“In All Things” podcast episode 44 features reflections on a week of tragedy in Memphis

 

In episode 44 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things,” EPC Stated Clerk Dean Weaver and Assistant Stated Clerk Michael Davis discuss a week of tragedy and grief in Davis’s home city of Memphis, Tenn., following the murder of Eliza Fletcher and a series of shootings in the days following. The two also reflect on the commitment of EPC churches in the city to continue to proclaim the gospel in their community.

Episodes are available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

The audio recordings also are available on the EPC website at www.epc.org/inallthings.

Hurricane Fiona slams Puerto Rico, EPC churches spared major damage

 

Hurricane Fiona, which made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 18, delivered flooding rains and an island-wide power outage. While two deaths on the island are attributed to the storm, the EPC churches on the island experienced no casualties. Those congregations are Iglesia Presbiteriana Westminster (Westminster Presbyterian Church) in Bayamón, Iglesia Presbiteriana Evangélica en Añasco (Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Añasco), and Iglesia Presbiteriana Evangélica Mayagüez (Mayagüez Evangelical Presbyterian Church).

By September 22, power had been restored to about two-thirds of the U.S. territory.

“Our church in Bayamón is up and running,” Enid Flores, Westminster Ruling Elder said by email on September 22. “Añasco has no power as of yesterday, but they were good with no casualties. Mayagüez has been cleaning the falling trees which affected some houses, streets, and the Retreat Center, but they are in good hands and their building has power and water.”

Flores reported that power is still out in her area of Puerto Rico’s capital city of San Juan, but water service had been restored.

“The devastation is pretty serious at the south and center of the island,” she said. “But in God we trust, and I know He has a purpose.”

Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk, asked “our entire EPC family to pray for our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters as they minister to their communities in the aftermath of Fiona, even as they face their own recovery.”

The EPC Domestic Emergency Relief Fund is accepting donations to assist churches in disaster areas with identified needs. To contribute, go to www.epc.org/emergencyrelief.

August 2022 EPC financial report: PMA/POI support continues above projected budget

 

Through August 31, contributions to Per Member Asking (PMA) and Percentage of Income (POI) received by the Office of the General Assembly in fiscal year 2023 (FY23) total $381,841. The amount is $25,847 (7.3 percent) more than the $355,994 FY23 PMA/POI support projection to fund the EPC’s overall mission, vision, and strategic priorities. August PMA/POI contributions were $152,195. Fiscal year 2023 runs from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023).

FY23 PMA/POI support is $43,907 (13 percent) above the $337,934 contributed over the same period in FY21. In addition, the 12-month rolling average for contributions is $193,864 (1.5 percent) above the rolling average for August 2021.

“I am so very grateful that our churches continue to financially support the EPC at such a high level,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “I also want to publicly thank our staff at the Office of the General Assembly for their good stewardship, as our operating expenses through August are nearly $30,000 under budget.”

Of the $381,841 received, $76,368 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA/POI contributions, $999,303 in designated gifts were received through August 31. This total was $93,377 (10.3 percent) higher than the $905,926 in designated gifts received in the same period in FY22. Designated gifts include support for World Outreach global workers and projects, and contributions to EPC Special Projects such as Emergency Relief, church planting and revitalization initiatives, and the EPC’s holiday offerings.

Of the total, $974,198 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $225,105 was designated for EPC projects. These amounts only reflect gifts received and distributed by the Office of the General Assembly, and do not reflect donations given directly to WO global workers or other projects.

Commissioners to the denomination’s 42nd General Assembly in June 2022 approved a transition from the Per Member Asking (PMA) funding formula to a Percentage of Income (POI) model. Under PMA, churches were asked to contribute $23 per member to the Office of the General Assembly. The POI model is a request for churches to support the national level of the EPC with 1 percent of undesignated receipts. The shift will phase in over the next three years, with full POI implementation expected at the start of FY26 in July 2025.

Pastoral Letter on Racial Lament and Hope interim committee begins work

 

The Interim Committee tasked with writing a Pastoral Letter on Racial Lament and Hope gathered September 20-21 to begin its work. The group met at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando. The formation of the committee was approved by the 42nd General Assembly and appointed by that Assembly’s outgoing Moderator, Brad Strait.

