Believers Without A Home in 2020

February 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Sometimes it’s easy to feel discouraged about low attendance numbers, but that doesn’t mean people don’t still believe. Many believers who don’t attend regularly or at all have valid reasons, such as:

  • Can’t find the right church (23%)
  • Poor health (9%)
  • Sermons aren’t engaging (18%)

No Connection To Faith in 2020

February 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured, News

On the other hand, the same study from above shows that 20% of adults attending services monthly or more say they don’t feel any real connection to God during church. A surprising 40% don’t feel a connection to their faith.

Believers Practice Outside Of Church in 2020

February 10, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Believers Practice Outside Of Church

Some Christians who may not have a church they like nearby or had a bad experience at a previous church haven’t given up on their faith. Instead, the Pew Research study found that 37% of Americans who rarely or never attend church, practice their faith in other ways. This shows that having a presence online could be beneficial to reaching those Christians.

Trew General Merchandise Store

February 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News

Quaint local General Store on the back roads of Tennessee history added to the National Register of Historic Places in1976 (Building – #76002159). On approach to this nostalgic setting, one could almost envision arriving in yesteryear to this establishment. Folks coming in for sugar and flour. I can imagine that some bartering for eggs and such must have taken place. The clapboard siding gives this establishment the quaintness of a time gone by. This gem of an establishment is tucked away on the back roads of Tennessee in McMinn County and west of Delano, TN

TREW’S STORE

Transcribed by: Mary Sue Mason

Revisions by: Bill Bigham

Trew ‘s Store was established in 1890 by John Wesley Trew near Calhoun, TN, the site of the first county seat of McMinn County Tennessee.

It is properly located as being half way between Highway 11 and 411 on Highway 163 where County Road 783 enters. Dentville was a one time postoffice in the store and the community still retains its name. (To the ole timers, anyway.)

John Wesley Trew’s grandparents, Dr. Thomas Trew and wife Nancy James purchased 463 acres in the Calhoun area in 1836. They came here from Jamestown, Kentucky. They stayed in the area, known as Dentville, and raised their family of ten children.

William, John Wesley’s father, inherited 1/2 of the farm in 1862. He developed the farm into a huge enterprise that produced corn, wheat and oats. He also made sorghum and raised livestock.

John Wesley Trew and wife Margaret Ella Porter were parents of nine children and continued to be very successful with the family enterprise and the store was opened to serve the family’s needs in 1890.

One of the sons of John Wesley Trew, Mortimer began as a clerk in the store in 1925.

In 1935, J.W. Trew turned the store over to his children. It operated as Trew Brothers from 1962-1975.

In 1975 Mortimer Trew and his wife Oneta Crittenden became sole owners of the store and changed the name to M.E. Trew General Merchandise.

The store was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

As an interested citizen living in the area, I made a visit to the store in 1996 and took some photos of the store and Mortimer Trew and his wife Oneta Trew. Mortimer spent his whole life in the store. He died in April of 1996. The store is “not” open for business or touring.

CONFESSIONS of a Pentecostal Preacher

February 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

 

CONFESSIONS of a Pentecostal Preacher

To Mark Alan
We know not why good people have to die,
but we do know we must tell their story…

Chapter I: Beyond the Church and into God

Be without fear in the face of your enemies.
Be brave and upright that God may love thee.
Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death.
Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong.
That is your oath.
~Kingdom
of Heaven (2005)

 

Separation of church from politics of false religiosity

The phone rang heavy and long. It was 4 AM in Bulgaria, but I was already up. A friend on the other end of the line was calling from South Carolina with a warning of some bad situation. The following morning, I was going to be contacted by the Director questioning why we were ministering in churches outside of our denomination.

The truth was we had ministered in some 300 local churches across the Balkan country of Bulgaria crossing all denominational boundaries and gathering youth from just about every confession. God had used us not only to reach and minister and to lead, but to step into an untouched spiritual realm, to undertake an unfamiliar ministry paradigm and to approach a brand new dimension of reality where He was to be the center of it all. And we had obeyed without questions. Now it was time to pay the price!

