Gary Moore, national director for GCI in Canada submitted this report.
Wendy, Kylie and I had a wonderful weekend at the retreat sponsored by the Vancouver congregation in Penticton, Canada. The fellowship was truly uplifting, and the setting both beautiful and peaceful. A focus on Christ permeated the occasion. It was a special treat to have Ron and Norva Kelly visiting. Ron gave two sermons and a seminar. Many of you remember that Ron was one of four presenters of the World Tomorrow television program back in the late ’80s and early ’90s. He is now retired from the employ of GCI, but continues to serve as an elder in New Hope Christian Fellowship, the GCI congregation in Eagle Rock, CA.
OMNIA was the theme for SEP Rockies, the Generations Ministries camp in Colorado. OMNIA is the Latin word for everything, and the theme expressed the truth that Christ is everything. This theme was derived from Col. 1:27: “God has chosen to make known the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The camp theme song was Everything by Tim Hughes.
Many lessons were learned in camp, including being reminded of God’s provision and protection. The staff was on their knees on several occasions regarding inclement weather. God answered in undeniable ways. The weather kept us indoors and caused us to miss several scheduled activities. We were humbled to see how much the campers enjoyed this down-time. The more connected they are with technology, the less actual interaction they get with each other throughout the year. They had so much fun just hanging out!
The schedule was intentionally shifted to provide more life-on-life interaction between campers and staff. In one activity at the beginning of camp, each camper met for one minute with each of about 30 different staff members. As a result of this interaction, several staff members knew every camper by name within the first two hours of camp!
In an outreach class, Cliff and Mary Snyder from Higher Education for Ethiopia talked with the campers and gave them opportunity to make gifts for new friends and pen pals across the globe. Once again, the camp had a Guy/Girl Day to allow boy and the girl campers to assemble separately to discuss challenges related to their gender.
This year the camp made a shift in how worship is conducted, seeking to relate praising God with music that is culturally relevant. Doing so was a huge hit. Seeing campers and staffers singing, praising and dancing before God was pure joy!
For a glimpse of SEP Rockies in action, watch this video (the featured speaker is Anthony Mullins of GCI Generations Ministries who served this summer as SEP Rockies’ camp chaplain):
Philippine members gathered at Teachers Camp, September 21-25, for Festival 2011 with the theme, Growing Together in His Love. The celebration began with an evening service. Andrew Teng, pastor of Glory to the Lord Fellowship (GCI Quezon City) encouraged the audience to know that God loves them, to receive God’s love, to offer it and walk it. Other services (all held in the morning), included sermons from Gil Llaneza, the pastor of the Manila congregation. He discussed how GCI’s Trinitarian theology informs how we approach evangelism. In another service, Philippine national director Eugene Guzon spoke on God’s love as the foundation of the identity and activity of the GCI Philippine church.
Festival activities included a lunch for seniors, and a forum on Trinitarian theology led by Pastor Len Joson. There was also a time of fellowship and challenging games for pastoral teams and other congregational leaders. After one service, participants enjoyed a lunch provided by the Crossway congregation’s men’s group. After the lunch, members from the Manila South church, and teachers and staff from the Ambassador School for Children gathered the children for fun, games and Christian lessons. Santa Rosa church leaders hosted the teens and singles in a GCI version of The Amazing Race. That night, a dance was held, with participants dressed in Asian attire.
The members are looking forward to next year’s festival when they will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of GCI’s presence in the Philippines.
The following report is from mission developer Hector Barrero.
About 40 people recently attended a two day seminar led by GCI in Lima, Peru. Those in attendance included members from Piura, a city in northern Peru near the border with Ecuador. Another group came from La Huaca, Cajamarca, also in northern Peru. Others in attendance included members formerly part of the Adventist Church, including theologian Haroldo Camacho.
Jose Kasum leads the church in Peru and lives about one hour drive from Lima. We used to have weekly services in Lima but due to the high cost of renting meeting facilities, the members decided to have three small groups and get together once a month at Jose’s home. About 25 people total attend in these small groups. Jose and a group of members registered officially the church in Peru with the name: “Comunion Peruana de la Gracia.”
The seminar participants are grateful to the church in Vancouver, Canada for covering the costs of conducting the seminar.
Convention 2011 in Ghana took in two locations on September 8-11. The theme was “Come Celebrate the Triune God.”
Pastor Jonathan Hammond from the New Ashongman congregation spoke on Thursday on the sub theme “Come celebrate the Lord.” A message concerning evangelism from Francis Ablordeppey was followed by an outreach to the surrounding area. A guest speaker was Emmauel Okai, Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Council. He crowned the festival by delivering an important message to the youth on the sub theme,” The fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom.
This update is from mission developer Rod Matthews.
This summer, a conference for the GCI ministry in New Zealand was held near Wellington. It has been two years since the group met, so everyone appreciated and enjoyed this one.
Pastoral Director, Dennis Richards wisely chose to use the occasion as a time when the ministers could share their experiences and skills acquired over the years. He opened the conference discussing “Shepherds of the Flock.” Rotorua pastor, Peter Lindop, spoke on “Asking Appropriate Questions,” a valuable topic drawing on his experience as a hospital chaplain. Wellington elder, Louis Smith kept everyone enthralled with “Porirua – It’s Amazing!”, bringing out principles of community outreach based on his lengthy experience in community service in this multi-cultural city near Wellington. After an interactive discussion focused on pastoral questions and experiences, everyone left refreshed and encouraged by the fellowship and learning.
