Category Archives: Denominational News

Cameron Shaffer: Bethany Christian Services policy change a compromise with sin

 

Cameron Shaffer

In the 1980s, the EPC endorsed and commended Bethany Christian Services (BCS), a Christian adoption and child services organization, to our congregations as a valuable resource for assisting orphaned children. We did this in the shadow of abortion: if we were to condemn abortion as evil and murder, then we needed to be able to step up and help children who were not wanted. Of course, that is not the only reason to support adoption—caring for orphans and other vulnerable children is what true Christianity looks like. But in the face of abortion, the value of adoption is made clear. Life is better than death; healing is better than harm.

In 2019, the EPC began reevaluating our endorsement of BCS when they changed their policy in Michigan (where they are headquartered) to allow gay couples to adopt. The decision followed a lawsuit brought by the ACLU that jeopardized BCS’ contract with the state’s Department of Human Services. At the time, BCS maintained the national policy that marriage is between one man and woman. Outside of Michigan, BCS would not place children for adoption with gay couples. Fast-forward to March 2021, when BCS announced that they would be changing their national policy and begin placing children with same-sex couples.

As a result of these decisions, the EPC’s Theology Committee will bring a recommendation to the 41st General Assembly in June to rescind the denomination’s endorsement of BCS.

Any honest observer would interpret the approval of that recommendation as the EPC believing it is better for a child to be stuck in the foster system than adopted by a gay couple, or that we think being aborted is better than living in a home parented by two dads.

Why would the EPC dissolve this long-standing relationship? Why not place children with gay couples? Why refuse to support adoption agencies that do so?

The answer is how the Bible defines the terms being used. Specific to the EPC’s endorsement of BCS: what is family, who decides, and into what are children being adopted?

When BCS changed their national policy, they also dropped from their position statement that God’s design for marriage is between one man and one woman. If their previous affirmation—and the historic position of Orthodox Christianity—is correct, then a gay couple is not married, no matter what the law recognizes. We may refer to them as married for the sake of social convention, but conformity to the biblical nature of marriage is necessary for it to be marriage. No matter how loving, caring, and committed a gay couple is, they are not married in any biblical, and therefore real, sense of the word.

Our culture has redefined human identity and institutions in terms of its own preferences and sense of fulfillment. Yet biblical truth declares that families require parents. Husbands and wives are to be the father and mother of their family. Families are fathers and mothers together with their children. Multigenerational families are just that: multiple generations of children with their fathers and mothers.

Of course, some families are broken in different ways: divorce, death, adultery, abuse. Sin of all kinds distorts the blessing of God’s design for marriage and family. In all these cases, children are the victims of sinful disfigurements of God’s design for marriage and family. An internet search on the effects of single parent households on children reveals study after study that reinforce biblical truth: Children need both fathers and mothers.

Adoption is intended to be a means by which parentless, family-less children are joined to a family that can be the father and mother that their biological parents cannot. Adoption is to be a balm of healing to the injuries of sin. Children need parents, and parents are fathers and mothers. Other caregivers can be good and helpful, but the foster system with its inherent lack of stability also lacks the permanent family unit.

Do children need families? Yes. Do children need fathers and mothers? Yes. However, children adopted by a gay couple are not being protected from sinful distortions of marriage and family. Rather, they are placed into a sinful facsimile of them.

The EPC withdrawing its endorsement from BCS is the Church signaling that it cannot condone an agency willing to place children in couples that are not families.

Undoubtedly, many same-sex couples are more caring than some fathers and mothers. Many children adopted by gay couples have better lives with them than they would in the foster system. But those observations mask adoption’s design. Adoption is not for getting kids out of the foster system, or for finding the kindest caretakers. Its purpose is to join children to families.

The church should care for the physical and mental wellbeing of children. But its primary calling is to care for their spiritual wellbeing. The spiritual nurture of children includes raising them to love and obey God as He is revealed in Scripture. A same-sex couple in an inherently sinful, distorted relationship is intrinsically unable to do so.

Is withdrawing endorsement from BCS the Church abandoning children? No. Numerous   Christian adoption agencies still hold to God’s design in where they place children. In 2019, BCS changed their policy in Michigan following court battles, but a federal judge there later sided with Catholic groups that refused to accede to Michigan’s demands. The truth is that BCS abandoned their fellow Christian adoption agencies when they abandoned the Scriptural definition of family.

Individual Christian families are still able to adopt through BCS—which is a good thing. But a family adopting a child is different from a Church endorsing an agency whose desperation to avoid legal consequences leads to a compromise with sin.

