More Info

More …
… about The God Is Love Fellowship
The purpose of The God Is Love Fellowship is to encourage people by
presenting the teachings of Jesus through the first-century writings
of his followers.
The God Is Love Fellowship began as Anchored Encouragement in the
fall of 2012. The purpose was to provide a place to go on Sunday
mornings for believers who were not connected with any spiritual or
religious group. The focus of AE was to encourage each other while
allowing each person to “anchor themselves” with God in whatever
way they believed was right for them. A very sweet fellowship
A group of about seven people first met in the Holiday Inn Express
in Grass Valley. Though this worked OK, it seemed a bit sterile and
isolated, plus the rent for the meeting room was steep. So AE moved
to the Flower Garden coffee shop in the Brunswick basin for several
months. Though not isolated, it was noisy and there were many
distractions. It was also hard to grow past about ten people without
becoming an annoying crowd.
AE then moved to Valentina’s Bistro and Café across the parking lot.
There the weekly rent was reasonable and we had the place to
ourselves (since it was closed to the public on Sundays), but the
acoustics were very poor. After about eight months the availability of
that placed went away.
AE then found a side room at Perko’s Restaurant where the rent was
only whatever food and coffee was purchased. This worked well for
several months until a move to Summer Thymes coffee shop was
made to accommodate an attendee. Back into a coffee shop setting
brought along previous challenges, but it worked pretty well.
Just this last fall a dining room at the Holbrooke Hotel in downtown
Grass Valley became available at a very good rate -- including coffee!
It is a historically beautiful place, with plenty of room to grow, quiet,
yet not isolated. Recently a couple attending the meeting was unable
to attend for health reasons. An internet broadcast was started to
accommodate them. They told some friends who also started
watching. Others have joined on-line since then. Last count there
have been over 100 visits to the broadcast site on Ustream.
In order to give the meeting a name (for reference purposes on
internet streaming and the Web site), “The God Is Love Fellowship”
was chosen. This was a name not already taken as a “.com”, but
also it reflects the orientation of the presentation that is done each
week. At the heart of The God Is Love Fellowship is the boundless
and infinite love of God for all people who were created in his very
own likeness. Many of those who started 2½ years ago are still here
today, and there has been nothing but encouragement, love, and
respect. It is indeed a sweet fellowship.
Three Governing Ideas
There are three ideas that govern The God Is Love Fellowship (GILF).
First, the focus is on encouragement. Life is full of good and
wonderful things, but it also presents many challenges and
discouraging situations. So, we all need some encouragement and
support as we each find our way down life’s road. We do not gather
to argue or debate about anything, and there is no attempt to govern
anyone else’s thinking or beliefs. That is between each person the
God who made them and loves them. Life is too short to not spend
our time loving, encouraging, and helping each other discover the
very best God has for us as individuals!
Second, a positive, always loving, and always good view of God is the
basis of all teaching (presenting) from the first-century writings by
the followers of Jesus (commonly known as the “New Testament”).
This is because God IS love and everything he does is motivated by
his love. Everything!!! Hatred, retaliation, torment, abandonment,
and annihilation are nowhere to be found in the God who is what
love is.
But, at times, God’s love is severe – very severe – and it results in
judgment that that is just and pure. But such judgment is always
grounded in his infinite love for all people who were created in his
very own likeness – grounded nowhere else but in His infinite love!
His loving purpose for all people is for them to find the very best he
has for them by drawing them to himself through his irresistible
grace and his boundless love. The God who IS love can do (and
never will do) anything less.
Third, the presentations (teaching) each Sunday of the first-century
writings are done as accurately, carefully, and faithfully as possible.
Without a doubt, this can never be fully achieved, but it is the heartfelt goal every Sunday. Care it taken to not speculate, or present
personal bios -- though this too is never fully achieved. But the goal
is to faithfully present what is written and to let each person decide
in his or her own heart what it means for them as they do their own
searching and thinking and communication with the God who loves
them. Each person is autonomous before God and must work out
with Him what they believe and how they live. Our role is simply to
encourage each other in that quest.
GILF is not a church*. Churches provide many good and wonderful
programs -- and for many people this is the best way for them to
worship God and find fellowship with like-minded people. GILF is a
very informal fellowship of people who desire to encourage (and be
encouraged by) others, by considering the writings of those sent out
by Jesus to proclaim the good news about God and his love for the
world he created.
