Led by Tom Ricks, the Church Planters Team met in Huntersville, North Carolina on September 19-20. The purpose of the meeting was to follow-up on church planting developments since the 2012 General Assembly in June and to continue building a “culture of church planting” in the EPC.
At the 2012 General Assembly, Team members Tom Ricks and Tom Melton announced to the Assembly that church planting was “on the front burner”. They hosted two luncheon meetings for those interested in planting churches and identifying church planters. Tom Ricks said, “I was really impressed by the enthusiasm and passion of those who came to the lunch meetings.”
In July and August, Tom Ricks talked with potential church planters in seven presbyteries (Midwest, East, Pacific, Southeast, Rivers and Lakes, Mid-America and Central South). He was contacted by four core groups interested in becoming EPC church plants in four presbyteries (East, West, Rivers and Lakes and Mid-America). In addition, at least one church in each presbytery asked about becoming a church planting church. Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah told the Team, “You’ve tapped into an energy and enthusiasm that has created a tremendous amount of momentum to get church planting going again in the EPC.” He added that churches are being planned and planted beyond the work of the Team. He cited the launch of New City Church in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a combined effort of Alleghenies Presbytery, Memorial Park Presbyterian in Allison Park, Pennsylvania and the Coalition for Christian Outreach as an example.
The Team held a conference call with Dana Cadman, Director of Communications and Information Services, for the purpose of increasing church planting visibility and information on the EPC web site. The enhanced web site presence will include a three-part self-assessment tool developed by Mike Moses along with presenting a “pathway” for EPC church planters and church plants. We will publish another article about the update when it is completed. This “pathway” was presented in the church planting brochure that was distributed at the 2012 General Assembly.
The Team has focused on developing in each geographical region of the country a “First Responder.” This person would be an initial point of contact for a potential church planter or church or core group interested in church planting. The goal of the First Responder is to listen, assess and answer questions about church planting then make a report to the local presbytery Church Development Committee about the potential opportunity.
Under the oversight of the National Outreach Committee, the vision of the Church Planters Team is to cultivate a culture where church planting is embraced, encouraged and celebrated. The Team’s mission is: 1) to help leaders/groups discern how to effectively plant churches, and 2) to identify potential church planters and subsequently assess and coach them.