GCI Update

Identity in Christ

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

The New Testament uses a variety of terms to express our transformed life in Jesus. Jesus talks to Nicodemus about being “born again” or “born from above.” Paul tells the Colossian church that it is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27 ESV). Paul describes this life in Jesus in several ways. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) he declares, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” Being “joined to the Lord” is another phrase that the apostle Paul uses.

Being in Christ gives us a new life and a new identity; we leave behind former ways of behaving and self-identifying. We are now becoming the people we were initially created to be—people in Christ, bearing the image of God, no longer bearing a false or broken image.

The apostle Paul provides a sample list of these types of former behaviors. Not so much as a “checklist,” but as a reminder of the ungodly, unrighteous activity we leave behind. After all, grace teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness (Titus 2:12).

In Paul’s letter to Corinth, he said:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV)

And the key to Paul’s point is found in the next verse:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV)

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Devotional—As We Go

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.

Trekking up the side of a sand dune, women expertly balance large clay water vessels atop their heads in Rajasthan, India

 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” John 4:9-10 NRSV

If Jesus only held Sunday service, the Samaritan woman in John 4 would not have encountered him on her daily routine of drawing water from the well. Jesus spread his love and his message almost exclusively to those marginalized by society, like the Samaritans were. Those marginalized—almost by definition—didn’t gather in the temples, in the city centers, or in public.

Jesus made it clear. If you practiced religion exclusively in the traditional religious gathering spaces, you were absent from most of the miracles Jesus was performing and the message of love he was spreading.

How then, after more than 2,000 years, have we come to act as if Sunday worship is the highest form of spiritual expression? It seems as though we have learned no lessons from our past. Jesus says “go,” but we’ve stayed put for many years.

Lord, help us reach those marginalized by our society.
Help us reach those experiencing homelessness—giving them spare change so they may get through another day.
Help us reach those struggling with their faith in humanity—giving people the benefit of the doubt whenever they ask for help.
Help us reach those experiencing loneliness—taking time out of our day to make conversation with our families, neighbors, and coworkers.
Help us “go” and be like you. Amen.

By Jesús Molina
Glendora, CA, US

Park Pop Up

Grace Communion Cleveland hosted their first “Coventry Peace Park Pop-Up” for the community on Saturday, August 12, scheduled from noon to 4:00 p.m.

After months of prayer, planning, and participation, families were able to enjoy a bounce house, a game truck, face painting, a balloon artist, free hot dogs with chips and water, games, and a DJ. Community partners included Whitmore’s BBQ, Cleveland Heights police officers and firefighters (who brought their fire engine), Lake Erie Ink Creative Writing Center, and Cleveland Heights Public Schools.

Even though rain cut our event short at 2:00 p.m. and prevented the live performance of the band we hired, we could see the Lord move and make connections that are forming relationships for future events. We were looking for a perfect weather day, but God was moving forward with his plans. The rain actually provided opportunities to meet about 20 neighbors and talk with them while huddling under two canopies during the downpour.

We are learning to see the Lord in new ways and to trust him completely, no matter how it looks physically. All in all, it was a beautiful day of experiencing God’s presence.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

By Pastor Tamar Gray and Love Avenue Champion Pat Shiels (pictured)
Cleveland, OH, US

Healthy Church Challenge Winners

On a sunny Sunday, August 20, the GCI Église Réalité (Reality Church) congregation in Montreal, Québec, Canada held the Community Ice Cream Party. The party was possible thanks to the involvement of our two winners of the 2023 Healthy Church Challenge, Uweso and Martha Nzamba. The prize money from that challenge was used to cover the expenses of the party.

Uweso and Martha chose this refreshing activity for the occasion. They set up their booth with festive decorations, with the help of family and members of the congregation. To the delight of young and old alike, they offered twin ice pops, ice cream sandwiches, Revello ice cream bars, Fudgesicles, and Cosmic pops!

The Ice Cream Party took place in the parking lot of our place of worship. It was integrated into our first community welcome event in our Ville-Émard church neighbourhood of Montreal.

Martha and Uweso offered the ice cream treats to visitors, who were warmly welcomed in English and French by members of the congregation. This event was organized by the Love and Hope Avenue teams.

