“In All Things” podcast episode 26 explores confluence of student ministry and missions mobilization with Shawn Stewart

 

Episode 26 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things,” features Shawn Stewart, Mobilization Coordinator for EPC World Outreach. This week, host Dean Weaver and Stewart discuss what mobilization is and how he serves the denomination in his role. Stewart also describes some challenges related to finding those whom God has called for service, and how World Outreach is ministering among refugees in the U.S. and around the world. In addition, he reflects on his early days in student ministry, including how he integrated the concept of “holy sweat: the blessing of sweating and serving” into the student groups he worked with.

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.

Knox Presbyterian Church ministers amidst Buffalo shooting tragedy

 

The Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, N.Y.

Five miles north of the Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo, N.Y., Knox Evangelical Presbyterian Church Pastor Justin Olivetti is comforting a community jolted by the May 14 shooting that took 10 lives.

“Everyone here is a bit shaken up,” Olivetti said. “We had some members who had relatives who worked there or some other community connections to the area and the store, but none of the casualties were among them.”

Justin Olivetti

Olivetti added that the congregation prayed in the Sunday morning worship service for the families of those involved. He also attended a multi-church prayer meeting that was held on Sunday afternoon around the block from the store.

EPC Stated Clerk Dean Weaver served as Knox EPC’s Pastor from 1995-2006. He also is a former member of the Board of Directors for Urban Christian Ministries in Buffalo, which is located a few blocks from the site of the shooting.

“I am just devastated,” Weaver said. “The security guard who was killed was a friend of one of my closest friends from our years there.”

Olivetti said he and his congregation are praying for a revival and healing.

“It was definitely designed to inflame racial tensions,” he said. “So I’ve been counseling people that our job as Christ’s ambassadors is to bring His love and grace in where others bring hate.”

“In All Things” podcast episode 25 discusses the past, present, and future of the EPC with NLT member Chris Danusiar

 

`Episode 25 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things,” features Chris Danusiar, Ruling Elder for Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Warrenville, Ill., who rotated off the EPC National Leadership Team (NLT) after six years of service. This week, host Dean Weaver and Danusiar discuss his background in technology and finance, reflect on how the EPC has both maintained its moorings and changed its focus over his 20 years in the EPC, and contemplate how the Church might address current generational trends in the 21st century digital environment.

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.

April 2022 EPC financial report: PMA support behind budget, designated giving up 22 percent over 2021

 

Per Member Asking (PMA) contributions to the Office of the General Assembly in fiscal year 2022 (FY22) through April 30 total $1,946,152. The total is $76,977 (3.8 percent) less than the $2,023,129 FY22 PMA support projection to fund the EPC’s Collaborative Ministries, Connectional Support, and Custodial Operations. April PMA support was $183,842—$23,138 less than the monthly projected budget amount of $206,980.

PMA contributions through 10 months of FY22 (which runs from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022) are $88,819 (4.4 percent) behind the $2,034,971 contributed over the same period in FY21.

“I am very grateful that so many of our churches remain faithful to support the mission and vision of the EPC through their PMA,” said Stated Clerk Dean Weaver. “The downward trend is concerning, but our Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills. That truth gives me peace that even during rampant inflation and economic hardship for so many, that He is able to do more than we could ever ask or think. I continue to pray that we close the growing budget gap over the last two months of the fiscal year.”

Of the $1,946,152 received, $389,230 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, $5,724,144 in designated gifts were received through April 30. This total was $1,032,471 (22.0 percent) more than the $4,691,673 in designated gifts received in the same period in FY21. Much of the increase over the previous fiscal year can be attributed to nearly $400,000 donated to Ukraine relief through the EPC’s International Disaster Relief Fund and $275,000 donated through the Domestic Emergency Relief Fund following Hurricane Ida’s landfall in Louisiana in August 2021.

“While I hope and pray that our PMA support catches up, the generosity of the EPC when disaster strikes has gone way beyond what we could have imagined,” Weaver said. “I have no doubt that God is going to continue to use those sacrificial gifts to His glory in Eastern Europe and elsewhere around the world.”

Of the total, $5,281,570 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $442,573 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.

Designated gifts include support for World Outreach global workers and projects, and contributions to EPC Special Projects such as Emergency Relief, church planting and church health initiatives, and the EPC’s Thanksgiving and Christmas offerings.

World Outreach gatherings at 42nd General Assembly present Master Plan, commission new global workers, provide ministry updates

 

EPC World Outreach is sponsoring a variety of gatherings at the 42nd General Assembly, June 21-24 at Ward Church in Northville. Mich.

On Tuesday, June 21, the revised World Outreach Master Plan will be unveiled as part of this year’s Leadership Institute. The presentation will be led by Rick Dietzman, Chairman of the World Outreach Committee; Gabriel de Guia, Executive Director of EPC World Outreach; and Jason Dunn, Associate Director of World Outreach.

“Our Master Plan outlines our mission, values, and priorities,” de Guia said. “We couldn’t possibly work with every unreached people group in the world that needs to hear the gospel. The Master Plan is our strategy for reaching those who we believe God has specifically called us to.”

Tuesday evening banquet

Ed Stetzer is the speaker for this year’s World Outreach banquet. He serves as Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., where he also serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center.

Stetzer has trained pastors and church planters on six continents., holds two earned master’s degrees and two doctorates, and has written hundreds of articles and 12 books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the editor-in-chief of Outreach Magazine, and is the Founding Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum used by more than 1.7 million individuals each week for Bible story.

Wednesday evening dinner

The Global Worker Presentations Dinner on Wednesday, June 22, from 5:00-6:30 p.m. provides opportunity to hear World Outreach global workers describe how God is using and blessing their work among those people groups of the world that have little to no access to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Global worker commissioning

On Thursday, June 23, World Outreach will commission its newest global workers during the evening worship service at 7:00 p.m. The speaker for the service is Marcelo Robles, Senior Pastor of La Misión Church in Buenos Aires, Argentina. From 5:00-6:30 p.m., General Assembly attendees can enjoy dinner with these new global workers, when they will discuss the ministry God has called them to and share their heart for His Kingdom.

Networking Lunches

World Outreach ministry leaders also will host several Networking Lunches throughout the week.

