Global United Fellowship (GUF) recently convened its 6th annual gathering at the Atlantis Resort in Nassau, Bahamas. It was the first time that the organization hosted the annual event on the island that is the home of its Presiding Prelate, Bishop Neil C. Ellis, as well as its world headquarters.
The Gathering 2019 was focused on The Healthy Church, and provided numerous immersive sessions that took a bold and practical look at issues faced by contemporary Christians, church leaders and congregations.
One such session was “Man Talk,” presented by movie producer and author Devon Franklin and veteran actor Dondre Whitfield. The conversation, described by Ellis as “eye-opening and thought provoking”, centered around reviewing traditional concepts of masculinity in order to lead better at church, at work and at home. “It’s important for us as men to get back to sacrificing and service and truth,” said Franklin. “The only way we can navigate this flesh and honor our commitment, and not cheat on our wives, and not do one thing and say another, is to be able to communicate with each other.”
Another powerful session was the panel discussion on “Should We Rethink the Way We Do Church” hosted by pop culture critic Jawn Murray. During the panel, Bishop Vernon Thomas, a missionary who hosts a pop-up church in the Bahamas, Pastor Vernon Gordon of The Life Church in Richmond, Virginia, and Bishop Leofric Thomas of Open Arms Church in Jacksonville, Florida, addressed strategies, tactics, experiences, insights and even issues around creating a church experience to increase attendance and engagement of the millennial generation and those younger. Citing research that shows an increase in desire for God, but an abysmal decrease in interest in the church among younger generations, the panel dissected where the church may be losing its way and how it can regain not only religious but cultural significance.
There was also a training by the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team about how churches can better handle and respond to the day to day crisis that congregants face: a fire, a sudden death, a financial catastrophe. This training further addressed the healthy church by helping attendees learn how to respond extraordinary situations in a healthy way.
In his annual State of the Fellowship address, Bishop Ellis announced significant progress that GUF has made this past year, including renewed partnerships, a new initiative to help churches that are struggling financially. He also announced a huge new GUF presence in Cuba, and increased presence in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Some key developments that were mentioned in the State of the Fellowship Address include:
- GUF membership is now just over 1400 churches from 42 countries, representing an increase of roughly 300 churches and two additional countries since 2018.
- A renewed partnership with Compassion International Ministries, which works to eradicate childhood poverty. Through the existing partnership, more than 3,000 children have been pulled out of poverty.
- Several new Caribbean countries have joined the fellowship, including Antigua and Barbuda, The Cayman Islands, Cuba and Saint Lucia.
- 17 Member churches in Cuba, which is expected to increase to 24 by the end of the year. GUF has worked with the churches to have them registered by their government for Christian activities, a requirement in that Communist country.
- Strong GUF representation in Central America, including Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Belize.
- A GUF facilitated health clinic that is operating in the Dominican Republic that is open 5 days a week. The clinic sees between 75 – 150 people weekly and also distributed personal hygiene items.
- A new Spanish Caribbean headquarters, located in the Dominican Republic, where GUF has a strong presence of more than 30 churches.
- More than 160 member churches in South Africa.
- 32 member churches in Haiti.
“We are not only global in scope, through our members, but we are global and global in our mission to the nations of the world,” said Bishop Ellis.
Evening services included speakers Bishop Neil Ellis, Bishop Carolyn Showell, Dr. Jamal Bryant and Bishop Marvin Sapp as well as guest psalmists Maranda Curtis and Kelontae Gavin. Honoring the fellowship’s mandate to resurrect the dying discipline of prayer, there was a morning prayer walk across the Sidney Poitier Bridge.
More than 5,000 people from territories including the United States, England, France, the Bahamas, Pakistan, South Africa, Ghana, Cuba, Haiti and the Philippines attended The Gathering 2019. In its relatively short existence, Global United Fellowship has proven to be one of the most transformative fellowships in the Christian faith – and the continued appeal of this annual event reemphasizes that every year.
Bishop Ellis announced that The Gathering 2020 will return to the United States and take place in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Gathering 2020 chairperson is Bishop Hezekiah Martin, Pastor of Southfield Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio.
About Global United Fellowship
Established in October of 2013 under the leadership of Bishop Neil C. Ellis, Global United Fellowship (GUF) is a cross-denominational fellowship of spiritual leaders and churches united to strategically plan, implement and execute transformative and generational impact. In six years, GUF has grown from 41 churches to more than 1400 churches in 42 Countries. The Fellowship’s Five Prong mandate is to unite churches; equip leaders; enhance marriages; resurrect the dying discipline of prayer and build covenant relationships within the Body of Christ. GUF is represented in churches from countries and provinces including the Bahamas, England, Jamaica, Pakistan, South Africa, the Turks & Caicos Islands, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and The United States. More information can be found at www.globalunitedfellowship.org.
About Bishop Neil C. Ellis
Bishop Neil C. Ellis is Presiding Bishop of The Global United Fellowship, and Senior Pastor of Mt. Tabor Church in Nassau, Bahamas. A gifted and dynamic pastor, speaker and leader, Bishop Ellis is passionate about the Word of God and its ability to transform lives. He is the author of 12 books; serves as mentor to more than 40 pastors in the Bahamas and throughout the United States; and has traveled throughout The Caribbean, North America, Germany, Africa, Israel, Greece and Rome preaching the Gospel. Bishop Ellis has been recognized by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth of England, for rendering distinguished services in Commonwealth nations. He is the recipient of the 2010 Trumpet Award for Spiritual Enlightenment and he is the youngest living inductee in the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in Atlanta, GA. Bishop Ellis is married to the former Patrice Michelle Johnson and they, along with their two children Johnathan and Renechea, reside in Nassau, Bahamas.