GCI Update

State of the Church

In this Update, GCI President Greg Williams talks about the 2020 theme “Focused on Hope”. He continues to expound on the significance of “Hope” and how it has taught us to persevere throughout these challenging times. During this season let look unto Jesus, our true Hope.

Video Transcript

Hello GCI. It is hard to believe that 2020 is actually coming to a close. You are probably aware of how in a dog’s life 1 year is equivalent to 7 human years. One of my good friends equated the COVID year to that of a dog year, and in many ways, it seemed to be much longer than normal. In this State of the Church address, we will reflect on how the theme of “Hope” was set for 2020. Hope is one of the three key elements of our ministry focus as we seek to join Jesus in his ongoing ministry. The Hope Avenue centers around the church gathering in worship, and how the support teams work in alignment to point people to Jesus and make the gathering transformative and memorable. Think of the three “I’s” when you think of the Hope Avenue.

  1. Intentional preparation
  2. Inclusive gathering
  3. Inspirational Sunday Service
The Worship Leader and Team, the Audio Visual Leader and Team, the Host Leader and Team, and the Pastor all are considering what they are doing days and even weeks ahead of time. They are addressing questions like “What season of the worship calendar are we in?” “How do we decorate the hall?” “What songs will be meaningful to the season?” “Will my sermon be timely and fix the spotlight on Jesus?”
  1. Intentionality – on purpose, with a purpose!
The Hope Avenue Teams mentioned before are considering how all peoples and age groups are being included. “Can people with physical limitations negotiate our meeting space with ease?” “Do we have nursery facilities?” “Is there a quality children’s church being offered?” “Can the senior members readily be served the communion elements?”
  1. Inclusive – no one left out or behind
The Worship Team and Pastor are especially thinking about inspiration. “Does the music help usher the worshippers to the throne room?” “Are we singing not only about the Triune God but to the Triune God?” “Does the scripture reading wash over the worshippers with awe and wonder?” “Does the sermon move the congregation closer to Jesus, and call to greater participation?”
  1. Inspiration - being mentally and spiritually stimulated to more fully join Jesus
You may be thinking that’s all exciting Mr. President, but do you forget that this was a COVID year? I do realize. “It was a year for Hope to be re-imagined.” We had to become technologically savvy if we wanted to gather our people. Pastors had to figure out what setting they would broadcast from, and what platform to use. For those who used Facebook Live there had to be “online greeters” who managed the ongoing comments. Thank God we already had “Text to Give” in place. In 2019 there was hesitation to give offerings through texting, but 2020 sped up that process. I wonder what special ways the Lord worked among our people as they prepared their own communion elements to then be shared as the church gathered online? There are probably scores of COVID stories yet to be told. What truly amazed me was how that by physically closing the doors to our church buildings we now opened the virtual doors to our church through media platforms. Many of our churches have connected to old friends and new contacts. We are faced with the challenge of continuing to serve our online audience and going deeper with new contacts. One church analyst said this: Growing churches in the future will become digital organizations with physical expressions, not physical organizations with a digital presence – let that sink in. The New Year will bring new challenges. I encourage you to view the challenges as opportunities. Opportunities to adapt, create, and grow as the Spirit guides you. The Hope Avenue wasn’t shut down in 2020 as some suggested, it was simply challenged and expanded in new ways. Isn’t that just like our mysterious God? The one who had the strange notion to save humanity meant becoming human. The one who was and is king would be born in an animal stall and not a palace. The one who is Head of the Church is Head of the Gathered and the Scattered, the in-person and online. So, whether you are gathered with others or still in place at home this Christmas, may you intentionally, inclusively, and inspirationally welcome Jesus our Savior! Merry Christmas from Susan and me, and all of the staff from the Home Office.

Vote Now: GCI Photo Contest

Vote for your favorite GCI Healthy Church photo.

The GCI Media Team will review all the photos submitted for entry into the photo contest, select the top photos from those entries, and then post them on GCI’s Facebook page. “Like” photos to cast your votes.

The five photos receiving the most likes on GCI’s Facebook page will receive prizes equal to the following amounts in GCI Spreadshirt Web Store credit*: 1st place – $150, 2nd place – $100, 3rd place – $75, and 4th and 5th – $50 each. *taxable for GCI Employees

The 12 most-voted photos will become Prayer Guide and Facebook cover photos.

Contest voting will run through December 11, 2020.

