On December 11, GC Surrey Hills joined our neighbors and celebrated “A Very Surrey Christmas” by participating in the Christmas parade. There were floats, golf carts, 4 wheelers, and even a muscle car decked out for Christmas and spreading joy (and candy) throughout the neighborhood streets.
We saw more people sitting outside with their families to watch the parade than any other year so far! Our float theme was “The Greatest Snowman,” a spin-off of the popular “The Greatest Showman” movie. The Love Avenue team did a great job getting the float together. Our resident cowboy, Cowboy Steve, provided us with a wonderful trailer and pulled us safely through the parade.
After the parade, we headed to the Golf Club where neighbors and the Lion’s Club served free hot chocolate and cookies. It was sponsored by two neighborhood-owned businesses: Grounds 4 Compassion and A Latte Love Coffee House. We filled the club house, because this neighborhood loves to come together! We may need to start looking for a larger space for next year. Two of our amazing neighbors came to the clubhouse as Mr. & Mrs. Claus so that parents could get pictures.
In addition, 48 children in our neighborhood were adopted by other neighbors for Christmas. The gifts piled in and were delivered to the kiddos before Christmas! Together, as neighbors, we wanted to make sure that each and every neighborhood kiddo had a VERY Merry Christmas.
The Spirit is moving throughout Surrey Hills, and we are SO blessed to be a part of what Jesus is doing. God’s love is flowing throughout the neighborhood. What a gift it is to be in relationship with him and one another!
Love Avenue Champion
American Heritage Girls Troop TX1595 was chartered in 2021 by our GC Richardson church family as a vessel for engaging our neighborhood and sharing the love of Jesus with them.
The troop organized its winter awards ceremony in December to celebrate the wonderful achievements of the girls over the previous four months. Close to 40 people, including 9 girls and their families, gathered for an inspiring night of recognition, prayer, food, fellowship, and fun. More than 10 adult volunteers, including parents and grandparents, were honored for their role in running the troop.
Camping, badgework, and social events keep the troop members learning and growing in relationship with each other and with Jesus all through the year.
The troop has served in many ways, including packing Operation Christmas Child boxes and participating in the City of Richardson’s Christmas Parade. This year’s float depicted the book, The Gifts of the Animals, in the Christmas Storybook themed parade. It was well attended by the Richardson community.
Currently, only one of the girls attends our fellowship with her family. The troop reflects our neighborhood’s ethnic diversity and members come from Catholic, house church, Baptist, Pentecostal and other Christian faith traditions. We look forward to welcoming more girls and families in the future including those who do not yet enjoy the blessing of intentional intimate relationship with Jesus.
American Heritage Girls’ mission is building women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country. Learn more at americanheritagegirls.org.
Participating in what Jesus is doing is so awesome. In December, Grace Communion Derby held our Parent’s Day Out/Day Camp. Our goal was to provide parents with time for themselves and make connections with children in the neighborhood. Seven children, grades K-5, attended. Twelve adult members participated to assist and love on the kids.
The event was held from 10:00a.m. – 4:00p.m. Our Sunday School teacher, Sue Ann, created a fantastic program for the children. The activities included:
- Reading Christmas stories,
- Decorating cookies,
- Painting wreaths,
- Playing games,
- Drawing with sidewalk chalk,
- Assembling and flying foam airplanes,
- Making personal lunch pizzas,
- Making cards,
- Building with Legos,
- Watching the Candy Cane Legend movie, and
- Playing with model trains, including a scavenger hunt within the display.
Here are a few comments from some of the adults:
- One boy said he wanted to come again next week!
- There were enough adults to give one-on-one attention between scheduled activities.
- The day was full of opportunities to build relationships.
- We had special structured activities, but the unstructured engagement was so sweet, like a lesson in shoe tying on the floor.
I honestly cannot say who had the better time, the children or the adults. Our members are in their 60s, 70s, and 80s.Yes, we were tired, but we found, with the help of Jesus, we could participate with him. Now we are planning a two-day day camp next June. Participating with Jesus is a blessing on a whole new level.
