GCI Update

Readiness

Greg and Susan Williams

What does it mean for a believer to be alert and prepared in anticipation of the second coming of Jesus? That question could get all kinds of different answers from many people, but what does scripture tell us?

The book of Revelation represents God’s people as the “bride” to be joined to Christ, the “bridegroom.” The apostle John wrote, “his bride has made herself ready” with “fine linen, bright and clean,” which is “the righteous acts of God’s holy people” (Rev. 19:7–8). So, we see that the bride—the church—continues to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus until his appearing. The bride is in a state of readiness.

In 1 John we see a further connection between eschatological hope and ongoing spiritual purification: “But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:2–3). Peter also wrote about this in light of the world’s coming dissolution. He says, “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Peter 3:11–12). And Paul’s letter to Titus connects our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) with a summons “to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12). The New Testament paints a progressive picture of believers actively participating in the Spirit’s transforming work and growing up into the stature and fullness of Jesus. In other words, it shows believers being in a state of readiness.

From a pastoral standpoint, these passages suggest we evaluate eschatological teachings in terms of their practical effects. Do our lives reflect a state of readiness in our anticipation of Jesus’ return? I’d suggest it is exceedingly difficult to see how the biblical call to self-denial and godly living—being in a state of readiness—can flourish in the realm of universalist theology. Who would need to focus on cooperating with the Spirit’s work in their personal life, or be watchful and alert to the Lord’s second coming if a universalist outcome were already known in advance? Some Christian universalists, including Origen, acknowledged this problem and suggested that universalism should be kept secret from the masses and disseminated among only a select few. A novel approach, and I would add that the scripture clearly acknowledges that Jesus knows who belongs to him and none will be snatched from his sure hands (John 10:27-29). Thankfully, we don’t have to bridge the problem stated by Origen. We don’t judge the readiness of others; we point them to Jesus. We can let Jesus be the final judge of humanity and rest assured that he will sort it out perfectly.

In Matthew 24, Jesus answers the disciple’s questions about end-time events and what to expect in their future. While Jesus primarily responded to the pending destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., he also shared certain principles that apply to his followers throughout the ages. We are to watch and continue as faithful servants – in essence, to continue Living and Sharing the Gospel (GCI’s mission statement). “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing” (Matthew 24:46).

Readiness is not being hunkered down in a Y2K fashion. We aren’t in the drama “The Walking Dead” fighting for survival. We are in a state of readiness—continually fulfilling our God-given mission of Living and Sharing the Gospel; as we live peaceable lives, caring for our families, active in the ministry of our church, and sharing the love of Christ where and when we can. Always praying come, Lord Jesus, come.

In readiness for his return,
Greg Williams

God’s Provision in Grace Communion Kenockee

The following article was written by GC Kenockee Pastor, Grant Forsyth, upon the commissioning and celebration of their new church facility.

Commissioning prayer including: Tom & Brenda Seppo (from the local ministerial assoc.), Kathy & Grant Forsyth, Rick Shallenberger, Kim & Jim Meade

“Where in the world is Kenockee?”

So many times I have been asked this question; so many times I’ve used my “Michigan hand” to answer.

GC Kenockee Building Before and After Photos
A “before” photo of the cabinet shop room.

God is truly at work in the most amazing places! Kenockee is a small rural locale surrounded by farmers’ fields and highways that lead to other destinations. On one of these busy highways is a small block building that is home to our GCI congregation—In His Grace Community Church. On the outside, it is a building that is all too familiar to locals. Over the years it has served as as a carpenter’s shop, a convenience store, a fiberglass factory, sat empty for years, and finally, a church.

The sanctuary before renovations.

When Pastor Jim & Kim Meade purchased the building and acreage in 2007, another carpenter asked to set up shop in the rear half of the building while the church was being set up in the front half for our GCI congregation. The carpenter’s signs for his cabinet shop out front became familiar to the neighbors and his business began to thrive. The church signage was clear, but everyone seemed to know where the cabinet shop was!

God, however, was moving in this community. Through a series of many outreach activities in the neighborhood, the church began to grow each year from a dozen people to 20, 30, 40 and more—all from the community and/or people’s relationships. There are only 5 long-time church members.

Partway through this adventure, Pastor Jim passed the baton to me (Grant) as the new pastor in 2012, with Jim serving as Assistant Pastor. As the church grew in numbers, it became apparent that we as a church needed to purchase the building and property of 6 acres from Jim and Kim. Our small sanctuary was feeling smaller and the children’s program was in dire need of more space. In 2016 we began this process, wondering how God would bring it together. All we knew is that we alone were incapable, underfunded and unprepared. If this was going to happen, then it had to be by God’s hand!

The sanctuary after renovations.

