Category Archives: Denominational News

Monthly EPC budget report: December fiscal-year-to-date PMA contributions slightly ahead of December 2018, below 2019 projection

 

As of December 31, Per Member Asking (PMA) contributions received by the Office of the General Assembly since the July 1 start of the EPC’s fiscal year total $1,253,044. The amount is $3,764 more than the $1,249,280 received from July 1 through December 31, 2018.

While PMA contributions are up slightly in fiscal year 2020 (FY20) compared to FY19, year-to-date contributions are $56,865 (4.3 percent) below the $1,309,909 budgeted projection to support the EPC’s Collaborative Ministries, Connectional Support, and Custodial Operations.

“PMA support is the lifeblood of the EPC as a global movement of Evangelical Presbyterian churches, and I am thankful that so many of our congregations keep PMA in their ministry budget,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “Unfortunately, December PMA support was our lowest since 2013. It’s obviously too soon to know if this is the beginning of a trend. We certainly hope not, and perhaps our churches felt the effects of the changes in tax law regarding charitable contributions which in turn could have affected their ability to contribute to PMA in December.”

Of the $1,253,044 received, $250,609 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, $3,261,372 in designated gifts were received in the first six months of the fiscal year. This total was $276,591 (9.3 percent) higher than the $2,984,781 in designated gifts received from July 1 through December 30, 2018. 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, $2,615,816 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $645,556 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.

“We are still rejoicing over the major gifts we received in December, including $250,000 for church planting and $50,000 for one of our World Outreach global workers,” Jeremiah added. “Non-PMA gifts were very strong in the first half of the 2018-2019 fiscal year because of donations to the ‘Welcome Back, Andrew!’ Fund and in response to Hurricane Florence. Yet we are very blessed that designated giving in 2019 has exceeded that.”

World Outreach receives $50,000 gift

 

The ministry of a World Outreach global worker who serves in a secure location overseas will benefit from a $50,000 gift the EPC received in December. The donation was the second major gift of the month, following a $250,000 contribution for church planting.

“It’s such a blessing to see what happens when believers respond to our Lord’s prompting,” said Phil Linton, Director of World Outreach. “All of us in World Outreach are confident that many people will come to Christ through this very generous gift.”

Linton also noted that the gift, which was donated through the global worker’s secure online donation form at www.epcwo.org, was made prior to the announcement of the gift for church planting.

“God is obviously at work in the hearts of His people,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “It’s exciting to think about the possibilities of how God is using the EPC through the gifts of generous donors to grow God’s Kingdom.”

To make a secure online donation to the EPC or EPC World Outreach, go to www.epc.org/donate or www.epcwo.org/support, respectively.

EPC receives $250,000 donation for church planting

 

An anonymous donor has gifted the EPC a quarter of a million dollars for church planting. The Office of the General Assembly received the online donation in mid-December.

EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah said the gift was unexpected.

“Obviously, it is extremely exciting—and humbling at the same time—to see this tangible evidence of God’s working in this fellow believer’s life,” Jeremiah said. “When Pat Coelho, our Director of Finance, called me to say we had received this gift through our online donation system, I was surprised and grateful for this affirmation of EPC church planting. When I called Tom Ricks to tell him about it, he had much the same reaction.”

Jeremiah said he did not know the donor, who has asked to remain anonymous.

Ricks, chair of the EPC Church Planting Team, said the group has already began prayerful discussions on how to best invest the funds in denominational church planting efforts.

“This generous gift is confirmation of several things,” Ricks noted. “First and foremost, the Holy Spirit’s leading one of our fellow disciples to give so generously to help create multiplying congregations. Secondly, it is a result of our entire denomination responding to Jeff’s vision for church planting. Thirdly, I believe it is our Father’s confirmation we’re going in the right direction.”

He added that the gift “is God’s challenge to us for even greater efforts and more generosity in sharing the gospel of our Lord Jesus through new EPC congregations all across our country. We’re just getting started!”

Interested in making a year-end gift to the EPC, even if it is less than $250,000? Go to www.epc.org/donate.

