GCI Update

Altar of Communion

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

When we read through the Old Testament, we see many occasions where an altar was built. These altars symbolized meaningful encounters with God and were often places of sacrifice and communion with him.

Genesis is filled with examples of altars built by the patriarchs:

A place of sacrifice and thanksgiving — The first altar recorded in Scripture was built by Noah after he and his family left the ark. The Bible says the offering was a pleasing aroma to God, who responded by promising to never again curse the ground because of humankind (Genesis 8).

A place of promise, leading to covenant — We read about several altars that Abraham built, each seemingly with a different purpose, but all leading to the covenant God made with Abraham. Here are some places where he built altars:

      1. Shechem — Here the Lord first promised Abraham that his offspring would inhabit the land that was currently inhabited by the Canaanites (Genesis 12). This could be called an altar of hope.
      2. Mamre in Hebron — Abraham followed God’s lead and left his family land and went where God led him. Here God expanded his promise by promising Abraham that his offspring would own all the land he could see (Genesis 13). This could be called an altar of faith.
      3. Moriah — Here Abraham built an altar to sacrifice his son Isaac. Of course, God never intended Isaac to die and was confirming to Abraham that he was different than the pagan gods. He is a God who fulfills his promises. Here Abraham earned the name, friend of God (Genesis 22). This proved to be an altar of love.
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Devotional—Compelled by His Love

During Ordinary Time, we meditate on questions like, “What does an ordinary life that is being transformed by Jesus look like?” I love to dwell on this response: “a life compelled by the love of Jesus.” Our Jesus is a relational, incarnational God – so it is no surprise that a life compelled by his love will bring us into a life lived amongst our neighbors.

In honesty, we can acknowledge that even when it comes to being present with our neighbors and participating in Jesus’ mission, we are not always motivated by love. Sometimes we are motivated by guilt, the desire to be seen as a “good Christian,” or pride.

While our own love falls short, the love of Jesus is always sufficient. It is this love that ushers us into a “new ordinary” life — beautiful, ordinary life spent in the presence of beloved ordinary people, bringing glory to our extraordinary God.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 NIV

Lord, we thank you for being with us in each small moment and each grand moment. We pray that you would continue to compel us to live our ordinary days according to the truth of your lavish love. May it lead us to live lives of presence with our neighbors, just as it has led you to live present with us. Amen.

By Cara Garrity, GCI Development Coordinator
Steele Creek, NC, US

Healthy Church—Worship Hall Dedications

Awutu-Breku, Awutu Senya, Ghana

The Awutu-Breku congregation held a very special service in May to dedicate their new worship hall built from GCI Ghana resources.

Special guests at the occasion included Pastor Emmanuel Okai (Regional Director of West Africa) and his wife, Mrs. Margaret Okai; Pastor Dr. Frederick Amu-Mensah (Pastor of Kutunse, Accra) with his wife, Dr. Marian Amu-Mensah; Pastor Lady Glowen Kyei-Mensah (Assistant Pastor of Lashibi); and Pastor Christopher Balidin (Pastor of  Buduburham) with his wife, Beatrice Balidin. And I attended with my wife, Mrs. Rebecca Okai.

After a time of praise and worship with prayer, Pastor Mawuena Balidin, the pastor of the Awutu-Breku congregation, welcomed everyone to the special occasion. After I delivered the sermon, we celebrated the new hall dedication.The service also featured an ordination ceremony. Miss Esther Korto Kolie was ordained as deaconess for the Buduburam congregation. Pastor Lady Glowen Kyei-Mensah also led a fundraising session, which was met with warm responses.

The service had a great atmosphere with 47 people in attendance. Everyone was excited about the newly dedicated hall.

By Theophilus Nii Okai, Pastor and National Director of Ghana
Accra, Ghana



One aspect of Healthy Church is having a prominent, consistent presence in your neighborhood. A permanent location helps to cultivate your congregation’s presence. Congratulations to the Awutu-Breku congregation, and to the following three congregations who are also celebrating new church halls. We share in their joy. Join us in praying for fruit, rooted in our true vine, Jesus.

Baguio, Luzon, Philippines

We are thankful to God for his provision of our new place of worship celebrations. Ang Ating Tahanan — our home! Our first worship celebration on June 2 was filled with joy, thanksgiving, and praises to our triune God. GC Baguio, let us be in the attitude of expectancy for new things, new memories, and new God-encounters together in this place.

Rosacara, Mindoro, Philippines

Almighty Creator, we rejoice in the groundbreaking ceremony for our new church building. May this place become a beacon of light and love in our neighborhood, drawing hearts closer to you and fostering unity, compassion, and hope for all who enter its doors. Bless this endeavor with your guidance and grace.

Port Harcourt, River State, Nigeria

To the glory of God, we dedicated our new church hall on May 19. We are grateful for the participation of Pastor Emmanuel Okai (Regional Director for West Africa) in our ribbon cutting ceremony.

Healthy Church—Avenues Retreat

During Dr. Greg Williams’ visit to Australasia, the Fiji Avenue champions and their teams gathered in Nadi, Fiji, for a two-day retreat. Greg and Superintendent Heber Ticas led the equipping discussions. Also present were Pastor Frank Boyd and Emily Boyd, and my wife, Sue Richards, and I.