Death of Kathy Houston

Wednesday, November 11, we lost our dear sister Kathy Houston (Pastor of Pine Bluff, AR). She had been battling cancer for several years. Last week, she took a turn for the worst and was admitted to the hospital. They immediately put her on hospice care. She had hoped to go home for hospice care but was not stable enough to make the move. It wasn’t but a few days later she passed away.

Please keep the Houston family and Pine Bluff congregation in your prayers.

 

Death of Beth Holm

Many of you knew Beth Holm, wife of Rand Holm.

Rand posted the following on Facebook:

Saint Elizabeth, my wife of 46 years, companion for 48, mother of our wonderful children Sharran and Ariel, and Child of God, now belongs to the ages. She was born with enormous challenges and faced them fiercely and bravely. In the last 15 years of her life, she spent her time fighting a hard battle every day and being a light and inspiration to everyone she came into contact with. If you knew her you were lucky. I was, and remain, the luckiest of all…

Please keep Rand and their daughters in your prayers.

GC Cleveland Virtual Thanksgiving

On November 22, 2020, Grace Communion Cleveland held its annual Thanksgiving Prayer Service virtually on Zoom.  Our Hope Avenue Champion, Dan Hulse, took the lead and organized our prayer time into the 3 Avenues of Faith (Renee Overton) Hope and Love (Pat Shiels).   Each leader briefly discussed the topic with scripture and then led a group prayer.  Participants were then invited to pray (while muted) during a praise song selected for that particular section.

The service concluded with taking time in silent reflection to write down burdens, things that are in need of forgiveness, as well as names of those whom they need to forgive.  We had a closing song and prayer.   The group was then invited to tear up the papers they had just written because they have now placed those concerns in the Lord’s hands.  They were encouraged never to pick them up again.

35 people attended the church service.  We could feel, see and hear the move of the Holy Spirit during this service.  We are grateful and thankful for how the Lord is moving even in this time of the pandemic.

Prayers for his continued peace in the midst of the storm.

Tamar Gray
Pastor, Grace Communion Cleveland 

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Disaster Relief: Helping our members in Honduras

I asked Pastor Mauricio, of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to share some photos and details of the condition of our church members in La Democracia, San Pedro Sula. Here is the translated message. – Heber


As you have asked, I will share some data and photographs of our congregation on the north coast of Honduras, provided by Pastor Marco Antonio Mejía. As additional information, Honduras has 8.5 million inhabitants, of which approximately 3 million people were affected, including members of the Church.

 Location: Colonia la Democracia 

Colonia la Democracia is located approximately 30 km from the city of San Pedro Sula, on the banks of the Ulúa River. It is located in the municipality of San Manuel, Cortes, and borders the city of El Progreso, Yoro.

The population is approximately 1300 to 1800 people.

It is presently flooded by hurricanes ETA and IOTA. Its inhabitants are in temporary shelters or in the homes of relatives.

The church building has been operating since 1998. The church is made up of about 15 families, in addition to the families of the children and youth who attend the congregation, making an average of about 75 people, including adults, children, and youth.

Here are some photos of the situation where the church was located.

Mauricio


I spoke to pastor Marco this morning and it’s finally drying up and folks are beginning to assess the damage. The church building seemed to have sustained a lot of damage.

Blessings,

Heber Ticas
Superintendent of Latin America

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GCI Disaster Relief Fund

If your congregation is sharing the gospel about Jesus in the one square mile around your church, and still has available funds, and a heart to help members impacted by major disasters like the one in Honduras, one of the best ways to do so is to donate to the GCI Disaster Relief Fund. The Fund helps provide members in disaster areas with emergency needs such as food, water, medicine, clothing, temporary housing, home and/or church hall repairs, temporary local pastoral salary expenses and other emergency needs. Monies received into the Fund that are not immediately needed will remain in the Fund to be allocated in future disasters. In previous years, money from this Fund has been used to help members recover from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, storms and flooding in Bangladesh, an earthquake and tsunami in the Solomon Islands, typhoons in the Philippines and an earthquake in Haiti.

If your congregation would like to donate to the Fund, you can set up a one-time donation through GCI Online Giving (https://www.gci.org/online-giving/) by selecting Give for Disaster Relief under the drop-down menu.

