GCI Update

Culture of High Support, High Challenge

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

Culture is made up of language, habits, ideas, beliefs, customs, symbols, social organization, inherited artifacts, technical processes, and values. As I travel the world serving GCI, I observe distinct ways of being from country to country, and even region to region. However, a common phrase that I hear across our churches is, “We are GCI!” This warms my heart and speaks to the unity that can only come by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

As an organization, GCI has its unique culture. GCI culture directs our understanding to what is true, our will to what is good, and our discernment to what is beautiful. A journey through our GCI website will give you an overview of the GCI culture. Sure, you will see evidence of our branding in color schemes, symbols, and language, but most importantly you will see the triune God revealed in the person of Jesus. You will constantly see humanity held up as children of God made in his image and created for salvation, not destruction. You will see the promotion and practical support of the church. The church is highly valued, and it is through the life of the church that we best participate with Jesus by the power of the Spirit. Thank you to the media team that keeps us grounded.

In my previous Update letter, I spoke about the culture of liberation that we are growing towards. It was described through the tool of the “Support-Challenge Matrix.” It is from this matrix that we get our GCI philosophy of “High Support, High Challenge, Grace Always.” This wisdom to live by finds its genesis in Jesus Christ.

There is no higher support than the second person of the Godhead becoming flesh and blood, then going to Calvary’s cross to lay down his life for all of humanity. It was an astounding sacrificial act that changed the course of a fallen world. No greater love have we ever known or ever will.

There is no higher challenge than what Paul said in Ephesians, “…until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13 NRSVA) Jesus desires for us to not only be saved by his love, but to be transformed into his image and to be fully alive in him.

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Devotional—A Shining Blessing

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.


“Have a blessed day!” Often, I am told this or find myself saying this to those around me. It may only seem like a kind way to part ways, but it can make me ponder: is it really a blessed day?

When I exchange this greeting with another, I don’t know what they are going through, and neither do they about me. However, in that very moment, we are reminding each other that today is a blessed day, despite our current mood, role, or financial status.

It can be humbling hearing it from the kids on the street, or the CEO of a big corporation. It is good to provide a reassuring statement to others, even if the encounter is short-lived. Jesus encouraged us to shine our light to the world.

People do not light a lamp and put it under the bushel basket; rather, they put it on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:15-16

So, dear readers, may you all have a blessed day!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, we pray to thank you for this day that you have made. We pray that we will rejoice and be glad in it, despite what obstacles are present. Please help us, to not only let your light within us shine, but to hopefully reignite the flame in others. We commit this day into your hand, through the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, Amen.

By Tongli Panuve
Suva, Fiji

 

Neighborhood Camp South KC

As we dipped our toes figuratively into the waters of a Neighborhood Day Camp experience, there were many learning experiences for our small congregation. Our team began brainstorming and came up with a theme – GC/DC Connection is power. [The name is a play on the acronym AC/DC, meaning alternating current / direct current.]

Our first challenge was to bring our brothers and sisters alongside us and onboard with the idea. We wanted them to share the vision of blessing some children in our neighborhood with fun and love.

We prepared a beautiful and informative flyer that went out to the neighborhood association and to the local elementary schools. Some of our team also went throughout the neighborhood distributing this information. Our pastor ordered matching shirts for our staff members as well.

Activities we planned:

    1. Rocket building.
    2. Watercolor painting.
    3. Basketball skills.
    4. Icebreaker games.
    5. Line dancing.
    6. Devotionals centered around our theme.

As we began sharing these ideas, we were amazed at the willingness of our members to attempt something outside their comfort spaces. We recruited around 20 staff members.

After much preparation and prayer, we had no takers. Not one family signed up. We didn’t want our volunteers to feel that this was a failure, so our team began to encourage them that this was a learning experience. We would be even better equipped for the next round. It was mutually decided that we would do a “dry run.”

We all gathered as planned and received a very special surprise. Two of our former, young members had returned to the area for a visit! Now it was possible for us to test our plans and ideas on children. We had two very willing participants – an 8-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy. And don’t you know, they loved being the center of all this attention.

Our kiddos had a blast, and so did we. You could say we had a double blast because afterward we gathered outside and watched the completed rocket be launched. That was amazing.

As the Love Avenue Champion, I was so grateful for our volunteer staffers that I prepared an appreciation luncheon. My great volunteers helped me with that as well. We had a wonderful time, discussing our joy in this new and exciting journey. We also debriefed about what worked well and what did not. We are all looking forward to dipping our toes into this water again in the coming year!

