GCI Update

Compelled by Love in Australasia

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

Greg & Susan Williams, with Australasia Superintendent Daphne Sydney

Susan and I had the wonderful opportunity to join Australasia Superintendent Daphne Sidney and 90 or so pastors and ministry workers for a “Compelled by Love” conference. We met on Thursday and Friday with the leadership and began with training sessions in “Appreciative Inquiry,” conducted by Ambassador College of Christian Ministry (ACCM) Director John McLean. This grace-based process of how we set our minds and attitudes to think on what things are noble and good is incredibly helpful for ministry teams who are seeking to determine what is good to the Holy Spirit and to us.

John’s training set the tone for National Team members Dennis Richards and Peter Edalere to speak about the model of Team-Based Pastor-Led. This gave a great overview for how we see pastors building their teams and provided oversight as we dug into the need to have “Ministry Action Plans” (MAPs). These MAPs help teams set attainable goals that help them move toward our vision of Healthy Church and make progress toward their Three-Year Plan.

This is the first gathering Daphne has been able to host since the onslaught of COVID. The ability to meet face-to-face, to hug necks, to sing worship songs in corporate worship, to share meals, and to simply be together was met with deep enthusiasm and appreciation.

More members were able to join the celebration over the weekend, and I was able to give them a pictorial update of the GCI family around the world. Sharing faces of brothers and sisters from Africa, Canada, the US, and the UK warmed their hearts immensely. The training continued as several pastors and avenue champions shared concepts about the Love, Hope and Faith Avenues of ministry. A highlight to me was seeing that the presenters are moving beyond concepts and are growing as practitioners. They are organizing their teams, developing plans, and trying new approaches to the various ministries of the church. Dare I say that they are discovering how to better join Jesus in what he is doing in and through our expression of the local church.

During the Saturday sessions, newly ordained Pastor Helen Callaghan gave a wonderful summary of Michael Frost’s book, Surprising the World. She aptly pointed out how the instruction in the book is simple and straight-forward, and centers on how we as believers can engage the not-yet-believers through meaningful relationships. Helen pastors a small church in Sydney with mostly aging members, so she was quick to point out that age is not a factor keeping us from loving and knowing our neighbors.

As I travel the world and spend time with our GCI church family, I am refreshed and encouraged to see how the material that we are producing at the denominational level is being embraced and applied. These materials are meant to center us more and more into the relationship and ministry of Jesus, who is the center of the center. It does my heart good to see so many presenters who have grasped what we are teaching and where we are going as a worldwide denominational family. Our sole purpose is to ground ourselves in Jesus, and to build out from him as our true foundation. As we receive the faith, hope and love that originates in him, it channels through us as we reach out to a broken, hurting world.

It is a beautiful journey that we are on as a collective fellowship around the world. Read more from Daphne here. And by the way, your brothers and sisters from Australia say “G’day.”

Greg Williams

P.S. I am extremely pleased with the good work that John McLean, Registrar Nadia Worthing, and other faculty members are doing through ACCM to equip ministry workers around the world. Please see the details in this issue of Update.

Australasia Celebration

Aus conference 2022The Australasian Conference and Celebration Weekend was held on 18-22 August at the picturesque site of Caloundra, on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. With the theme of Compelled by Love, we fellowshipped in the presence of a very joyful and loving spirit as we were able to meet together again with our brothers and sisters from all around our region after a long and isolating stretch with COVID.

On Sunday, with an estimated 230 members attending in-person and 70 Zoom connections, more than 300 members participated in the service. We heard an inspiring message from our president, Greg Williams, entitled, “Jesus our True Foundation.” The Communion was given by his wife, Susan Williams. We were delighted and thankful for the presence of Greg and Susan. Members very much appreciated their messages and the opportunity to spend time in fellowship with them. We were also delighted to have the GCI Goodna, Queensland choir present their lively special music.

Aus conference 2022Aus conference 2022Pastors and leaders shared experiences and aspects of the Faith, Hope, and Love Avenues that are being implemented in their various areas. RD Dennis Richards presented on the trinitarian foundations of the Team-based, Pastor-led model, and Coach Martin Bailey led a Zoom presentation on the four E’s [Encourage, Engage, Equip, Empower.] All the presentations were informative and encouraging.

Activities included a fun family night with dancing and games and a dinner for Gen XYZ leaders. Twenty-four young people gathered to have lunch on the beach and an exciting game of Archery Zone. After the restrictions of COVID, it was lovely to see young people from all around the country gather once again and have some fun!

