GCI Update
Connecting Members & Friends of GCI
Header Banner


In Musoma, Tanzania, we are grateful that the meetings of the Life Club have been meaningful. People have committed themselves to God and receive the salvation of Jesus Christ. Twenty new members were baptized. Life Club has been a great help to bring people to Jesus.

We have also created a Youth Group to start the cultivation of vegetables, melons, and fruits. It helps young people to make a living instead of moving away from the church to find a life. We ask for the opportunity to help those young people.

By Pastor Shadrack Fabian Malugu
Musoma, Tanzania

70th Church Anniversary

Grace Communion Big Sandy celebrated its 70th anniversary as a congregation with a festive potluck luncheon after services on Sunday, July 30, 2023. Our congregation was established in Big Sandy, Texas as the denomination’s 5th congregation in the United States in June 1953. We are so grateful for God’s faithfulness to us over these last seven decades!

We held our anniversary celebration in July because June was packed with activities. June activities included our first neighborhood day camp, Father’s Day, the Big Sandy Rotary Club Banquet, the Denominational Celebration.

We had 56 in attendance, including several guests who came to celebrate with us. People brought a number of mementos, many of which reminded us of our church’s involvement with the denomination’s former Big Sandy Ambassador University campus. It was a wonderful time of remembrance and celebration, and a great way to kick off our next decade of church life here in Big Sandy.

As grateful as we are for God’s provision for us the past 70 years, we are even more excited about what he has for us in our future! We look forward to continuing to walk with and follow Jesus here where he has placed us, sharing his faith, hope, and love with many for years to come!

By Jerome Ellard, Pastor
Big Sandy, TX, US

Prayer Guide—September 2023

“For years, even in my personal, quiet prayers, I worried that I was saying something wrong. LIke that the Holy Spirit was some too-strict teacher that was judging every piece of syntax and phrase and word. But the reality is, prayer is just another way to connect with a loving and gracious Father.” ― Hannah Brencher

Join us in communion and corporate prayer this month as we celebrate how God is working in and among our fellowships.

Click here or the image below to download and print the September Prayer Guide.

Meet Rene Overton

“Our mission statement is growing in faith, living in hope, and serving in love. It is my joy to support that mission through this role, and I have fun doing it.” —Rene Overton

Check out this month’s GCI Member Profile to get to know Renee Overton, the Social Media Coordinator for Grace Communion Cleveland.

To read her full profile, click the image below or here. #WeAreGCI

Bob Ehlen Retires

Join us in honoring Bob Ehlen’s retirement. He served as GCI pastor for 15 years and as an elder, facilitating a fellowship group, for the past seven years in Missouri.

Congratulations, Bob and Jan! We are very grateful to both of you for your many years of faithful service.

We wanted you to hear from Bob in his own words.

Our journey started in 1968. Together, with our two sons (our daughter came later), we encountered the church through my mother and brother. We were baptized shortly thereafter.

Since the church hall needed to be set up each week, I became interested in helping set up chairs. There was a catch, though. I was told I needed to go to Spokesman Club to be able to help. It seemed a bit strange for chair set-up, but I joined and graduated. Some years later, when a graduate club was formed, I was appointed president. Eventually, Jan and I were ordained as deacon and deaconess, and we continued to serve in many areas, like organizing socials, potlucks, picnics, and in the choir. Jan also served in the women’s ministry.

In May 1992, I was ordained as an elder. It happened the day before our daughter got married, and I was told I could officiate their wedding. But everything was so new to me, I didn’t think I was ready for that. We continued to serve in the local area.

Things were changing in our church. God, the Holy Spirit, was leading us in new teachings and new understandings of what the Scriptures were saying and or not saying. It was a time of uncertainty for a lot of members. It was sad to see some members in turmoil.

As time passed, the opportunity opened to start a new church location. I was told I would be the pastor of that congregation. It was a new beginning and a very new experience for us. It was certainly different pastoring a congregation instead of just giving Bible studies and sermons occasionally.

I think, not until changes came in our doctrines, did we fully realize that the new covenant was fully in force now, and that our salvation didn’t depend on laws, days, food, nor any person. Nothing that we did or didn’t do was the way to salvation; no person can bring about our forgiveness and salvation, only Jesus.