Uweso and Martha participate in worship at Église Réalité in Montreal. They love to offer songs of praise to the Lord. They also love to witness to their faith and love in the community, as they did through the Healthy Church Challenge and the ice cream party.

Thanks to GCI for this opportunity to involve young people in the life of the church.

By Marie-Line Tremblay Rochette, Children’s Ministry Leader
Montreal, Québec, Canada

Outside the Walls

Comunión de Gracia Internacional Bogotá, Columbia held our first Outside the Walls event on August 26. We combined the three Avenues (Faith, Love, and Hope) by bringing kids to the church for an afternoon of fun. We concentrated our efforts on five activities: an inflatable slide for kids, a bubble game for all ages, a cookie decorating station using different shapes, colors, and flavors, a puppet-driven Bible story time, and a fantastic game of bingo. There were numerous bingo winners; one of them won a bike, and thanks to Pastor Heber, another won a tablet.

We witnessed how God orchestrated this event. Several new families that live in the neighborhood visited the church, and we had the great opportunity to meet them and have a great, edifying conversation.

Our elderly members, the youth group, the church servers, the pastors, and everyone else took part in the event with an open mindset toward fostering relationships. We all had a great time with our beloved kids. We also met interested onlookers who were inspired to join the church service on Sunday.

Additionally, we had a great time reuniting with some families who hadn’t been to church in a while. We ask God to grant us the ability to continue organizing these events at least once a year to share quality time and love and bring smiles to the families in our neighborhood. With the help of all, the Love Avenue team undoubtedly had a fantastic experience for one of their first Avenue events.

By Juanka Barrero, Hope Avenue Champion
Bogotá, Columbia

70th Church Anniversary

Grace Communion Big Sandy celebrated its 70th anniversary as a congregation with a festive potluck luncheon after services on Sunday, July 30, 2023. Our congregation was established in Big Sandy, Texas as the denomination’s 5th congregation in the United States in June 1953. We are so grateful for God’s faithfulness to us over these last seven decades!

We held our anniversary celebration in July because June was packed with activities. June activities included our first neighborhood day camp, Father’s Day, the Big Sandy Rotary Club Banquet, the Denominational Celebration.

We had 56 in attendance, including several guests who came to celebrate with us. People brought a number of mementos, many of which reminded us of our church’s involvement with the denomination’s former Big Sandy Ambassador University campus. It was a wonderful time of remembrance and celebration, and a great way to kick off our next decade of church life here in Big Sandy.

As grateful as we are for God’s provision for us the past 70 years, we are even more excited about what he has for us in our future! We look forward to continuing to walk with and follow Jesus here where he has placed us, sharing his faith, hope, and love with many for years to come!

By Jerome Ellard, Pastor
Big Sandy, TX, US

GCI Buzz—Rhythms, Part 2

This month’s GCI Buzz is part 2 of our 3-part Ministry Rhythms series. In this Buzz we define rhythms of community and show how they are essential for church renewal.

Click here or the image below to view the entire Buzz. #gcibuzz

Check out the printer-friendly PDF here.


In Musoma, Tanzania, we are grateful that the meetings of the Life Club have been meaningful. People have committed themselves to God and receive the salvation of Jesus Christ. Twenty new members were baptized. Life Club has been a great help to bring people to Jesus.

We have also created a Youth Group to start the cultivation of vegetables, melons, and fruits. It helps young people to make a living instead of moving away from the church to find a life. We ask for the opportunity to help those young people.

By Pastor Shadrack Fabian Malugu
Musoma, Tanzania

GenMin Equipping Webinars

The Generations Ministries (GenMin) Webinar Series is designed to equip
congregations to better disciple children and youth. Participants will learn
how to connect with young people in their neighborhood and share the love
of Christ with them. The series is both for groups currently serving young
people and for those who would like to start building those relationships.
The webinars are open to any member of Grace Communion International
congregation or fellowship group, though the research and context of the content was developed for the US.

If you cannot join the webinars live or miss one, the recordings will be made available after registering. All proceeds will fund initiatives that serve children and youth.

Register here.