90 Years Ago, Narraganset Church of God Led in Benevolence

April 1, 2024 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, Missions, News, Publication, Research

Narraganset Church of God was started by a women-preacher with only 10 members. Rev. Amelia Shumaker started the church only 15 days before the Great Depression began in 1929. She became a widow five years prior to moving to Chicago. Passing through the Great Depression by 1934, only five years after its establishment, the Narraganset Church of God was already a leader among the state benevolence ministries.

Located at 2254 N. Narraganset Avenue, the church officially took the name of its location in 1955. Early issues of the Church of God Evangel describe it as a South Side church, later corrected to the only Chicago Church of God. By 1994, the congregation has become one of only three Church of God locations in Chicago Metro. It was also where the first and only Bulgarian Church of God congregation in North America was founded also with only 10 members. (More from this timely research soon…)


August 25, 2023 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Media, Missions, News, Publication, Research


July 5, 2023 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

God’s way out is not yucky nor mucky. When crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites’ rain boots didn’t get stuck in the muck.  They walked on DRY land.  Believe for the DRY path.

NEEMIAH at the second oldest church in Polk County

July 1, 2023 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News

Since our Revival Harvest Campaign with the theme of Nehemiah Experience began, we have been receiving miracles reports:

  • a lady seeking for the Holy Spirit for some time now, was baptized late at night after the service and began speaking in tongues while on her bed
  • heavy anointing to the point of people blacking out
  • a truck driver came from the street to seek God
  • a spontaneous Jericho march broke out with dramatic spiritual manifestation
  • right arm hurt in a car accident many years ago, began feeling sensation in muscles and ligaments again during the service
  • a clear direction was given by the Holy Ghost to remain faithful to the vision

Cookson Creek Baptist Church was established in 1836 and currently stands as the 2nd oldest continued church in Polk County. While the foundation and parts of the building are originals, the church has undergone many renovations throughout the years – one of the more recent being the stone, silo-shaped teenage Sunday School classroom. The church sits alongside the beautiful creek, after which it was named, and just down the road from Cookson Creek Cemetery.

The following accounts are recorded by Lynne McClary from the Polk County Chamber of Commerce.

The year was 1936 and Cookson Creek Baptist Church was celebrating it’s 100th anniversary in Polk County, Tennessee. N. B. Fetzer attended the festivities and later wrote about it from his Nashville home.

According to his writings, “There was an immense crowd . . . many of my relatives and old friends, but I missed many faces which used to show up there on May’s Fourth Sunday.” Thomas W. Mathis had been scheduled to give a historical review of the church, as his membership dated back some 70 years. Unfortunately, “Uncle Tommy was called to his heavenly home” on Wednesday prior to the celebration.

Fetzer’s note goes on to state that Miss Mae Ella Stinnett, who served as church clerk, was the ‘power behind the throne,’ and the highlight of the day came when a 3-1/2-year-old young man, the son of Tom Green, sang several stanzas to a “catchy mountain tune”. Fetzer could not remember the youngster’s name, but was told by an uncle that everyone called him ‘Tooter’.

This year Cookson Creek celebrates year 187. The building has undergone many renovations through the years; however the foundation, as well as some of the building itself, dates back to the construction in 1836! It sits alongside the creek for which it is named and just down the road from Cookson Creek Cemetery. The creek was named for Joseph Cookson, a white man who married Jennie Hildebrand. Jennie, who was half-Cherokee, was the daughter of Michael Hildabrand. Joseph and Jennie were moved to Oklahoma during the Cherokee removal of 1838 and lived their remaining lives on the reservation.