The co-Chairmen of the committee are Gerrit Dawson, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge, La., and Glenn Meyers, Commissioned Pastor of Ardara United Presbyterian Church in Ardara, Pa., and Moderator of the 40th General Assembly.

Glenn Meyers

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve in this way,” Meyers said. “God has been preparing me personally over the past few years to deal with these issues, and my experience as a Black man is part of the whole. Our pastors are on the front lines of this issue, and even some of my elders are asking me if we want to ‘poke the bear.’ It is a difficult time to be a Black man in America, and I have a new understanding of that.”

Gerrit Dawson

Dawson noted that the American church “has languished on this issue, which has allowed non-biblical groups to grab the narrative. How many of our pastors said this was the most divisive thing they talked about in 2020? I addressed it with our congregation, and after one sentence I was called both a white supremacist and a critical race theorist. It’s difficult—we are balancing the difficulty of being Black in America with the feeling of white people that they are looked at as the problem. But I am passionate that we have a better story to tell,” Dawson said.

“I can’t imagine two better individuals to shepherd this process,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “They bring different viewpoints, but their pastoral hearts will get us where need to go.”

In addition to Meyers and Dawson, members of the committee are Sean Boone, church planting pastor of Woke Bridge Community Church in Ferguson, Mo.; Ken Chang, Ruling Elder for Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Englewood, Colo.; Linda McDaniel, Ruling Elder for Hope Church in Cordova, Tenn.; Marcos Ortega, Lead Pastor for the Beacon, N.Y., campus of Goodwill Church; George Robertson, Senior Pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis; Annie Rose, Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes; Eric Shipton, Assistant Pastor and Director of Outreach and Missions for Reynolda Church in Winston-Salem, N.C.; and Carol Williams, Ruling Elder for Covenant Presbyterian Church in Sharon, Pa.

Ex officio members are Weaver; Michael Davis, Assistant Stated Clerk; Brad Strait, Senior Pastor of Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Englewood, Colo., and Chairman of the National Leadership Team; Rosemary Lukens, Ruling Elder for Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Gig Harbor, Wash., and Moderator of the 42nd General Assembly; and Joe Kim, church planting pastor of Hope Philly Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pa., and Moderator-elect of the 43rd General Assembly.

“In All Things” podcast episode 43 features Bob Garment, EPC Chief Parliamentarian

 

Bob Garment, longtime Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean and the EPC’s new Chief Parliamentarian is the guest for episode 43 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things.”

This week, host Dean Weaver and Garment discuss his path to the EPC from his former denomination, including how a newsletter from an EPC church in Louisiana started the process.

Garment also describes how his relationship with the late Howard Shockley, longtime Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic, resulted in his own service for more than 30 years as Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean, and how polity serves the mission of the church.

Episodes are available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

The audio recordings also are available on the EPC website at www.epc.org/inallthings.

George Robertson offer words of hope to Memphis congregation in midst of tragic week

 

George Robertson, Senior Pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn., addressed a week of tragedy in Memphis on September 11 that included the abduction and murder of church member Eliza Fletcher and a September 7 city-wide shooting rampage that left four dead.

His sermon from Lamentations 3, “Four things to do when tragedy strikes,” offered four biblical responses to the shock and grief of the week’s events:

  1. Pour out your feelings to the Lord (Lamentations 3:1-20).
  2. Profess the faith of your fathers and mothers (Lamentations 3:22-27).
  3. Pursue the peace of the King to come (Lamentations 3:28-29).
  4. Pray with Jesus’ prayers.

 

“In All Things” podcast episode 42 features Luis Quiñones, pastor of first Spanish-language mainland U.S. church in Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean

 

Luis Quiñones, pastor of Iglesia Presbiteriana Evangélica Nación Santa (Holy Nation Evangelical Presbyterian Church) in Haines City, Fla., is the guest for episode 42 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things.”

This week, host Dean Weaver and Quiñones discuss his spiritual journey from Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, to serving as pastor in Philadelphia, Pa., to planting Nación Santa in Central Florida, and how prayer in an EPC Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean meeting solidified the decision to transfer the church to the EPC from its previous denomination.

