Bogotá conferences

This article compiles reports from GCI mission developer Rod Matthews and others who participated in two GCI conferences held recently in Bogotá, Colombia.

History was made recently as, for the first time, congregational leaders and members from GCI churches throughout Central and South America gathered for the Latin American Conference in Bogotá, Colombia. In their honor, GCI Mission Developers (MDs) from around the world together with other GCI denominational leaders joined the conference prior to holding the annual Mission Developers Conference. According to MD Rod Matthews, “The two conferences reflected GCI’s unique world-girdling fellowship with its connectedness despite diverse cultures and languages.”

Joseph Tkach with others at the Latin American Conference
GCI President Joseph Tkach with congregational leaders

Latin American Conference

The tone of this conference was expressed well in its title, A Celebration of God’s Grace. It was marked by a spirit of joy among participants—many meeting for the first time. Though some participants did not speak Spanish, the beaming smiles, hugs and animated gestures powerfully conveyed what could not be expressed in words.

Hector Barrero

The conference was hosted by the Bogotá church, including its Pastor Hector Barrero (who also is an MD) and his wife Paulina. Assisting was the Barranquilla church, including its Pastor Sonia Orozco and her husband Luis.

Conference presentations were made by GCI President Joseph Tkach and his wife, Tammy; Superintendent of U.S. Ministers, Greg Williams; Grace Communion Seminary President, Gary Deddo; U.S. Church Administration and Development Assistant Director Charles Albrecht; U.S. Church Multiplications Ministries Coordinator, Heber Ticas; and GCI Board Member, Wendy Moore. Leaders of GCI churches in Colombia, Argentina, Honduras, Peru, El Salvador and Chile gave updates on how Christ is involving their churches in his ministry. MDs James Henderson (UK), Eugene Guzon (Philippines) and Kalengule Kaoma (Africa) shared their experiences, adding to a sense of closeness as a truly international denomination.

Conference group
Latin American Conference participants
Left: Celebrating God’s Grace; right: Greg Williams speaks while Felix Gaetan (Orlando church elder) translates

Worship danceMembers of the Barranquilla church led worship, and offered a beautiful sketch illustrating the Colombian culture through dancing and singing. Hector Barrero commented: “We worshiped together with the verve and expression for which our Latin brethren are renowned.” Joseph Tkach noted, “The worship was simply fabulous—the joy we experienced transcended any differences in language and culture.” The conference ended with a particularly emotional communion service led by Caribbean MD, Charles Fleming and his wife Carmen.

Mission Developers Conference

This annual conference of GCI’s MDs together with other denominational leaders followed the Latin American Conference and focused on pastoral development and education, including evaluating how GCI can better serve the needs of its ministers given their geographic, cultural and language diversity, along with a disparity of access to electronic communication. The MDs gave updates about their families to strengthen the bonds forged through many years of shared service. The group also discussed mission coordination and financing challenges, ordination management in remote areas, and other topics of shared concern.

Mission Developers and other denominational leaders meet
MD meeting
MDs Eugene Guzon (Philippines) and Gary Moore (Canada)
Kalengule Kaoma (MD from Africa) and his wife Nasama receive watches in recognition of 25 years of ministry within GCI.
MD Kalengule Kaoma (Africa) and his wife Nsama receive from Joseph Tkach watches recognizing 25 years of employed ministry

Following the MD Conference, the MDs and others (most of whom were in Colombia for the first time) enjoyed a day-long trip to Mount Monserrat with its historic church and magnificent views of the city (see below), and the underground salt cathedral of Zipaquira where vast caverns of a former salt mine have been turned into an inspiring and unique memorial to the life of Christ.

Bogotá viewed from Mount Monserrat

4 thoughts on “Bogotá conferences”

  1. We truly are one great family. May we continue to cherish our diversity in union with the Triune God who created us so.

  2. As an addendum to the report above, here is a note from Gary Moore, GCI-Canada director, who reflects on his participation in the Bogotá conferences:

    My wife Wendy and I just returned from the Bogotá conferences. We were greatly impressed by the love and vitality of the local congregation in Bogotá. They have two Sunday morning services. The worship was energetic and meaningful, and the fellowship (despite the obvious language barrier) was warm and friendly. Alvaro Palacio (pastor of our church in east Toronto) was sent down by his congregation to serve the vital role of translator, and did a great job. It was a pleasure meeting his sister who was in attendance at this inspiring event.

    The Mission Developers confernce that followed was profitable as well as being an occasion of warm fellowship. This year there was a special focus on determining how the denomination might provide for the training of new pastors, as well as the continued learning and growth of our existing pastors. As you no doubt are aware, the church does have an online accredited seminary (Grace Communion Seminary) for more advanced studies, as well as ACCM (Ambassador College of Christian Ministry), which is run out of GCI Australia and provides practical online classes to those who may not have a university or college education. We also discussed whether another level of pastoral education-training might be offered, that would not have degree requirements, but would be focused on practical instruction on how to handle weddings, funerals, counselling sessions, sermon preparation etc.

    The leadership of GCI has a strong desire to provide the support our current and future pastors need to fulfill their calling to serve the people of God in our care.

    We also discussed funding of our various mission projects, and other topics relevant to our ministry around the world.

  3. It is exciting to read about the conferences in Bogota. My wife and I wish we could have been there to join you all. Our thoughts, prayers and love are with you. The international scope and diversity of our fellowship is such a precious treasure!

    Every blessing,
    Santiago and Elke

  4. We were blessed by God to have you all here in our city, it sure is hard to wait to embrace all in heaven! Millions of us singing Alleluia to our Precious Lord and Dad, there won’t be more worries, no more pain, no more fear, everything will be happiness to be there all of us with God for ever! Meanwhile… there is still a lot to be done…so, BACK TO WORK! and remember, let’s KEEP THE GOOD SPIRIT AND A HUGE SMILE OF LOVE.

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