GCI Update

Looking Ahead

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

I bring you greetings from our six GCI global superintendents. We met for planning meetings after the Denominational Celebration. The group was basking in the afterglow of “Remembering Our First Love in Jesus.” Jesus’ love was experienced in tangible ways – in the lingering of praise worship, the cacophony of fellowship with brothers and sisters, the celebration of GCS graduates, the inspiration of messages assuring us of Christ’s unfailing love, and the crescendo of communion uniting us to our Lord. The level of encouragement and assurance of participation with Jesus was off the charts. We have received many words of appreciation and stories of transformation.

One of the most unique experiences was enduring three fire alarms. Two alarms on Friday afternoon and one early Saturday morning (1:44 am). The early morning drill could’ve easily caused attitudes to flare and turned into a deeply negative experience for our attendees. However, during the fire drill, we saw members helping others, especially the elderly and those with mobility limitations. Then once outside, several service-minded members brought chairs outside and water to drink on the humid night. We were a sight in our various versions of sleeping attire, and yet the spirit was light and good-natured. The love of Jesus was experienced.

One man staying at the hotel for a family reunion was in tears on Saturday morning as he stood in the breakfast line and recounted his early morning experience. He was having chest pains and the paramedics were going to transport him to the hospital. Thankfully the chest pains stopped, and he was able to stay at the hotel. His experience watching our GCI brothers and sisters in action, helping so many, made an impact on him. He said that he saw heaven in action that early morning; the church was being the church. Sunday afternoon, we saw him again, this time he was wearing his pastor collar. Yes, unbeknownst to us he was a pastor and had just preached a sermon to his members in the hotel about what he had witnessed early Saturday morning. Thank you to so many for being GCI.

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Devotional—I See God

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.

The author with her dog, Rabbit.

I see God in many places throughout my daily life. I see him in the sounds of birds in the morning when I first wake up. I see him in the smiles that grace my parents’ faces when they see me for the first time each day. I see God when I pet my dog in the morning, and she smiles or kisses my face. I experience God whenever I can do something that brings me joy.

When I listen to music, Gospel or not, I hear God. When I look at nature, I see God and the beauty that he has given us every day, even the things that we may take for granted. I also see God on social media at times. There have been times when I am thinking of a certain friend. Then I go on Instagram or TikTok, and I see they have posted something that lets me know that they are doing well. I see God whenever I see a photo or video of someone doing something that they are very passionate about.

Lastly, I see God in the little things that happen every day that let me know he is looking out for me. There are times when I feel alone or distant from God, especially when I am anxious about something. Then, he does something that helps me remember that he is always with me, and I am never alone.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Prayer: Thank you, God, for always being with us. For giving us all the things that we see as beautiful, as a constant reminder of your everlasting love for us. You give us everything we need so that we want for nothing, and we can feel you everywhere. Amen.

Serena Mills
Steele Creek Church Plant, NC, US

Neighborhood Camp Big Sandy

Grace Communion Big Sandy was blessed to hold our first neighborhood day camp. We had a great time with the young people that attended and are grateful for God giving us this opportunity to participate in Jesus’ ministry in our community. It took a lot of planning and work, but it was definitely worth it!

Below is a description from our Love Avenue Assistant, Anna McIver.

Jerome Ellard, Pastor
Big Sandy, TX, US




The camp was held from Thursday, June 8 to Saturday, June 10. Each day began with a free lunch at noon; activities started at 1:00 pm, with a brief snack break at 3:00 pm. The day ended at 5:00 pm. The theme for Thursday was Challenge Day: Mind and Body Challenge Games. The games on Friday added the challenge of water elements.

Camp ended on Saturday with a Family Day. Campers played a game called, Minute to Win It, learned dining etiquette, and helped prepare and serve dinner to their families. During the free spaghetti dinner, the campers and their families enjoyed a slideshow of camp. Fifty-two attended our dinner, including the staff. We also presented a few awards for the campers and mini campers. Afterwards, roughly 30 stayed for a movie. Some of our guests preferred to stay in the dining hall to continue their conversations.