Quiñones also describes the challenges of sharing a facility with another congregation, as well as how Nación Santa lives out Revelation 7:9 as a Spanish-language congregation but with multiple Latin nationalities and cultures in its membership.

Episodes are available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

The audio recordings also are available on the EPC website at www.epc.org/inallthings.

43rd General Assembly planning underway

 

Leaders of the EPC Office of the General Assembly and Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo., met at Cherry Hills on September 6 to begin planning for the denomination’s 43rd General Assembly. The suburban Denver church will host the annual meeting June 20-23, 2023.

The theme of the 43rd Assembly is “Sharpen” based on Ephesians 4:12, “… to equip the saints for building up the body of Christ, ….” For more information, see www.epc.org/ga2023.

Body of Eliza Fletcher, kidnapped member of Second Memphis, identified

 

Eliza Fletcher

Memphis Police officials confirmed on September 6 that a body discovered on September 5 is Eliza Fletcher, a member of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn. Fletcher was abducted while jogging on Friday morning, September 2.

Steve Mulroy, Shelby County Deputy Attorney General, called the kidnapping and assault an “isolated attack by a stranger.”

The 34-year-old mother of two was approached by a man in a dark SUV who forced her into the vehicle after a brief struggle. Memphis Police discovered the body at 5:07 p.m. on September 5 in the rear of a vacant duplex in south Memphis, approximately eight miles from the University of Memphis campus where she was abducted and in the vicinity of where the suspect was arrested.

The suspect was initially charged with the kidnapping. On September 6, prosecutors announced additional charges of murder, premeditated murder, and murder in perpetration of kidnapping. The cause of death has not been announced.

“Now it’s time to remember and celebrate how special she was and to support those who cared so much for her,” the family said in a statement. “We appreciate all the expressions of love and concern we have received. We are grateful beyond measure to local, state, and federal law enforcement for their tireless efforts to find Liza and to bring justice to the person responsible for this horrible crime.”

“I am just devastated by this tragedy,” said Michael Davis, EPC Assistant Stated Clerk. “My family and I have known Eliza and Richie for a long time. It’s hard to imagine what they are going through. We are grieving with them, but we all hold on to the promise of Scripture that she is now safe in the arms of her Savior, Jesus. Please continue to pray for Richie, their two children, and their families.”

In a statement, Second Presbyterian Church said the church “is grieving deeply over the loss of dear church member, Liza Fletcher. Please pray for her family and the Memphis community. We’re seeking shelter in the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort whose Son is the blessed hope of the resurrection and will at the Great Day heal us and our world.”

Update: EPC church member abducted, suspect arrested

 

Eliza Fletcher

Eliza Fletcher, a member of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn., was abducted while jogging on Friday morning, September 2. In a statement issued by Memphis police, the 34-year-old mother of two was approached by a man in a dark SUV who forced her into the vehicle after a brief struggle. Fletcher was running on the University of Memphis campus, about a block from the church.

“I know the family well from my time serving as Assistant Pastor at Second,” said Michael Davis, EPC Assistant Stated Clerk. “Please pray for Eliza’s safety, and for her husband, Richie, and their two children. May God bring peace to all today and lead law enforcement as they work the situation. Pray also for the entire Second Pres family as they wait for answers.”

More information is available at www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/local/2022/09/02/jogger-kidnapped-near-university-memphis/7971738001/

September 4 update:

On Sunday morning, the Memphis Police Department released the affidavit in support of arresting Cleotha Abston, 38, in Fletcher’s disappearance.

According to the affidavit:

  • Fletcher was last seen at approximately 4:20 a.m. on Friday, September 2, jogging near the University of Memphis campus about one block from Second Presbyterian Church.
  • A dark-colored GMC Terrain SUV was seen 24 minutes before the abduction surveillance footage.
  • A surveillance camera captured a man “violently and quickly” approach Fletcher, then forced her into the passenger side of a dark-colored GMC Terrain with damage to the right rear tail light.
  • “A male exited the black GMC Terrain, ran aggressively toward the victim, and then forced the victim Eliza Fletcher into the passenger’s side of the vehicle,” the affidavit read. “During this abduction, there appeared to be a struggle.”
  • Investigators found a pair of slide sandals at the scene. Police said DNA from the footwear matched Abston, based on a sample taken from a previous conviction. Other surveillance video showed Abston wearing similar sandals days earlier.
  • Abston’s cellphone placed him near the abduction site around the time Fletcher disappeared.
  • U.S. Marshals found the GMC Terrain on Saturday at an apartment complex in southeast Memphis.
  • Police ended an interview with Abston still not knowing where Fletcher is.
  • Fletcher is believed to have been seriously injured during her abduction.
  • Abston spent just more than 22 years in state prison after being convicted of kidnapping an attorney. He was released from prison in November 2020.

