GCI Update

Teach Us to Pray

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear Church Family,

When reading through the stories of Jesus with his original followers, it stands out that they didn’t ask him “teach us to preach” or “teach us to heal,” but rather they requested “Lord, teach us to pray.”

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.(Luke 11:1 NRSV)

The robust prayer life of Jesus was not lost on the disciples. Jesus answered their request with what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.” Jesus instructed them to direct their prayers to God the Father, and to make their requests in his name (as he is the Mediator for humanity for all ages). In the apostle Paul’s writings, he explains how the Holy Spirit bears witness with our human spirit making prayers out of our wordless sighs and deep yearnings (Romans 8:26-27). Prayer at its very fabric is about communicating and relating to Father, Son and Spirit.

In 2020 we are digging deep into the Hope avenue of ministry. You will recall that this avenue envelops how we as a community of believers interact in our formal gatherings and how we point people to the real, tangible hope found only in Jesus. Prayer is an integral part.

In my various travels I hear a wide array of prayers from our GCI family. We are without doubt a praying church, yet some of the shorthand expressions I hear are a bit confusing. I am not implying that there are perfect or imperfect prayers, and ultimately the Holy Spirit can clean up any utterance that we humans make. Nonetheless, allow me to discuss a few expressions that could be improved upon.

Lord please be present in our meeting.”

The sense here is that we come across as inducing God to do something he may not be inclined to do. Within the omnipresent nature of the Triune God we know that there is no place where we are not in his presence. Therefore, it is illogical to think that we are doing anything outside of his presence. It is more appropriate to pray for our heightened awareness of the Lord’s presence, and to express gratitude in knowing he will never leave or forsake us.

A better phrase for a prayer of invocation would be “Father and Son, we welcome your Spirit to be at work in us and among us.” It demonstrates connection with the persons of the Father and Son following the clear instructions of Jesus. This idea of “welcome” helps to avoid the impression that we are trying to get God to be or do something he would rather not.

“Lord bless our plans.”

I admit I have been guilty of short-changing the process of interaction with the Lord and simply wanting his power and blessing to perform my will. (Isn’t this quicker and easier?)  Before any plans germinate, shouldn’t they begin by seeking his wisdom, guidance and perfect will? In the prayer life of Jesus, as he communed with the Father, he makes this amazing statement:

“Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.  The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.(John 5:19-20 NRSV) 

If this is true of Jesus, how much more does it apply to us?

The core problem with any shorthand expression in prayer is a narrow view of prayer—mostly trying to get God to do something he is not inclined to do by exerting some kind of inducement. So, such prayers are trying to get God to turn around.

A classic example of this is a line from the Lord’s Prayer, “lead us not into temptation.” It is assumed—but also very troubling—to think that we pray this because God is inclined to lead us into temptation. That can’t be right. But then why pray it? Allow me to explain:

Prayers can express to God exactly what God wants, what he is inclined to do. In such a prayer statement, we are not presuming upon God by having it in the form of a request; rather we are indicating to God that what we want is aligned with (not in tension with) what we know he wants. We know God does not lead us into temptation, so we agree in a non-presumptive way, by praying “Lead us not into temptation Lord, for we know that’s what you want and what we want too!”

So rather than pray, “Lord, bless our plans,” we should pray, “Lord, make your plans clear to us so we can participate with you.” Or, “Lord, because you are revealing your plans to us, help us see how we can be most effective in that plan.”

Prayer is a non-presumptive expression of our agreement with and welcome of the Triune God’s good will for us. It’s simply being in communion, joining with Jesus in his prayers, praying according to his name (who we know him to be and what we can trust him for). As we experience a heightened awareness of his presence in our meetings and gatherings, let’s then allow our thoughts and ideas that become our plans and actions to flow from a robust prayer life.

Father, may we do only what we first see you doing. In the strong name of Jesus, amen!

Greg Williams

P.S. In light of the Corona Virus threat, we certainly want to be diligent in prayer for God’s intervention and his mercy on those suffering with the disease. The effects of the virus are having a huge economic impact on the global economy. Remember to thank our great God for his provision and continue to seek “our daily bread” from the one who cares for us. Without doubt it is a season for prayer!

From Ordinary to Extraordinary

For I am confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus –  Philippians 1:6

Thinking of this time of year, as we approach Easter, always brings Mary, the Mother of Jesus, into a little more focus than throughout the rest of the year.

When I think of Mary, I think of a woman who is truly just an ordinary person; she could be any one of us. She lived in an ordinary town and lived a pretty ordinary life for a young lady of that day.

Mary was given her significance because of God. This means that God can and does enlist each one of us. Mary became extraordinary, not only because God used her to bring Jesus into the world, but he also knew of her willingness to obey. God had a claim on Mary’s life. Because she was special? No, because he was her creator. God specializes in the extraordinary so that when the victory is won and the task complete, we cannot take any credit.