On Wednesday, June 22, de Guia will again present the revised Master Plan.

On Thursday, June 23, Bruce Anderson and other leaders from the International Theological Education Network (ITEN) will provide an update on ITEN’s ministry around the world. Also on Wednesday, World Outreach leaders will provide an Engage 2025 update on EPC efforts to send teams from each Presbytery to reach those with least access to the gospel.

On Friday, June 24, attendees can find inspiration and resources for reaching their neighbors in the Networking Lunch, “Creative Outreach with Your Community and Beyond.” Shawn Stewart, World Outreach Mobilization Coordinator, will host the discussion.

All GA attendees are invited to participate in these World Outreach gatherings, but registration is required for the Tuesday evening banquet as space is limited. The worship service Thursday will be live-streamed.

For more information about the 42nd General Assembly, including registration, daily schedules, and more, see www.epc.org/ga2022. For details about each of the World Outreach activities, see www.epc.org/ga2022worldoutreachevents.

#epc2022ga

“In All Things” podcast episode 24 discusses evangelism, Africa baptisms with NLT Chairman Glenn Meyers

 

Episode 24 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things,” features Glenn Meyers, Chairman of the EPC National Leadership Team (NLT) and Commissioned Pastor of Ardara United Presbyterian Church in Ardara, Pa. This week, host Dean Weaver and Meyers reflect on the Chairman’s six years serving on the NLT. As part of that discussion, Meyers expects the renewed commitment to evangelism in the EPC to inform how the denomination’s four strategic priorities of church planting, church health, global movement, and effective biblical leadership are carried out in the years to come.

In addition, Meyers relates his recent experience baptizing Muslim-background converts in a river in Sierra Leone, and how his church of 120 members has committed to a capital campaign to help the African village construct a church building.

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.

International Disaster Relief Fund receives $437,000 to date

 

As of Thursday, May 5, $437,481 has been donated to the EPC’s International Disaster Relief Fund. This amount includes two separate gifts of $50,000 each and nine additional donations of $10,000 or more.

“I should never be surprised at the generosity of the EPC when people are in need,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “Our churches and church members have demonstrated God’s love over and over again when the need is the greatest.”

The fund was launched on March 1 in response to the crisis in Ukraine, with contributions to the fund currently being sent to EPC partners in Eastern Europe that are helping with refugee efforts.

Bruce Anderson, Director of the International Theological Education Network of EPC World Outreach, said donations are meeting humanitarian needs, including “tons and tons of food supplies for people who are running out of food. They have no access and are even running out of water.”

He added that some of the money was used to distribute Bibles, Christian literature, trauma kits and medicine, as well as purchasing two vehicles being used for evacuation efforts.

Bruce Anderson

“Our friends have distributed 1 million prayer, Scripture, and gospel booklets that were printed up in the Ukrainian language and distributed inside Ukraine for people who are broken and crying out to God,” he said. “Many of them are not yet followers of the Lord but are turning toward Him.”

Anderson reported that $115,000 in donations recently wired arrived “just in time.”

“Our partner in Poland sent me a text message in which he told me that they had 20 tons of food, medicine, and essential items ready for shipping, but another partner had not sent them the money for the transportation cost. They feel the urgency, right? They know people are dying and are being traumatized, and they are going to send the supplies without having money,” Anderson said.

“So his text says, ‘we prayed this morning about funds NOW—N.O.W. capitals—for this transportation. After the prayer, I opened the account and received the EPC gift for Ukraine. God is great! Praise the Lord for His timing!’”

Anderson noted that donations are not only helping provide material assistance, but also arrived in “God’s time” for those ministry partners “to know, as he said to me, that God is with us and the EPC is with us and we are not alone.”

Click here to donate to the International Disaster Relief Fund.

The purpose of the Fund is to help relieve suffering when needs arise round the world that are outside the scope of the domestic EPC Emergency Relief Fund, which is used for situations in North America.

“In All Things” podcast episode 23 features Joe Kim, Philadelphia church planter and EPC Moderator-elect

 

Episode 23 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things,” features Joe Kim, church planting pastor of Hope Philly Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pa. This week, host Dean Weaver and Kim discuss the church planting strategy of establishing community around Christianity, Kim’s perspective on being Asian-American during the cultural firestorms of 2020-2021, and how he accepted the Nominating Committee’s invitation to serve as Moderator-elect of the 42nd General Assembly.

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.

General Assembly Networking Lunches offer connection, equipping

 

Networking Lunches at the EPC 42nd General Assembly provide opportunity for GA participants to connect with others with similar ministry interests. Networking Lunches are held on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, June 22-24, from 12:00-1:15 p.m. at Ward Church in Northville, Mich. For more information about each lunch, see www.epc.org/ga2022networkinglunches.

Wednesday, June 22

  • Building Retirement Savings and Tax-Exempt Housing Expense Withdrawal (hosted by Bart Francescone, Executive Director of EPC Benefit Resources, Inc.).
  • Christians Need to be Evangelized, Too (hosted by Cameron Shaffer and the Westminster Society).
  • Church Planters and Friends (hosted by Rodger Woodworth and the EPC Church Planting Team).
  • Developing Six Key Relationships to Avoid Burnout (hosted by Jay Fowler and Clark Tanner of PastorServe).
  • Empowering Leaders to Spark Disciple-Making Movements (hosted by Marcos Ortega and The Antioch Room).
  • Guarding Your Soul While Caring for the Soul of Others (hosted by Jan McCormack, Associate Professor and Chair of the Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Programs at Denver Seminary).
  • Offering Grace and Truth: The Transgender Experience (hosted by Scott Kingry, Program Director for Where Grace Abounds).
  • Strengthening Our Leadership Relationships (hosted by Roy Yanke, Executive Director of PIR Ministries).
  • The Evangelistic Challenge to the Pro-Life Church (hosted by Deborah Hollifield, Executive Director of Presbyterians Protecting Life).
  • The Opportunity to Recharge a Church During a Pastoral Transition (hosted by Bob Stauffer and the EPC Church Heath Team).
  • Women’s Connection Lunch (hosted by Rachel White and the Ward Church Women’s Ministry).
  • World Outreach Master Plan (hosted by Gabriel de Guia, Executive Director of EPC World Outreach).