Best Practices and Lessons Learned

    • Throughout the three days, we had 25 volunteer workers. Staff jobs included: registration, food crew, medics, activity directors, security, crafts, tech, and spaghetti dinner prep. Most staff doubled as activity assistants.
    • Pre-registration opened online a week before camp. A QR code linked to our google doc. Thirteen campers pre-registered, which helped the registration team and shortened the check-in time.
    • Thirty-one campers attended. We anticipated 25 campers as our max capacity, with a target audience of 5th – 12th grades. However, we only had 16 in this age range. We had 15 campers who were 5th graders or younger.

We had a great turnout for our first attempt at neighborhood camp.


Neighborhood Camp Derby

On June 14 – 15, Grace Communion Derby hosted our first neighborhood day camp, “A Passport to Adventure.” The theme verse was Joshua 1:9. Camp ran from 7:30 am to 5 pm. God blessed us with 11 campers, 1st through 5th graders. Twenty-two staff members, ages 14 to 86, supported the camp. Fifteen came from GCDerby and three from local connections. We were also pleased to have the support and collaboration of three volunteers from two other GCI camps in our region.

On both mornings, campers arrived for a hot breakfast. Each day was filled with activities of music, worship skits, an escape room, arts and crafts, a science lab, board games, and outside events. The outside events included relay races, a water balloon toss, and any race that included getting wet to some degree.

We utilized church grounds and a city park across the street. Signage and flags identified the event to all who drove past. One of our members (74-year-old) served as a crossing guard.

A hot lunch and afternoon snack breaks were served each day. We ran two team tracks. Each team had an adult “navigator” leader. Campers had a personal passport with their picture. As they participated in the events, their passports would be stamped. Staff members came alongside the campers to support, cheer, and love them. No camper was left alone; someone would always engage and support them throughout the day.

As the camp concluded Thursday, parents came to a cookout and fixings for supper. Campers shared their artwork. The evening concluded with campers performing their musical skits.

Best Practices and Lessons Learned

    • Know your neighborhood. We served breakfast, because we learned that many campers participate in a free and reduced-price lunch program at their schools.
    • We offered scholarships to those who needed one. One parent told us that without the scholarship, her child would not have been able to come. Other parents expressed their gratitude.

Words cannot begin to share how much God blessed this camp. The universal feeling post-camp is we miss the campers!

Kirk Hayden, Pastor
Derby, KS, US



Neighborhood Camp Jacksonville

On June 15 – 17, Grace Communion Jacksonville hosted its third annual neighborhood youth camp. From 9:00 am – 7:00 pm, Thursday through Saturday, we hosted 34 campers ages 7 – 18. This year we had a 33% increase over last year.  About half were first-time campers, and over a third came from the neighborhoods surrounding our church building.

Best Practices and Lessons Learned

  • Twenty-six volunteer staff members helped with counseling, food, and activities. We also had a nurse. For those considering starting a neighborhood camp, you can do it with less staff. But we prefer to have three counselors with each of our grouping of campers, which we organize into four groups:  pre-teen girls, pre-teen boys, teen girls, and teen boys.  Of course, the kitchen crew is important. We offer three meals a day, and we’ve learned we usually need around 4-6 volunteers for a camp of 50 or more.
  • Several other GCI congregations and ministries donated funds to help with the camp costs, and we’re very grateful. It enabled some deserving youth to be sponsored and helped to cover the expenses of our offsite outings.
  • We’ve learned that the neighborhoods near our church are mainly positive towards churches and their members. So for us, it works well to have a spiritual focus. Each morning we start with breakfast, followed by a daily chapel service featuring praise and worship, and a prepared Christian message, with some interaction as well.  Our three-year theme has been “God’s Grace” and each year we have taught various aspects and applications thereof. This year’s focus scripture was Titus 2:11-12 about how the grace of God has appeared and “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” (NIV).  All of this is shared within an atmosphere of love and acceptance shown for all the children, even when we do sometimes have to admonish them to show love to others at camp as well.
  • We try to offer a wide variety of activities so that no one misses out on having some fun, and two off-site outings (the zoo and water park). We also include exposure to a Christian movie.

