Category Archives: Denominational News

Noted leadership author Tod Bolsinger headlines annual Executive Pastor/Church Administrator gathering

 

Tod Bolsinger, Senior Congregational Strategist at Fuller Theological Seminary and author of Tempered Resilience and Canoeing the Mountains, explains the Adaptive Change Process to attendees of the first of two Executive Pastor/Church Administrator gatherings on October 21 in Denver, Colo.

At the first of two EPC Executive Pastor/Church Administrator workshops, noted church leadership expert and author Tod Bolsinger discussed the topic “From Surviving to Thriving: How Not to Waste a Crisis.” The event was held October 21-22 in Denver, Colo.

Bolsinger drew from his books Tempered Resilience and Canoeing the Mountains as he described the challenges of being a ministry leader over the past 20 months, noting that 2020 was like 1918, 1929, and 1968 all at the same time.

“We had a health crisis, an economic crisis, and a cultural crisis,” he said. “I don’t know anyone in ministry who isn’t exhausted.”

Bolsinger told the 20 attendees that in Crossing the Unknown Sea, author David Whyte said the antidote to exhaustion is not rest, but “wholeheartedness.”

“Many of us are doing our best, but we have fallen into half-heartedness,” Bolsinger said. “We didn’t go into ministry because we wanted to follow state or local ordinances, or whatever the shifting opinions are. We got into this because we love God and love people, and want to connect people to the God we love. We didn’t go into ministry to be in a place of conflict.”

Bolsinger outlined five steps for not simply surviving a crisis, but thriving within it:

  1. Identify adaptive challenges
  2. Refuel on trust
  3. Focus on the pain points of those you serve
  4. Find yourself a few Sacagaweas
  5. Try some aligned things

Regarding the idea of identifying adaptive challenges, he explained that a crisis has two phases: acute and adaptive.

“The goal of the acute phase is to stabilize, protect, and buy time,” he said. “Think of a medical triage situation, like a hospital emergency room.”

In the adaptive phase of a crisis, leaders should address root issues that they may not have had the will to confront before the crisis.

“You thrive in the acute stage through relationships,” he said. “You survive in the adaptive phase by learning to face losses and addressing the underlying issues that keep you from moving forward. An expert can solve technical problems, and those solutions serve a really important purpose. However, adaptive challenges require people to make a shift in values, expectations, attitudes, or habits.”

Concerning trust, Bolsinger noted that people don’t resist change, they resist loss.

“When trust is gone, the journey is over,” he emphasized. “We need to continually grow our trust account and wisely invest it in what will truly transform. People won’t judge us on intentions; they judge us on impact.”

In focusing on the pain points, Bolsinger described a fundraising effort among a group of potential donors for Fuller Theological Seminary, which he serves as Vice President and Chief of Leadership Formation.

“They told me that nobody cares if your institution—which of course in our case here is our church—stays alive. They only care if your institution cares about them,” he said. “You have to go out and talk to people and know their pain and how you can help with their problem. Nothing will change the more we focus internally. The way to move forward is to ask how we can meet the pain points.”

In explaining the need to “find yourself a few Sacagaweas,” Bolsinger related the story of Sacagawea, the Native American teenaged nursing mother who helped lead the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery across the Rocky Mountains.

“She had no voice, no privilege, no power whatsoever, but she became the key to their being able to continue,” he said. Among other contributions, Sacagawea interpreted for a meeting with a tribe they encountered—and discovered that the chief was her brother. Bolsinger emphasized that the episode was critical to the survival and ultimate success of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

“We need to find some Sacagaweas who can interpret a culture that may be foreign to the one we know.”

In trying “some aligned things,” Bolsinger emphasized the importance of prototypes that align with existing core values.

“Try some experiments that are safe, modest, and aligned,” he said. “Don’t launch the ‘first annual’ thing, just do a one-off thing. And afterward, don’t ask, ‘Did it work?’ Ask ‘What did we learn?’ It’s not failure if we are learning.”

Bolsinger earned MDiv and PhD degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. Prior to being named Vice President at Fuller in 2014, he served as Associate Pastor and Senior Pastor in two Presbyterian churches in California. He is author of Tempered Resilience: How Leaders Are Formed in the Crucible of Change; Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory; Leadership for a Time of Pandemic: Practicing Resilience; and It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian.

The gathering, now in its eighth year, is a two-day event for EPC executive pastors and directors, church administrators, and others in senior operational leadership positions.

Twenty EPC church leaders attended the workshop. In addition to discussing recent challenges and opportunities in their ministry settings—particularly related to changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic—participants shared best practices on a variety of topics related to church administration and operations, technology systems, personnel, vision and strategy, finance, and more.

“There are a lot of conferences out there that you can go to and get something out of,” said attendee Mark Eshoff, Executive Minister for Fremont Presbyterian Church in Sacramento, Calif. “But the things we talk about here are the things I work with every day. Minute-for-minute this is absolutely the best use of my time.”

The workshop is a resource of the Office of the General Assembly. The second roundtable, which also features Bolsinger and has the same format as the October 22-22 event, takes place November 11-12 in Orlando. For more information or to register, see www.epc.org/xpadmingathering.

September 2021 EPC financial report: Q1 PMA support lags 2020, behind projected budget

 

As of September 30, Per Member Asking (PMA) contributions received by the Office of the General Assembly since the July 1 start of fiscal year 2022 (FY22) total $531,873. The amount received is $20,337 (3.7 percent) less than the budgeted $552,210 PMA projection to fund the EPC’s Collaborative Ministries, Connectional Support, and Custodial Operations. September PMA support was $193,939.

PMA contributions in the first quarter of FY22 are $29,393 (5.2 percent) lower than the $561,266 contributed over the same period in FY21. In addition, the 12-month rolling average for PMA support dipped to $197,749—1.6 percent below the rolling average for September 2020.

“We are disappointed that PMA support is down for the second month in a row,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “Thankfully, our operating expenses to date are more than $100,000 under budget and our overall financial position is strong. I praise the Lord that we have undesignated reserves to withstand a short-term drop. And while it is normal to see a dip in income at this time of year, we all pray that PMA support from our churches grows in the month to come.”

Of the $531,873 received, $106,375 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, $1,506,647 in designated gifts were received through September 30. This total was $168,873 (12.6 percent) more than the $1,337,774 in designated gifts received in the same period in FY21. Of the increase, more than $85,000 was donated to the EPC’s Emergency Relief Fund and $37,000 to refugee relief since July 1.

“I am so thankful for the generosity displayed by our congregations when disaster strikes,” Weaver said. “When people are hurting, our churches respond—this is a reminder of the best of who the EPC is.”

