People, Places, and Songs Accentuate Pastor’s Journey with Jesus
By Carl Stagner
Someone can relate. Individual journeys with Jesus rarely happen in a vacuum; wielders of influence shaped character, clarified calling, and invested in personal spiritual formation. Intentional recollection of past providential activity prove God was there all along, picking up broken pieces and assembling his work of art, strategically positioned in time and space for his divine purposes. Though not always visible in the present, looking back reveals discipleship in its purest form—those who were led now lead, those who were served now serve, those who were loved now love others—all in Jesus’ name. Such is the story of many ministers in the Church of God, including Stan Harmon, who’s been the pastor of Auglaize Chapel Church of God near Oakwood, Ohio, for the past twenty-two years.
When Pastor Stan served as an associate pastor in Sullivan, Illinois, senior pastor Kenneth Tabor was an undeniably important influence. “He and his wife Margie supported me, loved me, and encouraged me more than I can explain,” Stan recalls. “Simply stated, I would not be in ministry today if I had missed serving with them. Brother Tabor was a great speaker, solid Bible teacher, and had a compassionate heart and a unique sense of humor.”
Countless souls were shaped under the direction of Tabor, and those who may not have enjoyed that particular blessing were likely influenced in some way by the ministry of Arlo Newell. Stan, included.
“Brother Newell was a great inspiration to me as a gifted preacher, wonderful theologian, prolific writer, and teacher,” Stan explains. “There was no pretense in his character; a man of integrity. He was also an encourager and a genuine friend.”
Stan also specifically credits Edward Beck. “Brother Beck has been a wonderful mentor and colleague for years. Talk about a student of the Word! He is the epitome of a Bible scholar. He helped me work toward my ordination by refining my understanding of many biblical truths and doctrines. He and his wife Fae are precious friends to me and my family.”
Songs, too, have played, and continue to play, a role in the personal and ministerial development of the longtime leader of Auglaize Chapel Church of God, whose tenure began there on Easter of 2001. Though he admits the difficulty of narrowing down personal favorites and music especially meaningful to his journey, Pastor Stan identifies “All in Jesus,” “A Child of God,” and “It is Truly Wonderful” as noteworthy. “So much theological truth and doctrinal truth pack into song!” he exclaims. Among songs written in the current century, Stan has worshiped the Lord in especially powerful ways through “How Great is Our God.” “But to get down deep and personal (and it’s about conviction),” Stan explains, “‘Whatever it Takes,’ by Lanny and Marietta Wolfe.”
Music matters tremendously to Stan Harmon. After all, he’s not only a gifted expositor of the Word, but he is also a minister of music. For twenty-two years after graduation from Anderson University (then Anderson College), he served as music and worship pastor/youth pastor for congregations in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio. These days, he still occasionally gets called upon to lead congregational singing.
So, why does all that matter? The people, places, and songs that dot the timeline of Pastor Stan’s journey with Jesus may have seemed relatively insignificant at any given moment, but over the long haul, they were absolutely instrumental. The encouragement, the admonition, the modeling of integrity, and the experiences (both good and bad) have resulted in a lead pastor who has stayed true to the ministry and mission. Auglaize Chapel Church of God and its surrounding community is one of the most notable beneficiaries of God’s sovereign work over time, not exclusively in a single moment or two.
“We’re seeing many young people grow up in the congregation and go on to serve the Lord in many areas of ministry around the country,” Pastor Stan reflects. “Now their children are following the Lord’s direction in their lives, as well.”
He continues, “In 2006, our congregation felt led to start a community food pantry, located offsite a few miles from the church. At the time, some in the congregation voted against it, believing we couldn’t afford the expense. We have provided this ministry now for seventeen years, and the Lord has provided the needed resources for it every year.”
But wait, there’s more. “Another bright spot is a focus on prayer, specifically for the unsaved. At the end of each Sunday morning worship service, our members gather in the sanctuary, praying for individuals to receive Christ. The members pray along or come together in groups of two or three. There is no time limit. Anyone can stay after the service and join in. This special time of prayer was started because of a Holy Spirit-led conviction among several members of the congregation.”
Evangelism and discipleship are core drivers of the congregation under Pastor Stan’s leadership. A challenge and an opportunity for God to receive the glory, the church anticipates many continuing to accept Jesus. Affirming the Movement-wide focus, “Jesus is the subject,” Stan says the church supports ministries that deliberately design their efforts to target the younger demographic.
When asked how the Church of God movement could best pray for him and for Auglaize Chapel Church of God, Pastor Stan responded, “Pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to lead us and empower us to fulfill the purpose he has for our existence—that we will be Jesus Christ in the community we serve. And that we will see souls saved, who will be disciples, that make disciples, that make disciples, to serve the Lord.”
Keep leading like Jesus led, serving like Jesus served, and loving like Jesus loved, Church of God. Just imagine the impact.
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) picture: Auglaize Chapel Church of God in prayer.