Everyone appreciated the global update from Greg. He warmly described the faithfulness of our leaders and members, in their various life circumstances, in the countries he has visited this year. It was a great reiteration of the connectedness we have with our brothers and sisters internationally, and an affirmation of the central role the Home Office plays in strengthening our ties and bringing us together as a global team. The presentations and prayers over the five days were an inspiration to all and a great motivation to keep moving forward with Living and Sharing the Gospel, being Spirit-led with Jesus as our True Foundation.

P.S. Greg and Susan departed our shores to visit the church in Fiji. Stay tuned for this update in a future issue!

Daphne Sidney PortraitBy Daphne Sidney
Australasia Superintendent

 

 

MTC Launch—Accra, Ghana

An exciting milestone has been accomplished in Ghana with the launch of a Ministry Training Centre (MTC). A ribbon cutting ceremony was performed to the cheers of more than 500 members who witnessed the significant moment. Joined by Emmanuel Okai, Regional Director of West Africa, and Theo Okai, Ghana National Pastor, Superintendent Kalengule Kaoma cut the ribbon to usher in this important phase of leadership training and empowerment in Africa. “The Accra Ghana MTC was inaugurated during the Sunday service on August 28, 2022, at our Kutunse Convention Auditorium with the clear presence of the Holy Spirit,” Emmanuel Okai said of the event.

I am writing this update because The Ambassador College of Christian Ministry (ACCM) is delighted to partner with this important program. Classes have already begun with the Jesus and the Gospels course, which I am teaching with Kalengule. He reflected on that first day, “We were blessed with John Mclean’s Zoom presence in class, and we had a good time. The MTC meetings went very well. I’m grateful to God, the organisers, and sponsors for making possible this grand step in GCI Ghana.”

Theo Okai (far left) and Kalengule Kaoma (far right) with MTC students from Togo and Benin.

The first short steps in the proverbial “journey of a thousand miles” have been taken in both programmes. Or as Emmanuel Okai put it, “Like the Biblical mustard seed, ACCM classes started for leaders in the West Africa region in August 2022.” Our confidence for success is based on our resolve to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit as Christ directs our region to become the best possible expressions of healthy churches and healthy members led by healthy leaders.

We appreciate your prayers for the successful development of the MTC and ACCM’s ongoing contribution. Together, we celebrate the work of the Holy Spirit and the “I” in GCI.

John McLean PortraitBy John McLean,
ACCM Director

Gold Medalist—Zambia

Greetings GCI family,

The Zambian church is excited and humbled to have raised an African Champion! Muzala Samukonga won a gold medal in the 400 metre event at the 2022 African Championships in Mauritius in June. He also won a gold medal at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, finishing in 44.66 seconds in the 400 metre race.

Muzala, age 19, is the first born in a family of six boys and one girl. Together with his mother and siblings, he congregates at GCI Central church in Lusaka. We are very proud of the young man as GCI family and thank God for being with him. Let’s remember him in our prayers, asking for him to stay focused on God as he is an example to the youths in our congregation and indeed all of Africa.

By Grace Namukolo
Lusaka, Zambia

Back-to-School Carnival—Glendora, CA, US

We attribute the success of our kids’ back-to-school carnival to the Holy Spirit and the prayers of many who partnered with us in the weeks leading up to the event. Every Sunday for three months, members and friends of GCI Glendora were encouraged to pray for enough volunteers and for God’s will for the carnival.

A week before the event, our Love Avenue champion took the initiative of emailing and mailing out a specific prayer list of what to pray for before, during, and after the carnival. We prayed not just for ourselves and the volunteers, but also for the Holy Spirit to prepare the hearts of the neighbors who would come. Some members performed a “prayer walk” in the surrounding neighborhoods, while going door-to-door to pass out fliers announcing the carnival.

We are compelled by the love of God to serve our neighborhood – that’s our central reason behind neighborhood engagement. Specifically, we held this initial event because we desired to:
• get to know our neighborhood and have some fun with them,
• allow the neighborhood to get to know us and know that we exist,
• bring about a change of mindset from inward to outward,
• provide training for volunteers to be more effective at future activities, and
• create an opportunity to celebrate obedience to God’s call to reach out and serve, regardless of the outcome.

Our goals for the carnival were:
• to give people a good time,
• to start getting to know kids in our neighborhood,
• to help the kids have a good time. Every player wins a prize.

