GCI Update

President’s Video – Compelled by Love

In this month’s Update, GCI President Greg Williams talks about redefining how we are living life with our neighbors in the light of Christ’s love and looking forward to 2022 with him by our side.

Looking for a Trinitarian and interactive curriculum for your connect group?
Check out our On Being series by visiting

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Program Transcript


Love Avenue
GCI President Update | January 2022

In GCI, our mission statement is “Living and Sharing the Gospel.”

For many years we have used the expression “Disciples who make disciples” – and have aspired that GCI would become a disciple-making movement.

In 2022, we need to restore a clear vision for discipleship.

Let’s start with a definition. Discipleship is the lifelong pursuit of learning to live under the care of our Father, the guidance of the Spirit, and forever growing in relationship with the Son.

Whether we talk about teaching, coaching, mentoring, leadership development, etc. we are talking about “Making Disciples and Discipleship.”

Discipleship is a life-long process.

For the sake of the Love Avenue, we are talking about neighborhood engagement and evangelism.

How would you define engagement?

Serving the needs of another, a neighborhood, or a community.

Participating in shared activities with the purpose of building relationships (more than cleaning litter from the street or painting a house but getting to know others on a deep personal level, and mutually experiencing the presence and love of Jesus).

How would you define evangelism?

“Winning” others to Jesus. Notice the Apostle Paul’s words.

18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.19 For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law.
1 Corinthians 9:18-20 (NRSV)

Evangelism is the illuminating, transforming work of the Holy Spirit. As believers, we participate with the Spirit in the life of another through presence and proclamation.

In 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, the Apostle describes the Spirit’s work of illumination. The Spirit opens our minds and hearts at conversion, and He continues throughout our Christian lives to make the gospel make sense to us and to lead us into Christ-likeness.

Presence

Presence is best described in the construct of “Place-sharing.” The term, place-sharing came from the theological mind of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and is elaborated on by Dr. Andrew Root. We are producing a webinar series that will get into the nuts and bolts of the “Why? What? And How?” of place-sharing. Be watching for this series and our Love Avenue Teams will want to dig in deep.

Proclamation

Proclaim Jesus! His Deity; His goodness; His love; and His desire to be in relationship with His children.

We don’t start with our church and its programs and activities (not that these are bad, but we must first be disciples of Jesus, if we are then to become “disciple-makers”).

How do we talk about God? How do we describe the Gospel to a new person?

Peter gives insight to our posture of proclamation. We are familiar with, “Be prepared to give an answer of the hope that lies within you for those who ask.” But let’s read it in its context:

13 Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? 14 But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; 16 yet do it with gentleness and reverence. 
1 Peter 3:13-16 (NRSV)

We in GCI are eager to do what is good. And what greater good can there be than making disciples?

The boldest and most brash of all the original disciples learned some meaningful lessons in his lifetime and through the inspiration of the Spirit shared these pearls of wisdom with the Church in his epistle.

  1. Set aside Christ as Lord in your life first.
  2. Always be ready to give an answer of the hope that is within you. And the hope that all believers have in common is the personal relationship with Jesus.
  1. Providing your answer to those “who ask.” We must be watchful and observant in our relationships to detect how Jesus is present, and how the Spirit may be nudging and turning the conversation toward spiritual matters.
  1. And when the door opens to speak about Jesus and his goodness do this gently and with respect. It isn’t the time to share all your knowledge about Jesus and the Bible, give them enough information to digest. Be willing to follow-up, even study and learn together, acknowledging that you too are a disciple still growing in grace and knowledge.

In GCI, our evangelism is relational. Like Peter, our evangelism begins with our relationship in Christ, it is an overflow of his love for us. He is the source of the love we are sharing with our neighbors.

In making disciples, please keep in mind that your neighbors are people very much like you. People who have needs and desires; people who have struggles and disappointments; and people who have dreams and hopes. And just like you and me, they need love and friendship, and whether they realize it or not, they too need Jesus. In him, we all receive healing, restoration, and wholeness.

So church, in 2022 let’s, you and me, be even more compelled by love to live and share the Gospel of Jesus. And may the aspiration to become a disciple-making movement move beyond a dream toward reality!

GC Cleveland Celebrates New Church Home

Coventry Peace Campus is a well-known hub of activity in the community of Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

The space hosted an open house for the artists who occupy the building.  Our church sponsored the jazz trio to entertain visitors as they traveled through the building. We opened our church door for visitors and we walked around, met artists, had conversations with community members, and introduced ourselves.

We are now working with the social worker of one of our middle schools and have been able to give Ten Thanksgiving gift cards to families in need of food assistance.  We attached a card to let them know Jesus sees and loves them.  Our Love Champion Pat Shiels toured the school and was able to see firsthand where our prayers and assistance are needed.

We are in person and on zoom learning to navigate the new technology and stay connected.  We are watching and participating as the Lord expands our reach and our witness!

