The EPC is moving closer to a full strategic relationship with the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO), a college campus ministry that has been successfully reaching the next generation for Jesus Christ for more than 40 years. Several EPC leaders attended CCO’s annual Jubilee Conference in Pittsburgh, February 19-21. More than 4,000 college students and young adults gathered at Jubilee for worship, inspiration, fellowship, and equipping “to serve Jesus Christ with their entire lives.”
Attending were Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah, Associate Executive Bill Enns, Student and College Ministries Coordinator Susan Holland, Committee on Administration member Dean Weaver, and Student and College Ministries Committee (SCM) members Elliott Simko and David DeBruler, who serves as SCM chair. In addition, Rufus Smith, Pastor of the EPC’s Hope Presbyterian Church in Cordova, Tenn., was the plenary speaker for the Saturday evening worship service.
The EPC General Assembly approved a partnership with CCO in 2007, but Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah notes that it was largely “on paper only.”
“We did not have many churches then,” he said. “Plus CCO was very focused in one geographic area—the Northeast U.S.—in which we had few churches. Where we are with CCO in 2016 is a testament to Susan Holland’s outstanding leadership as Coordinator of the EPC’s Student and College Ministries.”
At present, CCO is active on 116 college campuses extending from New Jersey to Indiana, with a high concentration in the greater Pittsburgh area. About 25 EPC churches in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio have ministry connections with CCO.
Vince Burens, CCO President, said CCO is ready to expand its geographic reach, but will only work in a college community in partnership with a local church. “We are a parachurch organization that does campus ministry with the local church,” he stressed. With more than 580 churches, the EPC has churches scattered across the country that could envision a partnership with CCO as a great way to reach into the college students in their community.
“I am really excited,” Holland said. “I have prayed for a long time about how the EPC can better reach college students across the country, and CCO has been doing exactly what my vision has been. I am thrilled to be expanding our partnership.”
Jeremiah said that Holland has been “patient and persistent across the years as she has waited on the Lord’s timing for the relationship to blossom into a substantive Kingdom opportunity for both the EPC and CCO.” Simko and DeBruler have played important roles in nurturing this relationship as well, and the SCM Committee will take the lead in contacting churches that may want to pursue a partnership with CCO.
The 2015 General Assembly approved “reaching the next generation for Jesus Christ” as the focus for the 2017 General Assembly in Sacramento, California. “I’m very confident the Lord will provide us some exciting success stories we can celebrate in 2017 as our churches take advantage of this Kingdom opportunity,” Jeremiah said.