GCI Update

Outside the Walls

It is my pleasure to have Heber Ticas as a guest writer. The consulting and coaching he has done with several churches through “Outside the Walls” (OTW) have been transformative. To see our congregations come together and intentionally focus on how they as a corporate body can better connect with their neighborhood, and to work together with their Love Avenue activities and events is helping them to shine the light of Jesus beyond the interior walls of their church building. In this issue, Heber will share what happened in three US sites during summer 2022. It is our goal that OTW will be shared with our brothers and sisters outside the US also.

Heber, thank you for the way you have served our churches. It is making a positive difference!

–Greg Williams, President


Dear GCI Family and Friends,

As I address all of you through this Update, I pray that you are enjoying the riches of the grace that our heavenly Father has poured over every one of us in Christ. Amid the many challenges that we may face in our lives and in our local congregations, we are sustained through his love. In union with Christ, we are empowered to live out our individual and corporate church expressions as we participate with Jesus in his everyday mission.

Our GCI mission statement of “Living and Sharing the Gospel” is at the core of who we are as followers of Christ. We are a sent people to bear witness to the saving grace of our God in Christ Jesus. In GCI, we desire that our churches live out our mission statement as we are compelled by his love. His love motivates us to move out of the four walls of our churches in order to engage our neighborhoods with acts that express the love God has for all.

As GCI’s National Coordinator for Church Multiplication, I have been entrusted with the task of bringing high support to some congregations that possess the bandwidth to move outside the walls of their churches. We call this support Outside the Walls (OTW) consulting. The purpose of the consulting is to assist the pastor and leadership teams through the process of understanding the current environment of the congregation and the demographics of the church neighborhood and to help the congregation move towards missional participation with Jesus. This high support provided to these churches is holistic in nature and consists of five phases. This year we offered this support to three congregations in the US, as Greg mentioned.

At the center of the consulting is the planning and preparation of the OTW weekend at each of the congregations receiving the support. The weekend consists of comprehensive healthy church equipping coupled with a missional event that is put together with the purpose of creating a relational space for the congregation. This space affords the church the ability to meet their neighbors and forge new relationships.

Terry McDonald, pastor of South Kansas City, reflected on their OTW experience:

“What we discovered together as a team was that there needed to be a shift in the mindset of the fellowship regarding the reason and purpose of engaging our neighborhood. People deserve to be loved because they are the image-bearers of our triune God, not because we need more bodies in the seats. We need persistent engagement, clarity of purpose, and intentionality as we love our neighbors as ourselves.”

By God’s grace, our experiences in all three events were formative and helped shaped the churches’ approach to living and sharing the gospel. Our church members stepped out of their comfort zones and engaged God’s children in ways that powerfully reflected the love of God. One of the churches hosted a neighborhood block party, the other hosted a neighborhood summer celebration, and the third church hosted a Christmas in July event. All three events expressed the vibrancy of our fellowship, the local congregation, and our desire to make disciples with Jesus.

As we move forward as a church family, we must not discount the calling that God has placed on our fellowship to step out in faith and partake in the joy of joining Jesus as he calls his children by the Spirit into communion with his body. I ask you to join me in prayer, petitioning our God to give us the ability to discern Jesus’ movements in our neighborhoods so we may step out in faith to join him.

In him,
Heber Ticas
Latin America Superintendent & CMM Coordinator – US

OTW—Kansas City, MO, US

We’re grateful to God for an amazing Outside the Walls (OTW) event Saturday, June 25. We were blessed to have 23 families attend the event with a total attendance of between 75 to 100 people. The purpose of the event was to provide a space where we as a church could begin and enjoy making relationships within the one to two square miles surrounding our meeting space. There were many smiles, much laughter, and fun times.

Outside the Walls is a very fitting name for this ministry focus. For me, it calls the church to pursue ministry with Jesus from three perspectives:

    • Outside the Walls of the church’s physical meeting space.
    • Outside the Walls of the body and mindset of the congregation.
    • Outside the Walls of the individual as we are called out of our comfortable spaces to join Jesus in his ministry.

Our collective hope going into the weekend was that we would make it to the other side of the event with our wits about us. Of course, I say that in jest because hosting this event was a big endeavor for such a small group. We had fears of spending too much money, not finding enough sponsors, not logistically meeting our guests’ needs on an extremely hot day. We wondered, would anyone show up? Even in the midst of those fears, God showed himself to be very loving and patient with us. I would encourage those planning a neighborhood event to remember that we are seeking to see what Jesus is already doing in our neighborhoods and join with him in those endeavors.

