GCI Update

Tragic Mass Shootings and the Hope of Jesus

a candlelight vigil ceremony

Grace Communion International is one of 40 members of the National Association of Evangelicals. Recently the NAE released this motion.

At a time when terror and violence are wreaking havoc in so many parts of our world, we remember that Jesus also endured persecution and violence on our behalf. Through his suffering, death and resurrection he opened the way to life for all humankind. May the faithful witness of the martyrs “of whom the world is not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38) draw many to put their faith in Christ, our only hope.

I don’t know how you may respond when you hear the back-to-back news of the shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH. Shock and outrage are common as the news streams across television stations and the internet. And then social media overwhelms us with a wide range of views on what immediate actions are needed (most responses are not helpful).

As Christians we are reminded of how broken this world is, and with the escalation of such stories, it’s easy to become desensitized. As Christians we should mourn and grieve for the senseless loss of lives, while we pray for peace and hope for the families and friends of the victims. And we must not forget to pray for the families of the shooters as well.

As the NAE motion states, “May the faithful witness of the martyrs ‘of whom the world is not worthy’ draw many to put their faith in Christ, our only hope.” The only hope to resolve the broken, violent attribute of humanity is for people to become new creatures in Christ. I pray that the Christian communities in El Paso and Dayton will rise up as genuine representatives of Jesus and be loving peacemakers who can point their neighbors to the only real hope, Jesus. May the church be the church to their communities in crisis.

As we pray for the hurting people of El Paso and Dayton, and the churches that serve them, let’s remember that we are beseeching a living God who is not absent or aloof in these tragedies, but is present in the person of Jesus Christ. We lament for the families whose lives have been forever altered, we lament for the police and medical workers who will be impacted by the memories of these horrific episodes, and most of all we lament the hate that fueled this violence. In our reflection and lamentation let’s be reminded of how much our world still needs to hear about the redeeming work of Jesus, and to be changed from people of anger, hate and violence, to people of love, joy and peace. Let’s be those messengers who tell others about the life-changing Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man.

The news of these tragedies is not as surprising as it once may have been, and unfortunately, we will hear more such reports as time goes by, so how will we respond? The sense of deep pain and loss is natural; the wrongness and the senselessness are also natural, but for those who trust in Jesus, despair is not an option. Despair leads to hopelessness and demise. In tragedies like our country experienced over the first weekend of August, it drives believers to their knees before the throne of heaven, and to come away knowing that as strong and penetrating as our laments may be, they are framed in the hope and promises of a sovereign God who will make all things new in his time. Events that may shake our faith are surprisingly events that build our faith.

Praying for the peace of the world.

Greg Williams

Be Still

a man sits on the edge of a path surrounded by traffic and busy city streets

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still. Amidst the hurry, flurry and worry of modern life – be still.

But we are always on the go – productivity rules, the demands never cease. You know how the conversation goes: “How are you doing?”. “Oh, I’m extremely busy.” This is the cultural expectation. Pretty soon life revolves around what we are doing and have yet to do. Our pressures, stresses, and urgent demands. Oh yes, we may talk to God once in a while – especially to ask him for help, his blessings, success, and the like. But “be still”? Maybe next week, next year.

It can be challenging to get off the treadmill and find a still point. Guilt, fear and anxiety break in. What we “should” be doing. And there’s usually a cacophony of noise, distractions, and interruptions.

That’s why learning to be still is a spiritual discipline. It takes intentional focus, choice and time. It means making room for devotional times. Just us and God. Not to withdraw completely from the world, but to better enable us to reengage in the world and contribute to community. It takes devotion to pay attention to the things that really matter – to contemplate the marvel, majesty, glory and love of God. What could be more wonderful to contemplate than who God is, revealed to us in Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, help us find our rest in you. Help us escape the tyranny of hurry, flurry and worry, and in the midst of life, help us find time and space to contemplate you. May we be still, and see you for who you really are.

John McLean Portrait


By John McLean
Brisbane, Australia


A Follow up to Readiness

In our last issue, we published an article from GCI President Dr. Greg Williams entitled Readiness. We received quite a bit of feedback including the question below. GCS President Dr. Gary Deddo graciously wrote the following response and agreed to publish it for the clarity of our readership.

I just read the article “Readiness” in the GCI Update and that brought up a question in my mind. I was told that a person can repent AFTER death and receive salvation. I do not understand that in what I read in the Bible. Is that a belief of GCI? If so, how does that differ from universalism?

Gary’s response:
Thank you for your query. No, GCI does not teach that persons will necessarily be given a chance to repent after death. Nor do we teach that all persons will necessarily receive their salvation, that is, universalism. We do not find any biblical teaching that affirms such an idea. Rather, much biblical teaching assumes (entails) that God’s grace will be sufficient in any person’s lifetime, mainly through the faithful working of the Spirit and by the Word of God.

There are several forms of universalism. One form is that all will be saved whether or not anyone repents, turns to Christ for forgiveness on the basis of his atoning work of the cross. Another form is that everyone sooner or later, in this life or the next, will repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness on the basis of his atoning work of the cross and so in that way all will be saved or receive their salvation. There is a difference in these universalisms. But GCI teaches neither.

Those who pursue such universalisms do so, it would seem, on the basis of logical inferences (which are never logically or theologically necessarily true) which they believe follow from the biblical truth that Christ died for all and that God is merciful, both of which GCI does teach, along with much of the Christian church. They cannot see how God could be merciful if persons were not given other “chances” on the other side of death. So, they make the unwarranted logical inference that God necessarily must do so.

