GCI Update

President’s Video—Moving from Concept to Practice

As we start the new year, GCI President Greg Williams reflects on our past journey and looks forward to building teamwork within our denomination guided by the theme of Faith, Hope, and Love Integrated. He emphasizes that Jesus continues to be our guiding light in this journey, providing comfort and direction.

Program Transcript

GCI President Update | January 2024

Happy New Year GCI Family and Friends!

We are entering year 24 of the 21st century. Are you as shocked as I am? Time marches on.

As we mark time in GCI, it is notable that we have been adopting the “Team Based – Pastor Led” model of ministry for more than five years. I refer you back to the book, A Giant Step Forward that I wrote along with Rick Shallenberger and Dr. Tom Nebel. This book is an informative introduction to anybody who is still wrapping their mind around the fundamental concepts. Last spring in Nairobi, I was impressed with the book references the Regional Director’s made in their workshop presentations. The book is a starter guide.

In collaborating across GCI’s six Global Regions, I along with the Superintendents have been following a Three-Year Plan in our pursuit of the vision, Healthy Church.

We started laying the foundation of the Avenues in 2020 with a theme of Focused on Hope, continuing with Faith Forward in 2021, then entered into 2022 guided by the theme Compelled by Love.  

With 2022 as our first year following the three-year plan, we chose this theme knowing that our congregations must get outside of the walls of their church buildings and into the neighborhoods to positively impact the lives of their neighbors. We have seen much progress in this area, as you read throughout the year in GCI Update. (Please continue to share your celebratory stories!)

In 2023 we embraced the theme of “Faith, Hope and Love in Action.” Many congregations have identified Avenue Champions and aligned their ministries and budgets with the three avenues. I’m encouraged by the positive movement the regional directors and superintendents share with me. However, they have also shared that we may be attempting to move faster than we need to.

To move in alignment with the pace of our congregations globally, we are emphasizing the development of team building between Avenues under the theme of Faith, Hope, and Love Integrated. We recognize that the learning process unfolds at its own pace, and our commitment is to ensure experiential learning, allowing the necessary time for growth and understanding.

David Kolb is a psychologist who developed a theory around four stages of learning. I find his work to be informative for our situation in GCI. His stages are:

  • Concrete Experience (feeling)
  • Reflective Observation (watching)
  • Abstract Conceptualization (thinking)
  • Active Experimentation (doing)

These stages typically run through a cycle with the desired end of the student becoming a practitioner, who can then teach others. The cycle normally starts with being exposed to new information and assimilating the material being taught. The cycle is reinforced when the student can observe others who are actively practicing the concepts. We mastered these stages between 2020-2022.

Further assimilation occurs when the student thinks more deeply about how these learned and observed practices can be utilized in his or her setting. The next level of learning comes by doing, this would include experimentation with the new concepts and practices. This is where we are our adoption of the Team Based – Pastor Led model.

This teaching and learning style, of experiential learning, is evident in the way Jesus interacted with his disciples (I recommend watching the Chosen series for anybody who wants to watch the master at work). And I continue to remind all our pastors, ministry leaders, regional directors, superintendents, and anyone else who will listen that joining the flow of the Faith, Hope, and Love ministries is how we better join and participate with Jesus. It is how we become the healthiest expression of his church in our specific neighborhood.

Once we see more of our pastors, Avenue Champions, and congregations gain the experiential learning that comes from the activities of the Faith, Hope, and Love ministries, we will move to the next stage of development toward Healthy Church. For 2024, we are more than willing to practice more, learn from the practicing, and see the new practices become normal rhythms in the lives of our churches.

Jesus knows where we are as a church and meets us there every minute of every day.

You are always in my prayers.


For many, Christmas includes the tradition of giving gifts. Have you ever watched someone open a gift and recognized that it wasn’t what they wanted? Is it wrong to want more?

We are often admonished to be grateful for what we have. Can we be both? Can we be grateful and still long for more?

We are in the season of Epiphany. It is the time in the worship calendar when we celebrate God manifesting as the baby Jesus and revealing Godself to the world. Jesus came into the world because the world needed more.

Is it wrong to want more?

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, magi from the east came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star in the east and have come to pay him homage.” Matthew 2:1-2

The Magi are also remembered in this Epiphany season. What can we learn from their story? How deep was their longing for more to seek the Messiah, to risk this journey?

“Their courage gives our questing hearts a voice
To seek, to find, to worship, to rejoice.”  — Malcom Guite, from the sonnet, The magi

May we be grateful that light has come into the world and reconciled all. May we seek the light, as we long for more to walk in the light.

Beautiful, triune God, we are grateful for the Incarnation, for the way you are manifested in Jesus. Thank you, Jesus, for revealing the Father. Thank you, Spirit, for stirring in us a longing for your kingdom. May your kingdom come in all its fullness. And wrap your hope around our weary hearts when we grow tired of waiting for the world to be good and beautiful and kind. Amen.

By Elizabeth Mullins, Update Editor
Durham, NC, US

GCI Testify

Discover the transformative power of Christ’s love in our new series GCI Testify. Join us as members from our global fellowship share testimonies of their experiences with Jesus through GCI congregations and ministries. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness firsthand the impact of the Spirit in and through GCI.

