GCI Update

High Support, High Challenge – Grace Always!

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

The phrase “High Support, High Challenge – Grace Always” is the ministry philosophy of Grace Communion International. We have a sign in the presidential suite to remind us of this every day.

An artistic depiction of the GCI ministry philosophy, created by Pastor Bill Winn. Located in the presidential suite at GCI Home Office.

I would like to unpack this philosophy to help you better understand the depth of its meaning. Let’s begin with the inspiring words that the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus. His letter begins by focusing on the God revealed in Jesus and who we are as adopted sons and daughters. Then he continues with the theme of how we come alive in Christ and what the community of the church will look like. He says in chapter 4:15, “Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

It is Christ in us that forms the maturity and provides the ability to speak the truth in love. I think we all know that truth often brings challenge, and if the truth is given out of frustration or anger, it tends to engender frustration and anger in the person being challenged. Christ’s love in us gives us the ability to whole-heartedly love God and our neighbor. Love for our neighbor is having his or her good in mind. Therefore, we bring challenge to our neighbor with their good in mind, and ultimately any challenge we raise is seasoned with grace and humility. This most often means it is done privately, with sensitivity and respect.

The interaction of Jesus with Simon Peter over the span of less than a week is the apex of High Support, High Challenge – Grace Always. You will recall that Peter was the one disciple who identified Jesus as the true Messiah, the Son of the living God, and Jesus told him that his Father in heaven had revealed that truth to him (Matthew 16:13-17). Moving forward in the story you will recall on the evening of the Last Supper that Peter pledged his allegiance to Jesus even unto death.

Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. (Matthew 26:31-35)

A statue we came across in Israel, depicting Peter’s denial of Jesus.

The rest of the story is that after Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter followed at a distance to the courtyard of Caiaphas the High Priest, and it was there he was confronted three times and all three times he denied Jesus. Matthew’s gospel says he went outside and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75). How much pain and sense of failure did Peter experience?

Even after Jesus was resurrected and had appeared to the disciples, Peter decided to return to his nets. Going back to the fishing trade seemed his only option, since denying Jesus in such grand fashion was the ultimate ministry washout. It is on the beach of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus graces Peter.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)

Thrice Peter denied Jesus and now thrice Jesus restores Peter. Peter is humbled by the truth that his love for Jesus is not superior to that of his fellow disciples. Do you sense the grace of Jesus in the fact that he never once talks about the three denials, and he simply reaffirms Peter’s calling to care for the church that will be formed on the coming Pentecost? Peter was smarting under these three confrontations of Jesus, and yet he was simultaneously being healed and restored. Peter could finally leave his nets for good and be the “Under-Shepherd” that Jesus had made him to be.

Love is the driving force behind high support and high challenge. It is through the love of Jesus that we can be honest and challenging with one another. It is by the power and presence of Jesus that GCI can and will live out our philosophy. Just as the sign in the office is a reminder to me, may you also think about our High Support, High Challenge, Grace Always philosophy daily as we march forward as a global church family.

Did I hear a chorus of all of us shouting together, “High Support, High Challenge – Grace Always?”

Greg Williams

Wait Upon the Lord

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:13-14)

We live in a microwave society. We have instant food, instant information, instant “on demand” shows, instant news and instant communication.

So when we read a scripture that says “wait,” what do we do with that? The Hebrew word used in the passage above means “to look eagerly for.” The word suggests an expectation for something to come. For example, when we wait for the light to turn green, there is an expectation that the light will turn green and if we happen to be running late, that “waiting” is where all of our focus goes.

Here’s an exercise you might want to try. Pray and ask God for his wisdom and wait. Don’t pray, or worship, or sing, or listen to music or even read your Bible— just wait.

See if you can wait for 10 minutes, waiting with eager anticipation for what God will show you. When we wait from the perspective of not having to do “anything” for God, we learn to just “be” with God and not “do” for God.

Prayer: Father, Son and Spirit, show us what it means to “wait upon the Lord.” Show us where we are operating out of a sense of performance rather than belonging. Tune out all the lies and open our hearts to hear only your voice of love.


by Davina Winn
Assistant Pastor
Grace Communion Hanover

February Prayer Guide

Click the image below to view and download this month’s Prayer Guide. To subscribe to future Prayer Guides, please follow this link: https://update.gci.org/prayer-calendar-subscription/

GCI Web Store Open Now

GCI Gear is Here!

