GCI Update

Remembering 9/11

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since that awful day we remember as 9/11. All of us old enough to have experienced it remember where we were and what we were doing as the tragic events unfolded. On that fateful morning, the World Trade Center Towers had been destroyed, the Pentagon had been attacked, and another airliner with many passengers had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 innocent people lost their lives in these coordinated and brutal acts of terrorism. And many more thousands were left grieving the loss of their loved ones – emotional scars they still bear to this day.

I didn’t personally lose anyone in the 9/11 tragedy. But I felt as if I had. And even those of us who were far removed from the horror knew that life would never be the same again. And it hasn’t been, has it?

We saw both sides of human nature. In the aftermath of the ruthless cruelty of the terrorists we began to hear many stories of courage and self-sacrifice. Heroism side by side with evil: the contrast and contradiction is hard to understand. But it reminds us that we are, when all is said and done, made in the image of God. And it is through the person and work of Jesus, the Son of God incarnate who has taken our evil upon himself, that ultimate healing will come. So, though evil continues, in faith we look to the day when all this horror will be just a distant memory. And as his followers, we seek to share in what he is doing.

However, this Sunday the horrors of 9/11 will not be a distant memory for many thousands of people. So I want to ask our congregations to be sure to remember them in our prayers this weekend. And if you, personally, know someone who lost a loved one, or whose life was shattered by those events ten years ago, why not call them, or send them a personal note? Let them know that they are not forgotten and that you are praying for them.

In the last Weekly Update, I noted the destruction caused by Hurricane Irene. We learned this week that some of our members in the U.S. experienced significant damage to their homes. Among them were GCI Pastor Al Nelson and his wife Arlene, who live in Vermont. Irene left 17 inches of water standing on the first floor of their home. Also, two of their vehicles were destroyed. Insurance covers the vehicles but not the house. They are seeking financial help through FEMA. Al’s brothers are helping him rebuild. Al figures that the house won’t be back to normal for six months. In the meantime, he presses on in serving the congregation that he pastors. Please pray for Al and Arlene and others affected by this tragedy.

In this issue, we share exciting news about our new church plant in Los Angeles. We also feature a video of a discussion I had with Dan Rogers concerning the importance of church planting for GCI. Also check out reports on the 50th anniversary of our Elkhart, IN congregation, the commissioning of John Pairitz as the new senior pastor in our Michigan City, IN congregation, and the Caribbean Women’s Conference.

Let us, in prayer, fight together the good fight of faith. Please join me in praying for several mentioned this week (see the links under Prayer and Updates).

Love from my family to yours,

Joseph Tkach



Pastor Jon Pairitz commissioned

On August 28, Pastor Jon Pairitz was commissioned as the new senior pastor of the GCI congregation in Michigan City, Indiana.  The commissioning ceremony was conducted by district pastor Sam Butler, accompanied by GCI president, Dr. Joseph Tkach.

Left to right: Sam Butler, Joseph Tkach, Jon Pairitz and Tammy Pairitz.


Elkhart church: 50 years

On August 28, Grace Family Fellowship, the GCI congregation in Elkhart, Indiana, celebrated their 50th anniversary. GCI president Joseph Tkach was present, along with district pastor Sam Butler, Elkhart senior pastor David Howe, current members and several guests.


Caribbean Women’s Conference

The 2011 GCI Caribbean Women’s Conference was held at the end of July in Arima, Trinidad and Tabago. 140 women attended. The conference theme was “Women of Purpose.”

At the opening service, a flag from each Caribbean island represented was presented. This was followed with vibrant and passionate worship in music – a central feature of the whole conference. The conference theme song, “Truly Yours,” fittingly sang of women with hearts and minds surrendered to God.

Conference presenters Shirley London, Pearl Charles, Marvis Durant and Avis Jones spoke of getting rid of  perfectionism and worry; allowing God to form his character in us; and being a Proverbs 31 “women of purpose.” An entertainment night filled the air with fun and laughter and featured food indigenous to many of the represented islands. Conference meals were prepared by about 20 men from the host congregation. The conference fittingly concluded with communion.

Some of the women who attended.


