We Are GCI: Michelle Fleming

The We Are GCI Series is a collection of videos where various GCI family members are highlighted. In this episode, President, Dr. Greg Williams interviews Media Director, Michelle Fleming. Michelle shares her experience and connection with GCI. Together Greg and Michelle discuss the purpose for GCI Media content and preview the theme Faith Forward and resources that will be rolled out in 2021.

LiLY Women’s Conference

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!
17th Annual LiLY Women’s Conference 2021
Being held Virtually on Zoom
Saturday, April 24, 2021
9:30 a.m – 3:00 p.m. (EST)

“I Am Doing A New Thing”
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

Virtual Zoom Conference or Dial-In
To join our conference you can use any of the following:
Desktop, Laptop, Tablet or Phone

Featured Speakers:
Dr. Kim Carter – www.drkimcarter.com
Joy Trachsel – www.joytrachsel.com

Registration Fee:
$20 – Early Bird Pricing by Wednesday, March 31, 2021
$25 – April 1 through April 24, 2021

To register online, click this link: gccle.church/lily
(copy & paste the link to your browser if needed)

If not registering on-line:
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 and email)

Any questions please email us at lilywomensministry@gmail.com

We hope you will join us!

Rosa Hulse
Women’s Ministry Leader
Hosted by Grace Communion Cleveland
Pastor Tamar Gray

Passing the Baton in Stoystown

Bruce and Sharon

On February 7, 2021, Regional Director of the Eastern Region, Jeffrey Broadnax, came to New Hope Community Church in Stoystown, PA to officially pass the baton of leadership from Pastor Bruce Metz to Pastor J. Bradley Reed and his wife, Associate Pastor Marlene Reed. Bruce will continue to serve as an elder within the congregation.

Brad has been on a journey with GCI since 1988, when it was the Worldwide Church of God. Marlene grew up in the Worldwide Church of God. Brad, a 1989 graduate of Ambassador College, and Marlene, a 1990 graduate of Ambassador College, were married in 1989. Brad continued his education after Ambassador with a Bachelor of Science in Health Education from California State University, Northridge, and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California.

Brad works full-time as a physical therapist. He and Marlene have three children. Their oldest, Danika, is pursuing a degree in nursing. Their middle child, Ariel, is pursuing a degree in Communication. And, their youngest, Jay, is a high school senior pursuing a Rotary Club International Student Exchange this fall.

Brad and Marlene

Brad and Marlene come to the congregation with a missional spirit and a desire that all people come into a personal relationship with Jesus and understand that life’s journey is all grace. Both Brad and Marlene have volunteered at GCI SEP So Cal. They have worked with their local Girl Scouts, youth basketball program, high school band, and church youth group. Marlene has worked with the local community theater, and Brad has been a part of a local singing quintet. They had an outpatient physical therapy clinic that closed its clinic doors six years ago, but kept its home health department running until one year ago. They currently host a bi-weekly Bible study group at their home.

Bruce and Sharon Metz received a personalized thank you letter from GCI President Dr. Greg Williams. They were also honored with a congregational gift of a wood planter box holding flower vases labeled “faith,” “hope” and “love.” The box was made for them from reclaimed lumber from Bruce’s family barn. They also received a Thomas Kinkade tapestry with Sharon’s favorite Psalm on it.

There is deep-felt appreciation for the love and work that Bruce and Sharon bestowed upon GCI Stoystown congregants over the last 20 years. Although stepping out of the pastoral role, Bruce and Sharon will still help within the congregation and community—a journey that began in 1969 and goes on forever.

 

By the Reeds and the Metzs

Living the Love Avenue in GC South Kansas City

In reflecting on this past year, we have had many challenges as well as many blessings. There have been wonderful opportunities for our congregation to interact with others in our community in ways that we had not imagined possible. As we keep in mind and engage in the mission that Jesus has called us into, I would like to share some of the wonderful experiences God has opened for us even in the midst of this pandemic.

We participated with KC Impact Group, which we joined with another local church in ministering, to families, providing prayer and other resources for members of the community who have had various misfortunes from job loss, family separation, and health difficulties. Unfortunately, activity was halted due to the pandemic, but because of the connections we had already made, it was exciting that we could continue in prayer for these individuals.

Some of our members embarked on a program known as “Center Friends,” where adults are paired with a student so they can get to know each other and mentor those children. We were fingerprinted and prepared for this program when the pandemic broke out, so we have not been able to begin the process.

Many of the opportunities we have came through our connection and relationships made with Center Elementary School, and in particular, through Roslyn Christopher, the school’s Social Worker, who has become a wonderful friend to our church family and shares with us the needs that arise.

We were blessed to receive the opportunity to help two families that had moved into the area and were in difficult situations. We provided resources such as food items to help them get over the hump during their relocation.