Participants were given the book The Years Before Waitangi by Patricia Bawden. It traces the origins of Christianity in New Zealand, which included the account of the first Christian service ever held there, conducted by Samuel Marsden in 1814. The 200th anniversary will be celebrated widely in the churches across the country in 2014. Patricia Bawden is an acquaintance of our New Zealand church board member, Gael McInnes – both are in the New Zealand Christian Writers’ Guild.
The following report is from Mohan Jayasekara, GCI director in Sri Lanka.
I am amazed at what God has done through the work of GCI in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a tiny island with a population as large as that of Australia. It has seen the end of a bitter separatist terrorist war that plagued the island for over 25 years only two years ago. It is not an easy place to be a Christian and engage in Christian ministry. Here, GCI is registered both as a church (WCG, being changed to GCI) and as a school (Worldwide Educational Institute).
GCI has been serving Sri Lanka over the years in many meaningful ways. Though we are small, God has been with us and has graciously led and enabled us to live out our trinitarian, incarnational theology. A key moment was our response to the Boxing Day tsunami that devastated Sri Lanka in 2004. We did not simply hand out money but actively participated alongside other Christian and non-religious organizations to deliver relief and participate in reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.
I recently returned from a challenging, yet fruitful trip to Sri Lanka. Some months ago we became aware that the Registrar of Companies was holding up our certificate to re-register as a church. Our bank account was frozen toward the middle of August because of this delay. So my first order of business was to make a visit to the Registrar with my brother Ajit who happened to know him personally. On our first visit he told us the re-registration had been approved but could not be released due to “instructions from above.” We learned that re-registration certificates for churches are released only on instruction from the Minister for Religious Affairs. That evening Ajit and I spoke to the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce (we had both played cricket with him for St. Thomas). To cut a long story short, we had our certificate in short order! During the time I was there, we filled preliminary forms to change our name to “Grace Communion International (Pvt) Limited.”
The Calvary Church Seminary began operations in our building this month. Tissa Weerasinghe invited me to help. I shared teaching resources with them for graduate classes. They asked to put our Tamil and Sinhala translation of the “Discipleship” book and the English, Sinhala and Tamil translations of “God revealed in Jesus Christ” booklet in their bookshop at their Colombo headquarters. Also, I was invited to speak at their Colombo headquarters church with about 750 in attendance. Later that day I had an inspiring gathering with 12 GCI members in Nugegoda (a suburb of Colombo) in my daughter Niranga’s home. This group meets once in two weeks for study, prayer and fellowship.
Also on this trip we visited 11 refugees from Pakistan being cared for by the Foursquare Gospel Church Pastor in Moratuwa (south of Colombo). We spent time praying with them and encouraging them. I also spent time at the Colombo Theological Seminary on the invitation of Professor Vinodh Gunasekera lecturing to the class “Foundations for Faith” and “Introduction to Doctrine.” These two classes are the ones for which the GCI book on discipleship is a required text.
I am humbled and amazed at the favor shown our denomination, including these invitations to participate in meaningful ways in what God is doing in Sri Lanka through the greater body of Christ. Thanks and glory be to God for the calling to this ministry and the gift of participating in his work.
Kayla Shallenberger and Carrie Smith, two young GCI members from the United States, are on an extended mission trip in Malawi, Africa. They are teaching at a school in Blantyre, which is operated by the GCI church there. You can follow their progress on Kayla’s blog and Carrie’s FaceBook page.
The highlight of this year’s Irish Autumn Harvest Festival (held Sept. 11-17), was the ordination of two members of GCI’s churches in Ireland. James Henderson (director for GCI in the UK) was accompanied by Anthony Goudie and Irish Deacons and Deaconesses in ordaining James Joseph (Joe) Casey as an elder (first picture) and Alando (Alan) Bata as a deacon (second picture).
Joe has been a deacon in the Limerick Congregation in the south of Ireland for a number of years. He is also an active member of their pastoral council. Alan and his wife Fe are Filipino members of the Dublin Congregation. Alan recently became an Irish citizen.
In the ordination ceremony, James Henderson (at right in both pictures) spoke briefly about ordination and the roles of deacon and elder as outlined in Scripture. Both men were asked if they would accept their respective roles, to which they agreed. After prayer both men were anointed with oil as a reminder of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and hands laid on them as a symbol of separation to serve. The members of the Irish churches (along with some visiting festival guests) were delighted with these ordinations, and wished both Alan and Joe a blessed and fruitful future in service to their respective congregations.
SEP UK was held for two weeks this August in the stunning environment of Loch Lomond, Scotland. Despite torrential rains, the nearly 100 campers displayed a relentless positive energy. Almost a third of the campers had never been to SEP before. For the first time in recent memory, there was a surplus of staff applications.
Sixteen camp activities included archery, riflery and sailing. New this year was a community outreach project undertaken by the trainee staff. The team refurbished the garden areas of the school in the local village, Milton of Buchannan – this was greatly appreciated by the people in the local community some of whom visited SEP for the first time. Many commented that they had often wondered what happened at the camp by the Loch but had never before had the opportunity to come and find out.
Christian Living classes addressed questions about human life. The final worship service of camp brought everything back to the personal and God’s desire to be involved in each individual’s life. A clear presentation of this universal message was augmented by a moving and impactful ‘cardboard testimony’ from about 30 members of staff. On one side the staff members held up a brief statement of their life before God’s involvement in their lives and then flipped it over to describe in a few words how their lives have been transformed. On the last evening of camp everyone enjoyed a wonderful final banquet.