* Actually, GILF is (technically speaking) a sole-proprietorship business,
registered with the State of California, doing business in Nevada County
as “The God Is Love Fellowship”. Though it is not legally a “non-profit”
organization, and has no non-profit tax exemption, GILF considers itself to
be non-profit in its endeavor. Income is gained from paid musical
performances which are subject to being taxed. However, all income goes
to GILF overhead and expenses, and to helping people in various ways as
needs arise.
GILF very much appreciates all the churches in this community,
believing that each one is doing what it does (in the way that it does)
according to how they believe God want them to do it. A genuine
and humble respect between churches and spiritual organizations is
honoring to God. Whoever may wrong among us must work it out
with God alone. Our job is to love each other unconditionally, just
as God loves us, and to leave all judging to him who, alone, is
worthy of it.
GILF, additionally, encourages everyone (attending GILF or not) to
seek a good local spiritual assembly in accordance with their own
sincere beliefs. There are many churches and spiritual gatherings in
our community, and GILF appreciates their presence and their good
influence on society along with their desire to honor God who they
love and worship. GILF, further, is not in any way possessive of
those who attend (in person or on the internet broadcast). There is
no attempt to build up, or maintain, a large following. All who
attend are encouraged to always seek the best spiritual gathering in
accordance with their sincere beliefs. Splits are welcomed and even
encouraged! If at any time, a group of people involved at GILF desire
to start a new group with the same (or different) direction or focus,
they are encouraged to do so. GILF would be happy to help them in
such an endeavor!
GILF has no membership. If there is any membership at all it is
found in a personal connection with God. This is the only
membership that really counts. Such membership is called “the
body of Christ” in the New Testament writings, and it is a
membership of all who are followers of Jesus and are “joined
together” in a common purpose. That common purpose is to be the
way Jesus gets around in this physical world – to be his “body”!
Wow! (It is indeed a beautiful thing.) And for those who are
“members of the body of Christ”, they are also “members of each
other” (just as the NT writings claim). This is what real membership
is all about.
Most traditional churches have a local-formal membership that is
needed in large organizations to protect the assets and direction of
that church. This is done in accordance with “doing things decently
and orderly”, and in accordance with “being good stewards” of what
has been entrusted to them by God. This is a good thing and is
honored by GILF, but it is something not needed by GILF itself.
On “Teaching”
The followers of Jesus believed that there really is no “teacher” but
God himself, through the person of His spirit (often called the “Holy
Spirit”). And, this makes sense, for who among us can really teach
the human heart except God – the One who created it? It is
common among people call some “teachers”. But, in reality, such
teachers can do little more than present information. Only God can
truly teach and change a heart.
And so, GILF prefers to call human teaching “presentation” and
leave the real teaching up to God where it belongs. In fact, human
teachers (presenters) are warned that they will “incur a stricter
judgment”. It is unclear if this judgment is by God or men, but it is
probably by both and should serve as a sobering motivation to
“teach” (present) with great care and genuine humility.
Titles and Positions
GILF uses no titles (pastor, teacher, bishop, pope, guru, etc.). The
first-century followers of Jesus were contented to use their name
alone, without any official title. It seems wise and best to avoid titles
as much as possible and remind people that we are all on the same
level before God. Jesus, for example, said “call no man father”. He
said this so that our focus would be on his father in heaven, who is
also ours, and not on any earthly man.
The followers of Jesus never used titles of position, just first names:
Paul, Peter, James, John, etc. There was no “Pastor Paul”, “Bishop
Barnabas”, or even “Elder Elijah”! There were, however, pastors,
teachers, and apostles, but these were “gifted abilities” from God,
through which they served people -- not titles to be held. It can even
be said that these were “positions” held by some, but such positions
were for serving others, not for “lording over” others as mediators
between God and people. According to the New Testament writings,
there is only one mediator between God and people, and that person
is Jesus.
GILF is led by a layman (a regular guy) who is not a professional
minister or pastor, and who possesses no authority over people
other than to ensure that the Sunday morning gathering is based on
encouragement by all who are involved. Local area churches, and
their leaders, are honored and very much appreciated by GILF.
GILF does not participate in “sacraments” (rituals). What is
commonly known as “Communion” or “the Lord’s Table” is the result
of Jesus’s instruction to ”eat and drink in remembrance of me”.
