On Februrary 8th the General Assembly met at Lifebuilders COG in Decatur. Pastor Eric presented an opportuntiy to grow IL Ministries by utilizing a small parcel of land at Camp Warren for a senior housing development. The proposal to move forward with the project received a unanimous vote. Also during the meeting General Director Jim Lyon shared his heart and vision for the future of the Church of God. Slides from both presentations can be found in the EXTRA menu and by choosing downloads or click here.
Camp Warren is happy to announce that we will be offering a Brand New Camp this year for kids with Autism and/or Epilpesy. This has been a dream that we have been working on and the resources in an excellent team of leaders is making it happen. The dates are August 8-11, 2014. There will be more information coming soon but wanted you to be the 1st to know!
The new congregational giving information is posted!
Pastor Brian Hefner his wife Rebecca and their two children recently moved to Marseilles, IL. They are the new pastor of the First Church of God. A church that has been in decline and suffering from loss from the aging population. Finances were concerning to everyone. IL Ministries started working with this congregation several months ago to begin a covenant relationship on turning around.
The challenge to turn this congregation around was great. The congregation begged the coach to help them find a pastor. He would respond, "how? you cannot afford anyone. You have a house, barely a paycheck, and a debt that has to be taken care of." The persistance of the Church Health Team led the coach to ask Brian if he would consider the challenge.
Brian, recently graduating from seminary was anxious to start ANYWHERE. Brian loves to be told something is impossible because he believes God specialized in the impossible.
God provided an excellent job for his wife - the congregation sacrificed at a level the was stretching them - Brian excepted the call. His first Sunday there were 12 people. Many would hang their head and say, "what have I done?" Not the congregation in Marseilles and Pastor Brian. They said, "look how far we can go from here". In four short months the congregation has 40 in attendance and have baptized their first new believer in decades. They had to clean out their baptistry from years of decorations and storage to be able to even see the drain.
It's an amazing story of 2 very different churches merging into one fellowship that will change the dynamics of each church. Fireworks Station Church of God has been led by a fine young pastor, Fred Wright for several years. The church is growing and lots of energy in worship and people. The location of the church was in a dangerous area. They were hoping that God would open up a door for them to move to a safer location so the growth could continue and ministries could be further developed.
The Gathering Place Church of God had tried many different attempts to make a turn around. They were declining in attendance and growing older each year without too many young people joining. They were concerned about how long they would last. They had strong resources from the health of the church in the past but even the resources were declining steadily.
The two churches started worshipping together and spending time in prayer. They talked about what the dynamics would be if an African American church that was growing and being led by a young pastor would merge with a older white congregation. The discussions were frank and very authentic. Both churches exercised incredible faith and patience. On the last Sunday of June, the vote was taken to merge these two congregation
We have a multi ethnic congregation in Fairview Heights, IL which is a multi ethnic area. Let's pray that God rewards their faith and decisions to become a church that resembles what heaven is going to look like - and let's pray that a Spanish Church begins and an Asian congregation forms and every culture in the area would find a refuge to worship One God as One People standing together for the mission of Christ.
Rock Springs Church of God and Peoples Church of God have modeled for other churches a successful church merge. Their new name is Life Builders Church of God. Pastor Tim Lusitana is the Lead Pastor. Bill Phillips, the transition pastor for Peoples Church of God helped in merging the two churches. Life Builders Church of God will make their new home in the old Peoples Church of God facility once it is remodeled. The church has an exciting vision and will continue to be a strong influence in the city of Decatur. If you have questions about how a church merge works, feel free to contact Pastor Tim or the State Office.