GCI Update

Advent greetings

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

To those in the U.S., happy Thanksgiving!  And to everyone, warm Advent greetings!

As you know, this Sunday (November 27) is the first of the four Sundays in the Advent season, which is followed by Christmas (also a Sunday this year). Advent celebrates the coming into our world of the incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ. It is traditional to first look forward to Jesus’ coming in glory, then to his present coming through the Holy Spirit, and then back to his original coming in the flesh through his birth at Bethlehem.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

In all our Advent and Christmas celebrations we are reminded that God, in his grace, comes to us. He is the Light come into our darkness. And that Light is true life. We are blessed to be enabled by the Holy Spirit to see and to embrace this Light, to walk in its glow, and to proclaim its glory to others who remain in darkness.

Many Advent and Christmas hymns and carols beautifully remind us of these truths. An example is “O Holy Night.” The lyrics of this Christmas carol were written in 1847 by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure:

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Advent greetings from my family to yours,

Joseph Tkach

Dr. John McKenna

Dr. John McKenna is doctrinal advisor to Grace Communion International and a Grace Communion Seminary faculty member. In the video below, John tells his story about writing poetry, and shares a short new poem that he wrote in response to a service on the tenth anniversary of 9-11.

GenMin camps & mission trips report

Anthony Mullins who leads GCI Generations Ministries (GenMin) camps and mission trips, submitted the following report.

2011 was a fruitful year! Through the devoted work of 811 volunteer staff we conducted 16 camps and eight short-term mission trips. Through these events we were blessed to join with Jesus in touching the lives of 1098 teens and 1609 children.

Though the numbers in our camps were down a bit, the numbers in our mission trips were up. We thus experienced significant growth overall, despite the weak economy. We are grateful for this growth, but above all, we rejoice that the lives of campers and staff are being transformed. In that regard, it is our experience that one of the primary benefits of our camps and mission trips is in serving as “incubators” for the development of new (and often young) mission-minded GCI leaders.

On behalf of GenMin, I want to thank all our volunteers, and also the members who give their support and prayers. Thanks also to the congregations that ‘loan’ their leaders, that provide scholarships to campers and missionaries, and that, as a congregation, donate to the GC Next Domestic Mission Fund, which helps to fund these events. For more information about how congregations can support GenMin, go to http://genmin.gci.org/donate.htm.


GCI in the United States advocates the formation of evangelistic small groups referred to as FaithTalk groups. The CAD Ministry Development Team provides online training and resourcing for these groups (go to http://faithtalkgroups.blogspot.com/).  The following report is from Tom Kennebeck, pastor of GCI’s Northland Community Church in Orr, MN. Tom reports on the FaithTalk group recently launched as an outreach of his congregation.

Our faith talk group of three plus myself started after one of the group came to visit our church one Sunday. He was interested in growing deeper with God. We got together after church at our home for a time of caring and sharing. Over the next several weeks we continued to meet at my home for an hour or so in a mentoring relationship. We discussed Luke 15 as well as The Parable of the Dancing God by Baxter Kruger.

Shortly thereafter I met two other young adults about the same age who wanted to connect with a “safe” group. It was interesting to find out how much they all had in common and how they were able to share with one another. Our meetings include general discussion about life challenges in relation to their faith walk. We have been meeting for several weeks and the group members continue to experience personal sharing, growing and caring for one another.

One of the group members attends our church regularly when he doesn’t have to work. The other two have attended on occasion. One comes from a non-Christian background, the other from a stable churched family but has been disconnected for a while and wants to reconnect with God.

I believe and pray that everyone within the group will come to a better understand that in Christ that are beloved children of the Father. I also believe and pray that they will eventually join in fellowship with the local church, and that some of them will play a role in starting other Faith-talk groups.

Birth of Ethan Mills

Kathy Miller with her new grandchild Ethan

Bill and Kathy Miller are happy to announce the arrival of their first grandchild, Ethan Benjamin Mills, born on October 30 to Jamin and Elizabeth (Miller) Mills. All are happy and doing well.

Bill is the senior pastor of  Christian Family Fellowship, the GCI congregation that meets in Kenmore, WA.