GCI Update

The Beatitudes

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

If you are like me, you get saturated with media that is filled with stories promoting prideful self-centeredness, willful hate, destructive violence, and all forms of godlessness. Australasia Superintendent, Daphne Sidney introduced me to the term “learned helplessness.” It is a wearing down over time that leads to hopelessness and despair. You and I are prone to it also.

One of the most beautiful parts of the Sermon on the Mount is a section we call the Beatitudes. It paints a picture of hope and restoration. But it’s also a passage that can be wrongly interpreted. It is vital to know how to read this with Christ’s intended meaning. We need “ears to hear.”

Allow me to begin with a couple of wrong postures.

Us and Them

“Us” means we see ourselves as the disciples gathered on the hillside, eager learners at the feet of Jesus. “Them” are the ones who revile and persecute us; the ones who aren’t pure, who break the peace, the unmerciful. We have embraced a worldview of good guys and bad guys and inserted ourselves into the good guy category. (Imagine a loud buzzer sound to indicate, “wrong answer!”)

The real answer here is “us and him.” We may be sitting on the hillside, but which one of “us” is humble, merciful, pure, and seeking the good for all? That one would be Jesus, and him alone. “Us,” all of humanity, have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

It is only Jesus who has fulfilled the beatitudes, and get this, you and I are “blessed” because he has.

Read More

Devotional—A New Heart

A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

I was born with a defect in my heart. This is not uncommon. It’s called a heart murmur, commonly. If the defect is not an “innocent” murmur, surgery may be required to repair or replace the valve. My first open-heart surgery was during Covid at age 61. Unfortunately, I needed a second surgery two weeks later! My talented surgeon has performed more than 2500 operations, and this was the first time he needed to do a second open-heart surgery. But the second surgery went well. Afterward, when the surgeon listened to my heart, he murmured, “Lovey dovey!” He was so pleased to hear no heart murmur.

My real heart issues are common to all humanity. We all need a new heart and Spirit within us. The Father’s heart is totally for us. The triune Creator knows we need his heart. Jesus is God’s heart given for us.

God’s heart-to-heart conversation with humanity is in and through Jesus—his eternal Word made flesh for us. It is the conversation in which the great exchange takes place, leading to a deep and meaningful conversion—real, transforming communion with our triune God.

We have new life in him, the resurrection life operating in our hearts and minds and eventually bodies, forever. New life is a once and for all heart transplant, which surely makes God murmur, “Lovely dovey!”

Prayer: Loving Father, we deeply thank you for our new life in your Son, Jesus, poured in us through your Holy Spirit. Our hearts forever joined to yours, may we rest more fully in your bosom.

By Bharat Naker, pastor
Carina and Logan, Qld, AU




P.S. Learn more about our devotional writer here.

GCI Buzz—Calling

This month’s GCI Buzz explains calling. Our primary calling, as followers of Christ, is to him, by him, and for him. First and foremost, we are called to someone (God), not to something (such as motherhood, politics, or teaching) or to somewhere (such as our neighborhood or a different country). #gcibuzz

Click the image below to check out the full, printer-friendly PDF.



Children’s Choir

It is a joy to visit the Goodna congregation in Queensland, Australia. I’m always uplifted by the many children present. As their children’s local education is only in English, the Goodna members want to support their children in not losing their Swahili language and songs. They also want their children to learn musical instruments as is their custom. Singing and playing instruments is a meaningful way for the children to take part in church and feel included.

Therefore, they hired a music teacher to teach classes initially on Saturday at the assistant pastor, Elder Gilbert Bulimwengu’s home. Now the children learn and practice on Sunday at church after services. The children are learning Swahili and English songs, and they sound very beautiful.

The Goodna congregation also celebrated the baptism of a young adult in December. Bob Regazzoli had the privilege of baptising Veronica Bulimwengu (pictured below).

Daphne Sidney PortraitBy Daphne Sidney, Superintendent of Australasia




Youth Baptisms

We are so happy to announce the baptism of the six young adults in our Pasadena congregation on March 26, 2023! We held the baptism and the worship service in one of our members’ backyards. It was wonderful having the congregation witness and support the youth in their acceptance of Jesus as their personal Savior.

I have seen them grow physically and spiritually, and I thank God for how he is working in the life of our church. May we continue to be aware of the Spirit’s work in the lives of our members, and may we join the triune God in their love for them.

By Angie Tabin, pastor
Pasadena, CA, US

Primary School Mentors

Coinciding with the beginning of the school year, on February 12, GCI Mooroolbark had its yearly commissioning service for the eight members who mentor at a local primary school under the Kids Hope Australia mentoring program.

Kids Hope is a charitable organisation which connects a local primary school with a local church. The church provides volunteers to spend time with students who need some extra care and support through a one-on-one mentoring relationship.

The Mooroolbark congregation has been in partnership with the school and Kids Hope since 2004. This year is the 20th year! More than 100 students have been mentored in this time. Craig Ingham, a church member, was also commissioned for his role as the school chaplain in the same school.

