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Reflecting on Important 2022 Themes

Since this entire issue of Update is dedicated to looking back at 2022, we gave our hardworking president a break from writing. In place of a letter, I combined all of Greg’s letters from the entire year and generated a word cloud. A word cloud is an image composed of words in a particular text, in which the size of each word indicates its frequency or importance. You will see by this image, that the word “Jesus” occurred more than any other word in the president’s letters. As it should be! Amen?

Allow me to point out another word. Greg mentioned his wife, Susan, so often that she showed up in our word cloud. How appropriate! We’re grateful for Susan and her tireless devotion to our denomination. I am sure our members around the globe who received a visit from our president in 2022 were equally blessed by Susan’s presence. Thank you, Susan.

Have a meaningful and merry Christmas,
Elizabeth Mullins
Update Editor


Team Based—Chair Led

Dear GCI Friends and Family,

From time to time, I invite a guest writer to share with our church audience. It is my pleasure to have GCI Board Chair, Randy Bloom, as our guest writer this issue. Check out our interview here.

In Him,
Greg Williams

Grace Communion International exists as a beloved part of the universal church of Jesus. It exists to preach the Gospel of Jesus, and to make disciples as it participates in his ministry. GCI also exists as an organization recognized by and functioning under the laws of the US government. As such, it has a necessary structure for fulfilling its mission, as it is led and directed by the Holy Spirit. Under the direction and support of the Board, this structure is headed by the GCI President, Dr. Greg Williams, along with the Home Office staff and regional superintendents around the globe.

As Chair of the GCI board, I have been asked to explain the purpose of the board and how it functions.

The board provides high-level direction and support for the work of the church, mostly from behind the scenes, leaving the more visible aspects (the administrative aspects) of church ministry and mission to the President and his team. But the “behind the scenes” work of the board provides a solid foundation and pathway for the work of the church. The board also provides an extra layer of accountability within GCI – the President is accountable to the board. The primary responsibilities of the board include serving as a governing body (not involved in day-to-day administration or management) to:

      • Ensure the integrity of GCI’s theological framework and doctrine
      • Establish and maintain the vision and mission of GCI
      • Set basic policies (regarding personnel, finances, risk management, etc.)
      • Maintain financial health
      • Hire and support the President.

GCI theology and doctrine.

The “heavy lifting” of developing and establishing the foundational theological framework and doctrine for GCI has been accomplished by the prior work of the board. Today the board maintains the ongoing integrity of our theology and doctrine and is responsible for any future adjustments or clarifications as revealed by the Holy Spirit. The board has a doctrinal committee that reviews and decides doctrinal issues that arise from time to time.

GCI vision and mission

The mission of the church has been clearly set by Jesus: to preach the gospel and make disciples. This is the purpose of GCI (and any church). How that mission is lived out—what it “looks like” in various locations and cultures—needs to be worked out by the President, superintendents, regional directors, and pastors within the 69 countries in which GCI has a presence. With the Spirit leading, Greg and his team have developed missional plans and strategies for pursuing our GCI vision of “Healthy Church.” Greg keeps the board updated regularly on the development and progress of these plans.

Financial health and accountability

Through various committees, the board works to ensure GCI’s financial health. It reviews and approves the annual budget. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) provides quarterly financial updates to the board. Several committees are involved in managing the annual audit and providing oversight of investments. The CFO is also accountable to the board for all financial management systems, ensuring GCI operates according to established legal requirements. We are happy to say that every year GCI receives an “Unqualified Opinion,” the highest audit rating possible.

Support the President

While the President is accountable to the board, the board is also accountable to support the President. The board does this through its review and support of the President’s initiatives. More specifically, the board chair provides more focused support. I do this by maintaining regular contact with Greg. We talk regularly by Zoom. He shares his plans and ideas with me on a consistent basis, and he is open to suggestions and ideas from me. We have been friends and colleagues for many years, so our working relationship is professional and relational. We get along well, and communication is easy between us. He has often described our working relationship as one of coach and coachee.

I think it is important for people to realize that no one person “has the reigns of authority” within GCI. The President is accountable to the board and while the board has a Chair, the Chair is accountable to the board. Responsibility and accountability are shared. The board is, I hope, a good working example of “team based—chair led.”

