Andrew Brunson languishes in Turkish prison as 16-month mark passes


AndrewBrunsonOctober2017

Andrew Brunson

by Jeff Jeremiah
EPC Stated Clerk

Your continued, fervent prayers for our brother in Christ, EPC Teaching Elder Andrew Brunson, are most appreciated and much needed. February has been very difficult for him.

On February 7 (the day marking his 16th month in captivity), Andrew was questioned by the prosecutor. Although Andrew’s lawyer was present, the interview did not go well. Providentially, Andrew had a consular visit afterward and was able to get the following note to his wife, Norine, which she posted on social media:

“Today was a hard day for Andrew. The prosecutor called him for more questioning/statement. There was a previously scheduled meeting with someone from the consulate right afterwards so he was able to write me a note: ‘I am pretty shattered … I am very discouraged. Please have prayer for me.‘”

Norine added:

“Andrew has been walking by pure faith in the dark, but oh, for the Lord to break through with a sense of His presence.

May the lies—and those telling the lies—be exposed in the name of Jesus.

May we have the Lord’s perspective on all things—on Him, ourselves, eternity, suffering …

Thanks for praying…”

Relations between Turkey and the United States have a direct impact on efforts to free Andrew. A number of factors have led to this relationship deteriorating since the beginning of the year. The most prominent and pressing component is the situation in northern Syria, where an enclave of Syrian Kurds live. There are no less than seven armed forces and militia groups in this area, so there is the possibility of hostilities between U.S. and Turkish troops. Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State, is meeting in Ankara, Turkey, with the Turkish President and Foreign Minister February 15-16 in an effort to defuse this potential crisis with our NATO ally.

Please pray for a productive and God-honoring meeting between these national leaders.

For continued updates on Andrew’s situation, you can follow Norine’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AndrewAndNorine or by internet news searches of “Andrew Brunson.”

To conclude this update, I hope you are aware of the song Andrew wrote in prison, “You Are Worthy.” A recording and sheet music are available on the Free Pastor Andrew page of the EPC website. As we continue to pray and do what we can to work for Andrew’s release, our prayer and plan—God willing—is to have Andrew lead us in singing “You are Worthy” at our General Assembly in June.

Thank you again for your continued prayers for Andrew and Norine.

EPC chaplain Tim Mallard featured in PBS documentary to air February 13


PBS

“We’ll Meet Again,” a documentary series airing on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) will feature the story of EPC chaplain Tim Mallard’s encounter with a Navy chaplain following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon. The segment is part of the episode, “Heroes of 9/11,” scheduled for broadcast and web stream on Tuesday, February 13, at 8:00 p.m. EST (broadcast times may vary by location).

In 2001, Mallard was assigned as a Department of the Army Intern in the Office of the Chief of Chaplains at the Pentagon. Following the attack, a chaplain’s tent was set up 50 yards from the impact site.

“All I did for days was walk around wearing my cross and people would walk up in pain, needing care,” Mallard told the United Methodist News Service in an article posted February 8.

On the morning of September 15, Mallard went to the chaplain’s tent and collapsed in the back, overcome with his own grief.

Capt. Doug Waite, a United Methodist chaplain serving in the U.S. Navy, saw Mallard and knew he needed help. He stopped, then hugged and prayed with young Mallard. The two men never saw each other again until the producers of “We’ll Meet Again” reunited them.

Mallard said Waite’s compassion that day has been critical for the next 16 years of his ministry, as he has gone on to serve multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The thing that made the most difference was when I looked up and saw his face, just the kindness and Christian compassion really touched me and encouraged me,” Mallard said. “I was able to go out and keep doing my ministry because of his ministry to me.”

Mallard now serves as director for recruiting and endorser relations, headquarters, Department of the Army in Washington.

Click here for more information about the PBS documentary series.

(with additional reporting from Kathy Gilbert, UMNS)

January Jeremiah Journal provides hurricane relief update


In the January edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Assistant Stated Clerk Jerry Iamurri provides an update on EPC relief efforts in response to hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria that struck in fall 2017.

