If you arrive in the city of Toledo and ask who the power brokers are, one name that just might end up in the tally is that of Bishop Robert A. Culp. He is no stranger to Toledo or to the church world around this country. Many years ago when he migrated to Toledo, he made his mark in the stones at First Church of God beginning in 1961, and boy did he leave impressions. Those of which will forever remain in the hearts and minds of the First Church of God family.
1917 thru 2017, marks 100 years of service that First Church of God has been planted in the community. The theme for this 100th year celebration is THANKFUL FOR THE PAST, REJOICING IN THE PRESENT, PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE. The church has evolved over the years and become a vibrant and alive congregation that it is today. It has been known in the community to be a reliable entity, educating our children, coalescing groups, training leaders, and birthing spiritual sons and daughters who have gone on to launch churches around the country.
On this Sunday, hundreds gathered for a usual Holy Ghost, foot stomping time that is the usual and customary at First Church. As Bishop Culp approaches the podium in preparation of his selected and appropriate sermon for the day, the choir electrifies the congregants with songs of praise that certainly defies all odds of one not being ready to hear the word of God. And was it worthy of hearing. Bishop Culp's sermon subject was A MAN CALLED GRACE. In his elocution of the word, he often referred to God's grace as never running out, in fact it is infinite, God has more Grace than we have time, his Grace outlasts storms, difficulties, challenges, and any hardship that one might have in life.
In 2015, Bishop Culp was elevated to the office of Bishop. He continues to serve churches in his reformation around the country and it is no surprise that he has built a mega minded church with people who are not afraid to go beyond the norm. His track record speaks for him on and at all levels. One will find sitting in the pews at any given service professionals from every arena of life, to include and yet not be limited to Judges, Directors, Lawyers, Doctors, Teachers, Administrators, Retirees, Professors, Designers, Pastors, Politicians, and the list goes on and on. And on this Sunday, First Church would not be short of those persons once again being found in the house. One person who has been in the house since 1968, and is the Chair for this 100th year Celebration, is Judge C. Allen McConnell, also an Elder. He spoke passionately about his experience at First Church and how this is a spirit in the air about the church. He indicated that the church has transitioned and accelerated into truly being involved in the community, empowering the people of God and preparing to sustain in the years to come.
This celebration took on a little different perspective. They chose to dedicate 6 rooms in the church, as well as to enhance the structure to include interior renovations, and external improvements. A parking lot upgrade, tuck pointing, a gate around the church, and other significant improvements are the primary focus for this celebration.
Elder McConnell stated that the celebration date actually is April but the main event takes place in a Banquet on October 14th to culminate the celebration. He emphasized that special highlights are done each third Sunday via a depiction of the decade that represents what has been done down through the 100 years.
Minister Regina Whittington, a PR/Marketing Representative at FCOG indicated that the church dedicated 6 rooms there to enhance the total wellness of the church during this celebration. They are The Gathering Place, which is the social center for coffee and doughnuts after church, The Store/Commodity Center, where members are able to shop for small items, New Life Center, where new converts assemble, Computer Lab/The Connection Center, where people are taught the technology advantage, The War Room/Prayer Center, as well as an upper Room on the second level.
In speaking to the man at the forefront of this celebration, Bishop Culp stated that it was a real joy to be serving the many generations for more than half of the 100 years. He indicated that his days may be winding down but the joy is that FCOG will go on, and even after another 100 years, he is confident that the church will continue to survive and thrive.
There is a spirit in the air at FCOG that signifies that the "happiness is on". This celebration is real to the members. Each seems to exude a symbolic joy that something good is happening there. Smiles are displayed passionately, hugs are exchanged reverently, and an excitement about this centennial will continue to meet you at the doors of FCOG when one enters. To the members of FCOG, Judge C. Allen McConnell, Chair, and Bishop Robert A. and Dr. Maggie Culp, we celebrate you and thank you for your labor of love. God bless you!