GCI Update

Focused On Hope

Listen in as Dr. Greg Williams, President of GCI, invites us to participate in the 2021 Virtual Denominational Celebration this coming July 23-25. He talks about coming together as a global family to celebrate how the Spirit is moving in our fellowship.

TO REGISTER and for updates on the 2021 VIRTUAL DENOMINATIONAL CELEBRATION visit gci.org/events/2021

Program Transcript


So how do you know that GCI is going to have an international event? Well, one good sign is that I am wearing a barong today. So, a shoutout to all my friends in the Philippines. On Tuesday, March 2nd the GCI Managers held our monthly meeting. The top agenda item was to discuss whether we would go forward with the Denominational Celebration in Charlotte. Pam Morgan had met with the hotel managers and they expressed what they could do. We initially were thinking that even if we were limited to 500 attendees that it could work. The longer we talked about details, like “How do you keep GCI members from hugging and shaking hands? Is cutting the conference from 1,000 participants to 500 a good idea? And so on. It became clear and evident that we must go virtual. The Holy Spirit led us to a unanimous decision, and instead of despair, there was a fresh wave of energy and excitement.  In reality, we at the Home Office are getting a taste of what our field pastors experienced over the past year – the challenge to go digital.   So, the “behind the scenes” work began.  Tech research. Do we have the right equipment? Enough of it? Who has participated in a virtual conference and knows what quality we can achieve? What portions will be pre-recorded and what portions will be live? How do you schedule such a weekend with 24 time zones around the world? There have been multiple trips to Best Buy, and packages showing up daily. My office has been staged to be a studio and we have experienced pilot tests of the equipment. Then there will be a dress rehearsal before the actual event. More details than planning a wedding (and we have one of those coming up in the Williams family on Oct 3). We expect to have four different studio sets throughout the Home Office, so this is gonna be an epic production no doubt.   What are the benefits, or value-added? 
  • Our Media Team is developing new skills that will be utilized in the future. I envision live and live-stream gatherings in the future.
  • Our budget for “on-site” has been repurposed to assemble needed equipment and staging.
  • This will be a tremendous test for doing online webinars, and we expect to do many more webinars in the future like this.
  • The greatest value-added is that instead of 500 participants we are hoping to connect with thousands of members from around the world. Praise God!
How can you participate?
  1. YOU NEED TO REGISTER TO GET ACCESS (https://www.gci.org/events/2021)
  2. Make plans to watch as a congregation or a group. Having a retreat planning team of 4-5 people to plan and host your church’s watch party.
  3. Especially create spaces for Hope Avenue Leaders. This includes Hope Avenue champions, Children’s Ministry teams, and Worship Ministry teams to utilize the workshops.
  4. Use this as an opportunity to engage and immerse your congregation in the Hope aspect of ministry. This can be an amazing re-launch event to bring you out of the throes of COVID.
  5. Check out many more ideas on the Make it A Church Retreat link on the event page (https://www.gci.org/events/2021)
If you cannot be with a group there is certainly value in Individual participation. The Celebration is created for engagement: 
    • Q&As in the workshops and the main sessions 
    • Breakouts in the workshops 
    • Join the Facebook Group to connect with members from around the world. Use the hashtag on your screen to share your Celebration experience and check out takeaways from others. 
Here is the “fine print” portion: Your registration entitles you to the two components of the Denominational Celebration: the live broadcast on July 23-25 and the recording of it. The live broadcast is happening in real-time; this means attendees will not be able to stop and start the broadcast at their own pace on July 23-25. The event is happening in US Eastern Time. Once the broadcast has completed on July 25, been edited, and uploaded then you will have access to the full conference to watch at your own pace and preference. We will get it out as soon as our small but valiant group can manage! So please do not panic if you log in at your own time zone and the conference is already underway from that Eastern Time start - simply join in from where we are and know you will have access to the full conference recording a short time after the conclusion of our gathering.  Keep in mind that these are privileges for those who have paid registration. The overall greatest aspect of the Virtual Celebration is that we shall Worship & take Holy Communion together. To get the most out of this denominational event think of these three stages:
  1. Intentional Local Preparation 
  2. Make the weekend experience special and revel in the celebration.
  3. After the event, review the learning and let the shared experience soak into the fabric of your church as you participate in the ministry of Jesus!
May the Lord bless our global event and I will see you July 23rd!

Listen in as Dr. Greg Williams, President of GCI, invites us to participate in the 2021 Virtual Denominational Celebration this coming July 23-25. He talks about coming together as a global family to celebrate how the Spirit is moving in our fellowship.

To register and for updates on the 2021 Virtual Denominational Celebration visit gci.org/events/2021


Invite a Friend!