Commissioned in late 2023, Love Avenue Champion Eugene Panuve, Faith Avenue Champion Jason Raki, and Hope Avenue Champion Epeli Nakautoga and their teams avidly absorbed the material presented. They appreciated the instruction, but they especially enjoyed the many stories and practical tips emerging regularly during the retreat. Dr. Williams began with the relational flow of Christ’s love, faith, and hope into and through our lives that is foundational to the health, vibrancy, and work of the church. Supported with stories from his experiences, Mr. Ticas encouraged us toward having a missional mentality and “posture,” and he described the missional flow between church and community.

On the second day, Greg proposed we tackle the questions submitted earlier as a practical exercise. Given questions appropriate to their Avenue, the teams spent the morning brainstorming and strategizing goals, action steps, point persons, and completion dates. Then they presented their suggestions and received feedback. What a good job they did! They had generated basic ministerial action plans (MAPs) and proven the ability of the teams to work together on difficult issues.

While Dr. Williams returned home on Sunday, Mr. Ticas stayed to speak to the Suva congregation. He gave tips on staging Love Avenue events at that venue, signage to advertise the church’s presence, the importance and placement of greeters, and the role of contact cards for following up with visitors. How encouraging this visit was! The emerging leaders are fired up and excited about the future growth and health of the church in Fiji, and the future looks positive.


By Dennis Richards, Regional Director, New Zealand and the South Pacific
Palmerston North, New Zealand

Healthy Church—Neighborhood Camps

Burias Island, Luzon, Philippines

Dubbed “Burias Balikatan” (shoulder-to-shoulder), our three-day camp was the first neighborhood camp in the Philippines to have a holistic approach, reaching young people and the host community through a deep well project. By God’s grace and our sustained efforts, we raised the funds for this new camp.

We appreciate the willing hearts of all who served, especially the support of the GCI Bicol pastorate. GCI Daet provided worship. GCI Pili sent volunteers for food service and transportation. GCI Cotmon delivered equipment — tents, cooking utensils, archery sets. GCI Tabaco sent a culinary expert. GCI Donsol sent a veteran counselor to complete our personnel requirement.

Our theme, “Live Out Love” (1 Corinthians 16:14), was shared by the more than 100 individuals involved. The camaraderie and love culminated in three baptisms in the sea — a trio of young people yearning to serve the Lord!

Here lies the challenge now. We’re responsible for ensuring that these young leaders are guided and equipped on their journey of faith.

By Ricardo E. Perez, Pastor
Cotmon, Luzon, Philippines




Jacksonville, FL, US

We named our neighborhood camp “Grace Camp” when it started back in 2021 to note our connection to Grace Communion International, and to highlight our emphasis upon God’s love and grace towards all children. Each year in our daily chapel service, we focus on a certain aspect of God’s grace. This year our chapel theme was “Speaking with Grace to Others.”

Thirty-six campers aged 6-18, and 24 volunteer staff participated in our three-day camp. The teens had an additional day with an overnight on Jekyll Island, G.A. to provide better mentoring time.

Activities included crafts, sports, a block party, a dance, a water balloon contest, skits, a hike, and off-site outings (See schedule). Approximately a third of the campers came from the neighborhoods near the church. Some previous GCI attendees’ kids and grandkids attended, which is a good way to reconnect with them. Most of our regular church youth attended, which we value as strengthening our internal youth ministry and their discipleship journey with Jesus.

Marty, with wife, Yvonne

By Marty Davey, Pastor
Jacksonville, FL, US





Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Our goal with children’s ministry is to plant seeds of God’s word in children’s lives and allow the Holy Spirit to transform them, nurturing a relationship with Christ. To that end, we organised a three-day Vacation Bible School (VBS) on the church premises. The theme was “I Wonder.”

Fourteen children participated, and our design was a place-sharing perspective that would be non-threatening for children who are not Christian. An event like this brings members together and becomes a rich relational experience.

The children were taught to grow in their relationship with Jesus by engaging them with robotic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — and most importantly, our Creator! They heard from early church leaders like Paul, Peter, and Timothy, who helped the first Jesus followers wonder what made their stories unique, what gifts God gave them, how they could use those gifts to serve, and how they could spend time with God each day. Thanks to “Grow Curriculum” from where the material was resourced.

By Danny Zachariah, Superintendent of Asia
Hyderabad, India

Marriage of Michelle Fleming & Jeff Hartman

It is with great happiness that we announce the union of
Michelle Fleming and Jeffrey Michael Hartman
On May 18, 2024

The couple celebrated their wedding day at a beautiful lakeside location in Belmont, North Carolina, joined by their immediate families. The ceremony was officiated by Charles Fleming, father of the bride, and included blessings from their mothers, Carmen Fleming and Marge Hartman.

Michelle and Jeffrey will call Belmont, North Carolina, their home.

GCI Testify


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Prayer Guide—July 2024

“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” — Karl Barth

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Art of Mentoring


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