The first church to become affiliated with the Church of God under guidelines adopted at the recent Church of God International General Assembly, has been established in Greencastle, Indiana.
According to Indiana Administrative Bishop Jeff Robinson, the Lifespring Church is Indiana’s first (and probably the first in the nation) new organized church by affiliation under the new arrangements.
As part of the action taken by the General Council of the Church of God and passed by the General Assembly on July 27, 2012, the item titled, “Affiliation with the Church of God,” states the following:
That non-Church of God churches that wish to affiliate with the Church of God be allowed to join as associate churches. They shall be able to retain ownership of their properties. They shall make monthly reports to the state/regional and general offices with the same financial accountability as International General Assembly congregations. The pastor shall submit to a background check and he/she shall secure Church of God ministerial credentials in accordance with the denomination’s polity.
Further, that appropriate forms of organization be processed in a legal business meeting to show acceptance of the faith, government, polity, and practices of the Church of God and willingness to abide by the actions of the International General Assembly as it relates to their status as an associate church. In order to be accepted as an associate church, the group must accept the basic doctrinal commitments, teachings, and practical commitments as stated on pages 21 – 37 of the 2010 MINUTES, Church of God Book of Discipline, Church Order and Governance.
An associate church can remove its associate status by placing the church properties on a Church of God warranty deed with the approval of the administrative bishop and the state/ regional council.
Lifespring Church became an associate church in a ceremony on August 28, 2012. The church has 150 charter members with a weekly worship average of 165 and over 200 attenders. The lead pastor is Scott Volland and his wife, Michelle.
“Scott was reinstated as an ordained bishop earlier this year,” Robinson stated. “He was out of the Church of God for the last nine years, during which time he evangelized as an independent and pastored what was originally the Somerset Christian Church, a 180 year-old church that was first established in 1832 as a Disciples of Christ church. It was independent when the Volland’s got there and has become an energetic, growing spirit-filled congregation under their pastorate.
“Missing the fellowship of his home church, Pastor Volland initiated contact with me in the fall of 2011 with a desire to come back into the Church of God,” Robinson said. “ At first, his plan was not to bring the church in, but as I shared with him that the best way to ensure the continuity of his vision and work there was to organize with the Church of God. The more we talked with his elders, visited with the church, introduced the offerings of the church, brought them to camp meeting, youth camps, etc., they were excited about joining.”
The signing ceremony was held at the Indiana State Office with Lifespring’s elders, the state office staff, and state council members.