With gratitude, we celebrate Deborah Paz and her 31 years of devoted service to Grace Communion International. Her caring nature, dedication to detail, and dependability are remembered by all who had the pleasure to work with and know her. She was first hired part-time in May 1984 as Deb Nickel, a student at Ambassador College in Pasadena working in the Telephone Response Department, with a second job in the Ambassador Auditorium. In May 1987, Deb took a full-time job in our Publishing Department as a Production Services Assistant. Deb then transferred to Church Administration where, in 1995, she began serving as Executive Assistant to Dr. Joseph Tkach Jr. He remarked, “More than an excellent assistant, Deb is a dear friend to Tammy and me.” On January 4, 2019, she transitioned from GCI employment. Thank you, Deb, for your love, support, and a job well done. Praying for a joy-filled next season for you and Don.
With warm wishes we celebrate the retirement of Ted Johnston on January 4, 2019. A humble and faithful servant of Jesus who contributed so much to our denomination for decades, Ted worked in pastoral ministry since 1987, serving as a Pastor, District Superintendent, and Regional Pastor. During his tenure, Ted was a champion for youth ministry and mentoring new leaders. Ted served as Gen Min director, and developed much of our Media content through his role of Editor of both GCI Update and Equipper. Ted is a vibrant and vital member of our GCI family and we pray blessings over him and his wife Donna as they enter this new season.
Here are some of Ted’s parting words: “I’m optimistic as I peer into GCI’s future. But I’m also realistic—our transformation needs to continue—we have not arrived. To my brothers and sisters, I say, ‘journey on’!”
Thank you, Ted for the road you have laid and the way you have encouraged us on our journey together.
Registration Now Open for Grace Communion Seminary Spring Semester
Registration for Spring Semester opened January 2 and runs through January 10. If fewer than five students enroll in a class, it may be canceled at the discretion of the instructor. We encourage you to register early so we may know as soon as possible if a class will meet this minimum. An email has been sent to all current students with further details and the registration link. Our classes on average require 12 hours of study per week, including reading and written assignments. I am happy to assist with any questions you may have about the classes offered, your personal course of study, or any issues you may have with registration or the website. Do you know of anyone interested in taking classes with GCS? Please share your experiences with them and direct them to our website to find an application, a course schedule and much more helpful information. I am happy to answer any questions from potential students as well. Just give me a call at 980-495-3950. It is our prayer that the classes you take at GCS are a blessing to you personally and in your ministry. If I can be of service to you in any way, don’t hesitate to let me know.
This report is from retreat participant Tom Fallon.
For three days (November 8-11, 2018) a group of God’s children experienced a joy-filled “Experiencing the Trinity” retreat hosted by Odyssey in Christ. Held in Titusville, FL, the retreat allowed us to enter sacred “kairos” time with our Triune God. We truly did experience the love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit at this 8th annual spiritual renewal retreat. All who participated felt a tremendous fellowship in the Spirit.
One dear sister summarized her experience this way:
It was a truly amazing experience! Praise God for showing me that He does love me! Amen!”
Could there be any higher praise for a retreat experience? She came to know experientially—in the depths of her heart—that she is truly loved!
GCI Pastor Rannie Childress expressed his experience of the Trinity during the retreat with these words:
I was deeply moved spiritually. During the retreat, God (Father-Son-Spirit) revealed to me some life-changing revelations. I received the “message” that I am to prepare for the next season of my life (the life God has given me). I cannot recommend these retreats highly enough. Go—you will not regret it!
One theme of the retreat was that as we create space for God (by clearing our schedules and choosing to make a retreat) God comes rushing in! God indeed came rushing in and we witnessed healing in body, soul and spirit and, in the process, all experienced a special bond of love. This retreat was truly a foretaste of the wonderful world tomorrow, when all God’s children will dwell together in perfect unity.
In this fast-paced, dizzying world, the spiritual practice of retreat is so uplifting and rejuvenating. Odyssey in Christ retreats provide the perfect opportunity to plant the love of Christ in our souls and at the same time create lasting memories. One sister put it this way:
The Trinity has the answers to all my questions and longings. I need to take time to retreat—to meet with them and find answers and clarification and their embrace. Thank you! I needed this retreat more than I realized, and the Lord brought me here.