However, such a false logic overlooks the fact that God, being the merciful Lord at work by his Spirit on the basis of Christ’s completed earthly work, could give all the “chances” (opportunities) needed in this life to every person. There is no need to speculate about second “chances” after death. In the merciful providence of God, death is never an arbitrary limit, an unanticipated accident from God’s vantage point.

All that needed to be done and could be done can be accomplished by God and through the Holy Spirit in a person’s earthly life, even if in the last nanoseconds of a person’s life while they are unconscious.

There is no reason to believe otherwise and biblical reasons to believe so. We cannot limit God’s faithfulness to the pragmatics of ours, which is indeed limited by all kinds of circumstances such as mental illness, accident, geographical/cultural distance, and death. So, if death is not an arbitrary limit to God and his grace, no speculation as to second chances after death is needed in order to uphold God’s mercy and grace and the biblical fact that God sent Jesus Christ out of love for the world and that he gave his life to “take away the sins of the cosmos.”

But given this, while we might hope that all will receive their salvation, there is no biblical guarantee that all will necessarily receive this freely given gift of God, and there are many warnings that it is somehow possible that some might reach a place of no turning back and never enter the kingdom of God, receive their Savior and Lord and his salvation. While there are very strong warnings of this sort, GCI does not follow another false logical inference that some people necessarily must be eternally separated from the immediate presence and complete blessings of God. The warnings indicate a true even if unwanted possibility, but not a necessity. Warnings are given not to indicate a desire for the warned-against outcome, but to contribute to its prevention. God warns because he loves us and had provided everything for us in Christ and by the Spirit so that we have no excuse for repudiating his grace. If there are those who manage to do so, it will not be due to a limit to God’s grace.

I hope this is helpful to you,

Dr. Gary Deddo
President, Grace Communion Seminary

We Are GCI Series | Danny England

We Are GCI Series is a collection of videos where various GCI leaders and members are highlighted.
In this episode, GCI Pastor, Danny England, shares a little about himself and who introduced him to GCI and in what ways he connects the most with God.

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


GCI Ignite Latin America

gc ignite latin america group

On June 28–30, twenty-seven emerging leaders came together for GCI Ignite Latin America. The event was celebrated just outside Bogota, Colombia. This was the first time Latin America has had an event of this nature. Young leaders from Mexico, Honduras, Peru, and Colombia were present. The event was coordinated by Andres Felipe Barrero (associate pastor in Bogota), and the workshops were presented by Heber Ticas (superintendent of Latin America), Natanael Cruz (Pastor in Mexico City), and Alejandro and Lilliana Acevedo (youth leaders in Bogota)

The presentations revolved around the theme “Responding to God’s Calling.” The idea was to invite young presenters who were already in pastoral ministry, so they could guide their peers. Attendees were young leaders, already involved in ministry within their local congregations, all between the ages 18 and 32.

The themes discussed throughout the weekend were designed to have a flow and progression. Topics included:

  • Our identity in Christ
  • Emotional healing and Christlikeness
  • The life of Christ (service)
  • Identifying our calling
  • The joy in our calling
  • A sent people
  • Christian leadership (fan the flame)

The purpose of the weekend was to create a space where these young leaders could come together for shared learning, intentional development, and an opportunity to be invited to greater participation in Jesus’ ministry through GCI. Memorable highlights of the event included the pastoral interviews that were held. Andres Felipe served as moderator and the young leaders had an opportunity to ask Pastors Heber Ticas, Natanael Cruz and Hector and Paulina Barrero about the ups and downs of pastoral ministry. The thorough and provoking questions allowed for a time of reflection and growth. Another notable moment was the closing workshop when the participants were invited to commit to fanning the flame of their calling and to seek the Spirit for guidance. It was a joyous moment to see young men and women commit to a journey of Christian leadership. The pastors who were present prayed over and anointed them.

The move of the Spirit was evident, and the participants departed with a sense of calling and a renewed spirit to continue the journey of growth in Christian leadership. The challenge now is to provide ongoing developmental support for those who wish to continue with the joyful adventure of Christian ministry. We pray that the Lord will bring clarity, discernment, and resources to develop the new generation of pastors and leaders in Latin America.

Heber Ticas

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.

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.

SEP Florida Young Adults Track

This year at SEP Florida we created a Young Adults Track for people ages 18-30. Most of our participants were also staff or campers, but we did have two others come just for the young adult events. We have several campers who have become or are about to become too old for camper-status and are not yet ready to serve as counselors. This track gave us an opportunity to discuss where we are, where we want to go, and to bond together.

We shared testimonies of what we’ve gone through and lessons we’ve learned. We took a cycling adventure on beautiful Jekyll Island that focused on African American history. For our first time trying something new, it was a great success and we loved our time together. It was a nice opportunity to pour into each other and get even more spiritually nourished.

Michelle Thomas, SEP FL Assistant Camp Director

Grace Communion Ladson Women’s Conference

Grace Communion Ladson celebrated their 4th Annual Women’s Conference on April 26-28, 2019. Our theme was “An Intimate Relationship with Christ.”

It was three Spirit-filled days of building a more intimate relationship with Christ and bonding with our sisters. The speakers were amazing, the music was awe-inspiring and the fellowship was incredible. We had ladies travel from NC, SC, GA and FL.  Approximately 40 women attended over the course of the conference.

Friday evening began with a reception followed by praise and worship. Saturday followed with praise and worship, inspiring speakers, worship stations, prayer and ending the day with communion. The ladies were then able to visit nearby Historic Charleston, SC in the afternoon. The conference ended on Sunday with the women leading the Grace Communion Ladson worship service.

The Holy Spirit was leading this event in every aspect. He set the hearts of the attendees on fire.  Everyone left blessed and looking forward to the next conference to take place April 24-26, 2020.

Rose Hamrick, Grace Communion Ladson