Dear GCI Friends and Family,
During the last week of April, Susan and I had the pleasure of meeting several GCI leaders and spouses in Paris. We met with European Superintendent James Henderson (Shirley), National Ministry Leader of The Netherlands Frans Danenberg (Lamberta), National Ministry Team Leader of UK and Ireland Gavin Henderson (Sinead), and National Ministry Leader of France Marie-Angelique Alcindor Picard (Jean-Philippe). Husband and wife team, GCI Treasurer Mat Morgan and GCI Operations Coordinator Pam Morgan also participated in the meetings.
This was our first European Community of Practice meeting. A “Community of Practice” is a group of like-minded leaders who are working together to fulfill a shared vision, support one another, and share resources. These important gatherings are used to share news about our current status (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats); to share lessons we have learned, innovative ideas that may be of value to the group, and to consider ways we can bolster the ministry efforts across the region. We have six such groups in GCI.
This meeting took place in the Picards’ home, where we were given a taste of French life with many delightful foods in the comfortable environment of a private home. James started our time together with communion—always a good and appropriate way to acknowledge the presence of Jesus in our lives and ensuing discussions as we seek to follow him in caring for our churches.
Many gave reports about the status of our churches inclusive of challenges and opportunities. I dubbed 2019 my “Year of Discovery,” and during these meetings, I learned much about our churches spread across the European region (with more yet to learn). As much as growing in understanding of the state of our churches is part of my job, building relationships with the leaders is of equal importance.
Establishing relational chemistry is vital in establishing trust, and it takes trust to form meaningful working relationships that help us to collaborate and experience the synergistic energy of the team. Permit me to share a story that better describes relational chemistry (with permission from Marie-Angelique).
Shortly after James shared communion, the meeting moved to open discussion. Marie-Angelique, who is known for her honesty as much as for her gracious hospitality, openly stated, “We know Joseph Tkach, but you, we don’t know you.” I thought that was fair, and I decided to put my PowerPoint presentation aside. We spent time getting to know each other and I allowed the meeting to follow the course of topics most concerning to the group.
The day after our meetings, we attended the Paris church and celebrated with them in the new hall they were able to purchase. The hall is still being modified into a functioning church facility, but we are excited because it is in a wonderful part of the city. During the service, the members were provided headsets so the French-speakers would be able to hear an interpreter for my sermon message. However, the headsets were not working properly, and prior to my message, Marie-Angelique told me, “We will have to do this sequentially.” This meant I would speak a sentence or two in English and she would then translate in French. Though it seems awkward, the comments from many in attendance were overwhelmingly positive. It appeared to them that Marie-Angelique and I were giving the sermon as one voice and our rapport with one another was apparent. Chemistry and trust were being built.
I spent the final day with James recapping what we had heard and establishing provisional plans for work that he will attend to – though good, a supervisor’s work has no end. My work with our European brothers and sisters will continue as I plan to visit the UK in November. I will sit in as a guest at their Board meeting, and spend time with Gavin in their Home Office. I am also looking to returning to France in 2020 and spending more time in relationship building at their annual celebration in Evian.
I am discovering how wonderful our GCI leaders are, and I continually thank God that he has raised up such faithful men and women for such a time as this.
Praising God for faithful leaders,