 

Tamar Gray

 

Tamar Gray
Pastor, Grace Communion Cleveland

Charles Taylor 30th Pastoral Anniversary

Charles and Keysha Taylor

Brothers and Sisters,

Grace Communion Miramar (FL) celebrated Pastor Charles Taylor for his 30 years of devoted pastoral ministry over the weekend. What an accomplishment worthy of honor! That kind of longevity in pastoral ministry is due to the unflinching grace and faithfulness of our Triune God. As Charles would be the first to declare, all glory to God!

Charles, thank you for your devotion of love and service to God’s beloved children in your care. There is something praiseworthy for staying the course. We salute you and give thanks to our loving Father for you.

The congregation crafted this brief but beautiful video tribute to Charles and family: 30 Years of Ministry

Whatever you do, picture Christ in the person you are doing it for; it makes such a difference when you put your heart into it. Colossians 3:24 (The Mirror Bible)

 

Anthony Mullins headshot

Anthony Mullins
Regional Director – US Southeast

Welcome to the World Henry Morgan Zeng

Mat and Pam Morgan are excited to announce the birth of their first grandchild – Henry Morgan Zeng, born on October 26th weighing in at 8 pounds 3.4 ounces and 20 ½ inches long.

Mommy and Daddy (Jessica and Johnny Zeng) are over the moon. As you can see from the photo Henry is very happy and healthy modeling GCI’s Hope Swag.

Death of Neil Earle

Karl McNeil “Neil” Earle, beloved husband of Susan (married 49 years), died of heart failure at age 74 on December 23.  He was born on February 25, 1947, in Carbonear, Newfoundland, Canada. He is also survived by his brother-in-law Tim Welch, his twin sisters Lydia Ash and Lynda O’Grady, brother-in-law Chris O’Grady, nieces, nephews, and many friends.

He held an M.A. in History from the University of Toronto and an M.A. in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Neil was a retired Church Pastor serving for 44 years in congregations across Canada and in Southern California for Grace Communion International. Members would state that he had the talent and ability to bring the teachings embedded in the Bible to our lived experiences.

For the past 12 years he taught Church History courses on-line for Grace Communion Seminary. He was recognized by all who knew him as a truly gifted, creative and innovative instructor. His students benefitted from his teaching style and thought-provoking approach.

Neil enjoyed reading widely and writing. He wrote several books and hundreds of articles for international magazines, newspapers and websites. He was an active participant in local book clubs and the Memphis C.S. Lewis Society.

Finally and most importantly Neil loved his God. His earnest desire was to reach out to the wounded and hurting, demonstrated in a practical way by participating in numerous 5K charity walks. He saw each person as a child of God.

Neil fought the good fight, kept the faith and henceforth there is laid up for him a crown of righteousness.

 

Cards may be sent to:

Mrs. Susan Earle
8774 Craddle Hill Cv
Arlington, TN  38002-4933

Devotional – Wonders of Epiphany

John 1:1-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

How fitting it is that Epiphany follows Christmas. In Jesus’ earthly ministry, being near did not always equate to being known. In fact, it sometimes meant being misunderstood, ridiculed, and rejected. But if we allow Jesus to make himself known to us as he makes himself near to us, everything changes. We begin to see in him life, a life that is the light of all humanity, that is not overcome by darkness, that gives light to everyone. Epiphany invites us to respond to the nearness of Christ with a devotion to knowing him as he reveals himself to be.

During this Epiphany season, I invite us to sit together at Jesus’ feet and learn his ways, the contours of his life, the sound of his breath, the dance of his light. As we grow in relationship with Jesus, I wonder if we would begin to see all things anew, illuminated by his light. Would we see everything, as corrupt as it may become in this present evil age, as touched by his hand in its creation and touchable again in redemption? Would we come to know his light intimately enough to see it even in the dark? Would we come to recognize him in unexpected places? To receive him in places we once thought barren? Would we become bolder disciples, exposing to the light parts of ourselves we’ve long kept hidden or witnessing to the light in places we had believed beyond hope? I believe we would.

Church, let us by the power of the Holy Spirit be grown again and again into those who recognize, receive, and bear witness to Jesus.

How is Jesus making himself known to you personally and corporately today?

Holy God, thank you that you not only draw near to us in your incarnation, but you reveal yourself to us in Christ’s ongoing ministry. Guide us that we may know you more each day, each hour, each moment, and that we would be transformed by knowing you.

 

By Cara Garrity
GCI Development Coordinator

GCI Prayer Guide – January 2022

“Wisdom is not gained by knowing what is right. Wisdom is gained by practicing what is right, and noticing what happens when that practice succeeds and when it fails.” ― Barbara Brown Taylor

Download the January Prayer Guide and join us in corporate prayer and communion.

 

Meet Matthew Arquero

“I truly feel like I matter and that I have something to offer. There’s a communal willingness to learn and recontextualize new ideas that I also don’t see very often in other spaces. Essentially, I choose to participate with GCI in ministry because I feel valued, and I want to cultivate and share that same type of love with others.” Check out this month’s GCI Profile to get to know Matthew Arquero, member of Cornerstone Community Church, our congregation in San Diego. To read his full profile, click the image below.