GCI Update

Not-so Ordinary Time

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Friends and Family,

Ordinary Time is the period following Pentecost and takes us up to Christ the King Sunday on the worship calendar. It is the season to be attentive to the call of discipleship and disciple making. Ordinary Time connects nicely with our 2023 theme, Faith, Hope, and Love in Action.

During this time, we focus more on what we are called to do and what we are called to be, as we participate with Christ. So, what will Faith, Hope, and Love in Action look like at our local congregational level in 2023?

Ordinary Time is a period of nearly six months. In the US, it occurs during the summer and early autumn and includes the months when most children are on their school break. Allow me to point out an opportunity for us to reach out to youth and families. Ordinary Time is prime time for neighborhood youth camps. Unfortunately, the Covid pandemic kept us sidelined from these opportunities, but now we can rejoin this wonderful expression of how we share Christ’s love.

In my background with Youth for Christ and GCI’s Generations Ministries, I spent multiple summers at youth camps around the country and around the world. I experienced the beauty of how adults can share their time, skills, and faith in interaction with young people. Past research indicates that if a young person comes to a relationship with Jesus by age 13, it is likely they will remain a faithful follower for life. I came to believe this as truth.

Read More

Devotional—Unto You I Lift My Eyes

Editor’s Note:  For our Ordinary Time Devotional series, you will be hearing entirely from young authors. They will be sharing their perspectives on the theme, “God is in the streets.” Enjoy reading how the next generation of emerging GCI leaders experiences God outside the walls of the Sunday church gathering.

Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens. Psalm 123:1 NKJV

Target fixation is something that I began as I started riding motorcycles. As one of my instructors candidly described it: “You will drive your bike towards whatever you’re looking at even if you’re trying to avoid it.” If I focus and worry about an incoming pothole, then I will surely run over that pothole.

POV view of motorcycle driverSuch is life. We worry about our adversities, our life’s road hazards, because it’s a threat. It’s difficult, painful, and it causes fear. As much as we want to steer clear and find a better way to conquer them, our fear—in effect—makes us focus on them instead.

Unto you I lift my eyes. We declare our intention to lift our eyes to the Lord and not on our circumstances. If we had to fixate on a target, it would be him.

O You who dwell in the heavens. By remembering the nature of God, we grow in trust and confidence. Earth may provide no mercy or help, but heaven has plenty. We are able to focus on God because we trust in him.

As we navigate the streets of our lives, may we remember that worrying about our adversities doesn’t help us overcome them. The “potholes” of life won’t magically disappear, but focusing on the Lord draws us toward a path that brings us closer to him and helps us better overcome life’s road hazards.

Prayer: Lord, thank you that we can trust you and direct our attention to you. You rid us of our worries, you set our hearts free from fear. We humbly ask for help to lift our eyes unto you always so that we are directed towards a path that draws us near to you. Amen.

Justin Dedrick “Dids” Raduban, Hope Avenue Team
Santa Rosa City, Laguna, Philippines


Easter in Africa

The GCI East Africa conference, held April 4 – 9, was a wonderful gathering. We were honored to host GCI President, Dr. Greg Williams, and Heber Ticas. Heber is the Superintendent of Latin America and Spanish-speaking areas.

This year the conference was hosted by my region in Kenya. The East Africa region did splendid work planning and hosting. I’m very grateful for the hard work and commitment shown by our local leaders. GCI Africa Superintendent, Kalengule Kaoma, led the African team of regional directors: Emmanuel Okai (West), Gardner Kunje (Central), Takalani Musekwa (Southern), and Anthony Gachanja (East). Delegates attended from Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana, South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Southern Sudan, and Kenya.

The theme of the conference was “Hope Avenue: Inclusive Participation.” All presentations and activities revolved around this theme. Conference delegates were challenged to be intentional in practicing what they learned from the meetings. Maundy Thursday service was one example. Participants enjoyed the gathering and fellowship of the Lord’s Supper. Exceptional inclusiveness was also demonstrated at our Resurrection Sunday service through song, dance, communion, and a shared meal.