By Matthew Gudze, pastor (pictured above, far left)
Mooroolbark, Victoria, AU


Faith, Hope, & Love in Action Workshop

“In early March, we held a Faith, Hope, and Love in Action workshop in Jacksonville, FL. Teams of pastors and their three Avenue champions attended from 10 US congregations, two Canadian congregations, and one Caribbean congregation. I was inspired by the teachability of the group, their hunger for learning more, and their eagerness to be more intentional and active when they return home.” —Greg Williams, President

The workshop would not have been possible without the involvement of the members of our home office staff: Michelle Fleming, Communications Director, Pam Morgan, Operations Coordinator, Cara Garrity, Development Coordinator, and Lucy Enerio, Administrative Assistant. Thank you for your dedication to plan and execute this workshop. We’re grateful for their vision to create an interactive workshop.

The Appreciative Inquiry model was used, that seeks to engage participants in self-determined change. The teams spent most of the day and half workshop in small group discussions, in a collaborative, strength-based approach. Our GCI coaches played an important role, guiding the discussions with the following prompts:

      • Discover what gives you life in your role.
      • Dream what could be.
      • Design how you can make your dream a reality.
      • Develop a plan to deploy your design.

“It was good and pleasant to fellowship with fellow encourager “champs” and to learn and inspire one another. The coaching provided was delivered in a very kind way. We all learned from each other, and the coaches were there to champion (encourage) the champions by giving wise prompts (questions).” –Jay Santibanez, Faith Avenue Champion, Richardson, TX, US

“It was such a blessing to join other teams from across North America to collaborate on practical ideas and strategies for the three Avenues. It was also enriching to bring our local team together for focused sessions with a coach. I realized the importance of togetherness, and this workshop was a great reminder that we get to participate in ministry “with” Jesus. “With” might have to be my word for the year!”–Gillian Houghton, Hope Avenue Champion, Winnipeg, Canada

The Jacksonville, FL congregation generously hosted the event, with nearly a dozen volunteers providing hospitality to the 65 guests. Thank you!

The GCnext Fund helps make it possible for GCI to provide workshops like this one in the US. We invite you to support our leadership development programs by donating to the GCnext Fund.   

Here are two ways for churches to donate:

    • Church treasurers can login to online.gci.org and select Manage, Church Donations to the Denomination. You may give a one-time donation or set up recurring support to GCNext.
    • Send a check made out to “Grace Communion International,” with GCNext in the memo, to: Grace Communion International, 3120 Whitehall Park Drive, Charlotte, NC 28273-3335. For assistance, phone donation support at 980-495-3977.

Donations to the GCnext fund, which are tax deductible in the U.S., are used to support U.S. domestic missions.

Come Sing With Us

During our Denominational Celebration, we have the unique opportunity to experience worship by a choir with representatives from across all six of our global regions. All singers who register for the Denominational Celebration are eligible to participate. Click on the image below for more information. 

Only 11 Days Left to Register for the Denominational Celebration!

Volunteer at the Denominational Celebration

Would you like to volunteer? Send an email to home.office@gci.org and we’ll get back to you with the sign-up info.  

Are you considering volunteering, but you have questions?

Check out our Q&A.

Q: The conference is 3+ days. Will I be expected to serve the entire time? Every session? What’s my time commitment?
A: Each shift or session is 2.5 hours or less. We ask that you choose and serve for one shift. Of course, you can choose more than one shift.

Q: Do I have to create my own lessons / curriculum?
A: No. We will provide a lesson and activity with all supplies for your session.

Q: How many other adults will I be with?
A: Depending on the age group, you will be with at least two other volunteers during your shift.

Q: Can I request which age group I help with? If I’d rather serve with teens, can I request that?
A: Absolutely. On the sign-up, you will see that the shifts are organized by grade/age and times. You can pick any open slot.

Do you have additional questions? Please send your questions to home.office@gci.org 

The GCI Swag Store Is Now Open

GCI Gear is Here!

We are excited to announce that GCI clothing and accessories are now available as part of our Denominational Celebration! Represent our fellowship and reflect your personal style. Shop now, by clicking on the image below.

We chose the vendor for our on-demand store based on their high-quality and ethically sourced items, as well as their ability to ship internationally. However, please note that the shipping costs are per item. You can get detailed shipping information here. 

2023 Healthy Church Challenge

Join the 2023 Healthy Church Challenge and help us

Remember Our First Love 

at the Denominational Celebration.

Hey there, all young GCI members between the ages of 8 and 17, we’ve got an exciting opportunity for you! You’re invited to take part in the Healthy Church Challenge. We invite you to showcase your creativity and talent by submitting a video. Your video will be featured at the Denominational Celebration if it’s selected in the initial screening. And guess what? The final winners will receive a special prize! 

The deadline to enter is May 1, 2023, so there’s plenty of time to plan your video if you start today. To learn more about the challenge and how to participate, head over to www.gci.org/challenge. We can’t wait to hear your stories!