GCI Update

President’s Video—The Love of Christ Directs the Path of the Church

Dr. Greg Williams talks about the life of the church as we start to open our doors emerging from the pandemic. He reminds us of our collective vision as a denomination, the pursuit of Healthy Church with the love of Christ.

Please go to the link below regarding Greg’s March Update.

https://update.gci.org/2022/03/letter-from-the-president/

Facebook
YouTube 
Copyright 2022 – Grace Communion International All Rights Reserved

Program Transcript


GCI President Update | April 2022

Hello beloved Church. We are certainly living in an interesting stage of history. I believe that all of us around the world are slowly, but surely emerging from the 2+ year pandemic of Covid-19 and its variants. Certainly, there will be aftermath from the loss of loved ones and the loss of opportunities, especially with our inability to gather in person for church life, family life, and personal pursuits. As restraints are lifted, we will begin making up for lost time. My travel schedule for this year includes six international sites. It’s a good marker for making up for lost time.

Then we recall the words of Jesus in the Olivet Prophecy recorded in Matthew 24 when he assures us that there will be wars and rumors of wars, but the end is still to come (vs 6). We pray for those suffering in Ukraine and the surrounding region, beseeching God for his mercy and peace. In light of the chaos and the suffering, we are more deeply convicted to continue the work of the church; to proclaim the gospel, make disciples, and equip the saints to join in the work of Jesus through the church.

Did you hear the clarity about our collective work? In our pursuit of our vision to be Healthy Church – the best expression of the church of Jesus Christ that we can be, we must improve in the way that we reach out to our neighbors in love and actively sharing the good news of Jesus. In my last Update video, I spoke about being compelled by the Love of Jesus in us, and we will continue this theme throughout 2022. It is the love of Jesus that fills us and will spill over to our “not-yet-believer” neighbors. The more actively we are involved in the Love Avenue the more likely we are to grow in church health.

And it is not just getting new people through the doors of our church. As we engage new people the loving, responsible action of a Healthy Church is to help them grow in their knowledge of Jesus. Will they experience the presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit as they engage our members and join in our worship? Will they come to love the “Living Word of God,” Jesus, as they hear the “Written Word of God” preached clearly and boldly week in and week out? Will there be appropriate classes to help new believers find their path to growing in relationship with Jesus and in the life of the church? And finally, will there be on-ramps where new believers can find their best fit to actively participate in the ministry of Jesus through the ministries of the church?

Simply put, Healthy Churches make new disciples and effectively equip the saints. This is the direction we are going in GCI.

In my March 9 Update, I spoke about a 3-year plan that is being embraced by all 6 Superintendents and all 6 Global Regions. If you are not familiar, then please go back and read that letter (it is one of the most important that I have written in my three years as President). In February, I met with our Superintendents over a four-day period. We agreed that we have been on the same path of ministry using a shared theology that is foundational to who we are, and a developing practice of ministry with a common language that we can all build from. For those who appreciate academic language – we have a “Graceful Orthodoxy” and by the power of the Spirit we are growing into a “Graceful Orthopraxy.” In more simple terms, our beliefs are informing our practices.

To have all Superintendents in all our global regions embracing the shared theology and developing ministry practices, is not a small thing. It is a wonderful window of opportunity that is before us. It is also a lot of work that will require new ways of thinking and new ways of acting. The course ahead can feel overwhelming, but hasn’t our Lord been faithful to see us through storms and challenges before? Didn’t Jesus assure us that all authority in heaven and on earth is his, and that he will never forsake us or leave us? Is he not the Head of his church and the one who is the Captain of Salvation for all people? So, if the Lord be for us, what can stand against us.

GCI, we are united by the bond of the Holy Spirit, and we operate under the power and authority of our King Jesus. Let’s move forward together over the coming three years. We are better together. And I ask that all of our National Directors, Regional Directors, Pastors, Ministry Leaders, and members join with me and the Superintendents in this amazing journey toward Healthy Church!

I wish all of you an inspiring Holy Week and may we greatly encouraged as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior on Easter Sunday. Blessings from my family to yours.

Fun, Food, Fellowship—Baguio, Philippines

For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, the youth ministry of our local church, Grace Communion Baguio (Philippines) gathered in-person.

Because COVID 19 restrictions are beginning to lift in our city, we organized an activity for the young people. Since the lockdown, we have been maximizing the advantages of online gatherings, especially in Zoom, for two years. It has proven to be a blessing as we are able to still meet virtually. One of the things that I have learned to appreciate in this pandemic is the value of community and the importance of gathering together. I was reminded of the verse in Hebrews 10:25.

Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing. In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning. (TBT)

Whether the gathering is online or in-person, it’s important for church members to meet together, continuously and consistently, to encourage one another. The pandemic proved that it’s needed to strengthen the life of the church. The objective of this activity was to re-launch a physical gathering.

For our in-person event, we only desired to have fun, food, and fellowship. We started by making sure that all health and safety protocols were properly observed. One of the considerations was the event location. So, we agreed on the idea of hosting the event at our house in the front yard since it is in an open-air space.

