GCI Update

Key Component of Healthy Church – You & Me

Father and son mowing the lawn together
Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

The church has existed since its inception on the Day of Pentecost in the first half of the 1st century. It has remained and we have assurance from its founder that it will remain until his return. Isn’t it encouraging and comforting to know that we never have concerns about the health and intent of the Head of the church? Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. And when we experience him, he truly saves you and me and we discover that he is better than we could ever imagine or expect.

When we examine the condition of the church in our time and in our setting, what markers do we consider? I hope that we can filter through the Faith, Hope, and Love avenues. This is our GCI mindset and how we see Jesus expressing himself through his body – the church. For the sake of this letter I want us to move back a step and consider: At the ground level the church is made up of individual Christians. By definition, a Healthy Church is made up of healthy church members.

Let’s recall the admonition by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:5-6

5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, indeed, you fail to pass the test!

Paul wasn’t necessarily calling them out and questioning their conversion. He was challenging them to a higher awareness that Jesus was indeed alive in them. The challenge involved the depth of coming to terms with their weakness and powerlessness, then accepting Christ’s transforming power that comes in relationship and total reliance on him. Christianity is about our dying to self and then coming to new life in Jesus.

Dying to self and life in Jesus is radical and there is no middle ground. None of us like to die to who we think we are. We easily identify with externals – our family of origin, our achievements, our life experiences, our possessions, our titles, our jobs and our money; or lack thereof. Jesus knows that we struggle with letting go and surrendering to his will. This is why Jesus always lifts the heavy end of the sofa (so to speak). In fact, he does all of the lifting and simply allows us to play along (see the photo of my son Glenn to see a similar analogy).

Paul encouraged the first-century church in Philippi by writing,

12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:11-13).

Father, Son and Spirit must be active in our lives getting us to the starting place, “the will,” and then the means to walk the Christian walk, “the power.” It is a full and complete dependence on Father, Son and Spirit. In our process of letting go and surrendering, we all come to accept more deeply that we live and move and have our being in God. Our very existence is about coming to know, love and worship this personal triune God who invites us into relationship and participation. Can there be anything greater?

Beloved GCI brothers and sisters, please hear when I say that yours and my greatest pursuit has to be our relationship and identity in Jesus, and if we allow any other thing to come in front of this then it is an idol. It thrills me all the way down to my toes to think about a collective group of mature believers who are completely centered in Jesus and alive in him. I am also a realist knowing that surrender of self is an extended journey that will be traveled for as long as we live on this earth. It is a lifetime of discovering where we are still holding on, and then surrendering to Jesus all over again. What a privilege it is to be on this journey together.

Alive in Christ!
Greg Williams

COVID-19 Testing on GCI Atlanta Campus

I recently asked for prayers concerning the community event being held at the GCI congregation in Atlanta where Charles Young serves as Lead Pastor. Pastor Young shared the following summary report for the free community COVID-19 testing held on their church’s property. They served around 300 neighbors! Now that’s making a difference in the one-square-mile around the church.

Thank you Pastor Young for your leadership!

Anthony Mullins


The COVID-19 testing on our church campus went very well. We thank our great God for blessing Living Hope Fellowship with an amazing opportunity to serve our community! I don’t have the final count yet, but somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 people came to our site to be tested for COVID-19.

I heard many “thank yous” for allowing our church to be used for this event. The weather forecast called for an 80% chance of rain. Three times during the event it looked as if the heavens would open up and we would get drenched. Praise God, it never rained. Councilman Reeves reached out to me to ask if the church could be used for this event. This event may lead to another exciting opportunity for Living Hope to serve our community.

Blessings,
Charles Young

Being the Church in Cleveland

Grace Communion Cleveland is still finding ways to be the church during this time of shelter in place and Covid-19.

Being compliant with restrictions and for the safety of our congregation, our ministry team decided to make monthly monetary donations to local community food banks.  We continue dropping off a meal and needed supplies once each month to a domestic violence shelter that houses about 30 women and children. We alternate between purchasing meals and cooking the main dishes.

For the month of July, our local school district received a farm to family grant.  Cars line up each Thursday to pick up a box or two for their family.  We are using this time to help our families in the community and in our church who could use this gift of fresh produce.  They are allowing us to take as many boxes as we need.

To God be the Glory! God never stops working and we are trying our best to pay attention to the movement of his Holy Spirit.

 

Pastor Tamar Gray
Grace Communion Cleveland

 

Ordination of David Borum

It is an honor to be able to ordain David Borum an Elder in Grace Communion International.  He was ordained on July 5 at Grace Communion in Eugene, Oregon.   David is a recent graduate of the Residency Program this past year.

He was commissioned as an Associate Pastor by our Regional Director, Tim Sitterley, and will serve on the Pastoral Team in Eugene.  David has many talents that he shares and wherever God leads him he will be a blessing to those that he serves alongside.