Board composition

You may be wondering, “Who comprises the board? What kind of people are they?” I am honored to serve alongside a group of men and women who are experienced and competent in a variety of fields essential to the effective work of the board. Some are highly accomplished in various aspects of finances, management, and legal work. Some are experienced pastors. The board directors are as diverse as they are competent. What they all share in common is love for Jesus, for people, for GCI, and a respect for their fiduciary duties. To learn more about GCI board directors, click here.

Grace Communion Seminary board

An additional blessing, I encountered when I accepted the nomination as GCI board chair was that the GCI board chair also serves as the chair for Grace Communion Seminary. I enjoy serving alongside GCS President, Dr. Michael Morrison and other GCS board members. The GCS board fulfills the same purposes for the seminary as the GCI board serves for the church – to ensure the seminary mission, vision and finances are upheld and managed with integrity. The GCS board is comprised of directors who are experienced, competent, and committed to GCI and GCS. To learn more, visit GCS board.

As I was preparing to retire, I spent a great deal of time pondering and praying about “what was next,” what Jesus may have had in store for me in his ministry. Being asked to serve on the GCI board came as an unexpected surprise, and it has been a great joy to serve alongside GCI and GCS board members. The work is challenging in a good way and fits well into a very fluid retirement schedule. Serving on the board provides an opportunity to continue to work with dear friends and colleagues and serve GCI pastors and congregations in the U.S. and around the globe.

Randy Bloom
GCI Board Chair

Successful Transitions in the Philippines

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

Greg Williams with the Filipino National Ministry Team

I recently had the pleasure of joining Dr. Eugene Guzon, many Filipino leaders, and the Asian Regional Directors in Manila for a historic week of meetings and events. Dr. Guzon and I have been working together for more than two years to move the Filipino governance from a Corporate-Sole model to a Board-Governed and National-Director-Led model. Mat Morgan and our Home Office Legal Department played a significant role in helping rewrite the bylaws for the Philippines and helping them through national registration modifications. The other significant milestone was recognizing and commissioning the four members of the National Ministry Team (NMT).

Settling out these significant changes took much time, prayer, and discussion from leaders on both sides of the pond. We arrived at a place where it seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us. The story below from Dr. Guzon describes the details of what took place. From my perspective, I exhale a resounding hallelujah and amen!

I am excited and expectant about how the Lord moves in and through our new structure.


On September 25 – October 2, Greg Williams visited Manila for a series of strategic meetings with ministry leaders of GCI Philippines and the Asia region. The week ended on a high note with a face-to-face combined worship service – the first of its kind since the pandemic hit in 2020.

Ministry Meetings

Wong Mein Kong

Dr. Greg spent time with the Philippines’ National Ministry Team (NMT) to discuss organizational matters and ministry directions towards the pursuit of Healthy Church, with a focus on leadership transition planning at the national level.

He met the Faith, Hope, and Love Avenue teams of GC Crossway (Manila) for updates and coaching on the development of a Ministry Training Center (MTC). MTCs are part of GCI’s initiative for growing emerging leaders through strategic ministry equipping within the life of the church, in line with the Healthy Church vision.

Dan Zachariah

Another key meeting was between Dr. Greg and the new seven-member Board of Trustees of GCI Philippines. The board members are (pictured at the top, left to right) Dr. Eugenio Guzon, Audie Santibanez, Jerome Manriquez, Romeo Pusta, Vicky Constantino, Dr. Ana Lasco, and Timoteo Sotalbo. All these board members are GCI elders in the Philippines. The formation of the board is a milestone as the Philippine National Office transitions to the legal status of a religious non-profit organization, following a two-year study in consultation with the Home Office, with the goal of providing a better legal and organizational platform for a team-based, elder-led ministry.

Dr. Greg also spent time with 70 leaders – Community of Practice (CoP), board members, district directors, pastors, and ministry workers from across the Philippines to help provide a deeper understanding of GCI’s vision, team-based leadership model and culture, and to give updates from other areas around the world.

