2020: A Year of Great Challenges…
It is certainly no news bulletin to any of us that 2020 is a year that we will most likely remember all of our lives. It has thrust us into challenges unlike many of us have never before had to endure. The COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic has and is changing the landscape in many different ways. It has impacted the economy, the education system, entertainment, and most certainly the Church. The unrest, violence, protests, divisive election season, and natural disasters have stretched and stressed us in incredible ways.
The Church of God in Michigan has had a very challenging year, as nearly all of our congregations were not meeting in person for several months, beginning in March. Most made their worship services and other events available in a digital format. Most have begun to worship together, but with much lower in-person attendance. The prevailing reports of many of our churches is that their overall reach is higher, given in-person and online services. Also, giving has been consistent, and in some cases, higher. But people miss the personal contact with the family of God.
The most difficult challenge of 2020 has been the cancellation of nearly all our events, which provide such a great opportunity for us to connect in person. While all were greatly missed, none more difficult and painful to cancel than the 360 Ministry Leadership Conference Event, our State Youth Convention, and the in-person General Assembly Meeting.
While the pandemic continues its path, and the divisiveness of the culture continues leading up to this election, we are the Church of God in Michigan, God’s chosen instrument for these times. You are holding steadfast, and we applaud you for your diligence. We also can thankfully say that our giving and contact with you has been consistent, and we owe you our thanks for your consistent support. You are wonderful partners in the work of the Lord here in the great state of Michigan.
2021 A Determined Church for Difficult Times…
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB) 1Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Due to the restrictions of the pandemic, we were forced to reschedule our planned in-person General Assembly, and the exciting meeting that was to take place in Lansing. We are happy to report that our planned speakers and activities for 2020 will take place in 2021’s General Assembly Meeting, Lord willing. Our theme will be unity. As we approach 2021, however, we need to be a determined church for times that are truly difficult. There is no predictable end to the challenges we are working through, so we must approach this new year of the Church of God in Michigan with a fierce determination to help people find and follow Jesus Christ. To paraphrase an old hymn, if we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need Him now! The Church is crucial to our culture, even if the culture doesn’t really know it or embrace this truth. We know it, and we must be about our Lord’s work of making disciples through the vehicle of His loving Gospel.
God has us where we are for such a time as this. He will go with us, and He will lead us as we endeavor to love and serve Him. As a part of this, we will launch into 2021 with a determination to do ministry. Our hope and prayer are that we will get some relief from the pandemic, and this will help us to hold more in-person events. We will also be utilizing Zoom, social media, our website, and other digital platforms to help equip you to do ministry. I’ll be sharing some of these plans with you during our Virtual General Assembly Meeting on November 7th. I encourage you, please don’t allow the present challenges to discourage you from the mission we are called to. We are A Determined Church for Difficult Times!
My Thankful Appreciation…
Throughout much of 2020, many of you have shared your concern and appreciation for me in this difficult year, my first as your State Pastor. Thank you for your kind and encouraging support. While it has been a very challenging year to step into this position, given the dynamics of this year, it was made so much easier by the preparations made prior to my arrival and the time of working in tandem with Dr. Bill Jones during the last quarter of 2019. I am happy to report that thanks to the excellent preparation and fine work that Dr. Bill Jones, Goldie Kurtzhals, and Becky Adams have done, my transition to the position has been smooth. Throughout this year, Becky has done an outstanding job of managing the administrative activities of the state. Goldie has continued her fine work in managing the Credentials and Leadership Focus efforts of the state, as well as assisting with other projects throughout 2020. Dr. Jones has also provided excellent counsel in so many ways as I endeavored to learn the state’s ministry.
2020 was also made easier by the work of our Church Health Pastor, Rev. Jerry Lyon, our Regional Pastors: Dr. John Davey, Rev. Jim Horn, Rev. Dave Perry, and Dr. Herbert Banks, and our Director of Youth Ministry, Connie Graham. I am also grateful for the work of our state teams throughout the year. You are all great blessings to me and the Church of God in Michigan. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your love, encouragement, support, and excellent work. I look forward to our continuing work and relationship development in 2021 and beyond, as we serve this great state for the Lord Jesus Christ.
A. The pastor of each congregation within the state of Michigan.
B. The members of all the recognized ministries and committees of this organization.
C. The associate pastors/ministers called by each congregation on a full-time or part-time basis.
D. One layperson chosen as an official representative by each Michigan Church of God congregation with an average weekly attendance to 100; two laypersons from each congregation with an average weekly attendance of 101–500; three laypersons from each congregation with
an average weekly attendance of 501–1000; and four laypersons from each congregation with an average weekly attendance of 1,001 and above.