For more information, check out facebook.com/cffjax. As an aid in planning for your own neighborhood camp, we would also be happy to share our schedule, curriculum, and job descriptions.

Marty Davey, Pastor
Jacksonville, FL, US

Baptism—That Water Thing

We gathered recently at Paris Landing State Park located on Kentucky Lake for a very special occasion, three baptisms.

I began with a recounting of Acts 2—the first Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection. You may recall that the Jewish community questioned Peter about what was going on after the disciples received the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. Peter told them and then reminded them of all that the Jesus they had killed had done. Their eyes and minds were opened at that moment to who Jesus was—the God whom they worshipped! In their angst and remorse, they cried out, “What should we do!” Peter responded, “Repent and be baptized because your sins have been forgiven!”

Pastors Doug Tomes, Ed Peters, and I entered the cool, clear water that feeds into Kentucky Lake from the Tennessee River, and we baptized husband and wife, Kevin and Kayla Shaw, and Jayden Fielder on a beautiful, sunny May 28. It was a glorious event attended by 20 family members and friends.

Here are their stories:

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New Native Board Chair in Fiji

In May, Dennis Richards and I flew to Suva to visit our brothers and sisters in Fiji. Saturday was largely devoted to meetings. The Fiji Pastoral Team met first, then the Board of Trustees. And there was a meeting for members interested in ACCM studies.

The Pastoral Team is comprised of Frank and Emily Boyd, Jope Uqeuqe, Teisa Mataika, and Eugene Panuve. The discussion was centred around how the church is progressing and serving the members’ needs. Jope reported on some of his recent phone calls and visits to the local members. Eugene presented an update on the youth ministry. The Fiji church is well endowed with youth, making up about 30% of the congregation. Frank Boyd delivered a wide-ranging “State of GCI in Fiji” report.

The Board of Trustees are Dennis Richards, Emily Boyd, James Panuve, and Jope Uqeuqe. Dennis announced that he was stepping down as chair. James Panuve was appointed as the first local board chair. Congratulations!

Dennis Richards and James Panuve

Dennis updated the board on the strategic directions being implemented as we pursue the vision of “Healthy Church” in the region. He acknowledged the work of compiling the constitution and other relevant documents so that GCI could be accredited as an official religious body in Fiji. He noted the installation of Frank Boyd as Fiji senior pastor in August.

Frank and Emily Boyd

He concluded the 4-page report saying, “Again, thanks for your ongoing help and support. Our challenges are continually moving and at times seem steep, but God is good (all the time), and it is marvelous to watch how he so often intervenes. I find this encouraging and empowering, reassuring me that we are on the right track and have his blessing, regardless that patience seems to always be asked of us.”

After lunch Epeli Nakautoga, Jason Raki, and Joanna Wainibuli joined the group for the ACCM meeting, where Dennis encouraged the attendees to make the most of the ACCM opportunities. He explained the importance and value of continued learning together in community, using the ACCM courses as a forum for coming alongside one another and growing together in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.

Rex Morgan with his wife, Marilyn

Rex Morgan, Pastor
Auckland, New Zealand



Prayer Guide—August 2023

“The movement in our relationship to God is always from God to us. Always. We can’t, through our piety or goodness, move closer to God. God is always coming near to us. Most especially in the Eucharist and in the stranger.” ―Nadia Bolz-Weber

Join us in communion and corporate prayer this month as we thank God for seeking us, guiding us, and including us in his good and faithful work.
Click here or the image below to download and print the August Prayer Guide. Let’s celebrate how God is working in and among our fellowships. #WeAreGCI 

Denominational Celebration Photo Highlights