Here in the Findlay office, we find ourselves reflecting on all the ministry we are thankful for. Thanksgiving has put us in that kind of mood, I guess. So, we wanted to take a little time today to communicate our gratitude for work well done, and to celebrate the successes of faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Of course, there is so much our churches, pastors, leaders, missionaries, and supporters do, all year long, that help support the mission of the Churches of God, General Conference, and the mission of Christ. We couldn’t possibly list it all the efforts worth being thankful for and celebrated but we can touch on a few highlights and bring to your attention the good work of Christ happening all around our denomination.
Two New Directors Join the CGGC Office
Our office saw two new people step into director roles this year, which marks significant staffing changes. As our former Global Reach Director Ben Tobias stepped down to be the assistant pastor at Indian Head, Travis Helm (formerly the Assistant Director) stepped into the role as the new Global Reach Director. Travis brings years of experience supporting and directing global missions work and because he’s been around the office for a good while, had a very smooth transition. His main priority is to continue to help raise strong leaders in our mission fields so they can grow and multiply. You can read about his vision for the role here.
Bob Stephenson also stepped down as the Director of Finance and Treasurer for the CGGC office this year, and Kathy Bishop has come into the role. Kathy quickly became most peoples favorite person because she frequently brings in treats to the office, but also because of her attention to detail, and her heart to see Christ advance.
We were sad to see two beloved co-workers like Bob and Ben leave, but are so thankful that God has provided such excellent people like Travis and Kathy to continue on serving the Lord through their roles at the CGGC.
Southeast Region Multiplying
The Southeast Regional Conference is only a year old, but it is already developing and multiplying. In 2023 they’ve launched their first church plant, welcoming into the region a new church through their Fathers On the Move program. Pastor Walter Harris has come as a missionary to Pittsburgh, PA. We were so excited last year to see the Southeast Region be birthed out of the tireless efforts of Pastor Rich Thornton, Pastor Victor Glover, and the rest of the Southeast Pastors. We are just as excited to see the Southeast Region continue to multiply and grow!
Microbus for Bangladesh
Earlier this year we made a big ask for the denomination to help raise funds for a microbus for Bangladesh. Essentially a large van, a microbus like this has been used at our Bangladesh mission for many years to support the ministry there and they are absolutely essential to the work. If you’ve never been to Bangladesh, let me tell you, the roads are few, poor, and full. Getting anywhere in Bangladesh is an ordeal, so these microbuses have enabled medical camps and all sorts of live altering, soul saving work to be done. We were blown away by the support that was raised for this microbus, and even more grateful for God’s faithfulness in responding to your generosity. If you haven’t read about the miracle of the microbus, you should here. God moved and helped us secure the very last new microbus in all of Bangladesh, no kidding! Praise the Lord!
Sending Young Leaders to Urbana
Raising up young leaders is one of the most important things we can be doing to help see good ministry work continue into the future. So we were excited to see Ben Tobias take students to Urbana 22, a missions conference. We covered the debrief of at the beginning of this year, and wanted to highlight the impact events like this can be on the trajectory of a young person. Urbana claims that 5,500 people attended the conference and that 117 people were saved for the first time.
Churches and Fields Celebrate 100+ Years of Ministry
As we look toward the 200 celebration of the CGGC in 2025, more and more churches are celebrating their 100th+ anniversaries. The CGGC is a historic movement in the United States, deeply tied into the second great awakening. We ought to be thankful for and celebrating the numerous churches and missions that have been doing the hard work of ministry for more than a century. For instance, this year we covered three such celebrations, but there were undoubtedly many more. Mt. Carrol Church of God in Illinois celebrated their 175th birthday, while New Cumberland and our Bangladesh Mission both celebrated their 125th birthday’s this year! Praise the Lord!
Maui Disaster Relief
As many of you know, early August saw devastating fires sweep through Lahaina, western Maui in Hawaii. Many people lost their lives; far more were left homeless, jobless, and were forced to move off the island. This event was another painful reminder of Hawaii’s difficult housing situation where many native Hawaiian people cannot afford to live in their own state.
We are grateful that we had a church on the ground in Lahaina that was able to help and coordinate relief and outreach efforts during this disaster. Likewise, we’re grateful for the profound outpouring of generosity from our churches all around the denomination that gave toward disaster relief. Almost $50,000 was given to several non-profits on the ground through the CGGC. We are still in prayer for the people of West Maui, and we continue to support the work that Pastor David Kapaku is doing there to help them.
Our Regions Partner with Winebrenner for Continuing Education
The Midwest Region, Western Region, and Allegheny Regions have partnered with Winebrenner Theological Seminary for pastoral and ministry training at a low cost. This partnership has seen cohorts of pastors and leaders take classes at Winebrenner while being sponsored by their region. This partnership is reducing the barrier to entry for continuing education, something we think all of our pastors should be engaging in to keep themselves sharp. We have been so impressed by Winebrenner’s transformation and pursuit of their belief in affordable Christian education. We believe in their vision and want to celebrate when organizations within the CGGC partner together to do more. If you are in the Midwest, Western, or Allegheny Regions and are considering continuing your Christian education, reach out to your regional leaders. You can find your regions contact information here.
Manteca Church of God works with Community Organizations to end Homelessness
We’ve been inspired by the way our California Eldership, as a whole, is making outreach and community development a part of their DNA. This year we covered a story about how Manteca Church of God, in particular, has been working closely with charities, non-profits, and city government to provide a wholistic care for homeless people. By bringing all of these resources together in one place, Pastor Timothy Welsh hopes to see the culture of disregard in Manteca change, and likewise to see organizations that are often territorial, share their resources and work together to bring about real change in their communities. It’s a massive effort, at times frustrating, and it takes years to pull off, but we want to celebrate the milestones that Manteca and the whole California Eldership have reached this year in their march toward Homelessness. You can read all about it here.
Great Lakes LIFT Initiative
The Great Lakes Region is developing young leaders through their LIFT program, which stands for Leaders, Interns, Fellows, and Trainees. By sponsoring internships and fellowships in their churches, they have seen young leaders get mentorship and real-world ministry with reduced strain on the church, and while supporting young leaders a meaningful stipend. The goal is to see these leaders then released into the denomination to plant or serve at churches. The Great Lakes Conference recognizes that a region which isn’t bringing up new leaders is an aging and die region. We want to celebrate the Great Lakes Foundation and it’s excellent stewardship for helping make this initiative possible.
Eastern Regional Conference Forges Ahead with Discipleship Plan
The ERC has moved on to a new phase of it’s multi-year discipleship plan called Discovery, Develop, Deploy. ERC Director of Discipleship Nate Buck said that “We set out to address our culture and forge a culture at our core that was unrelenting in its commitment to discipleship.” Part of that cultural transformation toward discipleship is practically living it out in every aspect of life. The ERC office has made significant changes in order to model that, and their Wormleysburg location is being opened to the community as a space for a church plant, a food distribution center, and other ministry opportunities. The ERC is also partnering with its churches to provide resources like Follow, “a 7 week devotional journey” that “turns the mirror toward ourselves, and then acts like the window we see others through.” We’re excited about the massive vision and shift the ERC is making toward discipleship and the ambition to see that plan carried out across our largest region, and we want to celebrate their progress.
CGGC eNews—Vol. 27, No. 47