E. All others who are registered in the current Yearbook of the Church of God or have served as past chairs of the Michigan General Assembly, and who reside in Michigan and worship in Church of God congregations in Michigan.
F. One delegate as appointed by each recognized Camp Meeting Association within the state.
Board of Directors
Jeffery Salisbury, Chair; David Aukerman, Vice-Chair; Robert Butler, Secretary, Lucius Hayward, Michael Harris, Mary Hirakis, Doug Irving, Connie Mashue, John Mattern, Wendell Thompson, Alexandra Weeks, Thomas Whitesel, Mark Richardson, Herbert Banks, ex-officio.
Church Health Ministry
Tom Whitesel, Chair; Tom Bader, Matthew Chesney, David Colp, Jack Perkins, Chris Slosser, Jerry Lyon, Church Health Minister, Mark Richardson, staff.
Michael Harris, Chair; Carl Baker, Terry Bernard, Robert Confer, Chariese Matthews, John Mellish, Kristi Rhodes, Mark Richardson, staff.
Pastoral Health Ministry
John Mattern, Chair; Mary Shawl-Ranke, Secretary; Jeffrey Eckman, Mary Lockley, Janell Robinson, Mike Simmons, Sheryl Thompson, Mark Richardson, staff.
Alexandra Weeks, Chair; James Bryde, Alyssa Olivarez, Emily Potter, Shelby Sandborn, Brian Spitters, Mark Staton II, Ex-officio: Ken Forsman, Michigan Singers; Kelley Dendel, Warner Camp; Ben Kreider, MSLI; Connie Graham, Director of Youth Ministry, Mark Richardson, staff.
Melody Capsel, Jerry Johnston, Vance Kupisch, Jaela McQuillan, Chris Walker, Mark Richardson, staff.
Harold Lockley, Chair; Alruthus Dulin, Ron Nuckles, Michael Potter, Nathan Workman, Mark Richardson, staff.
Michigan Student Leadership Institute (MSLI)
Ben Kreider, Chair; Jim Sirks, Kevin Tippin, Connie Graham, Director of Youth Ministry, Mark Richardson, staff.
Christopher Bones, John Miller, Kimme Nuckles, Mike Stone, Jerome Willis, Mark Richardson, staff.
David Aukerman, Chair; James Blake, Ellsworth Jackson, Jake Seaton, Erin Taylor, Mark Richardson, staff.
Youth Convention Task Force
Alexandra Weeks, Chair; Tori Eckman, Jenny Salas, Jim Sirks, Jessica Staton, Dan Steenbergh, Heidi Steenbergh, Connie Graham, Director of Youth Ministry, Mark Richardson, staff.
Youth Winter Retreat Task Force
Shelby Sandborn, Chair; Krystal Kotesky, Mike Mazurek, and Connie Graham, Director of Youth Ministry, Mark Richardson, staff.
99th General Assembly of the Church of God in Michigan
Annual Business Meeting Session Minutes
November 1, 2019
Call to order – 10:34 Rev. Dr. Hebert Banks, Chair
Recognition of officers (p 6) – Dr. Banks
Recognition of new pastorates (7-8) – Dr. Banks
Recognition of guests/vendors (tables) – Dr. Banks
Requirements Review of Statement of membership (p 3) – Dr. Banks
2020 Ballot review (p 19) – Dr. Banks
Review of Minutes (p 9-11) – Dr. Banks
State Pastor’s Report (p 12) – Dr. Jones
• Transition: (2-year search) recognition of Future Directions Committee
• Appreciation: Goldie Kurtzhals and Becky Adams, numerous ministry chairs, GA chairs, pastoral colleagues.
Financial Report (p 26-33) – Dr. Jones
• 80% of member churches are contributing (highest in nation)
• Highlights: First Church in St. Joseph assisting Holbrook Avenue in Flint (Doubles Church Health Ministry budget), Endowments – gained 56k in stocks, Building and Grounds budget over due to HVAC issues in June, Severance package moved to 2020 budget, Church transformations in Hope, Holbrook and Midland.
• Motion/Second – Ken Salisbury, St. Johns
Harold Lockley, Business Committee Chair, Ballot Presentation
• Introductions of Business Committee
• Introduction of Parliamentarian – Rev. Dr. David Aukerman
• Head teller – John Miller
• Review of nomination procedure
• Review of Nominees (p 20-24)
• Distribution of Ballots
Servant Solutions, Jeff Jenness introduces new president, Jim O’Bold and Bob Haymond.
