ACCM Christian Leadership Intensive

Would you like to take a step toward becoming a healthier leader in Grace Communion International?

Consider attending the ACCM Christian Leadership Intensive in Hickory, North Carolina, on August 30-31. This two-day intensive has been carefully crafted for ministry leaders, pastors or any GCI member who desires to take a deeper dive in leadership from a Christian point of view. Grace Communion Hickory will be the host church for this training event.

GCI President Greg Williams, wrote about ACCM, “I have used and taught the ACCM material and in my opinion they are outstanding. These classes help fulfill the ongoing educational pathway for our bi-vocational pastors, so please take advantage of this opportunity.”

If you have any questions, contact Anthony Mullins at anthony.mullins@gci.org.

Alabama Women’s Retreat

Hello Girlfriends!

I would like to invite all of you to attend our 2019 fall retreat at the St. Bernard Abbey Retreat and Conference Center in Cullman, Alabama. This retreat center is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy some time as “Girlfriends!” There is a beautiful conference room where we have our general sessions, and the bedrooms are adjacent to the meeting area. Each bedroom accommodates two people (twin beds) and each has a private bathroom. The dining area is a short walk across the campus, and anyone needing to drive over can do so.

The dates are September 20-22, 2019. Registration begins Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. Snacks will be available, but you will be on your own for dinner that evening. A Cracker Barrel and other restaurants are nearby. This evening is free for getting checked in and relaxing. If you will be arriving after 10 p.m., please let us know ahead of time if possible.

Our theme for the weekend will be Our Journey with Jesus. Each of us is on a spiritual journey, growing in the grace and knowledge of God (2 Peter 3:18). One of the greatest gifts God has given us is the privilege of having “faith friends” to share the journey!

Speakers this year include Tammy Tkach, Ginny Rice, Ruth Miller, Pat Halford, Barbara Dahlgren, Becki Brown, and Gerrie Bayley. Ann Hartmann will be our guest singer again this year! You can go to Ann’s website (annhartmann.com) to learn more about Ann’s music and ministry. We also look forward to more of the inspiring and energetic sign language when Mary Jo Leaver shares her “Music to the Eyes.”

Dress is casual for the entire weekend. Bring comfy shoes, as you might enjoy a bit of walking. We now have a tradition of great fun playing games on Friday and Saturday evenings, so bring your “play clothes” or pajamas for this! Bring your favorite board games, and label them, please!

The retreat center supplies our bed linens, towels, and washcloths. You might want to bring your own water bottles, if you enjoy having bottled water. We have access to a kitchen and a refrigerator, so we are able to enjoy snacks throughout the weekend. The meals that will be provided are Saturday breakfast, lunch and dinner and Sunday breakfast (total of four meals). This year we are planning to have all our meals at the retreat center, as we did last year.

We plan to conclude the retreat by noon on Sunday so that those who need to get on the road will have the full afternoon for travel. For those who want to stick around and visit a bit, we can have prolonged “goodbyes” in the retreat center.

We hope you will help spread the word to others who might enjoy the weekend. If you have questions, need more information, or would like a registration form, please contact me at ruth.miller@gci.org.

Registration and payment are due by July 30. This is important, because the retreat center is a popular place and stays heavily booked. They need us to secure the number of rooms we’ll need ASAP! Late registrations will be accepted if space is available for any who cannot register in advance.

I’m looking forward to sharing this weekend with you in September!

With love,
Ruth Miller

Vacation Bible School in Cleveland

Grace Communion Cleveland (formerly Edgehill Community Church) held its Vacation Bible School (VBS) June 17 – 20, 2019. About 20 young people ages 3 to 15 attended each evening session. Our theme was “Hero Central: Discovering Your Strength in God” and our VBS motto was “Do good, Seek peace, Go after it!”.

After dinner was served each evening, the participants were taken on an awesome adventure alongside some of their favorite Bible heroes and discovered the qualities that make us truly heroic in God. Epic music, spectacular science, crafty crafts, heroic recreation, and fantastic Bible stories were used to help kids discover their strength in God!