TAGS: Blue Springs Church, Beech Springs Church, Little Hopewell Church, Cookson Creek Church, Candies Creek Church, Good Spring Church

• Ocoee Indian Village, Hatcher farm. (Early Woodland, Yuchi, and Cherokee
• Old Fort Block house, Benton, constructed 1805-1806.
• The Hildebrand House, Ocoee River, early 1830s; oldest house in the county.
• Friendship Baptist Church, First District, 1826, the oldest church in Polk County in
continuous operation. The Columbiana Presbyterian Church was organized in 1822
near Columbus and operated for about twenty years.
• Hiwassee Old Town, oldest and largest of the Cherokee villages in Polk County, was
located on the north bank of the Hiwassee River.
• Site of the discovery of copper on Potato Creek, 1843.
• James McNair family graves, Conasauga.
• Ducktown Basin Museum, Ducktown.
• Old Federal Road, 1804; the Old Stock Road; the Old Copper Road, 1853.
• The Savannah Farm, the largest and one of the oldest farms of the county.
• Columbus, north bank of the Hiwassee River, temporary county seat of Polk County;
had a post office by 1823 and was incorporated.
• Present day site of the Benton Department Store was site of the first home in Benton
(Four Mile Stock Stand); the home of James Lindner and his Cherokee wife, a
descendant of Nancy Ward.
• The Jacob Clemmer house at Benton was built in 1842 and is now owned by Mr. and
Mrs. Kenneth Bishop.
• The Nuchols home and office, (present site of The Drug Store), was built in 1868 and
was occupied in succession by Dr. J. D. Nuchols, Dr. J. G. C. Garner, and Dr. Joseph
E. Hutchins.
• Benton’s first hotel was on the site of Matt Witt’s Store, having been moved from
Columbus in 1840. It was operated by Commodore White, J. Q. A. Lewis, William
Higgins, and last by J. L. and Ben McClary.
• Maggie’s Mill located near Springtown, erroneously believed by some to have
inspired the song “When You and I Were Young, Maggie.” (Original site is in
• Great Indian War Path crossed the river at Hiwassee Old Town and continued
southward to Bridgeport, Alabama.
• The Cookson’s Creek Baptist Church is the second oldest church in the county, with
the Ocoee Baptist Church, Benton, third.

MISSIONS at the oldest church in Polk County

June 30, 2023 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News


Friendship Baptist Church located in present-day Delano is Polk County’s oldest church in continuous operation – 1826-2026!

The following accounts are recorded by Lynne McClary from the Polk County Chamber of Commerce.

Started just 7 years after the Indian removal in the Hiwassee Cession of 1819, Friendship was near what was then known as Columbus. In June 1826, 10 men and women met in Brother Wilkerson’s home north of Coe Cemetery to organize a church. An ordination service was held July 1826 with members from Eastannallee Church.

Until December 1826, services were in the Wilkerson and Funkhouser homes. At which time a simple log church was built across the road from the present building. A cornerstone still remains of the original building. In 1819, land north of the Hiwassee was ceded to the US by the Cherokee, while the land south of the river to the GA line was not given up until 1838, meaning Friendship was established in free territory 12 years before the rest of present-day Polk County was even US Territory.

A frame church was built in 1856 north of the current building. Raised soil marks that site today. Calvin Denton pastored there 40 years, but little is known about Friendship through the Civil War due to loss of records.

In the late 1800s to early 1900s the building was used as a school until the county could build one. A box dinner was held to raise money for a bell, used for both the school and church. This bell is the only remaining item from the school and it’s located in the belfry of the current church.

The current building was built in 1908, and Friendship’s 100th year was celebrated in 1926 with an all-day singing and history from JD Clemmer. During the celebration a group of Ku Klux Klan marched out of the woods in capes and hoods, went up one aisle, out the other door, and back into the woods, after which the celebration ended.

Friendship Church is an integral part of Polk County history, and future. There’s even a time capsule packed in 1976 scheduled be opened during 2026’s Homecoming.

