GCI Update

Team Based—Chair Led

Grace Communion International Board of Directors

Dear GCI Friends and Family,

From time to time, I invite a guest writer to share with our church audience. It is my pleasure to have GCI Board Chair, Randy Bloom, as our guest writer this issue. Check out our interview here.

In Him,
Greg Williams


Grace Communion International exists as a beloved part of the universal church of Jesus. It exists to preach the Gospel of Jesus, and to make disciples as it participates in his ministry. GCI also exists as an organization recognized by and functioning under the laws of the US government. As such, it has a necessary structure for fulfilling its mission, as it is led and directed by the Holy Spirit. Under the direction and support of the Board, this structure is headed by the GCI President, Dr. Greg Williams, along with the Home Office staff and regional superintendents around the globe.

As Chair of the GCI board, I have been asked to explain the purpose of the board and how it functions.

The board provides high-level direction and support for the work of the church, mostly from behind the scenes, leaving the more visible aspects (the administrative aspects) of church ministry and mission to the President and his team. But the “behind the scenes” work of the board provides a solid foundation and pathway for the work of the church. The board also provides an extra layer of accountability within GCI – the President is accountable to the board. The primary responsibilities of the board include serving as a governing body (not involved in day-to-day administration or management) to:

      • Ensure the integrity of GCI’s theological framework and doctrine
      • Establish and maintain the vision and mission of GCI
      • Set basic policies (regarding personnel, finances, risk management, etc.)
      • Maintain financial health
      • Hire and support the President.

GCI theology and doctrine.

The “heavy lifting” of developing and establishing the foundational theological framework and doctrine for GCI has been accomplished by the prior work of the board. Today the board maintains the ongoing integrity of our theology and doctrine and is responsible for any future adjustments or clarifications as revealed by the Holy Spirit. The board has a doctrinal committee that reviews and decides doctrinal issues that arise from time to time.

GCI vision and mission

The mission of the church has been clearly set by Jesus: to preach the gospel and make disciples. This is the purpose of GCI (and any church). How that mission is lived out—what it “looks like” in various locations and cultures—needs to be worked out by the President, superintendents, regional directors, and pastors within the 69 countries in which GCI has a presence. With the Spirit leading, Greg and his team have developed missional plans and strategies for pursuing our GCI vision of “Healthy Church.” Greg keeps the board updated regularly on the development and progress of these plans.

Financial health and accountability

Through various committees, the board works to ensure GCI’s financial health. It reviews and approves the annual budget. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) provides quarterly financial updates to the board. Several committees are involved in managing the annual audit and providing oversight of investments. The CFO is also accountable to the board for all financial management systems, ensuring GCI operates according to established legal requirements. We are happy to say that every year GCI receives an “Unqualified Opinion,” the highest audit rating possible.

Support the President

While the President is accountable to the board, the board is also accountable to support the President. The board does this through its review and support of the President’s initiatives. More specifically, the board chair provides more focused support. I do this by maintaining regular contact with Greg. We talk regularly by Zoom. He shares his plans and ideas with me on a consistent basis, and he is open to suggestions and ideas from me. We have been friends and colleagues for many years, so our working relationship is professional and relational. We get along well, and communication is easy between us. He has often described our working relationship as one of coach and coachee.

I think it is important for people to realize that no one person “has the reigns of authority” within GCI. The President is accountable to the board and while the board has a Chair, the Chair is accountable to the board. Responsibility and accountability are shared. The board is, I hope, a good working example of “team based—chair led.”

Board composition

You may be wondering, “Who comprises the board? What kind of people are they?” I am honored to serve alongside a group of men and women who are experienced and competent in a variety of fields essential to the effective work of the board. Some are highly accomplished in various aspects of finances, management, and legal work. Some are experienced pastors. The board directors are as diverse as they are competent. What they all share in common is love for Jesus, for people, for GCI, and a respect for their fiduciary duties. To learn more about GCI board directors, click here.

Grace Communion Seminary board

An additional blessing, I encountered when I accepted the nomination as GCI board chair was that the GCI board chair also serves as the chair for Grace Communion Seminary. I enjoy serving alongside GCS President, Dr. Michael Morrison and other GCS board members. The GCS board fulfills the same purposes for the seminary as the GCI board serves for the church – to ensure the seminary mission, vision and finances are upheld and managed with integrity. The GCS board is comprised of directors who are experienced, competent, and committed to GCI and GCS. To learn more, visit GCS board.

