Category Archives: Denominational News

EPC calls for Day of Prayer and Fasting ahead of July 18 Andrew Brunson hearing


AndrewBrunsonPrayerGuide201807HorizontalThe trial of Andrew Brunson, EPC Teaching Elder imprisoned in Turkey since October 2016, resumes on Wednesday, July 18. In an effort to stand with and pray for the Brunson family, the EPC is issuing a Call to Prayer and Fasting for Tuesday, July 17.

Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, has been communicating with Andrew’s wife, Norine, by encrypted text message.

“She is so thankful for our ongoing prayers and support,” Jeremiah said. “On July 7, she posted on her Facebook page, ‘Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for persevering in prayer with us. I pass on your comments to Andrew from time to time. YOU, the body of Christ, are truly amazing! Where else do people love and pray for others they’ve never met? What a testimony YOU have been.’”

Jeremiah also suggested praying Scripture in four specific ways in advance of the July 18 hearing:

  1. That Andrew will be strengthened, emboldened, and released: Pray Isaiah 42:3 (A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out. In faithfulness, He will establish justice.); Isaiah 40:31 (Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength); and Luke 4:18 (The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free).
  2. That Norine will not grow weary: Pray Exodus 17:12 (When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady until sunset.) and Isaiah 40:29 (He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak).
  3. That the Brunson’s children (Jordan, Jacqueline, and Blaise) would walk in the steadfast love of the Lord: Pray Lamentations 3:22-23 (Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness).
  4. That Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey, would be directed by the Holy Spirit: Pray Proverbs 21:1 (The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases).

Prosecutors in the case have asked for a 35-year prison sentence on charges that Brunson helped terrorist organizations and worked to convert Turks to Christianity.

At least one media outlet in Turkey is speculating that Andrew could be home soon. The article, titled “Pastor Brunson’s detention has become too costly for Turkey,” offers the opinion that “many diplomats in Ankara expect (Andrew’s) potential release followed by his deportation pending trial on the July 18 hearing” yet cautions that “it is impossible to foresee what the court’s decision will be, but (Andrew’s) release would sure help the ongoing reconciliation process between Turkey and the U.S.”

“We all fervently hope and pray that Andrew’s release is the outcome of next week’s hearing,” Jeremiah said.

A printable prayer guide/bulletin insert in pdf format with these Scripture prayers can be downloaded at www.epc.org/news/freepastorandrew.

38th General Assembly makes history with landmark ‘firsts’


GA2018LI-Selfie

GA SELFIE—From left, Evelio Vilches, Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah, Eddie Spencer, Moderator Tom Werner

The EPC’s 38th General Assembly, held June 19-22 at Hope Church in Cordova, Tenn., made history as the first Assembly to include a “selfie” from the platform. At the beginning of the Thursday afternoon business session, Evelio Vilches, Pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Pembroke Pines, Fla., and Eddie Spencer, Pastor of New Hope Presbyterian Church in Fort Myers, Fla., took the historic photo prior to their report on how contributions to the EPC’s Hurricane Irma Emergency Relief Fund was used to help their congregations and communities in the aftermath of the September 2017 storm.

“As Stated Clerk,” said Jeff Jeremiah, “it is my ruling that indeed this is the first ever GA selfie.”

In another first, six commissioners started what may become a tradition at the GA Thursday evening worship service—“kilt night.” Donning the traditional Scottish attire were Edward Cummings, Pastor of Terrace Heights EPC in Yakima, Wash.; Alan Trafford, Pastor of Covenant EPC in Lake Jackson, Texas; Suzanne Brown Zampella, Pastor of Connellsville Presbyterian Church in Connellsville, Pa.; Matthew Everhard, Pastor of Faith EPC in Brooksville, Fla.; Case Thorp, Senior Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Fla.; and Jeremy McNeill, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Bucyrus, Ohio.

GA2018LI-Kilts

KILT NIGHT—From left, Edward Cummings, Alan Trafford, Suzanne Brown Zampella, Matthew Everhard, Case Thorp, Jeremy McNeill.

