God is working among our Grace Communion congregations.
In the midst of Covid-19, our services by Zoom have attracted some 14 new people to our churches – families with children to one GCI church, and one family to our African church in Friesland.
In the meantime, we have resumed physical meetings, while still incorporating Zoom as an option every Sunday.
The joyous news is also that we had one baptism in July and three in August last week!
For our GCI congregation De Hoeksteen in Tiel (The Netherlands), this pandemic has been a time of spiritual growth.Four people were baptized in July and August 2020:
Three in a river, and one in an inflatable bath. The 4 baptized are Gratia Hopman, Monique van der Slikke and the couple David and Berdien Keulen. The ceremonies were performed by pastor couple Hans and Denise de Moei.
So God added four precious people to his kingdom! We are very thankful and praise him for this encouraging growth. We rejoice God is adding to his kingdom!
Warm regards and blessings,
Frans Danenberg Grace Communion International Nederland en Vlaanderen
Eleven members of GC Oriental Mindoro were baptized by Pastor Bernardo “Narding” Cuizon on July 26, 2020.
The newly baptized members are: Ipan Lay-ayan, Ita Gay-ayan, Alyas Salayaw, Adones Gay-ayan, Leony Lin-iman, Asonn Gay-atan, Sima Gay-ayan, Dimi Ipoy, Yumis Lin-iman, Lalyn Yumyan, and Idong Amay.
After the baptism, with proper social distancing, the members gathered in GC Bansud service hall each to receive a sack of rice donated by Pastor Ric Sayo, Pastor Ronald Hernandez, and Pastor Pol Makahiya. The worship service ended with the blessing of the children by Pastor Narding.
Let us all welcome our new siblings in the fellowship!
“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”- Luke 15:7 (ESV)
Long time GCI Elder Frank Espinoza has been diagnosed with cancer and we are requesting prayer. Frank has served the church for many years – as an employee in Pasadena and also in the Spanish-speaking area. Now serving in San Diego as an elder at Cornerstone Community Church (Lemon Grove) – a congregation of GCI. Frank’s wife Carmen also has severe health issues.
Frank was diagnosed on September 2 with stage 4 liver cancer that has spread into his lungs. He was in the hospital for only a few days and is now in a hospice house. He is receiving palliative care to deal with the pain, especially as it progresses. His wife, Carmen, has been battling Parkinson’s disease for some time and is almost bedridden at home. The family is working to make it possible for Carmen to move to the same facility where Frank is so that they can be together. Please pray for them both and also for their family as they take care of them during this difficult time.
Cards of encouragement can be sent to:
3591 Ruffin Rd Unit 127, San Diego, CA 92123
Mark Stapleton, Pastor Cornerstone Community Church San Diego, California
Am I the only one to get confused when wearing a mask? Recently I had my face mask on when I went for a cup of coffee. I tried to pay by using my phone, but it would not process. What was the problem? My phone’s security works by facial recognition and the mask obscured my face! I felt flustered and peered intently at the phone, thinking it would click in. People in the socially distanced line behind me were snickering as they watched, and I too began to laugh.
Masks have a fascinating history and were worn for all sorts of reasons, and they still are. I remember watching a movie that featured a masquerade, a party where people wore elaborate masks to conceal who they were. The idea goes back to the theatres of ancient Greece and elsewhere, where actors would don a mask to get into character. Typically, they’d use a mask that featured a recognizable attribute of the role they were playing.
A friend of mine, who knew I was a Christian, asked me once about God. What is he like? Would he please come out from behind his mask and identify himself? My friend was being sarcastic, but I had an answer, based on Colossians 1:15, where we read that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God” (ESV). Jesus came, I said to him, to show us who God is, to reveal how God is love.
It’s something worth noting. If we want to know what God is like, how he thinks and how he cares for us, we look to the life of Jesus.
Jesus is God unmasked.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for revealing yourself through your Son, Jesus Christ, and help me please to grow more and more into his image. In his name, Amen.
For 2020 I asked our GCI leaders to consider the word “focus” as our word for the year. To achieve a perfect focus of 20/20 sight, there must be clarity. Anyone who has ever undergone an eye exam was given a series of lenses to peer through and asked, “Which one is most clear?” until you achieve clear vision.
The clarity for GCI starts with me as the President having a well-defined job description – a clear lens of what my job is. (Thanks to the GCI Board of Directors, I have such a lens.) Once clarity for my job was established, it is on me to fashion priorities and goals around the activities that I have been asked to accomplish on behalf of the denomination. One of those priorities is to create a job description for the leaders who serve at the management level of the church. This applies, in turn, to our church pastors.
Our pastors are the frontline managers for our church. These men and women are the backbones of our organization. As go our pastors, so goes our church. This is not meant to imply a sense of heaviness or pressure, just simply stating the reality.