While it is important that we encourage our new friends to come to visit us in fellowship and worship, our focus is to help them come to know that they are loved by us and by our loving triune God. Now that we are visible to our neighbors, we must move to the next step of consistently showing them that we genuinely care about who they are as people, as neighbors, and as God’s dearly beloved children.

Truly, our hope was to engage our neighborhood for the sake of making ourselves known so our neighbors would see that we cared for them and in doing so, they would see the love of Christ. In that, I think we were very successful!

But we also recognized the need to tweak our approaches, which received a great deal of “high support and high challenge” from the home office and regional support teams. Everyone really poured out some much-needed tough love to help us enter the process of renewal. We now have a renewed focus and purpose after receiving some great coaching from Heber Ticas.

After this experience, we know our limits better, but we also discovered the mighty things that can happen when we diligently seek the lead of the Holy Spirit and trust one another in our giftings. Overall, we feel really excited about what the future holds here in GC South Kansas City. Please keep us in prayer as Jesus rids us of old ways of doing church, and we enter into the fruitful realm of being the church in a fully-engaged-with-the-Holy-Spirit way!

Terry McDonaldTerry McDonald
Pastor, South Kansas City, MO

 

 

Final Celebration—Nashville, TN, US

The theme at Grace Communion Nashville on June 26 was “…but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Twenty-four members and relatives gathered for the congregation’s final service, celebrating the special time through praise and worship, prayer, hearing the word of God, and taking communion together.

I took a few moments during the service to give small tokens of our special appreciation to Marie Smith, William Douglas, and Ann Johnson. These faithful members had been instrumental in working through the difficult and exhausting process of finding homes for all of the items that had been gathered over the more than twenty years the congregation had been in the rented church building. The congregation showered them with applause in gratitude for their service. We also appreciated treasurer Linda Knowles’ efforts to close the books and finalize the church records.

In the sermon message, based on Luke 9:51–62, I emphasized our calling to follow Christ wherever he leads. There is a cost to discipleship that may involve doing things we would rather not do. Sometimes Jesus takes us on paths that are painful and difficult, but he is faithful and present with us as we walk them. I encouraged the congregation to keep their eyes on Jesus and to follow him faithfully, allowing him fill to us with the fire of his love, his heavenly Spirit, and to move us to share his good news with others.

Following communion, a closing song, and musical benediction, regional director Anthony Mullins was invited to speak. He offered encouragement to the members and thanked me for my service to GCI and the membership. At this point, on behalf of the congregation, Bob and Linda Knowles gave me a lovely bouquet of flowers and a beautifully engraved crystal vase, commemorating the ten years I had been a pastor with the congregation. I was moved to tears by everyone’s kindness and generosity and touched by their love.

After the service, the members gathered in an air-conditioned garage space at the home of Diann and William Douglas for a celebratory meal. William’s chicken and beef barbeque with all the accompanying goodies was delicious. With the help of his daughter, William presented a slide show that my daughter Eva had created. Some photos were very old and some included members from the former Murfreesboro congregation. The Nashville congregation began over fifty years ago, so we enjoyed the opportunity to reminisce, while laughing and teasing one another about outdated hairstyles and clothing. It was a joyful, yet poignant, end to our celebratory day together.

Linda Rex

2023 Denominational Celebration Watch Party

Save the date for the 2023 Denominational Celebration—
June 29-July 2!

The Denominational Celebration is the perfect time for your local congregation to be encouraged, inspired, and challenged, while reflecting on and discerning the vision to which God has called your unique congregation. Please consider spending time together over meals, in worship, and in prayer together, as it is the perfect time to take your next step toward Healthy Church.

Even if you are unable to attend in person you can still participate by hosting a watch party with your local congregation. Daily worship sessions and each keynote session will be livestreamed. We will also provide resources to host local breakout sessions and relational building activities.

Have questions about hosting your own Watch Party?

Join us for a watch party webinar. The webinar will address:

  • What is a watch party?
  • How do we plan a watch party?
  • Content provided by GCI Tech support
  •  Q&A

The webinar is being offered at multiple times to accommodate different time zones. When you register, please select the date and time that works best for you.

  •  Tuesday, October 18, 2022 – 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM (EDT)
  •  Tuesday, October 18, 2022 – 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM (EDT)

Muphana Ngula’s ACCM Graduation—Lusaka, Zambia

The following is an update from John McLean, program director of Ambassador College of Christian Ministry (ACCM).

Congratulations to Muphana Ngula who has graduated with a Certificate in Christian Ministry from ACCM! Muphana is the pastor of one of our GCI congregations in Lusaka, Zambia. Additionally, he serves as the national Operations Manager (OM) and Board Treasurer. His wife, Jane, is the women’s ministry and children’s church leader. Having completed the six core courses that make up the certificate, Muphana is continuing his studies for the full diploma (10 courses) next semester. We congratulate him on his excellent efforts.

