GCI Update


Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Due to the heightened racial tension in the US a question has come up “Is GCI considering additional plans/actions for multi-racial outreach and inclusion?” It is without a doubt a matter that deserves proper attention, and in fact, it is not an issue that has been ignored. Please allow me to explain.

Historically, the roots of Grace Communion International come from the Worldwide Church of God. Racial bias in the WCG was primarily based on Herbert Armstrong’s misguided doctrine of British-Israelism that kept non-Israelite peoples (Gentiles—which included all people of color) as second class and therefore inferior.

This heretical and false teaching created division and mistreatment of people of color. Noticeable limitations were placed on Black members and leaders and many suffered from racial slurs and prejudice that were simply wrong.

Under the leadership of Joseph Tkach Sr. and his son Joseph Tkach Jr. there was major doctrinal reform leading to a greater understanding of the New Testament teaching that there is neither Jew nor Gentile, but we are all one in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:28).

The Tkaches commissioned and sanctioned Pastor Curtis May and Greg Albrecht to oversee the Office of Reconciliation Ministries. These men, along with other key pastors, worked tirelessly traveling the country and holding weekend conferences that did much good in acknowledging past wrongs and providing healing for a more positive future.

More recently Regional Director Jeff Broadnax, along with several pastors, interns and members, helped organize gatherings called “Together in Christ.” The idea was birthed out of conversations with our community of GCI interns. Though space for participants was somewhat limited, these weekends allowed for honest discussion and were conducted from the platform that Jesus is the unifying factor for all broken relationships and lives. True human togetherness and unity can be found only in surrendered relationship to Jesus.

“Together in Christ” was intentionally hosted by local GCI churches because this is the space where we should be able to come together with our hurts and differences and find forgiveness and restoration in the presence and power of Jesus. It is my hope that our GCI churches are maturing in Christ and are healthy enough to weather any social challenges or obstacles that come our way, and we can continue to hold “Together in Christ” events to address difficult social matters.

If you are a person of color and never had the opportunity to participate in any of these GCI sponsored events, my prayer is you will have an opportunity in the future. For those of you who have never heard a public apology for any racial slurs or mistreatments you have suffered within our church, let me say on behalf of our denomination: Please accept our heartfelt apology for the individual and systemic discriminatory and racist actions, teachings and culture we openly or ignorantly embraced and allowed. Please forgive us. May we never repeat the sins of the past, and through the power of the Spirit may we value all people as beloved children of God treating everybody with genuine love and respect.”

Together in Christ we can and will go forward!

Greg Williams

P.S. If you have not yet read the cover letter for the July Equipper, I encourage you to do so. My long-time friend and fellow pastor, Charles Taylor does a marvelous job in his article “Know Justice, Know Peace – Know Jesus, Know Peace.”

Love In Action

 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Romans 12:9

This section of scripture is called “Love in Action,” revealing that sincere love is not reflected merely in our words but in our interactions with one another. From this one verse, it seems like real love acts a lot like Jesus, thinking of others first and clinging to what is good. Looking at love through this lens, I see the conditional, pretend love that can far too easily manifest in my relationships – love that depends on how the other person treats me or my mood.

Real love, loving others like Jesus, isn’t always easy. It takes working through our natural response and choosing to respond with the other person in mind. Real love speaks the truth when it could be easier to say what the other person wants to hear. It can mean asking questions to get to the root of the other person’s perspective and motivations. The good news is that we do not manifest this love ourselves. We love, because God who is love, loved us first. Our capacity to love is much more than a natural response to a feeling. Our capacity is supernatural because we are children of God, and through the Spirit, God lives in us.

Father, Son, and Spirit, thank you for including me in your life and love. May your love overflow into all of my relationships, and help me to choose actions that reveal your love.



By Michelle Fleming
GCI Media Director

July Prayer Guide

Click the image below to view and download this month’s Prayer Guide.

Death of Barbara Hogberg

It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my loving wife of 54 years, Barbara Ruth Hogberg, which occurred on April 21, 2020, in Sachse, Texas. She was 79 years of age, and had been living in a nearby memory care facility, having suffered many months from Alzheimer’s disease.