Thursday, June 23

  • Female Teaching Elders and Ordination Candidates (hosted by Carolyn Poteet and the Presbytery of the Alleghenies).
  • How to Flourish in the Grind of Ministry—Caring for Your Soul (hosted by Jay Fowler and Clark Tanner of PastorServe).
  • International Theological Education Network (hosted by Bruce Anderson, Director of the International Theological Education Network of EPC World Outreach).
  • Reaching the Next Generation Next Door to Your Church (hosted by Jen Burkholder, Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Coalition for Christian Outreach).
  • Re-Equip: Your Church as Seminary (hosted by Scott Manor, President of Knox Theological Seminary).
  • Revelation 7:9 (hosted by Rufus Smith and the EPC Revelation 7:9 Task Force).
  • Spiritual Friendship: A Practice of Vocational Resilience and Resistance (hosted by Brandon Addison, Denver City Network Leader for the Made to Flourish Network).
  • The Opportunity to Recharge a Church During a Pastoral Transition (hosted by Bob Stauffer and the EPC Church Heath Team).
  • What Does Your Personal Well-being Look Like? (hosted by Bart Francescone, Executive Director of EPC Benefit Resources, Inc.).
  • World Outreach Engage 2025 (hosted by EPC World Outreach).

Friday, June 24

  • B.O.O.M.: Boomers Out On Mission (hosted by Ken Priddy and the GO Center of the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic).
  • Building Retirement Savings and Tax-Exempt Housing Expense Withdrawal (hosted by Bart Francescone, Executive Director of EPC Benefit Resources, Inc.)
  • Creative Outreach with Your Community and Beyond (hosted by Michelle Munger and the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic).
  • Discipling Through Deconstruction (hosted by Nicole Unice and the Ward Church Women’s Ministry).
  • Executive Pastors and Church Administrators (hosted by Patrick Coelho, CFO for the EPC Office if the General Assembly).
  • Faith and Work Ministry at Your Church (hosted by Brandon Addison, Denver city leader for the Made to Flourish Network, and Case Thorp, Orlando city leader for the Made to Flourish Network).
  • Sharing the Gospel in Times of Tumult: Ancient Wisdom for New Challenges (hosted by Joey Sherrard and the Westminster Society).
  • The Essential Role of the Smaller Church (hosted by Roy Yanke and Ed McCallum of the EPC Smaller Church Network).

For more information about the 42nd General Assembly, including online registration, schedule, and more, see www.epc.org/ga2022.

“In All Things” podcast episode 22 describes EPC Ukraine relief efforts with Bruce Anderson

 

Episode 22 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things,” features Bruce Anderson, Founder and Coordinator of the International Theological Education Network (ITEN) of EPC World Outreach. This week, host Dean Weaver and Anderson discuss how relationships built over more than two decades of ministry in Eastern Europe are providing avenues for donations to the EPC’s International Disaster Relief Fund to be put to immediate use helping people suffering in the war in Ukraine.

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.

Natrona Heights pastor Rick Harbaugh profiled in local media

 

Rick Harbaugh, Pastor of Natrona Heights Presbyterian Church in suburban Pittsburgh, Pa., was featured in Trib Total Media on April 18.

The article, “Faces in the Valley: New pastor of Natrona Heights Presbyterian brings experience, energy to leadership role,” profiles Harbaugh in his first pastorate following 11 years on staff with The Presbyterian Church of Portersville (Pa.). Both churches are in the Presbytery of the Alleghenies.

Trib Total Media serves Allegheny, Westmoreland, Armstrong, and Butler counties in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Click here to read the article.

2022 Leadership Institute features Ed Stetzer, Vincent Bacote, Andrew Brunson, practical training workshops

 

Ed Stetzer, Vincent Bacote, and Andrew Brunson highlight the slate of keynote speakers for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church’s seventh annual Leadership Institute. The Institute is a strategic component of the EPC’s 42nd General Assembly, to be held June 21-24 at Ward Church in Northville, Mich.

Bacote, Professor of Theology and Director of the Center for Applied Christian Ethics at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., will address “Pursuit of Public Fidelity” on Tuesday, June 21. Bacote will be joined by Sandy Willson, Pastor Emeritus of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn.

Bacote and Willson will consider whether Christians have (or need) permission to engage the public square, and what it means to reflect Christlikeness in public practice. In addition, they will discuss the tension between allegiance to a nation and/or a political party and ultimate allegiance to Christ.

The Tuesday afternoon keynote speaker is Ed Stetzer, Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College, where he also serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center. He holds two earned master’s degrees and two doctorates, has trained pastors and church planters on six continents, and has written hundreds of articles and 12 books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the editor-in-chief of Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited in, interviewed by, and writes for news outlets such as USA Today and CNN. He also is the Founding Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum used by more than 1.7 million individuals each week.

Wednesday plenary co-speakers are Andrew Brunson and Brad Strait. Their three-part presentation is titled “Persecution: Building Effective Biblical Leadership through Global Movement Wisdom.” The three sessions are titled “Situational Awareness: Is Persecution Coming for the American Church?” “Effective Shepherding: How Can We Help God’s People Through Tough Times?” and “Panel Discussion: Real Lessons from Real Persecution.”

Brunson was detained in a Turkish prison for two years on charges of terrorism before being convicted and subsequently released on the equivalent of time served in October 2018. Strait, Senior Pastor of Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Englewood, Colo., served as Moderator of the EPC’s 41st General Assembly.

The panel discussion will include Erick Schenkel, Executive Director of Cru’s The JESUS Film Project; Setan Lee, an EPC Teaching Elder who survived the “killing fields” genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot in the 1970s; and Clay Jones, Director of Second Glance Ministries and former Executive Administrator of The Power Team.

Effective Biblical Leadership

In addition to the plenary sessions, five ministry-specific leadership development gatherings will be available on Tuesday, June 21.

