Death of Pastor Jim Kissee

Jim and Kaye Kissee

We were saddened to learn of the recent death of Jim Kissee, Pastor of the GCI church in Springfield, Missouri. After a long fight with cancer, Jim passed away Saturday, October 19. The following is his obituary which was first published on his tribute page at Adams Funeral Home.

Jim loved and he lived. He was a kind and caring person who valued faith and family above all else. He believed in forgiveness, had immense biblical knowledge, and wanted people to know hope and love through Jesus Christ.

James Everett Kissee was born on June 29, 1943 to Sherman Everett and Goldie Katherine Kissee. He grew up on a farm with four brothers in Marshfield, Missouri. Jim married Kaye Pyle on June 7, 1969 and they had three children – Jim, Janna, and Joe.

Jim was interested in sports from a very young age and had a particular fondness and aptitude for basketball. He excelled as an athlete and continued to put high importance on discipline, mental strength, and physical activity throughout his entire life.

After high school, Jim played basketball for two years at Arkansas City Junior College in Kansas and then for two years at the University of Arkansas where he earned his first Bachelor’s Degree. After graduation he moved to Big Sandy, Texas to attend Ambassador University, where he earned his second Bachelor’s Degree. It was there that he met Kaye and found his calling in life to minister and teach. Education was a lifelong passion for Jim. During his time as a professor at Ambassador, he earned both a Master’s Degree and a Doctorate from Texas A&M Commerce.

Jim’s love of helping others through education and counseling made a lasting impact on countless lives. Some of his fondest memories were of the years he spent teaching, counseling, and working with students at Ambassador University. He encouraged us and others to embrace and love one another, to share knowledge unashamedly and without fear, and to strive to reach our highest potential.

Jim was a pastor, faithfully served the Lord, exemplified positivity and always had a hopeful outlook on the future, even in the face of adversity. He loved his family and got great joy from his grandchildren.

Jim’s earthly body succumbed to cancer Saturday, October 19, 2019 but he continues to inspire. He will be remembered by family and those close to him as a caring intellectual that exhibited great strength and grace.

Jim is survived by his wife Kaye; son Jim Kissee; daughter and son-in-law Janna and Nate Jones, grandchildren Zander and Lilah; son and daughter-in-law Joe and Rachel Kissee, grandsons Andrew, Evan, and Isaac; and brothers Archie, Les, and Bob Kissee; and many beloved in-laws, nieces, and nephews.

Jim is preceded in death by his parents Sherman and Goldie Kissee, his brother John Kissee, and numerous other loved ones.


Cards and letters may be sent to:

Mrs. Kaye Kissee
601 N 36th St
Nixa, MO 65714-7558

GCI Memphis Steps Up for Down Syndrome

GCI Memphis joins the Clarke family in volunteering at the community event.

On Sunday, October 6th, the Charles and Dyann Clark family were joined by members of GCI Memphis along with family and friends at the annual “Step-Up for Down Syndrome” event, which draws thousands of people to mid-town Memphis each year. The Clarke’s daughter Ebonee, a committee member, spearheaded a fundraising drive that helped her place second in her division for the second year in a row.

Ebonee and co-pastor Neil Earle at the Step-Up community event.

This event came on the heels of the local church sponsoring an Information Booth at the local Bartlett Fair in Bartlett, TN, and the church’s move to a new location with six weeks’ notice in July. We thankfully acknowledge the Lord’s blessing as we look back to say “Missions Accomplished.”

Alabama Women’s Retreat Retrospective

September 20-22, forty women gathered in Cullman, Alabama, for the Fall Women’s Retreat. They met at the St. Bernard Retreat Center for a wonderful weekend of spiritual renewal, relaxation and recreation. The theme for the weekend was Our Journey with Jesus.

Speakers included Gerrie Bayley, Becki Brown, Barbara Dahlgren, Pat Halford, Ruth Miller, Ginny Rice and Tammy Tkach. Singer/songwriters Ann Hartmann and Tammy Vice provided wonderful special music. Mary Jo Leaver shared her special ministry of Music to the Eyes, which utilizes American Sign Language and lyrical dance to bring music to life to those who are hearing impaired.

Friday and Saturday evenings were devoted to free time for board games, fellowship, and “downtime” – much needed in our fast-paced lives today. The retreat concluded Sunday morning with a communion service.

The dates for next year’s retreat are October 9-11, 2020. For more information, please email Ruth Miller at


Filipiniana Celebration at GCI Glendora

Photos by Janet Morrison

On Sunday, September 29, Grace Life in Glendora, CA hosted our first annual Filipiniana celebration. A Filipiniana is a special occasion where Filipino heritage and culture are celebrated through traditional Philippine folk songs, folk dances, and most importantly, food. Since we have a large Filipino community in the Los Angeles area, we wanted to celebrate them because we value diversity and unity in the body of Christ.

