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Jamaica convention

The following report is from Charles Fleming, GCI Missions Director for the Caribbean region.

Ocho Rios was the beautiful site chosen by the Jamaican churches for their annual celebration of Christ’s work in our lives held on December 1-4. The theme for the convention was “A New Awakening in Christ.”

Members of the Christian Pen church (GCI’s largest congregation in Jamaica, which meets on the outskirts of Kingston) made a special effort to sponsor to the convention several young people from the community surrounding the church. A number of these teens began attending the church without their parents when they were small children and have become an integral part of the congregation. It was a joy to see how at home they are in our church and how actively they participate in worship. One person commented on how good it is to see young people learning just how joyful the Christian life can be.

Members were delighted to host this year’s special guests – Joe and Tammy Tkach, Mike Feazell, Greg and Susan Williams and Rick and Cheryl Shallenberger. Many members commented on how much they were impacted by the messages and by how easy it was to connect with and fellowship with all the visitors. Christ is truly making us a joy-filled, open, accepting and caring community.

After the convention, Greg and Susan Williams spent two days in Kingston meeting with leaders from the Christian Pen congregation discussing ways that GCI’s U.S.-based Generations Ministries (GenMin) can support the continuing efforts of the local church to serve youth in the community. Greg said GenMin can help upgrade the existing Vacation Bible School by sending a team to assist in next year’s VBS. Michelle and Anne Fleming are spearheading that effort. The plan is to have a number of young Christians (GCI and others) travel to Christian Pen next July.

Tipp City Christmas outreach

The following report is from Becky Valekis, wife of Jim Valekis, senior pastor of CrossRoads Christian Fellowship (CCF), the GCI congregation in Tipp City, OH.

CCF chapel (sanctuary) building (click to enlarge)

This year, CCF was invited to participate in the Holiday Tour of Homes, an annual Tipp City Christmas season community event. Typically, several historic Tipp City homes are invited to decorate for Christmas and participate in the tour. For the first time, this year’s tour included a church building – the one that CCF has owned, worshipped in and served out of for about five years. We viewed our participation in the tour as a great opportunity for community outreach during the Advent/Christmas season. It also gave us the opportunity to host a community celebration of our sanctuary (chapel) building’s 100th anniversary.

Understanding that about 800 people would participate in the tour, we got busy preparing. We decorated our chapel and fellowship hall. We also prepared refreshments, including a birthday cake big enough to serve 500! During the event on December 3, we held a raffle and sold homemade candies and hot drinks. We also invited music groups from a local university to play Christmas music, provided a children’s gift shop, and set out displays of historic artifacts related to the community and our building.

We were very pleased with the enthusiastic community response. About 500 visitors toured the church. Many lingered for refreshments, to listen to music and to talk with CCF members. We distributed many pamphlets about the church and our ministries.

Our church building formerly housed St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and many in the local community have fond memories related to the building. Understanding this, during the afternoon of the tour we hosted a building rededication ceremony. It included St. John parishioners (including Father Marc), other community members and members of our congregation (including Pastor Jim). Following the service, many stayed to visit with Pastor Jim and other CrossRoads church members.

Our primary goal in hosting this event was to become even more visible as a congregation that loves and serves its community. In years past we have conducted regular community outreach events, including hosting fish fries for local causes, providing food for the needy and participating in the city’s Days of Caring that helps families in need of home repair.

Pastor Jim has taken a lead role in this outreach. He has served in various community leadership roles, including participation in United Way committees. In 2012 he will serve as the president of the Downtown Tipp City Partnership, which works to preserve and promote Tipp City and its historic downtown shopping district. Through all of these outreach efforts we are becoming well known as active servants in our focus community. As a result, a growing number of local, unchurched residents are becoming active members in our congregation.



Africa update

The following report is from Kalengule Kaoma, GCI Mission Developer in Central Africa:


Left to right: Kalengule Kaoma, Emmanuel Okai (GCI Ghana National Leader), Margret Okaiand and James Henderson.