Let’s hear from Muphana, in his own words:


The ACCM Diploma course material is a treasure trove. It has opened my theological perspective from merely having theological information and knowledge to knowing a primary purpose of Scripture: the centrality of Jesus in all of Scripture.

The course has isolated major theological positions from peripheral issues. Looking at Scripture from an incarnational, trinitarian perspective unencumbered and freed me from many preconceptions. The course Jesus and the Gospels was an excellent starting point. The sequencing of the course modules made a lot of sense.

ACCM has deeply impacted my ministry. Each course brought me new learning opportunities. These days, I give room and grace to my brothers and sisters in the Lord to grow. I have come to terms with the Old Testament’s scheme of things in our incarnational, trinitarian theology. I am grateful to learn that my own Bible interpretations were clouded by personal biases and more by other people’s biases who are not acutely aware of the centrality of Jesus Christ in both the Old and New Testaments. The course has enabled me to understand that the Incarnation is the lens through which we must read the Bible. I have simply fallen in love with GCI doctrinal understanding.

I highly recommend this diploma course to anyone who would like to have a sound basis for both personal theological development and congregational leadership in GCI. Any preacher who would like to proclaim the word with clarity and sound doctrinal basis could benefit from ACCM.

 

 

Willie Williams’ Retirement

Join us in honoring Willie Williams, who is retiring as the bi-vocational pastor of GC Madison, MS.

Cards may be sent to:
Willie and Karen Williams
285 Dry Creek Road
Canton, MS 39046-8684

Congratulations, Willie and Karen! We are very grateful to you both for your love and faithful service to the bride of Christ.

We asked Karen and Willie to share their reflections.


GC Madison 2019

From Karen:

After the passing in 2019 of our beloved pastor, John Novick, my husband became pastor of our congregation in Madison, MS. I believe he handled the challenges well as a bi-vocational pastor. It was a learning experience for both of us as many of our new responsibilities were unfamiliar to us. One advantage we had, however, was the prayers and support of our brothers and sisters in Christ at Grace Communion Madison.

Williams family. L to R: Michelle, Karen, Willie, Kristina, Jessica

We also had the help of our three daughters. Michelle donated her old computer to use for worship services. Jessica helped us set up the Facebook page for our local church during the pandemic. Kristina worked with the financial team to assist with completing the financial.

Even though our congregation does not have a new pastor to replace my husband, I am grateful that we are able to move forward as a non-chartered fellowship. It is my hope and prayer that we will continue to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as part of GCI and the body of Christ.

From Willie:

I am blessed by God to have an amazing Christian wife and sister in Christ! And she has been a very big help to me as a new pastor.

Karen is a great mentor to our three daughters, Michelle (son-in-law, Mekael, and our first granddaughter, Mia), Jessica, and Kristina. We are thankful that all three of our daughters are college graduates and have jobs.

My faith journey (a little over 3 years) as a “rookie pastor” has been amazing! It has been a journey with the prayers of the saints of Grace Communion Madison, and help of Jessica and Kristina, and the support of the home office, especially Anthony Mullins, my beloved brother in Christ.

I have been impressed with the deeply detailed resources of GCI. I believe I have grown as a student of the Bible—my favorite book! I will miss preparing sermons every week. I will also miss the warm and loving fellowship of our brothers and sisters on a weekly basis.

My retirement, though bittersweet, will allow more time for the needs of Karen and her aging, ailing parents. It will also allow me more time to relax and walk my dog in the woods. Additionally, I love sports, making walking canes/staffs, and gardening fruit trees, shade trees, and flowers.

Finally, my retirement decision was difficult but necessary. My adjustment to growing old is up to me. It is hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

Death of Sandy Mayfield

Sandy is the mother of Update editor, Elizabeth Mullins, and mother-in-law to regional director Anthony Mullins.


At the age of 84, Sandra “Sandy” Suzette Mayfield died resting in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Sandy was born on June 12, 1938, in Clendenin, WV. She received her Bachelor of Education from Fairmont State University and loved being a teacher. She taught elementary school in Washington DC, Miami, FL, Cincinnati, OH, and Huntington, WV. She began attending our denomination in 1973.

Sandy is survived by her beloved husband of 58 years, Jim Mayfield of Winfield, WV, and her daughters, Emma Lee (Paul David) Kurts and Elizabeth (Anthony) Mullins of NC. Her four grandchildren in NC are Sarah (Trevor) McGuire, LeeAnna Gill, James Kurts, and Michael (Ashleigh) Kurts, and her great-granddaughter is Riley McGuire.