We are now offering a special deal for new registrants. When you register, enter your information, then click Add Another Registrant, add your friend’s information, and at the bottom enter coupon code “BOGO”. This 2-week offer ends June 30.

Crossing Borders Update, Summer 2021

This year has been a time of extreme crisis for our Mexico ministry partners, and while our CB team is prevented from going to help them in person we try to help from afar.

It was in January that I last updated you regarding Crossing Borders’ mission plans, needs, and ministry outreach.  Because of COVID, we had to cancel both our summer and winter trips for 2020.  However, we were able to assist several of our regular ministry partners along the Texas-Mexico border as they struggle with current economic challenges—aggravated by the COVID crisis.

This assistance made it possible to provide significant aid during this COVID business stoppage, and economic and personal crises. Crossing Borders helpers have also sent a strong message of love, compassion, and encouragement to these dear folks during a tough time. (Along with the deadly COVID situation, there has been a rise of crime, cartels, drug-running, and other dangerous factors).

Here are a few updates since my last note to you:

  • Pastor Raymundo has made good headway at replacing and upgrading the roof of his smaller church building that had blown off in a bad windstorm.  We have also been able to provide some basic food outreach and family needs.
  • Pastor Pedro Castillo is planting a new church farther interior from the border.
  • At Pastor Rendon’s “Casa Hogar Douglas” orphanage, he has been able to totally replace a large porch structure.  Also, his wife, Lupita, was in the hospital for several weeks with a near-fatal condition.  She is now at home recovering well.
  • At Sister Juanita’s orphanage, Crossing Borders has been able to help her weather the COVID-induced crisis, and her and the kids still have a home in which to live.

  • Pastor Fernando contracted COVID and his wife, Nora, also has had serious health issues.   They have taken on whatever work they could find, and CB has been able to help also.  They have recently been able to rebuild their church stage and purchase much-needed padded chairs for the church.
  • At Pastor Marta’s church, they have been able to plaster the inside walls of the church and to install permanent electricity. They are meeting in person again, and hope to build a fence for security at their church.
  • Since 2012, CB has “adopted” the Rodriguez family and has been able to help them create better living conditions.

Thank you and muchas gracias from all the ministry partners, their families and their congregations, for the prayers of many of you for these dear folks on the border.  Your love is a true reflection of God!

Although it is wonderful to be able to help from a distance, our CB missionaries are anxious to get back to the border and continue our relationships with these ministry partners in person as soon as possible.  However, with the current health and safety conditions (and with border crossing still being unstable), we have had to cancel our mission trip for summer 2021.  If conditions will improve over the next few months, our goal is to be able to conduct our normal “shoebox gift” mission trip in December, God willing.

Pastor Lee B and CB Team

How to Use Hashtags & Other Ways to Engage Digitally During the Denominational Celebration 

We’re all so excited to celebrate with you for the first time online! We hope this article helps explain a little more about sharing on Facebook so we can all fellowship together that much more easily when the celebration begins.
What is a hashtag?

Hashtags are a link in a social media post (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) that connects it to all other posts using that same hashtag. This allows other people who want to see what else is going on associated with that hashtag to simply click it. They are created by using this sign # followed immediately by a set of words or numbers that correspond to the event or topic. (Is it important to note that hashtags should not include spaces between words.) For the Denominational Celebration, we will be using #GCI2021HOPE as our hashtag when posting.

When should I use them?

When you’re posting about the GCI 2021 Celebration, we encourage you to use #GCI2021HOPE at the end of your post to make it easier for other participants to see what you have to share about your celebration experience!

Sharing with others through the Facebook Group

An additional bonus of going virtual this year will be a private Facebook group for those who have registered for the celebration. When it goes live we encourage you to share through posts what you’re looking forward to leading up to the celebration. Once the celebration begins, this will be the place to freely share insights you gain from the main sessions, workshops, and discussions along with pictures of you, your family, your pet, and fun fellowshipping at watch parties. We’d love to see and hear from you! Be sure to comment and participate with the posts of others through the Facebook group; the celebration is a chance to really connect with our international family!

Registration

If you haven’t registered already be sure to do so. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone worshipping together during the live worship session, the Sunday of the Celebration, and enjoying hearing the talent of our members worldwide through the virtual choir!

Follow the link below to register now:
https://www.gci.org/events/2021/

 

By Andrew Rakestraw
GCI Media Communications Assistant

 

Ordination of Justine Paolo Parcasio

Justine Paolo Parcasio was ordained an elder on June 6, 2021. It was a time of celebration & thanksgiving for GC Baguio as they also celebrated their 47th church anniversary.