* * *

Our denomination, the one to which I remain both critically loyal and loyally critical, spreads over some five generations. Through its century old existence, the struggles and tension between theology and praxis has been in the center. And there, in the very essence of Pentecostalism itself, while some are always celebrating and being celebrated in the office or temple, others are always pushed in the periphery of normal life, hidden from the world behind closed doors and seeking a much deeper experience with God.

These modern day mystics are not only forgotten, but often forbidden. For their riot for righteousness cannot be conceived, contained and controlled by the religious norms of organized officiality. They speak as prophets to a world they so fervently try to escape from, about a reality that does not exist in the normal believer’s mindset. A stage of spirituality that cannot be preached without being lived in the social existence. And a relationship of God that goes far beyond common relationism and into God himself. That God, Who does not abide in offices and temples, but on the cross outside of the city walls…

But I knew nothing of this until that cold winter morning when the phone rang through darkness of the night. Knowing what is coming, rarely changes what we have done to get here.

7 Years in Bulgaria: CONFESSIONS of a Pentecostal Preacher
by Dony K. Donev, D.Min.
Upcoming Releases for United States (April, 2020)

The Last Chief John Ross Indian Detachment: Fort Marr , Ocoee River, Hildebrand Landing Hildebrand Landing, Old Federal, Old Fort and King’s Highway

January 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Among the Ross-allied detachments, nine would depart from the agency area traveling overland across Tennessee, Kentucky, southern Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas to the Indian Territory. One detachment, composed mainly of elderly and sick Cherokees, would travel by river departing from the Agency on the Hiwassee River. Two more would begin from camps near Ross’s Landing and travel northward to join the main route. The last would leave from its camps south of Fort Payne, Alabama and cross Tennessee into Kentucky and on to the west. Figure 3 shows the general routes of removal (King 1999:Section 1, 21-25; Foreman 1956:301-312). [The details of the routes are given in the next section of this report.] The last detachment, led by Peter Hildebrand, departed on November 7, 1838, and John Ross and his family left with this group. The detachments were plagued with high tolls and whites bent on selling whiskey to the Cherokees and swindling them out of their money. There were large numbers of sick among the detachments and constant wagon breakdowns. Morale was low and many Cherokees deserted. The Cherokees had organized their own light horse police force to keep order, but there were not enough of them to deal with the many problems that arose daily. The wagon master for the Elijah Hicks (Second) Detachment died at Woodbury, Tennessee on October 21. Elderly Chief White Path also died near Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Rain made travel on the road difficult, and the thousands of Cherokees traveling the roads caused severe damage and erosion, making travel more difficult for those behind. Severe winter weather came early, and Winfield Scott, traveling northward on military business, commented that he found much snow on Walden’s Ridge and the Cumberland Mountain as early as November 17. Icy conditions on the Mississippi River trapped seven detachments for nearly a month, unable to cross. At Paducah Kentucky, John Ross, traveling with Hildebrand’s (Eleventh) Detachment, met the John Drew Detachment traveling by river. Ross boarded the steamboat Victoria with his family because his wife Quatie was severely ill. Quatie later died on the journey (Moulton 1978:99-1 00) . The Cherokees finally arrived in the new land after a long and arduous journey. Many died as a result of the process of roundup from their homes, their long internment in the stockades during the hot summer, and their difficult journey through severe weather. The most commonly accepted estimate of the number of Cherokee deaths is approximately 4,000. This number may also include those who died during the first year in the west as a result of disease and starvation (Thornton 1991 :83-84). The end of the journey was not the end of the strife that had divided the Cherokees, for the factionalism that had developed before the removal still remained in the new nation. Additionally, the subsistence that was promised to the Cherokees to help them through the initial period in the new land was inadequate and often of inferior quality. John Ross appealed to both Monfort Stokes, the Cherokee Agent in the new territory, and General Matthew Arbuckle, commander of Fort Gibson in the Cherokee Territory, but neither was able to render assistance. Ross was forced to use funds allocated by General Scott so that the Cherokees could buy food and essential supplies (Carter 1976:268). The Western Cherokees welcomed the Easterners to their new home but informed them that they were expected to conform to the established government of the Western Cherokee Nation. Chief John Ross and his assistant George Lowrey insisted that the now re-united bands of Cherokees call a council to form a new government. At a council held at Takatokah in June 1839, Cherokee leaders decided to meet in the following month to form a new government, uniting the Eastern and Western Cherokees (Carter 1976:268-269). On June 22, 1839 a group of Cherokees, bent on revenge against those who supported the Treaty of New Echota, assassinated John Ridge, Major Ridge, and Elias Boudinot. General Arbuckle, believing that Ross knew of the killings beforehand and might even be harboring the murderers, asked Ross to come to Fort Gibson to discuss the incident. Ross refused Arbuckle’s request and hundreds of supporters surrounded Ross’s home for their Chief’s protection (Carter 1976:270- 272). Eventually a new government was formed with its capital at Talequah. John Ross was elected Principal Chief with David Vann, a western Cherokee, as assistant chief. President Martin Van Buren’s administration refused to recognize the Ross government, and former President Andrew Jackson encouraged John Bell and Stand Watie, pro-removal Cherokees, to “lay the tyrant low.” Ross held on to power through trying times during which the Cherokee nation was on the brink of a civil war. Finally in 1846, the U. S. government met with the Western Cherokees, the pro-treaty Eastern Cherokees, and the Ross supporters to sign a treaty of unity.

