Wednesday, September 14 2022
On Friday, August 5th, I began to relax and exhale. After months of preparation and workers assuring me that we would be ready, excitement replaced exhaustion. After being closed for two years, our grounds and buildings needed major repairs and renovations. We had experienced an uphill climb to be ready for Homecoming 2022 on Zion’s Hill. The final touch would be the installation of air conditioners to ensure our worship experiences would be comfortable. Little did I know in less than 24 hours, things were about to change drastically. So much of the work and preparation would never be seen or experienced by the Saints who were already traveling for our camp meeting. At first sight, what appeared to be heartbreak, we clearly see now that it is just the framework for a healthy transition into the future.
The National Association has withstood the test of time for 106 years. We have seen years of growth and prosperity, protest and progress, resurgence and restructure. The fire that occurred on August 6, 2022, will be another defining moment in the life of this ministry. Through it all, the members of our beloved Association have been faithful and fearless. We do not minimize the sadness of the fire and the temporary loss of Terrell Dining Hall, Frisby Dormitory, and our Children’s Corner; it was devastating. But one thing is certain; it did not thwart the move of the Holy Spirit and the sweet fellowship of the Saints who still gathered for homecoming.
The church around the globe has joined our efforts and is living out Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” From the moment the news broke, many of our sister agencies and friends responded in tangible ways. Because we lost the use of our main dormitory, Church of God Ministries provided aid to assist with housing those displaced to local hotels. Christian Women Connection brought their donation to use wherever there was a need. Several of our Regional Pastors came to worship with us and donated generously. The love and support of the Church of God Colorado Conference, North Carolina General Assembly, Ohio Ministries, and Western Pennsylvania of the Church of God will forever be etched in our hearts. Because we are the Body of Christ, we witnessed the strong presence of our ecumenical friends. The Wesleyan Investment Foundation and the West Middlesex Presbyterian Church blessed us by their in-person representation and significant contributions. Calls and donations continue to come in from our sisters and brothers in Africa and the Caribbean Islands. We will be remiss if we fail to say thank you to the many churches and individuals who have given sacrificially. Some have increased their monthly giving, and many have now signed on for the first time to provide ongoing support. No gift has been too small; all are appreciated and make up the whole.
This journey has just begun as we continue to work through the process. There are still expenses and losses yet pending. We are recovering, but we have not recovered. In 2020 our theme was taken from Isaiah 43:19 “Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming, do you not see it?” On behalf of the Board of Directors of the National Association, thank you for your continued support as we build back better! Can you not see it?
Thursday, July 07 2022
Friends, I spent October, November, and December asking questions and surveying the grounds. We launched the campground campaign, Preserve the Promise – Protect the Legacy, not a “wish list” but a “must-do list.” Our campground felt the global impact of the pandemic. Many of our public facilities were in ruins, and they were uninhabitable. During this time, buildings were inspected to see if we were adhering to fire and safety regulations. Unfortunately, in many areas, we were not compliant. Thousands of dollars have been spent, and more are needed to complete this task. Without attention to the areas cited, the campground could not be opened. God has been faithful to us and shown us favor. Many of our suppliers and contractors have become ministry supporters in this undertaking.
The good news – we have made progress. We are planning our first in-person campmeeting since 2019 which will be August 7-14, 2022. We are on target to reopen because of the generous donations and the many hands from local congregations who have come from near and far. We are still asking you to consider joining us in this campaign; it is not too late. I ask for your patience and understanding if everything is not as you had hoped.
Our Praise Report
Currently, we are without a Grounds Manager; this position will be posted soon. As your CODO, I ask for your prayers. I am presently functioning in both roles with the aid of committed men of God. I am forever grateful for the many hours given to NACOG by Bro Charles Mitchell, Mr. Bernard King, Bro Jeff Barnes, and Bro Bennie Gibbs. They have been faithful servants. Pastor Reginald Alford and Bro Allen Stevens have traveled on numerous occasions with others to assist wherever there was a need. “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 7
We are blessed to have staff additions to the team and wholeheartedly celebrate the many years of service given to NACOG by those who have taken on new assignments. Rev. Rhema Irvine has been a welcomed addition as Office Administrator, Lady Precious Earley serves as our Marketing and Newsletter Coordinator, and Rev Tatum Osbourne continues in her role as Communications Coordinator. These women are my “dream team.” Stop where you are and take a moment to give thanks for their service.
While we continue to make plans to return to this in-person gathering, varying levels of comfort are important to each delegate. It is significant to note that there will also be several different experiences from what folks are used to. Please be patient with us as we design safety measures and protocols that are important for everyone’s safety. We strive to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
We will observe COVID protocols for our in-person meetings:
Terrell Dining Hall Protocols
See you on Zion’s Hill; I look forward to greeting each one of you and welcoming you home!
