Church of God Convention 2017 Leadership
Ann Smith was born and raised in Alabama—the youngest of five children. A graduate of Anderson University and Scarritt College, she married Nathan in 1950 and served twenty-six years in Japan and South Korea. After returning to the United States, she served five years on the staff of the Missionary Board of the Church of God and five years as director of church relations for Anderson University.
To tell you the facts of Ann Smith’s life does not begin to reveal who she is, however. She is on a “journey of discovery.” That journey has taken her down a variety of paths and brought her into contact with a wide variety of people. It has contained failures and successes, pain and joy, disappointment and fulfillment, but most important of all it has made her the recipient of God’s love and the love of many people. Each new experience has provided an opportunity for new insights and growth. At age 92, she is still on that journey, and firmly believes that the goal of life is to be full instead of complete—there is still so much to learn, to discover, to become! For all of those who have ever met her: our lives are richer for having done so!
Pastor Geremy has served as an associate and now lead pastor for over sixteen years at the Center of Hope (First Church of God) in Inglewood, California. Known for his approachable demeanor and commonsense approach to kingdom living, he has the unique ability to connect with individuals from all walks of life.
Pastor Geremy’s particular blend of humor, inspiration, and sound biblical grounding has opened doors for him to be a guest facilitator and sought-after speaker for churches, conferences, and conventions, both nationally and internationally. Articulate, passionate, and driven, Geremy is one of the emerging voices proclaiming God’s desire to establish the kingdom in the marketplace.
Married to Adrienne Dixon, they have the joy of parenting four wonderful children: Kennedy, Micah, Roman, and Jordyn.
With her unique brand of musical comedy and blend of sass, edge, and slightly offbeat takes on all things female, audiences at her comedy concert tours, viewers of her TV appearances, and the YouTube masses would say she just says what everyone is thinking, but won’t say out loud.
Anita has been featured in the New York Times, Reader’s Digest, Women’s Day, and the Washington Post. She was featured on morning and late-night entertainment and news programs, resulting in her becoming a comedy contributor for Good Morning America.
Anita was with us in Oklahoma City in 2015, and we are thrilled to have her back as part of our 2017 leadership team! Anita Renfroe is wife to John, and mother to three children (but who cares about them?!)—and five grandbabies! They reside in suburban Atlanta.
Paul Earl Sheppard is the founding pastor of the thriving Church of God congregation in Fremont, California, Destiny Christian Fellowship. Sheppard is an author, as well as the speaker for the radio and online broadcast Destined for Victory. His testimony of reclamation of what hell had once stolen from his life and church is powerful and poignant.
He and his wife Meredith were married in 1982 and are the proud parents of two adult children, Alicia and Aaron.
Imagine getting through your busy day without hands or legs. Picture your life without the ability to walk, care for your basic needs, or even embrace those you love. Meet Nicholas Vujicic. Without any medical explanation or warning, Nick was born in 1982 in Melbourne, Australia, without arms and legs. Three sonograms failed to reveal complications. And yet, the Vujicic family was destined to cope with both the challenge and blessing of raising a son who refused to allow his physical condition to limit his lifestyle.
The early days were difficult. Throughout his childhood, Nick not only dealt with the typical challenges of school and adolescence, but he also struggled with depression and loneliness. Nick constantly wondered why he was different than all the other kids. He questioned the purpose of life, or even if he had a purpose.
According to Nick, the victory over his struggles, as well as his strength and passion for life today, can be credited to his faith in God. His family, friends, and the many people he has encountered along the journey have inspired him to carry on, as well.
Since age nineteen, Nick has traveled around the world, sharing his story with millions, speaking to a wide range of diverse groups, such as students, teachers, young people, business professionals, and church congregations of all sizes. Today this dynamic young evangelist has accomplished more than most people achieve in a lifetime. He’s an author, musician, actor, with hobbies that include fishing, painting, and swimming. In 2007, Nick made the long journey from Australia to southern California, where he is now the president of the international nonprofit ministry Life Without Limbs, which was established in 2005.
According to Nick, “If God can use a man without arms and legs to be his hands and feet, then he will certainly use any willing heart!
Allan Fuller is thankful for stumbling into the church across the street from the house where he grew up: First Church of God in Edmonton, Canada. In college, he ended up shifting from an engineering pursuit to a accepting a call into full-time ministry. After graduating from Anderson University School of Theology, Allan enjoyed serving as an associate pastor at Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, for a number of years. Eventually he, along with his wife, Tami, and their three children, headed west to pastor Mountain Park Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona, where he has served for the past eleven years.
Sarah Scharbrough McLaughlin
Sarah Scharbrough McLaughlin is a worship leader, songwriter, and blogger. Through her artistic writing, she articulates mountain and valley experiences of life’s journeys with depth, sincerity, emotion, and humor. Using her classical and jazz background, she creates a soulful and eclectic sound. Her songs have taken her around the world to jazz festivals, colleges, churches, theaters, conferences, among other places, and her voice can be heard on hundreds of radio/studio projects. Sarah has released five albums of original music; most recently, Sit with Me, which she co-produced with her brother-in-law, Jon McLaughlin.
Sarah is married to her best friend, college sweetheart, and drummer, Jeff McLaughlin. Building on a long legacy of music in their families, she and Jeff continue a foundation of worship, music, and joy in their own home and as worship leaders at their home congregation. You can connect with Sarah online at www.sarahtunes.com. Sarah and Jeff are both graduates of Anderson University and have five precious children under eight years old: Soren, Joseph, Ana, Willow, and Jane. They live in Noblesville, Indiana.
Danielle Strickland serves as an officer in the Salvation Army. She loves Jesus…and she loves people. She especially loves the more fragile in communities around the world. Over the years, this love has led her to back alleys and late night streets to partner with Jesus in rescuing those caught up in drugs, homelessness, prostitution, and despair. It has also led her to the halls of government and corridors of commercial power to see laws changed and practices transformed so people aren’t trafficked and children aren’t enslaved.
The author of multiple books, including A Beautiful Mess: How God Recreates Our Lives and Boundless: Living Life in Overflow, Danielle has sought to cultivate authentic Christian community in deprived neighborhoods on the way to loving the last, the lost, and the least into God’s kingdom. Reclaimed from the clutches of the enemy, generational addiction, and violence, she and her husband are bringing up their three boys in the fear and friendship of the Lord.
Jim originally dreamed of a career in politics and found himself representing northwest Seattle in the Washington State House of Representatives in the early 1980s. But ultimately, it was Christian ministry that became his passion. He served in pastoral ministry in both the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest. From 1991 through 2013, he served as senior pastor at Madison Park Church of God in Anderson, Indiana. In August 2013, he became the General Director of Church of God Ministries. An articulate preacher, teacher, and motivational speaker, Jim has also anchored the ViewPoint broadcast since 1996. Helping people see Jesus at work in their world has become his life’s work; engaging the world for heaven’s sake has become his life’s calling.