She adored her family, sharing meals and playing board games with them. She preferred to be outdoors, gardening (vegetable and ornamental) and birdwatching. She loved her pets, reading, and puzzles. She was one-of-kind, truly ornery, and “anything but vanilla” (as she always said about ice cream.)

Sandy is hidden in Christ, which is precisely why her life mattered and why she will be fiercely missed.

Death of Tommie Grant, Sr.

Mr. Grant is the father of Tommie Grant, Jr, pastor of Ladson, SC. We share in their grief and in their hope of resurrection.

The following is the obituary shared with Update from his family.


Elder Tommie Lee Grant, Sr., son of the late Archer Keller and Marie Taylor-Stroy, was born November 10, 1930. He departed this physical life on Sunday, July 10, 2022.

Elder Grant attended and graduated from the public schools of Holly Hill, SC. He was married to Josephine (Holman) Grant on December 22, 1949. He became a Union Hill Missionary Baptist Church member at an early age and served as a deacon. Later, he became a member of Grace Communion Ladson, where he was a faithful servant for more than 50 years. Elder Grant served as a pastor until his retirement.

Elder Grant was a businessman, a community leader, and advocate, particularly for the underserved. He had a passion for education and served in various roles, include Holly Hill School Board member and PTA President. He was a skilled tradesman in carpentry and brick masonry. He used both skillsets effectively to help his neighbors over the years. As a foreman with strong leadership skills, he led various teams in both trades to do the same.

Elder Grant is preceded in death by his wife, Josephine Grant, and four children, Johnnie Lee, Robert Lee, Nathaniel, and Joann. He leaves wonderful memories to be cherished by his remaining children, Clara (George) Martin of Summerville, SC; Tommie Lee (Robin) Grant, Jr., of Summerville, SC; Anthony (Valerie) Pelzer of Fayetteville, NC; Rose Marie Hamrick of Summerville, SC; Roger (Tracy) Pelzer of Minot, ND; and Donna Grant of Summerville, SC; and 40 grandchildren, a host of great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends.

Cards may be sent to
The Grant Family
c/o Tommie & Robin Grant
115 Heritage Lane
Summerville, SC 29483

Devotional—Eating Together

Editor’s Note: Our overarching theme for devotions during the five months of the liturgical calendar called Ordinary Time is Jesus is sending his church. Using Michael Frost’s B.E.L.L.S. acronym as a framework, the topics will relate to missional living.

    • As “sent” people, we are invited to…
  • bless others generously, in word and deed (July),
  • eat with others hospitably (August),
  • listen to the Spirit while engaging with others (September),
  • learn Jesus’ teachings as a disciple (October),
  • and, sent people share the good news with others (November).

In many African cultures, there are various occasions and customs where communities are encouraged to share meals together. Traditionally in Kikuyu culture [Kenya’s largest ethnic tribe and a central Bantu community], after preparing a meal for her family, a woman would take some of the food to a designated place to be eaten by anyone who was traveling through that area. Sadly, this tradition is no longer in place because a few people stopped working their own farms and instead took advantage of the food meant for travelers.

In most communities, there are occasions when people share communal meals. Occasionally, failure to attend can result in being treated as an outcast. In Kenya, we have a wise saying that discourages people from being selfish. Loosely translated it means, he who eats alone dies alone.

We read of a very good practice in the early church.

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts… Acts 2:46 NIV

Eating together is one way we demonstrate the love of Christ in us and among us. We are encouraged to open our homes in hospitality and to help provide for others’ needs, like food. Food brings people together, and we get a chance to understand others better when we share a meal with them. Shared life is better than one lived in isolation. Sharing meals is a demonstration of the shared life we are called to.

Prayer:

Our Father, we thank you for the gift of life and the gift of one another. Thank you for teaching us the importance of sharing our blessings with one another, especially food. Amongst us are those who are challenged to have enough food to eat. Help us, Lord, to identify them and share our food with them. Let us experience you as we participate with others in the blessings that you have bestowed on us. Remind us always Lord that you are the great giver, and we only share from the many blessings that you have given us. May what we share with others be a key to open their eyes to see your goodness through us. May all glory be unto you. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

By Anthony Gachanja
Regional Director Western Africa

Prayer Guide—August 2022

“Prayer is an act of love.” ― Madeliene L’Engle
Join us in prayer this month, thanking our loving God for continued blessings upon our fellowships and our neighbors. Click the link below to download and print the August Prayer Guide, and check out what’s happening in our churches around the world. #weareGCI