In 1850 William Forest was licensed to be a Baptist minister ; he was ordained by the Friendship Baptist Church in Delano , Tennessee— where his father – in – law , Samuel Short , had been the first pastor– in 1857

FRIENDSHIP BAPTIST CHURCH                                                      POLK COUNTY, TENNESSEE

Friendship Baptist Church was established June 8, 1826, only seven years after the Indians were removed from the area under the Hiwassee Cession of 1819.That makes Friendship the oldest church in what is now known as Polk Co., Tn. Below is a list of the available names of Pastors and Church Clerks from 1826 to 1975.


1826- Samuel Short
1844- William Forest
1846- B. W. Buford
1849- C. Hoil, E. Newton, & J. Scarbrough
1850- Calvin Denton
1884- H. C. Cook
1888- C. H. Eaton
1889- J. R. Lawrence
1890- J. P. Fore
1891- Luke Shamblin
1893- W. H. Rhymer
1897- R. J. Womac
1903- J. M. Townsley
1905- P. A. Miller
1906- J. W. Townsend
1912- S. R. Creasman
1915- J. M. Townsend 1917- H. K. Watson
1923- B. P. Kincaid
1924- J. D. Chastain
1925- Roy Thomas 1926- J. W. Townsend
1928- H.W. Passmore, Claude Green 1931- Will Shamblin
1938- M. C. Ledford
1940- C. Doyle Doss
1945- W. G. Smiley
1946- Charlie Helton
1948- B. P. Kincaid
1949- C. R. Green
1953- Herman Matthews
1954- M. D. Berry
1956- Willie Choat
1960- Hobson Gregg
1965- Don Wilson
1968- Wayne Cooper
1969- Jimmy Hutton
1972- Garvin Chastain
1975- Jack Nunley

Church Clerks

1826- John M. Neal
1835- Edward Frather
1836- James Morris *
1879- W. C. Hatcher
1885- G. H. Burns
1885- W. C. Hatcher
1901- Mellie Hatcher Pennell
1910- W. F. Burris
1911- A. J. Painter
1913- A. C. Howard
1919- Lee Blackwell
1923- E. S. Carruth
1926- James Mose
1929- Haden C. Davis
1939- Martha Watkins 1940- Hershell Davis
1946- Ulysses Coe
1957- Maxine Eaves
1958- Barbara Lance
1960- Helen Allen
1961- Haroldean Wiggins
1966- Samantha Davis
1973- Wanda Carter

Cemetery Listings

Go to Section A Part 1      Go to Section A Part 2

Go to Section B
Go to Section C

Go to Section D          
Go to Section E

*Some names are missing due to lost Church records. The information below came from a booklet titled” 150 Years Of Friendship”, by Terry Blair, Wanda Carter, Johnny Coe, and Deborah Williams. The booklet was handed out to to the congregation of Friendship at the July 4th Homecoming, a celebration of the 150th year, in 1976. Thanks to Connie Baumann for supplying this information!

Another denomination splits from the Bulgarian Church of God

June 5, 2023 by  
Filed under Featured, Missions, News

One more denomination has split from the Bulgarian Church of God. After a year of struggles and dilemmas, the annual report indexing the state of the church shows a new denomination registered with the municipality court in the capital Sofia. The new Philadelphia church has emerged from an association of Romani pastors with a similar name that has existed and operated for almost 15 years. This is the 11th officially registered fraction leaving the denomination since the split of 2005. Two more churches, Mostar and Rebirth, too seem to have ceased meetings within the last year after the sale of the Bulgarian Ministry Center in the capital Sofia. The Center which broke ground in 2001 and was dedicated in 2011, hosted a number of strategic Church of God congregations during its decade of operation. Since 2005, most older Romani congregations exist with dual registration alongside the national alliance of Church of God-United (unitarian). With the current split, the total number of fractions separating from the original denomination now exceeds 13 (if not 14):

  1. Bulgarian Church of God (27.12.1990)
  2. Church of God in Bulgaria (23.01.2006)
  3. God’s Church (13938/2006: 07.02.2007)
  4. Church of God-12 (Sofia, Rodostono)
  5. New Generation Church of God (05.04.2000)
  6. Bethesda Church of God (27.12.2010)
  7. BulLiv Church of God (15.01.2000)
  8. New Life Church of God (06.11.2000)
  9. Bulgarian Church of God – Sofia (4996/2003 Sredetz, E.Georgiev Bul. 2, apt. 4)
  10. Bridge Church of God (50/2013)