Monthly EPC budget report: Per Member Asking up 5 percent from November 2018

 

As of November 30, Per Member Asking (PMA) contributions received by the Office of the General Assembly during fiscal year 2020 (FY20) total $944,416. The amount in the first five months of the EPC’s fiscal year is $45,352 more than the $899,064 received through the same period in fiscal year 2019. The fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.

While PMA contributions are up 5 percent in FY20 compared to FY19, year-to-date contributions are $2,704 (0.3 percent) less than the $947,120 budgeted projection to support the EPC’s Collaborative Ministries, Connectional Support, and Custodial Operations.

“I am very thankful for the continued support of the EPC through Per Member Asking,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “These PMA contributions demonstrate commitment on the part of our pastors and churches to the connectional system of being ‘Better Together’ that’s so central to who we are as a denomination of Presbyterian, Reformed, evangelical, and missional congregations.”

Of the $944,416 received, $188,810 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, $2,326,763 in designated gifts were received in the first five months of the fiscal year. This total was $109,351 (5 percent) higher than the $2,219,412 in designated gifts received from July 1 through November 30, 2018. 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, $1,970,103 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $356,660 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 important as PMA support is to how we are able accomplish our mission and vision as a denomination of churches, PMA is only about 40 percent of total donations to the EPC,” Jeremiah noted. “I am very grateful for the trust that our church leaders and congregation members place in us that their financial contributions to the EPC will be used wisely to grow the Kingdom.”

Two Minute Topics video series continues with child protection policies

 

In the second episode of the EPC’s video series, “Two Minute Topics,” Assistant Stated Clerk Jerry Iamurri emphasizes the importance of child protection policies and introduces a variety of helpful resources for helping churches protect the children they serve. The resources are available on the EPC website at www.epc.org/churchprotection.

“Two Minute Topics” are short, informative videos that address questions that the Office of the General Assembly frequently receives.

The videos are available at www.epc.org/news/twominutetopics, as well on the EPC’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/EPChurch80.

Church Pivot podcast features Richard Mouw

 
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Richard Mouw

The second episode of Case Thorp’s “Church Pivot” podcast features the Moderator of the 39th General Assembly talking with Dr. Richard Mouw, President Emeritus and Professor of Faith and Public Life at Fuller Theological Seminary. Mouw currently teaches courses on Christian Worldview and Contemporary Culture, and Perspectives on Christ and Culture.

In their discussion, Thorp and Mouw explore the topics of civility, gentleness, and respect—and how those qualities relate to the past, present, and future of the American evangelical church.

Click below to listen. The 42-minute recording also is available on the EPC’s Podbean channel, or search “Evangelical Presbyterian Church” on Spotify or iTunes.


Mouw served as President of Fuller Theological Seminary from 1993–2013. He has been an editor of the Reformed Journal and has served on many editorial boards, including Books and Culture. He is the author of more than 20 books, including The God Who CommandsThe Smell of SawdustHe Shines in All That’s FairCulture and Common GraceUncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil WorldThe Challenges of Cultural DiscipleshipTalking with Mormons: An Invitation to Evangelicals, and Adventures in Evangelical Civility: A Lifelong Quest for Common Ground.

Mouw served for many years as a panelist in the online forum “On Faith” offered by the Washington Post. In 2007, Princeton Theological Seminary awarded him the Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life. Mouw also served for six years as co-chair of the official Reformed-Catholic Dialogue, and is a leader in interfaith theological conversations—particularly with Mormons and Jewish groups.

Thorp is a Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean. He serves as Senior Associate Pastor of Evangelism for First Presbyterian Church in Orlando.

“Church Pivot” is a series of articles and audio podcasts in which Thorp focuses on issues of pivoting toward a robust future of ministry, spiritual growth, adult conversion, and more.

November Jeremiah Journal explains EPC budget allocation

 

In the November 2019 edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah explains how Per Member Asking contributions are put to work in the EPC.

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.