As part of our Denominational Celebration, we are excited to announce GCI clothing and accessories for you! Represent our fellowship and reflect your personal style. Shop now by clicking on the image below.

For all customer service requests for your purchases please contact: 1.888. 934.6909 or email us at customerservice@smartpress.com.

GCI Home Office Welcomes Reuel Enerio

It is with great joy that we introduce the newest member of the GCI Media Team, Reuel Enerio. Reuel grew up in GCI and has served in GCI-Philippines as a youth leader, worship leader, and camp staffer. After moving to the United States in 2016, he served in Grace Communion Orlando leading worship and on the Multimedia Team.

Reuel will be the team’s Digital Content Developer. He brings fresh ideas, over ten years of professional videographer and design experience, and an eager spirit. Click on his profile to get to know Reuel better, and join us in welcoming him to the team in the comments below.

Staying Connected to Jesus Event

On January 25th, 2020 Grace Communion Cleveland sponsored and partnered with “Bonfire Girls” and their leader Tammy Mason Johnson to host an all-day event for girls ages 9-17. About 30 girls (including adult leaders) attended.

The event was based on John 15:5, “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” The girls participated in four stations: Worship, A Servants Heart, Rest, and Vision. Each station reinforced the scripture and the importance of staying connected to Jesus.

We are looking forward to our next event with the girls (ages 13-17) at our women’s LiLY conference April 17th-19th, 2020 in Cleveland.   For more details go to gccle.church.

Hope, Love and Faith,
Tamar Gray
Pastor, Grace Communion Cleveland

Marriage Announcement of Sarah Gill and Trevor McGuire

Elizabeth and Anthony Mullins are celebrating the marriage of their daughter Sarah Gill to Trevor McGuire.  The couple wed on the beach of Oak Island, NC on September 21, 2019.

Their daughter, Riley, was thrilled to participate in the ceremony as the flower girl. Sarah was attended by her sister, LeeAnna Gill, as maid of honor, and her uncle, Paul David Kurts, officiated.

GC Surrey Hills Welcomes the Brannens

Joe and Megan Brannen

This month was a milestone for GC Surrey Hills in Oklahoma and for the Brannen family. Just before Christmas, Joe and Megan, along with their three children, Geni, Grayson and Lily, packed up all their earthly belongings and prepared for their long journey west to their new home and ministry in Surrey Hills as the Lead Pastor of Grace Communion Surrey Hills congregation.

22 years ago, almost to the month, my wife Juli and I arrived in Surrey Hills from the Home Office in Pasadena, CA. We are very excited about having Joe serve as our new lead Pastor and for Megan to serve as our new Worship Director.  We have been through thick and thin together for more than twenty years, cutting our teeth on Crosswalk Regional Camp, local congregation and the region.

Being blessed with a prayer during their reunion at GC Surrey Hills.

Joe and Megan both served as leaders in the Oklahoma City congregation for more than a dozen years and then four-plus years in the Dallas (Central) congregation as an Associate Pastor, Youth Pastor and Worship Leader.  Most recently, both Joe and Megan served at the Home Office in Charlotte. Joe has been the Digital Content Developer on the GCI Media Team, led by Michelle Fleming.  Joe also filmed and edited Speaking of Life videos, various special video projects, and served as co-host, along with Michelle Fleming, on our GC Podcasts.  We deeply appreciate Joe’s creative insight and passion for our denomination and Jesus Christ.  He and Megan will be an incredible blessing to the Central Region and the Surrey Hills congregation, and we eagerly celebrate their return.

I love you all and hope you have a blessed year!

Michael D. Rasmussen
Superintendent, North America & Caribbean
Regional Director, Central US

Death of Dawn Rasmussen

Please keep the Rasmussen & Rageth Families in your prayers. Mike and Michelle’s mom passed away last week.

If you would like to send a card please see the addresses below.

Mike & Juli Rasmussen
12012 Surrey Ln
Yukon, OK 73099-8139

Michelle Rageth
8850 80th Street South
Cottage Grove, MN 55016