21st Annual Conference of Bulgarian Church Held in Las Vegas

May 30, 2023 by  
Filed under Featured, News

The 300 CHURCH

May 5, 2023 by  
Filed under Events, Featured, Missions, News

The 2023 CHURCH

March 15, 2023 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

  1. Christian America died. And the leaders who kept looking back never moved forward.

The pastors who kept looking back imagined a culture governed by Christian values and refused to see the world for what it was increasingly becoming.

Over the last decade, Christian America died.

As much as some Supreme Court decisions in the early 2020s made religious conservatives think they were winning the culture wars, any sense of victory was short-lived.

The overwhelming identification of Generation Z and Generation Alpha as having no religious affiliation transformed America into a thoroughly post-Christian culture.

All of this put Christian church leaders into one of two camps: Leaders who wanted to move forward and leaders who wanted to look back.

The pastors who kept looking back imagined a culture governed by Christian values and refused to see the world for what it was increasingly becoming. Churches led by those leaders saw a decline.

And the culture wars of the early to mid-2020s that conservative Christians believed they were winning by ensuring their candidates ran for Congress and Governor positions proved only to momentarily shore up a dying worldview. Power and coercion couldn’t reverse the tide.

In the process, that faction in the church alienated the next generation of unreached people from Christianity even more deeply.

The leaders who looked forward acknowledged they were in a post-Christian culture and decided to advance a decidedly alt-Kingdom centered around the Gospel. They saw renewal and growth.

Bottom line? The leaders who kept looking back never moved forward.

2. Growing churches are now digital organizations with physical locations

In the last decade, dying churches saw digital church as an obstacle. Growing churches realized it was an opportunity.

As little as 15 years ago, most growing churches were primarily physical organizations with a nominal or underdeveloped digital strategy.

Throughout the 2020s and early 2030s, the dual trend of declining church attendance and decentralized attendance changed everything for growing churches.

Growing churches stopped treating church online as an afterthought, realizing that since everyone they’re trying to reach is online, becoming a digital-first church made them more effective.

The paradox, of course, is that the more leaders built community online as a church, the more it resulted in growth in their physical locations.

Ironically, churches that focus primarily on physical attendance only saw declining attendance. Churches that focused on digital connection saw the opposite.

Over the last decade, dying churches saw digital church as an obstacle. Growing churches realized it was an opportunity.

  1. The majority of church attendees are no longer in the room.

Dying churches confined ministry to their buildings. Growing churches didn’t.

As the digital revolution exploded over the last ten years, almost everything shifted out of central locations.

Everything from work, to shopping, to food, fitness, and entertainment shifted to digital and distributed access (i.e., accessed by people when they wanted and where they wanted.)

Dying churches confined ministry to their buildings. Growing churches didn’t.

Pastors of expanding ministries long ago made peace with the idea that the number of people not in the building on Sunday now greatly outnumbers the number of people who are inside the building.

They got over their insecurity about smaller in-person crowds and saw the expansive potential of reaching people wherever they were and connecting them with each other.

Pastors of growing churches long ago realized that full rooms never guaranteed a fulfilled mission.

Another shift happened regarding how church leaders think about church buildings:

Pastors of dying churches kept using church online to get people into the building.

Pastors of growing churches used their buildings to reach people online.

  1. On-demand access now greatly surpasses live events.

On-demand sermon access reaches people when they’re ready, not when you’re ready.

Live events still have a great role in the life of a vibrant church, but they’ve long since been eclipsed by people who access content and schedule gatherings on demand.

Leaders who released control of a centralized calendar to allow people to figure out for themselves when they wanted to meet saw a far greater impact than leaders who didn’t.

