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

GCI Gospel Reading Challenge

Beginning March 1, we will enjoy being with and getting to know Jesus through our Gospel Reading Challenge. Over the course of four weeks, read at your own pace and volume while growing closer to Jesus through the Gospels during this Easter Prep season. Click the image below for more information on the official GCI Gospel Reading Challenge Facebook group, where we will have a group discussion and share insights from our reading and meditation.

A Little Good News

Keeping our churches together and spiritually nourished during the ongoing pandemic is a challenge for all of us, as pastors and team members in GCI.

Because we have a large and exclusive-use church facility 24/7 for our Woodbine, Georgia, congregation, we are able to keep it sanitized, and to space out our seating sufficiently, wear face coverings, take temperatures, and run an air purifier. This has enabled us to have in-person services for the past seven months, for those who wish to come. Thanks be to God, not one of our members has gotten the virus.

This is the inside of our church building’s sanctuary. You can see how well spaced out everything is, for our smaller crowd. The area behind the stage, under the cross, is a fully-functioning baptistry, which we recently had occasion to use!

Even with the advantages we have in this church area, it is hard to minister to everyone as well as we would like, and as a result we know that, for some, there may be a decline in spiritual interest and motivation. We have a big job ahead of us when this is all over, to retrieve those sheep who may have wandered, and to build back up the Body of Christ, as we work alongside Jesus.

Good things still happen, though, as we have seen in Grace Communion Woodbine in January 2021. We were blessed to have two baptisms and one ordination of a church elder!

We give thanks and praise to God for the baptisms of new members, Jesse & Tabitha Hester. Tabitha grew up in a GCI church family, and early last year decided to begin attending regularly with her husband, and their four children.

Tabitha in front of the baptistry behind the stage at our church building, where she and her husband were baptized.

Our GCI church has been a blessing to them in their spiritual growth, and they have been a blessing to us as well. Tabitha has a professional quality singing voice, and she has become one of our regular worship leaders for the congregation. And it is especially nice to have their elementary-aged children involved in our youth Sunday School class.

Since our Woodbine church’s renewal and re-launch back in December 2019, our congregation has grown from a fellowship group with an average attendance of about a dozen people for most of 2019, to an actual GCI church with an average attendance of 30, up until the pandemic.

Understandably, our attendance is down about 50% due to the absence of those members who cannot risk returning to in-person worship services for age and health considerations.

Nonetheless, we anticipate continued growth in the near future, and feel that we have been led by the Holy Spirit to appoint an additional church elder to meet the current and expected needs of the congregation.

Calvin Mitchell and his wife Jennie (center), just after the ordination, along with pastor Marty Davey (left), and associate pastor Dan Krupp (right).

Thus, we were able to receive approval from the GCI Home Office and our RD to ordain long-time member, Calvin Mitchell as a minister of Jesus, and assistant pastor in the congregation.

The ordination itself, taking place outdoors for safety reasons, so that those who wished to join the ministers in the laying on of hands could do so.

Things are getting better. And things will get better for all of us soon, I’m sure. May we as pastors, pastoral team leaders and other servants in the congregation, keep looking up and take courage in these words from one of our recent RCL scripture readings:

“Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 62:5-6, HCSB)

 

Marty Davey, Pastor
Grace Communion Woodbine

 

 

 

Joliet Community Outreach

On the 2nd Sunday of Advent, after our worship service, we had a gift bag packing project. We are planning on once-a-month outreach activities like this, but initially focusing on the gospel work of the Pregnancy Resource Center in Joliet.

Please click the link below to see the video on our project.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NA9RDobDe8

James Newby, Pastor
Joliet, IL

Gordon Herrmann Completes Intern program

Gordon Herrmann

Please join me in celebrating Gordon Herrmann’s completion of the GCI Ministry Intern program. Gordon served for 2.5 years as a ministry intern at Christ Fellowship Church in Cincinnati, OH, with Pastor Julie Frantz. He is now serving as a Pastoral Resident at Grace Communion Surrey Hills. Gordon brings a passion for small group ministry and facilitating relationship building. Ministering alongside Gordon, I have experienced insightful conversations as well as many a rowdy, fellowship-building game night. Please enjoy Gordon’s answers to the following questions about his time in the program.

Cara Garrity, Development Coordinator

 


Why did you enter the GCI Ministry Intern program?

I entered the program because I was starting to feel the call of ministry on my heart. I had been working in campus and youth ministry during college and fell in love with ministry. I had several mentors who affirmed this calling and pointed me in the direction of the GCI Ministry Intern program.

Tell us about your passion for ministry and how God has developed it.

My passion for ministry is based on relationships. I have a heart for God and for his people. There are a lot of different aspects of ministry, but at the heart is people. And through my ministry, I’ve learned that people are more important than programs or things. If that weren’t the case, I wouldn’t have any interest in ministry. God has blessed me with the opportunity to walk alongside him in his ministry. I love getting the chance to walk alongside others and pointing them toward Jesus. It was through experiencing this and getting those opportunities in my ministry that God developed this passion.