James Henderson (GCI national director in the UK) and I were in Accra, Ghana in November for a West Africa leaders’ conference. Around 200 GCI church leaders from Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo attended the conference (see group photo below). With the theme of pastoral/ministry development based on 2 Timothy 2:15, the conference had several subjects including Relevance of a Pastor in the Community, Trinitarian Theology – A Scriptural Discussion, The Revelation of the Father, Bearing the Father’s Name, Armageddon, and Jesus the Great Shepherd. In addition, national leaders updated the audience about what Jesus is doing in their respective countries.

On Sunday, James Henderson spoke to the combined church at Kutunse, the conference venue in Accra. I went to Buduburam church and ministered there.

Prayer point: There is need for more future regional conferences.


After Ghana, I travelled to Nairobi Kenya for the East African conference. Forty GCI leaders from Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya attended the conference (part of the group is pictured at right). Running a similar theme and topics as the Ghana conference, the Nairobi conference ran for two days. Some of our newly affiliated groups in Kenya and Tanzania also participated.

After the conference, Kimani Ndungu, area pastor for East Africa and Anthony Gachanja who is national ministry leader of Kenya were invited to conduct further training for our new groups Tanzania and Nyanza district, Kenya.

Prayer point: Wider representation of leaders from East Africa.

Honolulu congregation

The following report is from Glen Weber who serves as senior pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship, a GCI congregation in the Pasadena, CA area, and one of GCI’s district pastoral leaders in the Western United States:

Pastor Gary Crowell

My wife Connie and I were recently vacationing in Hawaii. During our time there we visited Light of the World, the GCI congregation in Honolulu. It was a blessing to spend time with our members there, including Pastor Gary Crowell and his wife Risa.

Light of the World praise band

Although Light of the World once numbered only about 12 people, it now has about 50. Virtually all the new members came to the congregation through outreaches focused on military veterans. The picture at right shows their praise band participating in one of those outreaches, which included a worship service and a meal. Most of the members of the praise band are former clients of a local veteran’s recovery program. They now share their faith with fellow veterans by providing worship music for veteran’s recovery meetings. They can be found most Tuesday nights rocking out at the U.S. Veterans Initiative.

Pastor Gary Crowell (holding microphone) leads the congregation in praying for Glen Weber (standing to the left of Gary) and Connie Weber (standing at far right).

Philippine conference

A Pastoral Team Conference for GCI Northern Luzon pastors and ministry leaders was held November 12-17 at the Asia Pacific Theological Seminary in Baguio City, Philippines. Immediately after a welcome worship, updates and denominational focus were discussed by Eugene Guzon, GCI National Director. He also exhorted the pastors about the theology of “abiding and abounding.” Rex Dela Pena then explained the “sense of call” into the ministry as well as “ministry weariness and burnout.”

On the second day of the conference, the pastors were led in an overview of the GCI Church Administration Manual. Other matters regarding the financial statement of the church were also reviewed. The conference concluded as participants joined the Baguio City church for worship services.

England: Back to Church service

On Sunday September 25, members of the GCI/WCG congregation in Manchester, England combined with members of the St. Andrew’s Church for a joint Back to Church service.

The previous Saturday leaflets were distributed to homes in the area. The leaflet featured an article by GCI member David Bedford describing his impressions when he first started attending church. He was expecting to find near perfect members, but it wasn’t long before he realized they had as many flaws as he did. Then, reading the Bible more closely, he realized the New Testament was full of flawed individuals as well. The leaflet then gave encouragement to respond to the invitation to attend the special Back to Church service, knowing that the members of the church are not perfect, but trying to serve God.

Meeting for fellowship

David also led the service, with other WCG members doing a scripture reading and playing piano for hymn singing. The Rev. Lisa Battye of St. Andrews gave an encouraging and uplifting message about the healing of the paralytic man as covered in the scripture reading. Rev. Battye then concluded the service by leading Communion. Following the service, the two congregations joined in fellowship over tea and refreshments.



Africa update

The following report is from Kalengule Kaoma, GCI Missions Director for much of Africa.


Many church groups in Rwanda have written to Grace Communion International for affiliation, financial support, prayer and other spiritual needs. Recently, I traveled to Kigali, capital city of Rwanda where I met the leaders who have written GCI.