God’s design for children is for them to be raised in a family. By the biblical definition of “family,” same-sex couples are not it. That standard should be what the EPC and Christian adoption agencies follow in caring for orphans.

Cameron Shaffer is a member of the EPC’s permanent Theology Committee. He serves as Pastor of Langhorne Presbyterian Church in Langhorne, Pa., in the Presbytery of the East.

Session 6 recording of Church Revitalization Workshop now available

 

The recording of the sixth monthly session of the 2020-2021 Church Revitalization Workshop is now available. “The Revitalization of the Congregation, Part 2: Revitalization Through Worship” was hosted by Doug Resler, Senior Pastor of Parker Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Parker, Colo. Panelists were:

The recording also is posted on the EPC website at www.epc.org/churchrevitalizationworkshop, and on the EPC YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/EPChurch80. Audio podcast versions of each session of the workshop are available on the EPC’s podcast channel at podcast.epc.org, as well as Spotify and iTunes (search for “Evangelical Presbyterian Church”).

Revitalization through worship the topic of April 28 Church Revitalization Workshop

 

The EPC’s 2020-2021 virtual Church Revitalization Workshop continues on Wednesday, April 28, with a discussion of how to utilize worship as an engine for church revitalization. Previous installments of the monthly series focused on the revitalization of the Session, the revitalization of the pastor, and ways to revitalize the congregation through evangelism.

Facilitators of the workshop include John Mabray, Associate Pastor for Covenant Presbyterian Church in Monroe, La.; 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). There is no cost to register, and the workshops are open to both Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders. For more information and to register, see www.epc.org/churchrevitalizationworkshop.

41st General Assembly registration open

 

Online registration for the 41st General Assembly is now open. The Assembly meets June 22-25 at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn. The Assembly will be a hybrid of on-site and virtual participation due to local social distancing requirements that reduce the capacity of the host church’s Sanctuary, meeting rooms, and other facilities.

The theme of this year’s annual meeting is “God Will Restore,” based on God’s promise in Joel 2:25 that He “will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten … You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you … ”

The theme references not only the lament in the church and the nation over the pandemic and social unrest over the past year, but also—and importantly—the assurance that God is in our midst.

The annual Leadership Institute will feature three plenary speakers and four ministry-specific leadership development gatherings, each of which is open to all General Assembly attendees:

  • Chaplains Workshop, featuring Mike Berry, General Counsel for First Liberty Institute in Plano, Texas, and Mark Ingles, EPC Chaplain Endorser. Berry will lead sessions on “Why Religious Freedom Matters and What Our Nation’s Founders Intended” and “Threats to Religious Freedom and What We Can Do to Protect It.”
  • Creating Church Planting Networks and Partnerships, led by Tom Ricks, Lead Pastor of Greentree Community Church in Kirkwood, Mo., and Chairman of the EPC Church Planting Team.
  • Transitional Pastor Training, led by Bob Stauffer, Church Development Coordinator for the Presbytery of the Alleghenies.
  • The Israel of God, a discussion of the identity of Israel in the biblical narrative—apart from contemporary political considerations—in which God’s purposes for His covenant people as revealed in Scripture will be examined, as well as thoughts on how Christ’s church should respond with compassion and justice to both Israelis and Arabs. The seminar will be led by Mike Kuhn, Missional Theology Specialist for EPC World Outreach’s International Theological Education Network.

The Tuesday plenary session will be led by Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss. He will address the topic of “Combating Biblical Anemia: Scripture, Discipleship, Worship, and Preaching.”

The Wednesday morning plenary speaker is George Robertson, Senior Pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, who will discuss “Soul Care for Pastors.”

The Wednesday afternoon plenary speaker is Rufus Smith, Senior Pastor of Hope Church. His topic is “Kindness that Leads to Reconciliation.” Both Wednesday sessions will include time for Q-and-A.

The first of five business sessions convenes on Wednesday afternoon, June 23, at 4:15 p.m. (Central). Business sessions continue on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.; and Friday at 11:00 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.

Worship service speakers include:

  • Phil Linton, Director of EPC World Outreach.
  • Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk.
  • George Robertson, Senior Pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis.
  • A. Carson, Emeritus Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill.
  • Glenn Meyers, Moderator of the 40th General Assembly.

Other gatherings for on-site participants include a wide variety of Networking Lunches each day, as well as World Outreach, women’s ministry, and ministry wives.

For complete information, see www.epc.org/ga2021.

