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With a new year, does it have to be all change?
If I were into fashion, which I’m not, it’d be time to put away my 2018 grey clothes, and I’d look out my old or buy new green ones because, according to the fashionistas, green is predicted to the colour of 2019. I still have my double-breasted suit, waiting for that style to come back into vogue, although my wife threatens to throw it out because it’s clogging up my side of the closet. One day it may be my turn to be discarded or recycled or put in a charity shop!
But does bringing in the new always mean throwing out the old?
We know that January the 1st is just a date like any other, and days and dates don’t really matter, and yet we attach symbolic and nostalgic importance to them. It’s a way of marking time and of drawing a line under something. Also, dates become occasions for celebration.
In the summer I mentioned that 2018 would be a year of administrative changes within our own precious denomination, see here. The most important of these changes is the passing on of the leadership of GCI from Dr Joseph Tkach to Dr Greg Williams. This has already taken place. Dr Williams is now the President of Grace Communion International. Dr Tkach remains Chairperson of our US Board. Other changes worldwide involved the retirement of Rod Matthews, the GCI Mission Developer for South East Asia. He and his wife, Ruth, have been close friends of ours for many years, and both Shirley and I will miss seeing them from time to time at conferences and at other events. Another 2018 retirement is Gary Moore in Canada. We know Gary and his wife, Wendy, well, and I had the pleasure of performing their wedding in South Africa before Shirley and I came back to live in the UK. Gary stepped down from being the Canadian National Ministry Leader in August, and his replacement is Bill Hall, who lives near the new Canadian office in Saskatoon in the province of Saskatchewan (I enjoy saying that last phrase although I’m sure I mispronounce it).
Here in the UK and Ireland the 1st January marks a change for us. A few years back our UK Board of Trustees began to put a succession plan into operation. This was done in consultation with Dr Tkach and also with Dr Williams, who was then the Vice President of GCI. This plan involved my stepping down as National Ministry Leader at the beginning of
2019, and a new structure, the National Ministry Team (NMT), taking my place. This was announced at our National Conference in Northampton, when the 2019 NMT was commissioned. The NMT is Gavin Henderson (NMT Facilitator and Operations Manager), Pete Mill (Mission Developer), and Barry Robinson (Ombudsman). The NMT portfolio of each of these employees is an addition to their existing job descriptions. Gavin already works full-time as our Business Manager, and both Pete and Barry are employed part-time as pastoral workers.
A point to note is the European situation. Our church here is part of the denomination’s European setup. Ten years or so ago Dr Tkach appointed me as the European Coordinator/Director, and the current plan is that I continue in this role to 2020 or 2021 on a voluntary basis. This is a non-salaried position, and CGI HQ is grateful to the UK Board for its offering to subsidize many of the expenses involved in this.
Do these changes mean that everything is in flux, and that a time of disruption lies ahead? Hopefully not! Of course, there may be some shifts in focus here and there. Such is typical of any change of administration. A fresh look at ideas is a good thing, and I for one welcome an injection of new perspectives.
What, however, has not changed and will not change, is our individual and collective calling. In Colossians 4:10-11 ESV Paul mentions “Mark the cousin of Barnabas” and “Jesus who is called Justus”, and he refers to them as his “fellow workers for the kingdom of God”. This describes our calling. All of us are called to be co-workers with Jesus Christ in the kingdom work of God. There is a work of proclamation to be done. Let’s proclaim the Gospel in everything that we say, do and think.
Shirley and I thank everyone for their help and support over the past 12 years, and we trust that you will offer the same help and support to the NMT, and we thank you in advance for doing so.
Let’s continue the Work in 2019.
Yours, in Christ’s service,
Winter Regional Conferences begin
The first round of regional conferences began in Market Harborough on the 2nd December. Delegates from north and central England gathered to hear the first conference sessions delivered by the National Ministry Team that is due to start its term of office on the 1st January, 2019.
Gavin Henderson gave the first presentation on the relevance and application of having a Lectionary, and then Pete Mill discussed the Because project and the results of the related Focus Group meetings that were held in August. This was followed by a presentation by Barry Robinson on the pastoral applications of selected leadership metaphors used by the apostle Paul.
The NMT repeated their talks in Edinburgh on the 8th December, and they are due to the do the same in Coulsdon on the 20th January, and in Northern Ireland on the 27th January.
The picture shows a breakout session in Edinburgh.
East African Conference
The GCI East African Conference took place in Tororo, Uganda from the 23rd to 25th November. Mr Kalengule Kaoma (GCI Africa Superintendent) gave several Pastoral Leadership training sessions including: an overview of GCI in Africa; an overview of the Charlotte meeting where the GCI Presidency was transferred from Dr Tkach to Dr Williams; GCI Leadership Structure; Vision Casting, and Women’s Ministry.
I gave presentations on Life Club and Children’s Ministry. While visiting the Tororo school on the 27th November, I showed the children a large map of Israel and explained where some of the main stories in the Bible took place, including, among others, the changing of water into wine at Cana. The attached picture shows the children pretending to be guests at the Cana wedding. The pretend bride and groom are seated under the umbrella. We had six bottles of water which, after adding strawberry powder, looked like wine!
The Ugandan church appreciates the help of the UK and Irish Churches. We sent £5,000 to help support GCI in Uganda. I saw that some of this money has already been used to buy a school television set, sound equipment, two large water containers, two large saucepans and 200 mugs, etc. (Some of the mugs can be seen in the picture of the children pretending to drink wine at the Cana wedding.) The rest of the money is still to be used.
On the 26th November I took two Church families to a travelling zoo. The zoo comes annually to Tororo for a week, but they have never been able to afford to go. (The zoo costs about 40p!) The four parents and six children had never seen a real lion, leopard, camel, painted wolf, tortoise, parrot, python and ostrich before, so for them it was a memorable conclusion to a successful conference weekend.
Gary Moore retires
During recent meetings in Charlotte, NC, various GCI leaders who have recently retired, or are about to retire, were honoured for their years of service as GCI employees. One of the honourees was Gary Moore, who retired at the end of August from serving as National Director of GCI-Canada.
Following graduation from Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, Gary entered the employed ministry of Worldwide Church of God (later Grace Communion International). Over the next 24 years, Gary pastored WCG congregations in the Canadian provinces of Ontario (including a US church in New York State), New Brunswick, Alberta and Nova Scotia. Then in 1997, Gary left the pastorate to begin serving as GCI-Canada’s National Director.
At a celebration of his retirement, Gary mentioned that he feels “blessed and privileged to have experienced the life I have had.” He explained that his journey from a legalistic approach to Christianity to one firmly anchored in the grace of God in Christ has been “a wonderful experience.” In retirement, Gary hopes to continue serving God and his people as long as he has the energy and health to do so. Bill Hall has replaced Gary as National Director of GCI-Canada.
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