Pastor, Derby, KS, US
On December 3, the GCI River Road congregation joined in the annual Light Parade with the community of Junction City. This year had record turnout of floats and spectators. The overall theme of the parade was Polar Express, and we decided to go with the theme that best represented us. We chose “The Island of Misfit Toys.” We had our own live Bumble, Yukon Cornelius, and Charlie in the Box.
We had great participation in putting the float together as well as those who actually walked and rode on the float. Those that walked handed out candy and toys, while wishing everyone Merry Christmas.
It was a cold clear night, but worth the interaction with many of the local residents of Junction City. It was decided after the event to make the float bigger and brighter! We will remain the Island of Misfit Toys as well.
Many remembered us from our “Christmas in July” and our Trunk or Treat. We are becoming known in the community and look forward to many more opportunities to get involved.
By Linda Sitterley
Pastor, River Road, OR
The Orchard is proud to announce its latest round of graduates from the program. In September, the following leaders completed their six-month commitment:
- Anthony Caputo
- Michael Guibord
- Sherry Kinzie
- Mike Kinzie
- David Marquis
- Marlene Reed
- George Relic
The Orchard is an online, project-based mentoring program that I facilitate with my cofounder, Mako Nagasawa. It supports Christ-followers in discerning their ministry calling, equips them for participating in the work of Jesus Christ, and assists them in carrying out projects of their own design. Find out more about The Orchard here.
Most of the projects focused on the Love Avenue, and the participants used The Orchard to help them plan how to better connect with their neighbors. As one participant commented, “The Orchard got us moving in the right direction — developing leaders who live like Jesus, love like Jesus, and make disciples like Jesus.”
We congratulate The Orchard graduates on their achievement!
By Dishon Mills
Church Planter, Charlotte, NC
National Coordinator, Generations Ministry
On the evening of Saturday, December 10, GCI Glendora accomplished our most challenging neighborhood event yet: a living nativity. We called it “The Greatest Gift: A walking tour of the first Christmas.”
We wanted to take advantage of this great opportunity to share the good news of Jesus, the true reason for this joyous season.
Our theme focused on the birth of a new King, Jesus Emmanuel, who is God’s greatest gift to the world. Guided 45-minute tours were given every 15 minutes starting at 5:30 p.m., with the last tour at 7:30 p.m. Nine groups went through, with a total of 115 guests.
The tour itself consisted of six acts in four different areas at the church facility. We also had a petting zoo in the parking lot for the children to enjoy before or after the tour.
We are beyond grateful for the members and friends of GCI Glendora who saturated the event in prayer for two months, and for those who put in extra time and energy to make this event special.
We’re excited to keep the momentum going as we remain obedient to Christ and continually seek to love God and love our neighborhood!
By Jillian Morrison
Associate Pastor, Glendora, CA
For decades we have held annual retreats to enable members to gather from around the state for fellowship and learning. The priority has been to find facilities that provide accommodation, meals, and space for fellowship and meetings all in the one location. At the end of each retreat, we discuss what went well and ideas for the following year.
Each year a theme or book of the Bible is chosen as the focus. November works best for our members (end of spring here). This year we decided make it an Advent Retreat. We searched online and found two large, well equipped homes in a Swiss style village (with more accommodation just up the street) in the Tamar River Valley, near Launceston. A brochure inviting members from around Australia was sent out earlier in the year. We ended up with members from three other states joining us.
At our 2021 retreat, we studied the life of Paul, so this time we decided to focus on Paul’s apocalyptic gospel. In short, New Testament apocalyptic writing focuses on God’s plan in Jesus that brings a cosmic victory allowing all people and all creation to share in his loving life of communion and peace for eternity. We discussed key passages in Paul’s writings that use apocalyptic language to communicate this good news, helping us see the bigger picture of what God has in store.
We began with a service late Sunday afternoon and held two morning sessions during the week, Monday through Thursday. We ate most meals together in local restaurants. On Monday afternoon, we enjoyed a river cruise. All Tuesday was spent exploring the beautiful Tamar River Valley. On Wednesday, we gathered for lunch and a relaxing afternoon in a spectacular gorge and park in Launceston. We concluded with a brunch and a visit to a local museum and art exhibition before saying our goodbyes on the Thursday morning.
We plan to hold another Advent retreat in November next year.
By Pastor Phil Hopwood
Pastor, Tasmania, Australia