• Video Presentation
• Sharing by Jeff Jenness, Bob Haymond about different aspects of Servant Solutions, Bob Moss sharing about grants and pastoral compensation, Jim O’Bold shares about financial planning and market involvement.
• Video Presentation on market ups and downs (Market Volatility).
• Jim O’Bold closes
• Bill Jones includes testimony about retirement investments as he is coming into his own retirement, thanking Servant Solutions.
Bill Jones blesses the lunch meal in prayer. Dismisses GA until 1pm.
Called back to Order – 1pm
Church Health Minister Report – Jerry Lyon (p 13)
2020 Budget Vote
• Shortfall of $140,000 asked (shortfall due to severance package)
• ISL question – ISL has ceased to exist
Unfinished Business – Dr. Jones (No unfinished business)
All ballots voted on in morning session were ratified – Dr. Jones
Ministry Recognition – John Mattern & Bill Jones (p 35)
• Church Health information shared by John Mattern
• 25 years serving in Michigan (Rev. Greg Henneman, Clarkston; Rev. Vernon Jackson, Detroit; Rev. Dr. John Miller, Oakley; Rev. Neil Turner, Charlevoix)
• 15 years serving in the same congregation (Rev. Dr. Herbert Banks, Flint; Rev. Terrence Dudley, Kentwood; Rev. Dr. Kevin Earley, Detroit; Rev. James Matt, Sterling Heights; Rev. Jerry Webb, Sterling Heights; Rev. Daniel Whiting, Clarkston; Pastor Jerome Willis, Detroit)
• Lifetime Achievement (Connie Graham)
◦ NOTE – Budget vote passed unanimously
• Outstanding Service Award (Goldie Kurtzhals)
In Tribute Recognition – Rev. Dr. John Davey (p 35)
• Robert Dulin, Loyal Hire, Alfred Carrothers, Danny Workman, Fred Davey
Presentation of Credentials Candidates – Rev. Dr. John Davey
• Licensing Candidates (David Johnson, Flint; David Mulherin, Flint; Suhailah Talibah, Pontiac; Emily Potter, Alpena; Mark Zielinski, Coleman)
• Ordination Candidates (Christopher Britton, St. Joseph; April Crump, Millington; Dwight Fontenot, Ypsilanti; Theresa Hirakis, Battle Creek; Mark Robb, Cedar Springs; Jerome Willis, Detroit) – each candidate shared for three minutes, followed by anointing and prayer.
Dismissal 2:16pm by Dr. Bill Jones.
Minute proof readers:
Carron Odokara, Kristi Rhodes and David Rails
Rev. Rob Butler, Secretary
What a ride! The 2020 roller coaster has been a wild experience. I’m certain most of us would like to get off this crazy thing sooner rather than later. It’s made us all a bit weary: never-ending political and viral battles, stay at home orders, social unrest, economic challenges for our nation, local church closures, hurricanes and wildfires! Oh-my. It’s been quite a ride, and, it’s not quite over, yet. We are winding down, 2020, and praying for a more peaceful, 2021. We shall see.
On the Church Health front, it’s a mixed bag. Some MICOG churches are doing better than expected, and some are struggling along and not faring as well as they had hoped. Our churches have been challenged to keep the message of the Gospel going forth, IT HAS BEEN AND IT WILL CONTINUE!!!
What’s been happening in 2020:
- 360 Ministry Leadership Conference (360 MLC) was cancelled due to the viral pandemic from COVID-19. We waited as long as we could, but, as have so many other events, it succumbed to the call for the safety and well-being of our COG leaders. (We’re looking forward to 2021 with a continued emphasis on “disciplemaking,” at 360, but the venue and format will most likely be changed).
- Mission 120 (a tri-state initiative to coach and mentor 120 disciplemaking pastors and churches) has been undaunted by the pandemic. Our mtgs/cohorts were always intended to be via ZOOM (internet meeting platform), so we didn’t miss a beat! The 1st wave of pastors from Michigan (5), Ohio, and Indiana, finished their cohort sessions last June. A 2nd wave (a larger group, 11 from Michigan) began in October and those pastors will have developed their intentionally strategic pathways to disciplemaking, by March 2021. We see a necessary 3rd wave developing to help as many of our pastors and churches who want to be a part of this movement get on-ramped to this initiative. Participating as a team member, as a local pastor developing a pathway for my church, recruiting, and as a cohort facilitator, has been a great experience.
