GCI Update

Holy Spirit

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

Have you ever experienced the power of the wind? My most vivid memory was living in Fayetteville, NC, when the outer bands of Hurricane Fran blew 80 mph gusts through the wooded acre of my backyard. The combination of the high-pitched whistling sounds and the cracking of limbs as they broke and fell was unnerving, to say the least.

Wind is a common theme in the Bible. It has been compared to the breath of God in Genesis, to the length of life in Psalms, and to the Holy Spirit. We see Jesus referring to the wind in his conversation with Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel and a Pharisee. He was talking to Nicodemus about being born again when he said:

The wind blows where it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. John 3:8

Jesus is reminding Nicodemus that just as you cannot see the wind or know it is there, except by what it does — rustling the trees, blowing the dust around, wreaking havoc in your backyard — you cannot see any outward signs in those who are born again. But you can tell who is born from above by the fruit produced in their life. Just as the invisible power of the wind accomplishes things that can be seen, the invisible power of the Holy Spirit works in converted Christians producing fruit like love, joy, patience, and kindness.

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Devotional—We Are One

All these [gifts] are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 1 Corinthians 12:11-13 (NIV)

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost gave birth to a new living entity, a body whose international members powerfully proclaimed the revolution of Christ’s kingdom on earth: diversity does not have to mean division, and unity does not have to be uniformity.Instead of giving in to the temptation to compare ourselves with other people and let our differences divide us, let us celebrate humanity’s rich diversity of cultures and languages.

Instead of thinking we’re better than other people or feeling insecure around others with gifts we don’t have, let us celebrate the fact that we belong to one another and that we need each other to be the unique part of the body no one else can be.

Christ came to break down social and ethnic barriers so that his followers may be unified and healed in him. In the body of Christ, no one person and their gifts are “better” than another. Every follower of Jesus has an indispensable role to play in the restoration of creation through unity and self-giving love.

Prayer: Abba Father, thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit. I need your Spirit to transform me into a new person, one who lives and loves more like your Son Jesus. I need your Spirit to discern the spiritual gifts you’ve given me to build up the body of Christ. I need you, Holy Spirit. Come and fill me anew. Amen.

By Jillian Morrison, Associate Pastor
Glendora, CA, US

Neighbor Day

On March 26, GCI Carina celebrated Neighbour Day with our community. Neighbours are encouraged to get together in small and large ways on this annual event promoted by Relationships Australia, a leading provider of relationship support services.

We promoted the event on Facebook and Nextdoor (a hyperlocal social network to connect neighbors). And we placed a banner at the Carina Community Centre a couple of weeks before the event. Most importantly, we reached out to people passing by in the nearby park on the day. More than 25 people from the neighbourhood enjoyed the BBQ with our church members. We also had fun serving ice cream and playing games with the young.

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

From Equipper—Symbols of Pentecost

This month we’re highlighting a spiritual practice from Equipper.

Enjoy and subscribe today!

Pentecost is part of the Christian Worship (Liturgical) Calendar. This year, it is observed on May 28 and is a celebration that commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ. It is celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Easter, which is 50 days after Easter Sunday. The name “Pentecost” comes from the Greek word pentekoste, which means “fiftieth.”

The celebration of Pentecost can also commemorate the birth of the church, as it was the day when the disciples followed Jesus’ instruction and gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit. Luke tells us of this remarkable event in Acts 2.

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 ESV)

From this great outpouring, the believers were empowered to go out of the upper room and be witnesses of Jesus. It is interesting that churches find different liturgical ways to commemorate Pentecost, including the use of symbols. In the early days of the church and today, symbols play a big part in helping Christians to teach, preach, and to create a more meaningful celebration. God often uses symbols like those we read about in the above passage, to bring our attention back to him. The symbols give us new ways to think about God. There are several objects from the day of Pentecost that often symbolize the Holy Spirit.

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Avenue Champions Commissioned

On Sunday, April 16, the church plant growing in the Steele Creek neighborhood of Charlotte, NC took an important step in its development by commissioning its Avenue champions. Each of the three leaders was chosen after a season of individual and collective discernment. It was clear to the church plant team that the new champions were equipped by the Holy Spirit to serve in their respective roles.