Dr. Greg’s visit was an opportunity to convene the GCI Asia CoP, composed of Eugene Guzon, Wong Mein Kong, and Dan Zachariah. This meeting was also attended by Pastor Devaraj Ramoo and his wife, Parameswary, from GCI Malaysia, and Pastor Aron Tolentino of GCI Philippines. The discussions provided clarity and contextualization for the Healthy Church vision and guidance on plans for the region over the next few years.

Overall, these gatherings were edifying, timely, fruitful, and beyond expectations.

Combined Metro Manila Worship Service

On the last day of Dr. Greg’s visit, 605 members were in attendance for a face-to-face combined worship service in Metro Manila. Many more members were able to watch the service online. The sermon was about Jesus as our true foundation and our participation in the great commission through healthy Avenues of Faith, Hope, and Love. His message was very well received!

During the service, Dr. Greg commissioned the two team-based leadership bodies serving GCI Philippines: the Board of Trustees (named above) and the NMT composed of Rex dela Pena, Dr. Eugene Guzon, Audie Santibanez, and Aron Tolentino. Pastor Audie Santibanez, who serves as NMT team member and Metro Manila District Director, was also commissioned as Deputy National Director.

Commissioning Audie Santibanez

It was a joyful culmination to a meaningful week, and a celebration of God’s continuing faithfulness to GCI in the Philippines and the rest of Asia.


Eugene Guzon HeadshotBy Eugene Guzon
Asia Superintendent and Philippines National Director

Bula from Fiji

Greg and Susan Williams with Sue and Dennis Richards

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

I don’t always enjoy surprises, but I do appreciate good surprises. This is exactly what Susan and I experienced when we visited the island nation of Fiji. When you hear Fiji mentioned in a conversation, your mind goes to wonderful artesian drinking water, gorgeous flowers of all types, exotic birds, and breath-taking sunsets. These are all true, but my mind was mostly captured by the beautiful people – especially the GCI people.

Three years ago, James and Alisi Panuve extended a formal invitation for Susan and me to visit the church in Fiji. Upon the heels of the Australian conference in August, we were at last able to join Regional Director Dennis Richards and his wife, Sue, for an extended weekend visit.

The church gathered on Saturday morning for a formal Fijian welcoming ceremony called Veiqaravi Vakavanua. It is a solemn event performed and observed with dignity. The presentation of ceremonial items acknowledged how far the visitors have come. The ceremony signifies the respect for the honored guest in the spirit of welcoming a chief or a state dignitary. It also symbolized the joy and submission of the group in receiving me as their President of GCI. I was humbled and highly honored.

Susan and I were greeted by all the members in attendance, and we enjoyed a wonderful social gathering in the British tradition called “Tea.” After the food and fellowship, Susan and Sue Richards met with the ladies and shared testimonies, life stories, and prayer for one another. Dennis and I were turned over to the care of the Young Adult group, a most lively and fun group ranging in ages of 17 to 35. We did an icebreaker exercise where we learned interesting facts about one another, and then one of the leaders facilitated a short lesson from Philippians 4:8. The energy and mutual love the group demonstrated was exceptional.

To further the relationship building, and to simply have some good clean fun, I invited the youth group back to the ice cream shop at my hotel. It was quite a spectacle of 30 of us walking down the city streets across the pitch (sports field) to the hotel, and then lining up to order our cups of ice cream. The hotel was kind enough to allow us to gather poolside and enjoy a beautiful afternoon in a delightful setting.

The youth group and a children’s choir played a significant role in the Sunday worship service. Their musical gifts were on display, especially the harmonies of their blended voices. I gave a sermon entitled, “Jesus Our True Foundation.” I have been giving this message in many places around the world for the purpose of showing that our model of Team-Based Pastor-Led ministry, accompanied by the ministry avenues of Faith, Hope and Love, are fully based in Jesus and better align us as we seek to participate with him under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Many commented how this message helped provide clear direction about where we are going as a church family, and many expressed how this feels like a restart for our church. I sense that too.

One of the highlights of the day and a main purpose for the trip was to ordain Frank Boyd, alongside his wife, Emily, as the new lead pastor for Grace Communion Fiji. Frank and Emily are deeply committed leaders who love the Lord and his church. They have the respect of the people and move with wonderful ease and grace as they interact and flow among the members. I am confident that this church has an able under shepherd who will flourish as he is led by the Great Shepherd.