Of the total, $1,382,642 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $124,005 was designated for EPC projects. These amounts only reflect gifts received and distributed by the Office of the General Assembly, and do not reflect donations given directly to WO global workers or other projects.

Designated gifts include support for World Outreach global workers and projects, and contributions to EPC Special Projects such as Emergency Relief, church planting and revitalization initiatives, and the EPC’s Thanksgiving and Christmas offerings.

Next Generation Ministries Council hosts leadership summit for EPC ministry leaders

 

Collaboration, encouragement, fellowship, and worship were on the agenda for more than 30 EPC children’s ministry, student ministry, and family ministry leaders on October 6-7 in Orlando. The workers from local churches in all 14 Presbyteries met for the inaugural Next Generation Ministries Leadership Summit, hosted by the Next Generation Ministries Council (NGMC).

The focus of the two-day “think tank” was to consider best approaches for ministry to children, students, and families, as well as discuss a variety of challenges facing age-group ministry in the current cultural landscape.

Jen Burkholder

“While the good news of Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, the Church needs to think hard about how we can best reach and disciple the young generations of our communities with the gospel in an ever-shifting culture,” said Jen Burkholder, Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Coalition for Christian Outreach and a member of the NGMC. “We cannot wait any longer to figure out how to equip them for leadership in our denomination and world.”

Among the topics that launched robust discussion among participants were practices, identity, diversity, and networking. Following a presentation on each issue, participants engaged in small group discussion to both foster dialogue and help build community among ministry peers.

Enid Flores, NGMC member and Ruling Elder for Iglesia Presbiteriana Westminster in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, led the discussion on diversity.

“When we work with relationships, we get to know our neighbors,” she said. “When we get to know our neighbors, we get the opportunity to have discipleship. And with that, we get a deeper friendship. And at the end, we love our neighbors as He loves us.”

As each table presented highlights of their group discussion, a theme emerged of the desire for broader diversity in the church.

“We talked about how to have the conversation in our church if they don’t want to embrace diversity—even if it’s an age diversity and not a racial one,” said Blaise Shields, Pastor for Youth & Families at St. Andrew EPC in Auburn, Ind. “It makes sense to me that someone who visits the church would feel more at home if they see someone in leadership who looks like them—whatever that may look like.”

Connected to reach the world for Christ’

As part of the discussion on networking, NGMC Chairman Greg Aydt said the Council’s goal is for a stronger level of collaboration among Next Generation Ministry leaders, both within and across Presbyteries.

Greg Aydt

“We are all connected to reach the world for Christ,” said Aydt, who serves as Pastor of Youth Ministry for Advent Presbyterian Church in Cordova, Tenn. “We have a strong belief in the wisdom of the collective—of the group. It’s Trinitiarian in a way. There’s power in that fellowship.”

He said the Council hopes to help foster creation of ministry peer networks all across the EPC.

“Our desire is that no NextGen worker is on an island. Networking has a bunch of strengths—resourcing, collaboration, mutual edification,” Aydt said. “We are thrilled to have denominational leaders who are invested in Next Generation ministry and want to see it prosper.”

Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk, said the Council’s work to connect Next Generation Ministry leaders to each other and also the larger vision of the EPC was already bearing fruit for the Kingdom. Weaver spoke to the gathering on Wednesday afternoon via video conference.

“I have no doubt the God will continue to bless the vision and energy these leaders have for reaching young people in their communities,” Weaver said. “They are natives to the culture that the people they are trying to reach are in, so they are in a unique position that not all of us can be as effective in.”

Jerry Iamurri, EPC Assistant Stated Clerk, noted that the passion for evangelism and outreach among the attendees “signals that both the present and the future of EPC leadership looks promising.”

“These folks are at the tip of the spear in evangelism in their churches and other ministry contexts,” Iamurri said. “Listening to these folks describe how they are reaching their students for Christ is incredibly encouraging.”

Aydt noted that “the next generation is going to reform the Church; whether or not they are formed in the likeness of Christ is up to people like those in the room.”

August 2021 EPC financial report: PMA support below projected budget

 

Contributions to Per Member Asking (PMA) received by the Office of the General Assembly in fiscal year 2022 (FY22) through August 31 total $337,934. The total is $11,246 (3.2 percent) below the $349,180 FY22 PMA support projection to fund the EPC’s Collaborative Ministries, Connectional Support, and Custodial Operations. August PMA support was $143,657.

Despite contributions being below the projected budget, FY22 PMA support is $969 (0.3 percent) above the $336,965 contributed over the same period in FY21. In addition, the 12-month rolling average for PMA support is $200,279 (1.2 percent above the rolling average for August 2020). Fiscal year 2022 runs from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022)

“While you never like to see PMA support dip—even a small amount—we feel good about the overall trends and continued participation to begin a new fiscal year,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “The good news is that our operating expenses to date are about $50,000 under budget. Our staff has been diligent in controlling expenses, and I am very thankful for their careful stewardship.”

Of the $337,934 received, $67,587 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, $907,079 in designated gifts were received through August 31. This total was $50,752 (5.9 percent) above the $856,327 in designated gifts received in the same period in FY21.

“Our congregations have been so very generous in responding to critical needs like disaster relief in Louisiana and the ministry needs among the growing tide of hurting Afghan refugees,” Weaver said.  “We are committed to getting these sacrificial gifts into the hands of those who need it the most as quickly as possible.”

Of the total, $891,969 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $15,110 was designated for EPC projects. These amounts only reflect gifts received and distributed by the Office of the General Assembly, and do not reflect donations given directly to WO global workers or other projects.

Designated gifts include support for World Outreach global workers and projects, and contributions to EPC Special Projects such as Emergency Relief, church planting and revitalization initiatives, and the EPC’s Thanksgiving and Christmas offerings.

Bob Stauffer named National Director of Church Health

 

Bob Stauffer

Bob Stauffer, Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of the Alleghenies, has been named the EPC’s National Director of Church Health. This new role at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando will oversee the denomination’s strategic priority of Church Revitalization.

“I am excited to serve the EPC in this capacity of helping churches better understand how they can be healthy congregations,” Stauffer said. “We are already developing plans for a church health structure both nationally and within each Presbytery to give the entire process ‘rails to run on’ in the areas of evangelism, church health, and transitional pastorates.”

A member of the EPC’s first ordination class in 1982, Stauffer has served in a wide variety of roles in his 40 years of ministry. Among these are Associate Pastor of NorthPark EPC in Pittsburgh, Pa.; Planting Pastor of Carmel Valley EPC in San Diego, Calif.; Pastor of Tabernacle EPC in Youngstown, Ohio; Planting Pastor of Gateway EPC in Slippery Rock, Pa.; and several transitional pastorates. He also served as the EPC’s National Outreach Director; Church Development Coordinator for the Presbytery of the Alleghenies; a Church Health leader for Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic’s GO Center; and Regional Director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. For the past 34 years he also has served as a high school baseball and strength and conditioning coach.

