EPC pastor to pray at Inaugural Prayer Service


David Swanson

David Swanson, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Fla., will be among 26 faith leaders from across the country taking part in the National Prayer Service on January 21 at 10 a.m. at the Washington National Cathedral.

Swanson said he is praying “that God will give me the humility and godliness necessary to communicate the hope, unity, and wholeness that comes through God alone, when he prays with those gathered at tomorrow’s National Prayer Service.”

In an interview with Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the Presbyterian Lay Committee and host of The Reconnect radio show, that the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) told him that the President-elect and Vice President-elect wanted a Presbyterian among the wide representation of faith groups that will lead a service focused on unity and wholeness.

Swanson said someone on the PIC knew a member of First Presbyterian Church in Orlando. When he was contacted about participating, he agreed. “When a person asks a Christian to pray, we pray,” he said, referencing 1 Timothy 2:1-2:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

The full interview between Swanson and LaBerge will air at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, January 20, on Reconnect with Carmen LaBerge.

Leigh Swanson named VP for Reformed Theological Seminary


Leigh Swanson

Leigh Swanson, who serves on the EPC’s National Leadership Team, has been named Vice President of Community Relations for Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in Orlando. She will be responsible for connecting with alumni, donors, and churches to help maximize the reach and support of the campus. Swanson steps into the role having been Associate Dean of Students at RTS since 2012.

Swanson is a Ruling Elder and member of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando where her husband, David, is the Pastor.

For more information, see www.rts.edu/orlando/newsevents/newsdetails.aspx?id=2459

January Jeremiah Journal discusses 2016 EPC budget allocation

In the January edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah discusses how the 2016 EPC budget was allocated between the four Strategic Initiatives (Global Movement, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, and Effective Biblical Leadership) and a fifth category, “protecting the EPC.”

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 EPNews and the EPC’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

David Swanson reminds us to live in the story of “us,” not “me”


Jeff Jeremiah

by Jeff Jeremiah
EPC Stated Clerk

One of the memorable moments at the 2016 General Assembly was First Presbyterian Church of Orlando (Fla.) lead pastor David Swanson’s report on the June 11 murder of Christina Grimmie and the June 12 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. The congregation, members, and staff of the church were engaging in gospel-driven compassion and grace to the shocked and grieving in the community.

Swanson wrote a column reviewing those events and offering hope for the future in a wonderful way, which appeared in the Orlando Sentinel on December 30. I encourage you to read it and be inspired as you faithfully pursue gospel ministry in 2017.

Merry Christmas from Jeff Jeremiah and the EPC staff

In the December edition of The Jeremiah Journal, Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah brings a Merry Christmas message on behalf of Moderator Scott Griffin, the National Leadership Team, and the entire staff of the Office of the General Assembly.

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 EPNews and the EPC’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Reformed Theological Seminary offers EPC polity course

rtsReformed Theological Seminary
(RTS) in Orlando is offering a course in EPC polity during its upcoming Winter 2017 term. The class will meet January 9-12 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Subjects to be studied include polity, discipline, EPC history, and current developments within the denomination. The course will focus on the biblical and theological foundations for Presbyterian polity and how they are applied through the confession, constitution, and policies of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church within the historical contexts of the Reformed tradition, American Presbyterianism, and the EPC’s own history and distinctives.

Instructors are Don Fortson, Mike Glodo, and Jeff Jeremiah. Fortson is Professor of Church History at RTS’s Charlotte, N.C., campus and author of Liberty in Non-Essentials: The Story of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Glodo is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at the RTS Orlando campus and served as EPC Stated Clerk from 2001-2006. Jeremiah has served as Stated Clerk of the EPC since 2006.

The course is open to EPC and non-EPC students from other seminaries, as well as RTS students of all campuses and will satisfy the Master of Divinity course requirement, regardless of the student’s denominational affiliation. Students can take the course for credit or as an audit.

For information on how to register, contact Winston Miller, Director of Admissions for the RTS Orlando campus, at wmiller@rts.edu.

Imprisoned EPC pastor formally charged in Turkey

Andrew Brunson

Andrew Brunson

Andrew Brunson has been charged in Turkey with membership in an armed terrorist organization and sent to prison by the officiating judge. Brunson, an EPC teaching elder and member of the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic, had been held without charge in a detention center in Turkey since October 7. He was interrogated without notice on December 9 and imprisoned.

The Brunson family has retained the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is active in defending persecuted Christians around the globe, as their legal counsel and leaders of the public campaign for Andrew’s release.

In a statement, ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said Brunson is “facing grave danger in a Turkish prison where he is being held simply because of his Christian beliefs,” adding that if convicted, he could face many years in prison based on extremely serious—but false—charges.

At the time of Brunson’s detention in October, his activities were considered by the Turkish government to be “against national security.” However, no other reason was given for Andrew’s incarceration and no formal charges had been filed against him.

As of December 8, he had been held without charges for 63 days. In more than two months of detention, Andrew has been permitted only two U.S. consular visits.

The U.S. State Department, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and other U.S. government officials have been working with EPC leaders to gain Brunson’s release.

The Brunson family issued a statement December 14 in which they thanked those working to secure Andrew’s freedom. “We will not rest until Andrew is free,” they said. “We’re grateful for the support of the ACLJ and others who are working to demand that Turkey release Andrew without delay.”

The Brunsons have lived in Turkey since 1993, where he has been the pastor of two churches. At the time of his detention, the Brunsons had been trying for five months to renew their resident visas but had not received any response.

The Evangelical Presbyterian Church firmly believes that Andrew Brunson’s detention is unfounded. The Brunsons have absolutely no connection to any armed terrorist organization in the country where he has lived peacefully for more than 20 years and where they raised their three children.

Andrew’s daughter, Jacqueline, who attends college in North Carolina, said the family is shocked by the charges against him and urged the Turkish government to release him immediately.

“It is both troubling and disturbing that my father, who has called Turkey home for the last 23 years, is imprisoned without cause,” she said. “I grew up in Turkey and saw firsthand how much he loves Turkey and the Turkish people. He has exhibited nothing but love, mercy, and grace during his time there. The best Christmas present our family could receive this year is the release of my father.”