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Montana garden outreach

The GCI congregation in Kalispell, Montana is sponsoring a community garden as an outreach project. Here is a report from Pastor Lloyd Barrie.

The community garden has been successful in many ways. In May, the congregation made the decision to put their vacant lot next to the church building to productive use. As is true in many states, budgets were cut and the local food bank’s needs were not met. While individual church members planted personal plots, the majority of the garden was devoted to supplying fresh produce to the food bank.

Montana has a short growing season, so black plastic was laid first. This not only controlled weeds, but also warmed the soil. The results were amazing – squash almost as large as one of the youngest church members! For the past month, bags of produce have been delivered to the food bank on a weekly basis. There will be more before the first frost.

In addition to helping the community, our garden has brought our members closer together. Even the younger children have been able to contribute and at the same time learn about growing food. We’ve all grown through this experience. Sundays, after services, we’ve donned gardening garb and worked and prayed together in Montana’s sunshine. Next year we hope to have an even larger garden and involve more members of the community.


New Heights camp report

Following is a report from camp director Jeff Broadnax, concerning Generations Ministries’ New Heights Summer Camp held recently in Connecticut

First I want to thank our churches in Schenectady, NY; Loudon, NH; Stratford and Meriden, CT; Queens, Manhattan and Rochester, NY; and Newark and Hillsdale, NJ for their financial support. We could not serve these amazing young people without their help. I also want to thank the Chillicothe, OH and Hillsdale, NJ churches for spending 24 hours in prayer for us during camp week.

This year we had 68 campers and 68 staffers. The number of campers was down a bit this year due to the poor economy. But this allowed our staff more time to re-assess our calling to be a mission-oriented ministry. We were also able to spend more time on a leadership development and transition plan.

Our theme this year, “Living Loved,” caught on like wildfire as campers and staffers embraced the secure relationship we have with and in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The theme was unpacked in chapel messages from Pastors Dishon Mills, Anthony Rice and Lawrence Evans.

I can’t thank our staff enough for yielding to the Spirit of God, allowing Him to use them to continue our transformation into a mission-oriented camp. Staffers came from the Northeast and as far away as Alaska. Every single day, these dedicated Christians laid down their lives in prayer, conversation and hard work to expand the Christ-centered worldview of our campers.

This year we added new life-skills classes: “time to speak” (public speaking), “roadside assistance” (basic car care) and a class on “helping in a local church.” We also had Pastor David Botha of GenMin Grace Missions share his testimony and experience in the mission field to help ignite in our campers and staffers a desire to participate in outwardly focused mission. Pastor and Mrs. Joseph Franklin from Haiti also shared their journey in the mission field. We are also working with the Franklins to bring Haitian children to our camp next year.

There were many highlights this year, but I’ll mention two. First, two of our staffers were baptized: Jasmine Broadnax and Sharon (Techiera) Ng. Second, we experienced a dramatic intervention from God. As we were readying for our final ceremony, we received a report that a line of very severe thunderstorms was headed toward the camp. We immediately gathered to pray and God diverted the storms. The moving closing ceremony went ahead as planned. We believe that God calmed the massive storm to remind our campers just how much he loves us and to assure them that he will be with them in the storms of their lives.



Update on L.A. church plant

Last time, we reported on a new GCI satellite congregation being planted in Los Angeles. Here is a follow-up from pastor Heber Ticas (pictured at right):

We held a preview worship service on August 28. God is amazingly awesome – 126 people attended, including 43 adults and 11 kids not connected with the San Fernando “mother” church! An additional six people attended from our Santa Fe Springs church. During the service, ten people confessed faith in Christ in response to an altar call.

All our expectations for the event were surpassed by far. It was encouraging to see members from San Fernando who live in Los Angeles demonstrate a commitment to the new congregation by attending the evening service. The team did a phenomenal job getting word out and inviting friends and family. We now have five different homes where we are holding follow-up Bible studies.

Overall, the preview was a total success (see pictures below). Excitement and momentum keeps building. We have our second preview service on September 25. If we have a similar response, I may decide to launch the new congregation in October. We continue to solicit your prayers.