- Another positive note… “Good Church,” Flint, made the most of the time while they were not able to meet as a newly branded congregation. Scheduled to open on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020, they found themselves with more time to develop community connections and gain great partnerships. For all intents and purposes, Holbrook Church of God, is now, GOOD CHURCH, Flint. It has a new face, a new passion, a vital mission, and a whole lot of energy to move in to 2021! Their first Sunday of in-person worship in their renovated facility was on Sunday, October 18th. Partnerships with MICOG, St. Joe First, Clarkston Community, Flint Bible, and many others have helped GOOD CHURCH to become a reality.
-The Church Health Ministry has often hoped partnerships would develop between congregations to assist one another when times are difficult. We’re seeing this happen in another area between Eagle Ridge Church of God and Beaverton Church of God. Beaverton recognized it’s life-cycle had come to an end, and they wanted to know how they could experience new life. Via the concept of “dying” to restart, a new life-cycle is about to begin. Their partnership is another example of what can happen when congregations think missionally, are kingdom minded, and want to make disciples! We look forward to hearing more about this partnership as they have targeted the end of November 2020 to relaunch!
Looking forward to even greater things in 2021 as we link arms in mission and ministry, together.
Rev. Jerry Lyon, Church Health Minister
Mission 120 is a venture to raise up and resource 120 disciple making churches in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. The goal is to see 40 of those churches in Indiana, 60 in Ohio, and 20 in Michigan.
This is not a program. This is not a “silver bullet.” This is the long game that holds exponential possibility. This is the model Jesus gave us to follow.
We believe this venture will accelerate the number of churches in our tri-state partnership that have clear pathways for disciple making to multiple generations. We also believe this kind of intentional disciple making will lead to churches starting new works for the Kingdom.
We felt it was very important to define two important phrases as we embarked on the journey of raising up 120 disciple making churches. Those phrases are, “biblical disciples” and “disciple making churches.” We define those this way:
Biblical Disciples are...
Intentionally following Jesus
Being changed by Jesus
Engaging the mission of Jesus
Disciple Making Churches...
Are led by disciple making pastors
Have a relational pathway for disciple making
Raise up disciples who make disciples, who make disciples
Send disciples into the mission of Jesus
The main thrust of this initiative is establishing learning communities of pastors we call Mission 120 cohorts. These cohorts meet monthly for ninety minutes via Zoom. Each of the six sessions are intentionally designed to help pastors develop a pathway and vehicle for disciple making that gets them to multiplying generations of reproduction.
Greetings from the Credentials Ministry. The Ministry is comprised of the following members: Carl Baker (Secretary), Terry Bernard, Robert (Bob) Confer, Chariese Matthews, Mark Richardson (State Pastor, non-voting ex-officio member), Kristi Rhodes, and myself (Michael Harris - Chairperson). I would like to take the opportunity to express my thanks to these ministry members for the excellent work they are doing for our state ministries, and more importantly, for the Kingdom of God. Also, I would like to express my joy and appreciation in the overall caliber of candidates that are seeking recognition as licensed and ordained ministers of our Lord, Jesus Christ in the Church of God in Michigan.
The Credentials Ministry is recommending six individuals for ordination by our General Assembly this year. In addition, we have 21 individuals currently in the credentials process.
The year 2020 being what it is, we had wanted to take the time at GA to, not only recognize those ministers in our assembly who have passed away since we met last, but to also formally recognize those ministers who have transitioned into retirement. Although, I am not certain that any of us truly know what retirement from ministry should look like. For many, retirement simply means shifting to a different type of ministry. Without doubt, a minister’s true retirement benefits are out of this world! Nonetheless, perhaps next year we can begin this special recognition.
Over the last few years, the Credentials Ministry has seen the need to really enhance the mentoring process for the candidates. I am glad to say that work is being accomplished to make this a more robust part of credentialing process within our state. Mentors will be hearing more about these plans in the months to come, and you may be called upon to consider becoming a mentor for a candidate.
The ministry would also like to help our church leaders with the development of a Commissioning process within the local congregations for individuals discerning a call into ministry. The Credentials Manual states, in section 1.40 – Those Who May Be Credentialed by Licensing and/or Ordination; sub section 1.41; Note #3 (Page 20): “All specialized church servants who are not vocational ministers may be recognized formally by a local congregation as it judges appropriate. A congregation may wish to recognize a specialized church servant in its midst by ‘commissioning’ that person for local service.”