The Jeremiah Journal is a monthly video blog hosted on the EPC’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/EPChurch80. Each month’s update also is posted to EPConnection and the EPC’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

For a transcript of this month’s edition in printable pdf format, click here.

EPC short-term missions in 2018: Puerto Rico and beyond


ShawnStewart

Shawn Stewart

by Shawn Stewart
Coordinator of Mobilization,
EPC World Outreach

Puerto Rico…

Our EPC churches in Puerto Rico are right in the middle of neighborhoods that are still suffering from the effects of Hurricane Maria. The need for short-term mission teams in Puerto Rico has never been higher!

Our three EPC churches in Puerto Rico are now working with Praying Pelican Missions to assist EPC churches in sending short-term mission teams to the island. Will your church be one of them?

If you are interested, contact Kevin Gamradt of Praying Pelican Missions and let him know you are an EPC church interested in working with one or more of our EPC churches in Puerto Rico: Iglesia Presbiteriana Westminster-Bayamón in the San Juan area, or Iglesia Presbiteriana Evangélica en Añasco or Iglesia Presbiteriana Evangélica Mayagüez on the western part of the island.

They are seeking teams for spring, summer, and fall. These teams can be made up of youth, adults, or combined (it will be extremely helpful for at least one member of your team to be fluent in Spanish). And just for the record, in my best missiological speculation Praying Pelicans does missions well. They have genuine, year-round partnerships with the local church, and they work through the local church in their plans and efforts.

I will be in Puerto Rico in February to learn more, so watch for a follow-up report on the needs and opportunities.

and beyond…

EPC World Outreach tried to birth a 2018 summer mission trip for high school students to work among the Middle Eastern population (particularly Muslim) of Dearborn and Hamtramck, Michigan. Due to problems finding appropriate housing and a sending agency to help coordinate this, we have postponed our launch until 2019.

If you would be interested in helping us organize this—or a similar project in Fremont, Calif., among that city’s large Afghan population—please contact me at shawn.s@epcwo.org. I am particularly interested in talking to folks who would like to serve on a planning team.

Thank you for your prayerful consideration of these opportunities!

Jim Van Dyke, EPC “Father of the Church” and 3rd GA Moderator, dies at 89


JimVanDykeDr. James Frazier “Jim” Van Dyke, Moderator of the 1983 General Assembly, died January 17 in his longtime home of Rome, Ga. He was 89. He was involved in the founding of the EPC and in 1992 was named one of five “Fathers of the Church.”

A native of Jewel Ridge, Va., Van Dyke was ordained in the Presbyterian Church U.S. (PCUS) in 1954 and served churches in Virginia and Florida before accepting the call to First Presbyterian Church of Rome, Ga., in 1974. He led the church into the EPC in 1982, and retired in 1992 following the longest pastorate in that congregation’s history.

Prior to his service as Moderator he was Stated Clerk of the EPC’s then-Presbytery of the South. He served a member of numerous boards, including King College (now University) in Bristol, Tenn; Thornwell Children’s Home in Clinton, S.C.; Montreat College in Montreat, N.C.; and Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. He also served on the Ministerial Advisory Board of Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss., and many local charity and service organizations in Rome, including the Rotary Club, Red Cross, Salvation Army, and United Way. He also was a member of the 7th District Congressional Advisory Committee under Rep. Larry McDonald, who represented Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 until 1983.

Van Dyke was a graduate of King College in Bristol, Tenn. He earned a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Va., and a Master of Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J. He also was awarded a Doctor of Divinity from King College.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Rosemary; daughter Miriam Van Dyke of Tucker, Ga.; son Joel Van Dyke of Greenville, S.C.; son and daughter-in-law John and Lisa Van Dyke of Norfolk, Va.; and six grandchildren.

A memorial worship service will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Rome, Ga., on January 20.

Click here for a full memorial notice.

Paul Heidebrecht, 2006 Moderator, dies at 67


PaulHeidebrecht

Paul Heidebrecht

Rev. Dr. Paul Heidebrecht, Moderator of the 26th General Assembly and current Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes, died at home in West Chicago, Ill., on January 2. He was 67.