“This was a perfect example of the Love Venue. It reached out beyond our church walls and brought in kids from all over.” – Pastor Tamar Gray, VBS Director

Pentecost: “All Together in one Place”

Four Churches Combine for Worship

Four churches hold weekly worship services on Sundays (three in the morning, one in the afternoon) in different rooms of the same, large community centre in north-east Calgary. On the Christian Pentecost (June 9, 2019) in a show of Christian unity, a combined worship service was held. The underlying theme was from the words of King David of Israel – How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

With an attendance of over 100, the participants were:

  • City Mosaic Church (Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada)
  • Firstfruits Church of God (Church of God in Canada / Cleveland, Tennessee, USA)
  • Calgary Filipino Methodist Church (now independent)
  • Grace Communion Church (Grace Communion International)

Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.

A worship team and a choir from the four congregations responded to the glory of God singing songs such as The Power of Your Love. The four pastors – Jose Velasco, JB Berina, Jeremy Keys and David Sheridan participated either with a biblical message or conducting an offertory and communion in remembrance of our Savior. Members rejoiced in what is held in common – our trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The service was followed by lively fellowship and refreshments.

Pastor Jose said, “we were all blessed by this Pentecost event. Glory and thanks to God.” Pastor Jeremy commented “it was very encouraging and we look forward to doing it again.” Fellowshipping together as followers of Jesus is truly “good and pleasant.”

David A Sheridan
Pastor Grace Communion Church
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Kaleidoscope Festival 2019

On Saturday, May 18, Grace Christian Church (GCC) in Waltham, MA held the second annual Kaleidoscope Festival. The Festival celebrates the beautiful diversity of our community and creates spaces to talk across man-made divisions. We set out to create a “bubble” of the kingdom where participants can experience the unity we have in Christ. GCC sponsors the event and coordinates all aspects of the festival. There were activities aimed at getting people to talk with their neighbors, and tables by community partners letting visitors know about community resources.

Additionally, the day was filled with fun activities, including face painting for children, a community mural illustrating visitors’ identities, a DJ, a performance by a youth African dance group, free food, an interactive art exhibit that captured people’s migration stories, a mobile petting zoo, and more! Most of these were donated or offered at a dramatically reduced cost. Prior to the festival, we worked hard to include community members outside of our congregation. We were blessed with several volunteers and community partners who helped to make the day possible. As a result, the event was a great success with about 200 of our neighbors participating.

The Kaleidoscope Festival has a significant positive impact on our church. As an annual event, the festival and the other outreach in which our church participates establishes a strong missional rhythm for our congregation. Participation in the work Jesus is doing gives us joy and purpose. It is also endearing us to our community. This year, several individuals and organizations asked if they could be a part of the festival because they want to support the message, and it is becoming a community fixture. Lastly, the nature of the Festival creates a safe space where we can talk about Jesus. While the event is secular, we have numerous instances of people asking members of our congregation about our faith. They are curious about what would compel us to do so much for our neighbors and ask for nothing in return. We then have the perfect opportunity to talk about Jesus and the free gift of life he offers.

We are thankful for what the Lord did at the Kaleidoscope Festival this year, and we look forward to what he will do in 2020!

By grace,

Dishon Mills
Pastor, Grace Christian Church
Waltham, Massachusetts

Hands for Christ Relocation

Praising God for the Blessing of a New Location

Image courtesy of Annalise Knudson/Staten Island Advance

Hands for Christ Church, GCI’s only deaf church, had their first worship service in a new location, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, on June 16 – after a 2-year search for a much-needed new location.

Image courtesy of Annalise Knudson/Staten Island Advance

Pastor Mary Joseph Bacheller put a notice into the local paper, The Staten Island Advance, and they were blessed with a reporter to visit and cover the opening service at their new location.

For more information, you can view the article published here:

https://www.silive.com/news/2019/06/staten-islands-only-deaf-church-celebrates-at-new-location.html

Welcoming Cara Garrity

Cara Garrity, Associate National Coordinator of the GCI Pastoral Resident & Intern programs

Cara Garrity has recently been appointed as the Associate National Coordinator of the GCI Pastoral Resident & Intern programs. Cara is working closely with Anthony Mullins, who is the National Coordinator, in seeking high-caliber recruits, mentoring the existing participants and reshaping the programs for even greater fruitfulness in the future. We are excited to see what the Lord does with Cara and these programs as they move forward!