GILF believes there is no requirement for an “officiator” and leaves
this spiritual ritual to be done by each believer in his or her own
way. It seems probable that Jesus just wanted people to continually
remember what he did for the whole world (his death on the cross)
by using something as routine as a meal to trigger such
remembrance. However, special “communion” services conducted
by churches are honored and appreciated by GILF.
Baptism is another common sacrament-ritual. GILF does not
attempt to get people baptized since it is never a requirement by
Jesus or his followers. However, if someone reads something in the
New Testament writings, or has a strong personal sense that
prompts them to be “baptized”, GILF is happy to conduct a brief
baptism for them. Since GILF believes that the mode of baptism
(immersion, sprinkling, or pouring of water) is not important,
sprinkling will be administered since it is the easiest. Water baptism
is only symbolic of a greater spiritual baptism that happens when a
person becomes a believer in Jesus. It is an expression of
“identification” with God through Jesus. GILF does not believe that
baptism is required by God and is a personal choice of each
Since GILF is a very simple operation of presenting some portion of
the first-century writings (along with some discussion), there is not
any singing, offerings, or prayers. GILF recognizes that these are
completely legitimate religious activities conducted in most
churches. But to keep things simple (in accordance with trying to
accommodate those who do not attend any church), such activities
are not included. GILF will, at times pray with, or for, someone if
the occasion arises, but it is not a weekly ritual or practice. GILF
encourages people to have a personal life of prayer in whatever way,
and in whatever frequency that is right for them, in accordance with
Jesus’s instruction to pray privately and avoid public spectacle and
meaningless repetition. It is acknowledged that God hears our
prayers and loves to hear from everyone anytime. GILF also
recognizes that public pray is honoring to God and is a legitimate
practice by churches.
GILF does not require or ask for any financial giving, even though
the New Testament writers encouraged cheerful giving and make it
clear that “the one who labors in ministry is worthy of his wage”. It
is believed that God will always provide what little funding is needed
for GILF (currently about $300/month), and that if He ever does not
provide needed funding then it is time to “close the doors and go
home”. Currently, GILF is completely funded by Carl’s paid musical
engagements at local area bars, wine tasting rooms, and assisted
living facilities. People who want to give to God should do so
according to their own heart and select good organizations and
ministries that they feel are worthy of their God-given resources.
Doctrinal Statement
GILF does not have a “doctrinal Statement”. This does not mean
that there is no truth or that truth does not matter. But GILF does
not attempt to present or maintain a statement that everyone is
required to believe. There is no “We Believe…” document at GILF.
However, it is a fact that everyone believes something, and whatever
it is, it is between them and God. Such belief can be shared openly
without reprisal or condemnation at GILF. The only restriction is
that all sharing of beliefs are done in love and with the goal of
encouraging others. Arguing, debating, or trying to convince others
is discouraged. GILF confidently recommends that people consider
the New Testament writings as a basis for their beliefs.
The closest thing GILF has to a doctrinal statement is a document
called “What To Expect” on the Resources page of the GILF Website.
Since GILF has no formal membership and strives to respect every
person’s beliefs, this document only serves as a way for people to
discover what to expect during the Sunday morning broadcast. It is
more of a “teaching position” than a “doctrinal statement”. There is
also a collection of booklets on the same Resources page that might
be helpful.
Final Thoughts (Life Style)
It is best to think of The God Is Love Fellowship as more of a “gas
station” than a “hotel”. It is a place to come in, get filled up with
encouragement, then go and take on life as it comes your way. GILF
believes life is to be centered around God and what he has uniquely
for you in life – not around an organization or a Sunday meeting, no
matter how good it may be. Life is to be lived, fully and abundantly
– as much so as your circumstances will allow. Go after things in
life! Use your God-given talents to your enjoyment, and to honor the
God who created you and loves you. Make life count by helping and
encouraging others who you encounter in your daily living. Believe
that those who come into your life are there for a reason – to make
you (and them) better people in some special way.
Do all this by loving others unconditionally, just as God has loved all
of us. Tell them the truly “good news” that God loves them and
wants the very best for them, and that all the good things that God
has done for them have been accomplished and secured when He,
himself, came to this world as a humble carpenter – a man just like
all of us – and demonstrated His love for us by giving himself to be
the “savior of the world”. Such grace resulted in taking away the sin
of the world, performed as a free gift by his loving favor toward all
people, completely un-earned by any of us humans who he so dearly