Letter from Dr. Joseph Tkach - Aug. 2016


August 1, 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, The 4th of July will be here soon, and so will the celebration of Independence Day across the United States. Many nations have a day to celebrate independence, a holiday to commemorate their identity. On Wikipedia, you can scroll through a list of them from around the world. There are multiple Independence Days every month of the year - some founded as recently as 2011.

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August 2016   

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It’s August again and here at GCI that means summer camp season is well underway! Our Generations Ministry camps – known as “GenMin” around the GCI Home Office – are something we return to each year. We have summer programs running in many locations. For us, they’re a chance to invest in the future, extend our reach, and touch souls with the love of God through a week of fun and learning. Each year we strive to make our camps better than the last, but this year is extra special. I knew I had to share these amazing new developments with you.

Dr. Jeff McSwain, the national coordinator of GCI’s successful Intern Program, has developed a curriculum for us that can be used at GCI camps all over the world. What makes these integrated lessons so unique is that they’re explicitly focused on the Trinity. We at Grace Communion International are known for our strong commitment to Trinitarian theology. I’m thrilled that this curriculum for camper formation is carrying forward the same focus.  

The title of Jeff McSwain’s excellent new series is called “Celebrate the Grip.” It’s presented daily in a camp-wide devotional, and it’s also integrated into the structure and themed events of each day. It’s reinforced and explored further in small group discussions led by dorm leaders. The idea is that this focus on the Trinitarian truth shapes the whole experience for the week that campers attend.

The “grip” that our camp curriculum celebrates is the grip of God’s grace – a grip that holds us through the Father’s love from the beginning, then extends to us through Christ’s incarnation, and keeps us secure in him through the indwelling of his Holy Spirit. Each day of camp has its own unique lesson, connected to a passage from the book of Luke. The campers see how Jesus loves us even unto death, that he chooses and embraces us at our worst, and that his Holy Spirit is closer to us than we are to ourselves. The lessons emphasize that our identity is rooted in the grace of God – not in our shortcomings or our own strivings. As Jeff puts it so well, “You don’t know who you are, until you know whose you are.”

This camp course is a resounding reminder that “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Our temptation as human beings is to focus on our own efforts, our own failures and successes. But before we could ever reach toward God, he reached toward us. We are held by the strong grip of his grace. Scripture assures us that “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). God’s love for us is expressed in the way each member of the Trinity relates to us and draws us deeper into

Group photo from our camp in Southern California

GCI runs camps all across the globe. This summer, just in the US, we’re set to have 1000 volunteer staffers serving 1500 campers! We currently have camps in Canada, the UK, the Philippines, South Africa, and Australia, too. Our Generations Ministry also runs mission trip opportunities here in the US and across the world. The destinations have ranged from South America to Africa, Mexico to the Philippines. And you should know that none of this – the staffing, the campers, the many locations, the mission trips, or the development of excellent teaching curriculum – would be possible without donors like you.

When you give to GCI, you support ministries around the world that look to the future, hold fast to the gospel, and spread the truth and love of our triune God. We undertake a wide variety of operations, from supporting local congregations, to training and equipping ministers, to making life-changing investment in the next generation. Thanks to donors like you, we can sustain our legacy of running successful camps around the world. We’re grateful to continue these offerings, bringing the message of God’s grip of grace to a new generation.

Grateful to the grace of our Triune God,

Joseph Tkach
President – Grace Communion International

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