As I was preparing to retire, I spent a great deal of time pondering and praying about “what was next,” what Jesus may have had in store for me in his ministry. Being asked to serve on the GCI board came as an unexpected surprise, and it has been a great joy to serve alongside GCI and GCS board members. The work is challenging in a good way and fits well into a very fluid retirement schedule. Serving on the board provides an opportunity to continue to work with dear friends and colleagues and serve GCI pastors and congregations in the U.S. and around the globe.

Randy Bloom
GCI Board Chair

2023 Denominational Celebration

We need volunteers to help with our Celebration Kids Club and Teen Sessions. Here’s how to sign up and receive a discount on your registration!

Celebration Childcare – Volunteer to Receive Discount!

House Churches—Bangladesh

Grace Communion now has a presence in Bangladesh after a legally registered Trust was formed in February 2022.

It all started after my wife, Christina, and I graduated from International Graduate School of Leadership (IGSL) in Metro Manila, Philippines. We had the privilege of being sponsored to study in this school. It was even more of a privilege to meet Dr. Eugenio Guzon in the library, and an instant friendship began.

[Editor’s Note: IGSL, formerly International School of Theology-Asia (ISOT-Asia), is part of Campus Crusade’s formal training resource. IGSL equips Spirit-filled men and women with the knowledge, character, competence, and vision to make an impact for Christ and to make disciples.]

Dr. Guzon asked me where I attend Sunday worship. I was looking for a church where my family and I could attend. Then, Dr. Guzon invited me to attend the GCI Crossway fellowship where Aron Tolentino was pastoring. We took an instant liking for the fellowship. The choir, sermon, doctrine and friendliness of the fellowship impressed us. We continued to attend until we graduated from IGSL. We were also privileged to attend GCI annual celebrations, pastoral trainings, youth camp, small group training by Dr. Gary and Cathy Deddo, and combined services with President Dr. Greg Williams.

After we graduated, we felt a strong connection with GCI. I made a request to Dr. Guzon to plant churches under GCI in Bangladesh. After sharing this vision with a few dedicated people, who were my students earlier, they were all willing to come on board. With their help we were able to reach out to many small villages where people were wanting to belong to a fellowship.

Now we have five house churches in two provinces. We have 108 baptized members of GCI. In addition, we have four potential house churches. These house churches are led by a team of two leaders. At the moment, members gather every Sunday in one of the houses of our leaders. They are very happy and passionate to walk with Jesus Christ.

After researching on registering churches in Bangladesh, I began preparing the documents with the help of a lawyer. After several corrections with the help of Dan Zachariah, Dr. Guzon, and the Home Office, we finally were able to register on February 15, 2022, as Grace Communion Church Bangladesh. We praise God for this accomplishment.

Many challenges remain. Bangladesh is a predominantly Islamic country. Only around 0.3 percent of the population are Christian. Limited resources and access to leadership trainings hamper our efforts. Nevertheless, we plan for sustainability and hope for 20 house churches in the next three years. The prayer of our worldwide fellowship is much appreciated.

Amiyo with Christina and their children

By Amiyo Bacher
Bangladesh Church Planter

Community Event—Carina, QLD, AU

On Sunday, October 9, GCI Carina in Queensland, Australia hosted a Love Avenue event in support of Mental Health Week. For this community engagement, GCI Carina partnered with Blue Phoenix, a group of volunteers who are passionate about changing the way people think about mental health issues.

As one of the co-founders of Blue Phoenix, I helped to spearhead this community-church partnership event. Blue Phoenix is determined to address the significant gap in mental health education in the community. Its purpose is not only to encourage people but to admire people and give them recognition and applause — it’s a big ask to recover from a mental illness.

Blue Phoenix is a group of volunteers who share their personal stories publicly to encourage conversations about mental health and to dispel myths about psychiatric conditions. They believe we should talk about mental health and well-being because when we talk, tell the stories, discuss stigma, and encourage a dialogue, we can dispel ignorance and myth. And we open our own and others’ hearts and minds to connection, hope, compassion, and recovery. That was our hope for gathering our neighbors for this event.

The Carina congregation hosted Blue Phoenix volunteers and community members for the launch of the sunflower quilt to celebrate its completion. This major textile work is a group initiative and challenge that took more than 12 months to complete. Now it has embarked on its mission to stimulate discussion and to promote thinking differently about mental health issues at the grass roots community level.

What a joy it was to join our larger Queensland community and neighbors celebrating Mental Health Week!