EPC asks churches, individuals to fast and pray May 5-6 ahead of Andrew Brunson trial resumption


AndrewBrunsonPrayerGuide201805HorizontalThe trial of Andrew Brunson, EPC Teaching Elder imprisoned in Turkey since October 2016, resumes on May 7. In an effort to stand with and pray for the entire Brunson family, the EPC is issuing a Call to Prayer and Fasting for the weekend of May 5-6.

Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, suggests praying Scripture in four specific ways:

  1. That Andrew will be strengthened, emboldened, and released: Pray Isaiah 42:3 (A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out. In faithfulness, He will establish justice.); Isaiah 40:31 (Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength); and Luke 4:18 (The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free).
  2. That Norine will not grow weary: Pray Exodus 17:12 (When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady until sunset.) and Isaiah 40:29 (He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak).
  3. That the Brunson’s children (Jordan, Jacqueline, and Blaise) would walk in the steadfast love of the Lord: Pray Lamentations 3:22-23 (Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness).
  4. That Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey, would be directed by the Holy Spirit: Pray Proverbs 21:1 (The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases).

“Norine was blessed and encouraged by how many people participated in our call to prayer and fasting before the April 16 trial,” Jeremiah said. “On Thursday, April 26, she was able to pass this on to Andrew, with our plan to do it again before May 7. I hope every EPC church will continue to pray for Andrew, Norine, their family, and the rest of the trial as Andrew faces the judges again.”

Following opening arguments on April 16, Brunson was returned to prison. Prosecutors in the case have asked for a 35-year prison sentence on charges that Brunson helped terrorist organizations and worked to convert Turks to Christianity.

To help facilitate corporate prayer, a printable bulletin insert in pdf format with these prayer suggestions can be downloaded at www.epc.org/news/freepastorandrew. The bulletin insert is available in two sizes and is designed to be printed on standard 8.5″ x 11″ paper and cut in half (either horizontally or vertically).

EPC issues call to prayer and fasting for April 15 ahead of Andrew Brunson trial


AndrewBrunsonOctober2017

Andrew Brunson

On April 16, 2018, EPC Teaching Elder Andrew Brunson will go on trial in Izmir, Turkey. If convicted of the charges in the 62-page indictment filed by the prosecutor, Andrew could be sentenced to 35 years in prison. The indictment charges Brunson with helping terrorist organizations and of trying to convert Turks to Christianity.

In an effort to stand with and pray for the entire Brunson family, the EPC is issuing a Call to Prayer and Fasting for Sunday, April 15. The trial is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. local time in Turkey, which is 2:00 a.m. EDT Monday.

Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, said Andrew’s wife, Norine, has requested three specific prayers:

  • Pray for Andrew’s release, using Psalm 18, which speaks of deliverance from the “cords of death” (v. 4-5).
  • If he is given the opportunity to speak in his defense, please claim Jesus’ promise, “But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourself. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict” (Luke 21:24-15).
  • That the steadfast love of the Lord will comfort our children (Jordan, Jaqueline, and Blaise) and that He will give them peace and help them to trust.

“As we consider Norine’s steadfast faithfulness and courage, my prayer is that she not grow weary,” Jeremiah said. “I have been claiming Galatians 6:9 and Exodus 17:12 for her, and she knows that we are helping ‘hold up her arms’ for her husband.”

In addition to the April 15 Day of Prayer and Fasting, a seven-day prayer guide for the week leading up to the trial can be downloaded at www.epc.org/files/andrewbrunson7dayprayerguide.

“I encourage the Prayer Team of every EPC church to utilize this guide and lift Andrew, Norine, their family, and the trial to the throne of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Jeremiah said.

38th General Assembly registration open


GA2018BannerOnline registration for the 38th General Assembly is now open. The Assembly meets June 19–22 at Hope Church in suburban Memphis, Tenn. The theme of this year’s annual meeting is “Forward: Engage, Empower, Embrace,” based on Philippians 3:13–14.

