We are always delighted to welcome new faces to our church family. Whether you learned about us through your family and friends, the Internet, or our weekly Armor of God program, we joyfully invite you into our "home" and fellowship. Our local congregation may be small compared to some, but we embrace the close-knit, family feel it allows for and are proud to be just one part of the larger body of Christ. Our Atlanta congregation is the local branch of Church of God International, based in Tyler, Texas. Incorporated in 1978, CGI has ministers and congregations scattered throughout the United States and Canada . We also have churches in Jamaica , the Philippines , and Australia . Our mission is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world (Matthew 28:19).
DO WE HAVE ANY REQUIREMENTS FOR CHURCH ATTENDANCE?
We are an open church and do not have any specific requirements for attendance. We have people attending who are new in the faith. Some will not always keep each of God's laws as they should, and some will not believe everything we teach. We pray that they may be strengthened through the services we render and come to a closer walk with God. We request that you neither be judgmental nor base your standard for obedience on what you see your brother do. Christ is our standard, not weak and sinful men. Always remember that you will be judged for what you do, not what others do.
ON WHICH DAY DO You MEET?
The Church of God International observes Saturday as the Sabbath. There are seven days in the calendar week. The week begins with Sunday (first day) and ends with Saturday (seventh day). A day begins in the evening and ends the following evening. When this knowledge is applied to our calendar we see that the Sabbath actually begins Friday evening and ends Saturday evening. Friday night is welcomed as time to slow down, a chance to be with the family or maybe catch up on some scripture reading. Saturday brings a chance to rest, worship as a family, study, and devote a little extra time to prayer and meditation. The church does not legislate do's and don'ts for resting on the Sabbath other than emphasizing the statements in Scripture and the example of Jesus (see Mark 2:27-28 and Isaiah 58:13-14)
HOW ARE OUR SERVICES CONDUCTED?
Our worship service usually consists of a few hymns and opening prayer, announcements, an occasional sermonette (a 10 to 15 minute message) or special music, a sermon (45 to 60 minutes long), and then a closing hymn and prayer. There is no altar call or offering taken during the weekly service. If you come from a church with a highly formal service, you will find ours more relaxed, edifying, and intimate. The teaching of the Bible and the preaching of the Word are vital to Christian growth and are central to our services. We encourage everyone to bring a Bible and follow along with the message.
BESIDES THE SABBATH, WHAT OTHER days DO You OBSERVE?
The CGI observes the annual Biblical festivals (holy days) revealed by God in the Old Testament, as outlined in Leviticus 23, and upheld by the apostles and disciples of the New Testament church. These festivals are: the Christian Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Day of Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day. Observing these festivals reminds us of God's plan of salvation for mankind and points us directly to our Savior, Jesus Christ. In accordance with the scriptures, the dates for these festivals vary from year to year. This year's dates are listed under our worship services or you can download the PDF.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
The Church of God International does not have a dress code per se. We recommend that whatever is worn should reflect attention to cleanliness, neatness, and modesty. With old and young meeting together, variety is expected and encouraged. Many church families do attend services wearing what are traditionally known as "church clothes"-- suits and ties for the men and dresses for the women. Others, perhaps influenced by contemporary leanings, prefer to come more casual. God will be pleased if you wear the "best that you have" as you worship the best that you can.
DO you TAKE UP OFFERINGS?
Tithing and giving offerings are personal expressions of worship-- how one goes about giving is up to the individual. Our primary focus in the CGI is to spread the gospel message to the world. With that in mind, regular tithes and offerings may be mailed directly to the home office in Tyler to continue the outreach efforts of the church as a whole. These donations are also used for "feeding the flock," providing congregational support to our group for such things as building rental and ministerial expenses. No collections are taken during regular weekly Sabbath services. However, since there are commanded offerings associated with certain annual festival observances, offerings are collected on those high days during the year. Those wishing to give small donations locally to help with day-to-day expenses are welcome to do so.
Besides sabbath services, what other programs are available?
We usually have a Bible Study prior to services which is open to all who wish to attend. In addition, CGI.org has live Bible study webcasts which are presented during the week, along with the Bring on the Sabbath program on Friday nights. The website also has a vast library of online sermons, Bible studies, and literature available. CGI considers our youth a vital part of our church family. Educational services available to young people include: weekly Sabbath School, the Sparks program for smaller children, Ignite for teens, and Infuse for young adults.
Are there other opportunities for fellowship?
A number of our brethren travel many miles to attend church with us so we usually "arrive early and stay late" to allow for fellowship with one another. To promote spending extra time together on the Sabbath we also conduct fellowship meals. These are announced in advance to coincide with ministerial visits or holy day observances. Please note that we observe the dietary laws God gave to His people as recorded in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. These chapters describe creatures "that you shall eat" and those you shall not eat because they are "unclean." Among the unclean meats are such items as pork, shrimp, lobster, and catfish. On Sabbaths when no meal is planned, many of the brethren find that meeting at a restaurant is an excellent opportunity for further fellowship. Opportunities for group social events and outings during the week are also encouraged.
WHAT ABOUT VOLUNTEER AND OUTREACH OPPORTUNITIES?
In addition to our fellowship and worship services, we do participate in a number of outreach programs throughout the year. Our longest running program creates Blessing Bags and crocheted plastic sleeping mats as part of our homeless outreach. We do this in conjunction with the Infuse program and CGI SC. Details are available on our Making Mats facebook page. The Atlanta ladies have also done a number of crochet drives for preemies and infants in local hospitals. Just last year our Ignite/Sparks class gathered school supplies to donate to the Special Needs School of Gwinnett.