#epc2021ga

March 2021 EPC budget report: PMA support continues above projection

 

Contributions to Per Member Asking (PMA) received by the Office of the General Assembly in fiscal year 2021 (FY21) through March 31 total $1,810,425. March PMA support was $400,603.

The total is $261,927 (16.9 percent) more than the $1,548,498 FY21 PMA support projection to fund the EPC’s Collaborative Ministries, Connectional Support, and Custodial Operations.

PMA support at the three-quarter mark of FY21 (which runs from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021) is $51,856 (2.8 percent) behind the $1,862,281 contributed over the same period in FY20, and only 3 percent lower than the original FY21 PMA projection—which was later reduced by 17 percent and approved by the 40th General Assembly in September 2020 as the “Bare Bones Plus budget.”

“I think I’ve said this every month now, but I am very thankful for the PMA support that our churches provide,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “I am especially grateful that God has blessed our churches in such a way that they can continue to contribute so generously to the EPC over the past year.”

Of the $1,810,425 received, $362,085 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, $4,195,783 in designated gifts were received through March 31. This total was $272,555 (6.5 percent) lower than the $4,468,338 in designated gifts received in the same period in FY20. Jeremiah noted that the difference can be attributed to more than $350,000 in donations to the Emergency Relief Fund in fall 2019 following Hurricane Dorian, and a December 2019 gift of $250,000 for church planting.

“Giving to specific projects outside of those two funds is up more than $360,000 this year over the previous year,” Jeremiah said. “I am grateful for this level of generosity in such extraordinary times.”

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.

Of the total, $4,088,595 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $107,188 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.

VitalChurch offers Transitional Pastor training event

 

VitalChurch Ministry, a commended resource of the EPC’s Ministerial Vocation Committee, is holding an online training event designed to equip transitional pastors, denominational leaders, and anyone else interested in helping churches in transition or crisis. The four-day training is scheduled for May 24-27, with each day’s presentation taking place from 12:00-4:00 p.m. (Eastern) via Zoom.

Participants will discover strategies to diagnose real problems, facilitate change, resolve conflict, manage destructive powerbrokers, and deal with the idols at the root of many congregational issues. A flexible and workable model of church governance, the use of transition teams, and a proven method for strategic planning highlight the topics to be addressed. Other features include:

  • The why and how of VitalChurch’s intentional transitional pastor ministry, based on more than 25 years of experience serving churches.
  • The opportunity for participants to self-assess their transitional ministry potential and learn the qualities of a successful intentional transitional pastor.
  • An electronic and hard copy Interim Pastor Training Manual that provides detailed information on all topics covered in the training.
  • A “check list” for a transitional pastor’s first 90 days in a church.
  • Four days of learning, growing, and reflecting through a combination of formal information sessions, individual and small-group exercises, and whole group. discussion designed to both deepen and broaden the understanding of transitional ministry in the church.
  • Networking opportunities with like-minded pastors and professionals, as well as with VitalChurch’s speakers who have decades of experience in transitional ministry.

“When it comes to evaluating and training Transitional Pastors, VitalChurch is one of our valuable resource partners,” said Jerry Iamurri, EPC Assistant Stated Clerk. “The experience and expertise they bring to the table has helped a number of our congregations when they were between pastors. Anyone interested in what transitional pastorates are all about will benefit from this training.”

The cost is $599 (through April 12), and $699 beginning April 13. Those who register by May 10 are guaranteed to receive an Interim Pastor Training Manual by mail prior to the event.

Featured presenters are Dave Miles, VitalChurch Founding Partner and Interim Pastor Team Leader; Tom Wilkens, VitalChurch People Development Leader; Gregg Caruso, VitalChurch Diagnostic Team Leader; and Wade Thompson, VitalChurch UK Executive Director. Guest Presenters include Keith Webb, President of Creative Results Management and author of The COACH Model for Christian Leaders; and Jeff Arthurs, Professor of Preaching and Communication at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

For more information and to register, see www.vitalchurchministry.org/2021-training.

For additional Transitional Pastor, Church Revitalization, Pastoral Care, and other resources of the Ministerial Vocation Committee, see www.epc.org/ministerialvocation/mvcresources.

Session 5 recording of Church Revitalization Workshop now available

 

The recording of “The Revitalization of the Congregation, Part 1” of the 2020-2021 Church Revitalization Workshop is now available. The workshop is being held via video conference on the fourth Wednesday of each month through May 2021.

