Women’s Resource Council meets in Orlando

 
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Pictured (clockwise from left) are TE Sharon Beekmann, Presbytery of the West (Chair); Rebecca Duvall, Presbytery of the Pacific Southwest; Heidi Bethel, Presbytery of the Southeast; Becky Melancon, Presbytery of the Gulf South; Joe Ann Stenstrom, Presbytery of the East; Kathy Clymer, Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic; TE Mary Brown, Presbytery of the Great Plains; RE Kim Sinclair, Presbytery of the Midwest; and Melissa Cable, Presbytery of Mid-America. Additional Council members not pictured are RE Lynn Burge, Presbytery of the Central South; Kathy Marcy, Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes; and Tina Picard, Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest.

The EPC Women’s Resource Council met at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando January 14-15. Topics discussed by the group included exploring ways to better connect women across the EPC with each other, planning for the EPC General Assembly in June, and discussing resources for potential review.

Resources that the Council agrees to consider for review are vetted, and those approved for recommendation are categorized as Endorsed and Recommended as defined in the EPC Endorsement Policy. Completed reviews are posted in the Women’s Resources section of the EPC website at www.epc.org/thewell, and the Women’s Resource Council social media channels at www.epcthewellorg.wordpress.com, and www.facebook.com/groups/TheWellEPC.

Goal reached for Andrew Brunson recuperation fund

 
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Andrew and Norine Brunson, pictured as they are leaving Turkey on October 12, 2018.

Editor’s note: This article replaces an earlier version that contained potentially sensitive information.

As of January 2, the goal for the EPC’s “Welcome Back, Andrew!” Fund has been met. Donations to the fund will be used to assist Andrew and Norine Brunson in their recovery from their ordeal in Turkey. The Brunsons returned to the United States on October 13, 2018, following Andrew’s two-year imprisonment on charges of terrorism and espionage.

When the fund was launched in October, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah said the fund would be closed to new donations when the target was reached.

“I know I speak for Andrew and Norine—and Christ Community Church—that starting 2019 knowing that Andrew’s year of recovery is fully funded is an enormous blessing,” Jeremiah said. “I am thankful for so many churches and individuals who gave sacrificially so Andrew and Norine can have this time to recover and seek what God has for them in their next chapter of ministry.”

Andrew is serving as Missionary-in-Residence at Christ Community Church in Montreat, N.C.—his and Norine’s home church. Gifts to the fund are financing the position (which was designed and created specifically for the Brunsons) for one year. Donations to the fund will cover court costs Andrew incurred with his conviction in Turkey of terrorism charges; relocation expenses; a travel allowance to help the Brunsons reconnect with their adult children (who live in three different parts of the U.S.); and seek medical and spiritual assistance as needed.

Merry Christmas from Jeff Jeremiah and the Office of the General Assembly staff

 

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We wish you a blessed Christmas! Left to right: Jeff Jeremiah, Wosene Scott, Phil Linton, Jerry Iamurri, Samantha Arcara, Jason Dunn, Catherine Rutter, Phil VanValkenburg, Jan Kelley, Cassie Shultz, Kristi Jeffcoat, Joan Smith, Pat Coelho, Zenaida Bermudez, Edward McDowell, Rebeca Santana, Bart Francescone, Caroline Swanson. Not pictured: Marti Brenner, Brian Smith.

December Jeremiah Journal offers Christmas greetings

 

In the December edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah brings Christmas greetings on behalf of the 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 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 Chaplain Endorser uses Christmas display to benefit local food bank

 

For the fifth consecutive year, EPC Chaplain Endorser Mark Ingles has leveraged his home Christmas display to benefit the Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado. In 2016, he collected approximately 650 pounds of canned and dry goods from people who stopped in front of his house in Colorado Springs, Colo., to view the display. In 2017, donations exceeded his goal of 1,000 pounds by almost 40 percent, and more than doubled the previous year’s amount.