Michelle Fleming will serve as the champion of the Hope Avenue. Stacey Meade will head up the Love Avenue. Afrika Afeni Mills will lead the Faith Avenue. We praise God for putting in place such capable leaders and will continue to hold Michelle, Stacey, and Afrika in prayer for the journey ahead.

By Dishon Mills, Church Planter
Charlotte, NC, US

GCI BUZZ — Mentoring & Coaching

At GCI, we believe that healthy churches are made up of healthy leaders and healthy relationships. This month’s GCI Buzz explains the basics of Mentoring & Coaching and defines their differences. #gcibuzz

Check out the full PDF here.
Find a print-friendly version here.

Philippine Youth Camp

The Bicol Youth Camp was held April 5-8. Sixty campers attended from different local churches in five provinces of Bicol Region, Philippines. The camp was held at the Grace Communion Cotmon property. (Cotmon is a barangay in the municipality of Polangui, in the province of Albay. A barangay is a small district forming the most local level of government.) Forty-five staff volunteers were led by camp director Pastor Justine Paolo Parcasio (Jep).

Every day included a plenary session with a devotional message and worship. Activities for the four dorms were basketball, archery, ballroom dancing, Christian living, and community service.

The second day included a variety show where the dorms showcased their talents in singing, dancing, and acting. The day ended with a night of worship and prayer. It was an inspiring time. Many campers wrote in their evaluation of camp that it was one of their highlights.

On the third day, the campers had a 5 a.m. start time with a hike. The campers and staff formed a line and slowly but determinedly followed the narrow trail up the mountain. At the top, while appreciating the amazing view, everyone enjoyed a devotional message and sang, “How Great Thou Art.” The dorms were also given quiet time for solitude in nature.

The campers celebrated the last night of camp with a dance. After a short talk on etiquette, I led the campers in an ice-breaker activity. The campers exhibited the ballroom dancing skills (cha-cha and swing) they learned in class.

The last day began with the sunrise service and people in the community were invited to join. The last day concluded with clubs and an award ceremony. Clubs are mini workshops in worship leading, worship dance, drums, bass, and sound system.

The campers went home filled with experiences to share with their friends outside the camp. The camp truly is a blessing, not just to the campers, but also to the staff. To participate in God’s expansion of his kingdom on earth is an honor, but also a humbling experience. We can’t wait for next year’s camp!

By Jessica Joy Pamor, GC Pili Youth Leader
Bicol, Philippines

4 Es Retreat

In March, thirty members participated in this year’s Refresher Weekend on the beautiful Kapiti Coast, an hour north of Wellington, New Zealand. Martin Bailey from Melbourne was our guest presenter. Martin is a qualified business mentor who has spent 13 years in productivity improvement and training for some of the world’s largest companies.

Dennis Richards and Martin Bailey

The theme was the 4 Es: Engage, Equip, Empower, and Encourage. The 4 Es describe a process focused on developing people for ministry participation and leadership. Martin began with an overview of the Faith, Hope, and Love Avenues, then led a session on each of the 4 Es. We all really enjoyed his relaxed and personable style, punctuated with short video clips and spiced with a liberal dose of humour.

Martin focused on equipping and empowering us to share the gospel by simply being real and authentic. He kept pointing us back to the practical application of the message, caring for others, and taking their perspective. He encouraged us to start with something small and see where it leads. Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman started as small as “Can I have a drink?” and ended with a whole village coming to believe in the Messiah.

The intention was to seek the Spirit’s guidance toward what we might actively put into practice. The attendees committed to trying one or more of Martin’s small steps and discussing the results at our next Celebration in September. All were encouraged to share what they learned with others so the whole church could benefit.

Phil Baldwin started each of the sessions with a short devotional service and Rex Morgan led communion, which was a fitting way to conclude a wonderful time together.

The board members stayed an additional night for a meeting on Monday. Dennis Richards presented his strategic directions update, reporting progress achieved and challenges ahead. He concluded by noting 2023 is midway through GCI’s Three-year Plan. In 2022 we introduced the three Avenue ministries underpinning GCI’s missional aspirations. In 2023 we established these operationally. And in 2024, we’ll focus on settling these into the life rhythms of the church.

Rex Morgan with wife, Marilyn

Rex Morgan, Pastor
Auckland, New Zealand

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.