12 church leaders in Rwanda who are interested to know more about GCI

On October 1 I met 12 leaders representing eight independent churches. Our meeting lasted close to four hours. We discussed various concerns and questions ranging from affiliation with GCI to orphan support. We have been requested to facilitate reconciliation efforts among church group leaders and communities where churches are established. It has been 17 years since the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and some quarters of society, including Christians, are still skeptical and suspicious of each other. “Please come back quickly and minister to us. We need to work together as church leaders” Bishop Benjamin Sibo-Muzi encouraged me.

Rwandan praise and worship team

After meeting the 12 leaders, I had several other meetings with leaders who are interested in being part of the GCI community. On Sunday, I had an opportunity to speak to 250 believers who joyfully and gratefully sang to our awesome God.

It is clear that a door is opening for GCI to be established and registered in Rwanda. Please pray for committed contacts with whom to work.


New church building in Mombezi

After Rwanda, I visited Malawi to commission a church building for the church we planted about four years ago in Mombezi.

Before starting that church, Mr. Mape and his wife travelled 19 kilometers each way by bicycle to attend GCI church services in Mpanda. On their way to and from that location, the Mapes crossed a river by canoe. After a while, the GCI Malawi leadership team encouraged Mr. Mape to start a cell group in his home community of Mombezi. He did so, and the group grew to an average of 25 adults in weekly attendance.

Dedication service

Gardner Kunje, GCI Malawi National Ministry Leader and his team decided to construct a meeting hall for the Mombezi church. In 2010, Mombezi members molded bricks and baked them in firewood kilns. Construction of the meeting hall started in April 2011. Dedication and commissioning of the building took place in a service on October 8, with 300 in attendance. Among those attending were village, community and church leaders from churches in the neighborhood. When the traditional group village headman spoke, he acknowledged that GCI has a visible presence in the community. Since the dedication, average weekly attendance is up to about 45.

Please pray that God will provide committed, knowledgeable leaders to serve our churches in Africa.


Thanksgiving outreach

The following report is from George Hart, pastor of Christ Community Church (CCC), one of GCI’s congregations in Cincinnati, OH.

For the third year in a row, CCC reached out to the community around our church hall the Sunday before Thanksgiving with Thanksgiving meals. The meals included all the traditional Thanksgiving trimmings and a gift certificate for a turkey at a local grocery store. The congregation donated enough food items and cash to put together 100 complete meals.

Our worship service that day focused on Matthew 25:35 “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.” To emphasize that giving and service are worship, we assembled the meals as part of our worship service. After a brief message we made application of Jesus’ teaching. Everyone got involved. The kids bagged candy for the meals, adults assembled the meals and those who were not able to stand offered prayers for the community. We then enjoyed a pizza lunch and delivered the meals to homes nearby.

The area around the hall where our church meets is one of the lowest-income communities in the county, with many school-age children. One lady started crying and said, “I didn’t know how I was going to provide a Thanksgiving meal.” One little child said, “Food! Now we can eat!” The impact was tremendous both on the community and on our members.

Members assembling the meals
Children helping
Delivering meals


Community Cafe

Good News Fellowship, the GCI congregation in Nashville, TN (pastored by Jonathan Stepp) hosts Community Cafe following its worship service each Sunday. The purpose of the Cafe is to feed homeless people with both food and the hope of the good news of God’s grace.

Some homeless or otherwise disadvantaged people walk to the Cafe. Others are driven to the Cafe in the church’s van. Several of the Cafe regulars attend the worship service before the meal, though the meal is available to all, whether they attend church or not.

Each week, the simple, yet tasty and nutritious meal is prepared at home by church members who then bring the food with them to church where it is heated and served in the fellowship hall in the building where the church meets. Here are some pictures.

Banner announcing the weekly meal
Some of the Cafe regulars (they gave permission to publish this picture)
Some of the Good News Fellowship ladies who help prepare and serve the meal.



On September 2, GCI members from Luanda visited Bengo Catete, which is 44 kilometers away. Their goal was to strengthen the members of a new congregation of immigrants being led by Pastor Fragoso. This congregation has 32 members, including children.

The group gathered for worship, meeting in the shade of a large tree. After a sermon from Pastor Oliveira, they received the testimony of a new member (Papa Garcia) who has been a deacon in the Church of the Seventh Day. He shared his thanks to God for inspiring GCI’s pastor general to lead people in the good path of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which has led to this new alliance of churches.