Under this treaty, the United States finally paid the $5 million owed to the Cherokees under the Treaty of New Echota. There was now relative peace in the Cherokee Nation, and that peace would last until the outbreak of the American Civil War (Carter 1976:272-275).

Historical Significance of the Tennessee/Georgia Old Federal Road in the Trail of Tears and its Connection to the Church of God

January 25, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured, News

trail-of-tearsHistorical Significance of the Tennessee/Georgia Old Federal Road in the Trail of Tears and its Connection to the Church of God

New Echota, Georgia was the capital of the Cherokee Nation from 1825 to 1838.  This is the location where the Treaty of New Echota or the Treaty of 1835 was signed on December 29, 1835 by U.S. government officials and representatives of a minority Cherokee political faction called “The Treaty Party” or “Ridge Party”. This treaty was not approved by the Cherokee National Council nor signed by Principal Chief John Ross. Regardless, it established terms under which the Cherokee Nation were to receive a sum not exceeding five millions dollars for surrendering their lands and possessions east of the Mississippi river to the U.S. Government and agreeing to move to the Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River, which later became part of Oklahoma.

The Red Clay State Historic Park, located 17 miles southwest of the Church of God Headquarter in Cleveland, Tennessee, marks the last location of the Cherokee councils where Chief John Ross and nearly 15,000 Cherokees rejected the proposed Treaty of 1835. Despite the questionable legitimacy of this Treaty, in March 1838, it was amended and ratified by the U.S. Senate and became the legal basis for the forcible removal of the Cherokee Nation known as the Trail of Tears.  The name came from the Cherokees who called the removal “Nunna-da-ul-tsun-yi,” which means “the place where they cried.” The last pieces of land controlled by the Cherokee Nation at that time were North Georgia, Northern Alabama and parts of Tennessee and North Carolina. The forced journey was through three major land routes. Each route could have taken some 1,000 miles and over four months to walk. The removal of the Cherokees and other tribes from their homelands in the Southeast began May 16, 1838.

The Georgia Road or present day Federal Road was a route of the Trail of Tears that the Cherokee people walked during their forced removal from their homelands.  The route was built from 1803 to 1805 through the newly formed Cherokee Nation on a land concession secured with the 1805 Treaty of Tellico with the agreement that the U.S. Government would pay the Cherokee Nation $1,600.00. The Treaty was signed on October 25, 1805 at The Tellico Blockhouse (1794 – 1807) – an early American outpost located along the Little Tennessee River in Vonore, Monroe County, Tennessee that functioned as the location of official liaisons between the United States government and the Cherokee. The route was originally purposed to be a mail route because of the great need to link the expanding settlements during the westward expansion of the U.S. colonies. It was in 1819 after improvements to the road that it was called “the Federal Road”.

