GCI Update

European conferences

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:


Thank you so much for the many thoughtful expressions of love that Tammy and I received during pastor appreciation month! Believe me, it is our sincere joy and privilege to serve alongside you in the ministry of Jesus Christ.

I returned recently from our annual GCI festivals in France and the UK (see the pictures below), where dozens of people asked us to convey their love and thanks for all of you. Dan and Barbara Rogers joined Tammy and me for these, and Mike Feazell, who had spoken at our GCI festival in New Zealand and visited our combined Tasmanian congregations in Hobart, joined us in London.

It was the first time Dan and Barbara had been to France and the UK, and they were most warmly received by the churches. When Dan was giving his presentation in London, I think it was the most relaxed I have seen him in years. I think the visit was a blessing both for the European members and for Dan and Barbara.

Following the conference in England, Mike and I met with our European national directors for updates, mutual encouragement and prayer together. I do ask that you remember to pray for our European members and congregations. The economy in Europe, as in many parts of the world, is going through turbulent times. In such times it is all the more needful that we not neglect to support one another in prayer, both for strength and for hope as we are all one in Christ.

Congratulations to our church in Holland! They have completed the legal work necessary to officially change their name to Grace Communion International. Where it is feasible and appropriate, other international areas are taking similar steps.

Also, congratulations to Bill and Kathy Miller, whose grandson, Ethan Benjamin Mills (pictured at right), was born recently to their daughter Elizabeth and her husband, Jamin Mills.

As always, dearly beloved in Christ, let us remember that prayer is the battleground where we fight the good fight of faith.

Blessings from my family to yours,

Joseph Tkach

Festivities in France
Ministerial conference in UK
Left to right: Irène and Bill Wilson, Jonathan and Janet Heyes
GCI leaders and spouses gather for the European national directors’ meeting

Philippine Festival

Eugene Guzon (center) chats with festival participants at Cagayan de Oro

Members from the Philippines attended the annual Philippine Festival on October 28-31 in Cagayan de Oro City (with simultaneous celebrations in Bukidnon, Manila and Davao). The festivals followed the GCI Philippines 2011 national theme, “Growing Together in His Love.”

Festival highlights at the main site included worship services, a Trinitarian theology forum, variety show, family day, and socials for youth, singles, couples and seniors. Festival speakers included Eugene Guzon (Philippine National Director, who discussed the topic of “Our Foundation Is Love”), Len Joson (director of Philippine Media and Communications, who discussed “The Gospel of Forgiveness”), Jess Bahinting (Area Superintendent for Visayas, who discussed “Salvation That Leads to Good Works”) and Jeng Manriquez (Area Superintendent for Mindanao, who discussed “The God Who Loves Sinners”).

Naciancino and Alejandra Rico (pictured at right) celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary during the Seniors Social. They have nine children and 24 grandchildren.

The Trinitarian theology forum was facilitated by Len Joson. Eugene Guzon answered some of the questions. One participant commented that her new understanding of Trinitarian Christ-Centered theology will help her relate with others much better.

Another highlight during the festival was the baptism of seven individuals who committed their lives to Christ.

Dells Celebration

About 400 people attended the GCI Dells Celebration held in Wisconsin Dells, WI on September 29-October 2. The theme of “Lord, what are you up to?” was developed in messages and workshops from Willard High, Stephen Hill, Anthony Mullins, Tracy Porter, Dave and Linda Holmes, Sam Butler and Doug Johannsen. Audio recordings of most of the messages and workshops are available from Michael.Hill@gci.org.

Jemma Newby (daughter of Pastor James & Karen Newby) leads the Dells Celebration children's choir

Preparations for next year’s Dells Celebration on September 27-30 are under way. As in years past, the event will be held at the Kalahari Resort.

Asia and the Pacific

The following report is from Rod Matthews, GCI’s Mission Director for Southern Asia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

Papua New Guinea

PNG Ministries pastors in training session

I met recently with Pastor Gabriel Mumuga who leads Papua New Guinea Ministries, a network of 25 non-GCI churches located in a rugged and remote part of PNG’s Central Highlands. Pastor Mumuga has been using our Discipleship Course in training pastors and other congregational leaders in his network. He had visited one of our Australian congregations, was very impressed, and met with me to discuss how his network might develop a closer working relationship with us.