Well, God began to blaze the trail. We started by working with the GCI home office in all the legalities, pastor coaching by Sam Butler, fundraising, and a lot of prayers! It was hard for us to visualize how this whole thing was going to come together. The most worrisome part was when we realized that the carpenter, running his business out of the back of the building, had to leave. We needed the space, but God knew this already. In fact, God had blessed his business to the point that after ten years of renting the space, he came to us to tell us that he had to leave! He had built his own facility on his own property and was moving out—just in time. No other business in this building thrived in the past, only his—and only while there was a church on the property.

The new sanctuary.

During the two years of fundraising, many miraculous things happened. We are not a wealthy congregation, and yet, as we held fundraising events, which pulled in a hundred dollars or so, God was moving in other ways. As we were faithful in providing the fish and loaves, God was faithful in the rest. Other GCI congregations heard of our need and provided funding, of which we are so grateful. We needed enough money to purchase the building and property as well as renovate the old carpenter’s shop into our new sanctuary. The previous sanctuary would serve as a larger space for children’s church as well as the fellowship hall for mealtime.

The “How” and the “Why” verse banners.

Early on we adopted two Bible verses that captured “How” this would be accomplished and “Why” we are doing this. The “How” comes from Zechariah 4:6“…by my Spirit says the Lord Almighty” and the “Why” is about the harvest from John 15:5 “… you will bear much fruit, without me you can do nothing”. These two verses were printed on banners and displayed in the old cabinet shop overhead so that as renovation work progressed in that space, there would be a continual reminder of the “How” and the “Why”. By the Grace of God, we purchased the building in October 2017 and completed the renovations in March 2019.

The Commissioning Coin.

To celebrate what God has done, a commissioning service was held on March 31st and led by Rick Shallenberger our Regional Director with 65 in attendance. A special coin was minted for the occasion that featured the two bible verses mentioned above in honoring God and his provision and grace. The commissioning theme was “The Great Invitation” (also known as the Great Commission) and the building was dedicated to the glory of God and His harvest! Pastor Rick commissioned the congregation and the leadership with the Great Invitation by Jesus into the harvest field!

Our next adventure? Healthy Church! We have much to be thankful for and much to grow into. Our prayer is that God continues to blaze the trail as we follow into becoming a more healthy church – Praise God!

“Where in the world is Kenockee”? If God knows where we are, then He certainly knows where you are too!

 

 

A Praise Report for Traci (Johnston) Calvert

Traci (Johnston) Calvert
Traci (Johnston) Calvert

Thanks for your prayers for Ted and Donna Johnston’s daughter Traci (Johnston) Calvert. She was diagnosed several months ago with a very aggressive uterine cancer. She had surgery followed by six rounds of chemotherapy. It was a tough several months and she is just now regaining her strength. On July 7, she was given various scans and blood tests, looking for any residual cancer and the doctors report that there are no signs of any cancer in her body! For that we praise God, and we thank all of you for your prayers and other expressions of concern.

Alabama Women’s Retreat

Hello Girlfriends!

I would like to invite all of you to attend our 2019 fall retreat at the St. Bernard Abbey Retreat and Conference Center in Cullman, Alabama. This retreat center is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy some time as “Girlfriends!” There is a beautiful conference room where we have our general sessions, and the bedrooms are adjacent to the meeting area. Each bedroom accommodates two people (twin beds) and each has a private bathroom. The dining area is a short walk across the campus, and anyone needing to drive over can do so.

The dates are September 20-22, 2019. Registration begins Friday afternoon at 3 p.m.  Snacks will be available, but you will be on your own for dinner that evening. A Cracker Barrel and other restaurants are nearby. This evening is free for getting checked in and relaxing. If you will be arriving after 10 p.m., please let us know ahead of time if possible.

Our theme for the weekend will be Our Journey with Jesus. Each of us is on a spiritual journey, growing in the grace and knowledge of God (2 Peter 3:18).  One of the greatest gifts God has given us is the privilege of having “faith friends” to share the journey!

Speakers this year include Tammy Tkach, Ginny Rice, Ruth Miller, Pat Halford, Barbara Dahlgren, Becki Brown, and Gerrie Bayley. Ann Hartmann will be our guest singer again this year! You can go to Ann’s website (annhartmann.com) to learn more about Ann’s music and ministry. We also look forward to more of the inspiring and energetic sign language when Mary Jo Leaver shares her “Music to the Eyes.”

Dress is casual for the entire weekend. Bring comfy shoes, as you might enjoy a bit of walking. We now have a tradition of great fun playing games on Friday and Saturday evenings, so bring your “play clothes” or pajamas for this!  Bring your favorite board games, and label them, please!