  • Chaplains Workshop, featuring Jan McCormack, Chair of the Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Programs at Denver Seminary, and Mark Ingles, EPC Chaplain Endorser. McCormack will lead sessions on “The Role of Spirituality and Religion in Crisis and Disasters,” “Religious Accommodations is the Boss’ Decision,” and “Moral Injury Affects Everyone.”
  • Church Health / Church Planting, led by Stetzer, Jimmy Scroggins, and Todd Thomas. Scroggins serves as Lead Pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla, and the developer of the Three Circles personal evangelism resource. Thomas serves as Campus Pastor of Family Church Sherbrooke in Lake Worth, Fla.
  • Trafficking In Our Backyards: A Survivor-led Conversation on Domestic Sex Trafficking, led by Bonnie Gatchell, Executive Director of Route One Ministry.
  • Understanding Evangelism: Biblical, Theological, and Historical Reflections on Evangelism in the Reformed Tradition. The Westminster Society’s annual workshop features sessions on “Evangelism in Colonial Presbyterianism,” “Evangelism and Mission in the Old and New Testaments,” “Evangelism in the Established Scottish Kirk and the Dissenting Irish Church,” and “The Art of Manfishing.” The workshop is led by EPC Teaching Elders Don Fortson, Zach Hopkins, Scott Redd, Scott Sealy, and Aaron White.
  • World Outreach Master Plan discussion, led by Rick Dietzman, Chairman of the EPC World Outreach Committee; Gabriel de Guia, Executive Director of EPC World Outreach; and Jason Dunn, Associate Director of EPC World Outreach.

Each of these workshops is open to anyone attending the 42nd General Assembly.

See www.epc.org/ga2022leadershipinstitute for more information on the Leadership Institute, including full seminar descriptions, times, and speaker bios.

See www.epc.org/ga2022 for more information about the 42nd General Assembly, including a full schedule, links to online registration, and more.

“In All Things” podcast episode 21 offers Good Friday message from Dean Weaver

 

Episode 21 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things,” features Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. This week, Weaver shares a brief Good Friday message from Philippians 3:7-11.

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.

March 2022 EPC financial report: PMA support lags, designated giving up 20 percent over 2021

 

As of March 31, Per Member Asking (PMA) contributions received by the Office of the General Assembly since the July 1 start of the EPC’s fiscal year total $1,762,310. The amount is $53,839 (3 percent) less than the $1,816,149 budgeted projection to support the EPC’s Collaborative Ministries, Connectional Support, and Custodial Operations. March PMA contributions were $204,964.

Fiscal-year-to-date contributions are $48,115 (2.7 percent) less than the 1,810,425 received from July 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021.

“As we noted last month, we are experiencing the effects of high inflation and economic uncertainty,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “But God is so good—all the time. I am very thankful that our churches continue to demonstrate their support of the EPC through their financial support. Our staff at the Office of the General Assembly also continues to exhibit excellent stewardship, as we are $23,000 under budget in our spending.”

Of the $1,762,310 received, $352,462 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, $5,043,020 in designated gifts were received through March 31. This total is $862,965 (20.6 percent) higher than the $4,180,055 in designated gifts received from July 1 through March 31, 2021. Designated gifts include support for World Outreach global workers and projects, and contributions to EPC Special Projects such as the Domestic Emergency Relief Fund, church planting and church health initiatives, and the EPC’s holiday offerings.

Of the total, $4,617,731 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $425,289 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.

“In the midst of our current economic climate, individuals and churches gave more than $220,000 to our International Disaster Relief Fund since we launched it on March 1,” Weaver said. “Those donations have been sent to our partners in Eastern Europe, who are helping Ukrainian refugees and sharing the gospel with thousands of people. And I know many of our churches have set up relief efforts of their own. As we have seen over and over again through the years, when needs are great the people of the EPC answer the call.”

Ohio EPC church to host nation’s largest disability ministry conference

 

Bay Presbyterian Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, will host Inclusion Fusion Live (IFL2022) on Friday and Saturday, April 29-30. IFL2022, the largest annual disability ministry conference in the country, is hosted by Key Ministry in collaboration with the Tim Tebow Foundation.

Topics of this year’s conference include:

  • Supporting outreach and reintegration into church of persons impacted by disability after the pandemic.
  • Finding, empowering, and resourcing individuals with disabilities and families impacted by disability to launch and lead ministry.
  • Growing mental health ministry.
  • Innovative disability ministry strategies.
  • Impacts of trauma upon disability.

IFL2022 is designed for pastors, leadership teams, care teams, and children’s/student ministry leaders. Cost is $99 per person, and EPC members are eligible for a $22 discount by using the code EPC22 at registration.

“If your church has a disability ministry—or you are praying about starting one—this event should be on your annual calendar,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “My dear friend Beth Golik leads the Special Needs Ministry at Bay Pres, and also is on staff with Key Ministry. This conference will be a blessing to many people.”

For more information about the event, see www.keyministry.org/ifl2022.

“In All Things” podcast episode 20 explains EPC Fraternal Relations with Alan Trafford

 

Episode 20 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things,” features Alan Trafford, Senior Pastor of Covenant Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Lake Jackson, Texas, and Chairman of the EPC Fraternal Relations Committee. This week, host Dean Weaver and Trafford discuss what fraternal relationships are, and how a formalized relationship between the denomination and groups with the same theological basis as the EPC can serve and benefit both. In addition, Trafford describes his ministry path from England to Texas.

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.

Colorado family finds hope after suicide through Cherry Hills’ Alpha ministry

 

On the first Saturday evening in September 2019, Will and Maria Bales slipped into the back of the room at an Alpha meeting at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo. They weren’t sure they really wanted to be there.

Tyler Grissom

“I noticed them sitting off by themselves,” said Tyler Grissom, Evangelism Director at Cherry Hills who leads the church’s Alpha Course—interactive discussions that explore the basics of the Christian faith in an open and informal environment. “So I went and sat with them. They slowly began to open up. Then the tears started flowing.”

Grissom learned that the eldest of the Bales’ two sons, Nick, had taken his life almost a year earlier. He was only 17.

Their grief hit close to home for Grissom, who also is the father of two boys and lost his father in a tragic accident a few years before. He went through weeks of counseling afterward to find healing.

“I was able to share my own story with them, which helped,” Grissom said. “It enabled me to connect with them in a way I could not have if I had not experienced loss myself.” Most of all, though, Grissom just listened.