Here are the highlights of the event:

FUN
Our youth leaders, Edrem and Eya Gacayan planned the program. We started with an opening prayer that was led by Bianca Lazaro and a song of worship by Jana Parcasio. Then I led a short devotional on the words of encouragement of the Lord for Joshua as he took on the role of a successor of Moses in Joshua 1:6. I encouraged the young people to be like the “Joshua Generation” even in these challenging times.

What followed were many games. Everyone participated excitedly! Even with their masks on, the smiles on faces of the youth were evident as they enjoyed the food and company of each other.

FOOD
I am thankful to God for my auntie, Auey, and my mom, Mel, who prepared the snacks, lunch, and dessert. Everyone was very satisfied.

FELLOWSHIP
A highlight of the event was the fellowship in small groups, sharing and chatting. Here are some of the comments from the young people:

“Finally, we were able to see each other in person. I am thankful that we get to gather again in-person and be able to bond…”

“God is faithful both in our online gatherings and now in our in-person activities…”

“I had so much fun especially playing games and winning prizes. It was engaging…”

In this event, we successfully converged 27 children, youth, and young adults, plus 2 guests. With this re-launching activity, it is our hope to slowly be able to gather regularly in person every Saturday.

To our God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit be all the glory, honor, and praises. Amen!

By Justine Paolo G. Parcasio
Associate Pastor GCI Baguio, Philippines

 

 

 

 

Three Reasons to Celebrate—Republic of South Africa

Pastor Thabo and Veronica Mahasha, with Koko Maria Maphelle (center)

First, Koko (Granny) Maria Maphalle was baptized on 6 March 2022. The previous month, on her 100th birthday, she expressed her desire to her family, “My soul yearns for Jesus. I want to be baptized before I die.” She has lived her entire life in the dusty village of Morudji in one of the most picturesque parts of South Africa, Tzaneen—an area with hot summers, mild winters, and an abundance of water. The area is decorated with beautiful mountains and valleys covered with greenery. All manner of fruit trees grows wild in the fertile soil.

Koko Maphalle attends the GCI Morudji congregation with her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was baptized by Pastor Thabo Mahasha, who pastors the Morundji and Moleketla congregations. Members from both churches attended the baptism celebration, where Koko Maphalle’s mood was described as euphoric, and she could not stop singing and praising God!

Second, a week later, we celebrated the ordination of Pastor Rosinah Rapetsoa on 13 March 2022! She was ordained an elder and commissioned as the bi-vocational pastor of the GCI Polokwane church by Pastor and District Superintendent Caleb Makhela.

Left to Right: Regional Director Takalani Musekwa, Pastor Rosinah Rapetsoa, District Superintendent Caleb Makhela, and Pastor Thabo Mahasha.

Third, in an uncanny turn of events, another Koko baptism took place on the same day—this time of a nonagenarian. Koko Paulina Ledwaba, 91 years old, is house-bound and lives next door to Mary Mohale, where the Polokwane church meets. On most Sundays during the service, she could be heard shouting from her house, “Amen” and “Hallelujah!” At her request, the pastor and other members visit to pray with her occasionally.

Koko Paulina Ledwaba

Earlier in the week of 13 March, Koko Ledwaba fell seriously sick. Her family was worried that they were going to lose her, so they called a member they had befriended and asked for prayers.  Thankfully, her situation improved.

On the next Sunday, Koko Ledwaba sent a message requesting to be baptized!  After the church service and Pastor Rapetsoa’s ordination, the church members proceeded  next door to Koko Ledwaba’s house for the baptism. She was baptized amidst great singing, praying, and celebration.

The grace of God does not expire. After 100 years, it found Koko Maphalle! After 91 years, it found Koko Ledwaba! Oh, what a Savior! Oh, what a salvation we have received in Jesus!

By Margaret Musekwa
Webmaster for GCI Solid Rock Church in Riviera, Republic of South Africa

GCI Buzz—Healthy Church

This month’s GCI Buzz explains our vision of healthy church and provides a framework so you can contextualize it to your local context. #gcibuzz

Check out the full PDF here: 032022-GCI-Buzz.pdf

You’re Invited—Galway, Ireland Celebration

The GCI Galway Celebration 2022 is being held
Wednesday, 29 June to Sunday, 3 July
at the four-star Salthill Hotel, a prime location
on the promenade with stunning views across iconic Galway Bay.

The theme for 2022 is take from 1 Thessalonians 3:12 25:40.

And may the Lord increase your love until it overflows toward one another and for all people, just as our love overflows toward you. (TBT)

We’ll be exploring this theme over 5 days of sermons, worship, prayer, communion, and conversation. And there will be plenty of opportunities for fellowship and fun—or as we say in Ireland, enjoy the craic!

Accommodation is available at the Salthill Hotel, or you can choose from a wide variety of B&B and self-catering properties in the area. Rooms at the Salthill are available at the special rate of €145 per night for a double and €125 per night for a single, Wednesday & Thursday and €175/€195 per night on the Friday & Saturday, all of which includes a full Irish breakfast. However, please note that wherever you choose to stay, Galway is a popular holiday spot. Book your accommodation early to avoid disappointment.