The retreat center supplies our bed linens, towels, and washcloths. You might want to bring your own water bottles, if you enjoy having bottled water.  We have access to a kitchen and a refrigerator, so we are able to enjoy snacks throughout the weekend. The meals that will be provided are Saturday breakfast, lunch and dinner and Sunday breakfast (total of four meals). This year we are planning to have all our meals at the retreat center, as we did last year.

We plan to conclude the retreat by noon on Sunday so that those who need to get on the road will have the full afternoon for travel. For those who want to stick around and visit a bit, we can have prolonged “goodbyes” in the retreat center.

We hope you will help spread the word to others who might enjoy the weekend. If you have questions, need more information, or would like a registration form, please contact me at  ruth.miller@gci.org.

Registration and payment are due by July 30. This is important, because the retreat center is a popular place and stays heavily booked. They need us to secure the number of rooms we’ll need ASAP! Late registrations will be accepted if space is available for any who cannot register in advance.

I’m looking forward to sharing this weekend with you in September!

With love,
Ruth Miller      

ACCM Christian Leadership Intensive

Would you like to take a step toward becoming a healthier leader in Grace Communion International?

Consider attending the ACCM Christian Leadership Intensive in Hickory, North Carolina, on August 30-31. This two-day intensive has been carefully crafted for ministry leaders, pastors or any GCI member who desires to take a deeper dive in leadership from a Christian point of view.  Grace Communion Hickory will be the host church for this training event.

GCI President Greg Williams, wrote about ACCM, “I have used and taught the ACCM material and in my opinion they are outstanding. These classes help fulfill the ongoing educational pathway for our bi-vocational pastors, so please take advantage of this opportunity.”

If you have any questions, contact Anthony Mullins at anthony.mullins@gci.org

Coach Clinic Registration

GCI Coach Clinic

For any ministry leader from a GCI church desiring to grow in areas of leadership, discipling others and building a healthy team through a dynamic relating style known as coaching.

YOU'RE INVITED EVENT: GCI Coach Clinic DATE: Saturday, August 24, 2019 TIME: 9:00 am EST to 4:00 pm EST LOCATION: Holiday Inn in Randolph, Massachusetts COST: $20 registration fee. Collected on site. Participants will be responsible for their own travel and lodging (your local church may be willing to reimburse). A bank of rooms at the brand-new Holiday Inn Randolph have been reserved for the Coach Clinic at a discounted rate of $139 plus tax. Lunch during the clinic will be provided by GCI. INSTRUCTOR: Anthony Mullins, National Coordinator of the GCI Coaching Program CONTACT: Anthony Mullins – anthony.mullins@gci.org or Dishon Mills – dishon.mills@gci.org REQUIRED PRE-WORK: Read The COACH Model from Keith E. Webb *Seating is limited. First-come, first-serve. *Registration closes Friday, July 19th.

Regional Celebration Registration

Harvest Your Blessings! Don’t miss out on registration for the North Central or East Celebration.

In 2019, GCI will host Regional Celebrations in the USA:

  • September 27 – 29: North Central – Noblesville, IN
  • October 25 – 27:  East – Ocean City, MD

Click the image below to for more information and registration options.
Regional Celebrations 2019 Banner

 

Come & Drink Crusade – Nassau, Bahamas

Register Now!

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.”

You are invited to join us for four days of celebration, fellowship and Christian outreach at our 12th annual Come & Drink Crusade.
It takes place at Courtyard by Marriott, Junkanoo Beach, downtown Nassau, Bahamas, October 11-14, 2019. This hotel is the ideal site for a fall get-together for the entire family. Rooms rates are $160.00 per night double occupancy, all taxes included. Space is limited, so register today.
For more information, email Robert.Mckinney@gci.org  or call (242) 424-4062.

Devotional – Abide in Me

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).

As ideal as it may seem to live near a good winery, imagine nesting yourself right in the middle of a vineyard. Attaching yourself to the vine, living among the branches and watching the fruit grow. It’s a dream come true for those of us who love wine.

This is also the definition of a healthy Christian life. The first and most important thing is to make sure you are firmly attached to the vine—and make sure that vine is Jesus and not a man or a group. Second, live among the branches—spend time with others who are also firmly attached to the vine. Third, watch the fruit grow—in you and in others. Finally, leave the comfort of the nest to reach out to others—sharing the love and life of Jesus with others—knowing your home is always attached to the vine.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me always see you as the true vine. Help me desire to stay attached to you at all times. And when my desire wanes, help me desire to desire. Thank you for being the vine that gives life; thank you for abiding in me. Lord, as you grow in me, help me share your love and life with others. In your name, Amen.

 

By Rick Shallenberger
Regional Director, USA North Central

Meet Carrie Osborne

Watch video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvhgVoxtCeQ

Click on the image below to learn about Carrie Osborne, Pastor of Grace Communion Chillicothe, Ohio.