And when centralized gatherings happen, leaders of growing churches quickly got over the fact that, despite a full room, far more people accessed their ministry at other times. And as a result, their mission kept growing.

Pastors of growing ministries quickly understood two underlying realities behind on-demand access.

First, they knew that on-demand access reaches people when they’re ready, not when you’re ready.

Second, when it comes to accessing messages and ministry content, they realized people don’t care if a message is new nearly as much as they care if a message is great. Hence, access to their message archive continued to grow, and they positioned it for that.

  1. Growing churches shifted their focus from gathering to connecting.

In the 2020s, churches that gathered people kept falling behind, while churches that connected people continued to grow.

In the 2020s, churches that gathered people kept falling behind, while churches that connected people continued to grow.

The shift wasn’t that hard once the pastors of effective churches realized that for years, the culture had increasingly relied on services that leveraged existing infrastructure.

For example, what small groups accomplished for churches in the 1990s and 2000s changed how churches approached gathering people mid-week. Essentially, a decade before Airbnb and ride-share services like Uber and Lyft emerged on the scene, innovative church leaders stopped building massive Christian education buildings and started ‘Airbnbing’ people’s homes for community.

The home-based small group model morphed into micro-gatherings and home-based gatherings for worship and other church events.

Leaders of growing churches never felt threatened by the fact that they couldn’t ‘see’ the people they were ministering to. They built the structures and systems that led to the church being ‘one’ wherever it met, much like multi-site churches have done for decades.

Connecting people eclipsed gathering people for the same reasons that on-demand content eclipsed live content. You gather people when they’re ready, not when you’re ready.

Insecure leaders, operating out of power and control and needing to ‘see’ the results of their ministry, could never make this transition. Healthy leaders did.

  1. Community and connection matter more than content.

Growing churches made community and connection the goal of their ministry, not content consumption.

Growing churches made community and connection the goal of their ministry, not content consumption.

In a world that started drowning in content in the 2010s, adept church leaders realized that great content was no longer the compelling advantage it used to be. Sure, bad preaching could kill a church. But great preaching alone no longer guaranteed its growth.

Here’s what astute leaders realized in the 2020s. Scarcity drives value. The more scarce something is, the more value it has.

When something is scarce, it has enough value to make people change their patterns (physical, financial, or time patterns, to name a few). Conversely, mass availability drives down prices and perceived value.

For centuries, attending a local church was the only place most people could access a sermon. The 21st century changed that forever.

What became increasingly scarce were community and connection. So among growing churches, all of their content drove people to community and toward connection.

Growing churches made community and connection the goal, not content consumption. Declining churches continued to make in-person and online content consumption their main goal (Watch this!!! Don’t miss this!!!) and paid the accompanying price.

  1. Growing churches staffed for digital

Make the goal of all staffing (digital or in-person) community and connection.

Because, after all, that’s far more at the heart of what the Christian church is all about than content consumption ever was.

A final but important point.

Dying churches kept staffing for a world that no longer existed. Obsessed with getting people into a building, they continued to make digital ministry an afterthought.

Growing churches didn’t abandon physical gatherings. They continued to make their in-person services deeply personal and meaningful and staffed accordingly.

But they also doubled down on digital, realizing that everyone they wanted to reach was online and that many they would reach wouldn’t live near a campus or, if they did, would be willing to drive to one.

So pastors of growing churches followed Craig Groeschel’s advice back in 2020: They went 100% in on digital ministry and 100% in on physical ministry.

Then they went a step further: They made the goal of all staffing (digital or in-person) community and connection.

Because, after all, that’s far more at the heart of what the Christian church is all about than content consumption ever was.

Change, Critics, and Coaches

The leaders we criticize today will be the leaders who coach us tomorrow.

Snap back to today. Will all of this happen? Who knows. But if even parts of this are remotely true, it’s clear that the next decade will involve massive change.