Additional information is available at www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/local/2022/09/04/1-charged-eliza-fletchers-disappearance-no-sign-teacher/7992733001/

As of September 4, Fletcher is still missing.

This story will be updated as information emerges.

“In All Things” podcast episode 41 features regional ministry, faith-work integration with Case Thorp

 

Case Thorp, Senior Associate Pastor of Evangelism for First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, Fla., (FPCO) is the guest for episode 41 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things.”

This week, host Dean Weaver and Thorp discuss his spiritual roots in evangelistic camp meetings in Georgia, FPCO’s church planting efforts and commitment to urban community outreach, and his ministry in Orlando through missions, evangelism, and leadership of The Collaborative—designed to help people bridge the secular-sacred divide by integrating their faith and their work.

Thorp also previews the World Reformed Fellowship’s sixth General Assembly, to be held October 27-30 at FPCO, and The Collaborative’s podcast, “Nuance,” launching in mid-September.

Episodes are available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

The audio recordings also are available on the EPC website at www.epc.org/inallthings.

EPC mission, vision highlight episode 3 of Stated Clerk quarterly video series ‘The Dean’s List’

 

Episode 3 of EPC Stated Clerk Dean Weaver’s quarterly video series, “The Dean’s List,” recaps the August 2022 meeting of the National Leadership Team and its focus on how the denomination carries out its mission and vision.

“Is what we are doing in alignment with what our mission is?” Weaver said. “Our mission statement is ‘We exist to carry out the Great Commission as Presbyterian, Reformed, Evangelical, and Missional congregations.’ That second part says who we are … the first part is what we do. And what we do flows out of who we are. By doing that kind of alignment we are able to move forward with a singular kind of focus.”

Each episode on the video blog is hosted on the EPC’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/EPChurch80, as well as posted to the denomination’s news and information channel, EPConnection. The videos also will be available on the EPC’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. Audio podcast versions can be accessed on the EPC’s podcast channel at podcast.epc.org, as well as Spotify and iTunes (search for “Evangelical Presbyterian Church”).

“In All Things” podcast episode 40 features EPC church planter Michael Flake

 

Michael Flake, planting pastor of Storyhill Church in Davidson, N.C., is the guest for episode 40 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things.”

This week, host Dean Weaver and Flake discuss his church planting DNA in the EPC. Flake recounts his childhood at then-church-plant Hope Church in Memphis, followed by involvement with during his college years with EPC church planter Mike Moses at Lake Forest Church in Huntersville, N.C., and culminating after seminary by serving as Lake Forest’s first church planting pastor at the Lake Forest Davidson campus—which localized as Storyhill Church in December 2021. He describes how the EPC’s vision of every local church being a parent, partner, or patron of church planting is embedded in Storyhill, including possibly planting churches in other college towns.

Flake also discusses how he bridges the generation gap as a 38-year-old pastor with the large Davidson College student population that attends Storyhill, and their perspective as Christians in a culture that is increasingly antagonistic toward Christianity.

Episodes are available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

The audio recordings also are available on the EPC website at www.epc.org/inallthings.

Michael Davis named EPC Assistant Stated Clerk

 

Michael Davis, the EPC’s Chief Collaborative Officer since August 2021, has been named Assistant Stated Clerk. In his new position he will provide strategic leadership to the denomination’s strategic priorities of church planting and effective biblical leadership.

“The support from the NLT is affirming as I move forward in this new role,” Davis said. “I am excited to facilitate collaborative strategies that will mobilize our strategic priorities. My hope is to better serve and resource our leaders as they carry out God’s mission.”

