the ground indicate that hundreds of Church of God people are making their way to Vancouver Church in Vancouver, Washington, for the first of three Regional Conventions scheduled for 2016. Anticipation is higher than ever for the speakers who will address the convention theme—Reclaim Your Neighbor[hood]—including Milton Grannum, Ben Hardman, Arnetta McNeese Bailey, Steve Arterburn, and Reggie McNeal. Many will also stick around for the CHOG Table on Thursday, as the discussion turns to the timely topic of sexual ethics. The first session of the Regional Convention begins tonight at 7:00 PM PDT with Milton Grannum speaking and Alanna Story leading worship. Continue reading

CHOG Regional Convention Host Church in the Reclamation Business

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Photo: Outside the beautiful Vancouver Church facility.

By Carl Stagner

“I believe we’re not so much in the church-building business as we’re in the change-the-world business. And furthermore, I believe that we’re not so much in the reformation business as we are in the reclamation business—taking back what hell has stolen.” Jim Lyon’s bold words have set the stage for the three Church of God regional conventions this year, where the theme “Reclaim Your Neighbor[hood]” will be woven into the teaching, dialogue, and worship. Vancouver Church, host of the first of the regional conventions (April 26–28 in Vancouver, Washington), has a rich history of reclamation. As they welcome convention-goers to their campus, they’re excited to share some of the ways God has empowered them to reclaim what hell has stolen—both locally and globally. Continue reading