A group of GCI members from Fiji, the United States, Australia and New Zealand  met in September for the Coral Coast Festival in Fiji. Isei and Va Colati, who pastor the local GCI church served as hosts. This annual festival is the only time Fijian members are able to get together. Special activities included some wonderful theme evenings – first dinner then a few items of entertainment – all themed to one of the countries represented (America, India, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands). An outstanding aspect of the festival was the music – both the congregational singing and special music presentations which included solo, group and choir songs along with dramatic and traditional dancing. Dennis Richards, a GCI pastor in New Zealand, served as guest speaker.

New Zealand and Sri Lanka

Back in March, Christchurch, New Zealand was devastated by a second major earthquake in six months. Members of GCI’s congregation there were directly affected, suffering loss and breakage of household goods. Two members have been unable to continue living in their homes. Nevertheless, in a living example of John 17:35, our members in Christchurch sent financial aid to those suffering from earthquakes in India and Nepal, and flooding in Pakistan!  Also thanks to the generosity of our members in New Zealand, our booklet, The God Revealed in Jesus Christ is now available to people in Sri Lanka in the Tamil language. This complements our Sinhala edition, which was published last year. This is the first booklet we have ever published in Tamil and with the previously published Discipleship Course in both languages, adds to our growing inventory of biblical educational material in the two primary languages of Sri Lanka.

Odyssey In Christ Retreat

From October 27-30, 17 people gathered for the first Odyssey in Christ spiritual formation retreat at the Pine Lake Retreat Center in Groveland, FL. After many years of personal experience, study and research in the area of spiritual formation retreats, GCI district pastor Larry Hinkle designed a retreat to help pastors and ministry leaders experience spiritual refreshment and ministry empowerment.

Retreat participants
Carmen Fleming presenting

Larry, along with Charles and Carmen Fleming, led the retreat, presenting spiritual formation exercises that helped participants listen and respond to God’s direction in their lives. Dr. Ross Jutsum served as music director; and Beotis Williams, Kitty Hildreth and Harriet Robinson assisted as “retreat angels.”

When asked why they attended, participants noted a desire for a special encounter with the Lord, to experience personal spiritual growth and to have a closer walk with God. All agreed that the retreat provided far more than they were expecting. Several expressed interest in participating again.

Charles Fleming, GCI’s Missions director for the Caribbean, submitted the following evaluation:

The retreat offers hands-on experience in some of the spiritual formation exercises that have been a vital part of the Christian experience over the centuries. Larry has done a remarkable job in researching those practices and contextualizing them to our GCI culture, as we seek to participate more fully in the life of the Triune God. Some of the theologians Larry consulted have expressed great appreciation for his work. For example, Baxter Kruger mentioned that the Holy Spirit’s fingerprints are all over it. The program is explicitly Trinitarian and promotes a life rhythm of rest and work that should stand our pastors in good stead. There is something for the new intern, for the veteran who might be struggling with burnout, for the pastor seeking a new vision for his congregation, for the church planter preparing his team for the challenges ahead, and for the pastor and his team whose church is moving more deeply into mission and outreach. I pray that Larry’s dream of not only offering a weekend experience, but also mentoring dozens of pastors to become spiritual directors will become a reality. My imagination is fired by the thought of what kind of life and mission that would  flourish if this kind of intensive formational experience could be offered to our membership as well.

Planning is underway for future Odyssey in Christ retreats in various parts of the United States. Participants who are GCI pastors in the U.S. earn four continuing education units in GCI’s Pastoral Continuing Education Program. To learn more about the retreat, visit OdysseyinChrist.com.

Death of Anne-Marie Kennedy

We are saddened to learn of the death of Anne-Marie Kennedy. She died on November 7 from abdominal cancer. Her daughter informed us that she was with her family until the very end in the house that she loved.

John and Anne-Marie Kennedy

Anne-Marie was married to GCI pastor John Kennedy who died several years ago after a very long battle with cancer of his own. John and Anne-Marie graduated from Ambassador College then served in the ministry of WCG/GCI for many years in California, Maine and New Hampshire.

Cards and letters of condolence may be sent to their son Paul and their daughter Lia at these addresses:

Paul Kennedy
8 Middle Jam Rd
Gorham, Me 04038
Lia Kent
12 B Park St
Dover, NH 03820

Colyer tapes posted

Video and audio recordings of lectures from theologian, Dr. Elmer Colyer on “Participatory, Trinitarian Christian Faith” are now posted on the GCI website at http://www.gci.org/pastoral/colyerconf2011. These lectures were delivered at the 2011 GCI Canadian National Conference in Ottawa.