Faithful to Complete It: Florida Church’s Centennial Chronicles God’s Ongoing Work
By Carl Stagner
Though often individualized in much of Western society, Philippians 1:6 was written not to an individual, but to the church at Philippi. The weight such a statement carries is potentially greater in the context of a collective people of God and the intentions of a loving heavenly Father. The assertion that “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (NIV) instills tremendous confidence in a congregation established a hundred years ago, yet longing to see even more mission accomplished. That’s the case in Bradenton, Florida, where the Church of God congregation chronicled God’s ongoing work in boisterous celebration this year as they reached a ministry milestone of paramount importance.
Why did it matter that The Church at Bradenton pull out all the stops to mark one hundred years of ministry? Because the inspiration of what God has done offers motivation for what God will do. And “Because our Lord is worthy!” Pastor Tom Pelt explains. “The church needs to be encouraged more than ever to press on in the face of increasing challenges to the mission, to make disciples who make disciples and grow strong families.”
Through dynamic preaching and moments of powerful congregational worship (and plenty of food), “TCAB” made a clear statement that their centennial is certainly a cause worth extra time and effort. Furthermore, the special activities comprising the celebration made a clear statement to the community and beyond that God is faithful. Ultimately, that’s what mattered most to the people of this healthy, growing Florida congregation.
“The testimonies of God’s faithfulness that poured in were inspiring!” Pastor Tom continues. “From staff and members from days gone by, to the TCAB faithful today, the stories of salvation, healing, restoration, and renewal were the centerpiece. We will be filling a time capsule and burying it to start 2024 for a future generation to dig up and be inspired fifty years from now. God was, is and will forever prove ‘Faithful to Complete It,’ as our theme reminded us.”
As an overflow of what the Lord continues to accomplish in their midst, the 100th anniversary event on October 1 wasn’t about drumming up enthusiasm for a church fledgling to make it week to week. This was representative of God’s ongoing work throughout the last century, a work that remains vivid in recent years.
“Seeing people saved, baptized, connected, and serving continues to be the most important metric of health,” Tom explains. “We have baptized four since our October celebration! Secondly, we point to our shared commitment with our Sunshine Early Learning Center and Academy to come alongside hurting families in Christ, especially those single moms in crisis and the foster and adopting families who are on the front lines of kids who need Christian homes. This keeps us praying, working, and visioning for more.”
What about the next hundred years? How can the Movement pray alongside The Church at Bradenton?
“We were just praying together at our First Monday Prayer and Worship Night for more of the Holy Spirit in, on, and over our TCAB family,” Pastor Tom concludes. “When the church is living and breathing in the Spirit and Word, everything else will fall into place—from our desire to see more and more disciples made to the millions of dollars God will provide in order to realize the plans for new educational and ministry facilities across our eleven-acre campus. Again, we have leaned into the promise of God that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) photo: Looking back, looking forward at the centennial celebration (Pastor Tom at left).