Thursday, July 07 2022
“This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.5 Then the word of the LORD came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.” Jeremiah 18:1-6
Lessons and Thoughts to Ponder and Remember
In the above scripture, the Potter refers to our Wonderful God, but who is the clay? In that day it was Israel, today it is You and I, it’s the Church, but you could just as well say it’s our congregation or our Christian families. Remember WHO you are!
• Stay on the Wheel. There are times we want to jump off the potter’s wheel because we get tired of being in the process; we want to be the finished vessel without going through the pain and discomfort. Sometimes we want to be where we see others are or think they are not knowing how they got there. They might not even be where they appear to be. We see what appears to be glory without knowing the story. Remember WHERE you are!
The Wheel is Symbolic of the circumstances and situations that life brings our way.
Life can often seem like a large circle, one trial after another. Sometimes like the clay we don’t like the shaping process and may fight back a bit, resisting and wobbling in what we know to be true (scripture) But we must remember that the Potter controls the speed of the wheel and it only rotates according to His will (like the old fashion sewing machines). Never forget that God is still in control, regardless of what we face and He knows how much we can bear.
• Remember You Are Still In His Hands: While the clay spins around on the wheels, it is never out of contact with the Potter’s hands. He is in constant control, molding and shaping the clay through his skill and guidance. If he removed His hand, the clay would spin right off the wheel and would be lost. Remember WHOSE you are.
• The Potter Controls The Oven: The temperature of the potter’s oven must be hot enough to burn the impurities out of the clay and creates a new bonded substance. Too much heat too fast and it cracks and falls apart. Sometimes the clay thinks it cannot take any more heat but the Potter knows how high and how long the clay must be in the oven to accomplish the finished design.
Let me conclude with the Story of the Vase
A grandfather and a grandmother were in a gift shop looking for something to give their granddaughter for her birthday. Suddenly the grandmother spots a beautiful vase, “Look at this lovely piece of work”, she says to her husband. He picks it up and says you are right; this is one of the loveliest vases I have ever seen.
At that point, something remarkable happened. Something that could only happen in a children’s book. The vase says to the grandparents. “Thank you for the compliment, but I wasn’t always beautiful.” Instead of being surprised that the vase can talk, the grandfather asks it, what do you mean when you say you weren’t always beautiful? Well, says the vase, “once I was just an ugly soggy lump of clay. But one day some man with dirty wet hands threw me on a wheel.
Then he started turning me around and around until I got so dizzy I couldn’t see straight. Stop..Stop I cried. But the man with the wet hands said, Not Yet! Then he started to poke me and punch me until I hurt all over, Stop..Stop I cried, but the man said “Not Yet”. Each time I thought he was through, he would crumble and roll me up and begin to poke and punch me again. Finally, he did stop. But then he did something much worse, he put me into a furnace. It got hotter and hotter until I couldn’t stand it. Stop..Stop.. I cried. But the man said, “Not Yet”.
Finally, when I thought I was going to burn up, the man took me out of the furnace. Then some short lady began to paint me, and the fumes got so bad that they made me feel sick. “Stop…Stop..” I cried. “Not Yet” said the lady. Finally, she did stop, but then she gave me back to the man and he put me back into that awful furnace. This time it was hotter than before. “Stop…Stop” I cried, but the man said “Not Yet”.
Finally, he took me out of the furnace and let me cool. When I was completely cool, a pretty lady put me on this shelf, next to this mirror. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I was amazed; I could not believe what I saw. I was no longer ugly, soggy, and dirty; I was beautiful, firm, and clean. I cried for joy. It was then I realized that all the pain was worthwhile. Without it I would still be an ugly, soggy lump of wet clay. It was then that all the pain took on new meaning for me. It had passed, but the beauty it brought has remained.
What a tremendous and encouraging illustration, which I hope will help guide and guard us under the pressures and challenges which come into all of our lives from within and outside the Church.
Remember the Potter has a purpose in mind, and He has the skill and ability to fulfill it, no matter what obstacles or challenges come our way. We are living in very challenging times of pandemics, mass shootings, resurgence of blatant acts of racism, and deeply rooted polarization. NACOG, we must always remember that our first allegiance is to the will and ways of our Lord. So, in each season of our lives as individuals, families, congregations, and as part of the Church of God Movement;
Let us yield to the Lord’s wise Will and Ways
Let us stand up for biblical righteousness, holiness, and unity
Let us rest in the Lord as He shapes and reshapes us to align us according to His Word
Let us resist leaning to our own understanding and preferences
Let us in all our ways acknowledge the sovereign will of the Lord over us
Let us remember we are the Lord’s Servants Under Construction
Let us be thankful the Potter is able to repurpose and reshape marred clay
Let us Trust Him, Obey Him and Watch Him Work out all things to our good and His glory
Shalom and Blessings
Presiding Elder, Rev. Clifton McDowell