While there’s plenty of news about churches that are declining or leaders who are messing up, how about some good news for a change?
This week, my longtime friend, Alex Clattenburg, celebrated the 25-year-anniversary of the founding of his Church in the Son in Orlando, Florida. He invited me to attend the service, and I’m glad I did. I was deeply touched by the music, the anointed message, and the outpouring of love and overall vibrancy I saw.
I’ve known Alex since 1973. He played a huge role in my life in my 20s and was instrumental in helping a young journalist start a magazine called Charisma. In fact, he wrote an article in the first issue!
During this time, Alex has had the utmost integrity. He’s never had a hint of scandal. He’s now a fiery 71 and is as fervent for the Lord as he was when I first knew him at age 30. But don’t take my word for it; click here to see the tributes from a wide variety of Christian leaders.
I first knew Alex when he was a successful businessman in real estate and led the youth group part time. Eventually he went into the ministry full time, like his father before him. He pastored Calvary Assembly in Orlando during nine tumultuous years, following a pastor who was forced to step down due to a moral failure.
Alex’s first wife, Jeanie, a beautiful and talented singer who was good friends to my wife, Joy, and me, died of cancer in 1995. You can watch Alex tell his own story of how the church began and how he married his second wife, Judith, five years after Jeanie’s untimely death.
One of the highlights of the service came when Alex’s daughter, Evangeline, and her husband, Robert Sperti, performed “Awake My Soul.” I’ve enjoyed their music over the years. I may be a little biased toward them since I’ve known Vangie since she was born and her husband since he was a teenager. It means a lot to me to see them in ministry, composing and performing such beautiful worship music and to know they planted Garden City Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I am so proud of them.
Sunday morning, Alex challenged his congregation to “reach the nations.” He’s setting an example by going to Southeast Asia to minister, as well as to Siberia. He said he wants all his 5,000 members to go on a mission trip! At an age when many men slow down, it seems Alex is going stronger than ever.
After the service, Alex gave me a big hug and thanked me for being his friend. I told him that he has impacted my life 10 times more than I’ve impacted him. Maybe someday I’ll write a personal tribute to my mentor and friend.
But today, it’s time to congratulate the congregation of Church in the Son, and to praise God for the ministry they have reaching Central Florida with the Good News of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Steve Strang is the founding editor and publisher of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter @sstrang or Facebook (stephenestrang).