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Dear Brothers and Sisters, Passing on the Baton
Never in my 58 years with WCG/GCI have I experienced a smoother, more meaningful transition in leadership. The honour given to Joseph and Tammy Tkach at the Passing of the Baton ceremony was equalled only by the support shown to Greg and Susan Williams.
The ceremony included presentations recounting the journey of change GCI experienced under Joseph Tkach’s capable leadership. Russell Duke (Vice Chair of GCI’s Board of Directors) provided an overview of the Tkach presidency. Michael Morrison (GCS Dean of Faculty) then gave a brief history of how Grace Communion Seminary began. That was followed by a presentation in which Celestine Olive (GCI Board Member) recounted how GCI’s teaching regarding women in ministry changed.
Ted Johnston (GCI Publications Editor) then reviewed the process by which the denomination’s name was changed to Grace Communion International and the significance of the new name. Gary Deddo (GCS President) then addressed GCI’s journey of embracing incarnational Trinitarian theology. These presenters were then followed by President Tkach (pictured above) who addressed the significance and process of passing the baton of GCI’s presidency to Greg Williams.
Following the passing of the baton, Greg addressed the audience, speaking about the way forward for GCI and his excitement concerning how the Father, Son and Spirit are leading our journey. The special worship service was concluded with Communion and a benediction as one era of GCI ended and a new one began.
It’s hard to capture in words the wonder of what was a very special day. Hopefully, the pictures provided with this report will help. Note as well the comments below from GCI denominational leaders who were in attendance.
Traveling from afar, it was a real privilege to be part of the Passing of the Baton service. From the call to worship, to the benediction given by Greg Williams, it was a very inspiring service. The choir and the worship set a wonderful atmosphere where speakers outlined events and accomplishments during Dr. Tkach’s tenure. The Communion service, led by Joseph and Tammy Tkach together with Greg and Susan Williams, summed up the love, unity and peace of Christ that encompassed the whole event. —Daphne Sydney (Assistant National Director, GCI-Australia)
It was an honor to attend the presidential transition ceremony. It was a living example of how peaceful, pleasant and yet profound leadership change can be when directed by the Holy Spirit. It was an example for any organization, large or small, of how such things can and should be done. Kudos to those involved, particularly Joseph Tkach for his willingness to pass the baton of GCI leadership with such humility, grace… and humour! —Randy Bloom (Regional Pastor, GCI-USA)
The best way to describe the passing of leadership from Joseph to Greg is to picture the orange, yellow and red glow of the horizon as the sun sets. After you take a few seconds with your eyes closed, enjoying the scene, you open them only to magically see the first ray of sun piercing the morning sky followed by the canvas of light bringing in a new day. It was a majestic moment for GCI. —Jeffrey Broadnax (National Coordinator, GCI-USA Generations Ministries)
The Passing of the Baton service was very moving—a powerful testimony to the grace in Joseph Tkach’s empowering servant leadership. We are seeing the future with excitement and are inspired to participate in this chapter of the GCI journey, fully supporting Greg’s leadership. It is great to be GCI! —Eugene Guzon (Mission Developer, GCI-Philippines)
Often in the past, passing the baton ceremonies felt like a pause in the race, with a stumbling restart and often a change in direction. On October 14, I saw no misstep or break in stride. The direction of the race is clear and the momentum earned by the outgoing president clearly carries over to the incoming president. —Tim Sitterley (Regional Pastor, GCI-USA)
It was exciting to be present at the beginning of this new chapter in GCI. I’ve appreciated the leadership of Joseph Tkach in getting us to this place in our history. I’m sure that I speak for all the Canadian members of GCI when I say that we look forward to the future under the leadership of Greg Williams. —Bill Hall (National Director, GCI-Canada)
To the household of GCI around the world, you can be well pleased with the love, grace and dignity that permeated this moving occasion of historic significance in our fellowship. We cannot underestimate the value of the years of service and sacrifice of outgoing President Joseph Tkach and his wife, Tammy, who were honoured and celebrated in thanksgiving. Then Greg and Susan Williams were launched into the new role with personal love and enthusiasm and a swell of uplifting support. To God be the glory! —Rod Matthews (retired Mission Developer, Southern Asia and South Pacific)