Prior to joining the staff of the Office of the General Assembly, Davis served as served as Associate Teaching Pastor for Downtown Church in Memphis, Tenn., and Adjunct Professor for Memphis City Seminary. He has served on the EPC’s Church Planting Team, Ministerial Vocation Committee, Next Generation Ministries Council, and the Revelation 7:9 Task Force. He also has served on the Ministerial Committee for the Presbytery of the Central South.

Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk, said the Assistant Stated Clerk role has been revised since the March 2022 departure of Jerry Iamurri.

“When the Lord called Jerry to be the CEO at inFaith earlier this year, we took the opportunity to evaluate how the Assistant Stated Clerk position can best serve the EPC,” Weaver said. “With the passion and giftings that Michael brings to the table, we felt he was the best person to lead our strategic priorities. At the same time, we wanted to offload some of the polity and governance responsibilities that so often consumed Jerry’s time.”

To address those areas, Bob Garment has been named the denomination’s Chief Parliamentarian. Garment served as Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean for more than 31 years, retiring from the role in October 2021.

“Bob has faithfully served the EPC for many, many years—including as a Teaching Elder, presbytery leader, and in an interim polity capacity since the spring,” Weaver said. “He knows our Book of Order backward and forward, and I am grateful that he will continue serve our churches and pastors in this capacity. We will all benefit from his knowledge and expertise.”

‘Hoax bombs’ discovered at West Virginia EPC church, local Federal courthouse

 

Washington Street in front of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Bluefield, W.Va. (right) was cordoned off by law enforcement following a bomb scare on August 22. (photo credit: WVNS-TV 59News, Beckley-Bluefield-Lewisburg.)

A bomb threat in Bluefield, W.Va., on Monday, August 22, involved the EPC’s Westminster Presbyterian Church. Bluefield is at the southern tip of West Virginia, bordering Virginia.

Federal, state, and local law enforcement responded to a call at the Elizabeth Kee Federal Building in downtown Bluefield at approximately 9:30 a.m. Police reported that a man entered the federal building early Monday morning and claimed that he had an explosive device and had left another in the bushes outside the church. Westminster is about one mile south of the courthouse.

Much of the downtown Bluefield area was evacuated. Approximately two hours later, the first device was destroyed in a controlled detonation. The Bluefield Police Department deemed the situation “under control” at 12:00 p.m. Authorities X-rayed the device at the church and determined that another controlled detonation was unnecessary.

“We are all grateful to God that tragedy was avoided today and that these were not actual bombs,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “Westminster’s pastor, Jonathan Rockness, and I communicated today. He is very thankful that the situation ended up having much less impact than initially feared, and for the excellent collaborative work of law enforcement and other first responders. He and the Clerk of Session, Rod Gillespie, were also very thankful for the prayers of so many people around the country as the news of the day unfolded.”

The suspect, a 50-year-old local resident, is in custody and charged with two counts of possession of a hoax bomb in commission of a felony, one count of false reports concerning bombs or explosive devices, and two counts of threats of terroristic acts.

“In All Things” podcast episode 39 features Next Generation Ministries Council, Revelation 7:9 Task Force member Enid Flores

 

Enid Flores, Ruling Elder for Iglesia Presbiteriana Westminster in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, is the guest for episode 39 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things.”

This week, host Dean Weaver and Flores discuss her involvement in the EPC’s Next Generation Ministries Council and Revelation 7:9 Task Force, as well as her recent service as Moderator of the Presbytery of Florida and Caribbean. Flores also describes her vision for developing pathways of service for younger leaders in the denomination, as well as her desire that every EPC church member would be engaged in the work of the larger Church.

Episodes are available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

The audio recordings also are available on the EPC website at www.epc.org/inallthings.

July 2022 EPC financial report: Fiscal year 2023 starts strong, PMA/POI above budget projection

 

Per Member Asking (PMA) and Percentage of Income (POI) contributions received by the Office of the General Assembly in the first month of the EPC’s fiscal year 2023 (FY23) total $229,646. The amount is $32,229 (16.3 percent) above the $197,347 budgeted projection to support the EPC’s overall mission and vision. July contributions also total $35,369 (18.2 percent) more than the $194,277 received in the first month of the previous fiscal year. The EPC’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.