Change also comes with a lot of criticism. But as the wiser leaders realized, the leaders we criticize today will be the leaders who coach us tomorrow.

The sooner you start to change, the brighter the future becomes, and the more effective your ministry will be. Change is hard, but irrelevance is even harder.


The Non-Chalcedonian Eastern Church: West Syrian (Jacobite)

November 10, 2022 by  
Filed under Featured, News

Dony K. Donev, D.Min.: Eastern Pneumotology Lectures

Eastern Orthodoxy can be expressed in one word: theism. The purpose and meaning of life is to become more like God. Deification is pursued by all means of human existence. This quest for divine likeness often includes the typical for the Eastern Church, speculation on the divinity and humanity of Christ, traditions on the doctrine of the Trinity and non-traditional mystical experiences. They appear in the context of both physical and spiritual characteristics in individual and corporate ecclesiastical environment. The role of the Spirit in the process of deification is threefold and involves: creation, re-creation and theism. Eastern Pneumotology follows the graduate process of theism development. The Spirit is involved in the original creation of the world as well as the new-birth experience. His work however, does not end there, but continues throughout the process of personal deification of the believer.

The Non-Chalcedonian Eastern Church: West Syrian (Jacobite)

The Jacobites viewed the presence of the Holy Spirit in three prime settings. Firstly, He is the agent of the original ex-nahilo creation and the spiritual re-creation in the second birth. Secondly, He is present in the baptism and chrismation. Lastly, He is the Transfigurator of the Eucharistic elements representing the body and the blood of Christ.5 [1]

Our prime source of information on the corporate ecclesiastical Coptic tradition is a document entitled The Odes of Solomon. Interesting to notice in this context of this writings is the fact that the Spirit is referred in a feminine gender.[2] However, this conception declined as the devotion to the person of Mary grew.[3]

Such a devotion is extraordinary noticeable in the life and writings of Ephrem the Syrian (ca. 306-373). He further compares the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Mary as the Spirit’s descent over both the water baptism and the elements of the Eucharist.[4] This is why in the Syriac baptismal service; the holy oil is powered onto the water.[5] For the same reason, Ephrem states that the Eucharist means involvement with the hosts of heaven.

Ephrem recognizes Spirit-activity through the entire panorama of salvation. The Spirit is present in the transformation of the fallen human creature into “the pristine of paradisiacal state.”[6] The gift of the Spirit is received in the water baptism where the believer receives a divine armor.[7]

A follower of Ephrem is Philoxenus of Mabbug (ca. 440-523). Among other issues, in his writings, he states that the life in the spirit is nothing else but a process of sanctification. He refers to it also as the spiritualization of the body, which is expressed through the domination of the body by the soul. The above results are possible only after fasting and prayer.[8] A contemporary of Philoxenus by the name of Severus of Antioch (ca. 465-ca. 539) adds to the above process the presence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the church as a sign of God’s divine election. In this sense, the Jacobites are carriers of the already-not-yet idea.[9]

[1] J. H. Barnard, The Odes of Solomon, Texts and Studies 8:3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1912), 120-21.

[2] Ibid., 67, note on verse 17.

[3] Robert Murray, “Mary, the Second Eve in the Early Syriac Fathers,” Eastern Church Review 3:4 (Autumn 1971): 373.

[4] Ephrem, Nisibene Hymns 37.4 in CSCO 241, Syr. 103:13, and NPF 2nd Series 13:295.

[5] Ephrem, Hymns of Paradise 11, in CSCO 175, Syr. 79:43-46.

[6] Jean Danielou, From Shadows to Reality (Westminster: The Newman Press, 1960), 23-30.

[7] Ephrem, Hymns of the Epiphany 3.1-3, in CSCO 187, Syr. 83:18-19.

[8] E. A. Wallis Budge, The Discourses of Philoxenus, Bishop of Mabbogh, AD 485-519 (London: Asher and Co., 1894), “Eleventh Discourse on Assistance,” Budge 264.

[9] Burgess, 178.

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