“I am thrilled that Bob is leading this critical effort in the life of the EPC,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “Those who know Bob know that his passion for the local church to be everything God has called her to be as the Bride of Christ is infectious. In addition, his vast experience helping churches all across the EPC through the revitalization process will be a tremendous benefit to the entire denomination.”

A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Stauffer is a graduate of Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa., and Pittsburgh (Pa.) Theological Seminary. He also holds a doctorate from Reformed Theological Seminary.

He and his wife, Debbie, have been married for 42 years and have three children—all involved in ministry—and eight grandchildren.

Spaces still available for October pastor-spouse retreat

 

Twenty spots remain available for the October pastor-spouse retreat for EPC pastors who serve in Presbyteries that are not hosting their own renewal retreat this fall or winter. The retreats will be held October 18-22 at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Southwest Pennsylvania, and February 14-18, 2022, at the Canterbury Retreat and Conference Center in Central Florida.

The retreats are offered at no cost to the pastor and his or her spouse—singles are welcome— and registration for each is limited to 50 couples.

For more information and to register, see www.epc.org/pastorspouseretreat.

Prayers requested for Louisiana as Hurricane Ida approaches

 

As Hurricane Ida approaches Louisiana with 150 mph winds, please join EPC leadership in prayer for those in its path. Several EPC churches in Louisiana are in the path of the storm:

  • First Presbyterian Church in Thibodeaux (Pastor: Bill Crawford)
  • First Presbyterian Church in Houma (Pastor: Bill Crawford)
  • Woodland Church in New Orleans (Pastor: Joseph McDaniels)
  • Church of the Resurrection in New Orleans (Pastor: Ben Cunningham)
  • New Covenant EPC in Mandeville (Pastor: Hunter Gray)
  • Faith Presbyterian Church in Covington (Pastor: Jason Wood)
  • River Community Church in Prairieville (without a Pastor, but Whitney Alexander is Moderator of Session).
  • First Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge (Pastor: Gerrit Dawson).

Pray that God’s grace and protective hand will sustain those who have not been able to evacuate. Pray also for each of these Pastors and their staff and leaders as they care for their congregations and communities today and in the days to come.

Call to prayer in the EPC

 

The National Leadership Team of the EPC issued a call to prayer on August 18, 2021, in response to numerous situations around the world, including wildfires in the Western U.S. and Canada, the August 14 earthquake in Haiti, the fall of Afghanistan, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Registration open for EPC pastor-spouse retreats

 

The Office of the General Assembly is hosting two pastor-spouse retreats for EPC pastors who serve in Presbyteries that are not hosting their own renewal retreat this fall or winter. The retreats will be held October 18-22 at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Southwest Pennsylvania, and February 14-18, 2022, at the Canterbury Retreat and Conference Center in Central Florida.

“We believe that the health of our churches correlates directly with the wellbeing of our pastors—who are at the point of the spear on the front lines of the advancement of the gospel,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “These five-day getaways are designed to provide our pastors and their spouse with refreshment, renewal, and recharge.”

Based on the theme, “Moving out of the COVID Wilderness: Working through Trauma and Transition,” the two gatherings will feature Bible studies and prayer times led by Jim and Shari Hobby of the Anglican Church in North America. Christian psychologist Tara Gunther will be available for counseling sessions, and plenty of free time is built into the schedule for exploring the retreat centers’ amenities or local attractions.

Each of these retreats is offered at no cost to the pastor and his or her spouse, and registration for each is limited to 50 couples.

“The pastor’s Presbytery, congregation, and/or Session is encouraged to express care for their pastor and spouse by providing transportation costs as well as childcare options, since childcare is not provided,” Weaver noted. “A limited number of scholarships are available to help defray travel and childcare costs if needed.”

For more information and to register, see www.epc.org/pastorspouseretreat.

Michael Davis named EPC Chief Collaborative Officer

 

Michael Davis

Michael Davis, Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of the Central South, has been named the EPC’s Chief Collaborative Officer. This new role at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando encompasses strategic leadership with particular emphasis on strategic priorities and senior leaders; collaborative networking at all levels of the denomination; and development and innovation with a focus on missional “best practices.” Davis begins his responsibilities on August 2.

“Michael’s primary responsibilities will be to identify where God is at work inside and outside of the EPC, and help connect and network ministries, Presbyteries, and congregations to the missio dei in order that we might fulfill the EPC’s mission,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk.

Since 2017, Davis has served as Associate Teaching Pastor for Downtown Church in Memphis, Tenn. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor for Memphis City Seminary. He previously served as an adjunct instructor for the Memphis Center of Urban Theological Studies, Assistant Pastor to Young Adults at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, and Chaplain for Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis.

“I am incredibly energized and excited to be the Chief Collaborative Officer for our denomination,” Davis said. “This potential for innovation and collaboration will cultivate a thriving, gospel-driven denomination that will see fruit for years to come. God has provided our denomination with an abundance of opportunities that will benefit our communities, nation, and the world all for the glory of God. It is an amazing honor to serve in this capacity.”

Davis is a graduate of the University of Missouri in Columbia and Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis. He has served as the Board Chairman for Advance Memphis since 2015, and also is on the Boards of a variety of Memphis-area ministries, including Service Over Self, Presbyterian Day School, The Center for Executive Leadership, and Memphis City Seminary. He has served on the EPC’s Church Planting Team, Next Generation Ministries Council, and Presbytery of the Central South Ministerial Committee.

He and his wife, Serena, have two children. Their third child is due in late November.

June EPC budget report: PMA contributions finish FY21 ahead of budget, over FY20 total

 

At the June 30 close of the EPC’s fiscal year, Per Member Asking (PMA) contributions to the EPC totaled $2,402,378. The amount is $348,166 (16.9 percent) more than the PMA support projection to fund the EPC’s Collaborative Ministries, Connectional Support, and Custodial Operations.

Fiscal year 2021 (FY21) PMA support was $12,507 more than the $2,389,871 contributed over the same period in FY20. The EPC’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. In addition, June PMA support of $213,296 brought the 12-month rolling average for monthly PMA contributions to $201,198. The rolling average is 0.4 percent above the 12-month rolling average as of June 2020.