“Last year I received 1,387 pounds of food—which was tremendous—and this year I’m shooting for over 1,500 pounds of food,” Ingles said.

Ingles’ work has captured the attention of local media outlets.

KOAA News 5 in Colorado Springs broadcast a feature story on December 12.

Fox 21 News in Colorado Springs also highlighted Ingles’ efforts on its broadcast on December 12.

WORLD Magazine names Andrew Brunson its 2018 “Daniel of the Year”

 

BrunsonWorldDanielAndrew Brunson has been named the WORLD Magazine “Daniel of the Year” for 2018. The publication gives the annual award to an individual who exhibits bravery in defense of God’s authority by helping the persecuted.

Brunson and his wife, Norine, were missionaries and church planters in Turkey for 23 years prior to his arrest on October 7, 2016. At the time of his detainment he was serving as pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church. His trial on charges of espionage, acquiring secret political and military information, attempting to destroy constitutional order, attempting to overthrowing the Turkish parliament, and membership in an armed terrorist organization began on April 16, 2018.

He remained imprisoned until July 25, 2018, when he was released to house arrest. On October 12, 2018, he was convicted on terrorism charges and released on time served. He and his wife, Norine, returned to the United States on October 13.

Click here for WORLD Magazine’s full-length feature on the Brunsons, their ministry in Turkey, details of his imprisonment, and their return to North Carolina.

Annual EPC Christmas offering supports Gratitude Gift Fund

 

GratitudeGiftBulletinInsertHorizontalThe Gratitude Gift, the EPC’s annual denomination-wide Christmas offering, supports the Gratitude Gift Fund. Donations to the offering provide financial assistance to retired EPC pastors and missionaries who need help to pay their out-of-pocket medical expenses. The Gratitude Gift Fund is funded solely by donations from EPC churches.

Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, said he hears from Gratitude Gift recipients every year.

“The cards and emails from retired EPC ministers all say the same thing: they are so thankful for the Gratitude Gift,” he said. “Many times, their message is ‘I don’t know where I would be without it.’ I hope all of our churches will participate in this opportunity to bless those who have served our Lord so faithfully.”

To help facilitate the annual Christmas offering, bulletin inserts are available in printable PDF format at www.epc.org/donate/gratitudegift. Gratitude Gift offering envelopes also are available at no cost to EPC churches at www.epc.org/donate/gratitudegiftenvelopes.

Donations also can be made online at www.epc.org/donate/gratitudegift, via text-to-give from any smart device by texting “epcgratitudegift” to 50155, or by sending a check with “Gratitude Gift (042)” on the memo line to:

Evangelical Presbyterian Church
ATTN: Finance Office
5850 T.G. Lee Blvd., Suite 510
Orlando, FL 32822

.

Updated EPC online giving system provides simpler interface, text-to-give option

 

DonateTo better serve churches and individuals who donate online, the EPC has launched an updated and expanded online giving system. The upgrade provides a variety of features, including a simplified interface, text-to-give for users who donate via mobile devices, and the option for donors to increase their donation by a small percentage to cover processing fees.

Pat Coelho, Director of Finance and Administration, said the new platform is a welcome improvement.

“I think our donors will really like using this upgrade,” Coelho said. “I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked in the past few years when the EPC would add the features that we are now able to provide.”

Among the features are:

  • A simplified donation interface. Each EPC special project, World Outreach global worker, and World Outreach special project now has its own unique, fully secure webpage. Under the previous system, donors had to navigate a series of pulldown menus. With just a few clicks, donors can easily find a global worker or ministry project to support (including Per Member Asking) and set up an online donation—including recurring gifts, if desired—by credit card or ACH.
  • Text-to-give. Each special project and World Outreach global worker has a unique “keyword” that donors can use to give quickly and easily from a mobile device.
  • Donor information will automatically link to the EPC database, making reporting easier and more efficient.

