First Church of God in Defiance has announced that Pastor Don Dennison has been named interim senior pastor, following the retirement of Pastor Rick Rufenacht. His first Sunday to preach will be Sunday.
Dennison and his wife, Phyllis, grew up in the Church of God (Anderson) and met while students at Anderson University. They have been married for 51 years and have two married sons and four grandchildren.
After completing his Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministries at Lincoln Christian University (1970), Dennison continued his ministry training with a Master of Arts from Olivet Nazarene University (1982); a Master of Divinity from Winebrenner Theological Seminary (2007); and a Doctorate of Ministry from Columbia International University (2012).
In addition, he studied at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary (1983-84) and the U.S. Center for World Mission (2000).
From 1967-85, Dennison pastored three Church of God (Anderson) congregations in Illinois in a variety of settings, from a small rural community to suburban Chicago.
During that time he was ordained in the Church of God (Anderson) and served in numerous leadership roles in Illinois Ministries.
In 1985, he accepted the pastorate of a church in Auburn, Ind., which had been a merger of two local congregations identifying with the Church of God (Anderson) and the Churches of God, General Conference, Findlay.
In 1995, Dennison became director of cross-cultural ministries for the Churches of God, General Conference (CGGC) in Findlay, where he served for 20 years. In that role, he oversaw the missions department of the denomination, which included missions education, fund development, donor relations, and missionary recruitment and supervision.
Since July of 2015, he has been a CGGC church and mission consultant, helping local churches evaluate and strengthen their outreach ministries. He has also served three interim pastorates in Ohio since 2017.
Through the years, Dennison has ministered in 16 countries. He enjoys taking first-timers — especially pastors and seminary students — on short-term missions trips to teach them more about God, God’s work in the world, and themselves.
He has served as an adjunct professor at Winebrenner Theological Seminary (Findlay), Tabor College-Wichita (Wichita, Kan.), and Columbia International University (Columbia, S.C.).
He has authored three books: “Stimulating a Passion for Lost People” (2005); “His People on Mission: Mobilizing Churches for Cross-Cultural Outreach (2013); and “The World Was Not Worthy: Portraits of Five Women Missionaries” (2020), all published by CGGC Publications.
Dennison enjoys basketball, pickleball, reading, travel, and good coffee. He and Phyllis have provided volunteer leadership in numerous community organizations through the years, including the Operation Christmas Child shoebox ministry.
For more information about Dennison or First Church of God, call 419-782-0861.