Another special opportunity we had was to assist a family with nine children. This family was having difficulty providing enough clothing for all the children prior to the school year. Our church family came together to pour out tremendous love through prayer and donations to provide enough clothing for their four boys. Several of our members had the pleasure of shopping for this family. That was an exciting adventure.

Another amazing opportunity came to light when a teacher at Center Elementary had the misfortune of her family losing most of their possessions due to a fire at their residence. Once again, our church family answered the call of the Holy Spirit into this tragic event and they came through with such outstanding love and concern so that we were able to provide a substantial amount of funds to help them begin to recoup some of their losses.

The school was attempting to provide an incentive program for the students and their families to keep them interested in their virtual education and so began giving out small gift cards ($5 to $10) as rewards for certain achievements and behaviors. We were privileged and blessed with the resources to get involved in this program and provided several of these incentives.

Last year we were able to provide Christmas food boxes for some of the poor families in the community, but because of the pandemic, the school decided they would not have that particular ministry option, so we began brainstorming and came up with a service that would benefit the teachers and staff members who were working hard to continue to provide educational opportunities to the children in the midst of this difficult situation.

We provided gift cards for each of the teachers and staff members so they would be encouraged and have something special for themselves and their families. The teachers and staff collectively created a video thanking our church family for the outpouring of love and well wishes for the new year. It was special to share with the church family a small representation of the fruits of their labor and faithfulness to God’s calling.

As part of our Christmas outreach, we collected Christmas cards from our congregation, and several of our members gathered and wrote special sentiments in these cards and sent them to every member of our community. We also sent them to the Fire and Police Departments, as well as the schools.

Then we put together a fun group, and purchased matching shirts to go caroling in our neighborhood around our meeting place. God provided us with amazing weather that day, which encouraged a wonderful level of participation. We had several incredibly special interactions from individuals as we caroled. Many people came out on their porches and sang with us, and we were thanked for spreading joy. Because we had such a great response and had so much fun, we went out the following week into a different area of the neighborhood and did it again. What joyous and fun events these were.

Since we are changing our name and reinvigorating our mission, we are planning to send out a letter to those in the community with the information and sentiments for the New Year. We are thinking about making magnets with our new name and our new logo. This is in the brainstorming phase. We are also thinking about an event or outreach of some kind for Valentine’s Day.

We have been offered an opportunity to assist in teaching the young children who are less fortunate and have not had access to computers, how to use a computer and help them prepare for their schooling. These would probably be those preparing to enter Kindergarten. Please pray that our amazing Lord will open doors for this to happen.

We are looking forward to a continually active year of service, sharing the love of Jesus with those all around our community.

By Barbara Leatherman
Love Avenue Champion
Grace Communion South Kansas City

Devotional: Whose World Is It?

In the light of who Jesus is revealed to be, and what he has accomplished on our behalf that every person might share in his relationship with his Father by the Spirit (John 17:3, John 16:13-15), we must not underestimate the priority of the Who question. As “Christ”ians we don’t believe that just anyone could be and do who Jesus is and what he did in his birth, life, suffering and death, resurrection, ascension and coming again, right? We don’t believe that just anyone could achieve the same outcomes, Jesus is the unique and only begotten of the Father (John 3:16). He is the only human mediator between God and humanity (1 Tim. 2:5). He is the only one to whom every knee will bow and tongue confess that he is Lord, right? (Phil. 2:9-11). This Who is in contrast to the popular “What?”, “How?”, “When?”, “Where?” and “Why? questions that often claim priority. You know what I mean: What will be done about these troubling political and social issues!? How long will the world continue to suffer racial discrimination and injustice!? When will this physical, mental or emotional pain end? Where is the man or woman with the real leadership solution to this COVID mess, and why is it taking so long to get understood, organized and solved?

With that basic understanding of the good news (that Jesus – God himself – is our good news), do you see the qualitative difference the “whose” question can have on your faith, hope and loving? Regarding the politics and social issues of this world, whose world is it? Regarding all physical, mental and emotional pain, whose body and soul is it? With regard to COVID and the disturbance of death it has brought to far too many in this world, whose resurrection from death makes alive? I’m sure scriptures come to mind with regard to those questions, but let me conclude with one set that holds all these together at once:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away. Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will freely give to the thirsty from the spring of the water of life. The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be my son.”( Revevaltion 21:1-7 CSB)

Just so we’re clear, knowing whose world it is does not guarantee a life without troubles, pain or suffering for a time in this present evil age, (and that is why I included the reality of death here and now) but it is a sign of where things are headed because of whose world it is. So, whose troubles, pains and sufferings are they, really? Whose world is it? Whose _______ is it?

 

 

By Timothy Brassell
Pastor
Baltimore, Maryland

The God Who Makes Everything Complete

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

The writer of Hebrews in his benediction provides great encouragement to the church for all ages.

Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21 NRSVA)

The entire book of Hebrews points to Jesus. He is Creator and the perfect reflection of the Father, his sacrifice alone is effective for the salvation of humanity, he is the eternal High Priest between God and humanity, and he is the Shepherd of the church. This is great news!

So, how has the Great Shepherd been shepherding GCI? Personally, I have been amazed and humbled by how Jesus has been leading us more closely into his ministry, both in style and purpose.

In 2014 I was asked by Grace Communion Seminary to create the class CM510: Polity of Grace Communion International. It was during the creation of this class that I introduced the concept of Team-Based, Pastor-Led. As I taught the course, I had wonderful discussions with students about this ministry concept, especially with regard to how it matched with our Incarnational Trinitarian theology and reflected the way that Jesus worked with and through his original disciples.

Notice again verse 21 of Hebrews 13, which reminds us the God of peace will “make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will.” Making us complete begins with justification and the process of sanctification in Jesus, and it moves forward to equipping us so that we can participate with him in his ministry to our neighbors. Certainly, the equipping from Jesus involves the calling and gifting that comes from the Holy Spirit, but how are we to be organized as a church? What structures help us to be the healthiest expression of church that we can be?

After having taught the Polity class three times and seeing the positive response from the students over Team-Based, Pastor-Led, it gave me the incentive to introduce this with greater confidence to our U.S. ministry leaders. We began sorting through the ramifications of this teaching with enthusiasm, and one of the greatest breakthroughs was when the media team decided to join the cause by creating visuals. (Since 65 percent of the general population are visual learners, this step made good sense.)

I am also a visual learner, and in the early stages of explaining the concepts I found myself drawing sketches of faith, hope, and love circles on napkins while sitting in restaurants with key leaders. I believe my good friend Jeff Broadnax saved one of those napkins. Thank God for Charlotte Rakestraw, our GCI Graphic Designer, who cleaned up my elementary artwork.

The U.S. Regional Directors (RDs) fully embraced the model of Team-Based, Pastor-Led with its three ministry avenues. In 2019 we held Regional Celebrations across the U.S. I was so pleased and proud to sit in on the sessions while the RDs so clearly articulated the Team-Based, Pastor-Led model.

In the COVID year of 2020, I was thrilled to watch the GCI Superintendents host zoom meetings across the world for the training of what is rapidly becoming our new ministry model.

The power of the Team-Based, Pastor-Led approach is that it opens wide the gate for all believers to find their place of participation with Christ and his church. Pastors no longer carry the ministry load on their shoulders—instead they share the ministry with others. In community they experience the joys and sufferings of participating in Jesus’ ministry, and thus more fully discover the presence of Jesus.

As our media team continues to create more tools around the Team-Based, Pastor-Led model, we continue to discover new depths. It is a lot like the more we get to know Jesus, the more we realize we have only begun to scratch the surface of this relationship, and likewise with his ministry. So, if you are just beginning to explore the Team-Based, Pastor-Led model of leadership, please don’t think of this is akin to a “paint by numbers” project. It is a framework to get you started. As you find the right leaders to oversee the Faith, Hope, and Love Avenues, and as they add team members with their own unique mix of personalities and gifts, you will see this model of leadership play out in the context of your church neighborhood. I believe this will change the culture of your church and the church neighborhood in ways you probably have never imagined.

I get chills just thinking about how our Great Shepherd is equipping us and positioning us to join him more closely and personally as we yield to his lead.

To him be the glory!

Greg Williams

Death of Stephen Dobritch

Stephen John Dobritch
Stephen Dobritch

Stephen John Dobritch, the beloved son of Pastor John and Mary Dobritch, died at the age of 35 at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center on December 26, 2020.

Stephen was an ordained minister in Grace Communion International, a gifted musician and vocalist who served as the worship leader at Word of God Christian Fellowship in Canfield Ohio. He graduated from Austintown Fitch High School and also attended Youngstown State University.

Stephen is survived by his parents, and three sisters Katherine, Theresa and Marianne.

Cards of sympathy and encouragement may be sent to:

John and Mary Dobritch
3312 Starwick Dr
Canfield, OH 44406-8201

Death of Paul Sniffen

Paul and Leigh Sniffen

Please remember Mrs. Leigh Sniffen and her family in prayer.

Her beloved husband and faithful servant of God, Paul Sniffen, died peacefully in his sleep on December 23, 2020. He had suffered a series of minor strokes in early November.

For more about Paul’s life and legacy, read GC Memphis’ tribute here.

You can send cards of sympathy and encouragement to Paul’s wife Leigh at the address below:

Mrs. Leigh Sniffen
9209 Speerberry Circle
Cordova, TN 38016-2399
UNITED STATES