Mary understood the claim on her life when she was asked by God to be the mother of our Savior; she also knew with the words that were spoken to her by Simeon, “A sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:35), that her life was not hers anymore.

There at Calvary, I believe that a sword did pierce Mary’s soul. How could it not? As a mother, she was losing her son, but she also gave her Son up for the larger picture of salvation and redemption for the world.  Mary’s life was truly extraordinary.

We may think we are ordinary, but we should know that we walk with the power of the Holy Spirit to be extraordinary, to accomplish, like Mary, mighty things for God.

Lord, thank you for reminding me that you can use anyone and everyone.  I willingly offer you all that I am and all that I have – choosing to believe that who I am is enough to be used by you.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.



Linda Sitterley
Eugene, Oregon

Shop the GCI Web Store

GCI Gear is Here!

Check out our new clothing store and get ready to represent your GCI spirit! In preparation for the Denominational Celebration this summer, GCI clothing and accessories will be available for purchase online. Shop now, by clicking the link below:


For all customer service requests for your purchases please contact: 1.888.934.6909 or email at customerservice@smartpress.com.

The Mark Experience: Registration Open

Gary and Cathy Deddo will facilitate a study of the Gospel of Mark before the Denominational Celebration. In this seminar, we’ll spend our time studying together seven passages from the Gospel of Mark. We’ll get to know Jesus more deeply and personally so that our faith, hope, and love for him will be nourished. We’ll learn how to more carefully hear the Lord speak to us in his Word and grow in our relationship with him. We’ll also take some time to pray together and have fellowship around a couple of meals.

Seminar information:

  • Cost – $85 per student
  • Registration includes class materials, breakout snacks, and lunch (Monday and Tuesday)
  • Classes will be held July 26 – 28, at the GCI Home Office – 3120 Whitehall Park Drive, Charlotte, NC

Register today, and we’ll learn how to have fellowship together in God’s Word so that Bible study feeds and guides our life together as members of his Body, the church. And for those who are interested, we’ll learn a little about leading small group Bible studies that build up the disciples of Jesus. As members of his Body, we’ll be better prepared to be disciples, living and sharing the gospel.

Love at the Cross Ministries “Black History United Celebration”

On February 16, Love at the Cross (Washougal, WA) held the annual Black History Celebration. This year’s event focused on unity by emphasizing what unites us, from globally impacting contributions by black inventors to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Charles Coleman treated the audience to an unforgettable, dramatic and flawless rendition of the famous speech. Four young men from the Lewis and Clark Young Marines Color Guard and one from the Riverside Pathfinders presented flags, including the Freedom Flag, while Tamara Corpin sang the National Anthem.

Matron of Ceremonies, Lonnie White led the children’s/youth ministry in reading Black American historical tidbits. Pastor Annette Nettles and the Riverside Seventh-Day Adventist Church Pastor Merrill Caviness both prayed and offered spiritual reflections on our history of mistreating differences and our united goal to emphasize showing one another God’s love.

Many singers and musicians offered their talents for the event. Special thanks to Paul Willis, who among other songs, blew us all away with “A Change is Gonna Come,” sisters Tamara Corpin and Melissa Courser, Janie Whitlock, Velma Andrews, Janet Coleman, as well as Greg Scribner and Jessica Timmons. Several people also lent their talents behind the scenes on sound, camera, video mixing, and stage direction, including Denny Nutter, Myles Bourland, Lisa Nettles, Roy Timmons, and Alonzo White.

Also in attendance were the Mayor of Washougal, Molly Coston, and the local Chief of Police, Wendi Steinbronn. The 1890s Buffalo Soldiers of the West brought an array of artifacts and imagery from the late 20th century all the way to today. They dressed the part and generously gave their time to impart their deep knowledge to everyone who visited their table.

The big finale was the complementary soul food feast. The food was plentiful, including fried chicken, ribs, potato salads, fresh fruit, green salad, stews, and rolls. The desserts were almost as plentiful and varied as the main feast, with multiple cakes, pies, and cobblers.

The 2021 event is already scheduled for Feb. 21, and the Facebook Save the Date is posted. All are welcome!


Thank you!
Gina Staros and Pastor Annette Nettles


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LoveAtTheCrossWA
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/love_atthecross

Chapel for Taal Volcano Refugees


The following article was originally published on the GCI Philippines website. Click here to view the original article.

The weather was perfect last Saturday, February 29, for an outreach to the Taal Volcano refugees camped at an elementary school in Barangay Aya, Talisay, Batangas. Several teachers and staff from the Ambassador School for Children (ASC) led by Teacher Adora Barnachea joined our team from Grace Communion Calamba to bring joy and some necessities to around 285 refugees from the Taal Volcano Island who were displaced by the eruption.

Upon arrival at 11:00 a.m., the teachers were assigned a room to conduct a “children’s chapel.” At around 11:30 a.m., more than 20 kids came pouring into the room after they were dismissed from their regular classes. They were treated to fun and educational lessons including prayer, Bible stories and games. School supplies and snacks were also given and much appreciated by these kids whose education was disrupted by the eruption.