The 12-month rolling average for monthly contributions is $193,864—approximately 1.5 percent higher than the rolling average as of July 31, 2021.

In addition to strong funding support, operating expenses at the Office of the General Assembly in July were $24,968 (8.8 percent) less than the budgeted projection of $280,652.

“I am very grateful to our Lord that our churches have given us a strong start to our fiscal year,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “I know the past few months have been challenging, so this was a special blessing. This is also the first time in six months that our 12-month rolling average has increased, and I pray that our churches are experiencing the same upswing. I also need to thank our staff at the Office of the General Assembly for continuing their good stewardship of the gifts they are entrusted with.”

Of the $229,646 received, $45,929 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, $520,490 in designated gifts were received through July 31. This total was $66,416 (14.6 percent) higher than the $454,075 in designated gifts received in the same period in FY22. Designated gifts include support for World Outreach global workers and projects, and contributions to EPC Special Projects such as Emergency Relief, church planting and revitalization initiatives, and the EPC’s holiday offerings.

Of the total, $474,728 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $28,022 was designated for EPC projects. These amounts only reflect gifts received and distributed by the Office of the General Assembly, and do not reflect donations given directly to WO global workers or other projects.

Commissioners to the denomination’s 42nd General Assembly in June 2022 approved a transition from the Per Member Asking (PMA) funding formula to a Percentage of Income (POI) model. Under PMA, churches were asked to contribute $23 per member to the Office of the General Assembly. The POI model is a request for churches to support the national level of the EPC with 1 percent of undesignated receipts. The shift will phase in over the next three years, with full POI implementation expected at the start of FY26 in July 2025.

“In All Things” podcast episode 38 features EPC Chief Financial Officer Pat Coelho

 

Patrick Coelho, Chief Financial Officer at the EPC Office at the General Assembly, is the guest for episode 38 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things.”

This week, host Dean Weaver and Coelho discuss his upbringing as a first-generation American and his role as CFO of the denomination. Coelho also explains how he serves as a resource for EPC churches, including how the EPC set up online giving for churches at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and his leadership of the annual gathering for EPC Executive Pastors and church administrators. In addition, he describes the EPC’s fiscal year, annual financial audit, and the recently approved change in funding formula from Per Member Asking (PMA) to Percentage of Income (POI).

Episodes are available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

The audio recordings also are available on the EPC website at www.epc.org/inallthings.

First Presbyterian Church, Orlando, to host World Reformed Fellowship General Assembly

 

First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, Fla., is hosting the sixth General Assembly of the World Reformed Fellowship (WRF) October 27-30, 2022. Held once every four years, the theme of this year’s meeting is “The Nature and Mission of the Church.”

“This inspirational gathering of Reformed believers from all over the world will include daily worship, a Friday evening outreach concert, workshops on a multitude of important topics, and plenty of time for relationship-building and fellowship,” said David Swanson, FPCO Senior Pastor. “Come to Orlando and join us for what promises to be a very significant time together. With so much upheaval and pain in our world, we need to be together prayerfully for the gospel.”

The Moderator of the Assembly is Rob Norris, Teaching Pastor for the EPC’s Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Md.

On Friday, October 28, EPC Stated Clerk Dean Weaver will participate in an 11:00 a.m. panel discussion, “The Church Under Pressure from the State.” Case Thorp, Moderator of the EPC’s 39th General Assembly, will lead a 4:00 p.m. seminar on Friday, “Made to Flourish: Faith and Work.”

Swanson will preach the concluding worship service on Sunday, October 30.

Among the variety of other speakers are Michael Aitcheson, Senior Pastor of Christ United Fellowship (PCA) in Orlando; Michael Allen, Professor of Systematic Theology and Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando; Gerald Bray, Research Professor of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala.; Davi Gomes, WRF International Director and former head of the Andrew Jumper Presbyterian Graduate School of Theology of the Presbyterian Church of Brazil; and Andrew McGowan, Director of the Rutherford Centre for Reformed Theology in Dingwall, Scotland.

Leaders from several EPC World Outreach partner ministries also will appear, including Richard Pratt, President of Third Millennium Ministries, and Steve Curtis, International Director of the Timothy Two Project International.

For more information and to register, see www.wrf.global/assembly.