Friendship evangelism

He learned that the Bales—who did not have a church home—came to the Alpha meeting at the invitation of a friend.

“I will never forget that day,” said Ashley Gonzales, who attends Cherry Hills. “There were eight of us who knew Maria from playing tennis together. When we heard about Nick all of a sudden there was this chain of phone calls and we were all there.”

The women, who came from all different backgrounds and had never even had a spiritual conversation, did the one thing they could think of to do in the moment. They joined hands and started to pray.

“After the funeral, we wanted to continue to support Maria so we decided to meet every Friday for prayer at her house,” Gonzales said. “We didn’t even really know what to do, so we’d read a devotion from Jesus Calling, then pray and see where it would lead. Sometimes we ended up having deep conversations about life and faith.”

Nick and Maria Bales. (photo courtesy of the Bales family)

The women started calling themselves “The Prayer Warriors” and soon began to grow closer to God and to each other. Occasionally Will also would come in and listen.

“That’s when I got the idea to invite Will and Maria to Alpha,” Gonzales said. “Pastor Tyler had just announced that Alpha would be starting up again. Another friend in the prayer group had been through Alpha at her church, and we both thought it was worth mentioning to them.”

Gonzales had her doubts that they would say yes. But she knew that Alpha could provide some tools that the Bales needed to work through the grief, so she was willing to take a chance.

“I remember walking in that first night of Alpha, so anxious about whether or not they would show up. I realized this was my one opportunity, so I sent a text to Maria during worship saying, ‘I hope you can come.’”

Maria said their initial experience with the Alpha group was both “a good and bad experience,” but they returned the next week. At that meeting, they asked Grissom if he would speak at the remembrance ceremony for Nick in the Bales’ back yard on Sunday, September 29, which was the anniversary of his death.

A divine appointment

At Alpha two weeks later—on the night before the ceremony—Maria raised her hand during an invitation to say “yes” to Jesus. Her hope and peace were now in Christ, strengthened by learning from a relative that Nick had opened up his heart to Jesus before he died.

“I know that I’m going to see Nick again,” Maria said. “As much as I want to have him here, I am thankful to God for taking care of him. There’s no better place to be than in heaven.”

On the day of the ceremony, Grissom pulled into the neighborhood and saw cars stretched down the block, lining both sides of the street.

“There were a lot of people,” Gonzales said. “Young kids and families all there to support the Bales. I was praying hard for Pastor Tyler. I knew he wanted to acknowledge and celebrate Nick’s life, but also use the opportunity to share the gospel.”

Grissom delivered a powerful message, and when he asked if anyone would like to receive Christ, hands shot up all across the yard.

A few weeks earlier, Maria and some friends were in the mountains west of Denver when they were suddenly surrounded by a swarm of white butterflies. Maria said she knew at the time that it was a sign from Nick, so she ordered 1,000 butterflies in individual boxes for guests to release at the end of the remembrance ceremony. As dozens of people made the decision to begin a new life in Christ, the sky above the Bales’ home filled with butterflies rising toward the heavens.

“I believe God creates miracles every day,” Maria said. “Nick had a mission here—to be a light among all of his friends. Losing him was hard, but he has brought so much hope to other kids. I know that was Nick’s purpose.”

Nick Bales

When he was 9, Nick lost a friend to suicide. Three more friends took their lives later. His own battle with anxiety and depression started in the 6th grade.

When he was a 15-year-old sophomore, he launched an apparel company called Brought to Reality (BTR). He designed the T-shirts and hoodies to send a positive message, and he donated 10 percent of his profits to mental health efforts. He shared the story of his friend’s death on his website, and wrote these words to his peers: “My message is that life is precious, and I want to live every day to the fullest by being present, being myself, and following my dreams.”

But he started to isolate himself again early in his junior year and grew increasingly agitated. He even pushed away his brother, Tyler, which broke Maria’s heart because the two had always been close. One day after a heated argument, she exclaimed, “I don’t know who you are anymore!”

The pain in Nick’s eyes told her he did not either.

“I will never forget that moment,” Maria said. “The look he gave me was one of desperation.”

She threw herself into the fight to pull her son through his illness.

“It’s like a cancer,” she said. “Their brain is lying to them. It’s real, physical, brain pain. I can’t tell you how awful it is to watch your child suffer.”

As Nick started his senior year the next fall, he seemed to have turned the corner. He was doing well academically, playing on the hockey and lacrosse teams, and planning a Spring Break trip with his friends.

Tragedy

But on Friday night, September 28, he went to a football game, then texted his mom to let her know that he would be getting home late. Maria, who normally would have texted back a quick “Thanks for letting me know. I love you!” was particularly tired that night and fell asleep without responding. A friend brought him home a few minutes later.

The next morning the Bales found Nick’s lifeless body.

“Nick was a really good kid,” Maria said. “Mindful and sweet, athletic, energetic, so full of life. He was kind to everyone, and they all loved him. He was as comfortable with adults as he was with his peers and would talk to everyone in the room. He always liked to make sure people were included.”

Grissom emphasized that the Bales’ grief journey did not end at the remembrance ceremony, and more than two years later continue to walk a difficult road. Yet he noted that the tragedy of suicide is not beyond God’s redemptive work.

“What happened at the remembrance ceremony was all about the things that Alpha is built around—prayer and dependency on the Holy Spirit,” Grissom said. “God is unfolding His plan and allowing us to be a part of it. Only He could write a story like this.”

He hopes that Alpha will continue to be a place where families like the Bales can ask honest questions and find hope in Christ.

“Jesus was asked 183 questions in the New Testament,” Grissom said, “And He only answered three directly. Even His way of ministering to people—especially those outside—was to ask questions and let people wrestle with the answer until they came to a place of receiving the truth.”

The Bales family now runs BTR as a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called the Nick Bales BTR Foundation. The Foundation continues to produce “Street Wear for a Cause” and supports teens suffering from mental health issues and aiding in the prevention of teen suicide.

“All the proceeds go to helping pay for therapies for those less fortunate,” Maria said. “We don’t ever want young adults to make a permanent decision because they could not afford therapy.”

by Kiki Schleiff Cherry
EPConnection correspondent

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) is a free, 24/7 service that can provide suicidal persons and those around them with support, information, and local resources.