The annual Leadership Institute on Tuesday has 14 seminars this year to help provide resources for building a leadership development culture. Topics include:

  • Being a Public, Media-Friendly Evangelical in the Trump Era
  • Building Blocks of a Missional Church
  • Discerning the Spirits
  • Discipleship in Student Ministry
  • Making Disciples Who Make Disciples
  • Planting Multi-Ethnic Churches
  • Putting Baptism to Use
  • Religious Support and Protecting Free Enterprise
  • The Beauty of Reformed Worship
  • The Gospel in Dark Places: Ministry to Exploited and Trafficked Women
  • The Lord’s Supper in the Reformed Tradition
  • The Means of Grace in the Scriptures Proclaimed
  • The Reformation of Preaching
  • The Life and Legacy of MLK in Memphis (special bus tour of MLK-related sites)

The theme reinforces our awareness on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that something bigger is happening in Memphis and beyond in our culture in 2018 than just what God is doing in and through the EPC. Our Leadership Institute plenary speakers on Wednesday—Immaculée Ilibagiza, Greg Thompson, and Jennifer Ross—will take an intentional look at deep hurts beyond our denomination to help us minister the gospel effectively in our culture.

Ilibagiza is a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and is regarded as one of world’s leading speakers on faith, hope, and forgiveness. Her book Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust has sold more than two million copies and has been translated into 17 languages.

Thompson is a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and currently serves as Director of Research and Strategy at Clayborn Reborn, a historic Civil Rights site in Memphis. He is active in national conversations surrounding race and equity in America, and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia where he wrote his dissertation on Martin Luther King Jr.

Ross has served as Director of Matthew’s Ministry, the Special Needs Ministry of the Church of the Resurrection (United Methodist) in Kansas City, for 15 years. She also serves as Education Chairperson for the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City and serves on the board of Inclusion Connections—a regional non-profit organization serving the special needs community. She has degree in special education and 30 years of experience working with individuals with special needs in schools, state facilities, colleges, and churches.

The first of five business sessions convenes on Wednesday afternoon, June 20, at 4:00 p.m. Business sessions continue on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; and Friday at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. (if needed).

Worship service speakers include:

  • Rufus Smith, Senior Pastor of Hope Church (Thursday at 8:30 a.m.)
  • Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary (Thursday at 7:30 p.m.); and
  • Dean Weaver, EPC Moderator (Friday at 8:30 a.m.).

A special event this year is a Wednesday evening program featured renowned comedian Michael Jr. He has appeared on The Tonight Show, Comedy Central, Jimmy Kimmel Live, CNN, ComedyTV, as well as in the most prestigious comedy clubs in the country, including The Improv, The Laugh Factory, The Comedy Store, and others. He also is well-known for bringing his family friendly comedy to Christian and church audiences.

Numerous other gatherings are available that cover a wide variety of ministry interests, including Networking Lunches, World Outreach, Women’s Ministry, and more.

For complete information, see www.epc.org/ga2018.

March Jeremiah Journal describes General Assembly participation benefits


In the March edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah describes just a few of the benefits of attending the EPC’s annual General Assembly in June.

The Jeremiah Journal is a monthly video blog hosted on the EPC’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/EPChurch80. Each month’s update also is posted to EPConnection and the EPC’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

For a transcript of this month’s edition in printable pdf format, click here.

Jeff and Cindy Jeremiah to represent EPC at Billy Graham memorial service


BillyGrahamEPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah and his wife, Cindy, will represent the denomination at the private memorial service for Billy Graham on Friday, March 2, at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C.

“We are beyond honored to be invited to this celebration of Billy Graham’s life,” Jeremiah said. “It’s truly amazing to think about how God used him to share the gospel with millions of people around the world.”

About 2,300 invited guests are expected to attend the service, which will be held under a large tent that has been constructed in the main parking lot in front of the Library. The tent is designed to serve as a reminder of Graham’s early ministry in “The Canvas Cathedral”—the white canvas tent in downtown Los Angeles where 350,000 people heard him share the gospel over eight weeks in 1949.

Following the 90-minute service, Graham will be laid to rest beside his late wife, Ruth, in the Library’s Prayer Garden.

Among Graham’s many personal connections to members of the EPC, Ruth was a member of Christ Community Church in Montreat, N.C.

“Billy and Ruth were married in Graham Chapel (on the campus of Montreat College), which is where we gather weekly to worship,” said Richard White, Pastor of Christ Community Church, which joined the EPC in 2007. “She was a member of the church until her passing.”

A live stream of the memorial service will be available beginning at 10:00 a.m. (EST) at https://memorial.billygraham.org/live-stream/.