If your congregation prefers to send a check, make it out to Grace Communion International, indicating on the memo line that the donation is for the GCI Disaster Relief Fund. Send the donation to:

GCI Disaster Relief Fund
Grace Communion International
3120 Whitehall Park Dr.
Charlotte, NC 28273

Pastoral Resident Program Graduate

Join me in celebrating Lucas Malmkar, who completed his GCI USA Pastoral Resident program this October. Lucas served as a pastoral resident with Grace Communion Surrey Hills in Oklahoma. He brings to his pastoral ministry a God-given ability to really see people and to whole-heartedly love people right where they are. Ministering alongside Lucas, I’ve experienced deep belly laughs and Jesus’ servant heart in action. Please enjoy some answers from Lucas’ graduate interview below.

Blessings,
Cara Garrity
Development Coordinator

 


Tell us about your calling or passion for ministry?
That passion or calling for ministry has been there ever since I could remember.  The big difference is now that passion has matured. I have always felt a calling to lift people up, but now that passion is directed towards young adults. Young adulthood was an area in my life when I felt the most lost and needing guidance. I feel I can speak into those young hearts and minds and help them find rest and peace in who they really are and not what the world is trying to shape them into.

How did the Pastoral Resident (PR) program shape your ministry?
The PR program made me realize that working primarily with youth or young adults is where I best fit.

Where did you serve during your time in the program?
Oklahoma City/Yukon, Oklahoma.

What are your takeaways from your time spent as a Pastoral Resident?
The PR program was great. I was able to explore ministry in every way. I worked through real ministry challenges and solutions. This is a great way to get those called to pastoral ministry equipped to be successful pastors! I think this kind of program is going to be key in growing many great pastors that will serve well in GCI! I am truly thankful for this program.

Register Now: GCI 2021 Denominational Celebration

Register Now!

Check out the link below to view the schedule, pricing, and more information on educational opportunities, youth activities, and local attractions.

2021 Denominational Celebration

 

 

Home Office Ugly Sweater Contest

On Monday, December 7th the Home Office employees held an Ugly Sweater Contest via Zoom.

It was great fun having everyone show off their creativity and what they consider “Ugly”.

Above is a picture of the entire group.  We had a three-way tie for first place.  Reuel Enerio, Anthony Mullins and Tim Sitterley.

Congratulations to our winners.

Devotional: Psalm 70

Psalm 70: Be pleased, O God, to deliver me. O Lord, make haste to help me! 2 Let those be put to shame and confusion who seek my life. Let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who desire to hurt me. 3 Let those who say, “Aha, Aha!” turn back because of their shame. 4 Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. Let those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” 5 But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!

Psalm 70 is one of those Psalms that expresses a longing for God to act. It’s an urgent prayer for help. It expresses a feeling of being short on time and long on need. In a few short words it expresses a plethora of feelings.

There are many moments in the life of every Christian where this Psalm sums up our deepest need. We want God to act and we want it now!  Yet we are asked to wait. We feel the need to be vindicated. We want those who have hurt us exposed, to have justice done. In those moments, Psalm 70 provides us with a scriptural basis for lament, for airing our grievances, and for asking for help, for acknowledging that life is not always warm and fuzzy. Psalm 70 in its brevity expresses our expectation that God must hear and act! It’s is also a reminder that we might not receive an immediate answer.

But there are also times in our lives where the urgency of Psalm 70 is not our own. There are moments when our days are easy, when we are in a wide place. We may hear Psalm 70 but not really feel connected in the daily routine.  We may be more interested in “what’s for lunch?” or the next big game. Our days may simply not have room for lament.

Yet it is perhaps on those days that we might benefit most from hearing this Psalm 70. After all, the urgent cry of the psalmist (“O LORD, make haste to help me!”) is someone else’s cry. The psalm can serve as a powerful reminder that even while our own lives might be rolling regularly along, that is not necessarily the case for everyone. Others might be hurting, calling out for help, awaiting deliverance. Others might be crying out but hearing no response.

This Psalm calls us to stop and listen. Who around us is living in the reality of this Psalm? Who is desperate for help but waiting for God to intervene? Who might be crying, even though there are no visible tears? Who needs our love and reassurance while they wait upon the Lord?

Prayer: Father, this Psalm has the capacity to say so much in such a few words. Keep my ears and heart open not only to my own cries but also to the cry of others who long for your deliverance and await your salvation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

By Gill Khoury
Pastor, South Africa

Prayer Guide: December

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Click on the image below to download the December Prayer Guide and join us in knocking with the assurance that our God is for us, even now.