Our salvation depends on what Jesus did for all his creation. We found it to be such a relief that it didn’t depend on our righteousness but on Jesus.

During my time pastoring, I was blessed to be able to baptize some of our grandchildren and others who accepted Jesus as their Savior. Once another pastor and I visited a prison to baptize one man and ended up baptizing eight. It was also rewarding to be able to marry couples, especially some of our grandchildren.

Retiring, after 31 years in ministry, will give us time to travel and see more of our beautiful country.

Bob & Jan Ehlen

Women’s Retreat

On August 11-13, women from our GCI Spanish-speaking congregations in Southern California came together for a retreat in the San Bernardino Mountains. For three days, 44 women took part in worship, teachings, interactive activities, and workshops focused on the theme: “Woman, you are not alone.” Various women gave messages that allowed participants to reflect on how they are not alone through this journey of life, no matter the circumstances or stage. “It was reassuring to know that I don’t have to walk alone in my life. My heavenly Father’s love is endless and unconditional,” summarized Ana Molina (participant and workshop leader).

Xochilt Ticas, Women’s Ministry Leader

Saturday was filled with various activities, including a break in the typical program to focus on practical skills related to physical, financial, and mental health according to God’s word. Women were able to reflect on making possible changes to glorify God in all aspects of life and become better servants. Saturday night was high energy and included times to fellowship and sharing of testimonials. It ended with a liberating worship night focused on exalting our Lord with all our being. First-time visitor Brenda Benitez stated, “I am so thankful to God for being part of this beautiful retreat. It was a great blessing for me. The messages shared by different servants, the testimonials, games, and worship were great.”

The women’s retreat concluded on Sunday with Communion and prayer over each participant and those in leadership positions. First-time visitor Karen Campos said, “It was a great experience for me, full of learning and motivation.” Karina de la Rosa, an event organizer, left the event feeling, “so blessed to have had this opportunity in which I was inspired, empowered, and renewed by the Holy Spirit.” GCI women returned home with the reminder that they are not alone and “feeling blessed and renewed,” as Lourdes Núñez said.

Lily Aparicio, Worship Leader & GCI Coach
Santa Ana, CA, US

Community July 4 Celebration

This year during the city of Orr’s 4th of July celebration, our church decided to participate with a booth. Our theme was “Freely Received – Freely Given” (John 13: 34-35). I encouraged our planning committee to approach this event as participating in the ministry of Jesus in the Spirit. For this event, there was to be no hidden agenda, fliers, tracts, church logo, etc. The purpose was to intentionally experience God’s presence in relationship—knowing he is already there.

Our goal was to share the love of Jesus in daily relationships and commit to bless a person through a tangible act with no strings attached. We offered face painting, cold bottled water, and minor bicycle repair. One of our members invited a friend who brought reconditioned, donated bicycles. Seventeen bikes were given away to those in need. The feedback I got from our members seemed simple and very positive. I could sense excitement and joy in their hearts as each person shared their story at our Sunday service.

Tom Kennebeck, Pastor
Orr, MN, US

Luzon Youth Camp

The flame in the hearts of the youth in the Philippines continues to burn as GC Baguio, along with the help of other local churches, conducted the North Luzon Weekend Youth Camp held July 14-16 at a Girl Scout campground in Baguio City. Seventy campers from different churches in Northern Luzon attended the camp.

Our theme was “Remember Our First Love.” The 3-day camp included daily worship and plenary sessions, archery, ballroom dancing, basketball and volleyball, and community service sessions. These sessions were led by volunteers within the church who surrendered their time and resources to serve the Lord through the camp. Many other staff also helped with the success of the camp.

Some campers have mentioned the “Encounter Night” as their favorite camp activity. The Encounter Night is a night of worship and prayer where everyone can experience the presence of God. The dance was also one of the camp favorites where everyone had a chance to showcase their newly learned ballroom dancing skills, in their best bohemian outfits.

On the last day, five campers chose to publicly profess their faith in Jesus. Their baptisms were witnessed by the other campers and staff. Kari Jobe’s song, “First Love,” was the camp’s theme song. May the flame in the hearts of the young people always be lit as they leave the campsite and go back to their daily lives.

By Jessica Joy Pamor, GC Pili Youth Leader
Bicol, Philippines