Thanksgiving offering to support World Outreach women’s retreat

 

2019ThanksgivingOfferingThe 2019 EPC Thanksgiving Offering has been designated for the 2019 World Outreach (WO) retreat for WO Direct female global workers. The “Reflect, Connect & Envision” retreat will be hosted by WO Member Care Directors Chris and Debbie Gibson from April 2-6, 2020, in Budapest, Hungary.

“This gathering is designed for our missionary women who are sent through World Outreach to come together for renewal, revitalization, and refreshment,” said Phil Linton, Director of World Outreach. “Most of our global workers who serve with our co-op partners have annual conferences and retreats put on by their agencies. Our workers sent directly by World Outreach only have this type of event every three years at our Family Gathering.”

Linton added that the 2020 retreat is an effort “to help our ladies on the front lines to feel loved and recharge their batteries. Our 15 WO Direct women have expressed a desire to form relationships with their counterparts who share many of the same ministry, family, parenting, and team issues,” he said.

“The theme of the event, Reflect, Connect & Envision’ will include a variety of activities, all designed to Reflect on who God is, Connect with other women in similar situations, and Envision how God wants to lead—both personally and within ministry,” Linton noted.

The financial goal for the 2019 Thanksgiving Offering is $18,000. The cost per global worker to attend is approximately $1,200 and includes airfare, ground transportation, and meals.

Secure online donations to the Thanksgiving Offering can be made at www.epc.org/donate/thanksgivingoffering. Individuals also can utilize text-to-give by texting “epcthanksgivingoffering” to 50155 from any smart device. Donors who prefer to send a check should put “Thanksgiving Offering (041)” on the memo line and send to:

Evangelical Presbyterian Church
Attn: Finance Office
5850 T.G. Lee Blvd., Suite 510
Orlando, FL 32822

For help with donations, contact Catherine Rutter, World Outreach Finance Assistant, at catherine.r@epcwo.org or 407-930-4473.

For more information about the retreat, email chris.g@epcwo.org or call 501-413-0054.

The annual Thanksgiving Offering supports a project approved by the General Assembly each June, alternating between World Outreach and Church Planting/Revitalization.

EPC Benefits Open Enrollment set for November 1-30

 

2020OpenEnrollmentFBO.jpgNovember is Open Enrollment month for EPC Benefit Resources, Inc., (BRI), which presents an opportunity for churches to enroll or make changes to benefit plan coverages provided to eligible employees. In addition, the Open Enrollment period introduces the EPC’s 2020 Benefit Plan offerings, plan changes, and premium rates. All changes made during Open Enrollment will be effective January 1, 2020.

  • Eligible individuals can be enrolled in the EPC Benefit Plans for the first time.
  • Changes can be made to an eligible individuals benefit selections for 2020.
  • Churches can enroll in EPC Benefit Plans for the first time.
  • Churches can change their Plan offerings for 2020.

New for 2020 are enhancements to the current Disability and Life Insurance offerings, as well as a new provider for the Dental Plan.

  • Short-Term Disability. Long-Term Disability (LTD) insurance can be augmented with Short-Term Disability insurance, which will pay a percentage of an employee’s salary for up to 90 days (beginning as soon as the 8th day after the date of a disability), after which LTD payments take effect.
  • Supplemental Life Insurance. Participants covered under the EPC’s existing Life Insurance benefit can purchase additional coverage up to $150,000 (in increments of $10,000), and also can purchase coverage for their spouse and dependents. Adding additional Life Insurance coverage will not require a physical exam or medical screening questions if existing participants add the coverage during Open Enrollment.

“These two options are voluntary,” said Bart Francescone, BRI Executive Director. “Churches can choose to offer them to their staff and have the premiums paid by the church, or by the employee through payroll deductions.”

Delta Dental is the new plan administrator for the EPC’s Dental Plan, replacing Principal. Current dental benefit participants will be automatically transferred to Delta with coverage effective January 1, 2020. Francescone said Delta offers “a much larger network of dentists, additional coverages, and lower out-of-pocket expenses to the participant.”