We would have been content if only two kids had attended – but we were amazed and grateful that approximately 200 people showed up! All our neighborhood engagement and carnival preparation has been an act of faith in our God who provides so much more than we expect or imagine.

Through this new Love Avenue experience, we are learning the slow and consistent process of getting to know our neighborhood and how we can best serve with the gifts we already have. It’s as if God is saying to us, “Trust Me. Watch and see what I will do through your obedience to me.”

By Jillian Morrison
Associate Pastor, Glendora, California

Connect Group—Miramar, FL, US

The U.S. Southeastern region hosted a webinar series early in 2021, facilitated by Ted Johnston, featuring our We Believe curriculum. Ted emphasized how instructive and impactful this tool can be for discipleship and spiritual formation in the Faith Avenue. Several congregations in our region began engaging the We Believe content with their connect (small) groups.

GCI Miramar (Florida) and Pastor Charles Taylor reaped another “graduating” class that completed the We Believe series! The held a special meal to celebrate. I’m grateful for their willingness and diligence to engage trinitarian theology and its implications for life and mission in and with our triune God.

Would you like to learn more about We Believe? Check out the We Believe workbook which explores our core beliefs with individual study and communal discussions: We Believe Workbook

Congratulations to the GCI Miramar We Believe graduates. Praise God!

By Anthony Mullins
Regional Director, Southeast U.S.

Death of Tracey Rogers

Tracey was a retired pastor, who served in Jacksonville, Florida. On August 26, 2022, at the age of 86, he died in Colorado. The following was written by Pastor Marty Davey, who served with Tracey.


Our dear brother and faithful GCI minister, Tracey Rogers, recently passed. Tracey and his wife, Judi, moved from Jacksonville about 4 years ago to live near their daughter and family in Colorado. He and Judi have been living of late in a very nice, assisted living facility together.

Tracey’s family held a memorial service for him in Colorado. They plan to bring his ashes to Florida in the future, to scatter them where he loved his life and precious wife, whom he met on the beach in Jacksonville.

Tracey passed, having completed his pilgrimage and sojourn in this mortal life.  As was so eloquently said in Acts 7, we join with Tracey in saying with him, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Well done, Tracey – you have been a good and faithful servant!

Cards may be sent to:
Judi Rogers
c/o Morningstar Assisted Living & Memory Care
575 Tantra Drive
Boulder, CO  80395

GCI BUZZ—Integration

Welcome to GCI Buzz! What is GCI Buzz? It’s a tool we use to recap GCI buzzwords and terminology — definitions at a glance.

This month’s GCI Buzz defines integration and describes ways to create a welcoming space for guests. #gcibuzz

Click on the image below to check out the full PDF.

Volunteers Needed!

Devotional—Listening for Encouragement

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)

Silent battles are being fought every day. Many people daily are tripping over every obstacle of doubt and frustration. We have seen how many people faced seemingly insurmountable challenges during the past two years. And we have been encouraged to be kind to one another because we are not aware of the silent battles that the next person is facing. How are you? Are you almost at the end of your rope? Are you feeling lost and barely hanging on to the hope that is being eaten up by wave upon wave of discouragement?

Can we listen to the Holy Spirit for encouragement? And can we share encouragement as we listen to our friends and neighbors express their frustrations and troubles? Read Paul’s encouragement.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NIV)

Paul urges us “therefore, we do not lose heart…” stemming from a faith conviction, not merely a positive courageous attitude. Notice the contrasts in the words of the apostle. We’re wasting away outwardly, yet inwardly being renewed. Though our troubles seem to go on forever, are but momentary. While the weight of our troubles may seem heavy, he declares them as light – and they are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs all. The wasting away of our outer self corresponds to our mortal frame going through the hardships mentioned in verses 7 -12 of the previous chapter. God who has shaped us assures that we do not simply walk alongside him, but in him we live, move, and have our being. We are being renewed within the reality of his love.Our joy in this life is not contingent upon our circumstances. He can make our heart to sing even in time of difficulty. He can give us joy that is deeper than our suffering. We can trust our God. We can learn to enjoy this journey through the freedom of faith-filled expectation.Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thank you for carrying us through our difficulties. We surrender everything in your hands. We may not see everything nor understand all these painful challenges, but we trust your heart. Use these difficult experiences to renew us from the inside out. Empower us to listen for your voice. And equip us to be good listeners to others, sharing your voice of hope as they need it. Amen.

By Rex Dela Pena
Pastor and The Philippines Leadership Development Coordinator