Links to EPC funds—including Per Member Asking, Special Projects, Holiday Offerings, and Emergency Relief—are available at www.epc.org/donate. Links to World Outreach global workers and projects are available at www.epcwo.org/support.

Illustrated step-by-step instructions for setting up secure recurring donations are available at www.epc.org/donate/setup.

November Jeremiah Journal describes early work of Revelation 7:9 Task Force

 

In the November 2018 edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah discusses the early stages of the Revelation 7:9 Task Force’s work. This interim committee was appointed by the Moderator at the direction of the 38th General Assembly in June 2018.

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.

 

Revelation 7:9 Task Force begins work

 

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Members of the EPC Revelation 7:9 Task Force met at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando, November 13-14. The group was appointed by Moderator Tom Werner (standing) in response to a recommendation approved by the 38th General Assembly “to study how the EPC can better become a denomination that faithfully embraces and serves its neighbors from every nation, tribe, people, and language (Revelation 7:9).”

In its first face-to-face meeting, the group discussed the scope of its work, reviewed preliminary results of an online survey sent to EPC pastors in October, and explored a variety of opportunities and potential challenges that could inform their work over the next two years.

“I am excited about the work of the Task Force,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “Their first year can be summed up in one word: Input. They are not working in a vacuum, but seek to learn about our churches and communities from pastors and leaders in the EPC, as well as glean from the experiences of other denominations and organizations that have navigated these same waters in recent years.”

The Task Force is co-chaired by TE Rufus Smith, Presbytery of the West; and TE Dean Weaver, Presbytery of the Alleghenies. Members are TE Tom Clymer, Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic; TE Marc de Jeu, Presbytery of the Alleghenies; TE David Dwight, Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic; RE Enid Flores, Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean; Phyllis Le Peau, Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes; TE Soon Pak, Presbytery of the Midwest; Beth Paz, Presbytery of the Pacific Southwest; Brandon Queen, Presbytery of the Gulf South; TE Tim Russell, Presbytery of the Central South; RE Tom Werner, Presbytery of Mid-America; and Ted Winters, Presbytery of Mid-America.

Thanksgiving offering to support church planting in under-resourced areas

 

2018ThanksgivingOfferingBulletinInsertThe 2018 EPC Thanksgiving Offering has been designated for church planting efforts in under-resourced areas. The EPC has 42 active current church plants, only seven of which are currently targeting these types of neighborhoods.

“Only one in six of our active church plants are in underserved areas,” said Tom Ricks, Chair of the EPC Church Planting Team. “Our generous gifts will help that number increase as we seek to share God’s love in areas that have been neglected for far too long.”

To help facilitate contributions from churches, a bulletin insert is available in printable pdf format on the EPC website.

The annual Thanksgiving Offering supports a project approved by the General Assembly each June, alternating between World Outreach and Church Planting/Revitalization.

Secure online donations to the Thanksgiving Offering can be made at www.epc.org/donate/thanksgivingoffering. Individuals also can utilize text-to-give by texting “epcthanksgivingoffering” to 50155 from any smart device. Donors who prefer to send a check should put “Thanksgiving Offering (041)” on the memo line and send to:

Evangelical Presbyterian Church
Attn: Finance Office
5850 T.G. Lee Blvd., Suite 510
Orlando, FL 32822

For more information about how churches can be a Parent, Partner, or Patron of EPC church planting, contact Ricks at tom@greentreechurch.com.

 

Student mission conferences offer unique worldview experiences

 

High school and college-aged students—as well as their leaders—have multiple opportunities in the coming months to be encouraged, equipped, and challenged to dig deeper into the God’s Word and His heart for the nations. For more information about any of these conferences, contact Cassie Shultz, EPC World Outreach Church Liaison, at cassie.s@epcwo.org or 407-930-4314.

EPC Summer Mission Jam
June 24-29, 2019—Fremont, Calif.
July 8-13, 2019—Hamtramck, Mich.