42nd General Assembly registration open

 

Online registration for the 42nd General Assembly is now open. The Assembly meets June 21-24 at Ward Church in Northville, Mich. The theme of this year’s annual meeting is “Recharge,” based on Acts 1:8. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The annual Leadership Institute will feature five plenary speakers and five ministry-specific leadership development gatherings, each of which is open to all General Assembly attendees:

  • Chaplains Workshop, featuring Jan McCormack, Chair of the Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Programs at Denver Seminary, and Mark Ingles, EPC Chaplain Endorser. McCormack will lead sessions on “The Role of Spirituality and Religion in Crisis and Disasters,” “Religious Accommodation is the Boss’ Decision,” and “Moral Injury Affects Everyone.”
  • Church Health and Church Planting, led by Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College; Jimmy Scroggins, Lead Pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Todd Thomas, Campus Pastor of Family Church Sherbrooke in Lake Worth, Fla.
  • Trafficking In Our Backyards, led by Bonnie Gatchell, Executive Director of Route One Ministries in Boston, Mass.
  • Understanding Evangelism: Biblical, Theological, and Historical Reflections on Evangelism in the Reformed Tradition, hosted by the Westminster Society. Topics include Evangelism in Colonial Presbyterianism, Evangelism and Mission in the Old and New Testaments, Evangelism in the Established Scottish Kirk and the Dissenting Irish Church, and The Art of Manfishing.
  • World Outreach Revised Master Plan, led by Gabriel de Guia, Executive Director of EPC World Outreach.

The Tuesday morning plenary session, “Pursuit of Public Fidelity,” will be led by Vincent Bacote and Sandy Willson. Their discussion will consider not only whether Christians have (or need) permission to engage the public square, but also what it means to reflect Christlikeness in public practice, as well as what to make of the typically slow rate of social change and the tension between relative allegiance to a nation and/or a political party and ultimate allegiance to Christ.

Bacote serves as Professor of Theology and Director of the Center for Applied Christian Ethics at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill. Willson is Pastor Emeritus of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn.

The Tuesday afternoon keynote speaker is Ed Stetzer, Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College, where he also serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center.

The Wednesday afternoon plenary speakers are Andrew Brunson and Brad Strait. Their presentation, “Persecution: Building Effective Biblical Leadership through Global Movement Wisdom,” includes a panel discussion on “Real Lessons from Real Persecution” with Erick Schenkel, Setan Lee, and Clay Jones.

Brunson and his wife, Norine, were involved in starting churches, training, aid to refugees, and a house of prayer in Turkey for 23 years until being falsely accused of terrorism in October 2016. He remained imprisoned for two years. Their current ministry—WaveStarters—was birthed as Andrew’s prayer in 2007 to “draw me so close to your heart that you will be able to trust me with the authority to start waves.” WaveStarters is focused on the Muslim world, the persecuted church, and preparing the next generation to stand in difficult times.

Brad Strait, Moderator of the EPC’s 41st General Assembly, serves as Senior Pastor of Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Englewood, Colo.

Schenkel serves with Cru as Executive Director of The JESUS Film Project. Lee is an EPC Teaching Elder who survived the “killing fields” genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot in the 1970s. Jones leads Second Glance Ministries, which focuses on sexual abuse, sexual trafficking, and pornography issues.

The first of five business sessions convenes on Wednesday afternoon, June 22, at 4:00 p.m. (Eastern). Business sessions continue on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.; and Friday at 11:00 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.

Worship service speakers include:

  • Julie Hawkins, Nest Steps Pastor for Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Gig Harbor, Wash.
  • Scott McKee, Senior Pastor of Ward Church.
  • Terence Gray, Assistant Pastor at Ward Church.
  • Marcelo Robles, Senior Pastor of La Misión Church in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Brad Strait, Moderator of the 41st General Assembly.

Other gatherings include a wide variety of Networking Lunches each day, as well as World Outreach, women’s ministry, and ministry wives.

For complete information, see www.epc.org/ga2022.

“In All Things” podcast episode 19 welcomes Roy Yanke, Executive Director of PIR Ministries for discussion of pastoral transitions, health, coaching

 

Episode 19 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things,” features Roy Yanke, EPC Ruling Elder and Executive Director of PIR Ministries, a commended resource of the EPC’s Ministerial Vocation Committee. This week, host Dean Weaver and Yanke discuss how he got involved with PIR, and the services the ministry provides to pastors, Presbyteries, and local churches.

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.

National Church Health Team developing personal evangelism resource based on Three Circles method

 

When it comes to healthy church growth, evangelism should be a primary means of adding people to the church. The church is strengthened spiritually and numerically when the gospel is proclaimed, and the Holy Spirit enables people to respond by grace through faith.

Bob Stauffer

Bob Stauffer, EPC National Director of Church Health, said that the unfortunate reality is that churches often experience a disconnect between understanding evangelism’s role in church growth and becoming a church that actively evangelizes. Church leadership must both value evangelism and teach members how to share their faith, Stauffer often says. However, a 2019 Lifeway Research survey found that 55 percent of people who attended church at least once per month reported that they had not shared with someone how to become a Christian in the past six months.

“Over my many—many—years in ministry, one thing I can almost always count on is that an evangelistic church is much more likely to be a healthy church,” Stauffer noted. “One of the first things we wanted to do as a Church Health Team is offer a resource that can help our congregations in the area of knowing how to share their faith.”

Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations (and companion Life on Mission smartphone app) and its Three Circles evangelism method is the resource Stauffer and his team are starting with for a clear, practical, and simple approach to personal evangelism.

Developed by Jimmy Scroggins, Lead Pastor at Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., Three Circles is a simple way to explain the gospel through the lens of God’s design: sin’s entrance into the world and the brokenness it creates, and how the gospel of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection gives people the means to recover and pursue God’s design for their lives and the created order.

If a narrative of God’s design, our brokenness, and the redeeming power of the gospel sound familiar, it’s because the language echoes ideas Reformed thinkers have articulated for years—often using the terms creation-fall-redemption-consummation.

But why base a resource on a specific evangelism method? Why not endorse several—or let churches choose their own method?