The local commissioning for ministry would be an excellent first step for many individuals considering a call into ministry by helping them (and the referring pastor) to determine if licensing or ordination is necessary for their role in ministry. More than a few times per year, the Credentials Ministry is faced with the need to affirm with individuals the fact that although all Christ followers are called to ministry, not everyone in ministry requires Licensing or Ordination status. As you can imagine, these are not always easy conversations to have. The Credentials Manual outlines this discerning process. As a result, the ministry has begun meeting with all perspective candidates to help in this discernment for vocational ministry and before they should begin Leadership Focus.
From the Credentials Manual, Glossary of Terms and Phrases (Page 9), “Leadership Focus serves the work of Credentials Committees by being the primary source of preparation for all Church of God ministerial candidates in the United States and Canada. It is a ministry development tool wholly owned by Church of God Ministries and designed to equip and strengthen leaders through relational training with a missional perspective. While not a credentialing agent as such, it serves the Credentials Committees of the several authorized Assemblies of the Church of God by providing ministerial and missional candidates with a comprehensive program of ordination preparation.” Leadership Focus, however, is not a replacement for higher Biblical education and training. Nor does the entry and completion of Leadership Focus automatically guarantee that an individual will be licensed or ordained. There are circumstances where a license for ministry will suffice without the need for ordination. For further clarification on this and other issues, please refer to the Credentials Manual. In particular, the Glossary of Terms and Phrases, #21 – Vocational Minister (page 10), and Section 1.30 – The Levels of Credentialing Vocational Ministers; subsection 1.31-Licensing, and subsection 1.32-Ordination (pages 17 & 18).
The Credentials Ministry members feel it an honor and great trust that the GA has assigned to us. We seek to glorify our Lord in this commitment, and to reverentially journey with those discerning God’s call upon their lives. To God be the glory!
Pastor Mike Harris,
We must do the possible so God can do the impossible!
We began our Women’s Bible Study recently by sharing our favorite story from the Bible. That’s easy for me- the 4 men who bring a man who is paralyzed to Jesus on a stretcher by very unusual means! This story is in Mark 2 and in other Gospels.
I have used the truths from this story for many Sunday School and Youth lessons:
• These men had a relationship with the man on the stretcher and he trusted them.
• They truly saw his need and listened.
• They used the team approach in ministry.
• When obstacles arose, they didn’t give up; they just changed tactics.
• They knew the ultimate goal was bringing their friend to Jesus!
• We must be willing to climb, dig, do anything to bring our friends to Jesus-be stretcher bearers!
2020 has brought challenges to our State Youth Ministry that we could have never predicted. The much- anticipated events of 360, MSLI, and SYC had to be cancelled. Most local youth groups had to alter the way they met and minister, but I have seen creativity, partnerships, and trust in God’s provisions in a huge way!
For 2021, the State Youth Ministry is planning for the possible so God can do the impossible. These events are scheduled with safety protocols in place. (Others will be announced as Task Force groups set dates).
State Youth Winter Retreat
January 8-10, 2021
Held at Timberwolf Lake Camp
Lake City, MI
Our speaker is Ben Kreider, Youth Pastor at Alma First Church of God. Dave Mead and friends will lead worship. Dave is a pastor and Young Life Leader from the Gladwin area.
Registration, all downloads and information is available on the Church of God website in the youth section.
MSLI (Michigan Student Leadership Institute)
Floyd Church of God
Information about MSLI 2021 will be on the state website after the first of the year.
International Youth Convention (IYC)
July 4-7, 2021
Due to COVID, the 2020 IYC was cancelled, but there will be a convention in July and then the regularly scheduled one in 2022. Many of our congregations have made plans to attend. Information can be found at jesusisthesubject.org
Our State Youth Ministry in Michigan exists to assist students by providing opportunities for spiritual growth and modeling leadership. We also are challenged to encourage and support youth leaders and youth pastors in their role through education, mentoring, and networking.
Director of Youth Ministry
2020- Leadership Directory
Brian Spitters, Alyssa Olivarez, Mark Staton. Emily Potter, Shelby Sandborn (also Chair of Winter Retreat Task Force) & Ex –officio members : Ken Forsman- MI Singers, Kelley Dendel- Warner Camp, Ben Kreider- MSLI Task Force, Connie Graham- Director of Youth Ministry, Mark Richardson- staff.
