Category Archives: Church Planting

October Jeremiah Journal explains OGA budget


In the October edition of The Jeremiah Journal, Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah explains how the budget for the Office of the General Assembly is funded and describes the leadership approach to some items in the budget.

The Jeremiah Journal is a monthly video blog hosted on the EPC’s YouTube channel at Each month’s update also is posted to EPNews and the EPC’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

EPC Home Missionary John Bueno releases Fall 2016 newsletter


latinsunitedspring2016John Bueno, EPC Home Missionary serving with Latins United Christian Ministries (LUCM), invites you to read his Fall 2016 newsletter, in which he discusses how the new EPC partnership with the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico is already having an impact on church planting efforts in Hispanic communities in the United States. Click here to download the Fall 2016 edition in pdf format.

For more information about LUCM, contact Bueno at or 402-350-3815.

September Jeremiah Journal provides strategic initiatives update


In the September edition of The Jeremiah Journal, Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah provides a status update on the EPC’s four strategic initiatives: Global Movement, Multiplication (church planting), Transformation (church revitalization), and Effective Biblical Leadership.

The Jeremiah Journal is hosted on the EPC’s YouTube channel at Each month’s update also is posted to EPNews and the EPC’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

EPC partnership with National Presbyterian Church of Mexico ratified


EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah (center) and INPM President (Moderator) Amador Hernandez (right) sign the official partnership agreement September 8 in Mexico while EPC Home Missionary John Bueno looks on. Bueno served as translator for the EPC delegation to the INPM General Assembly.

The EPC and the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (La Iglesia Nacional Presbiteriana de México or INPM) formally ratified an historic partnership on September 8 at the INPM General Assembly in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico. Attending the meeting from the EPC were Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk; Mike Moses, National Leadership Team chairman; and Bill Enns, EPC Associate Executive for Collaborative Ministries. The EPC 36th General Assembly approved a fraternal agreement with INPM in June.

The initial emphasis of the relationship is for INPM to send pastors to the United States to help plant churches among the growing Latino population, and for the EPC to send pastors to help INPM plant churches in ten cities in northeastern Mexico.

Jeremiah noted that the INPM leaders initiated the request to work with the EPC.

“They told us that they want to plant churches in large Mexican communities, and they’ve seen what we’ve been doing and want us to help them do that,” he said. “God has brought together two denominations in two different countries who both have a strong commitment to church planting.”

“What’s unique,” Jeremiah added, “is that we both need each other. We need their help planting churches in Latino communities in the U.S.”

Moses, Pastor of Lake Forest Church in Huntersville, N.C., said his congregation is already working with an INPM pastor in a church plant.

“We are graced for my home church to be the first guinea pig in this relationship, as we are planting such a church soon with one of their young pastors,” Moses said. “May God be glorified and followers of Jesus be encouraged in both countries by this partnership!”

Discussions about a potential ministry partnership began in October 2015, when INPM Secretary Adolfo Job invited Moses and others from the EPC to visit Mexico to discuss the possibility of a fraternal relationship that would focus on church planting in Hispanic communities in the United States.

The INPM has two million members and is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the western hemisphere. The majority of its churches are in the Mexico City area and southern Mexico. Under the leadership of then-President (Moderator) Danny Ramirez Celis, the INPM severed ties with the PCUSA in 2011.

Three representatives of INPM attended the EPC General Assembly at Ward Church in June and brought greetings from the 6,000 Presbyterian churches in Mexico. Job, INPM President (Moderator) Amador Hernandez, and Camarillo Vasquez described their three primary objectives of the partnership: church planting in both countries, enhancing education in seminaries and local schools, and relating church-to-church as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Jeff Jeremiah launches video series


With a recap of his Stated Clerk Report to the 36th General Assembly, Jeff Jeremiah launched a new video series, “The Jeremiah Journal,” in which he discusses a variety of topics relevant to the EPC.

“I wanted to do this to help our church leaders and others stay better informed about how God is working in our denomination,” Jeremiah said. “Even with as much travel as I do, with nearly 600 churches in the EPC I just can’t get to every one or see every pastor as often as I (and hopefully they) would like.”

Jeremiah hopes to record at least one video each month. The videos will be hosted on the EPC’s YouTube channel at and also will be posted to EPNews and the EPC’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Potential partnership with National Presbyterian Church of Mexico holds church planting promise


Leaders of the EPC and the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INP) met in Mexico City in March to discuss a possible church planting partnership. From left: INP Secretary Adolfo Arias Job, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah, INP President (Moderator) Amador Lopez Hernandez, EPC Fraternal Relations Committee chair Gerrit Dawson, EPC Moderator Mike Moses, EPC Ruling Elder Bill Hammill, INP Vice President Danny Ramirez Celis, INP Treasurer David Monroy Adane, and EPC home missionary John Bueno.


A March meeting between the leaders of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INP) in Mexico City resulted in the two denominations proceeding toward a fraternal agreement for approval at each body’s General Assembly this summer.

The EPC was represented by Moderator Mike Moses, Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah, Fraternal Relations Committee chair Gerrit Dawson, EPC home missionary John Bueno (who served as translator), and Bill Hammill, a Ruling Elder at Lake Forest Church in Huntersville, N.C. (where Moses serves as Pastor). The INP leadership delegation included Secretary Adolfo Arias Job, President (Moderator) Amador Lopez Hernandez, Vice President Danny Ramirez Celis, Treasurer David Monroy Adane, and Camirillo Velazquez, General Director of the Juarez Institute.


Camirillo Velazquez, General Director of the Juarez (Mexico) Institute.

Discussions about a potential ministry partnership began in October 2015, when INP Secretary Adolfo Arias Job invited Moses and others from the EPC to visit Mexico to discuss the possibility of a fraternal relationship that would focus on church planting. Specifically, INP wants to send missionaries to plant churches in Hispanic communities in the United States.

“I believe this is an historic ‘God moment’ for the EPC and INP in church planting,” Jeremiah noted. “In the providence of God, they reached out to us in the year that Mike Moses—an experienced church planter and member of the EPC Church Planting Team—was our Moderator.”

During the meetings, the members of the EPC team and INP leaders agreed that both groups were committed to the same love and passion for Christ and His gospel, and to the same Reformed doctrine.

“We were overwhelmed with the warm welcome and generous hospitality of our hosts and impressed with how easily we connected on a personal level,” Jeremiah said.

He added that the invitation to a church planting partnership is unique in that it encompassed two of the EPC’s strategic initiatives—global movement in addition to multiplication.

“An element of global movement includes exploring partnerships with groups in the global church with the same values and commitments as the EPC,” Jeremiah said. “The leaders of INP don’t want to work independently; they want to partner with us. They also are hopeful that we can help them with outreach and church planting in northern Mexico, where the INP has very little presence and where many EPC churches send short-term mission groups.”

The EPC team visited the INP national office; four churches in Mexico City, Toluca, and Morelia; one of the INP’s seven seminaries; an educational institute (preschool through high school); and a hospital. One of the four congregations, La Paz Church in Mexico City, was formed in 1954 and since has planted 39 daughter churches as well as established an INP church planting training center.

The EPC Fraternal Relations Committee has been working with INP counterparts on a proposed fraternal agreement. The leadership of INP has been invited to attend the EPC General Assembly at Ward Church in suburban Detroit in June.

“If the Assembly approves the agreement,” Jeremiah said, “we will send representatives to the July 18-22 national gathering of the INP in Chiapas, Mexico.”

The INP has two million members and is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the western hemisphere. The majority of the INP’s churches are in the Mexico City area and southern Mexico. INP’s minimal presence in northern Mexico is attributed to the 1919 “Cincinnati Plan,” in which American denominational leaders decided that Presbyterians would minister in the southern part of the country, while Methodists and others were given the northern part (no Mexicans participated in this decision).

Under the leadership of then-President Danny Ramirez Celis, the INP severed ties with the PCUSA in 2011 when the mainline approved the ordination of homosexuals.

2015: Finish Strong


JeffJeremiahby Jeff Jeremiah
EPC Stated Clerk

Since the 2014 General Assembly, our Vision Statement has been, “To the glory of God, the EPC family aspires to embody and proclaim Jesus’ love as a global movement of congregations engaged together in God’s mission through transformation, multiplication, and effective biblical leadership.”

Four strategic opportunities are embedded in that statement: 1) global movement, 2) transformation (church revitalization), 3) multiplication (church planting), and 4) effective biblical leadership. We are finishing the year strong as we pursue these four opportunities.

Global Movement

Global movement includes EPC World Outreach (WO) and partnership opportunities with other denominations of the global Church. For WO, all eight of our global workers in Lebanon are working with relief groups ministering to Syrian civil war refugees. These refugees are very open to the good news of Jesus Christ, and many are coming to saving faith. To help take advantage of this open door of opportunity, the EPC has established a Syrian Refugee Relief Fund. Donations to the fund will:

  1. Provide the Bible (in Arabic and Kurdish) on mp3 audio players to a church-planting team on the Turkish/Syrian border;
  2. Send disciple makers (who are fluent in the native languages of the refugees) to work with evangelical German refugee welcome centers; and
  3. Help World Outreach workers in Lebanon provide physical and spiritual aid to refugees.

In addition, World Outreach hosted 31 prospective candidates and inquirers for global worker status at its annual “Encounter” event in early December.


EPC Moderator Mike Moses will meet with leadership of the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico in February about a potential church planting partnership.

An exciting partnership possibility has come to us from the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (NPCM). With more than 6,000 churches, the NPCM is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the Western Hemisphere. The leaders of the NPCM are aware of large Hispanic communities in the United States where there is no gospel presence, and at the same time God is raising up church planting missionaries in NPCM. Their leadership has invited us to Mexico City to discuss a potential church planting partnership.

Is it possible that the Lord is calling the EPC into partnership with the NPCM to help their missionaries plant churches in these communities in the United States? An EPC delegation led by GA Moderator Mike Moses will discuss this question in Mexico City the week of February 29.

Multiplication (church planting)

Tom Ricks, leader of the Church Planting Team, reports that we now have 30 church plants in the EPC. Two of these launched since our General Assembly in June: Grace Presbyterian in York, Pa., and Resurrection Church-Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, N.Y.


Grace Presbyterian Church in York, Pa., held its first worship services October 18, with Rob Norris bringing the message.

Grace—which is taking a unique planting path—held its first worship service on October 18. Rather than a single “parent church,” a “partner church team” of three rural congregations has worked for the past year to lay the foundation for the October launch. The partner churches are Bethlehem Steltz Reformed Church in Glen Rock, Pa. (John Dorr, pastor); Guinston Presbyterian Church in Airville, Pa. (Daniel Moore, pastor); and Round Hill Presbyterian Church in Cross Roads, Pa. (pastorate vacant).

Further, a lay leadership team of Ron and Joan Webb and Kevin and Carolyn Mosser is leading the church, while pulpit supply is provided by Rob Norris (currently on sabbatical from Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Md.), Aaron Anderson, and Keith Greer.

Joan Webb told me that the preaching team is working great, their regular attenders come from seventeen households, and they have new visitors every week.


Resurrection-Sheepshead Bay held its first worship service on November 22.

Resurrection-Sheepshead Bay held its first worship service on November 22. Pastor Brian Steadman told me that they also are off to a tremendous start. He said they have had new visitors at each of their services, as those attending one week are bringing friends and family the next week. Further, he noted that a majority of their worshipers haven’t been to church in decades. As Brian put it to me, “They’re hearing the gospel and coming back to the gospel.”

The new plant is part of the multi-site Resurrection-Brooklyn church led by Matt Brown. Brian led the church’s Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief ministry from 2012-2015, and through that effort became known as “The Pastor of Disaster.” Sheepshead Bay was one of the areas hardest hit by the hurricane. For more information about the church, see

Transformation (church revitalization)


Ken Priddy

Members of the GO Team (Ken Priddy, Bob Stauffer, and Bill Rasch) have been extremely busy since our General Assembly in June. From July 1 to March 1, they have no less than 123 appointments with presbyteries, churches, and groups of churches to explore revitalization. By means of the “Great Commission Matrix,” the GO Team leads congregations and presbyteries to evaluate their ministries in light of the Great Commission to “make disciples.”

This ministry’s effectiveness is on display in the transformation taking place in congregations. Earlier this fall, we celebrated the turnaround that Ardara Presbyterian Church has enjoyed. You can see more at We look forward to sharing other “Ardara stories” as more of our churches embrace revitalization.

Effective Biblical Leadership

CCO—EPC Partnership

In 2007, the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO) became a preferred ministry partner with us. In 2015, our Next Generation ministry has moved to deepen this relationship into a thriving partnership that equips and connects EPC church with campus ministries in strategic university cities. CCO has the resources to train and deploy campus ministries and EPC has the national scope of churches to expand the ministry. For more information about CCO, see

To develop this partnership, our Church Planting Team met October 26-27 with CCO leaders in Pittsburgh. Dean Weaver (a member of the EPC Committee on Administration), Bill Enns, and I also participated. We believe this partnership is consistent with our vision and can greatly enhance our church planting ministries, and we have begun the process of implementation.

Leadership Institute 2016

To be a “global movement of congregations,” leadership development is essential. We held our inaugural Leadership Institute the day before General Assembly convened. Thom Rainer was our featured plenary speaker on Tuesday morning, and four leadership tracks were held on Tuesday afternoon. Those four tracks focused on the four Strategic Initiatives. As we prepare for 2016 General Assembly, we have eleven tracks planned. Topics range from developing children and youth in biblical knowledge to helping congregations seeking a pastor with the search process. The Leadership Institute seeks to prepare every kind of ministry for greater effectiveness. More information will follow in the registration information for General Assembly.

Per Member Asking update

These exciting kingdom opportunities God has for us can only become a reality with your support. If the Lord provides you with additional funds at the end of December, will you please consider funding these?

EPC Home Missionary John Bueno releases winter newsletter


LatinsUnited-Winter2015John Bueno, EPC Home Missionary serving with Latins United Christian Ministries (LUCM), invites you to read his Winter 2015 newsletter, in which he discusses ministry efforts in Colombia, Nicaragua, South Sudan, and Washington state. Click here to download the Winter 2015 edition in pdf format.

For more information about Latins United, contact Bueno at or 402-350-3815.

EPC Brooklyn (N.Y.) church plant holds first service


ResurrectionSheepsheadBay1Resurrection Sheepshead Bay, the EPC church plant that has grown out of Resurrection Brooklyn’s Hurricane Sandy recovery ministry in south Brooklyn, N.Y., launched its first Sunday worship service on November 22. The congregation meets at the Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club.

Brian Steadman, Resurrection Brooklyn’s Director of Relief and Sheepshead Bay Campus Pastor, said the opening weekend exceeded expectations.

“We had about 75 people for the first service,” he said. “About 50-55 people were from the neighborhood, and we had about 20 family and well-wishers from out of town and other Resurrection Brooklyn congregations.”

He noted that most of the attendees grew out of connections made through three years of Hurricane Sandy recovery in the neighborhood. Last spring, a core group began holding—and inviting neighbors to—prayer meetings twice a month. In the fall, they started inviting people to “launch meetings” in which the leadership cast vision for getting started.

“We have 23 people who have committed to being part of the launch team for at least a year,” Steadman reported.

The church plant is a direct result of efforts through the EPC and Resurrection Brooklyn Relief, a ministry that Resurrection Brooklyn created to serve survivors of Hurricane Sandy in rebuilding and relocation efforts in coastal south Brooklyn neighborhoods.

For more photos of the launch service, see For more information about the Resurrection Sheepshead Bay church plant, see


David George, EPC Church Planting Residency Director, dies


DavidGeorge2Rev. Dr. David George, Director of Church Planter Residency at Christ Church East Bay (Calif.) died on September 12 following a brief illness.

He joined the East Bay staff in 2014 to direct the church planting residency program under the auspices of the EPC Church Planting Team, as well as doing general pastoral care. He previously served as Pastor of Valley Springs Presbyterian Church in Sacramento, which he and his wife, Jayne, planted in 1985.

He is survived by his wife, Jayne, four adult children, and nine grandchildren.

Memorials can be made to the Dr. David A. George Church Planter in Residence Scholarship at Christ Church East Bay. The scholarship honors George’s commitment to pastoral mentoring and church planting, and will help fund the church planting residency program—one of three currently active in the EPC. The residency program at Christ Church trains young, diverse, emerging leadership for the sake of the gospel and growth of the church in the Bay Area and beyond.

Checks should be made payable to Christ Church, with “church planter scholarship” in the memo line, and sent to Christ Church East Bay, 2138 Cedar Street, Berkeley, CA 94709.

EPC church planting efforts continue to bear fruit


One of the EPC’s four current strategic initiatives is to promote and resource church planting. In the months since it was identified as a priority (along with promoting and resourcing church revitalization, creating a leadership development culture, and creating a structure suitable for a global movement), church planting is increasingly becoming part of the fabric of the EPC.

Several new Church Planting Networks—consortiums of churches in a city or region that join forces and leverage their collective resources to plant new congregations—have launched. In many cases, these networks work in partnership with the appropriate presbyteries to plant new EPC churches.

The following seven networks are already working or beginning to come together:

  • Memphis Church Planting Network, Memphis, Tenn.
  • Aspen Grove Church Planting Network, Denver, Colo.
  • Resurrection Brooklyn Church Planting Network, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Bay Area Church Planting Network, San Francisco, Calif.
  • St. Louis Area Church Planting Network, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Gulf Coast Church Planting Network, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La.; southern Mississippi; and Alabama.
  • Detroit Area Church Planting Network, Detroit, Mich.

In addition, several more church planting networks are in their formative stages in other regions and cities.

Further, the EPC now has 27 church plants, which represents approximately 4.7 percent of the EPC’s current total church count of 571. Researchers such as the Barna Group and Ed Stetzer of Lifeway Research have stated that a healthy, growing denomination should have new church plants represent 5-7 percent of its churches. By this measure, the EPC is making progress—but there is still work to do. The goal is for every EPC church to be a “parent, partner, or patron” of church planting, and the strategic initiative provides an outlet for every congregation to be intentional in growing God’s kingdom by helping start new congregations.

For more information about how you or your church can get involved in these—or future—EPC church planting networks, contact Tom Ricks of the EPC Church Planting Team at

Strategies for Transfer to Transformation: COA report to the 34th General Assembly

COA member Dean Weaver of the Presbytery of the Alleghenies presents a portion of the COA report, with (left to right) Scott Griffin, Bill Enns, and Jeff Jeremiah.

COA member Dean Weaver of the Presbytery of the Alleghenies presents a portion of the COA report, with (left to right) Scott Griffin, Bill Enns, and Jeff Jeremiah.

The Committee on Administration (COA) report—Strategies for Transfer to Transformation—at the 34th General Assembly in Knoxville, Tennessee, was presented on Thursday, June 19. Representing the COA were by EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah; Teaching Elder Dean Weaver (Alleghenies); Ruling Elder Scott Griffin (Pacific); and Teaching Elder Bill Enns (Mid-Atlantic).

Jeremiah began by reminding the Assembly that he told the 2013 Assembly in Denver that it was time for the EPC to move from a time of transfer growth to transformation growth, and that the concept has resonated well throughout the denomination. However, the challenge is to articulate that as a movement now that there are more than 500 churches in the denomination. He said that the COA did not want to build a bureaucracy at the national level. “We believe Jesus is calling us to do something else, and that is what we will present today.”

He described the understanding of the term “mission” as a statement of “who we are,” and read the EPC mission statement: “The EPC exists to carry out the Great Commission of Jesus as a denomination of Presbyterian, Reformed, evangelical, and missional congregations.” He noted that this statement is how the EPC has defined itself for past six years, and serves as a starting point for next steps.

Dean Weaver then took the podium and talked about the difference between statements of mission and statements of vision. “Mission is a statement of being,” he said. “Who we are.” He noted that Jesus is the missio Dei, the mission of God, and as Jesus dwells in us we become the mission of God to the world.

“If ‘who we are’ is God’s mission to the world, then what does that look like, and how will we know when we’ve arrived there? Those are questions of vision.”

Explaining that vision is a “clear, compelling, preferred future of what God would give us and lead us to be,” Weaver referenced a relevant translation of Proverbs 29:18, “where there is no revelation, people wander unrestrained.”

“This is not about us trying to come up with something clever; this is about discerning what God is revealing in our midst and seeking to follow after Him.”

He then read the proposed vision statement for the EPC: “To the glory of God, the EPC aspires to be a global movement of congregations engaged together in God’s mission through transformation, multiplication, and effective biblical leadership, embodying Jesus’ love to our neighbors near and far.

Noting this this statement is just the beginning of an articulation of what that preferred future might look like, he expounded on six phrases:

  1. To the glory of God. “We don’t want to do anything unless it brings Him the glory.”
  2. Global movement. “It’s already happening. You see it in World Outreach and Engage 2025; there are so many initiatives. And there are churches around the globe that are seeing what God is doing in the EPC and saying, ‘we would like to be a part of what God is doing through you!’”
  3. Engaged together. “That’s a way of saying, ‘we’re Presbyterian, we mean it, and we like it.’ We believe we are stronger together than apart, and we need one another.”
  4. Transformation. “That’s what this statement is all about. It’s not enough to say that all these churches are transferring to us. We are talking about being transformed as God does that work of renewal in our body.”
  5. Multiplication. “We are not just talking about the Great Commission; we are talking about the cultural mandate of ‘be fruitful and multiply.’ We are called to be fruitful and multiply.”
  6. Effective biblical leadership. “We have those words together purposefully; we don’t think they are mutually exclusive of one another. We think we can be effective, biblical leaders just as our Savior was.”
  7. Embodying Jesus’ love to our neighbors near and far. “That’s in our mission statement. That’s who we are.”

Weaver then told the there are some ongoing strategies that are occurring in the EPC that indicate that this vision statement is something that God is already doing.

  1. Develop and implement a church planting strategy. “It’s already happening, and not just in our Presbyteries—there are churches, individuals, and clusters of churches that are planting.
  2. Revise education and equipping of ministers. “Last year at our Assembly we commissioned a group to look at this idea of credentialing and ordination, and how we can serve congregations on the front lines.”
  3. Engage unreached people groups around the world. “World Outreach and Engage 2025 are already doing this, and many of you have joined and partnered in that.”

While these three portions of the vision are already occurring, he noted that there are a number of areas in which fully developed strategies do not exist.

Griffin then spoke about four additional strategies, but first described the process of how the vision statement was developed. The first step was discerning where God is leading the EPC as a denomination. The second step was identifying gaps between where the EPC is today and where it would like to be. The third step was addressing strategies that would bridge those gaps. The final step was to reduce two pages of strategies to the four that should have priority. He then explained the four areas of emphasis.

  1. Promote and resource church planting. “This looks familiar, but we wrote it as new strategy because of the word ‘resource.’ What would happen if money wasn’t an issue when we look at church planting?”
  2. Promote and resource church revitalization. “We have churches in the EPC that have flat membership or are declining. How can we come alongside those pastors and elders, and do we have best practices? We need to have the same amount of passion about church revitalization as we do about church planting.”
  3. Create a structure suitable for a global movement. He noted that the EPC is already becoming global, with churches and affiliations on three continents. “What should our denomination look like in three years? Is having presbyteries outside the United States the most effective way for us to seek out God’s mission for us as a denomination?”
  4. Create a leadership development approach. “I like to think of this as ‘what is our nurturing strategy for ruling and teaching elders?’” He emphasized that pastors who get their first lead pastor opportunity need to be mentored and nurtured by people who have been there and know what the challenges are going to be.

Griffin concluded by noting that the four priorities don’t look like new strategies because “it is evidence that the vision statement is solid and is coming from God.”

Bill Enns then talked about the leadership development strategy in greater depth, emphasizing that the desire is not to have a top-down approach, but broad-based participation and that a number of groups have already had input into the vision statement.

He also said that the EPC wants to be a global movement rather than a static institution, noting that a movement has a vision, a purpose, and a goal while an institution is only concerned with preserving itself. “Because of that, we have to come up with appropriate strategies to help us become the movement that we say we want to be.”

Enns then described the three questions the COA asked as they developed the vision statement.

  1. What kind of congregation do we want the EPC to be at the local level?
  2. What kind of Presbytery facilitates that kind of congregation?
  3. What kind of General Assembly-level resources that kind of presbytery and congregation need in order that we might become the people that God created us to be?

He reported that the COA determined the most significant area of growth and the most important entry point into the EPC leadership process is the local congregation. He pointed out that being engaged together means that the preferred future has to be “in identifying leaders for the church of Jesus Christ—and that is a congregational moment. Every other court in the Presbyterian system is ruled by people who are identified at the local level.”

He continued by describing some gaps in leadership development that currently exist at the local, presbytery, and General Assembly levels.

At the local level, a current weakness in leadership development is a tendency for candidates for office in the church to self-identify. He said that is not always bad, because “we do believe in the internal call.” However, he stressed that each candidate must be vetted by a discerning body of Christ.

“Let me remind you,” Enns emphasized, “that the primary duty of an elder is to represent the mind of Christ. And I also want to remind you that that is together, not alone.”

A second concern at the local level is for the Session as a group and for Ruling Elders individually to operate from a stance of true spiritual leadership, and not simply as a board of directors. “The default position in every organization—I don’t care what it is—is to do the stuff that’s in front of you and lose sight of the mission. When that happens, you get lots of rules and very little action. So we want elders to be identified as spiritual leaders.”

As an example, he noted that the terms teaching elder, ruling elder, and especially stated clerk do not communicate the mission of the EPC. He stressed that it should be “crystal clear about what God has called us to do, so that the world understands. Our mission field is the world, and how they perceive us is more important than anything else.”

At the Presbytery level, the preferred future is that pastors are cared for. Currently, the responsibility for pastoral care of pastors is irregular.

At the General Assembly level, he said it is important that leadership development is resourced, and not directed. “We believe the mission of God in the world has a church, and the church needs to organize itself in such a way that it deploys spiritually mature, vibrant, vital people for the sake of the world.”

Enns concluded by restating the goal of deploying congregations that are fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, Presbyteries that build that kind of congregation, and a General Assembly Office that resources to the greater glory of God.

Jeremiah then recapped items that are already in progress—church planting, church revitalization, and ministerial education, and outlined five important expectations going forward.

The first is that the COA will engage with both Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders. “It’s imperative that we engage together in this as leaders in God’s church,” he said, noting that a number of groups are already involved—including the Next Generation Leaders (Teaching Elders under age 40, of which there are more than 185 in the EPC).

A second expectation is that it is to be a dynamic process. “This is not an event; it is a process.”

A third is to assign and expect accountability. “That’s part of what it means to be a connectional church, connected together as brothers and sisters in Christ.”

The fourth expectation is to utilize existing resources and funding. Jeremiah emphasized that because the COA, as the Session of the EPC, has not built a bureaucracy at the national level of the church over the past seven years, “we have the financial resources available to fund these strategic opportunities.”

The final expectation Jeremiah declared was that the COA will provide updates on Strategies for Transfer to Transformation at future General Assembly meetings.

He concluded by stating that he welcomes any and all ideas or comments, which can be sent to

“Transfer to transformation—this is what we believe our future is in Jesus Christ, trusting the Lord Himself will lead us and He will empower us. We will be in touch, as together we proceed into this future we believe He has for us.”

Argentina Trip Report


On November 14-17, I made my annual visit to St. Andrews Presbytery of Argentina. The good news is that St. Andrews is growing. New, younger leadership is moving into existing churches and newly formed mission churches. There are now more mission churches (eight) than particular churches (seven). The future is bright for St. Andrews!

Argentina-Trip-Report“Next Generation” pastors fueling presbytery growth: In 2013, St. Andrews had 14 in the candidate process. This year there are nine, as candidates have been ordained and placed. ITSA (Theological Institute of St. Andrews), under the leadership of Douglas Robertson (photo right and Ruling Elder at Olivos Church) is doing an outstanding job of preparing candidates for ordination. Douglas gives a lot of credit to the candidate’s questions that were sent from Mid-Atlantic and Central South presbyteries in 2011. These newly ordained pastors are coming in as: 1) assistant pastors at existing churches and 2) pastors of the new mission churches. These mission churches are in neighborhoods close to existing St. Andrews churches and in the neighborhoods of former Church of Scotland churches. All of these new, younger pastors are bi-vocational and are Spanish-speakers only.

Argentina-Trip-Report-2A Challenge: St. Andrews leaders would like their presbytery meetings to focus “less on organization and more on ministry and mission.” They were very interested in how we have been re-organizing the way we docket time at our meetings to free up more time for “ministry and mission.”

Argentina-Trip-Report-3We have enjoyed a relationship with St. Andrews, Argentina since 1988. In that year, the Church of Scotland severed its ties to these churches. The St. Andrews churches approached us and we welcomed them as a presbytery of the EPC. In 2004, we dismissed them as a national church and established a five-year fraternal agreement with them. In 2009, a second five-year agreement was implemented. My annual visit is part of our agreement as I meet with (and hopefully help) Presbytery leadership. Among those with whom I met were Catherine Ogden (Moderator, she addressed our 2013 General Assembly), Guille MacKenzie (Stated Clerk – photo left) and Marcelo Robles (Pastor of La Mission – photo right). I also met with the Missions Committee and addressed the November 16 meeting of the presbytery.

One way to support the continued growth of St. Andrews is through the “Argentina: Church Planting and Revitalization [WO-426]” Partnership Opportunity. This benevolence helps fund the planting of new churches and the redevelopment of existing St. Andrews churches.

Why would OUR church want to plant another church?


(A conversation for church leaders who want to change the world)

Being the church is hard work. Jesus never said it would be easy.

As you face the current challenges in your congregation, the thought of planting another church seems overwhelming.

But what if church planting could bring revival to your own congregation and in the process further the Kingdom of God beyond your own church’s reach?  Would you want to be a part of the adventure?

We believe being part of a new church plant is worth your time, because:

  • Church planting is one of the most effective ways to reach new people for Christ
  • Church planting will help you bring greater vitality to your own church
  • Church planting will help you enhance and bless your community
  • Church planting will help your members develop their gifts and talents more fully.
  • Church planting will expand your kingdom vision beyond your “four walls.”

Many church leaders love the “idea” of planting a church but get lost when it comes to specific action. So how do we get started?

Our Desire for the EPC:

To help you EQUIP, ENCOURAGE, and EMPOWER your church to plant a successful new church development that will bring glory to God and advance His kingdom with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Help us to help you!

Join us for lunch at General Assembly on Thursday, June 21, to discuss the opportunity of church planting in the EPC.

Sincerely in Christ,

EPCChurch Planting Team

Tom Ricks, Shawn Robinson, Tom Melton, Mike Moses, Jack Cathey, Chris Coppolo and Jim Holland