“God is so good,” said Stated Clerk Dean Weaver. “We ended the fiscal year in a strong financial position, which can only be attributed to His faithfulness to our churches. I am grateful that our leaders understand the value in contributing to the global movement of Evangelical Presbyterian churches that is the EPC. I want to especially recognize the five churches with the highest PMA contributions last year: Hope Church (Memphis, Tenn.); Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis; Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in Knoxville (Tenn.); Lake Forest Church (Huntersville, N.C.); and Colonial Presbyterian Church in Kansas City.”

Of the $2,402,378 received, $480,548 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, the Office of the General Assembly received $5,579,940 in designated gifts in FY21. This total was $226,233 (4 percent) less than the $5,806,173 in designated gifts received in FY20. Designated gifts include support for World Outreach global workers and projects, and contributions to EPC Special Projects such as Emergency Relief, church planting and revitalization initiatives, and the EPC’s holiday offerings.

Of the total, $5,426,889 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $153,051 was designated for EPC projects. These amounts only reflect gifts received and distributed by the Office of the General Assembly, and do not reflect donations given directly to WO global workers or other projects.

As noted in previous monthly reports, the decline in the total from FY20 is largely attributed to an anonymous $250,000 gift for church planting in December 2019 and more than $375,000 donated to the Emergency Relief Fund in 2019-2020 in response to Hurricane Dorian and the spring 2020 tornado outbreak.

“If we don’t consider any donations to church planting or emergency relief, giving to our global workers and designated funds is up more than $400,000 over last (fiscal) year,” Weaver said. “More than $360,000 of that was to support our World Outreach global workers. Who would have imagined when we closed the books on 2020 a year ago in the midst of the pandemic shutdown that a year later we would report this level of giving? God is so good!”

May 2021 EPC financial report: PMA support continues above budget, above 2019 level

 

Contributions to Per Member Asking (PMA) received by the Office of the General Assembly in fiscal year 2021 (FY21) through May 31 total $2,189,082. The amount is $335,599 (18.1 percent) more than the $1,853,483 FY21 PMA support projection to fund the EPC’s Collaborative Ministries, Connectional Support, and Custodial Operations.

With one month to go in the fiscal year (which runs from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021), PMA contributions are $25,812 above the $2,163,270 contributed over the same period in FY20. In addition, May PMA support of $154,111 brought the 12-month rolling average for monthly PMA contributions to $201,471. The rolling average has now increased for three consecutive months and is 1 percent above the 12-month rolling average as of May 2020.

“When we presented a significantly reduced budget to the 40th General Assembly last September, none of us envisioned being where we are at the end of May,” said Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah. “I am very grateful for how our churches have supported PMA in this most unusual year.”

“Our churches continue to demonstrate amazing generosity to the EPC,” said Dean Weaver, Stated Clerk-elect. “The past three months especially are truly awe-inspiring. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s grace toward us.”

Of the $2,189,082 received, $437,816 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, $5,153,361 in designated gifts were received through May 31. This total was $236,059 (4.4 percent) lower than the $5,389,420 in designated gifts received in the same period in FY20. As noted in previous monthly reports, the discrepancy is largely attributed to significant donations to the Emergency Relief Fund following Hurricane Dorian’s devastation in the Bahamas and North Carolina in September 2019, and several large anonymous gifts designated for church planting efforts. Not counting contributions to those two areas, giving to designated funds is $400,267 more than in FY20.

Of the total, $5,031,772 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $121,589 was designated for EPC Special Projects such as Emergency Relief, church planting and revitalization initiatives, and the EPC’s Thanksgiving and Christmas offerings.

These amounts only reflect gifts received and distributed by the Office of the General Assembly, and do not reflect donations given directly to World Outreach global workers or other projects.

Revised Procedure Manual for Ministerial and Candidates Committees now available

 

The revised, second edition of the Procedure Manual for Ministerial and Candidates Committees is now available for download in PDF format. The Manual was developed by the EPC’s Ministerial Vocation Committee as a resource for EPC Presbyteries, churches, and ministerial candidates. The second edition includes amendments and legislative actions approved through the 38th General Assembly.

The manual can be downloaded at no cost from the EPC website at www.epc.org/downloads/#training and from the EPC Resources online store at www.epcresources.org.

“The Procedure Manual puts in one place the constitutional requirements from the Book of Order, practices required by our Acts of Assembly, and other helpful material,” said Jerry Iamurri, Assistant Stated Clerk. “It also contains sections that will have great value to search committees, Sessions, and Candidates Under Care.”

New to the second edition is “From Candidacy to Call: an Overview of the Ordination Process.” The section provides a high-level overview of the process of the pastoral call, including steps and milestones for candidates, search committees, and Presbytery Ministerial and Candidates committees.

Another change from previous editions is that forms, checklists, and other resources designed to be used by Presbyteries and churches are not included in the second edition, but rather provided as links to downloadable forms on the EPC website.

“Many of these forms are updated—sometimes multiple times—between printings of the Manual,” Iamurri explained. “These forms have been available on the EPC website all along. With this edition we included an Appendix that includes a clickable link for each form, which will always be the most current version.”

Commissioner’s Handbook, committee reports available for 41st General Assembly

 

The 41st General Assembly Commissioner’s Handbook and reports from the EPC’s permanent and interim committees to the Assembly are now available for download in PDF format at www.epc.org/ga2021documents. The Handbook is available in its entirety as well by individual sections.

The Assembly will be held June 22-25 at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn.

“Every Commissioner should take time between now and the Assembly to familiarize themselves with the 30 Recommendations we will act on,” said Jeff Jeremiah, Stated Clerk.

Other documents available include the 2020 Annual Church Report; Auditor’s reports of the EPC’s Combined Financial Statements and Benefit Resources, Inc, (BRI) Benefits Plan and BRI Retirement Plan financial statements; Churches Received, Dismissed, and Dissolved in 2020-2021; Provisional Minutes of the 40th General Assembly, and more.

In addition, Commissioner assignments for the Standing Committees on Administration, Memorials and Appreciation, Theology, and World Outreach are available. In-person Commissioners will participate in Standing Committees on Thursday, June 24.

In addition to the GA Documents page of the website, all permanent and committee reports for the 2020-2021 ministry year are available at www.epc.org/committees/reports.

#epc2021ga

Phil Linton reflects on seven years as Director of World Outreach

 

Phil Linton

At the end of this month, I will step down after seven years as Director of World Outreach. I want to reflect here on four developments I’ve seen in our work during that time.

Internationalized Church-planting Teams

The EPC World Outreach global workers we send out from North America almost always end up teaming with spiritual brothers and sisters sent out from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. These relationships are rarely orchestrated from denominational or mission agency headquarters, but rather are organic partnerships that grow as disciple-makers from very different cultures discover each other working on the same task directed by the same Spirit.

