GCI Update

President’s Video—Little Advents

In this Update, Dr. Greg Williams describes ”Little Advents” and explores the significance of the Advent season, emphasizing the anticipation of Jesus’ arrival and his presence in our lives today.

Program Transcript

GCI President Update | December 2023
Little Advents

Advent is a season in the Church calendar dedicated to the hopeful anticipation for the arrival of Jesus. It comes on the heels of Christ the King Sunday where we expectantly await the return of Jesus to establish his eternal kingdom.

The four-week period of Advent leading up to Christmas is a preparation for the celebration of Christmas. The virtues of hope, peace, love, and joy are celebrated week by week, and these virtues can only be realized in the person of Jesus. Advent is meant to be a progressive building up to the crescendo of the Christmas celebration. I’ve heard it said that we only get out of Christmas what we have put into Advent.

The word advent means the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. I have a friend who is awaiting the advent of the Tesla Cybertruck. He’s on the waiting list and it will be a big day for him when it finally appears. In the case of our celebration of Jesus, we recall the incarnation – the physical appearance of the Son of God. When Jesus set aside his glory to take on flesh and blood and become Emmanuel, God with us.

The coming of Jesus was the greatest game changer for all of humanity, for all times. We even mark time as BC – before Christ, and AD – Anno Domini meaning the year of the Lord. This commemorates Jesus a notable person worthy of our attention. But even more than our attention, he is worthy of our praise and worship.

I expect that we will join our worship teams during the Advent season singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” We will rehearse the gospel accounts of the details leading up to the birth of Jesus in the animal stall of Bethlehem, this is great, and it never gets old. My question for us today is, “Do we see and acknowledge the little advents of how Jesus comes into our lives day by day?”

I was recently at a “Faith, Hope and Love in Action” workshop in Canada. It was great being with Pastors and the Ministry Avenue Champions, and I had the privilege of being at the Grace Communion Ottawa table with Pastors Fraser and Nova. Unfortunately, Jocelyn, Nova’s wife, the Love Avenue Champion had missed her flight and was not able to attend. As a gesture of inclusion, 17-year-old Jesse, the son of Nova and Jocelyn was asked to sit in for his mother.

I don’t think the Ottawa leaders had expectations of Jesse other than his being a placeholder. Boy, were we surprised. Jesse didn’t just quietly listen he posed questions and gave valuable input. He helped steer the conversation toward the opportunities the congregation has for serving and shaping the youth. Jesse serves the congregation by overseeing audio/visual. I asked him how they would get along with him being absent, he didn’t miss a beat, “Oh I have been teaching others in my age group, they will be okay without me.”

Jesse is a young leader who gets it. Pastor Fraser was impressed and took a minute to point out that this was one of those “little advents”, markers of Christ’s presence in our lives. It was unfortunate that Jocelyn was unable to attend, however, she had been at a similar workshop that was hosted earlier in the year, so this would have been a review for her. It was a divine appointment for Jesse to be included in the circle of the Ottawa leaders.

How has Jesus been coming to you? Where are those little advents that only he can orchestrate? The season of Advent takes us back to Bethlehem and compels us to worship, but amid singing beautiful Christmas carols, lighting of candles, and all of the events of the season – How is Jesus alive and active in your life? In your family? And in your Church?

Let us pray…

O Come, O Come Emmanuel! And he will be faithful to come even in small Advents.

I am Greg Williams speaking about the life of the church!

Dear Family and Friends,

Hear from the president in this video update.

Devotional—Things Not Seen

I experience God through praying, especially during this season of Advent. As we eagerly await the celebration of the birth of Jesus, I am reminded that prayer teaches me about waiting. God’s responses, whether a yes or a no, draw me closer to him each time I depend wholeheartedly for an answer of peace. The Advent season teaches me to approach God with an expectant heart, just as the world anticipated the arrival of the Messiah.

God is indeed spirit (John 4:24), and during Advent, we reflect on the profound mystery of the Incarnation, where the invisible God became visible in the person of Jesus. To see and experience God takes a willing heart and mind to seek him. His powerful presence is unseen and omnipresent. Essentially, God is everywhere, and it takes an act of faith to await the fulfillment of his promises.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

In this season of waiting, we are challenged to deepen our faith and trust in God’s promises, even when they seem hidden from our sight.

Father, I confess all my disbelief and hardheartedness. As I ask and receive your forgiveness, please help me never to take for granted your promises and answered prayers. Thank you for opening my heart and mind to see and experience you, even as I wait. Thank you, in Christ Jesus. Amen.

By Alicia Boyd, Children’s Ministry
Suva, Fiji


GCI Buzz—Ministry Action Plans

In this month’s GCI Buzz, we define Ministry Action Plans (MAPs) and show how they are essential tools for strategic planning, discernment, and alignment within a ministry or church community. A Ministry Action Plan is a “living document” that identifies specific ministry goals. It charts an intentional pathway to move from the current ministry conditions towards the stated goals, making it a helpful tool in moving toward our vision of Healthy Church.

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

Check out the printer-friendly PDF here.

Trunk or Treat Collaboration

GC Sioux Falls fellowship group had a “trunk” at the second annual Trunk-or-Treat, on October 29. (Since the event was held indoors, it wasn’t a literal trunk of a vehicle, but a station.) It was hosted by Active Generations, the community center where we meet. There were more than 30 trunks from different businesses and community organizations in Sioux Falls. The event was scheduled to be outdoors, but the weather took a turn and windchills were predicted to be dangerously low, so the event was moved indoors. But the weather didn’t keep anyone away! Nearly 1300 children, parents, and grandparents attended. At one point, a line of people circled the building waiting to file by the trunks for treats.