Fiji was a happy surprise to Susan and me, and we enjoyed being in the company of one of GCI’s healthy churches in the middle of the Pacific. On their behalf let me say a hearty, “Bula!” This word embodies the deep joy in greeting another person. You certainly feel the joy of the Lord when you are with our dear brothers and sisters in Fiji.

Honored to be the GCI President,


P.S. Don’t miss more about the Fiji gathering in this issue by Epeli Nakautoga.

Compelled by Love in Australasia

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

Greg & Susan Williams, with Australasia Superintendent Daphne Sydney

Susan and I had the wonderful opportunity to join Australasia Superintendent Daphne Sidney and 90 or so pastors and ministry workers for a “Compelled by Love” conference. We met on Thursday and Friday with the leadership and began with training sessions in “Appreciative Inquiry,” conducted by Ambassador College of Christian Ministry (ACCM) Director John McLean. This grace-based process of how we set our minds and attitudes to think on what things are noble and good is incredibly helpful for ministry teams who are seeking to determine what is good to the Holy Spirit and to us.

John’s training set the tone for National Team members Dennis Richards and Peter Edalere to speak about the model of Team-Based Pastor-Led. This gave a great overview for how we see pastors building their teams and provided oversight as we dug into the need to have “Ministry Action Plans” (MAPs). These MAPs help teams set attainable goals that help them move toward our vision of Healthy Church and make progress toward their Three-Year Plan.

This is the first gathering Daphne has been able to host since the onslaught of COVID. The ability to meet face-to-face, to hug necks, to sing worship songs in corporate worship, to share meals, and to simply be together was met with deep enthusiasm and appreciation.

More members were able to join the celebration over the weekend, and I was able to give them a pictorial update of the GCI family around the world. Sharing faces of brothers and sisters from Africa, Canada, the US, and the UK warmed their hearts immensely. The training continued as several pastors and avenue champions shared concepts about the Love, Hope and Faith Avenues of ministry. A highlight to me was seeing that the presenters are moving beyond concepts and are growing as practitioners. They are organizing their teams, developing plans, and trying new approaches to the various ministries of the church. Dare I say that they are discovering how to better join Jesus in what he is doing in and through our expression of the local church.

During the Saturday sessions, newly ordained Pastor Helen Callaghan gave a wonderful summary of Michael Frost’s book, Surprising the World. She aptly pointed out how the instruction in the book is simple and straight-forward, and centers on how we as believers can engage the not-yet-believers through meaningful relationships. Helen pastors a small church in Sydney with mostly aging members, so she was quick to point out that age is not a factor keeping us from loving and knowing our neighbors.

As I travel the world and spend time with our GCI church family, I am refreshed and encouraged to see how the material that we are producing at the denominational level is being embraced and applied. These materials are meant to center us more and more into the relationship and ministry of Jesus, who is the center of the center. It does my heart good to see so many presenters who have grasped what we are teaching and where we are going as a worldwide denominational family. Our sole purpose is to ground ourselves in Jesus, and to build out from him as our true foundation. As we receive the faith, hope and love that originates in him, it channels through us as we reach out to a broken, hurting world.

It is a beautiful journey that we are on as a collective fellowship around the world. Read more from Daphne here. And by the way, your brothers and sisters from Australia say “G’day.”

Greg Williams

P.S. I am extremely pleased with the good work that John McLean, Registrar Nadia Worthing, and other faculty members are doing through ACCM to equip ministry workers around the world. Please see the details in this issue of Update.

Homecoming for Canada

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

Greg Williams with two young conference attendees.

In early August, I was able to join Board Chair Dr. Randy Bloom and North America and Caribbean Superintendent Michael Rasmussen in a gathering with Canada National Director Bill Hall, and 120 conference attendees in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Due to COVID, this was the first gathering like this in four years. Hence, Bill titled the conference “Welcome Home.”

The family reunion element was a big part of the celebration, and we were grateful to the hotel property to honor their rates from the original contract signed three years ago. We give thanks to our triune God.

