GCI Update
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Birth of Frankie Brandt

The following birth announcement is from Brittany and Alexander Brandt. Recently, Alexander was installed as the pastor of the Winnipeg congregation in Manitoba, Canada.

Congratulations! We are sharing in your joy at the birth of your first child.



Frankie Lynn Brandt was born late Wednesday night, October 12. She was 7 lbs and 19.5 inches long. She instantly became an incredible blessing to our family! She is a vivid reminder of the miracle of life and how incredibly we are loved by God.

Remembering the Life of Carl Parks

Carl Parks PortraitCarl Parks, a long-time elder in the Salem Oregon congregation, suffered a severe heart attack and passed away on December 23. Carl and his wife Francis served the congregation faithfully for many years, hosting a variety of events in their home until recently moving into a retirement community. As an Assistant Pastor, Carl coordinated most of the senior activities and Bible Studies, as well as serving on the pastoral team. One of Carl’s favorite hobbies was woodworking, and the beautiful communion trays he turned in his shop are often used as part of the Lord’s Table service.

Carl is survived by Francis, his wife of 64 years, as well as three sons, a daughter, 13 grandchildren, 26 great grandchildren, and 2 great great grandchildren.

Cards can be sent to Francis Parks at
5210 River Road N Apt. 3020
Keizer, OR 97303

Johnstons’ daughter

Ted and Donna Johnston send their thanks for the prayers, cards and other expressions of support concerning their daughter Traci (Johnston) Calvert, who recently was diagnosed with cancer (click here for the original prayer request).

Traci is doing well and returns home this week after undergoing the first round of chemotherapy at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. Subsequent rounds will be administered in Mobile, AL. While in Houston, Traci was cared for by her aunt Jan, Ted’s sister (shown below with Traci), while Ted and Donna remained in Alabama to help care for Traci’s two children and her husband Troy.

Your continued prayers for Traci are needed and much appreciated. Please pray that the cancer (which was successfully removed in surgery) will not return, and that Traci will be blessed with long life in good health.

Pat Evans

Jack Evans, pastor of GCI’s congregation in Kenai, Alaska, reports that his wife Pat continues to struggle with pain and cognitive impairment since being in an auto accident in 2016 (click here for a prayer request at the time).

Jack and Pat Evans

Recent medical tests indicate the possibility that Pat has autoimmune encephalitis. Further tests are planned to determine how to treat her medically. Jack notes that he and Pat are going through a lot of stress and uncertainty, though they know God is with them. Please lift them up in prayer. Cards may be sent to:

Pat and Jack Evans
308 James Street
Kenai AK 99611

Death of Jerry Backhus

R.I.P. (Rejoicing in Paradise) Gerald (“Jerry”) Bachus.

We were saddened to learn of Jerry’s recent death. He died at age 77 after many years of service to GCI in New Jersey as an elder and pastor.

Born in Clifton, NJ, in 1941, Jerry graduated from high school in 1958 then entered the Air Force and was stationed in the Azores. Following honorable discharge, he married Joan Sprick in 1964. Jerry and Joan (pictured together above) enjoyed a loving marriage for almost 50 years. Jerry was employed as a salesman for packaging and paper companies.

Jerry is survived by a son and daughter, eight grandchildren, and a sister. His wife Joan and his parents preceded him in death. A memorial service for Jerry was held on December 3 in Parkesburg, PA. Another is being planned for the spring in New Jersey. For information email Craig (CMBackhus@hotmail.com) or Kym (Kymberlys@verizon.net).

Here are excerpts from an obituary written by Jerry’s son-in-law:

I’ve been involved in the Emergency Medical Services for a large portion of my life and the most dreaded dispatch of all is when you hear your home address come across the airwaves followed by “A Cardiac Arrest!” I want to thank the Oxford Fire Company, Medic 94 of Southern Chester County EMS, and the Pennsylvania State Police for their expeditious response and heroic efforts. They worked tirelessly to revive Dad but God had other plans. We will miss him but we are comforted knowing he is at peace with his soulmate, Joan, who preceded him in death four years prior. I know he’s looking down on us now, smiling.

Johnstons’ daughter

GCI Publications Editor Ted Johnston and his wife Donna request prayer for their daughter Traci Calvert.

Ted, Donna and Traci

Six weeks ago Traci underwent surgery to rid her of large fibroids growing rapidly in her uterus. Following the hysterectomy, it was determined that one of the fibroids contained a rare and aggressive cancer (leiomyosarcoma). Thankfully, the surgery had removed these fibroids intact and a follow-up scan showed no evidence of remaining cancer. However, because this type of cancer often spreads, additional medical treatments are being considered.

Your prayers concerning treatment decisions and Traci’s healing are needed and appreciated. Please also pray for Traci’s husband Troy and their two pre-teen children, Lauren and Jack. It’s a trying time for the whole family. Cards to Traci and her family may be sent to:

Ted Johnston
12289 Venice Blvd.
Foley, AL 36535

California wild fires

Updated 7:00 pm (Central time zone), November 18.

The recent Camp Fire in Northern California and Woolsey Fire in Southern California are the most destructive in years. As of November 18, the death toll from the Camp Fire approaches 80, with over 1,000 people unaccounted for. Thankfully, all GCI members in the affected areas of both wild fires have been accounted for and found safe. The story is different, however, regarding the homes of some members in Northern California.

Larry and Judy

Larry Van Landuyt, pastor of GCI congregations in Chico and Redding, CA, lives with his wife Judy in Paradise, CA, site of the Camp Fire. He and Judy had little more than hours to pack up family photos and important papers before being forced to drive down a road lined on both sides by flames on November 11. Fortunately, they were able to stay with their daughter in Marysville after evacuating, but it was only by November 13 that they found out that their home and two investment properties along with a vehicle had been totally destroyed in the fire. They had just renovated one of the investment homes to sell. It was scheduled to go on the market this week. Below are before-and-after pictures of the Van Landuyt’s three homes, with the one they lived in on the left. (Click the pictures to enlarge.)

The home of another GCI member in the area apparently survived the fire, but she will have to remain with family in Corning for the time being. Several former GCI members also lived in Paradise, and all have been accounted for. All our members in Southern California (where the Woolsey Fire raged near Thousand Oaks) are also okay. One member couple’s home was in a mandatory evacuation area. Like most everyone in their community, they decided to stay and soak down their home with water hoses. Thankfully, their home was not damaged. Another member couple in a voluntary evacuation area also chose to stay. Thankfully, they too were spared. A single female member was evacuated the first night of the fire and went to a friend’s home. She was there only a couple of hours and had to evacuate again. It appears that the homes in her neighborhood were spared.

Please pray for the Van Landuyts and the many others who will need a speedy response from FEMA and other insurance providers. Larry Van Landuyt believes he and Judy will rebuild. For them Paradise has not been lost. To send Larry and Judy a note of encouragement, email them at larry.vanlanduyt@gci.org or post a comment below.

Heather Smithson

Prayer is requested for Heather Smithson, wife of GCI Canada elder Leigh Smithson. Heather has been diagnosed as having breast cancer. She will be having surgery in the near future. This year has already been a difficult one for her in terms of her health.

Cards may be sent to:

Leigh & Heather Smithson
2 Ireland Crescent
Red Deer AB T4R 3H2