Eugene Guzon – Superintendent of Asia officiated the ordination via Zoom, witnessed by GC Baguio Pastoral Team and church members.

We thank & praise God, that even during these challenging times, he continues to add dedicated servants to his church, servants who have the heart to serve and lead.

Death of Alberta Ecker

Alberta Ecker

Alberta Ecker, co-pastor and wife of 25+ years to retired pastor, Tom Ecker, died on April 30. Her Memorial Service was held on June 6 and live-streamed on YouTube. Anyone who would like to see photos of her life and legacy may view the service here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-SyyRqNqTU.

Alberta, a Lakota Sioux Native American who grew up being forced to attend a Catholic Boarding School on the South Dakota Pine Ridge Reservation easily referenced her challenging experience as a First Nation citizen in her pastoral duties while visiting, administrating, socializing, evangelizing, and speaking.  Over her years in ministry as a co-pastor, she traveled to and spoke at twelve different WCG / GCI churches in Southern California sharing her delight in the grace and truth embraced by GCI. In retirement, she courageously carried these internalized teaching beliefs into her declining health years fighting a progressive disease known as Multi-System Atrophy-Cerebellum Predominant, which took her life.

Cards may be sent to:

Tom Ecker and Family
1035 East Huntington Drive,
Space # 39
Monrovia, California
91016-3776 USA

Devotional: 14 Days in the Arms of Jesus

In September 2020 I experienced a health crisis that sent me to the emergency room. After tests and medication, I was recommended for non-cancerous prostate surgery. During the tests, the doctor mentioned that the radiologist noticed cysts on my liver. After recovery from the prostate surgery, I sought out the appropriate doctor regarding my liver – which turned out to be the local transplant center where they specialize in liver issues.

After another battery of tests, I was again recommended for surgery – this time on my liver for a 3-inch cyst (non-cancerous) on the surface of my liver. On February 19, I entered the hospital for the surgery to remove what turned out to be a cyst the size of a grapefruit or larger – most of it had been hidden from the CT scans and ultrasound tests. The surgery went very well and because I was in good shape and already up walking the next day, the doctor said I would be going home sooner than the predicted five days. However, near the end of the second day, I experienced serious complications, which led to me spending the next fourteen days in the hospital – including a night in the intensive care unit and four days in the cardiac unit when my heart went out of rhythm due to the stress on my body.

That all sounds like bad news…but here is the rest of my story. Paul wrote that when Jesus ascended, he took captives and gave gifts to his people. Ephesians 4:7, “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:

‘When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.’”

As we understand the vicarious incarnation of Jesus, the captives he took to the right hand of the Father were all of humanity. I believe that he then gave grace (v. 7) and gifts (v. 8) to all of humanity – “his people.” Not all people know this, so therefore they don’t live out the spiritual gifts fully. On the other hand, Jesus said that there is no good but from God. Any good we see around us – even in unbelievers – is God manifesting himself through humans.

From the moment I entered the hospital, I noticed the “spirit” and attitude of the people serving me – doctors, nurses, even custodians. They were all so caring and concerned – encouraging me, explaining how they were going to help me and even apologizing when they were going to hurt me (which was more often than I would have liked!). I saw Jesus! Ephesians 4:8 became very real to me, as I realized Jesus told the disciples he must ascend (partially because he could only be one place at a time), so that he could send the Holy Spirit and gifts (and therefore be everywhere humans lived).

We all would like to see Jesus snap his fingers and miraculously heal us instantly, but he rarely (although occasionally) does. I believe that instead he put his healing spirit in millions of human beings. People who choose the medical profession because they want to help people get better are living out the healing spirit of Jesus. In my fourteen-day stay, I had over seventy medical professionals come into my room. There were only two who I felt were “only doing their job” (and they may have just been having a bad day!), while all the others seemed like Jesus walking into my room. This may be surprising to read, but I only prayed for myself once or twice during that time because I truly felt Jesus was in my room multiple times a day! I was experiencing his healing power and his love over and over throughout the day. Meanwhile, I tried to be the best patient possible and represent Jesus back to them (calling them by name, having pleasant conversations and being agreeable even when in distress).

When I walked out of that hospital, I truly felt like I had never been closer to Jesus Christ. I felt overwhelmed to have spent “14 Days in the Arms of Jesus”!

Prayer: Father, we are blessed to know that from before the creation of the world, you had already prepared a plan to bring healing and wholeness to the whole of humanity, whom you knew would turn away. Thank you for the incarnation of Jesus, which includes his ascension so you (and he) could send the Holy Spirit to move in our lives. Always in the arms of Jesus, through whom we pray! Amen.

 

Glen Weber

Glen A Weber
Central Regional Support Team/Retired GCI Pastor