A native of Winnipeg, Canada, he was raised in a Mennonite immigrant family and graduated from the University of Winnipeg. He also earned a Master’s Degree from Wheaton Graduate School and a PhD from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

He served as Associate Pastor for the EPC’s Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Warrenville, Ill., from 1990-2001. He later was Executive Director for Christian Leaders for Africa, and beginning in 2012 served as Pastor of Calgary Community Reformed Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He became the Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes on January 25, 2016.

Heidebrecht authored several books and periodicals, and was a contributing editor to the Africa Study Bible.

He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Priscilla; daughter Kecia Heidebrecht of Chicago; son and daughter-in-law Caleb and Elisabeth Heidebrecht of Brooklyn, N.Y.; son and daughter-in-law Andrew and Katina Heidebrecht of Salt Lake City, Utah; and four grandchildren: Jeremiah, Eliza, Mark, and Christopher Lucas. He also is survived by eight siblings and many nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be held on Saturday, January 6, from 10:00–11:45 a.m. at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, with a memorial service at 12:00 p.m. Memorial gifts may be directed to Immanuel Presbyterian Church.

Click here for a full memorial notice and to sign the guest book.

Seminary programs benefit EPC students preparing for ministry


Partnerships between the EPC and two evangelical seminaries offer significant financial savings for those pursuing formal theological education.

MAPThe EPC’s Mentored Apprenticeship Program (MAP), de­vel­oped in collaboration with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, makes eight specific ministry courses available online at half the normal cost of tuition. These courses—dis­cipleship, ethics, leadership, pastoral care/counseling, ministry as mission, apologetics, preaching, and evangelism—may be taken while at­tending any other seminary and are all transferrable according to Association of Theo­logical Schools (ATS) rules.

The EPC’s new requirements for ordination to the office of Teaching Elder, approved by the 36th General Assembly in response to changing trends in theological education nationwide now require the completion of these eight courses.

RTSIn addition to MAP courses through Gordon-Conwell, the Andrew Jumper Scholarship is available for EPC-affiliated students at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS). The scholarship is a full-tuition award for an incoming, residential Master of Divinity (MDiv) student at any RTS campus, and is named for the EPC “Founding Father” and longtime pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Mo.

Candidates for the Jumper Scholarship should be members in good standing of an EPC church, under care of an EPC presbytery, and must demonstrate future commitment to the EPC. The deadline for application is March 15 for entry into the MDiv program in the following summer or fall.

Brian Gault, RTS Director of Financial Aid, said the scholarship exists because of the generosity of donors who care for the preparation of future pastors in the EPC, adding that additional donations to the scholarship fund directly support students.

“As the fund grows, we can support more students,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be amazing if future EPC ministers never had to pay for tuition to attend RTS?”

Kent Mathews, Pastor of the EPC’s Grace Community Fellowship in Ottawa, Kan., serves as the Director of MAP. He noted that the online MAP courses not only involve the same types of readings, videos, and assignments encountered in a traditional seminary course, they also involve a mentored relationship with a local pastor or other ministry leader, as well as in-the-field ministry project for each course.

“Research demonstrates that the top three things seminary students currently wish of their education are reduced tuition, a relation­ship with a mentor, and the opportunity to gain practical experience in the subjects they are studying” he said.

“The MAP course projects help students gain that practical ministry experience in their local context, and because they are offered at half the normal cost of tuition, it is literally like receiving a $7500 scholarship.”

Mathews added that a student completing at least six of the eight MAP courses will earn a Certificate of Completion from Gordon-Conwell. He emphasized that a student does not need to be a pursuing a master’s degree—or even have a bachelor’s degree—to take the courses, making it an ideal training vehicle for even non-ordained church or parachurch staff who want to improve their skills and knowledge.

Gordon-Conwell operates campuses in Hamilton, Mass; Boston, Mass.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Jacksonville, Fla. (Registration for MAP courses is through the Charlotte campus.) For more information, contact Mathews at kentmathews@sbcglobal.net or 785-418-1635.

Reformed Theological Seminary offers the MDiv degree at its campuses in Jackson, Miss., Orlando, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; Atlanta, Ga.; Washington, D.C.; Dallas, Texas; and Houston, Texas. For more information about the Jumper Scholarship, contact Gault at bgault@rts.edu.