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SEP Philippines

GCI’s SEP camp in Luzon, Philippines was held in May. Participants in the six-day camp included 103 campers and 40 staff members. Staffers included Jenny and Wayne Straub from SEP Canada.

The camp theme was The Joyride – Awesome God, Amazing Journey. This theme aligned with GCI Philippines’ 50th anniversary theme, depicting our continuing journey with God. Though the journey has valleys as well as peaks, we can find joy and assurance knowing that God is in full control.

Camp activities included daily devotionals, Christian living classes, community service, basketball, volleyball, swimming and ballroom dancing, acting workshops, trekking and Ultimate Frisbee. Camp evenings were highlighted by team-building games, movie night, bonfire, an entertaining variety show, and the much-anticipated banquet and dance night. A highlight of the camp was the baptism of 19 campers on the last day.

Spiritual formation seminar

This update is from Mark McCulley, a district and church pastor in the Denver, CO area.

A day-long seminar in spiritual formation called A Deeper Walk was recently sponsored by Living Grace Christian Fellowship in Denver, CO. The seminar was led by GCI district and church pastor Larry Hinkle, and Caribbean Mission Developer Charles Fleming and his wife Carmen, each of whom have spent many years in the study of spiritual formation and prayer.

During the seminar we discussed and practiced lectio divina (spiritual reading of Scripture), examination of consciousness and healing prayer. The training counted toward CEUs in GCI’s continuing education program for pastors. Participants included GCI pastors in the Rocky Mountain district along with members of Living Grace and a few other GCI congregations.

Several participants gave positive feedback. John Barry, associate pastor of the Green River, WY congregation said that the seminar offered him “new understanding about how to look at Scripture, take it in and allow it to sink in deeply.” My wife Joanne McCulley said that the seminar was an answer to prayer in that she had been praying for a long time about the need for a ministry of healing prayer.

Our district is considering hosting a full three-day Odyssey in Christ spiritual renewal retreat next year. For information about this retreat, see http://www.odysseyinchrist.com. For additional detail contact me at mark.mcculley@gci.org or Larry Hinkle at larry.hinkle@gci.org.


Philippine Missions Fest

This update is from Beth Leyva, member of the GCI Philippine Missions Team.

GCI Philippines recently held it first Missions Fest in Pampanga. Titled Beyond the Great Commission – Preparing the Bride, it showcased what God is accomplishing in missions through GCI in the Philippines. The event was facilitated by a team of missionaries and mission advocates headed by GCI National Missions Director Dr. Reynaldo Taniajura.

After the welcome from Pastor Miles Umlas, GCI National Director Eugene Guzon gave a presentation titled, GCI Mission: The Next Decade, in which he set the tone for what GCI members can expect from denominational leadership for fulfilling the Great Commission mandate of Matthew 28.

Dr. Taniajura then gave the first plenary session titled, Preparing the Bride and Mission. He explained that the church’s role in the Great Commission is primarily preparing the bride for the coming wedding of the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Elder Kwan Soo Lee then gave the next plenary session titled, Transformation. Elder Lee is a successful businessman and chairman and adviser of several Korean business organizations in the Philippines. He encouraged participants to embrace transformation principles as a primary means in eradicating poverty.

In the afternoon, participants viewed the GCI Philippines Missions Journey video, which highlights local missions among the Mangyan tribe in Mindoro led by Senior Pastor Bernardo Cuizon with his son-in-law, Pastor Nomer Venus of GCI Manila South. Together, they pioneered outreach efforts to the people of Sitio Tuog, Rosacara, Bansud and Sigao in Mindoro. Also featured were GCI Manila Senior Pastor Gil Llaneza and Glory to the Lord Fellowship (GLF) Senior Pastor Andrew Teng. Both spoke about their congregations’ participation in missions in the past 12 years. A missions supporter turned missionary, Mercedes Aldaba from GLF shared about her personal missions journey which culminated in serving among orphaned children in Kenya.

The rest of the afternoon and the first part of Sunday were spent in workshops designed to give the members a glimpse of and a deeper appreciation for missions and missionary life. Divided into groups of 10 or more, each participant went through five tracks: 1) Networking and Faith Promise Giving led by Tess Uadan; 2) Cross Cultural Experience facilitated by Cecilia Bangay with desired outcomes of organizing a cross-cultural exposure trip by the end of the year and coordinating and assisting potential students of our missions training center; 3) Spiritual Warfare and Prayer facilitated by Malou Leyva; 4) Member Care with Honorio and Angelita Tabin; and 5) Intimacy with God facilitated by Beth Leyva. Going through the tracks culminated in participants signing a Covenant Declaration, which is a one-year commitment paper reminding them of what they have personally agreed to do for missions.