Michigan Student Leadership Institute Task Force (MSLI)
Ben Kreider, Chair, Jim Sirks, Kevin Tippin, Connie Graham, Director of Youth Ministry, Mark Richardson, staff
Youth Convention Task Force (SYC)
Tori Eckman, Alyssa Olivarez, Jenny Salas, Brian Spitters, Jessica Staton, Jim Sirks, Connie Graham, Director of Youth Ministry, Mark Richardson, staff.
Youth Winter Retreat Task Force
Shelby Sandborn, Chair, Krystal Kotesky, Mike Mazurek, Alex Merren, Connie Graham, Director of Youth Ministry, Mark Richardson, staff
This year has been like no other year and, prayerfully, none to come. As I was thinking about my report, it felt like the whole world just stopped for months. Our normal business meetings that take place at Spring Convention were cancelled – both the Convention and our meetings.
When I found out that we would have Camp meeting, that meant we could have our business meeting. How great it was to see each of the ladies. Our meeting was held outside in a pavilion which worked very well. All but two of our Board of Directors were able to attend. The State Board did not have a quorum.
I want to thank all that were able to attend the meetings. I also want to tell the ladies that didn’t feel safe to come that I appreciate your decision.
If the Lord wills, we will have Convention this spring.
Pastors, you should have gotten you Christ Birthday Observance packet. I know most of you use the materials but, if some of you don’t and aren’t familiar with the material, I would encourage you to check it out. You will find it has Project Prayer, sermon thought starters, advent readings, children’s church material, and Christ Birthday Offering. This offering is the largest Church of God offering. It allows us to support many ministries around the world.
Connie Mashue, CWC State President
In March of 1998 Sheila Granger attended a church retreat and surrendered her life to Christ. Realizing the need to be connected with a local church, she began to seek the Lord and was directed to the Joseph Campau Avenue Church of God. As she continued her walk with Christ, she discovered a passion for encouraging God’s people through His word and under the leadership of Rev. David Lunn, she acknowledged her call to ministry. Since that time God has graciously opened doors and provided opportunities for her to use her gifts.
She has served in various roles demonstrating vision and leadership: In her local congregation, Minister Sheila Granger also serves as a Sunday School Teacher and Vice President of the Usher Ministry. She served as Vice President and President of the Michigan State Ushers of the Church of God where she also led various committees; she served as the Secretary and the Treasurer of Ministers and Laity United (formerly Greater Detroit Metropolitan Area Ministerial Fellowship) and currently works with the financial and program committees. She has facilitated workshops and served as the expediter for numerous events. Her ability to multitask is a great ministry asset but her passion is drawn from Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”
Her educational achievements include an Associate Degree in Christian Leadership from the Christian University of Southern Indiana and a Master of Science degree from Central Michigan University. Sheila also serves as a board member of the Alumnae Association of the Geraldine Marvell Miller Wright Institute for Women in Ministry.
Doug Irving serves as Associate Pastor at Pennway Church of God in Lansing. Doug and Jennifer, his wife of 28 years, are the proud parents of Jaxon (17 yrs), Alexis (15 yrs), and Xander (10 yrs). Previously, the Irvings have served congregations in Brockville, Ontario and Anderson, Indiana.
Jaime Cervantes is currently the Pastor at First Church of God at the Benton Heights Campus in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Jaime’s main ministry was born of his own personal experiences and even before becoming a pastor, he focused on helping other men work through addiction to recovery. Prior to becoming a pastor, Jaime worked in the New Mexico Judiciary while regularly speaking in the rooms of recovery in Santa Fe and across the state in rehab centers, sober living homes, and churches. Jaime persisted in fulfilling his dream of finishing college. Over 20 years after he first began, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master’s degree in business administration from the University of New Mexico. Jaime and his wife, Icela were both born and raised in Los Angeles, California.
Rev. Emily Clark, M.Div, is the Senior Pastor of Faith United Church of God in Grand Rapids. She has served the church since May of 2019. Emily is a former missionary to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. She is a graduate of the Anderson University School of Theology. Emily lives in Grand Rapids with her two cats and she loves Antiques Roadshow, knitting, and traveling.
Previously employed by Ford Motor Company (hourly, 1973) while continuing his studies in Engineering and was subsequently recruited in 1976 for a salaried position in Metallurgy/Product Development, Failure Analysis Testing – retiring after 32.8 years in 2007.