For further details,
please contact Joe Casey:
via email – joecasey@shannontechnology.ie
or telephone – 00353 87 259 2983

By Peter Mill
Regional Director, Scotland, Ireland, North of England

Death of Marie Woods

Suetie “Marie” Woods died on March 15, 2022, shortly after celebrating her 93rd birthday.  She was a longtime member of Grace Christian Fellowship, the GCI church in Longview, TX. The service was held Saturday, March 19 at Gladewater Memorial Cemetery. Until a few weeks before her death, she enjoyed good health, living independently, and attending church services each week.

Marie had been married to her husband, Adrian, for over 70 years before his death in 2015. She was also preceded in death by her daughter, Ruby Marie Woods Newsom. Marie is survived by grandson Dr. James Newsom and wife Tonya, granddaughter Thelma Kipe & husband Greg, great-granddaughters Lauren Murillo & husband Alex, Madison Newsom, Evelyn Kipe, Victoria Newsom, great-great-granddaughters Kira Munez and Cataleya Murillo.

For more than 6 decades at Grace Christian Fellowship Longview, Marie served cheerfully and faithfully in a wide variety of duties, including being commissioned as a deaconess, as was formerly our practice.  For the past 15 years, she performed the important duties of church Treasurer.  Her sweet smile, her attention to details, and her heart for service will truly be missed.

Death of Freia Smith

Freia Ann Smith of Shady Grove, Texas passed away at her home on January 12, 2022. She was born October 31, 1932, in Celeste, Texas to James and Louise Friddle. In 1954 she married the love of her life Paul B. Smith, and they shared sixty-two years together before his death in 2017.

Mrs. Smith was a founding member of the Big Sandy congregation in 1953, and she worked for many years as Church Secretary. She was known for her positive and caring nature. She never met a stranger and was always willing to do what she could for others. She loved to dance, play board games, and spend time with her family.

She remains in the fond memories of her friends and her family which includes her three children: David Nathaniel Smith and Marla Smith of Pasadena, California; Benjamin Ralph Smith and Lore Smith of Billings, Montana; Loma Ann Gibson of Big Sandy, Texas; her grandchildren Nathan Smith, Allison Smith, Dustie Pierce, and Shelby Smith, great-grandson Tatum Smith, and numerous nieces and nephews.

It is a great comfort that throughout her life she was loved and accepted fully and completely by God and lived her life sharing that love with other people. She is resting in the peace and joy of His presence.

Mrs. Smith’s service will be held at the Big Sandy high school auditorium at 401 North Wildcat Drive, Big Sandy on Saturday morning, April 16 at 10:30 a.m.

Cards may be sent to her daughter who was her caregiver for the last several years:
Loma Gibson
PO Box 1206
Big Sandy, TX 75755

Devotional—In the Grave

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in distress. Tears blur my eyes. My body and soul are withering away. I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness. Sin has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within. I am scorned by all my enemies and despised by my neighbors—even my friends are afraid to come near me. When they see me on the street, they run the other way. I am ignored as if I were dead, as if I were a broken pot. … But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, ‘You are my God!’ My future is in your hands. Let your favor shine on your servant. In your unfailing love, rescue me. Psalm 31:9–12, 14–16 NLT

There was a point in Jesus’ human existence when he said to the Father, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” Gone with his last breath were all the dreams, plans, and daily joys of that life that once was. As those about him watched the breath of life leave his body, they saw a chilling change occur—his body took on that singular appearance of lifelessness, now cold and still, that comes with death.

We can only do one thing when faced with grief, loss, sorrow, or death—rest quietly for a while in the grave with Jesus while waiting, trusting, and hoping in God’s love. In God’s good and perfect time, we will arise to a new existence, one that will be forever altered, but filled with an incredible hope. For all of life is “in Christ”—a genuinely human life full of his tender concern, care, presence and peace, no matter what we may temporarily experience. This transition to new life may involve risk—we must choose to leave the darkness and embrace the bright sunlight. It may involve setting aside what has us bound—we don’t need the graveclothes any longer. And it may even involve moving some stones—we may need God’s resurrection power to bring us to a new place we cannot come to on our own. But “in Christ,” we will live again.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sharing even the depths of our sorrow and loss with us, having given your Son freely even when it might have cost you everything. Thank you, Jesus, for joining us in death and loss, while giving us a hope for new life we can cling to. Precious Spirit, infuse our hearts again with your resurrection life, enabling us to wait, trust, and hope in the midst of our grief and sorrow, through Jesus our Lord. Amen.

By Linda Rex
Pastor GC Nashville & Cookeville, TN, US

GCI Prayer Guide—April 2022

“To fail to pray, then, is not to merely break some religious rule—it is a failure to treat God as God.” ― Tim Keller

Join us in prayer this month as we thank God for loving and listening to our longings. Click the link below to download and print the April Prayer Guide, and check out what’s happening in our fellowships around the world.