The following report is from Heber Ticas, Superintendent for Latin America and National Coordinator for Church Multiplication.
In mid-November, 123 GCI members from Mexico gathered for our annual national conference. We met at Hotel Villa Primavera on the outskirts of Guadalajara, Mexico. The conference theme was Somos Communion De Gracia (We are GCI). Our goal was to reboot our ministry in Mexico, embracing a posture of unity, moving forward together as one family.
This year’s conference departed a bit from the equipping-training format of previous conferences. We provided a retreat-style gathering with ample time for fellowship, learning and worship.
Also this year, instead of holding a separate camp for our youth in Mexico, the conference included a track for the youth. Doing so created a family camp atmosphere. All the participants were overjoyed with the opportunity to grow together as one multi-generational body.
This year we were blessed to have GCI President Greg Williams and his wife Susan with us. Greg spoke about moving forward as a healthy church and Susan, along with my wife Xochilt Ticas and Selena Soto, addressed gatherings for women. In my address to the conference, I spoke about being a healthy body by embracing our true identity in Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit to heal our hearts. Pastor Natanael Cruz then addressed sessions for the youth.
As shown in the picture above, during the conference I was commissioned by Greg Williams as GCI’s Superintendent for Latin America. Greg gave me my charge in the presence of representatives from congregations I’ll be serving. Following my commissioning, I presented Pastor Luis Soto as the new National Coordinator for GCI Mexico.
Overall, it was an amazing weekend where the Lord united all those present in one mind, by one Spirit. Our Mexican churches are ready to move forward as one body toward the fulfillment of our shared vision for healthy church.
In October, GCI’s Champlin and Bloomington, MN, congregations hosted day-long seminars titled “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality—Journey to Maturity.” Both Odyssey in Christ seminars were facilitated by Larry Hinkle, Gracie Johnson, and Ron and Rebecca Hickman. The seminars helped participants understand the connection between emotional health and spiritual maturity; the symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality; the nature of our true selves, hidden in Christ; and how contemplative practices lead to emotionally healthy spirituality.
Here are comments from seminar participants:
The seminar opened the way for a closer walk with God.
I learned how God’s love is working in peoples’ lives.
I learned to take time for inner contemplation—reflecting on inner stress, motivation and the richness of deep feelings.
I learned to be honest/vulnerable with God—knowing who I am by drawing closer to God. I was overwhelmed by his presence and love. The seminar awakened a desire to be intimate with God.
Dr. Hinkle said we were created in such a way that often our bodies (through feelings/emotions) know something before our minds do. He urged us to not ignore these feelings/emotions and take them to the Lord in prayer. He will reveal the source of those feelings (whether negative or positive, recent or buried deep in the past) and bring about transformation and healing. Personal stories from Gracie Johnson, and Ron and Rebecca Hickman showed how this unfolds.
The seminar provided eye-opening insights into past wounds that trigger negative behaviors and hinder growth in emotional maturity. We were challenged to identify feelings that have been stuffed and festering, and given tools to bring those feelings into the light of Jesus’ love so that healing can begin.
The pastoral team of GCI’s congregation in Santa Rosa, Laguna, Philippines, led by Pastor Len Joson, recently finished its study of “We Believe“—a GCI teaching tool that addresses core doctrine and theology.
The group (pictured above) studied “We Believe” over a period of several months. Here are comments from several participants:
In our study of “We Believe,” done bit by bit every meeting, we had frank and open discussions that led to clarity about our denomination’s theological positions on fundamental biblical issues.
We not only achieved clarity in this study, but more than that, we were able to achieve a greater level of understanding in personal relationship with each other.
I strongly recommend “We Believe” to our congregations and encourage our pastors to try this with their leaders and members. It has helped me in my Christian walk, in the ministry and in dealing with other people in many ways.
Thank you to the authors whom God used to write this teaching tool. All praises to God in the highest!