Grace Life had a combined worship service with Grace Communion Fellowship (GCF in Eagle Rock, CA) and we were blessed to have the GCF team leading us in worship that day. Four speakers gave short devotionals about identity, family, resilience and community as related to their unique experiences as Filipino Christians: (respectively) Jillian Morrison, Manny Quiray, Eva LaMonica, and Bermie Dizon.

Following our worship service was a bountiful potluck of traditional Filipino foods like pansit, lumpia, chicken adobo, cassava cake, and much more! Pastor Bermie also gave some brave souls the opportunity to try more exotic foods (by American standards) like durian (a fruit with a scent sometimes described as “stinky feet”) and balut (a fermented duck egg with a partially developed duck embryo). We were pleasantly surprised to see how many showed up for the durian-eating contest afterwards, and that all the balut got eaten during the potluck so we couldn’t have a contest for it!

After the delicious potluck was the entertainment portion of our celebration. This consisted of five different traditional Philippine folk dances (four groups from Grace Life and one from GCF), a medley of folk songs, and a fun opportunity at the end where we invited the audience to come up and attempt to dance the “Tinikling” (this involves jumping between two moving bamboo poles).

We are grateful to God and give him all the glory for the success of our first Filipiniana celebration! In the future, Grace Life intends to make this celebration more of an outreach to the wider community so that those who aren’t attending a church can join in the fun and experience the amazing unity and diversity we have in the Father, Son and Spirit.

-Jillian Morrison

Belong Church Launch Celebration

This past Sunday, October 20, I had the privilege to attend the launch service for Belong Church in College Park, Florida. Over the last 10 months, Howard Salter and his team have been taking the necessary steps to make the launch of the Church a reality. 83 people were in attendance, including nine children. The service was an awesome celebration of the good grace of our Triune God.

Howard and Becky grew up in the old WCG but when our theological transformation occurred, the Lord took them in a different direction. After participating in different Baptist churches, Howard felt the call to come back home to GCI. They made their way back through Grace Communion Orlando (GCO) where they already had a relationship with Pastor Steve Shantz. Pastor Shantz had married them back in the day and had stayed in touch with them throughout the years. Ish and Beatriz Beloso, and Felix and Mirelly Gaetan, from GCO joined Howard and Becky in the adventurous journey of starting a daughter Church.

Howard shared how the Lord’s calling on his life to start a daughter church goes back to his wife’s (Becky) childhood. Becky and her family moved to College Park when Becky was a child. Her father was murdered in College Park in a botched robbery when Becky was just a nine-year-old girl. As Becky grew older, she also grew bitter at the person who took her father’s life. In short, the Lord did a wonderful work in Becky’s life, bringing her to the point of forgiveness and healing. When they moved back to Florida some 7 years ago, they could not get close to College Park. Becky would have panic attacks and was not able to cross the town.

When Howard felt called to plant a congregation with GCI, he never envisioned starting the church in College Park. When he was initially exploring the different areas where he can connect with the age demographics that he felt called to, College Park was the community that was the best fit. The Lord continued to work in Becky’s heart, bringing her to the point of fully reconciling her past and comprehending that the residents of College Park belonged to the Lord, hence the name, “Belong Church.” She slowly warmed up to the idea of launching the church in her old town, and Sunday was a testament to the grace of God.

Four months ago, the Salters moved their family to College Park and started engaging their community. The Lord opened many doors for ministry, including a school across the street from their home where Belong Church now meets. GCI is catching the wave of the Spirit and joining Jesus in his everyday mission in our communities. Please join me in lifting up prayers of thanksgiving for the Salters and their team as they continue to missionally engage their neighbors in College Park.

Heber Ticas
National Coordinator of Church Multiplication

Incorporating the Bertrams Congregation into GCI

I am excited to announce that last Sunday we formally incorporated Bertrams congregation as a GCI congregation! Bertrams was started by Pastor Gideon, who emigrated to Canada a few years ago. He then joined GCI in Canada, and recommended that the church he planted in Bertrams, Johannesburg, South Africa must join GCI as he left them without any structural support. We thank God for the blessing of coming together with them in the ministry of Christ.


We installed Pastor Issa Kwigomba as the Lead Pastor of the Bertrams congregation. We had over 140 people in attendance during the service to celebrate the incorporation of the congregation into GCI. We were also celebrating two baptisms, and we shared a meal afterward. In Bertrams, I experienced a Healthy Church. They are missional, generous, loving, caring, with an excellent mix of children, youth and adults. Their Love, Hope and Faith venues are strong. I had a very blessed time of fellowship with them.


