GCI Update

Healthy Denomination

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

In February 2020 I wrote an article explaining the concept of health related to the life of a congregation. You have heard me and other denominational leaders expressing our desire to seek Healthy Church through the three Avenues of Hope, Love, and Faith.

  • Hope Avenue – Worship: A congregation where all who attend find Christ-centered worship and inspiration.
  • Love Avenue – Witness: A congregation devoted to getting outside the walls of the church to demonstrate the love of Jesus to their neighbors and to proclaim the good news when neighbors ask.
  • The Faith Avenue – Discipleship: A congregation where members, young and old, are growing in relationship with Jesus and deepening their bonds with each other.

We want to see these ministries flow from teams of believers and be guided by the careful leadership of Christlike pastoral leadership. These vibrant expressions are the pathway toward congregational health.

Our U.S. leadership team is continually asking the question, “How do we become a more vibrant expression of denominational health?” This is the right question as we work through the difficult stage of reclassification of congregations and determine how we need to shift to provide meaningful oversight.

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Have you ever had a quest for knowledge that defied political, social, or religious boundaries? This state of enlightenment is what drove the “three wise men” or magi, who were gentile, to seek out and worship a Jewish baby born in Bethlehem. Why were these men wise, you might ask.

We believe their wisdom was born from a knowledge and fear of the Lord that was handed down by their ancestors throughout the centuries. We have reason to believe the magi were also well-versed in astronomy and understood celestial objects, space, and the physical universe at that time. The star was significant to the magi because of a prophetic timetable, given by the angel Gabriel to Daniel, which they were educated about.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. Matthew 2:1-2 (NIV)

In ancient Greek, the word “epiphany” means showing, manifestation, or appearance. The word is principally used in Christianity to refer to the manifestation of Jesus to the gentiles (i.e., non-Jews), namely, when the “wise men” visited and paid homage to the infant Jesus. According to God’s plan, even at his birth he was laying the groundwork for inclusion of all humankind to be a part of God’s family.

Our heavenly Father and Creator of all the universe, we humbly come before you just as the wise men did. Help us to desire a relationship with you. Please give us wisdom in all the decisions we make and give us the heart to believe the unbelievable. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Randal Roberts, Associate Pastor
Maumee, OH, US

Christmas Parade

In December we held our Very Surrey Christmas Parade and Neighborhood celebration with our church family and neighbors. We had over 21 decorated golf carts, muscle cars, and floats and were joined by the Oklahoma City Police and Fire Departments. It was incredible and the neighbors went all out!

After the parade, we loaded into our church building. We offered free face painting and craft tables, hosted by neighborhood businesses and volunteers from the school. There were professional pictures with Santa from a neighborhood photographer. And there was a hot chocolate and cookie bar sponsored by our neighborhood Lion’s Club and our favorite coffee roasters!

We had well over 500 in attendance at the celebration (and hundreds more who watched the parade) and neighbors simply hung out together for hours. I just sit in awe of what I see Jesus doing. He is using this church building in all the ways we dreamed it would be used. He’s building bonds through relationships. He’s breaking down walls. He’s flipping the script. He is eliminating this entire idea of an “us” within the church walls and “them” outside. We are just a “we” in Jesus. The church participating in what Jesus is already doing is simply breathtaking. This event was a reminder that at GC Surrey Hills, we truly are “Neighbors Loving Neighbors.”

Ceeja Malmkar, MTC Coordinator
Surrey Hills, OK, US

Drive-by Christmas Cheer

The Grace Communion South Kansas City Love Avenue team generated many ideas while planning for Christmas. We chose two events to bless our surrounding neighborhood. The assistance I receive from my team has been invaluable, and they are amazing servant leaders. We stepped out boldly to see where the Holy Spirit would lead.

Using our facility’s large yard and circle driveway, our first event was what lovingly became known as the “Drive-by Christmas Cheer.” Our talented Pastor Terry McDonald made flyers that we distributed to our schools and our surrounding neighborhood. We wore costumes such as a beautiful dancing elf, a very jovial, dancing Santa Claus, and two snowmen. On the drive and lawn, we placed two 6-foot, lighted candy canes strategically to show entrance and exit. And a very cheerful lighted gingerbread man faced the road. A projector flashed a colorful festive light show on the building.

The costumed members danced and offered a warm welcome to passing vehicles. It was a wonderful sight to behold. We served our guests hot chocolate and hot apple cider. We passed out candy canes and Christmas ornaments that were wrapped in greetings from our congregation and our QR code.

We had such a great time and 22 neighbors participated. Some children even got out of their cars to look more closely at our costumes and have fun with us. They were so cute. It is our belief that those people were the ones God wanted us to bless. What a joy!