‘Living Loved’ curriculum offered

The standard teaching curriculum for GCI Generations Ministries (GenMin) camps this summer is titled Living Loved. GenMin is pleased to make this curriculum available to congregations for use as a series of sermons, discipleship classes or Bible Studies.

Related downloads are as follows:

Sept. Equipper: FaithTalk groups

The September issue of Equipper is now available online at http://www.wcg.org/mindev/Web%20Documents/Equipper6.9.pdf.

This issue addresses the topic of FaithTalk groups. These groups focus on reaching out to unchurched people who have spiritual interest.

To learn more about this tool for relational evangelism, see the GCI FaithTalk equipper blog at http://faithtalkgroups.blogspot.com/.


Base Camp in middle Tennessee

Base Camp, the Generations Ministries camp in middle Tennessee, was held recently in Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park near Eva. Dual themes of Pandamania and Living Loved brought a wonderful spirit of unity to the camp.

The camp had several traditional activities and some new ones, including “Marshmallow Mania” where campers shot each other with marshmallows using specially assembled and decorated shooters.

Though we plan to be at the same location in 2012, we are looking for another facility to accommodate growth and a wider variety of activities.

Here is a video report:

Cross-generational youth ministry

For the last several decades, many churches have conducted youth ministry by putting teens into classes and events that are separate from adults (including their parents). However, the results suggest that this approach has not worked: A very high percentage of teens leave the church when they leave home. And so churches are seeking ways to include youth with adults in the life of the larger church. They are finding that a cross-generational (sometimes referred to as an “intergenerational”) approach works best.

To read about this growing trend, go to http://stickyfaith.org/articles/intergenerational-ministry-beyond-the-rhetoric. For related resources see the resource page of the GCI Generations Ministries website at http://genmin.gci.org/resources.htm.

For a helpful Sticky Faith video showing what cross-generational youth ministry looks like, watch this:

Los Angeles satellite church plant

The following report is from Heber Ticas, District Pastor of Spanish speaking congregations in Southern California. It concerns the starting of a new church in Los Angeles as a satellite congregation of Comunion De Gracia, the GCI congregation that Heber pastors in San Fernando, CA.

Over the last three months God’s grace has been evident, as we have seen traction in the development of our new satellite church. God has blessed us with a dedicated leadership team that includes the Panamenos and Palacios families. Tony and Becky Panameno are talented musicians, and Enoc and Lourdes Palacios have pastoral experience. Enoc is a great preacher and Lourdes has worked with the Awana children’s ministry program for many years. These two couples have embraced our vision for kingdom expansion through church planting. They have joined with Jose Felipe Escalante and David Chicas (both from my district) in getting acquainted with my congregation and thus acquiring our “spiritual DNA.” Since our focus group in Los Angeles is similar to that of our “mother” church in San Fernando, we hope to replicate the good things that we have done in and through the mother.

Altogether, seven families have committed to the new satellite church: four recruited from outside my congregation and three from within. I have also given the green light to another three families that are attending in San Fernando, but live closer to the new satellite. Overall, we plan to launch with about 50-70 people in attendance (including six families that will be involved for only six months to help give us critical mass).

Our first preview worship service will be held on August 28 and a second one on September 25. On October 23, we plan an official launch with a grand opening service. Two small groups are already up and running in the focus group area, and are bearing fruit. A third one about 10 miles further south includes a family that already commutes to the San Fernando church. Our seven committed families are also in conversation with their unchurched friends and families living within a 15 mile radius.

We continue to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all that we do, and ask others to join us in prayer.

Core group of new L.A. satellite church

New CMM website

Randy Bloom, director of GCI Church Multiplication Ministries (CMM) announced last week the launching of CMM’s new website. The web address is the same as the old CMM website: http://cmm.gci.org/.

The new site provides a wide array of resources useful to church planters and to congregations and church districts that want to actively support the starting of new GCI churches. Many of the resources posted on the site are also useful in ministries within established churches. Check it out!