Church of God International
meets with Church of God Big Sandy

BIG SANDY, Texas--The headquarters congregation of the Church of God International (CGI), which meets in nearby Tyler, met with the Church of God Big Sandy for the Day of Pentecost on Sunday, May 19.

"It was especially meaningful to be in fellowship with brethren of several different organizations on Pentecost," said Charles Groce, chief executive officer of the CGI.

"Mr. Havir's invitation for collective worship was well received and continued the Church of God Big Sandy's outreach to brethren of like mind."

Around the country

Participants in the service were not just members of the two congregations but also members of other Church of God congregations around the country.

"We had some of our friends from sister congregations here to celebrate the festival with us," explained Dave Havir, pastor of the Church of God Big Sandy.

"We always love it when Ray Kurr [of Mounds, Okla.] comes to sing and Dennis Mouland [of Dewey, Ariz.] comes to give sermons.

"And we appreciated that some friends who often attend with other congregations here in East Texas joined us on this day."

After John Reedy of Tyler opened the church service with prayer, the gathered assembly sang three hymns.

Clay Forrestier of Gladewater was song leader, and Dixon Cartwright of Big Sandy was pianist.

After the first song service an offering was collected, with audience members directing their donations to the respective church organization of their choice.

Rock music

For the offertory an ensemble sang a selection titled "The Rock." The singers were directed by Paula Hughes of Tyler and accompanied by Mr. Cartwright.

Members of the ensemble included David Fisher of Pritchett, Betty Foster of Big Sandy, Ms. Hughes, Darrail Johnson and Montrail Johnson of Lindale, Neil McIver of White Oak, Melodee Overton of Pritchett, Jeannie Roden of Hawkins, Dorothy Stevenson of Tyler and Maria Velasco of Gladewater.

After the offering was a selection of special music titled "Come to the Lord." The song was written by Brandy Webb of Avinger, Texas. It was sung by Mrs. Webb's 10-year-old daughter Jasmine and 8-year-old Grace Forrestier of Gladewater.

They were accompanied on guitar by Jasmine's father, Joshua Webb, and Wes White of Big Sandy.

Classes and first sermon

The format of the church service was the normal format of the Church of God Big Sandy, which splits into two sermons separated by a short break.

During the first sermon attendees can choose to attend classes instead of staying in the main auditorium for the sermon.

The kids' class, designed for children before they can read, was taught by Candace Self of Big Sandy.

The bridges class, which is for preteens, was taught by Carol Bald of Big Sandy. The teen class was taught by David Havir III of Nacogdoches, Texas. The usual adult interactive Bible study was canceled so more people would be present to hear the first sermon.

The first sermon was by Jeff Reed of Tyler, an employee of the CGI. The sermon was titled "Power." Mr. Reed talked about God giving His Spirit.

Three selections of music

After the break the church recommenced with two congregational hymns and three pieces of special music.

The first was sung by Wayne Woodring of Tyler.

Mr. Woodring, a prolific songwriter, sang a piece of his own composition, "On That Day." He accompanied himself on guitar.

The next participants were a trio that performed two selections. The trio included Mr. Kurr, his daughter Brittany, also of Mounds, Okla., and Steve Tremble of Tulsa, Okla.

The first selection was an arrangement of "Bless the Lord Eternal O My Soul." The second selection was "O Give Thanks." Mr. Tremble accompanied on guitar.

Second sermon

The second sermon was by Mr. Mouland, who had flown to Texas to give two sermons on the previous day as well as give this sermon. The title of the sermon was "What Happened to the Greater Works?"

The sermon was based on Jesus' comment quoted in John 14:12. Mr. Mouland acknowledged the value of service projects (preaching the gospel, etc.) of church organizations but encouraged his listeners to focus more on the work that God does in each believer.

After the sermon and the last congregational hymn, Mr. Forrestier asked Vance Stinson of Tyler to give the closing prayer and thanks for the meal.

Food and fellowship

Before the church service, families had brought food into the building owned by the Church of God Big Sandy.

After the service some in the audience moved large round tables to the back of the hall to accommodate the potluck meal.

Exuberance in fellowship

The Church of God Big Sandy often has a Bible study after the potluck that is broadcast on the congregation's Web site ( but chose to forgo the study to allow extra time for fellowship.

"The two messages were meat in due season and were supplemented by a variety of special-music performances," Mr. Groce said.

"CGI members appreciated the invitation and benefited from the inspiration inherent in pleasing God."

Mr. Havir said he was glad friends from the CGI and other nearby congregations could worship with the Big Sandy group on Pentecost.

"We had two excellent messages and exuberant fellowship," he said.


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