Second-generation EPC WO Global Workers

By Presbyterian standards EPC World Outreach is relatively young, having sent out its first workers in 1985. But in recent years we have seen adult children (Jackie, Peter, and Josh) from three different EPC WO families return with the EPC into full-cycle church planting among people with least access to the gospel. With these folks we build on the foundation of decades of the very best preparation for cross-cultural ministry.

Repatriated Immigrant Global Workers

The dream of escape to America—the Land of Opportunity—is still very much alive throughout much of the world. Few who have achieved that dream give it up and return to the lands of their birth, but we in EPC World Outreach have several families where at least one spouse fits that description. These families have unusual credibility with neighbors who recognize they are animated by a power greater than material success. Coupling that credibility with a deep understanding of local culture to share the gospel has had a major impact in many cases.

National Church Missional Leaders

As World Outreach Director, I receive several requests each week from Christians around the world, asking for “partnership.” Of course, partnership may have many different meanings, but usually these appeals are for funds to carry out ministry in their communities. As important as these ministries are, I routinely turn down such requests to focus our resources and energies on a different kind of partnership.

World Outreach has developed close relationships with church leaders in Asia and Africa whose eyes are always on the frontiers of their communities. They look beyond where their churches are, to the neighborhoods, villages, and towns where no churches are. They pray for those places; they go to those places; they train and send people to those places; and EPC WO comes alongside to help them. Our efforts here become magnified and multiplied for a hundred-fold effect.

One final note: these developments in World Outreach have been gifts from God through the labors of people other than me. It has been the labors of loving missionary parents which have borne sweet fruit in the lives of our World Outreach MKs. It has been the faithful service of elders in our presbyteries who nurtured relationships with national church missional leaders in places like Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Albania, and Russia. It has been EPC pastors who welcomed and befriended immigrant Christians in their congregations, and then encouraged and guided them to be sent back by EPC World Outreach. And it has been our WO global workers who have recognized “God’s team” in the faces of El Salvadoran, Brazilian, Singaporean, Indonesian, Albanian, etc. brothers and sisters and reached out hands to work together. To all of you, I say thank you for your service to Christ, and for making my work as WO Director a joy.

Grace and peace,

Phil Linton
Director, EPC World Outreach

Church Revitalization Workshop session 7 recording, other resources now available

 

The recording of the final session of the 2020-2021 Church Revitalization Workshop is now available. “How our identity in Christ, leading change, and overcoming barriers can lead to revitalization” was hosted by Doug Resler, Senior Pastor of Parker Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Parker, Colo. Panelists were:

Recordings of the entire seven-part workshop are available on the EPC website at www.epc.org/churchrevitalizationworkshop, as well as resources for church and personal revitalization recommended by each of the facilitators. In addition, written summaries of each month’s session are available in Spanish.

Audio podcast versions are available on the EPC’s podcast channel at podcast.epc.org, as well as Spotify and iTunes (search for “Evangelical Presbyterian Church”).

General Assembly to consider new Presbyteries, Book of Government amendments, Approved Agency separation

 

Commissioners to the 41st General Assembly will vote on a variety of recommendations from the EPC’s permanent and interim committees and boards. The Assembly is June 22-25 at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn. The meeting is the EPC’s first “hybrid” General Assembly, in which Commissioners will participate both in-person and virtually.

“Since our hybrid format requires us to close registration on June 4 and not permit walk-up registrations or day passes at the Assembly, we wanted to announce ahead of time some of the business items that the Assembly will consider,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk.

Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic

The Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic is overturing the Assembly to split into three presbyteries, effective January 1, 2022. With 117 churches, the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic is the EPC’s largest. Between 20 and 73 churches comprise each of the EPC’s other 13 presbyteries, and each of the new presbyteries would include a similar number of congregations.

Theology Committee

The Theology Committee is recommending that the Assembly withdraw approval of Bethany Christian Services (BCS) as an Approved Agency of the EPC. A Christian adoption and child services organization, BCS announced in March 2021 that they would change their national policy and begin placing children with same-sex couples.

“This recommendation is not set before the General Assembly lightly,” said Zach Hopkins, Theology Committee Chairman. “Our committee was asked to review the EPC’s relationship to BCS in light of our commitments to Scripture, the Westminster Standards, and our Constitution—especially as it is expressed in our Position Papers. When this matter was first brought to the attention of the General Assembly, the concern was focused on only one specific chapter of Bethany’s organization. However, within two years, Bethany has made the approval of same-sex adoption a matter of national policy. The EPC cannot in good conscience remain in partnership with an agency that does not align with the doctrine and practice of the historic Christian faith.”

Hopkins is a Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes, and serves as Pastor of Edgington Presbyterian Church in Taylor Ridge, Ill.

The Theology Committee also will present a motion to amend the EPC’s Book of Government regarding ministry to and inclusion of the disabled.

National Leadership Team

The National Leadership Team (NLT) is presenting a motion to name current Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah as Stated Clerk Emeritus upon his retirement at the conclusion of the Assembly.

Case Thorp, NLT Chairman, said the committee’s decision to honor Jeremiah with the title “was unanimous and easy.”

Other motions presented by the National Leadership Team are the EPC’s fiscal year 2022 administration budget and Special Projects, as well as an in-depth description of the role and purpose of the Office of the General Assembly.

Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee is presenting Brad Strait, Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of the West, as its nominee for Moderator, and Rosemary Lukens, Ruling Elder in the Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest as Moderator-elect. Strait serves as Senior Pastor of Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in suburban Denver, Colo. Lukens is a Ruling Elder for Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Gig Harbor, Wash.

“I am thrilled that Rosemary accepted the Nominating Committee’s invitation to be presented as Moderator-elect,” said Dean Weaver, Stated Clerk-elect. “She has served with distinction on the National Leadership Team and will bring a wealth of leadership development experience to the role.”

Chaplains Work and Care Committee

The Chaplains Work and Care Committee (CWCC) will present a motion to amend sections of the Book of Government and Book of Worship that address Chaplains’ administering of the sacraments. The CWCC also will present for vote a revised Policy Statement on Chaplain Ministry to Same-Sex Couples and LGBTQ individuals.

Giving Culture Study Committee

The Giving Culture Study Committee will recommend that a proposed change in the EPC’s funding formula from Per Member Asking (PMA) to Percent of Budget (POB) be sent to all Presbyteries and churches for study. On Thursday afternoon, June 24, committee member Scott McKee will present the rationale behind the formula change. His presentation will be available to virtual participants and those viewing the live stream, and will take place concurrent with the Assembly’s Standing Committee meetings. McKee, a Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of the Midwest, serves as Senior Pastor of Ward Presbyterian Church in suburban Detroit.

