Tag Archives: WV

Unstuck and Unleashed: Small Indiana Church Thinks Big

As First Church grows, they don’t forget to have fun together!

In the summer of 2016, First Church of God in Marion, Indiana, found themselves without a pastor. With only forty folks on average in attendance on Sunday mornings, they weren’t sure how to move forward. Determined not to give up on the mission they believed God was calling them to in their community, they sought a bi-vocational minister who could lead them in a restart. By September, they found just the pastor God had intended for them. Continue reading

Unexpected Journeys Lead Pastor to Niche in Teaching, Blogging

Scott Beha

By Carl Stagner

Southridge Church is a thriving Church of God congregation nestled in South Charleston, West Virginia. On Easter Sunday, they rejoiced to welcome over 700 for worship, an all-time high. Already this year, the church has celebrated the baptism of 20 believers. Eighteen months ago, small-group participation had declined to about 60; since then, the number of participants has topped 200. Outreach into a women’s recovery center has brought more than 150 additional guests, many of whom have since been saved and baptized. A strong partnership with an elementary school has helped the church make major strides in the advancement of the kingdom, even as the school permitted the church to host an Easter egg hunt for students during the school day! Lead executive pastor Michael Coker and lead teaching pastor Scott Beha are thrilled to be a part of Southridge during such an exciting time in the church’s history. But Scott wouldn’t have been there to experience it firsthand, except for a series of unexpected journeys that also helped him find a God-ordained niche in teaching and blogging. Continue reading

West Virginia Church Rises from the Ashes—Literally

Dedication service crowd fills the new sanctuary!

By Carl Stagner

It was nearing the middle of the night on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Instead of sleeping, several of the saints of Green Valley Church of God, in St. Albans, West Virginia, were wide awake. They’d gathered in the parking lot, gazing in horror as smoke and flame engulfed the place where they’d accepted Christ, got baptized, grew in their faith, and/or made lifelong friends. Thoughts raced through their minds: What’s next? How will this affect the ministry here? What in the world does God have in mind? In the trauma of the moment, God’s sovereign hand was hard to detect. But out of the bad, God was working for the good, ushering in a new beginning for Green Valley Church of God. 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

Youth Pastors, Regions Unite to Prepare Students for Christ-Centered Leadership

Students worshiping the Lord at 3SLI.

By Carl Stagner

IYC and state youth conventions do a tremendous job inspiring students to come to Christ, to rededicate their lives to the Lord, and to accept the unique call God has placed on their lives. Most of the students leave these mountain-top experiences having experienced life change to one degree or another, but some also leave recognizing God has called them to lead. Just after the turn of the new century, several youth pastors from the Midwest came together to identify the best way to prepare such students for lifelong Christ-centered leadership. In 2003, 3SLI (then the Tri-State Student Leadership Institute, now Tri-Level) was launched to serve students in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. When West Virginia was added, the name 3SLI didn’t change—and neither did its resolve to come alongside emerging leaders. Continue reading

Motorcycle Ministry and the Church of God

Bikers gearing up for a ride at Owingsville First Church.

By Carl Stagner

The Church of God movement is known for making Jesus the subject—looking past ethnic and cultural differences for the Lord’s sake. Recognizing that the call to ministry doesn’t distinguish between male and female, and reaching our hands in fellowship to every blood-washed one—regardless of color of skin, or name over the church doors, for example—the Church of God has placed a premium on unity, holiness, and the mission of reaching anyone and everyone with the gospel. It should be no surprise then, that over recent decades Church of God congregations across the country have developed motorcycle ministries that really make a difference. Often stereotyped and frequently feared by a four-wheeled society, the distinct culture and community of bikers has proved a field ready for harvest in the Church of God. Continue reading

Warner Press Releases Groundbreaking Book by CHOG Woman Pastor

Warner Press continues its strong relationship with the Church of God by publishing the first book of longtime, influential pastor, Melissa Pratt. Pratt’s new book, Impact: That’ll Leave a Mark, adds a new resource for women (and men, too!) by a woman to the Warner Press repertoire. Impact shares how you can use your role as a disciple of Jesus to change and impact others’ lives for the better. Continue reading

WV Church Reclaims Hope Amid Opioid Crisis, Prostitution, and Poverty

Clothing giveaway at Madison Avenue Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

In small towns, big cities, and everything in between, drug abuse is out of control. Especially dangerous is the increasingly popular opioid. Not limited to its common appearance as heroin, addiction to pain killers is also growing concern, as are the deadly additives fentanyl and carfentanyl. Far more complex than a cause-and-effect scenario, a vicious cycle connects the opioid crisis, prostitution, and poverty. Madison Avenue Church of God in Huntington, West Virginia, has declared war on these three products of hell. In the heat of the battle, they’re seeing bonds broken, hope restored, a once-declining church grow again, and a city slowly being reclaimed for Christ. They’re taking back what hell has stolen. Continue reading

Unfinished Business: God Orchestrates New Beginnings through WV Plant

Inside the sanctuary of New Beginnings.

By Carl Stagner

Sunday, September 17, will be celebrated by several church networks as National Church Planting Day. Just in time for such an observance is the news that West Virginia’s first Church of God plant in thirty years is another step closer to its January 2018 launch. West Virginia is excited to boldly get back into the multiplication business! Their focus is on Kenova, where three-fourths of the community is considered “de-churched.” Though the doors to the Church of God at 1616 Polar Street were once closed, they find themselves open again, with nothing but new beginnings in store. Continue reading