The Church Health Team believes that if churches have to select their own evangelism method, the chances are good that they will pick nothing.

Glenn Meyers

“It can be a real challenge to encourage people to share their faith in ways that are practical and doable,” said Glenn Meyers, Pastor of Ardara United Presbyterian Church in Ardara, Pa. Meyers is a member of the Church Health Team and also is current Chairman of the EPC National Leadership Team. “Because Three Circles is simple, graphic, and adaptable, this tool is just what we needed.”

Over the past few months, two Family Church pastors have conducted Three Circles training with various groups in the EPC. These include nearly 150 attendees at the fall meeting of the Presbytery of Alleghenies, and the January meeting of the National Leadership Team at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando.

Meyers attended both meetings and has since shared the Three Circles model with the congregation’s junior and senior high school students. He also plans to train church’s elders and deacons in how to use it.

“By training the entire church in the same evangelism model, we will have a shared language of evangelism—a vocabulary that translates across groups in the church,” Meyers said. “I hope this shared language will strengthen a culture of evangelism in the church.”

Stauffer noted that what’s true in one church can be true across the denomination.

“If churches embrace the Three Circles method and use it to actively evangelize, I believe an EPC denominational culture of evangelism will grow and flourish,” he said. “The best place to start is the Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations book and Life On Mission app.”

Scroggins will lead an evangelism training session on Tuesday morning at the 42nd General Assembly, June 21-24 at Ward Church in suburban Detroit. Registration opens on April 1.

“I believe God is preparing us to be actively involved in the ongoing outreach of His gospel love, all to the growth and the glory of His Kingdom,” Meyers said. “The Three Circles are going to be a handy tool.”

by Megan Fowler
EPConnection correspondent

“In All Things” podcast episode 18 explores EPC ordination process, pastor health with MVC Chairman Fred Lian

 

Episode 18 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things,” features Fred Lian, Chairman of the EPC’s Ministerial Vocation Committee (MVC). This week, host Dean Weaver and Lian discuss how the MVC serves the denomination, its churches, pastors, and ordination candidates through the ordination process, as well as several MVC pastor health resources, including PastorServe and PIR Ministries. In addition, Lian reflects on his nearly 40 years of ministry in the EPC.

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.

Colonial Presbyterian Church member Sandra Revelle weaves stories of reconciliation and hope

 

Colonial Presbyterian Church (Kansas City) member Sandra Revelle shared the stories behind her tapestry art on the four Sundays in February.

Simple stitches, ragged edges, and contrasting fabrics. Wrapped from start to finish in prayer.

That’s how Sandra Revelle—artist, storyteller, and member of Colonial Presbyterian Church in Kansas City—brings the buried narratives of former slaves to life using machine- and hand-sewn panels vividly illustrated with scenes from the past.

“I see my characters as the lesser-known stars in the vast heavens of Black history,” said Revelle, who researches Depression-era archived interviews that Federal Writers’ Project journalists conducted with former slaves and turns them into historical fiction.

Revelle then takes those stories and stitches together fabrics, textures, and patterns to illustrate scenes from the lives of her characters.

Sandra Revelle with her 29″ x 25″ piece, “If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Could Ride.” When a much younger Sandra wished for a change requiring patience and insight she did not yet possess, this quote would roll from her mother’s tongue.

“These were ordinary people, just like you and me—people who endured unimaginable hardships but kept hoping and persevering in spite of the losses,” Revelle reflected. “That’s why it’s so important to tell their stories.”

During February, Revelle shared her art exhibit with Colonial’s two campuses as part of a “Kingdom Oneness” initiative that the congregation held in conjunction with Black History Month.

“I always try to insert a character in my stories who encourages from a Christian standpoint,” Revelle said. For example, in one of her stories a young man helps ferry escaping slaves across a river—risking his life to help others find freedom. “Although that young man is not particularly spiritual, the person who encourages him to take that step of faith is a believer.”

Jim West, Colonial’s Lead Pastor, believes it’s important for the church to hear these stories.

“God’s given Sandra a gift of being able to share a difficult history in a way that doesn’t shame anyone, but rather elevates our awe and respect and reverence for what people had to endure,” he said. “How they kept their faith in God amidst great suffering and injustice is a beautiful part of Black history that is not often told.”

Jim West

West acknowledges both the history of (and the current) racial tension in the United States. He says the church cannot ignore it.

“The redemption work of God has to start in the church,” he said. “I feel it happening slowly in our church and in other churches—particularly within the EPC.”

Through the Kingdom Oneness initiative, Colonial is intentionally seeking to hear and understand each other’s stories, champion diversity, and promote unity. Church leaders are building on efforts of a group called “the Bootstraps” that started organically within the congregation.

Rosie Bettis, a Colonial Ruling Elder and founding member of the Bootstraps group, said discussing issues of equality and racial differences “goes a long way” in promoting unity.

“We have Kingdom Oneness conversations every Wednesday, and that will continue past Black History Month,” she said. “We use a curriculum based on some of Tony Evans’ race relations material, which talks about how it’s not a ‘Black thing’ or a ‘white thing’—it’s a ‘Kingdom thing.’” The group is led each week by Greg Ealey, Campus Pastor for Colonial’s South Kansas City campus.

Bettis said Colonial also promoted specific events to acknowledge Black History Month. When a local theater put on a dance production telling the history and heroics of the Underground Railroad, the church purchased tickets and encouraged church members to attend. Bettis also went on a trip with five other women from the Bootstraps group to visit the Greenwood Rising and Cultural Museum in Tulsa, which tells the story of Black Wall Street and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. When they returned, they shared the story with the whole congregation.

Bettis says the trip was “uplifting,” “convicting,” “eye-opening,” but that the greatest benefit was the relationships forged among the women who participated. The experience had such an impact on the group that they have scheduled an overnight bus trip to the museum in April, and anyone in the church can attend.

A bumpy road

But the road to Kingdom Oneness at Colonial has not always been easy.

When Bootstraps originally launched, “Be the Bridge” groups were formed to bring people together to talk about race in light of the gospel. The meetings were so well-received that Colonial soon invited local African American congregations to join the conversation. Relationships were formed, groups grew rapidly, and the congregation seemed eager to truly “be the bridge” to racial reconciliation.