We are actively serving a neighborhood elementary school, and I’ve been volunteering in one of their kindergarten classes. As our second event, we chose to bless this classroom of children with what became known as “Adopt a Classroom.” We decided to give a pair of Christmas pajamas and a book to each child. The teacher was excited about this idea and provided the sizes for all 19 children. Our congregation prepared the packages. On the day of delivery, four individuals in our group, in costume, delivered the gifts. Watching the students’ excitement and joy invigorated us. We presented the teacher with a gift as well; she was surprised and grateful.

We send encouragement and prayers to all our churches and ministry leaders. Every person touched reveals God’s love, and we are excited to continue this effort in 2024.

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

100th Birthday Celebration

In December, Grace Communion Indianapolis hosted a celebration in honor of Mr. Abner Washington’s 100th birthday.

Mr. Washington is a much beloved, longtime GCI employee and pastor. He is held in very high esteem by members around the world.

The following is an excerpt from a video greeting sent to Mr. Washington from Rick Shallenberger, U.S. Regional Director

Happy birthday! I want to not only congratulate you but thank you for your many years of service to our denomination and to those that you have been entrusted to care for and love. You have done an amazing job.

One of my best memories of you was the 40th celebration of the Ghana church in Africa. You and Sharon were there primarily because they considered you a kind of father of the church there.

It was so amazing to watch the members there give you such honor and respect and to see their love for you. You were such an integral part of the congregation and the establishment of the congregation.

Your faith is well known. Your love for the brethren is well known. Your support for the congregation and for the denomination is well known. You are a friend to so many people; it is an honor to know you.

I pray God’s many, many blessings upon you. Thank you again for all you are, and for the fact that you have lived into the identity that God gave to you. God bless you.


Meet Bermie Dizon

“I am always thrilled to witness the work of the Lord Jesus in our congregation. It’s refreshing and encouraging to see members of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities united in serving the community, expressing love for one another, and worshiping our great God.”

Check out this month’s GCI Profile. Get to know Bermie Dizon, a longtime pastor in Grace Communion Glendora, before his retirement this month. Click here or the image below to read his full profile—which just touches on his impact and legacy as an encouraging pastor and lifelong mentor.

LiLY Women’s Conference

We would love to invite you to celebrate our 20th year reunion.


20th Annual LiLY Women’s Conference
April 26-28, 2024
Embassy Suites in Independence, Ohio (in person)


But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20 (NIV)

Registration Fee:
$75 / $85 – Take advantage of our early bird pricing of $75 and register by Friday, April 5, 2024.  The registration fee covers the meeting facilities, speakers, conference bag filled with goodies, plus lunch and dinner on Saturday.

Registration for ages 13-17 is at a discounted rate of $50.

Online registration ends on April 14, 2024.

Hotel Reservation/Cost:

Embassy Suites, 5800 Rockside Woods Blvd. Independence, Ohio

Overnight hotel rate is $129 per night, per suite, 4-person room (total with tax is $303.15 ­­­­­­for both nights – breakfast & manager’s reception included).

Click here to make your reservation online.

Group Name: LiLY Women’s Conference

Group Code: LWC

Central Reservations Number: 1-866-344-7548

Deadline for hotel reservations at the special rate is Friday, April 5, 2024.

Register today online at gccle.church/lily


If not registering online: Mail your registration fee and make checks payable to:

Grace Communion Cleveland, 4499 Canterbury Road, North Olmsted, Ohio 44070

(Please include your name, address, phone number, emergency contact name & address, and if you are staying for Saturday night dinner)

If you have any questions, please email us at: LiLYwomensministry@gmail.com

Rosa Hulse
Women’s Ministry Leader
Grace Communion Cleveland

Like/Follow us on Facebook at LiLYWomensConference.

Regional Gatherings in 2024

Save the Date

Please join us for a weekend of training, appreciation, and worship. Everyone is invited.

See flyer below or visit our website here for more information.

Registration opens February 2024.

Registration Fee:
The Home Office will cover the registration fee for one pastor/facilitator per congregation and their spouse to attend a regional gathering. A coupon code will be sent with instructions on how to register in mid-February.

Each pastor/facilitator will need to book their own lodging for the gathering.

Hotel courtesy block links will be made available once registration opens. You may also consider booking other accommodations that work best for you (examples: hotel, Airbnb, VRBO, or accommodation with friends/relatives).

After the gathering, the Home Office will send a subsidy to your congregation via the send/draw to help offset the cost of one pastor/facilitator’s housing for the regional gathering. The amount will be set based on the average cost of the discounted hotel rate we were able to obtain for three nights.