Sunday afternoon was spent in celebratory worship led by the GCI Pampanga worship band. Robert O. Ferrer, First Secretary and Consul at the Philippine Embassy in New Delhi, India gave the missions challenge sharing how God’s provision follows his mission. He also challenged participants to rethink their role as stewards of God’s resources. The rest of the afternoon was spent in prayer for the denomination including its leaders and missionaries, for each participant, and for various least-reached people groups: tribal peoples, Hindus, the unreligious, Muslims, Buddhists, and the 4-14 window (children in the church ages 4 to 14). Then with glad hearts, participants listened as Beth Leyva shared a vision for building a missions training center and place for missionaries to stay while on furlough – both would be constructed on the Alfonso, Cavite farm property made available by our missionary family to the United States, the Tabins.

Credit for Missions Fest goes to Senior Pastor Ronald Hernandez of GCI Bulacan who did a lot of the communication and advance arrangement, and to the good-hearted members in Pampanga who graciously hosted the Missions Fest team. The team now prepares for the next leg of Missions Fest to be held in Pili, Camarines Sur in June. The aim is to bring the event to as many places as are willing to host it within the year.

Mission Developers conference in Chicago

This update is from Rick Shallenberger who was a guest at the conference.

Nine International Mission Developers (MDs) – many with their wives – along with other GCI administrative leaders and church pastors recently attended two days of meetings in Chicago, IL (held prior to the U.S. Regional Conference).

Each MD shared highlights of what is happening in their respective areas. Here are highlights (given in the order, left to right, of the picture above):

  • James and Shirley Henderson serve the UK and Europe. James shared the challenge of trying to build a church in Europe which is anti-religion. Churches are dying all across Europe and Christians are looked upon as simple-minded. In spite of this, our churches are serving others well in many different ways.
  • Charles and Carmen Fleming serve the Caribbean. The Caribbean churches are developing plans to raise funds for growth. Charles shared his training methods for the future leadership of the region.
  • John McClean (and Heather who could not attend) serves in Australia – another country that is quickly becoming anti-religious. The Australian government is getting more and more involved in non-profits requiring more and more paperwork, forms, reports, etc. This causes a work stress among the pastors who are trying to serve their congregations.
  • Tim Maguire (and Marissa who could not attend) serves several countries in Southern Africa. He shared about the growth in Mozambique and the financial challenges the churches are facing in South Africa. Church growth is only limited by financial resources.
  • Kalengule and Nsama Kaoma serve 17 countries in central Africa. Kalengule highlighted a couple countries and shared how he is training leaders and how Nsama is encouraging pastors wives throughout the country.
  • Gary Moore (and Wendy who was unable to come) serves Canada. He shared the challenges of pastoring in another non-religious country. He also shared the focus the Canadian churches have on mission and their many projects around the world.
  • Hector and Paulina Barrero (kneeling in front) serve South and Central America. One of their most popular ministries is to couples desiring to strengthen their marriages. Hector also shared pictures of some of the leaders in South America and spoke a few moments about some of the challenges faced in various countries.
  • Eugene and Lulu Guzon serve the Philippines. The Philippine work has missions all over the world and serve the members and communities in numerous ways.
  • Rod and Ruth Matthews serve Southern Asia and the South Pacific. Rod focused on the ministry in Nepal and highlighted a couple other areas out of the 18 countries in which we have congregations.
  • Tammy and Joe Tkach hosted the two-day MD conference.

Grace Communion International is growing around the world, but each area faces it’s own challenges. Let’s continue to pray for our brothers and sisters around the globe as we work together to share God’s love and life with others.

Conference honors

The Newby children with (left to right) Karen Newby, Russell Duke, Joseph Tkach, James Newby and Dan Rogers

At the recent U.S. Regional Conference in Chicago, several individuals were recognized for ministerial achievement.

  • James and Karen Newby (pictured at right) were honored for James’ 25 years of employed service to GCI, most of that time as a church pastor.
  • Rebecca Deuel and Douglas Johannsen were each awarded the Grace Communion Seminary Advanced Diploma in Christian Ministry (see pictures below of the presentations made by Drs. Joseph Tkach and Russell Duke).

Congratulations to the honorees!

Haiti update

This update is from Joseph Franklin, GCI’s national ministry leader in Haiti.

There are new developments to report concerning GCI in L’Asile – an existing Haitian church that chose recently to affiliate with us.

Tijean, Andre Naval and I recently visited the congregation. Though our journey there was long and tiring, we had an inspiring and humbling visit. A group of about 100 welcomed us (part of that group is pictured at right). It was clear that they were anticipating our visit.

I brought a generator to power my laptop and projector so they could view (as I translated) one of Dr. Tkach’s Speaking of Life programs (Pawol Lavii in their native Creole language). They were glad to become acquainted this way with GCI’s president.

After the worship service, the church’s pastor, Jeremy Nicolas and his wife Anotte served us a nice lunch (see picture at left).

Hispanic heritage celebration

This update is from Neil Earle, senior pastor of GCI’s congregation in Glendora, CA.