Kind Regards,
Margaret Musekwa

North American & Caribbean Community of Practice

On September 20-23, GCI President, Dr. Greg Williams, joined Michael Rasmussen (Superintendent of North America and the Caribbean), Bill and Averil Hall (National Director of Canada) and Robert and Tanya McKinney (future Regional Director of the Caribbean) for their first Community of Practice (CoP) meeting. This was the first opportunity these individuals have had to gather together face to face to discuss the vision of GCI and how to best implement and share it with those they oversee. The meetings took place in Nassau, Bahamas, just three weeks after the category 5 Hurricane Dorian devastated the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Islands. Nassau experienced some high winds and some flooding but escaped the worst of the storm.

Left to Right: GCI Canada National Director Bill Hall, Averil Hall, GCI President Greg Williams, Susan Williams, Caribbean National Director Robert McKinney, Tania McKinney, North American Superintendent Michael Rasmussen, and Juli Rasmussen

These meetings began on Friday morning with Dr. Williams giving a presentation on GCI’s structure and vision. His presentation generated good flow and alignment for the rest of the meetings. Michael Rasmussen followed with a presentation on Team-Based / Pastor-Led and what it looks like for a congregation to be healthy with multiple layers of mentored leaders who are positioned and freed up to serve in various areas of ministry.

Bill Hall gave a report on how things are progressing within Canada and some of the challenges they are facing. Robert McKinney followed by sharing some of the challenges they face in the Caribbean, with congregations spread across numerous islands with different cultural backgrounds and where different languages are spoken. We discussed what we mean when we use terms like Healthy Pastors / Healthy Churches as well as the Faith, Love and Hope Venues. Time was provided for all participants to share and to dream about what God is doing within our denomination and to pray for one another as we join him in what he is already doing.

Mike Rasmussen, Greg Williams, and GCI members who survived Hurricane Dorian pose outside for a photo in Nassau, Bahamas.
President Greg Williams and North American Director Mike Rasmussen meet the GCI members who survived Hurricane Dorian.

On Saturday, we all gathered for worship services. Due to the storms, there were regular power outages throughout Nassau. It was amazing to see the members adapt so quickly to the outage by moving the chairs and lectern near a glass door where light from the sun was shining in. The temperatures and humidity were extremely high, but the warm hearts and passionate attitudes of the members were even higher. It was wonderful to worship together with brothers and sisters from a different part of the world. We had the privilege of meeting some of our members who lived on Abaco and the Grand Bahamas who had survived the hurricane. All had lost their homes and earthly possessions, but they were still smiling and praising their Lord and Savior for sparing their lives. Their stories of God’s deliverance were inspiring and hair raising at the same time. Lots of help will be needed in Abaco and the Grand Bahamas, and GCI is coming alongside our local leaders to help where the need is the greatest. I have no doubt, these joy-filled, faithful brothers and sisters will rebuild and will continue to live their lives to the fullest in order to be a light to their communities and bring glory to God.

Left to Right: GCI President Greg Williams, Tania McKinney, Caribbean National Director Robert McKinney, North American Superintendent Michael Rasmussen, Averil Hall, and GCI Canada National Director Bill Hall

On Sunday morning, we once again gathered for worship, this time with no power outages. Greg Williams and Michael Rasmussen shared a sermon message and then commissioned Robert McKinney as the next Regional Director for the Caribbean. Greg Williams ordained Natania McKinney as an Elder. There was great rejoicing for what God is doing within our denomination.

On Monday we wrapped up our meetings with a time of reflection on what God has been doing and how we can be more strategic in joining him. We shared with one another some best practices our next steps in spreading the vision and the excitement of what God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are doing within Grace Communion International.

In Christ,
Michael Rasmussen

Photos by Averil Hall/McPhedran Phocus

Prayers for Al Nelson

Last Thursday, Al Nelson, GCI facilitator in Montpelier, VT, suffered a heart attack. His wife Arlene updated us on his condition, below.

Al had his operation on Friday. All went well. The surgeon was able to take care of all 5 bypasses, which is very good news. He’s out of the intensive care unit. They have had him up, walking and going up & downstairs. He might be coming home on Wednesday. But he won’t be back to his job, washing windows, for a few months! Thanks to everyone for their prayers. Praise to God.


Continued Prayers for Patama Banks

The following is a follow-up to our article in the last issue, from Leonard Banks, GCI pastor in Rochester, NY, on his wife Patama, who has been diagnosed with lymphoma.

Patama’s recent tests reveal the lymphoma is more aggressive than doctors initially thought. She is required to be in the hospital for four days to receive chemotherapy treatments. They will give her three weeks rest at home and then she will return to do this all over again. In all, she will have six hospital visits, four days each time. She will have three weeks rest at home in between each treatment.