Update on L.A. church plant

Last time, we reported on a new GCI satellite congregation being planted in Los Angeles.  Here is a follow-up from pastor Heber Ticas (pictured at right):

We held a preview worship service on August 28. God is amazingly awesome – 126 people attended, including 43 adults and 11 kids not connected with the San Fernando “mother” church! An additional six people attended from our Santa Fe Springs church. During the service, ten people confessed faith in Christ in response to an altar call.

All our expectations for the event were surpassed by far. It was encouraging to see members from San Fernando who live in Los Angeles demonstrate a commitment to the new congregation by attending the evening service. The team did a phenomenal job getting word out and inviting friends and family. We now have five different homes where we are holding follow-up Bible studies.

Overall, the preview was a total success (see pictures below). Excitement and momentum keeps building. We have our second preview service on September 25. If we have a similar response, I may decide to launch the new congregation in October. We continue to solicit your prayers.


Why Church Planting?

In the video below, Dr. Joseph Tkach and Dr. Dan Rogers discuss why church planting is an important part of GCI’s participation in God’s mission.

This video may also be viewed on the GCI Church Development site on YouTube at http://youtu.be/3skseWKm4IA

Marj Friddle

Here is an update from Marj Friddle who continues to recover from her recent cancer surgery:

I am feeling better. Today, [August 7] for the first time I have felt more like I did before the surgery. I am weak but that also seems to be a little better today. The infected area is coming along but it is going to take a while for this to heal because it is 5 centimeters deep. A home health care nurse comes each day to clean and dress the area. The nurses have taught me how to connect the antibiotic infusion device to the line in my arm so I can do that myself. That is done once a day and it takes about an hour and a half. This has to be done for 10 days, blood work will be done and medication adjusted or changed as indicated by the blood work. The home health care nurses have been excellent. The one today was superb – very kind and compassionate. Thank you for your prayers (they need to continue) and your love.

My love to everyone,



Dennis Lawrence

The following announcement and request is from Gary Moore, GCI-Canada National Director.

Pastor Dennis Lawrence
Lynn Lawrence

Canadian pastor Dennis Lawrence will be going on disability on September 15 due to continuing health struggles. This is, of course, a big and emotional step for Dennis, who has served for 37 years in pastoral ministry.

A celebration of his ministry will be held on September 10. If you have benefited from Dennis’ ministry, we encourage you to email a note to his wife Lynn (Egbert) Lawrence. She will see that it is given to Dennis as part of the celebration. Lynn’s email address is lynnegbert@yahoo.com.

Thanks for your prayers for Dennis and Lynn.

Grace Stokes

Pastor Jim Stokes is praising God, and asking for additional prayer for his wife Grace:

It was tough day last Wednesday. Gracie was fighting to get her breath. She had been feeling “punky” for several days and tired easily. She seemed better in the afternoon and evening but we both concluded that she should see our doctor. So on Wednesday morning we called our doctor and got ready to go to his office. When he didn’t call back we decided to go to the hospital ER about 5 miles away. They treated her like she was a queen! They ran many tests, gave her medication to remove congestion around her lungs and for her heart, and gave her oxygen.

They monitored her through Thursday and kept her overnight. They believed she had a clogged artery and scheduled angiography for Friday morning. That test showed that her veins and arteries are surprisingly clear, and no further physical treatment is needed. On Friday night we came home.

Tests show that Grace’s heart is weakened to 20% of normal function. This will be treated this with medication, diet and possibly exercise therapy. She has to take it easy, which means no lifting and no housework. I think I’ve been set-up! However, I praise God that she’s breathing well and does not need oxygen. Her appetite has returned and I take that to be a good sign. Considering everything including age, Gracie is doing very well. The hospital treatment was GREAT and the doctors highly skilled. We thank God for answering many prayers in such a speedy, positive way. We do ask for continuing prayer for her.

Felix Johnson

Melba Johnson requests prayer for her husband, Felix, who is an assistant pastor in one of GCI’s congregations in Los Angeles, CA. Felix will have surgery on Sept 9 to have a small tumor removed from his bladder. He will be going home the same day.