Tom Ricks named National Director of Church Planting

 

Tom Ricks

Tom Ricks, longtime Chairman of the EPC’s Church Planting Team, has been named the EPC’s National Director of Church Planting. This new role at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando will oversee the denomination’s strategic priority of Church Planting.

“I am thrilled to lead our efforts to continue to build a church planting culture in the EPC in a full-time capacity,” Ricks said. “We have made incredible progress in church planting as a denomination over the past 10 years or so. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us over the next 10 and beyond as we look to inspire every EPC church to be a parent, partner, or patron of church planting.”

A Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of Mid-America, Ricks planted Greentree Community Church in Kirkwood, Mo., in 1999. He served as the congregation’s Senior Pastor until retiring from the role in early 2022. Under his leadership, Greentree planted five daughter churches: The Crossing in Columbia, Mo.; Riverside Church in Webster Groves, Mo.; City Church in St. Louis, Mo.; River City Church in St. Charles, Mo.; and Woke Bridge Community Church in Ferguson, Mo.

“Anyone who knows Tom knows his infectious passion for church planting,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “While he has led the EPC’s church planting strategy in a part-time capacity since 2011, I am very excited that he will now be able to devote his full energy to our strategic priority of church planting. Under Tom’s leadership, the EPC will be intentional about evangelism through church planting and developing a pipeline of church planters.”

Prior to planting Greentree, Ricks served in variety of pastoral roles at Central Presbyterian Church in St. Louis from 1990-1998, including Interim Lead Pastor. He also served as Director of Youth Ministries for Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., prior to joining the EPC.

“We have about 50 active church plants in the EPC right now—about eight percent of the total number of EPC churches,” Ricks said. “We would love to see that double in the coming years. Studies have revealed over and over that new churches have some of the highest rates of first-time salvations. Church plants also often make an impact for the gospel in their communities that outpace more established churches. The EPC is well-positioned to capitalize on this, and I am looking forward to hitting the ground running.”

“Over the past several years I have been privileged to serve on the National Church Planting Team under Tom’s leadership,” said Michael Davis, EPC’s Chief Collaborative Officer. “The Lord has blessed him with a heart for church planting in the EPC. It has been a joy to watch.”

A native of St. Louis, Ricks is a graduate of Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Ga., and holds Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis.

He and his wife, Cindy, have been married for 40 years and have three children and seven grandchildren. He is a spirited St. Louis Blues fan, and in his spare time enjoys golf and reading historical biographies.

“In All Things” podcast episode 37 features longtime EPC Sierra Leone ministry partner Samuel Sesay

 

Samuel Sesay, missionary evangelist with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Sierra Leone and President of EduNations is the guest for episode 37 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things.”

This week, host Dean Weaver and Sesay discuss his journey to faith from a Muslim background within the syncretic religious environment of Sierra Leone. Sesay also describes the mission and vision of EduNations, which operates 15 Christian schools with more than 3,500 students in predominantly Muslim villages in the West African country, as well as how the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Sierra Leone—which has witnessed more than 1,000 baptisms in the past eight years—was birthed from the ministry of EduNations.

Episodes are available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

The audio recordings also are available on the EPC website at www.epc.org/inallthings.

June 2022 EPC financial report: FY22 PMA contributions conclude year under budget

 

At the June 30 close of the EPC’s fiscal year, Per Member Asking (PMA) contributions to the EPC totaled $2,291,002. The total is $118,730 (5.2 percent) less than the General Assembly operating budget of $2,409,732. June PMA support was $218,276—$14,704 (6.7 percent) less than the monthly projected budget amount of $232,980.

Fiscal year 2022 (FY22) PMA support was $100,869 (4.2) less than the $2,391,871 contributed over the same period in FY21. The EPC’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. In addition, June PMA support of $213,296 brought the 12-month rolling average for monthly PMA contributions to $190,917. The rolling average is 4.6 percent below the 12-month rolling average as of June 2021.