Because of coronavirus restrictions, only immediate family members were present at her funeral at Sachse Cemetery, at which longtime family friend and GCI minister, Thomas Pickett, officiated. Barbara and I had attended Mr. Pickett’s New Hope Christian fellowship congregation for a number of years.

Barbara was born in Fort Worth, Texas, but grew up in Houston. After graduating from Bellaire High school, she attended what is now Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, graduating in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science degree in home economics, with a minor in art. Barbara had exceptional sewing and homemaking skills and had an excellent eye for paintings and fine decorations that later beautified all our homes.

In 1964 she moved to Pasadena, California, in order to attend classes at Ambassador College, the educational arm of the Worldwide Church of God (she, her mother, maternal grandparents and several other family members had become members of the church). There we got to know each other. I was the director of the News Bureau in the church’s editorial department and Barbara became the office secretary in the fall of 1965.  Our relationship blossomed and we were married on January 23, 1966. Two sons, Neal and Derek, rather quickly entered our lives in December 1966 and July 1968.

After the children grew up sufficiently, Barbara worked for a while as a much-in-demand substitute teacher in the Pasadena area. Then the two of us began to undertake numerous, often international, trips together, usually in conjunction with my editorial, and later, ministerial responsibilities. Barbara loved international travel, visiting over fifty countries and territories. She also enjoyed fellowshipping with the ministry and members in far-off lands. Our travels continued even after we settled down in Texas in 2007 to be with family.

Barbara was known and loved by many friends and members in Southern California, Texas, and around the world, who have testified in cards and emails to her warmth, effervescent personality, generosity and ability to light up a room whenever she entered.

In addition to our two sons, Barbara is survived by Neal’s wife Denise, and our three grandchildren – Chloe, age 17, Brett, 15, and Grant, 9, and her favorite aunt who also lives in Sachse, Maisie Wheat, age 92, the last living member of the original Dallas congregation. Barbara is greatly missed by all of us.

Gene Hogberg, Retired Elder


Cards may be sent to:

Gene Hogberg
7619 Forest Ridge Trail
Sachse, TX 75048



Drive-In Church in Kenockee

Our congregation is now participating in a drive-in service each Sunday. What a joy to be physically present with one another in God’s presence. Join us in praying for gospel fruit and good weather as we find ways to safely worship together.

I am transmitting the message over an FM station. Each attendee can either tune their car radio into the station, listen over the loudspeaker or both.

Worship music is played and the lyrics are printed on the handouts along with announcements and offering choices (including an offering box as you exit).

We have done this for five Sundays now. It is extremely popular for our members and we are getting a few curious attendees as they see us do this week after week.

Grant Forsyth
In His Grace Community Church
Kenockee, MI


Death of Reta Rakestraw

Reta Rakestraw and her son Jonathan.

Please pray for the Rakestraw family. Jonathan’s mom Reta Rakestraw died unexpectedly on Wednesday, June 24. Jonathan pastors Grace Family Fellowship, the GCI congregation in Tallahassee, Florida, of which his mother was a founding member until her death, having come into the church in 1971. She was well-loved by all who knew her and treated everyone like her family.

Your prayers for Jonathan’s father John, as well as Jonathan, Carolyn and their three adult children Matthew, Charlotte, and Andrew, and his sisters Debra and Amy and their families are much appreciated.

Cards may be sent to:

Jonathan & Carolyn Rakestraw
3946 Elysian Ct
Tallahassee, FL  32311-0705

Virtual GCIgnite

Join us for Virtual GCIgnite—An event to connect young adults (18-30) in our denomination through a time of welcome and worship, and develop leadership through content and breakout sessions focused on spiritual formation and practice.

For more information and to register, click the images below for pdfs of the flyer and brochure.

Death of Joseph McKinney

Joseph McKinney

Robert McKinney is saddened to announce the death of his father, Joseph McKinney, who died on Saturday, June 20. He was 78 years old and had the blessing of being baptized by his son, Robert in 1997.

Mr. McKinney is survived by his wife Mildred, eight children, fifteen grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, July 11 in Freeport, Bahamas.

Expressions of sympathy may be forwarded to Robert McKinney at robert.mckinney@gci.org or sent to Robert McKinney, P.O. Box N-3934, Nassau, Bahamas.