Then came the pandemic, followed by police incidents around the country that provoked racial tension. Suddenly the divide seemed wider than ever.

The rift impacted the church.

“It reached a point where you could not mention reconciliation without someone getting triggered,” West recalled. “It was so painful to my heart as a pastor.”

The 24″ x 18″ work “Sidney ‘Charity’ Still” portrays a runaway slave-mother who left two young sons in bondage. She persisted in prayer for years over her boys. Forty years later, one son came through the doors of her youngest child, William Still, a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Peter was reunited with his parents. A mother’s prayers were answered.

When Revelle joined the church and was willing to share her gifts with her new church family, it was like a breath of fresh air.

“When she starts out by saying ‘I joined Colonial in November of 2021’ it takes all of the political angst away from the conversation,” West noted. “She’s part of our family. She chose us. That’s our sister telling us about her gift and her passion and her heart for this, and it endears us to her immediately. So we hear it from a whole new perspective—from her perspective.”

Revelle says that she is still amazed at how her work has been received.

“When I first started writing and when God first impressed on me to make the themes for the panels, I started thinking, ‘Lord, who’s going to want to see this?’ But I just kept creating them. I wasn’t sure what people would think. It’s been completely from the Lord. I just stepped out in obedience.”

Her exhibit—originally planned for two Sundays in February—ended up showing on all four weekends. One participant left this comment: “Amazing doesn’t describe the gifts and talents that this Woman of God has. Thank you so much for blessing and sharing your beautiful journey with us!”

“So many people at both campuses loved her art and hearing her story and getting to know her as a person,” West said. “She’s a storyteller who captures the pain of the slaves and Black history, but she’s so full of grace. Her heart just comes out.”

A place to call home

Revelle said she knew from the first time she visited Colonial that she had found her home. Bettis had the same experience years earlier.

“I joined the church because I heard the word of God,” Bettis said. “Those beliefs are the same throughout. The word of God is final. The word of God is the benchmark.”

Both women hope the conversations around race will soon be embraced more readily.

“It’s difficult for some people to talk about,” Bettis acknowledged. “Like if we avoid the conversation, then the tension doesn’t exist. In Bootstraps we use the term Imago Dei—we are all made in the image of God. I don’t want to be defined by the color of my skin. I want my friends to say, ‘All I see is Rosie.’”

Revelle said that having her artwork on display has helped spark conversation.

“My first desire is Kingdom,” she said. “If we can all just learn to walk as Jesus walked and keep our hearts pure before the Lord, He’ll show us where we are diverging from the truth and bring us back into unity.”

For more about Revelle’s art, see www.remnantsarise.com.

by Kiki Schleiff Cherry
EPConnection correspondent

“In All Things” podcast episode 17 features David Swanson, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando

 

Episode 17 of the EPC’s podcast, “In All Things,” features David Swanson, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, Fla. This week, host Dean Weaver and Swanson discuss three of Swanson’s books: Everlasting Life, Learning to Be You, and The Economy of God. Swanson also shares how generosity was manifested in FPCO’s recent “Cup of Rice” campaign, his efforts to address human trafficking in Central Florida, and how FPCO is involved in church planting.

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.

February 2022 EPC financial report: PMA support dips, behind 2021 pace

 

Contributions to Per Member Asking (PMA) in fiscal year 2022 (FY22) received by the Office of the General Assembly through February 28 total $1,557,346. The total is $42,638 (2.6 percent) less than the $1,599,346 FY22 PMA support projection to fund the EPC’s Collaborative Ministries, Connectional Support, and Custodial Operations. February PMA support was $135,767—$36,293 less than the monthly projected budget amount of $172,060.

PMA contributions through two-thirds of FY22 (which runs from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022) are $28,000 (0.4 percent) behind the $1,585,346 contributed over the same period in FY21.

“The rate of inflation in our country is hurting everyone—including our churches,” said Stated Clerk Dean Weaver. “I am so thankful for the continued support in this current financial climate. I also am grateful that our staff has been very careful with expenses—which to date are about $55,000 under budget. Yet I pray we can close the budget gap in the final four months of the fiscal year.”

Of the $1,557,346 received, $311,469 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, $4,286,220 in designated gifts were received through February 28. This total was $598,663 (16.2 percent) more than the $3,687,557 in designated gifts received in the same period in FY21. Much of the increase over the previous fiscal year can be attributed to more than $286,000 donated to the EPC’s Domestic Emergency Relief Fund in response to Hurricane Ida’s destruction across Louisiana in September 2021, and more than $264,000 in additional donations to World Outreach workers and initiatives.

Of the total, $3,878,868 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $407,352 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.

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 Thanksgiving and Christmas offerings.

Jerry Iamurri to assume missions agency leadership post

 

Jerry Iamurri, EPC Assistant Stated Clerk, has been named the Chief Executive Officer of InFaith.org, effective April 4. InFaith is an evangelical, non-denominational ministry based in suburban Philadelphia. Iamurri said the organization serves some of the most “overlooked and underserved” people in the United States through nearly 200 U.S.-based missionaries.

“These missionaries serve in urban ministry, rural ministry, church planting, discipleship, children and youth ministries, chaplaincy, prison ministry, camps, and much more,” Iamurri said.

“I am deeply disappointed personally to not have opportunity to continue to serve with Jerry,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “However, I am thrilled for the opportunity he and his wife, Sandi, are stepping in to. I know God will use Jerry in mighty ways leading InFaith, just as He has used him in the EPC.”

Iamurri has served Assistant Stated Clerk since 2017. He previously served as Pastor of Bethany Presbyterian Church in Havertown, Pa. Under his leadership, the congregation transitioned to the EPC in 2012. Iamurri previously served Presbyterian congregations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Texas. In addition to his ministry experience, Iamurri was an Assistant District Attorney for the Philadelphia (Pa.) District Attorney’s Office from 1999 to 2003.

He also is a former chairman of the EPC Ministerial Vocation Committee.

“I have been incredibly blessed to serve the EPC over the past five years,” Iamurri said. “It’s been a privilege, pleasure, and the greatest blessing of my life. With this new call from the Lord, I am looking forward to helping InFaith reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, as we do in the EPC.”