By Barbara Leatherman, Love Avenue Champion
Kansas City, MO, US

 

Back-to-School Engagement

The GCI congregation in Queens, New York City, held its annual Back-to-School outreach. This year’s initiative was expanded to multiple weekends in August and September and featured an immersive open house approach that allowed each guest to see our ministry Avenues in action. We distributed nearly 400 complimentary backpacks full of school supplies, reaching hundreds of households in our diverse home neighborhood of Richmond Hill, Queens.

As we registered our guests, we offered a relaxed experience of our church community with a “journey” through a bilingual prayer table and meeting members of our various ministries, including Sunday School and Men’s/Women’s Ministry, before receiving their backpacks and enjoying a meal and music with us. We were blessed that so many chose to participate in prayer, receive encouragement, and learn more about our vibrant ministries. Some of our guests returned on subsequent Sundays to hear the transformative hope of Jesus in the stories of walking on water and the promise of forgiveness.

This year’s theme was “Jesus 4-Eva” with a logo designed by nine-year-old Genesis Phillips. We wore matching T-shirts (as pictured) to show our unity and dedication to the hope of Christ. Our hope and prayer are that the process of outreach and follow-up will facilitate the Spirit’s work in the community to build a genuine connection with Christ and our church. We have received the appreciation of some of our community leaders and local clergy for helping uplift and inspire the community.

Our pre-registration process revealed many of the circumstances and prayer requests of our potential guests and shaped the outreach. Our preparation included attending community meetings, visiting businesses, schools, and law enforcement. The entire initiative, which involved nearly every active member and ministry of the congregation, was a culmination of a months-long process of prayer and planning with the missional imagination of Christ at the forefront.

By John Newsom, Pastor
Queens, NY, US

39th Church Anniversary

GC Dumaguete celebrated 39 years on August 27, 2023. With the theme “freedom,” the church expressed its gratitude for God’s grace and faithfulness while embracing the freedom and blessings he has bestowed. More than 64 participants gathered for this anniversary and to praise God for his glory.

GC Dumaguete Pastor Angelo Ouano delivered a message titled “Freedom,” based on Romans 12:1-8. The message, which was the core theme of the celebration, focused on the sacrifice that grants us freedom from death, sin, and the law. It also emphasized how God seeks to bring us back to him and conform us to the image of Jesus. The message underscored that God is always faithful to his promises for each of us and concluded with communion.

A video presentation showcased the growth, nurturing, and development of GC Dumaguete over the years, bringing laughter and smiles to the members. The video illustrated how God has been and always will be faithful to the church. Then we enjoyed the long-awaited meal that left broad smiles on the faces of the attendees. After the meal, we played fun games, like Paint Me a Picture.

God’s faithfulness has been evident in the fellowship of Grace Communion Dumaguete throughout the years. As the church celebrated its 39th anniversary, we will continue to grow and age gracefully, much like fine wine, always grounded in faith, hope, and love. This celebration will leave a lasting memory of freedom and love in the hearts of all who attended.

By Elysha D. Teves
Dumaguete, Philippines

Volunteer Partnership

On September 9, our members in Atlanta volunteered, along with other neighbors from the area, to help those in our community suffering from food insecurity. The event was sponsored by the Atlanta Hawks and held at State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta.  The goal was to pack 1 million boxes of food to provide meals for 1 million people. It was a meaningful experience.

Pastor Charles and First Lady Debbie Young

Charles Young, Pastor
Atlanta, GA, US

 

Healthy Church Challenge Winners

On September 3, GC Melton in Melbourne, Australia, held a Father’s and Special Person’s Day Pizza Party after our weekly worship service. The event was a huge success, with cries of “Happy Father’s Day, papa” ringing around the table.

The party was funded with prize money from the GCI Healthy Church Challenge. The young boys of the congregation (pictured above) won third prize for their video entry. They won $50 to hold a church activity. It was immediately decided to have a pizza party.

Although plans were made to invite newly attending visitors and friends of the weekly worship services to the pizza party, everyone was busy celebrating Father’s Day with their families. So, the church community decided to turn the pizza party into a time to recognize and celebrate the fathers and fatherly figures who have journeyed with them over the last several years.

The atmosphere was lively and festive, with everyone enjoying delicious pizza and sharing stories about their fathers. It was heartwarming to see how much love and appreciation the community had for their fathers and fatherly figures.

As the party came to an end, there were already suggestions for the next church activity. The youngest boys of the congregation had some exciting ideas, including an ice cream party. Everyone was looking forward to the next event and spending more time together as a community.

By Geoff and Alicia Davis and Matthew Gudze

GCI Swag Store Is Closing Soon

Get your GCI gear while it lasts!

GCI clothing and accessories will only be available for purchase through October 31.

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.