In addition to the business items, Weaver will be installed as the EPC’s fourth Stated Clerk, and Gabriel de Guia introduced as the new Executive Director of EPC World Outreach.

The Commissioner’s Handbook includes each of the recommendations to the Assembly. The Handbook will be posted on the EPC website at www.epc.org/ga2021documents no later than June 1.

Registration for the 41st General Assembly ends on Friday, June 4, at 5:00 p.m. (Eastern). Online registration is available at www.epc.org/ga2021.

#epc2021ga

General Assembly registration fees double June 1, registration closes June 4

 

If you have not yet registered for the 41st General Assembly, June 22-25 at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn., please don’t delay—registration fees double on June 1 and registration closes on June 4 at 5:00 p.m. (Eastern). Click here to register now.

This year’s meeting is the EPC’s first “hybrid” General Assembly, in which Commissioners will participate both in-person and virtually. In addition, the worship services and business sessions will be available via live stream on the EPC website at www.epc.org/ga2021livestream.

“Closing registration on June 4 ensures that we have a final list of virtual Commissioners in enough time to send the login credentials to the Zoom component as well as the orientation meetings,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “It also gives our office time to ensure that all Ruling Elder certification forms have been received for our registered Ruling Elders.”

Two virtual Commissioners Orientation meetings are scheduled. The identical meetings will be held Tuesday, June 15, from 4:00-5:30 p.m., and Thursday, June 17, from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Jeremiah noted that the orientation meetings are recommended for all participants.

“Like last year’s fully virtual format, we will all be ‘new Commissioners’ at this hybrid General Assembly,” Jeremiah said. “It is important for everyone to understand how we will conduct this meeting, since there will be some differences from past years when we have been able to gather exclusively in person.”

Registered Commissioners will be emailed the link to the orientation meetings no later than Tuesday, June 8.

In other GA-related news, final editing of the Commissioner’s Handbook and Committee Reports is nearing completion. These and other Assembly documents will be posted on the EPC website no later than June 1.

Online registration is available at www.epc.org/ga2021.

#epc2021ga

Church Revitalization Workshop concludes May 26

 

The EPC’s seven-part virtual Church Revitalization Workshop concludes on Wednesday, May 26, with a discussion of how the believer’s identity in Christ, leading change, and overcoming barriers can lead to revitalization in the local church. Previous installments of the monthly series focused on the revitalization of the Session, the revitalization of the pastor, and revitalizing the congregation through evangelism.

Facilitators of the workshop include Bryn MacPhail, Senior Pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Kirk in Nassau, Bahamas; Doug Resler, Senior Pastor of Parker Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Parker, Colo.; and Mike Wright, Pastor of Littleton Christian Church in Littleton, Colo.

The workshop will be held from 4:00-6:00 p.m. (Eastern) and is open to both Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders. For more information, recordings of previous sessions, or to register for the final installment, see www.epc.org/churchrevitalizationworkshop.

General Assembly women’s gatherings feature discipleship, connection opportunities

 

Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn., is hosting several gatherings designed for women attending the 41st General Assembly, June 22-25.

TESS Talks Dinner

“Growing as Word-filled Women” is the theme for the annual TESS Talks dinner on Wednesday, June 23. Speakers are Mary Willson Hannah, Leesa Jensen, Kelsie Ellison, and Rong Guo. Willson is Director of Women’s Ministry at Second Presbyterian Church. Jensen and Ellison serve on the women’s Bible study teaching team at Second Presbyterian Church. Guo was trained as a surgeon in China and came to the United States in 1999. She accepted Christ in 2000, was baptized at Second Presbyterian Church in 2001, and has since served as a workplace chaplain, assistant youth group teacher, and a children’s leader with Bible Study Fellowship.

Modeled after the popular “Ted Talks,” TESS (Teaching, Encouragement, and Spiritual Sustenance) Talks offer practical discussions on topics of interest for women across the EPC.

Ministry Wives Luncheon

“The Joys and Challenges of Following Christ as a Ministry Spouse” is the topic of this year’s Ministry Wives Luncheon on Thursday, June 24. The speakers are Lynn Erickson, whose husband, Todd, serves as Pastoral Executive for Second Presbyterian Church; Gina Johnson, whose husband, Tim, serves as pastor of the EPC church plant The Avenue Community Church in Memphis; and Sarah Sadlow, whose husband, Ron, served on the pastoral staff at Second for 32 years.

Female Teaching Elders Networking Lunch

On Friday, Carolyn Poteet will host the annual Networking Lunch for women Teaching Elders (and ordination candidates) to connect, encourage, and pray for one another. Poteet serves as Lead Pastor for Mt. Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pa.

For details about these gatherings, see www.epc.org/ga2021womensevents.

For more information about the 41st General Assembly, including registration, daily schedules, and more, see www.epc.org/ga2021.

#epc2021ga

General Assembly World Outreach gatherings celebrate Phil Linton, commission new global workers, introduce new Executive Director

 

EPC World Outreach is sponsoring a variety of gatherings at the 41st General Assembly, June 22-25 at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn.

On Tuesday, June 22, longtime World Outreach global worker Mike Kuhn will lead “The Israel of God” as part of this year’s Leadership Institute.

As ongoing tensions have flared into military conflict in recent days between Israel and the Palestinians, the territorial and political dispute is just one of many challenges facing the missional outreach of the church to the Muslim world. Kuhn’s presentation will discuss the identity of Israel in the biblical narrative (apart from contemporary political considerations), examine God’s purposes for His covenant people as revealed in Scripture, and seek wisdom as to how Christ’s church should respond with compassion and justice to both Israelis and Arabs.

Kuhn serves as Missional Theology Specialist for World Outreach’s International Theological Education Network (ITEN). He spent more than 28 years in Morocco, Egypt, and Lebanon, where he served as Professor of Biblical Theology and Discipleship at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut from 2012-2018.

Tuesday evening banquet

Josh Hanson, Senior Pastor of Gateway Church in Findlay, Ohio, is the speaker for this year’s World Outreach banquet. His topic is “Unexpected Kingdom.”

Attendees will have opportunity to celebrate Phil and Janet Linton as part of the evening’s program. He is retiring as Director of World Outreach following the 41st General Assembly. In addition, he is preaching at the Wednesday afternoon worship service prior to the Assembly’s first business session.

Wednesday evening dinner

The Global Worker Presentations Dinner on Wednesday, June 23, from 5:00-6:30 p.m. provides opportunity to hear World Outreach global workers describe how God is using and blessing their work among those people groups of the world that have little to no access to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Global worker commissioning

On Thursday, June 24, World Outreach will commission its newest global workers during the evening worship service. The speaker for the service is D.A. Carson, Emeritus Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill.