Cara is ideally suited for the position as she has completed both the internship and pastoral residency. By spending the past four years of her life being successfully guided by these programs with wrap-around support, she has the unique perspective of having lived the life of an emerging GCI leader. She has firsthand knowledge of the strengths and challenges of the programs. We have high hopes as she mentors and guides the next generation of GCI leaders.

Getting to know Cara in her own words:

“God led me into ministry, it was not something that I would have chosen on my own. As I got to know God more and more, I found myself wanting to be more and more involved in various aspects of ministry. Eventually he used those around me to speak into my life and slowly lead me into vocational ministry work. I became a participant in GCI through a friend of mine. I had been desiring a church community that felt more like family. That first Sunday I visited, Pastor Bill Ford gave me a welcome shout out- in the middle of the sermon! It was then that I knew that this church was family and that they could become my church family. I began my formal ministry service with GCI as an intern with Grace Christian Church in Waltham, Massachusetts and then as a pastoral resident. What steps did I take to find myself in this new role? It began with a reckless prayer that God would cause me to thrive without consideration that he would take me seriously, followed by a series of ‘yes’ to adventure with him.”

We are cheering you on in prayer, Cara!

Latin America Community of Practice

On May 22-26, GCI President, Dr. Greg Williams, joined Heber Ticas (Superintendent for Latin America) and the Latin America community of practice for their first face to face meeting as a CoP. The meetings took place in Mexico City with the participation of Heber and Xochilt Ticas; Hector and Paulina Barrero (Regional Director of Central and South America), Luis and Selena Soto (Regional Directors of Mexico), and Jose Luis Escalante (Regional Director of Southern California Spanish speaking congregations).

The strategic meetings revolved around GCI’s vision of “Healthy Church.” Dr. Williams commenced the meetings with a presentation on GCI’s structure and vision. His presentation generated good flow and alignment for the rest of the meetings. Heber Ticas followed with a presentation on Team-Based and Pastor-Led as the basis for a proper expression of a healthy church. These two presentations sparked fruitful conversation on what it would take to attain such a vision in our Latin America congregations.

As a team, the participants wrestled with a deeper and contextualized meaning of what Healthy Church looks like for the churches represented. They came up with phrases that helped them visualize and define healthy church, including:

  • A healthy church is a church that makes disciples and points others to Jesus.
  • A church where participation is facilitated and congregants are able to serve according to their gifting.
  • A church that intentionally assimilates guests into the life and ministry of the church.
  • A church for all and a place where all feel accepted.
  • Perhaps the most revealing comment was “healthy church expressions are the lifestyle of a healthy congregation.”

This discussion forged ahead to explore the future challenges and culture shifts that would have to take place. Only after considering these two elements, could we proceed to strategic inventory, where we identified 15 congregations that would be primed to receive high support for the vision to start taking hold.

The meetings moved to strategic praxis (practices), where all participants concurred that the resources provided by GCI on “Team-Based and Pastor-Led” leadership, and the three ministry venues (Hope, Faith and Love) served as the best practical resources for the implementation of the vision. As part of our ministry praxis, the seeds for Ministry Training Center (MTC) congregations were planted. The MTCs will be Antioch-like churches where leaders will be developed and sent out (Paulina Barrero gave an excellent Bible Study on this topic). Developing MTCs will be phase 2 of our forward movement.

Overall, the flow of the meetings went from GCI structure and vision, to challenges, to culture shifts, to strategic inventory, and finally to strategic practice. This flow served for good alignment and for an orderly conclusion to the meetings. The conversation and practical approaches to ministry enhancement will continue throughout the year.

On Sunday morning the team participated in the service of our congregation in Mexico City, one of the focus congregations in Mexico. The church service was inspiring and afforded a good visual of a healthy Hope venue. Rosario Saucer was ordained an Elder during the service. He will fulfill the role of Associate Pastor serving alongside Pastor Natanael Cruz.

I am grateful for the team the Holy Spirit has assembled to lead his church in Latin America. It is a joy and privilege to participate in the ongoing ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ in the cities and Pueblos of those Spanish-speaking countries where GCI has a presence.

 

In Christ,
Heber Ticas