Neighborhood Thanksgiving

On November 19, Grace Communion Cleveland held a wonderful outreach event. We served our neighbors Thanksgiving dinner with all the traditional Thanksgiving dishes and pies.

For this engagement, we partnered with another community organization, the Heights Emergency Food Center. The event was advertised in advance with a poster at the Center, inviting their clients to receive a free dine-in or take-out meal. We also provided take-home flyers, and a sign-up sheet helped us keep track of how many were planning to eat with us.

Another church in Cleveland Heights where the Center is located allowed us to borrow their commercial kitchen with an attached fellowship hall. GC Cleveland members cooked the food items at home. Then we used the commercial kitchen to keep the food warm as we distributed the meals. Although very few people stayed to dine in with us, we had many good conversations and prayer requests with our take-out clients. We also delivered nearly 30 meals to nearby apartment residents. There were lots of smiling faces that day, not only from the recipients but the servers too!

We only planned food for 96 people, but we served 149 meals in total. Jesus saw to it that we could actually serve many more meals than projected. A true “loaves and fishes” event was witnessed that day!

By Pat Shiels, Love Avenue Champion
Cleveland, OH, US


Sharing Christmas Cheer

On December 9, GC St. Michaels held a community engagement at a local skilled nursing facility. Each year, we budget for a community service during the holiday season. This year, the Love Avenue team decided to buy Christmas presents for the residents of the facility. Rather than merely dropping off the gifts, we received permission to plan a fun game that could be interactive and relational. We played the Dice Game with the gift-wrapped presents; if you roll doubles, you get to pick out a prize. (Some people know it as the White Elephant Game.)

The staff of the skilled nursing facility said that their residents did not often participate in group activities, so we should not expect any more than a couple people to show up. We were grateful and surprised when around 20 residents attended! One resident, who really wanted to attend, had recently contracted COVID. We selected a couple of presents to be delivered to her room. She was overwhelmed to be remembered and cried tears of joy.

The residents who joined in the game had mobility limitations, so the youth from our congregation helped make the game accessible for them. Our young members (grades kindergarten to sophomore in high school) walked the dice around to each player, sometimes even helping the person roll the dice. If the player got doubles, their young helper would run up to the table, pick out a present, and bring it back to them.

I was so proud of our young people and the interactions and relationships they established with the residents. At first, they were a little shy. Actually, both the residents and our youth were shy! But in no time, everyone was talking, laughing, and having a great time. The staff of the nursing home was amazed at how well it went.

Jon with wife, Carey

By Jon Arnold, Facilitator
St. Michaels, MN, US

Final Celebration

Dear Family,

On behalf of GC San Leandro, here’s a big thank you to all who came and celebrated with us on Sunday, November 12. As we gathered for the congregation’s final service, with “old” friends from far and wide, it really felt like a big family reunion. We sang old songs, viewed old pictures, listened to inspiring messages, and enjoyed great food and laughter. And the words of our first hymn came to life, “how good and how pleasant for brethren to dwell in unity.”

We give praise to our triune God for giving us this time to celebrate the many relationships we’ve enjoyed through the years. We can only imagine how great our reunion will be in the fullness of God’s kingdom. Until then, let us enjoy each day as we journey through the next chapter of our history—living and sharing the gospel to everyone.

For the video of the full service and celebration, click here.

With love and appreciation,
Jun and Yolly Caranto
San Leandro, CA, US

Death of Don Mason

Don Mason served faithfully as an elder in GCI since his ordination in 1970. He pastored both the Raleigh and Wilson, NC congregations from 1987 – 2007. He continued serving the members in Wilson, NC until his retirement in 2021. The following is the obituary provided by his family.

Donald Edgar Mason died peacefully on October 26, 2023. He was born February 13, 1941, in Houston Texas to Edgar and Lois Mason. Don graduated from Jefferson Davis High School in 1959 and immediately traveled to New London, CT for Naval Submarine training. While in the Navy, he was able to take courses at the University of Houston. Upon discharge in 1964, he transferred to Ambassador College where he met and married his lifelong sweetheart, Geraldine Mason.

After graduation in 1969, they moved to Evansville, Indiana; in 1970 he was ordained into the ministry of Jesus Christ. Over the next 52 years, he served seven congregations in Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. He retired from the ministry of Grace Communion International in October 2021. He is survived by his wife, Geri, his daughter, Elizabeth, and his sons, Derek and Dustin, and Dustin’s wife, Megan.


Birth of Morgan Grandchild

Pam and Mat Morgan are thrilled to announce the birth of their third grandchild – Rosemary Jo Zeng (Rosie for short). Rosie was born on November 17, weighing 7 pounds 4 ounces, and 20 inches in length. Mom, Dad, and big brother, Henry, are all well and excited about the newest addition to their family.

Prayer Guide—January 2024

“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.” ― Nadia Bolz-Weber

Join us as we pray for our congregations around the world.

To download the full January Prayer Guide and participate in corporate prayer, visit here.

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 after 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.