Networking Lunches

On Wednesday, June 23, on-site participants can meet the new Executive Director of World Outreach, Gabriel de Guia, and his wife, Rachel. He is the unanimous choice of the nine-member search committee to succeed Linton, and previously served 26 years with Cru in a variety of capacities.

On Thursday, June 24, the 2021 class of global workers will discuss the ministry God has called them to and share their hearts for the Kingdom of God. These workers will be commissioned in the Thursday evening worship service.

All on-site attendees are invited to participate in these World Outreach gatherings, but registration is required for the Tuesday evening banquet as space is limited. The worship services on Wednesday and Thursday will be live-streamed and available to virtual participants of the hybrid Assembly. Other gatherings are limited to on-site Commissioners and guests.

For complete details about World Outreach activities at the 41st General Assembly, see www.epc.org/ga2021worldoutreachevents.

For more information about the 41st General Assembly, including registration, daily schedules, and more, see www.epc.org/ga2021. For details about the World Outreach Banquet, contact Cassie Shultz at cassie.s@epcwo.org or 407-930-4313.

#epc2021ga

April 2021 EPC budget report: PMA support continues strong, now outpacing 2019 level

 

Contributions to Per Member Asking (PMA) received by the Office of the General Assembly in fiscal year 2021 (FY21) through April 30 total $2,034,971. April PMA support was $224,546.

The total is $312,346 (18.1 percent) more than the $1,722,625 FY21 PMA support projection to fund the EPC’s Collaborative Ministries, Connectional Support, and Custodial Operations.

With the strong continued support, PMA contributions through ten months of FY21 (which runs from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021) are $10,357 above the $2,024,614 contributed over the same period in FY20. In addition, April PMA support of $224,546 brought the 12-month rolling average for monthly PMA contributions to $200,186. The rolling average has now increased for two consecutive months, and for the first time since September is at the same level as FY20.

“Two months ago, I expressed concern that the negative trend in our monthly rolling average might indicate an unfavorable longer-term trend,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “I praise the Lord for this amazing reversal over the past eight weeks. I am very thankful for the generosity of our churches, and for their commitment to the EPC.”

Of the $2,034,971 received, $406,994 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, $4,745,074 in designated gifts were received through April 30. This total was $282,697 (5.6 percent) lower than the $5,027,771 in designated gifts received in the same period in FY20. As noted in previous monthly reports, the discrepancy is largely attributed to significant donations to the Emergency Relief Fund following Hurricane Dorian’s devastation in the Bahamas and North Carolina in September 2019, and several large anonymous gifts designated for church planting efforts.

Of the total, $4,632,323 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $112,751 was designated for EPC Special Projects such as Emergency Relief, church planting and revitalization initiatives, and the EPC’s Thanksgiving and Christmas offerings.

These amounts only reflect gifts received and distributed by the Office of the General Assembly, and do not reflect donations given directly to WO global workers or other projects.

Gabriel de Guia named Executive Director of EPC World Outreach

 

Gabriel de Guia

Gabriel de Guia has been named as the new Executive Director of EPC World Outreach. A member of First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Fla., he has served in a variety of capacities with Cru since 1995. His most recent role was Senior Aide of Development to the Executive Director for the Jesus Film Project, which he has held since 2012. Cru—formerly Campus Crusade for Christ—is an international ministry founded by Bill and Vonette Bright in 1951 and based in Orlando.

“I’m overwhelmed to be selected to lead EPC World Outreach,” de Guia said. “I feel like I’m coming full circle in ministry, as my grandparents came to faith in Christ through the work of Presbyterian missionaries in the Philippines in the 1920s. And now, I just have a grand sense of God ushering us into this great adventure. It wasn’t something I was planning on or dreaming of, but that makes it all the more confirming that this is something God is calling us to. That brings about a ton of excitement.”

Rob Liddon, Chairman of the Executive Director Search Committee and Moderator of the EPC’s 30th General Assembly, said de Guia was the committee’s unanimous choice among a group of “exceptionally strong” candidates.

“Following much prayer and discussion, the nine-member Search Committee unanimously concluded Gabriel to be best situated to lead World Outreach into the second quarter of this century as its Executive Director,” Liddon said. “We are very pleased to welcome him and his wife, Rachel, to EPC World Outreach.”

Over a 26-year missionary career with Cru, de Guia’s other responsibilities have included Advancement (Major Gifts) Officer for the Jesus Film Project, Writer in the Global Communications Office, and Assistant to the President. He also served as College Campus Minister at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., and Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind., from 1996-2002.

He has led or helped lead short-term evangelistic mission teams to Africa, Asia, Central America, and multiple locations in the United States. In addition, he has provided direct missionary member care to more than 30 Cru missionary families in East Asia; equipped numerous teenaged children of missionaries in lifestyle evangelism; coached missionary staff in support raising; and served as lead liaison between Cru’s mission partners, mission field directors, and major donors. This effort helped raise millions of dollars for multiple global outreach initiatives.

Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk-elect and a member of the search committee, said de Guia exhibited leadership that is anchored in a strong faith and prayer.

“We were all greatly encouraged by Gabriel’s personal commitment to prayer and evangelism,” Weaver said. “His passion for the Great Commission flows from his deep personal relationship with Jesus.”

Johnny Long, Ruling Elder for Hope Church in Memphis, Tenn., served as a member of both the search committee and the World Outreach committee of the General Assembly.

“Going through this process allowed our search committee the opportunity to absolutely find the right person for this role for this time in World Outreach and for our denomination as whole,” Long said. “Gabriel brings superb organizational expertise and excellent interpersonal and organizational communication skills. His experience with technology to advance the gospel will be a huge asset as we continue to grow and expand the outreach capabilities of World Outreach to share the gospel to the most unreached peoples around the world.”

A native of Cincinnati, de Guia’s parents emigrated to Minnesota from the Philippines in the 1960s and later moved to Ohio. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University in Columbus. He also has participated in numerous professional development opportunities, including Cru’s two-year Senior Leadership Initiative, a Master’s level program offered by invitation only.

The de Guias have been married since 2007 and have three children.

“We are honored with the sacred, holy privilege to step into this avenue of ministry for the sake of the global church,” Rachel said. “We have long appreciated the Revelation 7:9 picture of the throne room of God, and we’ve used that verse as a filter to help discern what God has called us to. For the EPC to be pursuing that vision was confirmation of God’s leading us to this.”

