GCI President Update | June 2020


In this Update, GCI President Greg Williams talks about stepping outside of our own experiences to empathize with others, considering the needs of those around us, and the ways in which we can help them. He also offers a glimpse into 2021 with exciting news regarding our newly rescheduled Denominational Celebration.

Program Transcript


Empathy

By wearing this mask, I’m not making light of the far-reaching concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, I am drawing attention to how we need to show concern for others around us.

There have been many lessons to be learned from this historical time when so many of us have been asked to work from home and to practice social distancing.

Some have re-learned the art of putting puzzles together; our son’s girlfriend has discovered the pleasure of decorating her home and patio with a variety of plants; many have rediscovered cooking at home, and then have had to come up with an at home workout routine to exercise (because of the cooking from home); and we are all discovering new ways to socialize while maintaining social distance.

At the outset of the virus a Saturday night street party was birthed in my neighborhood. It began with Susan and me, and two nearby couples. We set chairs in our driveways and maintained clear and safe boundaries. Over each Saturday night the party has grown. It starts at 7:00 pm and easily goes to 10:00/11:00. We are getting to know our neighbors as friends and what a blessing this has been.

The pandemic has helped broaden my perspective. Have you considered the crises among the crisis?

On Monday April 6, the tiny Pacific island country of Vanuatu was rocked by Cyclone Harold, the second category-5 storm to hit the nation in five years. The cyclone led to the deaths of 27, and major destruction of properties and crops. The cyclone went on to flatten buildings and cause severe flooding in Fiji and Tonga. Our leaders in New Zealand have been tracking with the members and bringing much needed assistance.

On the night of Easter Sunday, April 12, strong storms rolled across the Southeastern US. Our good friends, Dennis and Sidni Wheatcroft who live in Chattanooga, TN had a tornado strike their house and their youngest son Robert’s house as well. No bodily injuries, thank God, but significant property damage. 

As I check in with our Superintendents I am constantly amazed at the range of challenges. As Kalengule Kaoma shared with me, “Many of the African countries are challenged by famine and starvation.” Therefore, the Coronavirus takes a back seat to the crisis of finding fresh water and food to eat on a day to day basis. This certainly adjusts my overall perspective.

The pandemic has forced us to think about that ancient question Cain posed to God – “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Wearing a mask is not simply about self-protection. It is an active way of displaying concern for the elderly and people with health challenges, such as coworkers with chronic illnesses or friends with autoimmune diseases. Many who appear healthy, have compromised immunity, and need our cautious care and encouraging support now more than ever. Are we stepping outside of our own experience, and practicing extra precautions to help protect the weak among us?

We have also been awakened to think about shut-ins and people who live alone. Are we calling and messaging them? Have we checked in face-to-face through FaceTime, Zoom, or WhatsApp? Our hearts have been turned to these people in fresh and appropriate ways. As we mourn the temporary cutback of our social gatherings, we experience a glimpse of their lives. How are we caring for these individuals in their time of complete isolation?

It is especially heart-wrenching to think about people who have lost loved ones during this time. They have been robbed of visitations, sharing final moments and goodbyes, even the chance to honor their loved ones with a funeral service and burial. Are we reaching out in love, and creating safe spaces for them to grieve?

As a denomination one of our setbacks during this crisis was the postponement of our Denominational Celebration. We are excited to announce the Celebration will be in Charlotte, NC over the dates of Tues July 21 – Sun July 25, 2021. It will be a highlight to come together and come together as a global family.

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Our empathy for one another has been awakened during this global health crisis. May it stay awake and vibrant even as we move toward life beyond COVID-19 restrictions.

I am Greg Williams updating our Grace Communion International family.

Alert me for new videos: