Category Archives: Church News

Interview with James Banks – Peace Church, Durham NC


EPC Pastor James Banks (Peace Church, Durham, NC – was recently interviewed on “Let’s Pray” (The Hope Channel) about his book Praying the Prayers of the Bible.  To watch the interview, the segment starts about 8:10 into the program.  Here’s a link:

Rufus Smith Elected as New Senior Pastor at Hope Church, Memphis, TN


On the weekend of October 26 and 27, the Congregation of Hope Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, elected Rev. Rufus Smith, IV as its new Senior Pastor. Dr. R. Craig Strickland will maintain a very active and visible role within the church as a Teaching Elder and “Founding Pastor.”

Rev. Smith is eager to continue Hope’s mission of “embracing those who may have given up on church or even given up on God.” That mission includes creating a welcoming environment for Memphians of every ethnicity, age and stage in their life, with a particular emphasis on Smith’s passion for developing and deploying the next generation.

Rufus has been an ordained EPC Teaching Elder for 15 years. He is a native of Houston, Texas, and joined the Hope staff in 2010, although he has had very close ties with Strickland and Dr. Eli Morris, III since 1998. His previous roles have included serving as Senior Pastor of the City of Refuge EPC in Houston, Executive Director of City of Refuge’s community development center called “The Forge for Families,” Chairman of the EPC’s Urban Ministry Network and also as Chaplain for the NBA team, the Houston Rockets.

Associate Pastor Eli Morris will continue leading from the second chair and overseeing Hope’s Sunday evening service, The Stirring, and Hope’s urban ministries.

Smith was installed into his new role as Senior Pastor during the five weekend worship hours of November 16 and 17. For more information, read the full press release or visit

Thoughts on Transformation


We know that transfer growth is not what we’re ultimately about. God has something better, He has something much greater for us! As I’ve thought about the increase in our number of churches the last six weeks the number I’ve focused on is 2.5. We’ve grown by a factor of 2.5 the last three years. Let me ask you to imagine with me this future. Think for a moment of the number of members you have in your church today. In the next three years, what would it be like if the membership of your church increased by a factor of 2.5? From 80 members to 200? From 150 members to 425 members? From 1000 members to 2500? If that was your future that couldn’t be explained by transfer growth, that could only be explained by transformation growth.

Transformation – the supernatural power of God the Holy Spirit poured out so that men, women, boys and girls in your community came to saving knowledge of and love for Jesus Christ! Transformation – isn’t that what we’re really about as believers in Jesus Christ? By the power of the Holy Spirit we’ve been born again, transformed from darkness to light, for death to life. And we want to see others transformed in the same way! At its heart that’s what it means to be missional, to be a church on mission for Jesus Christ. (excerpt from oral report to 2013 General Assembly)


  1. What changes would you need to make in your ministry if you were to focus intentionally on a ministry of transformation?
  2. What would a church ministry focused on transformation look like?


Transformation Growth

Genesis Presbyterian Church celebrates first anniversary


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ

We, the session, pastor and congregation of Genesis Presbyterian Church, greet you in the mighty, loving name of Jesus Christ our one and only Redeemer, Savior and Lord. Through this letter we want to take the time to welcome you into the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Our congregation, along with two other Hispanic congregations (San Benito PC and Jesus Reigns PC), joined the EPC as transitional members in February 2012 and became full members in October of the same year. Even though we suffered considerably as we left our former denomination God blessed us much more through the love and care of brothers and sisters in the EPC. We sincerely believe that the Holy Spirit led us in this move; it has been like coming home for us.

Now, we are grateful to our Heavenly Father for your congregation. We acknowledge that many of you may have had extremely difficult moments in this transition…perhaps for some of you the transition may have been less painful. Nevertheless, we rejoice with you for your arrival. Bienvenidos a la EPC! Welcome!

“Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” We are here to serve you. If we may be of assistance in any way please do not hesitate to contact us. You have already been in our prayers.

With love in Christ

Rev. Héctor Reynoso

and session of Genesis Presbyterian Church

Clerk of session: Carmina Flores. Elders: Dahlia Fernandez, Janet de la Cerda, Carmen Reynoso, Liz de la Cerda    

Shane Farmer Installed


On Sunday, October 20, Shane Farmer was installed as the Senior Pastor of Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, CO.  Rev. Dr. James Dixon gave the charge to Shane and the Cherry Hills congregation. Shane, his wife Wendy and their children, come to Cherry Hills from Willow Creek Church in Barrington, IL. Welcome to the EPC, Shane and Wendy! For more information, go to

Photo (left to right):  Wendy Farmer, Shane Farmer, James Dixon, Barbara Dixon


Retirement Not In His Future Says Dr. Bill Dudley


A published article focuses on EPC 33rd General Assembly Moderator and senior pastor at Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church Dr. Bill Dudley.  Bill was interviewed about retirement as he plans to end his 25 years as senior pastor at Signal Mountain on September 7, 2014.

Click here to read the full article at dated October 16, 2013.

Forty-one Public Baptisms Celebrated


Chapel Hill Presbyterian in Gig Harbor, Washington recently marked 50 years as a church.  As part of their 50th “Jubilee” Celebration, Chapel Hill conducted public baptisms.  Twenty people signed up to be baptized in Gig Harbor Bay on August 18.  Assistant Pastor Larry Hackman confirmed that twenty-one spectators from the crowd of about 200 also came forward to be baptized.  The local news reporting of this event can be found at

The next day Chapel Hill held a “Jubilee in the Park” for the community.  It featured music, games, free hot dogs and booths for ministry partners that presented different aspects of jubilee. To view a short video of that event go to

Larry concluded, “We’re excited to share with the EPC what God’s been doing here!”

Orchards Christian Fellowship Celebrates New Building


Orchards-Christian-Fellowship-Celebrates-New-BuildingOn July 7th, Orchard Christian Fellowship of Londonderry, NH moved into their new 5600-square foot facility. Completed in just eight months, the building now provides the congregation with worship space for up to 320 people.

Pastor Ken Glasier says the congregation is very excited about having a place to “go out from”. “We refer to the sides of the structure as ‘roof supports’ instead of walls because we don’t walls to separate us from our community. Our congregation sees our building less as a place to go on Sunday and more as a place to connect with the community.”

The Orchard, as members refer to their fellowship, are very connected to their community. Prior to the building completion, Orchard Christian Fellowship met at the elementary school next door. During the five-year use of the school facilities, The Orchard provided many tangible gifts to the school and great support for the school staff. The church has also loaned their sound system to the school during their musical productions.


Construction had some interesting moments. New Hampshire is known as “The Granite State” and the construction company had to blast into rock three times a day for 4-1/2 weeks to level the property for a building site and parking lots. “We are built on solid rock in more ways than one, “says Glasier. The Orchard had a great relationship with the construction company, North Point Construction Management. Many of the construction crew were on hand for the first service July 7th and will be on hand for the September 8th dedication and grand opening. The framing subcontractor also donated some of the time and materials.

Currently, The Orchard holds their service “family style” until they build an education wing with classrooms and staff offices. You can see more photos of the sanctuary at

First Presbyterian Church of Orlando Mobilizes 500 Through Serve Day


First-Presbyterian-Church-of-Orlando-Mobilizes-500-Through-Serve-DayServe Day is a mission-mobilization event, currently held twice a year at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, FL. Over 500 individuals gathered on April 13, 2013 from the downtown congregation and community to pray and scatter to projects throughout the city.

Having hosted five Serve Day experiences over a three-year period, each in the Spring or Fall, First Presbyterian has seen 2,236 individuals serve through this particular event.

“Though some individuals have served multiple times, we have seen Serve Day as a particularly good mechanism for those who have never served before in “testing the waters.’ ” says Dr. Case Thorp, Pastor of Mission & Evangelism. “It is our hope that the single-day commitment helps to catalyze our church family to see how accessible mission can be in their day-to-day lives.”

Over 20 teams serve for a half-day, many on projects designed to accommodate families or small groups serving together. Projects range from sorting food for the local food bank, to assisting with patient check-in at a healthcare facility for the uninsured, to cleaning up landscaping at a local elementary school.

First Pres Pastor of Mission & Evangelism, Dr. Case Thorp, says the event continues to teach their staff and leadership about their ministry context.

“As it has grown, Serve Day is a great opportunity for inviting neighbors and friends into relationship with the church community. Since many people agree that volunteering in the community can make a positive impact, having a service-driven event can be a great front door for members to invite friends to a safe environment, with relatively low commitment.”


FPC Jacksonville OR “Burns the Mortgage”


“It’s been a spiritual journey”.

That’s how Pastor Larry Jung, of First Presbyterian Church of Jacksonville, Oregon describes the recent milestone – the early payoff of the mortgage for their church facility.

Founded in 1857, the congregation began raising funds in 1996 to purchase land for a new facility. When the land was purchased in 1998, they were confronted with a major challenge from their city.

“Raising the initial funds, even without a parcel of land available, was easy,” says Jung. “The difficult part was the opposition from the city council.  Our city council opposed us because they believed the church would generate too much traffic and noise for the neighborhood. After we defeated their legal challenge, we faced another round of litigation from a group of private citizens. “

Jung continues, “By 2003 we were growing tired and impatient with the whole legal process. One day, I sensed the Holy Spirit prompting me to pray for a spirit of confusion to come over the opposition.  I shared this with our prayer team and we prayed for confusion.  About three months later, our opposition’s attorney missed a filing deadline with the Oregon Court of Appeals. We were granted the Conditional Use Permit to build our new facility on a technicality: our opposition confused the filing deadline with another date!! The Lord showed us His grace and power in this beautiful answer to prayer which had been prompted by the Holy Spirit!”

The church took out a $850,000 20 year line of credit for the property in 2006 when they moved in and started using the facility. Before they moved in, nearly $4 million dollars was raised. Overall costs for the three-building ten-acre project amounted to $5.2 million. God has graciously provided abundant financial resources for the 360 member church.

Relations with neighbors have improved because the church has embraced an “open yard” policy and welcomed neighbors to use the facility for walking dogs, biking, skateboarding etc. They have sponsored community events such as a Harvest Party, Living Nativity, and Vacation Bible School. Several families who were opposed to the church being in the neighborhood now attend.

One creative approach to raising funds for the facility was a capital campaign launched in 2008 called Freedom University. The idea was to pay off the mortgage in four years and the contributors would then “graduate” from the University. Pastor Jung jokes that they had to go on to graduate school because it took an extra year to pay off the line of credit.

To commemorate the milestone, First Presbyterian Church of Jacksonville will hold a “Burn the Mortgage” celebration and BBQ on June 2. At that time they will bury a time capsule to be opened in 2057- the 200th anniversary of the church.

2013 South Sudan Medical Mission Trip – Covenant Presbyterian Church, Omaha, NE


On behalf of the Mission Team of Covenant Presbyterian Church (CPC), Omaha, NE, this Press Release is posted.  The 2013 CPC South Sudan Medical Mission Trip included a Team of 28 persons.  The mission of CPC is “to know Christ and to make Him known.” (Matthew 9:35-38; Matthew 28:18-20)

The first wave, a team of 5, departed on March 27 and arrived in Sudan to set up the Clinics in a Can Hospital which was delivered earlier.  The second wave of 23 team members departed on April 3.  The clinics opened on April 5.

Daily reports and updates are brought by ABC Channel 7 News Reporter Julie Cornell and ABC Channel 7 Photojournalist Andrew Ozaka.

Please pray for the Mission Team as they expect to minister to over 10,000 South Sudanese patients in bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ in this World Outreach mission through medical mission/compassion/evangelistic outreach.

New Building set for Kirk of the Hills


Next month Kirk of the Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma will begin construction of facilities for its Kirk Crossing church plant, which was launched two years ago.

Senior Pastor Wayne Hardy said, “We’ve wanted to plant a new church since the 1990’s but were not able to do so.  Coming to the EPC freed us to pursue this dream we’ve had for years!”  The construction should take 12 to 18 months.  To read the Tulsa World newspaper article about this exciting development and staffing changes at the Kirk, click here.

The Little Church That Could – And Did!


One of the newest EPC churches in the Presbytery of the Alleghenies is Mount Perry Presbyterian Church in the tiny village of Mount Perry, Ohio. With just under 100 members, this church is about to build a huge addition in which to expand its evangelism events, fundraisers and provide greater outreach and mission projects. Its location in rural Perry County is important; this area was hit hard by the recession. Mount Perry Presbyterian Church is known as a place where the poor and hungry can find prayer, encouragement and connections to food, clothing and help with rent or utilities.