SummerMissionJam2019Summer Mission Jam is a mission and outreach equipping conference for high school groups. Participants will work alongside EPC partner churches to minister to Muslim peoples in these two cities. Registration is $480 and includes lodging and meals (except dinner on Monday).

A minimum of 80 registered students is required by November 15 in order to host this event; students, leaders, or youth groups interested can complete a brief online survey to learn more and indicate interest in either the California or Michigan event.

Urbana
December 27-31, 2018—St. Louis, Mo.

Urbana2018Held every third December, Urbana is a global mission conference that creates a sacred space for college students to learn more about missions and discern God’s call for their life. Among the speakers is the EPC’s own Beth Paz, Director of High School Ministry for First Presbyterian Church in Fresno, Calif.

Registration is $515 until November 15; $615 after that date; lodging is approximately $125 plus taxes. The EPC Next Generation Ministries Council provides a limited number of $150 scholarships to students interested in attending; go to www.epc.org/nextgen/urbanascholarshipapplication for details and to apply. Learn more about this potentially life-changing conference at www.urbana.org.

Cross Conference
January 2-5, 2019—Louisville, Ky.

CrossConference2019Cross Conference is a global missions conference for college students that focuses on reaching the unreached peoples of the world. Registration is $119 until November 30, and $139 until registration closes on December 18, 2018. Lodging is approximately $116 plus taxes. The EPC Next Generation Ministries Council provides a limited number of $40 scholarships to students interested in attending; go to www.epc.org/nextgen/crossconferencescholarshipapplication for details and to apply. Learn more about this exciting conference at www.crossforthenations.org.

In the short video below, David Platt, Pastor-Teacher for McLean Bible Church in McLean, Va., and former President of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, explains why Cross is not just for those who sense a personal call to serve on the mission field.

Fund established for Andrew Brunson recuperation/recovery

 

WelcomeBackAndrewFundThe EPC has established a fund to assist Andrew and Norine Brunson in their recovery from their two-year ordeal in Turkey. Andrew will serve as Missionary-in-Residence at Christ Community Church in Montreat, N.C., for one year, and gifts to the fund—dubbed the “Welcome Back, Andrew! Fund”—will be sent to the church to finance the position. Christ Community Church is the Brunsons’ home congregation.

Richard White, Pastor of Christ Community Church, said the role was designed and created specifically for Andrew and Norine.

“With the challenges of resettling back in the U.S. after 25 years in Turkey—plus the crush of requests we knew he’d receive—we wanted to provide Andrew and Norine the opportunity of a safe place to rest and recover,” he said. “Andrew’s primary responsibility as our Missionary-in-Residence will be to heal, and then to discern God’s direction for their future.”

In addition to compensation and benefits, donations to the fund will cover court costs Andrew incurred with his conviction in Turkey of terrorism charges; relocation expenses; a travel allowance to help the Brunsons reconnect with their adult children (who live in three different parts of the U.S.); and seek the medical and spiritual help they will need in the months ahead.

Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, said the goal is to raise $160,000 and the fund will be closed when the target is reached.

“Throughout Andrew’s 25 months of unjust incarceration in Turkey, churches and individuals constantly contacted our office asking if they could provide financial help to the Brunsons,” he said. “Our response up to now has been that the time had not yet come, but we will be ready when it does. Now is that time.”

The fund was authorized by the EPC National Leadership Team. The Session of Christ Community Church approved the position on October 22, and Andrew accepted the offer on October 27.

“Let’s build on the memorable prayer, fasting, and advocacy efforts we made for Andrew and Norine by supporting the Missionary-in-Residence position at Christ Community Church,” Jeremiah added.

Click here to donate to the Welcome Back, Andrew! Fund.

November 1-30 is EPC Benefits Open Enrollment

 

BRIlogo-96dpiRGBNovember is Open Enrollment month for EPC Benefit Resources, Inc. and the time of year when the 2019 benefit offerings, plan changes, and rates are introduced. All changes made during open enrollment will be effective January 1, 2019. Open enrollment is the annual enrollment period when churches and eligible individuals can enroll in the EPC’s Benefit Plans:

  • Eligible individuals can enroll in the EPC Benefits for the first time.
  • Eligible individuals can make changes to their benefit selections for 2019.
  • Churches can enroll in EPC Benefits for the first time.
  • Churches can change their employee offerings for 2019.

Bart Francescone, BRI Executive Director, said changes have been made to certain Medical and Prescription Drug Plans so participants should review the 2019 Plans before making selections for next year.

“Open Enrollment is a ‘passive’ process, meaning you will automatically retain your 2018 benefit elections unless you actively chose a new plan or decline an existing coverage,” he said. “Make sure you have completed all that is required by the submission deadline of November 30 so your coverage will continue uninterrupted as of January 1, 2019.”

Individuals currently enrolled in the EPC Benefit plans may contact their church administrator, Clerk of Session, and/or those overseeing the implementation of terms of call for information on the benefits offered by their church.

For more information, see www.epc.org/benefits/2019openenrollment or contact the EPC Benefits Admin Office at 877-578-8707 or EPC@cdsadmin.com.

General Assembly sermons, reports, Leadership Institute plenary session videos now available

 

GA2018VideosScreenshotVideo recordings of the 38th General Assembly at Hope Church in Memphis, Tenn., are now available on the EPC website at www.epc.org/ga/ga2018recordings. Speakers include:

  • Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary.
  • Jacqueline Furnari, daughter of Andrew Brunson.
  • Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk.
  • Eli Morris, Senior Associate Pastor of Hope Church, Cordova, Tenn.
  • Ken Priddy, Executive Director of the GO Center.
  • Tom Ricks, Chair of the EPC Church Planting Team.
  • Jennifer Ross, Director of Matthew’s Ministry at Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City.
  • Rufus Smith, Senior Pastor of Hope Church, Cordova, Tenn.
  • Greg Thompson, Director of Research and Strategy for Clayborn Reborn in Memphis.
  • Dean Weaver, Moderator of the 37th General Assembly.
  • Tom Werner, Moderator of the 38th General Assembly.

The videos also are available on the EPC’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/EPChurch80 in the playlist “38th General Assembly.”

#epc2018ga

EPC Chaplain Endorser participates in religious freedom award presentation

 
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EPC Chaplain Endorser Mark Ingles with Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo), recipient of the 2018 Chaplain Alliance Torchbearer Award

The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Freedom presented its 2018 Torchbearer Award to Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) for her work in protecting the religious liberties of all military personnel and the chaplains that support them. Mark Ingles, EPC Chaplain Endorser, is a founding member of the Chaplain Alliance and attended the September presentation in Washington, D.C.

“It was amazing to share the room with Rep. Hartzler,” Ingles said. “She so strongly advocates for religious freedom, and being there when she received this honor was so moving. It was an evening to remember.”

Hartzler chairs the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Armed Service Committee, and also is chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Values Action Team, a group of lawmakers dedicated to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

Col. Phil Wright, now-retired U.S. Army Chaplain and Director of the Chaplains Alliance, said Hartzler “has strongly defended the military’s vocal support for our first freedoms and decisively taken action when the religious liberty of service personnel has been threatened. No one in our armed forces should be denied the ability to exercise the very freedoms they have volunteered to defend, even with their life. Her commitment not only benefits our chaplains and our armed forces, but their families, communities, and the entire country.”

Other who attended the presentation included Sen. Roy Blunt (R- Mo.), co-chair of the Senate Values Action Team; Michael Berry, Director of Military Affairs for the First Liberty Institute; Emile Kao, Director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society; Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.); as well as numerous other denominational Chaplain Endorsers.

The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty is an organization of chaplain endorsers (the faith groups that provide chaplains for the U.S. military and other agencies needing chaplains). The endorsers in the Chaplain Alliance collectively endorse more than two-thirds of the 5,500 military chaplains serving in the United States Armed Forces.