Greg and Heber were showered with love from Africa. It was exciting to see members taking pictures with the president. It was a demonstration of their love for the denomination and its president. Greg did not turn anyone away who wanted to have a picture or a short discussion with him.

After the conference, Greg led the African cohort on a safari drive in Maasai Mara, the leading national park in Kenya. It was a good way to unwind.

The delegates shared wonderful comments regarding GCI leadership. This comment sums up the feedback about GCI leadership: “We don’t just teach concepts, we live them.” When we speak of our vision of Healthy Church, health is demonstrated in leaders first. It was not a struggle for the delegates to observe health in the leaders. Feeling invigorated, we are now back to the business of practicing Healthy Church.

Anthony, pictured with Greg Williams and his wife, Jane

Anthony Gachanja, Regional Director of East Africa
Nairobi, Kenya


Community Partnership

This spring we partnered with a business owner in our community for an engagement event. We hosted Mark’s Ark at our church building and invited the neighborhood.

Mark is an animal handler who shares wild animals to entertain and educate people. During his safe and humorous presentation, the audience is permitted to pet or hold the animals. Mark brought with him a potbelly pig, an American alligator, two Tangerine Ringneck doves, a white goose, a hedgehog, two ball python snakes, two leopard geckos, and a chinchilla.

We had the opportunity to engage with 21 people who joined us from the neighborhood. More than half the participants were children. They loved holding and petting the animals.

David Howe, Pastor
Fort Wayne, IN, US




LiLY Women’s Conference

Grace Communion Cleveland hosted their 19th Annual LiLY Women’s Conference on April 14-16, at Embassy Suites in Beachwood, Ohio. Seventy-three women took part in our conference that highlighted the theme, “Rekindle” (2 Tim 1:6-7).

Friday night the weekend began with a praise & worship band followed by speaker Josephine Shelton-Townes. Her topic was “Blessed, not Stressed.” She shared how we can block ourselves from blessings by allowing stress to take root in our lives. One of the big takeaways from the session was, “The word no is a complete sentence.”

Saturday morning, after praise and worship, Joy Traschel shared a session titled, “Reclaiming What Has Been Stolen.” She showed us in scripture how David strengthened himself in the Lord. Using his example, she highlighted the importance of naming what has been stolen, taken, or given away. We were reminded of the need to know who we are praying to and change our posture when inquiring of the Lord.

Rachel Scott

Next, Rachel G. Scott led Saturday morning and afternoon sessions. She spoke about how Peter denied Christ, but God still embraced him. She explained how Peter desired to go back to what was familiar, being a fisherman. However, he was given a new job, feeding the sheep. As God gives us assignments, we cannot become distracted.

Saturday evening ended with a prayer service and powerful testimonials. The final session was our church service held on Sunday. Pastor Tamar Gray spoke about how we have everything we need to move forward from the weekend with power, love, and self-discipline in Jesus Christ.

Save the Date: Our 20th annual conference will be held on April 24-26, 2024. Follow us on Facebook@lilywomensconference for more information.

Rosa Hulse, Women’s Ministry leader
Cleveland, OH, US

Prayer Guide—June 2023

Join us in communion and corporate prayer this month as we thank God that he includes us in his good work.

“Christians pray because they have to, because the Spirit is surging up inside them.” ― Rowan Williams

Click here or the image below to download and print the June Prayer Guide, which celebrates how God is working in and among our fellowships. #WeAreGCI


Meet Lucy Santibanez Enerio

“As with any role, I am learning and evolving as roles may evolve and change over time. At times, there isn’t a clear mold that we need to “fit” in, but we lean into God’s call and submit ourselves to the Potter’s hands and be open to using the gifts that we are blessed with as we serve.”—Lucy Santibanez Enerio

Check out this month’s GCI Profile to get to know Lucy, GCI Home Office Administrative Assistant in Charlotte, NC. To read her full profile, click the image below. #WeAreGCI 

You’re Invited—Bob Ehlen’s Retirement Celebration

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.