On September 10, the Montreal, Quebec congregation held a celebration in honor of Dennis Lawrence’s 37 years in ministry. Dennis is the longest serving pastor for the Montreal congregation. Because of health difficulties, Dennis is on disability leave for the foreseeable future. Thus it was considered appropriate to acknowledge and honor his many years of service. A presentation was made, sharing where Dennis has served, with some stories and maps.
Many people sent notes celebrating Dennis’ ministry. These were placed in a scrapbook, and several were read during the celebration. As each was read, a little LED light was placed on a tree that had been purchased for the occasion. Each light was a visual reminder of the light of Christ that Dennis has brought into many lives. Some of the members gave short messages recounting their memories and thanking Dennis. Then a toast was given and the church presented Dennis with a lovely gift. The official celebration ended with a hymn and a special finger food buffet.
77 pastors and pastoral team members, from all over Mindanao, Philippines, attended a Pastoral Team Conference held on September 3-4. The theme was “Growing Together in His Love.”
Conference speakers were Philippine National Director Eugene Guzon, Assistant to the National Director and Metro Manila Area Superintendent Pastor Rex de la Peña, and Pastor Audie Santibañez and his wife Ma’am Rachel of the Crossway congregation.
Jeff Chandler, who pastors the GCI church in Jonesboro, Arkansas was featured recently in an article in Jonesboro Occasions magazine (see the article at http://www.jonesborooccasions.com/stylemay11.html). The article tells the story of how Jeff and his wife Trish adopted a healthier lifestyle. Here is a comment from Jeff:
I am thankful for the path God has brought Trish and me down. Our journey in this weight loss program has given us many opportunities for evangelism. One such opportunity involved the owner and one of the primary instructors of the fitness boot camp mentioned in the article. We got to know them and now both are members of our congregation. They also asked me to perform their marriage ceremony! I asked the husband why he likes our church (he comes from a charismatic church background). He answered, “I’ve been to churches with lots of music; I’ve been to churches where I’ve been preached to; but here it’s all about the love.”
The 2011 GCI Caribbean Women’s Conference was held at the end of July in Arima, Trinidad and Tabago. 140 women attended. The conference theme was “Women of Purpose.”
At the opening service, a flag from each Caribbean island represented was presented. This was followed with vibrant and passionate worship in music – a central feature of the whole conference. The conference theme song, “Truly Yours,” fittingly sang of women with hearts and minds surrendered to God.
Conference presenters Shirley London, Pearl Charles, Marvis Durant and Avis Jones spoke of getting rid of perfectionism and worry; allowing God to form his character in us; and being a Proverbs 31 “women of purpose.” An entertainment night filled the air with fun and laughter and featured food indigenous to many of the represented islands. Conference meals were prepared by about 20 men from the host congregation. The conference fittingly concluded with communion.
On August 28, Grace Family Fellowship, the GCI congregation in Elkhart, Indiana, celebrated their 50th anniversary. GCI president Joseph Tkach was present, along with district pastor Sam Butler, Elkhart senior pastor David Howe, current members and several guests.
On August 28, Pastor Jon Pairitz was commissioned as the new senior pastor of the GCI congregation in Michigan City, Indiana. The commissioning ceremony was conducted by district pastor Sam Butler, accompanied by GCI president, Dr. Joseph Tkach.
On June 24-26, leaders of GCI churches in Bicol, Philippines gathered for a leadership retreat. Senior pastors and pastoral team members of churches from Albay, Camarines Norte and Sur, Legaspi, Sorsogon, and Tabaco attended. Dr. Rey Taniajura, Area Superintendent for Bicol, and his wife June were facilitators. The three day event focused on learning debriefing as a tool in pastoral care ministry. Debriefing is a powerful means for pastors and other leaders to offer members a caring “shoulder to cry on.”
During the retreat, Pastor Ernesto Aycardo was ordained an elder.
The Salt Lake City, Utah, congregation, Grace Fellowship, celebrated their 45th anniversary with a barbeque in the backyard of members, Bill and Bambi Patterson.
Bill Bryce, part of the pastoral team in Salt Lake and one of the founding members of the church there, gave a brief overview of what’s happened in Grace Fellowship over the last 45 years. The 52 who attended the celebration enjoyed reminiscing and fellowshipping. The Salt Lake City church began August 20, 1966.
The Exeter, England church celebrated their 35th anniversary on July 22. Twenty-two members gathered for a church service and garden party at Wadia Habashi’s home. The sermon was given by Bill Allen who comes with his wife Christina every year to the congregation’s annual garden party.
Camp Connections, a GCI-Canada camp, just completed its sixth year. This year the camp had two sessions, held at Providence Point, in Lanark, Ontario. Campers come from Ontario, Quebec and New York.
The camp welcomed Pastor Dennis Lawrence for a couple of days. Dennis (pictured at far right), who co-directs the camp with his wife Lynn Lawrence, was unable to attend full time due to health issues.
The camp’s creative staff invented several fun activities. One was a “clue” game where the theme was that the Ontario Camping Association was coming to do their inspection and the “Director” felt the best way to pass was to have questionable campers disappear! It was great fun. However, the most enjoyed activity was the camp chapels, featuring a wonderful worship band. Chapel messages followed the “Living Loved” curriculum developed by GCI-USA Generations Ministries. Each camp session ended with a banquet, awards ceremony and bonfire. Special recognition was made of the loss this year of one of our strongest camp supporters, John Ferlatte.