What impact did the program have on your ministry leadership journey?

The program had a lot of different impacts on me, but more than anything else it increased my desire to continue on this path. I learned a lot about the rhythms of church life, and what a leader’s role in those rhythms are. After experiencing everything I did throughout the program I felt a really strong confirmation that vocational ministry was the path God has laid out for me. I know it won’t always be easy, but I’ll stick with it for as long as I feel God calling me along this path!

What are your big takeaways from your time spent as an intern?

I’ve definitely learned the importance of trusting God. I’ve learned a lot of skills, what to do, what not to do, etc. But nothing else sticks out quite like trust. I moved across the country to a church where I knew nobody, I experienced a church in transition from pastor to pastor, I experienced a world in quarantine, I experienced many highs and many lows. None of it I ever could have predicted, and I would be lying if I said I always had the best attitude through it, but God was beside me through it all. And as I reflect on it, I see where he was at work in and around me. I hope to move forward for the rest of my life with the confidence that comes with trust in a God who is good and who loves and provides for me in both the hills and the valleys!

 


Funding for the GCI Ministry Intern Program comes from the GCNext Fund, the local congregation and intern fundraising. Thank you to all who help make this program successful!

The Mission Gift of Presence

Every mid-December beginning in 2006, Crossing Borders mission trip has gone into Mexico with hundreds of shoebox gifts, blankets, totes, baby supplies, food, and other resources—14 “shoebox trips.” It is surely a wonderful blessing to have many U.S. churches, clubs and individuals provide these resources—Thank you!

But one of the most important “gifts” we can provide is not a physical present, but our “presence”—just being there, showing God’s love, building relationships on a personal level with people with great hearts and great challenges every day. With the U.S./Mexican border still closed, CB was unable to take missionaries or physical gifts into Mexico, but we do our best to continue the “gift of presence” during this COVID crisis.

Many times the presence has to be by email, phone calls, Facebook Messenger or other methods—and those are wonderful tools. However, this year two of the core CB Team members, Lee Berger and Pedro Orduno, were able to spend a few days at the border, visiting with some of our U.S.-side ministry partners. Here are some updates from our visit:

  • We were housed at Laredo Stepping Stone (LSS). Rick Hall is the facility/ministry manager. He recently recovered from near-death COVID, but his wife (Kim) died from the virus in August. We were able to spend time talking with Rick, sharing meals, hearing stories about Kim, and helping with construction and maintenance projects at the camp. While we were there, Rick went to the emergency room for several hours due to very high blood pressure.
  • Ray and Lisa Rendon (and boys Rayito, Benji and Ryan) assist Rick at LSS camp. Ray also pastors a church in Nuevo Laredo, across the border in Mexico. Because of the current travel restrictions, the Rendons cannot travel into Mexico, so Ray is pastoring his church remotely. Amazingly, the church is growing in attendance, and the members are taking on new responsibilities at the church in Ray and Lisa’s absence. It was wonderful to spend time with this family that we have known for 15 years. We involved the boys in building and painting a cornhole game board and did some kite flying; they had a blast!
  • We met “Jose” and his family. They were staying at the camp for a couple days as they headed back into full-time missionary ministry in central Mexico. In their city, evangelical Christians are only 2% of the population (the rest are Catholic [mostly non-practicing], followers of traditional pseudo-spiritual religions, and the unreligious). Plus there is a lot of drugs, violence and immorality. It is a great challenge to be a Christian and to grow a church in that environment. Jose and his family have been threatened at gunpoint, but they continue to feel God’s calling to minister in that area.
  • Carlos Flores pastored a church for eight years that met in a city park in Laredo (on the U.S. side) and he taught Bible classes at a local college. Crossing Borders has participated with Carlos for many years. Four years ago, his health took a turn for the worse. He had to stop pastoring and could barely function. During this trip, we were able to meet with him for over two hours and found that his health is slowly improving. He has begun a private Bible study group and has goals to reconnect with young adult ministry.
  • Jeannie Leyendecker’s husband, Randy, died from heart conditions this past July. Randy was a fireball of ministry on the border, helping many pastors and churches, providing food for thousands in the community, loyally delivering food and necessary supplies to homeless on the streets, and more. Jeannie is struggling mentally and in grief, and she is dealing with many challenging situations and decisions after Randy died. Thankfully, she has three grown kids close by, and they give her good support. Your prayers are appreciated for all of these individuals as they serve in their different areas. These are some highlights of the trip:
  • We took homemade cookies to our partners (a CB tradition), handmade blankets and tote bags, and some other gifts that Ray and Lisa will take across the border and given to those in need.
  • Crossing Borders bought groceries to be given in gift bags and were able to purchase some other needed supplies for the border ministries.
  • Most of all, we were able to spend many hours in personal interaction with our partners and to assure them that CB continues to remember, care for and pray for them.

We gave them the gift of “presence”—God’s presence through us—and that was a blessing to all involved.

Lee Berger, Crossing Borders Director and Facilitator
Longview, TX