Meanwhile, the rest of us set up tables near the tents and ministered to the adults and very young children who were not of school age yet. Teacher Adora’s daughter and her friend, who are both medical students, took the vital signs of some of the adults, while some of our Grace Communion Calamba members conversed and prayed for the needs of a number of evacuees. Relief goods consisting of diapers, underwear, blankets and even more school supplies were also distributed, including a mattress for a senior citizen.

Before 2:00 p.m., it was time to say goodbye to the people that we have come to know and love, having visited them several times this February. We gathered to say a short prayer and thanksgiving for what the Lord has done on this day. I saw grateful hearts not only from the recipients but also from the donors and care-givers who were able to share a part of themselves that day.

Pastor Reuel Avila
District Director for North Calabarzon


Tornadoes in Tennessee

You may have heard about the tornado that passed through Nashville in the middle of the night.  I spoke with Pastor Linda Rex and she was awakened by her son and the sound of a tornado siren in the 3 am hour this morning.  Her family is OK and she has contacted almost all the affected members and everyone seems to be fine – thank you, Lord!  The tornado came within one block of a GCI member and near the church building itself, but there’s no damage.  There are two reported casualties in the city of Nashville, over 100 wounded and many buildings destroyed.

Be in prayer for those who have experienced death and loss in the city and that our GCI congregation can be a place of hope for those who are suffering.


Anthony Mullins
GCI Regional Director, Southeast
Pastor, Grace Communion Hickory

GCI Singles, “Set Apart” for Conference 2020

After three years since the last reunion, GCI Singles from all over the Philippines converged again for the Singles Conference 2020, this time in the beautiful Anda de Boracay, Anda, Bohol. The resort views a long stretch of shoreline with fine white sand comparable to the powdered sands of Boracay Island. Far from the crowded tourists, Anda is located two hours away from Tagbilaran City and an hour away from the famous Chocolate Hills. Forty-three men and women came from the different parts of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to enjoy the three-day conference that was hosted by a team of organizers led by Sarah Bahinting.

This year’s was theme “Set Apart,” the event focused on the singles’ identities as the Father’s beloved in Jesus Christ and individuals called into communion with him and for his purpose based on Deuteronomy 14:2. The guest speakers were Steve and Jan Hobson -missionaries and professors of IGSL (International Graduate School of Leadership) and our very own GCI Pastor Rex Dela Peña.

The conference kicked-off with praise and worship followed by some fun icebreaker games which were facilitated by Pastor Andrew Rota of GCI Mactan. The singles then were asked to creatively portray how singleness is perceived and treated in their family, church and community in the evening of the first day. This activity was a prelude for serious topics discussed the following days, which were given by the competent guest speakers.

The Hobsons discussed different views concerning marriage and family. They contrasted the different narratives from modern culture, the old covenant and the contemporary church with the new covenant narrative, which reflects the overarching view of the storyline of the Bible towards singleness. They also discussed the myths of singleness in society today. As a fitting conclusion, the speakers pointed out that as Christians who love God, he must be the main goal or focus of everything. He is the ultimate reward and nothing else. The wonderful couple also offered to give a special one-on-one time for counseling for those singles in need.

In the third session of the conference, Pastor Rex de la Peña spoke about biblical stewardship as part of a broader call to loving God and fulfilling his purpose. Furthermore, he imparted a holistic view of stewardship which includes everything – one’s own life, time, relationships, the workplace and finances, and stewardship of the gospel. He also encouraged the participants to know their spiritual giftings to help in building the church up and fulfilling God’s mission.

Participants had the chance to relax and have a fun time as they all dressed up for a Havana-themed mingle event on the last night. They took delight in the live music floating in the air as they danced with their friends and participated in amusing games. Some of them also got to show their talents as they performed with the band.

To cap the conference, a Question and Answer forum was held followed by a Communion, which pictures the beautiful union between Christ and His Bride — the Church.

Overall, the conference was an eye-opening opportunity for many. The environment gave the participants hope, confidence, and a deeper meaning and view of singleness.


Kae Domoguen


GC Cleveland Commissions New Youth Leader

Grace Communion Cleveland (GCCLE) is pleased to announce the commissioning of our new ministry youth leader, Sarah Bowland.  We would like to thank Renee Overton for her years of service as she will be moving into a new ministry position.

We are rejoicing together as the Lord creates new pathways in ministry for our leaders in GCCLE.   Congratulations!


Tamar Gray
Grace Communion Cleveland

Death of Jim Friddle

Many of you knew Jim Friddle.  He died peacefully around 1:00 p.m. last Wednesday. Prayers for his family would be much appreciated.

Cards can be sent to:

Stephen Friddle
9932 Robbins Drive #103
Beverly Hills, CA  90212