The groundbreaking event for the new addition begins following worship, at 11:30 a.m., Sunday, March 3. Fun events and lots of their famous food will accompany the shovel show! All are invited to celebrate with them. The address is:

Mount Perry Presbyterian Church

13099 Church Street

Mount Perry, OH 43760

(740) 787-1042

Rev. Diana Circelli, pastor

ONEchurch Received


Southeast Presbytery received ONEchurch of Athens, GA, as a mission church on Saturday, February 2. Church Development Chair Larry Newman said, “We’re not working ‘outside the box’ by receiving ONEchurch; we’re throwing the box away!”

Larry’s comment was sparked by the distinctive model of the ONEchurch plant. As pastor Stephen Hightower told the presbytery, “We’re following an ‘entrepreneurial missions’ approach to church planting – a new take on tent making. The plan is to open a café to help cover the expenses of the church so that we can focus on reaching people who do not understand or are unable to give financially to a church.” He added, “We want our café to be a ‘third place’ – a place between home and work where people of all walks of life intersect.”

ONEchurch-ReceivedPastor Stephen Hightower and Associate Pastor Seth Edmonds launched ONEchurch in April of 2011 in Athens, home to the University of Georgia. Their vision is to reach the un-churched, the de-churched, and the generally frustrated with church. Stephen assured the Presbytery that there were plenty of people matching that description in Athens. Operating as a house church for nearly two years with a vision for non-traditional church planting has been challenging, but Stephen expressed what a blessing the members of the Southeast Presbytery had been for ONEchurch. Thanking the Southeast Presbytery for its warm welcome Stephen said, “We have received more affirmation and encouragement in the last 24 hours than we have in the last two years.”

Upon receiving ONEchurch as a mission church, the Presbytery approved the immediate disbursal of $10,000 to support this new initiative, and approved $30,000 to match funds given to support ONEchurch. Tommy Jordan, a 1992 graduate of the University of Georgia, led in prayer as leaders of the presbytery laid hands on Stephen and Seth. Photo: left to right are Associate Pastor Seth Edmonds and Pastor Stephen Hightower.

For more information about our newest mission church, go to

Hold Fast the Faith: A Devotional Commentary on the Westminster Confession


Hold-Fast-the-Faith-A-Devotional-Commentary-on-the-Westminster-ConfessionMatthew Everhard, senior pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville Florida has just released his newest book entitled Hold Fast the Faith: A Devotional Commentary on the Westminster Confession of 1647 (Reformation Press, 2012). The book is designed as a devotional tool, divided into daily readings corresponding to the chapters of the Westminster Confession of Faith. Each chapter explains the content of the Confession, provides appropriate Scripture passages for the reader, explains deep theological truths in an approachable way, and then encourages personal exercises in spiritual formation to help the believer along in his or her walk with Christ. All of the major doctrines of Reformed theology are covered in a devotional manner. This book would be perfect for those studying our doctrinal standards for the first time, or for churches who are training leaders and elders. The book is available through the publisher, Reformation Press at


  • Hold-Fast-the-Faith-A-Devotional-Commentary-on-the-Westminster-Confession-2Matthew Everhard is one of the outstanding young Reformed pastors of the 21st century church. He is a careful thinker and exceptional writer with a passion for Jesus Christ and His people. —Rev. Dr. Jeff Jeremiah, Stated Clerk of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church
  • In an age when confessions are often viewed as lifeless, many Christians and churches are rediscovering them as a lifeline. Even so, the church’s confessions are like a labyrinth, often unfamiliar and as yet unexplored. Pastor Matthew Everhard guides the uninitiated through the hallways and corridors of the Westminster Confession of Faith. —Michael Allen, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, Knox Theological Seminary

Stretch DePuy Memorial Service


Stretch-DePuy-Memorial-ServiceHadley “Stretch” DePuy died early Tuesday morning, January 22.  Stretch, a longtime member and ruling elder at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Bethesda, MD served on the Committee on Administration (COA) from 2006-2012.  He brought outstanding strategic, big picture leadership to the COA during the time when the denomination grew from 180 to over 400 churches.  He also chaired the COA Personnel Committee, which was re-established in 2009 to address pressing needs the General Assembly Office staff faced responding to the growth of the EPC.  Stretch loved his Lord and His church, serving faithfully and enthusiastically at Fourth, in the Presbytery of the East in numerous capacities, as well as at the national level.  The celebration of Stretch’s life will take place at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 5500 River Road, Bethesda, MD 20816 (phone: 301-320-3600) on Saturday, January 26, at 11 AM.