Bill invited Christian music recording artist, Steve Bell, to share his music and his thoughts about the trinity and worship. Steve inspired the audience with his meaningful songs and stories, and he fit perfectly into helping us have deeper thoughts about worship through the Hope Avenue. I was especially pleased for how Steve immersed himself within the group, and how he reinforced our values for the Revised Common Lectionary and the annual worship calendar.

Early in the conference, I shared the “big rocks,” or priorities of how our ministry is structured. Long before we move into the how and implementation, there is need for us to be crystal clear on the questions of who? Who we are? And the why? Hopefully, you have some answers in mind, but allow me to fill in these answers. The “who” is the triune God revealed to us in the person of Jesus. “Who we are?” includes believers and followers of Jesus, and as such we are fellow members of his church. I reminded the attendees that “We are Church People.” It was music to my ears to hear them echo those words back to me. “Why?” is the mission of the church, expressed in our motto, “Living and Sharing the Gospel.”

Mike Rasmussen picked up the training from this point and gave a wonderful thousand-foot view of the Faith, Hope, and Love Avenues, with a deeper dive on the Hope Avenue. Mike shared stories out of his past decades of pastoral ministry, and most recently what he has been learning as he participates in the church and Ministry Training Center in Surrey Hills, Oklahoma. It was amazing to observe the interaction of the pastors and ministry leaders as Mike fielded questions and comments. There was a spark of life, creativity, and hope in this mix of church people. Praise be to God!

Randy Bloom met with the Canadian Board of Directors. The board members are those “hidden figures” that offer their time, experience, and wisdom in support of the national director as he attends to the business and mission of the church. A major decision made in this meeting was to elect Gillian Houghton as the Board Chairperson for the coming year. Please keep her and the work of our Canadian church in your prayers.

On Sunday our conference group was joined by another 200+ attendees through a video link. I was humbled and privileged to be able to address just about half of our dear church members across Canada. I shared with them a message out of 1 Corinthians 3 about “Jesus Our True Foundation.” Any enduring work that we will do in this life will only happen when we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, when we participate by building with him, when we build on him and when the work is inspired and saturated by his love.

We join Jesus and our brothers and sisters in Canada as we go forward into the life of GCI. May God continue to bless our participation with him and his work in GCI Canada.

Greg Williams

Pray Better

Greg and Susan Williams
Greg and Susan Williams

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

As I write this update, I am travelling to Fargo, North Dakota (Susan’s home state). From there, Superintendent Mike Rasmussen and I will head north and join the National Director of Canada, Bill Hall, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for a three-day conference with pastors and ministry leaders with the theme, “Welcome Home.” We anticipate a wonderful time of regathering after the Covid pandemic and a time of learning and inspiration. (I’ll write about this in our next issue.)

When I prepare to make such trips, I solicit prayer support from the extended Home Office family. Safe and uninterrupted travel is part of the request (especially with all the travel-related horror stories circulating in the news). In a book on Christian leadership I recently read, the author challenged us to think about better prayers, rather than just more or longer prayers. I surmised this to mean more thoughtful and more specific prayers. It caused me think about the words of James when he said, “You have not because you ask not.”

I have come to take a fresh look at prayer. Beyond my personal safety and comfort, plus a general covering of blessing on the meetings, what if I prayed about conferences and celebrations with more intent? Would you join me?

Lord, be with the presenters in their time of preparation. Give them the thoughts and words that the attendees need to hear. Bless them with creativity and passion so that the presentations of the gospel are exciting and move the listeners to action. Jesus, be in the hearts and minds of all who gather that there is a palpable sense of receptivity. Jesus, meet us in the informal gatherings – the shared meals, chats in the hallway, late night discussions, and even the difficult conversations that need to take place. Bring us together in a spirit of unity and harmony. May we deeply appreciate the opportunity simply to come together after this long season of being unable to gather. We join the Psalmist in saying, “How good and pleasant for brothers to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). Most importantly, we come together to raise up your name, Jesus, and proclaim you as Lord of our lives and Lord of your church. Jesus, we worship you and declare that we are here to seek your will and humbly ask that you empower us to be the church you would have us be. In your strong name, we anticipate your positive response to our requests. Amen!