The old DNA for pastoring in our church was:
An able teacher who could support and articulate our church doctrines
A counselor to the members on all of life’s issues
An available leader who regularly visited members in their homes
As we are now 20 years into the 21st century the job description for pastors has changed significantly.
In accordance with what we see in Ephesians 4, we desire that pastors look to the leadership of the ascended Christ in not only using their gifts, but in helping members use their God-given gifts. Pastors and ministry leaders are called “to equip the saints for the work of ministry,” so that the church is built up. Equipping is done through the training and empowering of believers.
We desire a dynamic movement of ministry within our churches where people come alive in Christ, grow up into his maturity, and walk in step as they share in Christ’s ministry (verses 13-16).
We are asking our pastors to be theologically educated in GCI’s Incarnational Trinitarian theology and to express their abiding relationship with Father, Son and Spirit in how they relate to others and how they teach the gospel message.
We are asking our pastors to be intimately familiar with the Love, Hope and Faith avenues of ministry, and to prayerfully appoint leaders and teams of people for the ongoing attention and execution of these foundational ministries. Pastors must first be Team-Builders, then Leaders of Leaders, as well as Constant Custodian over the foundational ministries.
It takes a lot of effort to be a healthy church, yet isn’t that our goal? Every pastor wants his or her local congregation to be the healthiest expression of church it can be. This requires focus and clarity. A pastor’s congregation is his or her local focus of operation. To provide clarity, allow me to share—in a condensed fashion—how we are asking pastors to see their role as described in the flow of Engaging, Equipping, Empowering and Encouraging.
Engagement means being among people in the congregation and community to discern individuals who can possibly grow into ministry leaders, then intentionally engaging and recruiting potential leaders by giving them opportunities to stretch their capacity and helping them become better known.
Equipping God’s people for works of service begins in the awareness of who God is, and then who the individual is in relationship to God. How has God shaped them through their personality, life experiences, talents, and spiritual gifting? What is God calling them to in correspondence to building up the church? The pastor must rely on the help and resources from the Faith Avenue leader and team members to thoroughly work through this process. Equipping then means matching individuals to appropriate educational opportunities, and relationally connecting them with able ministry leaders who will make space for the new believer to be apprenticed—knowing that information without imitation falls short, mentoring counts.
Empowerment is a function of trust and resourcing. A pastor will give meaningful opportunities for leaders under him or her and allow liberty for the person to succeed or fail; celebrating the successes and patiently working through the failures. The pastor will work collaboratively with the team leaders to wisely determine their needs, and will follow through with provision of finances, tools and related resources.
The constant Encouragement will come to the broader congregation with the week-in-week-out preaching that is in correspondence to the Christian calendar, and in harmony with the Hope Avenue leader and team. The more specific role of encourager applies to the oversight of the core ministry team leaders, as the pastor facilitates vision-casting and alignment, relational management, and strategic review and careful planning. The pastor is the greatest cheerleader for the ministries of the church, showing support by participation and ongoing communication.
The passage in Ephesians implies growth in spiritual maturity and the winning of new disciples to the church. The pastor will rely on the Love Avenue leader and team to make sure that healthy rhythms of neighborhood engagement and relational connections are happening in the target community. A vigilant pastor will be attentive to numeric and spiritual growth and proactively lead the congregation to receive the growth provided by the Lord.
The new DNA of the four “E’s” – Engagement, Equipping, Empowering, and Encouraging – will be the catalyst for how pastors lead and serve their congregations. This continued transformation is a part of the spiritual renewal of our fellowship that has been going on for more than a quarter of a century.
Thank you, Holy Spirit. We will have some more please!
P.S. The Regional Directors will be helping pastors have more clarity about their role and how to most effectively shepherd our precious congregations.
The 2020 GCIgnite all-virtual gathering was a success, giving young adults a chance to grow and fellowship despite the postponement of this year’s denominational celebration.
With participants from around the globe, including Australia, Fiji, the Philippines, South Africa, the United States, and more. The event focused on spiritual formation and practice as key components of knowing yourself to lead yourself.
Beginning the week with welcome activities and fellowship, participants then delved into sessions led by speakers Dishon Mills and Michelle Fleming on the main themes. Breakout sessions facilitated discussions about applications of spiritual formation and practice in both their home churches and personal lives. The week concluded with a live worship session led by four amazing young adults and included a prayer session that covered the many challenges we’ve collectively faced this year.
We are grateful for all the hard work and prayers from the GCNext Team and individuals in the home office over the past few months that made GCIgnite possible.
The 2020 GCIgnite gathering provided a great opportunity for participants to connect, grow and worship, and we’re looking forward to next year’s in-person event that will coincide with the Denominational Celebration!