By Suzanna Free
Love Avenue Team

Elementary Clubs—Derby, KS, US

Five years ago, we relocated our church from the Youth Horizons building to Derby, Kansas. We attempted to engage the neighborhood with limited success. At the end of a neighborhood prayer walk, a member prayed, asking that we could serve our local elementary school. A short time later, Youth Horizons asked us to participate in a mentoring program at the school. A few members could mentor. We were excited and praised God for this opportunity.

The following year, we doubled the mentors, but COVID kept us from being with the students. A couple of members planned an afterschool STEM/Art connection group. We just had to wait for COVID to decline. When we were able to resume mentoring, a teacher asked us to assist with an afterschool STEM coding club. This in-school club, meeting twice a week, provided more effective engagement than the original plan. One day, a child walked by and asked, “Bible Club?”

After investigating, we discovered they had a Bible Club with Campus Kids Ministries, Inc. before COVID, and we could host it the coming year! The program provides course materials, treats, and a nice bible for each child after attending three weeks. We provide take-home copies, snacks, adult leaders, and prayer support.

This year, we continue assisting the STEM club and mentoring. Now we host the Bible Club. We currently have 50 students from kindergarten to fifth grade. We enjoy support from the principal and staff. We are permitted to pass out flyers inviting the club to our church events. Many came to our trunk-or-treat experience.

We’re looking forward to our winter GC Derby Camp and Parent Day Out. God continues to bring us opportunities that allow us to participate where he is already active. God shows us that he goes before us.

By Pastor Kirk and Laura Hayden
Grace Communion Derby

Women’s Retreat—AL, US

On the weekend of October 7-9, thirty women enjoyed a retreat at the St. Bernard Retreat Center in Cullman, Alabama. The retreat was sponsored by Grace Covenant Fellowship in Helena, Alabama. The theme for the weekend was Salvation Joy! The speakers were Gerrie Bayley, Barbara Dahlgren, Ruth Miller, and Sondra Peters.

Singer/songwriter Ann Hartmann provided wonderful music (annhartmann.com). Mary Jo Leaver gave a beautiful presentation of Music to the Eyes. Mary Jo’s ministry to the hearing impaired involves amazing lyrical sign language renditions of some of her favorite songs.

Gerrie Bayley, who lives in England, is involved in ministry to the children of Chernobyl, Ukraine. Her slide presentation of the conditions in the Ukraine and her descriptions of the type of help needed resulted in generous donations to assist those in need.

Friday and Saturday evenings were filled with lots of great fellowship and board games! Beautiful fall weather helped make it a memorable weekend for all who attended.

By Ruth Miller

 

 

Devotional—But the Lord Said Go

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)

10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem, 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; Acts 9:10-15 NRSVUE

Paul was infamous for persecuting Christians until he met Jesus while travelling to Damascus. Paul was blinded, but God used this blindness as a way of getting his attention.

Meanwhile, God spoke to the disciple Ananias. He did not anticipate that the Lord would send him to the likes of Paul. It must have been confusing and frightening for Ananias. He was asked to show compassion and extend healing to someone known for arresting and killing his fellow believers. But despite the uncertainty and fears for his own safety, Ananias obeyed. In doing so, he participated not only in bringing light to Paul by restoring his eyesight, but in God’s bigger work through Paul to bring the light of gospel to the world.

Witnessing for Christ can be daunting. It is a call that sometimes takes us to difficult places and people. We see our neighbors’ and co-workers’ offenses and flaws. We may be deterred by the reputations that precede them. But Jesus compels us to love them just the same, because his desire is to reach all people.

Like Ananias, we too are being sent to minister to others, even to those who are difficult or with whom we have differences. It can feel scary and confusing, and we may even wonder to God: “where are you going with this?” But where the Lord sends us, we can follow him in faith, trusting that he is already at work, and that there is no limit to what he can do in the lives of the people around us.

Prayer:
Thank you, God, for bringing us into this relationship with you, for allowing us to know your heart, and for giving us space to participate in your ministry of reconciliation towards all people. Open our eyes to opportunities for sharing the good news of Jesus. As you send us, grant us the courage and compassion to extend your love to others in intentional and meaningful ways. Amen.

By Joyce Tolentino
Hope Avenue Team, GC Crossway, Manila, PH

 

We Are GCI—Randy Bloom

In this episode of We Are GCI, GCI President, Dr. Greg Williams interviews Randy Bloom, the GCI Board Chair. Together they discuss Randy’s new role as the Board Chair for GCI and his love for American History.