May we also be in prayer for our weekly services and our neighborhood engagement. God is present in and cares about our Hope and Love Avenues. We’re soaking up Jesus’ presence when we pray, and his presence transforms us.

After the Canadian conference, Susan will join me, and we will jet off to Australia and Fiji. In late September, I am in the Philippines for a week, and I will then end my 2022 travel outside the U.S. in October with a trip to France. All of these are important gatherings that deserve to be covered in prayer. And just as we pray about the preparation and execution of these gatherings of God’s people, let’s remember to pray about the longer-term lasting impact that they have as pastors, leaders, and members return to the local expression of the church. Lord, continue to guide, bless, and empower our journey toward Healthier Church!

Going Forward on Our Knees,
Greg Williams

Outside the Walls

It is my pleasure to have Heber Ticas as a guest writer. The consulting and coaching he has done with several churches through “Outside the Walls” (OTW) have been transformative. To see our congregations come together and intentionally focus on how they as a corporate body can better connect with their neighborhood, and to work together with their Love Avenue activities and events is helping them to shine the light of Jesus beyond the interior walls of their church building. In this issue, Heber will share what happened in three US sites during summer 2022. It is our goal that OTW will be shared with our brothers and sisters outside the US also.

Heber, thank you for the way you have served our churches. It is making a positive difference!

–Greg Williams, President

Dear GCI Family and Friends,

As I address all of you through this Update, I pray that you are enjoying the riches of the grace that our heavenly Father has poured over every one of us in Christ. Amid the many challenges that we may face in our lives and in our local congregations, we are sustained through his love. In union with Christ, we are empowered to live out our individual and corporate church expressions as we participate with Jesus in his everyday mission.

Our GCI mission statement of “Living and Sharing the Gospel” is at the core of who we are as followers of Christ. We are a sent people to bear witness to the saving grace of our God in Christ Jesus. In GCI, we desire that our churches live out our mission statement as we are compelled by his love. His love motivates us to move out of the four walls of our churches in order to engage our neighborhoods with acts that express the love God has for all.

As GCI’s National Coordinator for Church Multiplication, I have been entrusted with the task of bringing high support to some congregations that possess the bandwidth to move outside the walls of their churches. We call this support Outside the Walls (OTW) consulting. The purpose of the consulting is to assist the pastor and leadership teams through the process of understanding the current environment of the congregation and the demographics of the church neighborhood and to help the congregation move towards missional participation with Jesus. This high support provided to these churches is holistic in nature and consists of five phases. This year we offered this support to three congregations in the US, as Greg mentioned.

At the center of the consulting is the planning and preparation of the OTW weekend at each of the congregations receiving the support. The weekend consists of comprehensive healthy church equipping coupled with a missional event that is put together with the purpose of creating a relational space for the congregation. This space affords the church the ability to meet their neighbors and forge new relationships.

Terry McDonald, pastor of South Kansas City, reflected on their OTW experience:

“What we discovered together as a team was that there needed to be a shift in the mindset of the fellowship regarding the reason and purpose of engaging our neighborhood. People deserve to be loved because they are the image-bearers of our triune God, not because we need more bodies in the seats. We need persistent engagement, clarity of purpose, and intentionality as we love our neighbors as ourselves.”

By God’s grace, our experiences in all three events were formative and helped shaped the churches’ approach to living and sharing the gospel. Our church members stepped out of their comfort zones and engaged God’s children in ways that powerfully reflected the love of God. One of the churches hosted a neighborhood block party, the other hosted a neighborhood summer celebration, and the third church hosted a Christmas in July event. All three events expressed the vibrancy of our fellowship, the local congregation, and our desire to make disciples with Jesus.

As we move forward as a church family, we must not discount the calling that God has placed on our fellowship to step out in faith and partake in the joy of joining Jesus as he calls his children by the Spirit into communion with his body. I ask you to join me in prayer, petitioning our God to give us the ability to discern Jesus’ movements in our neighborhoods so we may step out in faith to join him.

In him,
Heber Ticas
Latin America Superintendent & CMM Coordinator – US