“Though we did not end the fiscal year as we hoped to, God is still on His throne,” said Stated Clerk Dean Weaver. “The past five or six months have been incredibly challenging for our churches as their members deal with inflation and other financial pressures. I am very thankful for that our churches continue to understand the value of in being in the EPC, and that they support the EPC as sacrificially as they do. In this very challenging year, I would be remiss in not celebrating the five churches with the highest PMA contributions last year: Hope Church in Memphis; Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis; Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in Knoxville; Colonial Presbyterian Church in Kansas City; and Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church in Signal Mountain, Tenn.”

Of the $2,291,002 received, $458,200 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, the Office of the General Assembly received $6,784,909 in designated gifts in FY22. This total was $1,261,256 (22.8 percent) more than the $5,523,652 in designated gifts received in FY20. Designated gifts include support for World Outreach global workers and projects, and contributions to EPC Special Projects such as Emergency Relief, church planting and revitalization initiatives, and the EPC’s holiday offerings.

Of the total, $6,290,467 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $494,442 was designated for EPC projects. These amounts only reflect gifts received and distributed by the Office of the General Assembly, and do not reflect donations given directly to WO global workers or other projects.

Notable donations contributing to the increase from FY21 include more than $518,000 for the International Disaster Relief Fund following Russia’ invasion of Ukraine; and nearly $300,000 donated to the Domestic Emergency Relief Fund in response to Hurricane Ida in September 2021.

“Clearly, when needs arise the people of the EPC step up—regardless of the current financial climate,” Weaver said. “That tangible demonstration of God’s sacrificial love is part of why I love the EPC so much.”

“In All Things” podcast episode 36 approaches intersection of suffering and spiritual growth with Bryn MacPhail

 

Bryn MacPhail, Senior Pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk in Nassau, Bahamas, and author of Purposeful Pain: What Your Troubles Achieve, is the guest for episode 36 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things.”

This week, host Dean Weaver and MacPhail discuss how God uses suffering to make believers more like Jesus. MacPhail explains how repeated pain and suffering—unlike manual labor that develops strength and durability—results in a heavy burden that only being yoked to Christ can relieve. He also provides a list of additional resources on the topic.

Episodes are available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

The audio recordings also are available on the EPC website at www.epc.org/inallthings.

“In All Things” podcast hits 5000-download milestone

 

“In All Things,” the EPC’s weekly podcast hosted by Stated Clerk Dean Weaver, has reached the milestone of 5,000 downloads. As of July 25, 35 episodes have been published.

“I am excited that so many people are listening,” Weaver said. “When we launched ‘In All Things’ last fall, our goal was to further tell the stories of how God is working in and through the EPC, our churches, and our church members. I am especially thankful for all of our guests, who are the reason anybody should listen at all. Of course, our greatest hope is that the Lord Jesus Christ gets all the glory through the stories of the EPC.”

Statistics reveal that in addition to the United States, episodes have been downloaded in Puerto Rico, Latvia, Canada, Germany, the Bahamas, the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Japan, Argentina, the United Kingdom, Sierra Leone, China, France, Greece, Honduras, Italy, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, and South Africa.

Upcoming guests include Bryn MacPhail, Senior Pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk in Nassau, Bahamas, and author of Purposeful Pain: What Your Troubles Achieve; and Samuel Sesay, Missionary Evangelist in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Sierra Leone and President of EduNations, Inc.

“I hope our listeners will continue to share ‘In All Things’ with their friends, and also circulate on their social media,” Weaver said. “We drop a new episode every Friday.”

“In All Things” is available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

Episodes also are available on the EPC website at www.epc.org/inallthings.

“In All Things” podcast episode 35 features EPC church member, former imam Mark Christian

 

Mark Christian, member of the EPC’s Covenant Presbyterian Church in Omaha, Neb., and author of The Apostate: My Search for Truth, is the guest for episode 35 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things.”

This week, host Dean Weaver and Christian discuss his upbringing in Egypt in a family of the Muslim Brotherhood, becoming an imam at age 12, and how a journey of questioning the claims of Mohamed for a deeper understanding of Islam resulted in a failed attempt on his life and ultimately to faith in Christ.

Episodes are available on a variety of podcast platforms, including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Podbean, Spotify, and others. Search “In All Things” on any of these services.

The audio recordings also are available on the EPC website at www.epc.org/inallthings. Christian’s book is available on request from the EPC Office of the General Assembly by emailing info@epc.org. Supplies are limited.