Brother Baker married Pamela Lynn (Williams) in July/1987. Together, they have five children: Danisha (Darian) Whitaker – 4 children, Robert (Theresa / deceased) - 3 children, Abraham (engaged / wedding 2020), Aaron, and Carlina-Lyn – one son. Accepting the call to ministry in August 2006, Brother Baker returned to academic studies at Anderson University to pursue and complete a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Christian Leadership (2012 - 2015, GPA 3.43) . Subsequent ministry locally (Men’s Ministry, Men’s Choir, Sunday School Teacher) and nationally (Secretary and Chaplain/National Men’s Ministry) led to current servanthood on the State Credentials Ministry – having accepted a mid-term replacement recommendation in 2019.
Current servanthood at New Creation Church of GOD (Flint) as Associate Pastor involves Pulpit Service, Counsel, Teaching, and Mentoring (Men’s Ministry and Leadership Focus).
Mike Harris is married to Angela Harris, and they have three children (2 adults, 1 teenager). He is the Pastor of Crossroads Church of God in Howell, Michigan, where he has served since 2006. Mike is also a licensed therapist. Mike’s ministry career began in Kentucky once he finished his enlistment in the US Air Force in 1994. His work in ministry began as an associate Pastor from 1994-2001. In 2001, Mike and his family moved to Lexington, Kentucky where he worked as a youth and children’s pastor, as well as a hospice chaplain. In 2005, Mike did a one year CPE residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio. Following this residency program, he and his family moved to Michigan upon receiving a call to pastoral ministry at Crossroads. Mike holds a BA degree in Pastoral Ministry and a MA degree in Counseling/Psychology.
I work as Interim Co-Pastor at Metropolitan Church of God. I am a spiritual leader and chief administrator of the church and responsible for the management of its ministries, and general operations of the church. My people skills are both natural and acquired. I am passionate about broken people and helping them achieve wholeness in their lives through the following ministries, but not limited to the following: the Visitation Ministry, the New Member Classes, Prayer Support Counselors, Spiritual Gift Coach, Bible Study Teacher, and the Congregation's Church Council. I have previously served with the State Pastoral Health Ministry. One of the most important aspects of my life is my love for my family.
Rev. Portia L. Davis-Mann is an ordained minister in the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana). She is presently serving as the Associate Pastor of Community Church of God in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where she leads the Christian Education and Youth ministries. Professionally, Portia has a rich background in educational leadership and management. During her 25 years in the field, she has dedicated herself to supporting improvements in student academic achievement. She is currently the School Leader and Manager of WSC Academy-Ypsilanti Campus, where she works with under-served high school students. She sees this as an extension of her church ministry, where every day she loves students to success. She has been Associate Director of Admissions at Anderson University, Associate Director of Education at Everest University, and Campus Director at Ross Medical College. Portia holds degrees in Criminal Justice and Business Management, and has undertaken Masters’ level work in Theology at the Anderson University School of Theology. Portia is married to Jerome Mann and they serve in community and church ministry together. Portia’s motto is ‘make a difference’. She believes each day brings a new and fresh opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus and, more importantly, that our lives are meant to be a testimony of God’s grace and His everlasting love
Sheryl Thompson has been employed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human
Services for over 33 years. She recently retired as the Senior Executive Manager/Deputy Director for the Economic Stability Administration assisting with setting up Covid-19 testing sites in the Flint/Genesee County area as well as Serving on the Genesee County Health Subcommittee of Racial Disparities and Diversity Equity and Inclusion Initiatives. While on special assignment in Flint since 2016, she has administered over 10 million dollars to assist Flint residents with resources for the Flint Water Crisis.
Sheryl has served two terms on the Church of God Business Committee, and is completing current term of the Pastoral Health Committee. Sheryl is the vice chair of the American Red Cross of East Central Bay board of directors and serves on the Crime Fitness Foundation Board of Directors.
Sheryl is the wife of Pastor Wendell Thompson of the First Church of God in Romeo, MI, where they have served since 2012. They have been married for 34 years and have a blended family of 5 children, 6 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. Together they enjoy, traveling, bike riding and have been doing overseas Mission work since 2005. They recently completed a 2020 work camp in Barbados. She and her husband are also certified handlers of a standard poodle therapy dog “Nyla” that they volunteer their time to visit hospice patients, school children, the elderly and for grief support.
Sheryl has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Central Michigan University where she also received her Bachelor of Social Work degree.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, and are the called according to his purpose. Rom 8:28
Chosen Generation Youth Ministries Director at Millington Church of God in Millington.
My name is Dante Rodriguez and I am the Student Ministry Director at Pennway Church of God. My wife is Becky and my children are Miguel and Abby. I was born in Matamoros, Mexico and have lived in Lansing, Michigan for 11 years now.