We have been partnering with Active Generations for several events throughout the year. In August we had a photo booth at the Grandparents’ Day event, and we will participate in the Winter Carnival in December. Collaborating on these events has communicated to Active Generations that we are not just a fellowship that rents a room in their building, but we are willing to be an active part of our neighborhood.

By JoAnne Lagge, Pastor (pictured above, left)
Sioux Falls, SD, US

Lights, Candy, Action

It was the second coldest Halloween on record for Fort Wayne, Indiana. Many would-be trick-or-treaters stayed home, but some that braved the cold were greeted with flashing toys, candy, games, and hot cocoa at Grace Communion Fort Wayne.

Now in its fifth year, the “Light Up the Night” event is usually held in the parking lot. But the near freezing temperature did not stop the action for GC Fort Wayne; instead, they took to the indoors, offering a sanctuary from the cold weather.

With Halloween songs, like “Monster Mash” and “Thriller,” playing in the background, families made their way through the twisting path. Each room was glittering with flashing L.E.D. toys. “We give them gifts that light up,” said Pastor David Howe. “The idea is to keep kids safe and visible as they trick or treat after dark.”

The event had several candy stations including full-size candy bars. The best part according to one attendee was the hot cocoa. The cocoa is served like a barista bar with a choice of sprinkles, chocolate chips, and mini marshmallows. “My kid calls you the hot cocoa church,” one parent said.

A group of 26 volunteers from our congregation and a neighboring church were able to share the fun with more than 200 guests. “We are a small church, and we want to show our love for this community,” said Pastor Howe “It was really cold this year, and we could provide a safe and fun environment for our neighbors.”

Ann with her husband, David

By Ann Howe, Love Avenue Champion
Fort Wayne, IN, US

Trunk or Treat

I think that sometimes when we see lemons, Jesus giggles and tells us to stop and taste the sweet lemonade. With rain and near freezing temperatures predicted, we made the decision to move our neighborhood Trunk or Treat inside the walls of our building. We knew this would be the best way to stay warm, but we hesitated because our heart behind this event was never about enticing our neighbors into our church. We had already moved the Trunk or Treat from a school parking lot to our church lot last year, due to the benefit of restrooms. Now, we were moving it inside our building, and we worried that between the weather and the move, our numbers would be greatly impacted. But God.

We had more than 2500 neighbors attend our trunk or treat this year! We set up carnival games, staffed with young adults and our neighborhood Lion’s Club. We had over 20 “trunks” set up on tables in the multi-purpose room. Multiple neighbors and new members of our congregation set up stations and passed out goodies!

It was standing room only in the sanctuary for the costume competition. We even had the fire department come join in on the fun! People came together like the community that we are—a community that has no walls separating “us” and “them.” We are just neighbors. We are children of God. There’s nothing like having a front row, interactive, seat to watching Jesus build his church and transform lives.

By Ceeja Malmkar, Love Avenue Champion & MTC Coordinator
Surrey Hills, OK, US

Prayer Guide—December 2023

“Prayer is not constant positivity. It is honesty held in our hands and hurled at the sky.” – K.J. Ramsey

Join us in prayer this month as we lift our members and leaders. Click here or on the image below to download and print the December Prayer Guide and check out what’s happening in our fellowships around the world. #WeAreGCI

Never miss a day by receiving this Prayer Guide straight to your email inbox before the first of the month! Sign up here.

Church Anniversary Celebration

On November 1 – 5, GCI Martinique gathered to fellowship and worship in a magnificent setting overlooking the sea. Our theme was, “Experiencing together the power of God’s love.” We thank our God for the inspiring and joyful time we shared with him and our brothers and sisters.

The highlight of our celebrations was the 60-year commemoration of the congregation in Martinique. We enjoyed a pictorial retrospective, an inspiring exhortation, a hearty meal, gift exchanges, and then the sharing of the anniversary cake. It was a joy to dance and sing together. And it was a joy to celebrate our journey with the Lord—past, present, and future.

We offer our gratitude to God and pray that the power of his love will continue to touch all our generations and overflow to those around us.

By Kernani Cheny, Pastor
Fort-de-France, Martinique

Grace Communion Seminary

Study with us at GCS!

Registration for the 2024 Spring Semester begins soon!
Academic Advising and Registration: January 3 – 11

Courses offered:
Old Testament Survey, Instructor: Jeannine Graham
Acts of the Apostles, Instructor: Dan Rogers
Foundations of Christian Ministry, Instructor: Lance McKinnon
Trinitarian Youth Ministry, Instructor: Jeff Broadnax
Polity of Grace Communion International, Instructor: Greg Williams
Jesus Christ, the Nature of Humans and Salvation, Instructor: Gary Deddo

New GCS Board Chair Appointed

From Randy Bloom, GCI Board Chair

Many of us ponder what we will do in retirement, whatever form it comes. One of the unexpected surprises for me as I was preparing to retire was the opportunity to chair the GCI and GCS boards. It has been an honor and joy to serve alongside the competent directors of each of these groups. I consider each of them dear friends as well as fellow servants in Christ. However, from the outset of my tenure, I felt it would be best for both organizations if each had its own chair. They would benefit from more focused leadership and having two chairs would give someone else an opportunity to serve and bring new perspectives to the board.

I shared my thoughts with Greg Williams, and he agreed with me. So, I began to think and pray about a new GCS board chair. My thoughts quickly focused on Eric Larison. I’ve known Eric for many years. He was an elder in the congregation I pastored in Syracuse, NY, and I recommended him to pastor the congregation when I was transferred to Memphis, TN. He has served as a pastor for more than 25 years. Eric and his wife, Susan, are loving, dedicated servants of Christ. In addition, Eric is a professional educator and administrator.

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