Our members in Europe salute Joseph and Tammy Tkach for the wonderful job they have done in our fellowship, and celebrate the smooth transition to Greg and Susan Williams. Our gratitude goes to them for the inspiration they give our churches around the world—merci beaucoup, muchas gracias, muito obrigrado, dank u zeer, vielen Dank, mange tak, grazie mille, tusen takk, Благодаря ти много, tak så mycket, Ευχαριστώ πολύ, большое спасибо вам— thanks so much! —James Henderson (Mission Developer, Europe/UK)
It was a privilege to attend the worship service, including the transition ceremony in which Joseph Tkach passed the baton symbolic of the role of President of GCI to Greg Williams. Joseph has been used to provide stability and doctrinal direction for us through the most turbulent waters. For me, he has been an empowering and supportive leader and friend for whom I have the deepest respect. It was wonderful to witness the peaceful transition to Greg’s faithful, passionate leadership. —Gary Moore (retired Mission Developer, GCICanada)
I am humbled and honored to receive the baton as GCI’s fourth president. I have many memories from that day and felt overwhelming support from all who were present. One experience that was especially meaningful was the support from my family—all my children and grandchildren were in attendance. My younger brother Mark and his family came along to show support as well. Mark has not been an active member of GCI for the last 27 years, and he intentionally approached Joseph Tkach to congratulate him on the monumental changes that have occurred in GCI over the 23 years of his presidency. Those changes include the move to orthodoxy, the inclusion of women into ordained positions as church elders, the name change to Grace Communion International, the addition of Grace Communion Seminary and Ambassador College of Christian Ministry, immersion into incarnational Trinitarian theology, and the move from a corporate sole advisory board of directors to a governing board. What a strong foundation to build from going forward! —Greg Williams (GCI President)
On Saturday 27th October, 124 people from all corners of the UK and Ireland - and two all the way from New York – gathered together on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. The reason? To celebrate almost half a century of wonderful memories at SEP Scotland and give thanks, both to God and all the people who made everything possible over the years.
In true SEP style, everybody pitched in to set up the venue, St Kessog’s church hall in Balloch, while GCI members Michelle and Simon Batten got on with the herculaean task of preparing the food for later. Rachel Montgomery decorated the tables, and Shirley Henderson created Scottish heather arrangements for each table. As more and more families and friends from SEP past and present started arriving, the excitement grew and the SEP spirit was there in abundance.
SEP Director Jackie Mill opened the afternoon service with some worship songs of a distinctive SEP flavour. She then gave an emotional and upbeat talk in which she thanked everyone present, as well as those who could not make it, for their support of SEP through the years. She highlighted the success of this year’s SEP in the Cairngorms National Park; then explained that Lagganlia Adventure Centre was not available for 2019, but instead revealed the exciting news that next year SEP will be held in Wales. She concluded with a slide show of the confirmed venue for 2019, Morfa Bay (www.morfabay.com) located within the seaside village of Pendine in Carmarthenshire, on the border of Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park.
At the end of Jackie’s presentation, the audience burst into spontaneous applause.
James Henderson followed with an inspirational talk in which he estimated that as many as 10,000 young lives have been changed or impacted by SEP over 50 years. A figure that highlighted the incredible blessings God has bestowed on young people in the UK through SEP. He then quoted from Ecclesiastes 12:1, challenging everyone present, both young and old to “Remember your Creator...before the days of trouble come”.
The hall was then transformed from church to restaurant and Simon and Michelle’s delicious wood fired pizzas of every variety were brought out in a steady stream until every rumbling tummy was silenced. After which the hall was transformed again, into a dance floor, for a full-on SEP Ceilidh! But the entertainment didn’t stop there. There then ensued a proper singalong with firm favourites from the famous SEP singalong books before we started saying our long, and for many tearful, goodbyes.
A wonderful time in a wonderful setting with wonderful people, reminding us that all good things come from God, to whom we were all truly thankful.
Leaving only one question remaining. A question that has to be asked in the Scottish vernacular: Will we no’ come back again?