I have been active in ministry since I was a child and I thank God that I can continue in ministry now. I have worked with youth in Arkansas through my high school years. My parents and I would also take trips to Texas and Mexico in which we would do different types of ministry from VBS to delivering clothes, blankets, and toys for Christmas.
I began helping my wife with the children's ministry at Pennway Church of God and have now transitioned into the 7th to 12th grade Student Ministry Director. I plan to continue serving at Pennway and seeing this ministry flourish.
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40 is a scripture that guides the life and ministry of Mark Staton II. Even in his youth Mark has felt a strong calling to serve those who are marginalized and disenfranchised. He has spent over 15 years working in Detroit Area homeless shelters in several capacities including Employment Specialist, Case Manager and Director. He continues to work as a team member of Detroit Love which is a Christian Non-profit that organizes mission tips to the inner-city of Detroit with a focus on racial reconciliation and the development of young missionaries. He is currently employed as a Counselor for Men’s Program at Grace Centers of Hope which is a homeless shelter and treatment center located in Pontiac, MI.
He previously served 3 years as the Youth Director at Southwestern Church of God. He is currently serving as the Minister of Outreach and Discipleship at Lighthouse Community Church of God.
He has been married to his wife Jessica for 13 years and they have two wonderful children Mark Andrew III (10) and Madilyn Rose (6).
Melody (Baylor) Capsel grew up in the Church of God in Michigan, attending congregations in Battle Creek (No. Avenue) and Belding. Since her graduation from Anderson University, she has used her B.A. in Business Management in diverse industries and positions including gospel music, public education, healthcare, bank auditing, and currently, as Audit/ Compliance Manager at Neighborhood Mortgage Solutions in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Melody is the wife of Rev. Greg Capsel, Lead Pastor, Millington Church of God, where Melody serves in leadership of Oasis Women’s Ministry. Their two adult children, Anderson and Victoria, are also active in the church. Melody’s strong faith, detail-oriented personality, and spiritual gifts of discernment and administration are well suited to a role on the Audit Committee.
Mike is currently serving the TriPoint Church of God, Alpena congregation as the Senior Pastor. Mike and his family moved to the Alpena area, from Virginia, in October of 2014. Mike is a graduate of Mid America Christian University and holds a Bachelor's of Science in Christian Ministries. Mike has been a pastor within the Church of God for 22 years and has served as an interim pastor, and an associate pastor to youth and served on the Board of Christian Education for the Church of God in Virginia as well as the Youth Council Chairman.
He is married to Emily, who is also pursuing her ordination within the Church of God, and they have recently celebrated 18 years of marriage. They have two sons, Caleb (13) and Declan (9).
Mike enjoys hunting, fishing, reading and spending time with his amazing family.
Matthew Stone, 37, is currently the Lead Pastor at First Church Of God in Greenville, Michigan. He has served the congregation there since April 2010. As a minister, Matt is passionate about sharing the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ, fostering healthy relationships within the faith community and the community at large, worshipping God through music, and organizing events that serve and benefit the community of believers (men’s retreats, leadership retreats, luncheons, church celebrations, etc.). Matt and his wife, Kristin, love extending hospitality to others. Matt’s love of cooking (and good taste) make him the chef of the house. Conversation, coffee, and games are staples at Stone get-togethers. Matt and Kristin truly consider any member of the church as their family member. As such, laughter, lengthy conversations of a wide variety of topics, burden sharing, and prayer are ever present.
Matt grew up in Midland, Michigan attending Floyd Church of God and Bullock Creek Schools. Matt completed his degree (B.A. Ministry and Bible) at Cornerstone University in 2009. His first ministry job was serving Faith United Church of God as youth minister from March 2007-April 2010. Matt has an enthusiastic personality. He enjoys working out and loves sports (particularly U of M football).
I live in Battle Creek, MI. Margo is my wife and best friend and we have three daughters. Paisley is entering her sophomore year at Anderson University. Chloe will be a freshman at Grand Valley State University this fall, and Sophia will be in 4th grade at Calhoun Christian School. I have been an associate pastor with North Avenue Church of God in Battle Creek since September of 2016 and also I serve on the Board of Directors of Calhoun Christian School. I graduated from Family Altar Christian School, Kellogg Community College and hold a Bachelor's degree from Siena Heights University.
God’s Discipline Proves His LoveHebrews 12:1-3 (NLT)
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.