Left to right: Xochilt, Christian and pastor Heber Ticas

New Covenant Fellowship of Glendora, CA observed its 15th annual Hispanic Heritage celebration on Cinco de Mayo (May 5), with 66 people in attendance. These included guest speaker pastor Heber Ticas, his wife Xochilt and their son Christian from Comunion de Gracia, GCI’s Spanish-speaking congregation in Sun Valley, CA.

Pastor Ticas reminded the attendees of the importance of learning the lesson from days such as these – the need to come out of our own mental and spiritual “villages” as indicated by Jesus’ attitude of tolerance in Luke 9:51-55. He contrasted Jesus’ attitude toward a hostile ethnic group to the vengeful prejudicial attitudes of his own disciples.

Pastor Neil Earle with one of the children

A group of suitably attired singers began the festivities. A delicious meal was then served and children enjoyed the candy shower from smashing the piñata. As Mexico gave the world chocolate and chewing gum, this was only fitting.

“Perhaps the best Cinco de Mayo we have yet had,” added Janet Shay of the Glendora church’s advisory council.

Virginia Beach 41st anniversary

This update is from Curtis May.

Tim and Donna Brassell

On the weekend of April 21-22, my wife Jannice and I joined the New Creation Community Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia, for their 41st anniversary. We served as Associate Pastor in the Norfolk area from 1974 to 1979.

The celebration was a wonderful experience beginning with an exquisite banquet and dance on Saturday evening where a panel of myself, and another former pastor, Tim Brassel, along with the current pastoral team members Calvin Sledge, Ada Wilson, Calvin Simon, and Clarence Roberts told stories, serious and funny, of our church experiences.

Simons (senior pastor), Ada Parson, Sledges, Mays and Brassells
Maude Shaw is a Charter Member of the Norfolk Church

On Sunday the new Senior Pastor Calvin Simon was installed. Also on Sunday we were joined by members from the former sister church in Richmond in a meaningful worship service. On a personal note, I was deeply moved when one of the lead event organizers told the congregation that I was one of the main reasons he stayed in the church. I visited his mom several times when he was 10 years old. Now he is a pillar in the church!

The Virginia Beach congregation is eager to go forward with a new senior pastor, and reach out into the community with renewed excitement and purpose.


Love Wichita

This update is from Ross Hays of Grace Fellowship, the GCI congregation in Wichita, Kansas.

Grace Fellowship of Wichita, Kansas participated in a city-wide all-day service project called Love Wichita. Churches across the city joined together in an attitude of service and hope at the fourth LOVE Wichita event of serving. A total of 235 projects were completed (100 more than last year), using thousands of volunteers and involving almost 40 churches. What an awesome demonstration of God’s love to those in need.

We had nine members from seven communities outside of the city of Wichita serving that day at two project sites. Our team spent the morning working on the West side of town at Woodlakes Senior Residence where we spread 75 cubic yards of mulch, added 800 pounds of top soil into a planting bed used by the residence and removed 10 cedar trees. After lunch we moved to the East side and cleaned out about a mile of Gypsum Creek. We pulled 4 bicycles, 1 scooter, 1 shopping cart, several car wheels and rims, and 38 bags of trash out of the creek.

God is calling us to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city” (Jeremiah 29:7) and to answer his call, we’ll continue to partner to complete service projects throughout the area.



Tucson outreach

This update is from elder Ted Millhuff.

Emerge Center

After two months of donations at services of Grace of God Fellowship, Tucson, Nanette Krestle took 82 boxes of toiletries to the Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse on March 26. The Emerge Center is very thankful for the donations and was surprised that a congregation of our size could do so much.

During the spring and summer of 2011, we began working with Mentally Ill Kids In Distress (MIKIDS) set in motion by one of our members, Nanette Krestle, a project manager at the firm. The project involved an angel tree which had requests for gifts. Each child asked for a needed piece of clothing, which our members provided. This was a huge success and was heartwarming due to the incoming cards of thanks from several families.

After we finished that project, we took the next step, based on our outreach on the Care then Share approach taught at last year’s conference. We planned an Easter Service for the MIKIDs families to be held at our church. The overall planning by Pastor Tom and Michelle Landess and Nanette Krestel included all of our members taking part in this activity. We had 100 percent participation.

MIKIDs Project

On April 15, 2012, we had approximately 35 adults and children join us for services. Michelle led children’s songs, Tom gave a short message and Nanette led the kids out for an plastic egg hunt. Each egg had candy and there were four with $50 gift certificates and ten with $10 gift certificates. We had a lunch in our fellowship hall with games for kids. We gave away more prizes and bibles for adults, teens, and children along with some CDs and coloring books. Two families talked to Tom and said they would like to start coming to services.

The Director of the MIKID Organization attended this special event as well. She wants to connect more with our church in the future, with the intent of sending other MIKID families to us. The Director sees the need for a faith-based connection for all those families and saw that our people can fill that need for them. Wow – truly great beginnings!