Linda Sitterley
Pastor, Grace Communion Eugene

Engagement of Gatlin Williams and Erin Schaffer

Gatlin and Erin

We are pleased to announce the engagement of our son Gatlin Williams to Erin Schaffer. All of our children and grandchildren were home for the weekend and we got to witness Gatlin surprising Erin with a lovely ring and that life-changing question, “Will you marry me?” She said yes and we are thrilled!

With joyful hearts,
Greg & Susan Williams

Grace Communion Seminary DEAC Renewal

Dear GCI Family,

I am pleased to announce to you that our accreditation through the Distance Education Accreditation Commission (DEAC) has been renewed for the next five years.

Congratulations are due the GCS staff, Michael Morrison, Russell Duke, Lance McKinnon and Georgia McKinnon. Their diligent and persistent efforts over the span of more than a year did indeed pay off.
We all thank you for your encouragement, support and participation in Grace Communion Seminary.

We look forward to serving you together these next five years, and beyond.
Grace and peace in Jesus Christ,

Gary Deddo
President, Grace Communion Seminary

Death of Al Nelson

Al and Arlene

It is with sadness that I share with you that our brother Al Nelson went to the loving arms of Jesus on Wednesday, July 29 after a brief but significant bout with cancer. He is no longer in pain. Al pastored our Chartered Fellowship Group in Montpelier, Vermont, from 1997 until his death.

Please keep his wife, Arlene, in your prayers as she navigates the next few days and all the details.

If you would like to send her a card, please do so at:

Mrs. Arlene Nelson
110 Camp Brook Rd
Bethel, VT 05032-9519

GCI Home Office – Who Serves the Church?

Some have asked “Who works at the Home Office?” The Home Office staff is comprised of both remote and on-site employees. Every Monday morning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time the Home Office employees gather via Zoom and in person.

The Home Office remote employees are Jeff Broadnax, Gary Deddo, Cara Garrity, Glenn Gordon, Mike Morrison, Anthony Mullins, Mike Rasmussen, Rick Shallenberger, Tim Sitterley and Russell Duke (part-time). Our Home Office onsite employees are Cheryl Corson, Evelyn Dailey, Reuel Enerio, Michelle Fleming, Georgia McKinnon, Lance McKinnon, Robert Meade, Bret Miller, Mat Morgan, Pam Morgan, Charlotte Rakestraw, Connie White, Greg Williams, Susan Williams, David Mckinnon (on-call) and Desiree McKinnon (on-call).

During our Monday morning meeting, we update one another about things that took place over the weekend and what will be happening in the coming week. We have a joke for the week (sometimes it doesn’t seem as funny to some as it does to others), but the most important thing we do is pray. We pray for the coming week, our GCI members, pastors, leaders, and world leaders.

During Covid-19 our on-site employees have had to work from home for several weeks, so our Zoom call has grown from 9 to 22 as our on-site Home Office employees join via Zoom.

In July, I decided we needed to have a fun contest. I had everyone take a picture of their office at home and send it to me.  I asked everyone to be creative and not to put themselves in the photo.  I then sent a pdf of the pictures to everyone to guess whose desk each picture was.  We have some very creative people at the Home Office. Scattered throughout this article are some of those photos. Susan Williams won the contest (she only missed 2) and last place went to Rick Shallenberger (he missed 14).

The Home Office staff is here to serve you, whether we work in Charlotte or remotely.  If you are ever in the Charlotte neighborhood look us up and we would love to give you a tour of the Home Office.

2 Corinthians 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand. (KJV)

 

Pam Morgan
Operations Coordinator (Home Office onsite)

Jesus is Knocking

Revelation 3:19-22 The Passion Translation: 19 All those I dearly love I unmask and train. So repent and be eager to pursue what is right. 20 Behold, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If your heart is open to hear my voice and you open the door within, I will come in to you and feast with you, and you will feast with me. 21 And to the one who conquers. I will give the privilege of sitting with me on my throne, just as I conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 The one whose heart is open let him listen carefully to what the Spirit is saying now to the churches.

My imagination is captured by an artistic rendition of this scripture showing Jesus calling in the dark. He stands holding a light waiting to be let inside. Maybe because it’s our choice, since the doorknob is on our side. To feast with Jesus was an invitation to an international family meal. To become family meant there were cultural and social barriers to overcome.

This worldwide pandemic has forced us behind closed doors. It has exposed the dark underbelly of our institutions marred by injustice. Can we ignore the knock on our collective hearts? How do we hear Jesus’ invitation to his table today? If we could hear his prayer we might hear “Father, may they be one as we are one, so the world may believe.”

Since the heart that is open listens carefully, I invite you to listen like this:

  • Find a quiet place without distractions.
  • Pray: “Lord give me ears to hear.”
  • Take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes. Imagine yourself feasting at Jesus’ table. What are you thinking? and feeling? Discuss it with him.
  • Stay still and listen. If distracting thoughts come, let them go and repeat, “Lord, give me ears to hear.” Listen for any scriptures or images that might bring comfort or for an invitation to become the change the world needs.
  • As you go about your day, listen for Jesus’ knock on your heart and the grace to respond.

 

By Carmen Fleming