Liddon noted that the search committee was united in “seeking the mind of Christ for World Outreach” during the entire process, which began in 2019 with the NLT’s appointment of a World Outreach Evaluation Team. That committee was tasked with reviewing the goals and strategy employed by World Outreach, as well as the results achieved.

“The evaluation team worked with World Outreach leadership, and it commended the sound and enduring work of World Outreach—past and present,” Liddon said. “At the same time, that team’s report to the NLT proposed a number of changes they thought necessary in light of current cultural and economic developments in the areas WO serves.”

Liddon noted that the search was “a measured, considered process, and yielded quite a number of candidates, all of godly character and impressive backgrounds in Kingdom ministry.”

“I think we all felt,” said Iris A, a World Outreach global worker who served on the search committee, “that the Holy Spirit truly led us through this lengthy decision-making process to come to the same mind and decision.”

Search Committee Member Kevin Cauley, Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic and former chairman of World Outreach Committee, said he was “impressed with Gabriel’s humble, prayerful, and Spirit-led approach.”

“He will bring fresh eyes to help World Outreach to see in new ways how we may continue building upon the great foundation passed down from our former outstanding Directors,” Cauley said.

The nine-member Search Committee began its work in October 2020. It was comprised of a variety of EPC Teaching Elders, Ruling Elders, and missions practitioners. Because of security issues related to their work, not all members of the committee were able to be named.

The Executive Director of World Outreach is selected and called by the National Leadership Team for a three-year term, which is renewable. Phil Linton, who has served as Director of World Outreach since 2014, is retiring at the June 2021 conclusion of his current three-year term.

World Outreach is the missions arm of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, with a principal calling to glorify God by starting church-planting movements among least-reached people groups. World Outreach currently has approximately 75 family units serving across the globe.

Ligon Duncan, Greg Gibbs, Rufus Smith highlight General Assembly Networking Lunches slate

 

Networking Lunches at the EPC 41st General Assembly provide opportunity for on-site GA participants to connect with others with similar ministry interests on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, June 23-25, from 12:00-1:15 p.m. at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis. Due to technical limitations, Networking Lunches are not available for the Assembly’s virtual participants. For more information about each lunch, see www.epc.org/ga2021networkinglunches.

Wednesday, June 23

  • Building Your EPC Retirement Plan Savings and Using Your Housing Allowance Benefit (hosted by Bart Francescone, Executive Director of EPC Benefit Resources, Inc.)
  • Church Planting Update (hosted by Tom Ricks, Leader of the EPC Church Planting Team, and Shane Sunn, Director of the Aspen Grove Church Planting Network)
  • Meet the new Executive Director of EPC World Outreach (hosted by EPC World Outreach)
  • Ministry and the Means of Grace (hosted by the Westminster Society and featuring Ligon Duncan, Mike Glodo, Zach Hopkins, Scott Redd, Bryan Rhodes, and Aaron White)
  • Using the Pandemic to Refocus Your Mission (hosted by Jay Mitchell, Senior Executive Search Consultant for Vanderbloemen)
  • What Does a Healthy Presbytery Look Like? (hosted by Bob Stauffer, Regional Church Development Coordinator for the Presbytery of the Alleghenies)

Thursday, June 24

  • 2021 Commissioned World Outreach Global Workers (hosted by EPC World Outreach)
  • How a Life Team Can Equip Your Church to Champion Life at Every Stage (hosted by Deborah Hollifield, Executive Director of Presbyterians Protecting Life)
  • Leading with Heart in a COVID-19 World (hosted by Brandon Addision, Lead Pastor of Neighborhood Church in Denver, Colo., and Denver City Leader for the Made to Flourish Network)
  • Smaller Church Network Gathering (hosted by Roy Yanke, Executive Director of Pastor-in-Residence Ministries)
  • The Antioch Room (hosted by Marcos Ortega, Pastor of Congregational Care and Outreach at Goodwill Church in Montgomery, N.Y.; and Rufus Smith, Senior Pastor of Hope Church in Memphis, Tenn.)
  • Things We Don’t Talk About in Church Leadership (hosted by Cron Gibson, Founder and Executive Director of Hopewell Counseling and Equipping Ministries)

Friday, June 25

  • Campus Ministry, the Church, and Next Generation Leaders (hosted by Jen Burkholder, Interim Director of Partnerships for the Coalition for Christian Outreach)
  • Creating a Culture of Generosity (hosted by Greg Gibbs, Lead Navigator for Auxano; and Bob Welsh, Field Representative for EPC Generosity Resources)
  • Female Teaching Elders and Candidates (hosted by Carolyn Poteet, Lead Pastor of Mt. Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • Ministry in the “Slow” Lane: What the Pandemic Is Teaching Us About Ordinary Ministry Life (hosted by Roy Yanke, Executive Director of Pastor-in-Residence Ministries)
  • Understanding the Transgender Experience with Compassion and Truth (hosted by Scott Kingry, Program Director for Where Grace Abounds)

For more information about the 41st General Assembly, including online registration, see www.epc.org/ga2021.

#epc2021ga

National Day of Prayer: facing an urgent and great need

 

The National Day of Prayer on May 6 comes at a time when the need is both urgent and great for united prayer for our country. Are there any issues in our culture on which there is general agreement or consensus? Rather, what we regularly observe in our culture is brokenness, chaos, conflict, and unrest.

We have endured a “once in a hundred years” pandemic. Masking, social distancing, vaccinations, shutdowns, and re-opening all have been contentious problems that have drained and divided us.

Making “all things political” has only proven that politics cannot fix or heal us—it has only more deeply divided us. Prayer is the way we appeal to Almighty God on behalf of our country, our leaders, and our people. Only His supernatural mercy, grace, and wisdom can restore and heal us.

May 6, 2021, is a day for all of us in the EPC to join with other churches and believers in Jesus Christ to pray specifically for our country.

In addition to participating in the National Day of Prayer, the EPC has convened focused times of prayer in the last year or so. With the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the EPC issued a call to a Good Friday Day of Fasting and Prayer on April 10, 2010. This was in response to COVID-19 and subsequent shutdown of the U.S. This call was endorsed by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), with many denominations joining in prayer that day. A Day of Lament, Fasting, and Prayer on June 8, 2020, followed in response to the violence and social unrest in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.

The National Day of Prayer was originally signed into law by President Truman in 1952. It asked that all Americans pray for their nation. In 1988, this law was amended by designating the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer. The amended law was pass unanimously by the U.S. House and Senate. Let us act in the same unanimity and join with thousands—yes, millions—of other Christians on Thursday, May 6, in prayer for our country, our leaders, and our fellow citizens.

More information about the National Day of Prayer is available at www.nationaldayofprayer.org.

by Jeff Jeremiah
EPC Stated Clerk