The Tellico Blockhouse was the starting point for the Old Federal Road, which connected Knoxville to Cherokee settlements in Georgia.  The route ran from Niles Ferry on the Little Tennessee River near the present day U.S. Highway 411 Bridge, southward into Georgia. Starting from the Niles Ferry Crossing of the Little Tennessee River, near the U.S. Highway 411 bridge, the road went straight to a point about two miles east of the present town of Madisonville, Tennessee. This location is 20 some miles north of the Tellico Plains area that marks the site of the beginning of the Church Cleveland, Tennessee. The road continued southward via the Federal Trail connecting to the North Old Tellico Highway past the present site of Coltharp School, intersected Tennessee Highway 68 for a short distance and passed the site of the Nonaberg Church.  East of Englewood, Tennessee it continued on the east side of McMinn Central High School and crossed Highway 411 near the railroad overpass.  Along the west side of Etowah, the road continued near Cog Hill and the Hiwassee River near the mouth of Conasauga Creek where there was a ferry near the site of the John Hildebrand Mill.  From the ferry on the Hiwassee River the road ran through the site of the present Benton, Tennessee courthouse.  ocoee-church-of-godIt continued on Welcome Valley Road and then crossed the Ocoee River at the Hildebrand Landing. From this point the road ran south and crossed U.S. Highway 64 where there is now the River Hills Church of God formerly the Ocoee Church of God.  Continuing south near Old Fort, the route crossed U.S. Highway 411 and came to the Conasauga River at McNair Landing. Near the south end of the village of Tennga, Georgia is an historic marker alongside of Highway 411m which states the Old Federal Road was close to its path for the next twenty-five miles southward.  It would have been at this point in Tennga that the Trail of Tears would have taken a turn onto GA-2 passing the Praters Mill near Dalton Georgia to connect in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Out of the 15,000 Cherokee who endured the forced migration west after the Treaty of 1835, it is estimated that several thousand died along the way or in internment holding camps. This Old Federal route is where some of Cherokee holding camps would have been located. The Fort Marr or Fort Marrow military post constructed around 1814 under the 1803 Treaty, is the last visible remains of these camps.  The original fort was built on the Old Federal Road near the Tennessee/Georgia state line near the Conasauga River. It was relocated in 1965 beside U.S. Hwy. 411 in Benton and then to it’s current location in the Cherokee National Forest on the grounds of the Hiwassee/Ocoee State Park Ranger Station at Gee Creek Campground in Delano, Tennessee. This location provides access to popular Church of God water baptismal sites.  In June 4, 1838 Captain Marrow reported having 256 Cherokees at his fort ready for emigration.

The Native Americans were forcefully removed from their homes, plantations and farms all because of greed.  Thousands of people lost their lives including the wife of Chief John Ross.  Parts of the Old Federal Road have been washed away with floods of tears, but there are parts that still remain.  The Church of God, having its roots in the same territory of the Cherokee, Chickamauga, Muskogee Creek, Choctaw and Chickasaw people, plays a vital role in the process of reconciliation among the descendants of the Trail of Tears. And the historical buildings and markers along the Trail or Tears must be preserved.  The churches along the route even though they were not actual structures during the time period are a historical beacon of hope which still crying out for those lost on this tragic journey.

cherokee-trail-of-tears

MLK: I Have a Dream

January 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured, News

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

HOW Americans experience FAITH in 2020?

January 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured, News

4 Ways to Improve Your Church in 2020

January 10, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured, News

  1. Setting the vision  
  2. Building morale
  3. Communicating well
  4. Fostering a spirit of innovation

Let’s jump in!

« Previous PageNext Page »