Paignton Autumn Festival
Over 200 people enjoyed the Autumn Harvest Festival in Paignton 23 September to 1 November. The weather was fantastic, and the atmosphere was as warm as friends reunited and enjoyed a week of Church Services, Bible Studies and activities together. Each morning began with a Prayer Meeting for those who wished to participate. During the daily Church Services, there were Children’s Church and Youth Discussion Groups. The Church Services began and ended with prayer and included readings, Speaking of Life video clips, hymns, special music and messages by speakers including UK National Director, James Henderson and next years’ Festival Elder, David Gibbs. There were opportunities to give offerings, attend a Communion Service and a Blessing of the Children Ceremony.
The many opportunities to gather for fellowship and activities included the annual and much enjoyed Quiz Night, a Ladies Tea, a film evening showing of Paddington 2 and an entertainment and talent evening with dancing at the end. There was an organised restaurant outing and a coach trip to Powderham Castle. Our annual Hymn Sing is an event many look forward to, as well as Life Club, a Children’s Party and Youth outings to Miniature Golf and Bowling. This year a special ‘Windrush Event’ commemorated the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush ship at the beginning of post war migration and the start of social evolution that changed Britain for ever. Many of our members from Birmingham and London trace their ancestry back to those days when families came from the Caribbean and Africa to work here and become part of the heritage of the UK. We enjoyed a taste of Caribbean and African cuisine, saw a video with interviews of members reminiscing about the early years after coming to the UK, and there was music and dancing as you would expect!
Paignton is a beautiful part of the UK and the area is often called the British Riviera. People were able to enjoy the seaside, a steam train trip to Dartmouth, and many of the local attractions on the free day. Sadly, all good things come to an end but hopefully everyone went home renewed by the Word of God, encouraged by fellowship and energized to Share the Good News of the Gospel — the Festival Theme, and the thread which tied all the Services and activities together.
Luton Ladies Day 2018
Around 35 ladies attended the annual Luton Ladies’ Day on Saturday 1 September. Organiser Daria Fowler welcomed everyone and announced the next Luton Ladies’ Day would take place on the 14th September 2019.
David Francis gave the first message entitled “Good Bread Has God In It.” He demonstrated making sourdough bread and used a number of analogies from the Bible, such as Jesus’ being bruised for our iniquities. Another scripture speaks about ’by the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread.’ He invited volunteers up to the front in order to illustrate this by using his hand mill to grind some flour, which took perseverance, patience and strength.
After lunch Helen Francis spoke on The Power of Love. She read from 1 Corinthians 13 and told some stories to illustrate love and how it motivates us to do extraordinary things, endure adversity and sacrifice for others.
The Ladies’ Choir sang Pray For Love, led by Shirley McLean, who also played her saxophone during all of the hymns. Daria Fowler then read a piece called ‘Her Name Was Rose’, a story of an elderly lady who went to University and of the impact she had on the students there. Rose said, “Growing old is mandatory but growing up is optional!”
Our final speaker was Linda Halford, speaking on ‘Reading Matters’. There is power in the word! Lectio Divina is about sacred readings and has four steps — read, meditate, pray and contemplate. This promotes communion with God, the understanding of God’s word and also can be likened to feasting on the word where we take a bit, chew, savour and digest.
In reading aloud, Linda encouraged us to be aware of word choice, word order and punctuation, to look up words for meaning, to vary pace, pitch and emphasis, to use pauses for effect as well as being alert for alliteration, repetition, to circle and underline before you read to help with flow and rhythm. She gave other tips and concluded that above all, pray — you are speaking sacred text, God’s words, which is a responsibility, a joy and a privilege.
Prayers, readings, messages, and hymns combined with fellowship and food made the days a great success and we look forward to next year.
Northampton goes Dutch for its 10th!
Northampton Pastoral Council
The Northampton congregation are delighted to announce that we are planning to hold our next and indeed 10th Special Event on Saturday 11th May 2019! We’ll once again be at the Saxon Hall in Raunds, Northamptonshire.
We’ll be joined by Frans Danenberg, GCI National Ministry Leader for The Netherlands and Flanders for the afternoon service at 2.30pm. There will also be a special church for the children. A social event is planned for the evening and should be a lot of fun and enjoyment for all ages.
For the evening meal, Howe & Co Fish & Chips will again be serving us from 6pm at reasonable prices. We warmly welcome you all to join us!
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