For the first time since 1906, the Church of God faith movement with headquarters in Anderson, Ind., will host its annual convention in a location other than the city where it is based.
The historic change will bring the convention to Oklahoma City on June 23-26 at Crossings Community Church, 14600 N Portland.
Jim Lyon, general director for Church of God Ministries, said Crossings will host the event with help from other metro-area partners, including Mid-America Christian University, a Church of God-affiliated school, and about 45 affiliated pastors and their congregations.
The event will feature several notable guest speakers, including evangelist Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of renowned evangelist Billy Graham. Also, musical guests will include gospel recording artist Sandi Patty and contemporary Christian band Sidewalk Prophets.
Patty, an Oklahoma City native who now lives in the northwest Oklahoma City area, is a lifelong member of the Church of God. She attends Crossings.
The Rev. Marty Grubbs, Crossings’ senior pastor, said he was surprised and then excited to learn that Church of God leaders wanted to move this year’s convention to his city and church.
A third-generation Church of God minister, Grubbs, 55, senior pastor of Crossings for 33 years, said he considers the historic opportunity to host the annual gathering “an honor.”
Over the years, the Oklahoma City church has offered its assistance to other congregations affiliated with the movement, but “I never dreamed it would result in them deciding to have the national convention at Crossings,” he said.
“That just blew me away.”
A ‘bold’ move
Lyon, 61, said the decision to move the national convention gathering somewhere other than Anderson was made for several “practical, nuts and bolts” reasons. Bucking tradition is bold but exciting, he said.
In that way, the convention’s theme, “Be Bold,” is fitting.
Lyon said the Church of God movement was born in Indiana, and for many years, most of the movement’s members lived in Indiana and nearby states. That has changed over the years, and now the Indiana-based movement’s population has dispersed to many parts of the country.
He said the movement has 2,200 congregations, representing weekly attendance of 230,000 people, in the U.S. and Canada, plus a global presence in 86 countries.
Lyon said Anderson simply does not have adequate hotel space to comfortably accommodate the movement’s members these days.
He said Oklahoma City, with its central location and more than adequate hotel space, was seen as a great option for the annual gathering.
Lyon said church leaders also liked the idea of having Crossings as a host site because the megachurch has “superb facilities” with enough seating to accommodate the large meeting. Crossings is the largest congregation in the Church of God movement.
Also, he said many members have never visited Oklahoma City, and the convention gathering would give them an opportunity to check out the Sooner State.
“We believe and discovered that Oklahoma City is a destination,” he said. “There will be time for church members to explore the city. It’s worth the trip, so to speak.”
Lyon said that, with the change, he and other church leaders are not sure how many people will attend the event, but many people from across the country have registered.
“There has been a tremendous response from people outside Oklahoma,” he said.
Meanwhile, Grubbs said Crossings, which started more than 50 years ago as Westridge Hills Church of God and for years could not break the 200-member barrier, has grown to 10,000 members, now meeting at the sprawling complex near Memorial Road and Portland Avenue.
A Dayton, Ohio, native and Anderson University graduate, Grubbs became Crossings’ youth and music ministry leader in 1981 and became the church’s senior pastor in 1985.
He said his staff and congregation have been preparing to host the national convention since last August.
“It’s just a great, wonderful gathering that I’ve been a part of all my life,” he said.
“It’s just going to be exciting.”
In addition to Lotz, other speakers include Reggie McNeal, Diana Swoope and Dave Stone.
If you go
2014 Church of God Convention