He also noted that the EPC benefit plans are available to all full-time (30 hours or more per week) employees of EPC churches, as well as Chaplains, ministers serving out-of-bounds, and various other categories.

“Anyone new to the EPC—or interested in enrolling in one of our benefit programs for the first time—should reach out to whoever handles benefits at their church regarding their interests,” he said.

Francescone explained that Open Enrollment is a “passive process” for current participants, meaning those already enrolled in the EPC benefit plans will automatically retain their 2019 benefit elections unless they choose a new plan or decline an existing coverage for 2020.

For more information about 2020 benefit offerings, see www.epc.org/benefits/2020openenrollment, or contact the EPC Benefits Administration Office at 877-578-8707 or EPC@cdsadmin.com.

World Outreach Committee reviews ongoing work, interviews candidates for future ministry

 

WorldOutreachCommitteeMeeting201910At its fall 2019 meeting, the EPC World Outreach (WO) Committee discussed a variety of topics related to policy and finance, heard reports on several ministry projects, and interviewed several candidates for potential future appointment as global workers.

The committee met October 17-18 at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando.

Phil Linton, Director of World Outreach, noted the importance of spending time on administrative matters.

“We have to continually review our policies and procedures to ensure that we are providing the best possible support for our global workers out there on the front lines,” Linton said. “I am grateful that the members of the committee take that responsibility seriously.”

Among those items were amendments to the World Outreach Manual concerning vehicles and transportation, housing, excess support, and administrative fees. The committee also discussed issues related to approved agencies and heard reports on ministry projects in Kazakhstan and Indonesia.

“It’s exciting to know that God is working in and through EPC World Outreach,” Linton noted. “The disappointing part is that because of where so many of our people are serving, we have to be so careful in our reporting so we don’t jeopardize their safety.”

Members of the World Outreach Committee are Kevin Cauley, Chairman, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic; Brad Buescher, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the Great Plains; Rick Dietzman Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest; Phyllis Ellsworth, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Midwest; Susan Lear, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Great Plains; Johnny Long, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the West; David Miller, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes; Patrick Tucker, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Gulf South; and David Van Valkenburg, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the West.

Giving Culture Study Committee begins GA-appointed work

 

GivingCultureStudyCommittee201910Members of the Giving Culture Study Committee held their initial meeting at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando, October 8-9. The group was appointed by Moderator Case Thorp in response to a recommendation approved by the 39th General Assembly to address how to improve the long-term culture of giving to the EPC.

In its first face-to-face meeting, the group discussed the scope of its work, reviewed recent giving trends to the EPC Office of the General Assembly, and addressed a variety of issues that will inform and affect recommendations it may make to future General Assemblies.

The committee’s work is based on trends that indicate a weakening level of support for EPC Per Member Asking (PMA). While PMA realization approached a historic high of 74 percent relative to the full PMA level of $23 in 2018, approximately one-third of EPC churches do not contribute to PMA, or give very little.

“This committee will wrestle with the question of ‘What does it mean to be connected to the EPC?,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “Is it theological, ecclesial, collegial, branding, collaborative, or something else? The answer is what defines the EPC giving culture.”

Members of the Giving Culture Study Committee are Jane Cooper (Chair), Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Gulf South; Bob Coleman, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the West; Jamie Cupshalk, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the East; Scott McKee, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the Midwest; Bruce Novkov, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Southeast; and Gina Stewart, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest. Jeremiah, Thorp, and Mike Gibson, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Great Plains and Chairman of the National Leadership Team Finance Committee, serve as ex officio members.

Church Pivot podcast launch features Tim Keller

 

The first episode of Case Thorp’s “Church Pivot” podcast features the Moderator of the 39th General Assembly talking with renowned theologian, author, and pastor Tim Keller. In their discussion, Thorp and Keller examine how the American evangelical church can thrive in an increasingly antagonistic culture.

Click below to listen. The 37-minute recording also is available on the EPC’s Podbean channel, or search “Evangelical Presbyterian Church” on Spotify or iTunes.


Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, which he led for more than 28 years. He currently is the Chairman and Co-founder of Redeemer City to City, which plants new churches in New York and other cities around the world, as well as publishes resources for ministry in urban environments. Keller’s books, including The Reason for God and The Prodigal God, have sold more than 2 million copies and been translated into 25 languages.

Thorp is a Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean. He serves as Senior Associate Pastor of Evangelism for First Presbyterian Church in Orlando.

“Church Pivot” is a series of articles and audio podcasts in which Thorp focuses on issues of pivoting toward a robust future of ministry, spiritual growth, adult conversion, and more.

Bart Hess Award presented to Covenant EPC of Monroe, La.

 
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Jeff Jeremiah presents the 2019 Bart Hess Award to John Mabray, Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Monroe, La., on June 20 at the 2019 General Assembly. To Mabray’s right are Associate Pastor Jonathan Wagner and Ruling Elder Wayne Smith.

Covenant Presbyterian Church (EPC) of Monroe, La., is the recipient of the 2019 Bartlett L. Hess Award for church revitalization. The award was presented to the congregation on August 18.

“The revitalization of Covenant Monroe is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes,” Pastor John Mabray told the 39th General Assembly when the award was announced on June 20.

EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah said Covenant EPC received the 2019 award “because of its outstanding work in church revitalization.”

The Hess Award is given annually to the EPC church that has demonstrated the most innovative approach to church growth or revitalization. Church growth—in both its spiritual and numerical aspects—is an essential part of the mission of the church. The award provides a vehicle by which positive, reproducible innovation is encouraged and shared with others in the EPC. It is named for Bart Hess, founding pastor of Ward Church in suburban Detroit, who was instrumental in the establishment of the EPC in 1981.

October Jeremiah Journal offers Hurricane Dorian relief update

 

In the October 2019 edition of the Jeremiah Journal, Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah provides an update on EPC relief efforts in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian.

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.

Theology Committee tackles GA-assigned tasks

 

TheologyCommittee201909The EPC Theology Committee met at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando on September 11-12 to address two items assigned to it by the 39th General Assembly.

First. the committee discussed a recommendation from the National Leadership Team to study a decision by the Michigan chapter of Bethany Christian Services (BCS) in light of the EPC’s Position Papers on Abortion and Human Sexuality. In April 2019, the agency acceded to a state government requirement and agreed to place children for adoption in the homes of same-sex couples.

“Bethany has been an EPC ‘Approved Agency’ since 1989 and provides adoption, foster care, and pregnancy support,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “Yet the Michigan chapter’s decision places strongly-held EPC positions on abortion and human sexuality in tension, if not conflict. It is appropriate for the Theology Committee to research this matter and present its findings to the 40th General Assembly.”

The second recommendation the committee reviewed was to study how the EPC can be more sensitive to the needs of the disabled.

The committee will report on both of these topics, and make recommendations as appropriate, to the 40th General Assembly, to be held in June 2020 at Hope Church in Cordova, Tenn.

Members of the Theology Committee are Zach Hopkins (Chairman), Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes; Fred Flinn, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Central South; John Moody, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Great Plains; Ron DiNunzio, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the East; Gordon Miller, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of Mid-Atlantic; and Ryan Mowen, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the Alleghenies.

Unlike other permanent committees that meet regularly, the Theology Committee only meets to receive and study such theological matters as may be referred to it by the General Assembly and to return to the General Assembly its opinions and requested papers or documents, as stated in the EPC’s Rules for Assembly 10.1G.

EPC seeking candidates for Stated Clerk

 

Applications are now being received for Stated Clerk of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The current Stated Clerk, Jeff Jeremiah, is vacating the position at the June 2021 conclusion of his fifth three-year term. He has held the office since 2006.

With more than 600 Christ-centered congregations committed to mutual love and support, the Stated Clerk provides leadership that enables the EPC to achieve its vision. The Stated Clerk must be (or become) a member of the EPC. Applications will be accepted until October 30, 2019.

A position description and application information is available at www.epc.org/statedclerksearch.