The presentation was hosted by Doug Resler, Senior Pastor of Parker Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Parker, Colo. Panelists were:

The recording also is posted on the EPC website at www.epc.org/churchrevitalizationworkshop, where registration for future installments of the workshop is available, and on the EPC YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/EPChurch80. Audio podcast versions of each session of the workshop are available on the EPC’s podcast channel at podcast.epc.org, as well as Spotify and iTunes (search for “Evangelical Presbyterian Church”).

March 24 Church Revitalization Workshop addresses congregational vitality

 

The EPC’s 2020-2021 virtual Church Revitalization Workshop continues on Wednesday, March 24, with a discussion of how to develop and maintain the vitality of the congregation. Previous installments of the monthly series focused on the revitalization of the Session and the revitalization of the pastor.

Facilitators of the workshop include John Mabray, Associate Pastor for Covenant Presbyterian Church in Monroe, La.; 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). There is no cost to register, and the workshops are open to both Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders. For more information and to register, see www.epc.org/churchrevitalizationworkshop.

2020-21 Book of Order now available

 

The spiral-bound, printed edition of the 2020-21 Book of Order is now available for purchase through EPC Resources. The cost per book is $11.51 plus shipping.

“This updated edition of our Book of Order includes all the decisions ratified by the 40th General Assembly last September,” said Jerry Iamurri, Assistant Stated Clerk. “All of our Teaching Elders and Clerks of Session will benefit from having a copy of this resource.”

The 252-page book is Volume 1 of the EPC Constitution and is comprised of the Book of Government, Book of Discipline, Book of Worship, Rules for Assembly, Acts of Assembly, and Forms for Discipline. This year’s edition includes amendments to the Book of Order and Rules for Assembly ratified by the 40th General Assembly (2020), as well as Acts of the 40th General Assembly.

The Constitution of the EPC consists of the Book of Order, the Westminster Confession of Faith (including the Larger and Shorter Catechisms), and the document “Essentials of Our Faith.” All these are subordinate to Scripture, which is “the supreme and final authority on all matters on which it speaks.”

February 2021 EPC budget report: PMA support continues above 2020 projection, behind 2019 level

 

Contributions to Per Member Asking (PMA) received by the Office of the General Assembly in fiscal year 2021 (FY21) through February 28 total $1,585,346.

The total is $219,918 (13.4 percent) more than the $1,645,094 FY21 PMA support projection to fund the EPC’s Collaborative Ministries, Connectional Support, and Custodial Operations.

While FY21 support remains strong, contributions the first eight months of FY21 (which runs from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021) are $83,146 (3.6 percent) behind the $1,668,492 contributed over the same period in FY20. In addition, February PMA support of $175,524 lowers the 12-month rolling average for monthly PMA contributions to $192,394—approximately 5.8 percent less than the rolling average as of February 28, 2020. The rolling average has declined over the previous year’s level for the sixth consecutive month.

“The ongoing downturn in our monthly rolling average is a cause for concern, because that is an indicator of longer-term trends,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “At the same time, I think the strong PMA support we are seeing is a good indication that not only are our churches demonstrating their commitment to the EPC, they also are experiencing commitment to financial stewardship from their members. I praise the Lord for how He continues to bless and work in the lives of His people.”

Of the $1,585,346 received, $317,069 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, $3,733,540 in designated gifts were received through February 28. This total was $363,671 (8.9 percent) lower than the $4,097,211 in designated gifts received in the same period in FY20.

“At face value, the decrease in designated giving is disappointing,” Jeremiah said. “However, in our previous fiscal year we received an anonymous $500,000 gift for church planting, plus we received more than $360,000 into our Emergency Relief Fund in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian and wildfires in the West. If we don’t consider those two items, designated giving to EPC ministries and causes is actually up significantly. I am grateful for this incredible generosity!”

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.

Of the total, $3,647,476 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $86,063 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.

March Jeremiah Journal outlines 2021 Leadership Institute adjustments

 

In the March 2021 edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah describes some additional scheduling changes for the upcoming 41st General Assembly since last month’s edition in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s Assembly is scheduled for June 22-25, 2021, at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn.

The Jeremiah Journal is a monthly video blog hosted on the EPC’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/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.

Revised Leadership Training Guide now available

 

The revised edition of the EPC Leadership Training Guide is now available for purchase at www.epcresources.org/products/leadership-training-guide. Subtitled “A Resource for Pastors, Elders, and Church Leaders of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church,” the guide was developed by the EPC’s Ministerial Vocation and Theology committees, and produced by the Office of the General Assembly.

Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah said the fully updated, second edition of the Leadership Training Guide is “an invaluable resource for congregations seeking to train current and next-generation leaders to serve in a variety of roles in the church. It presents this important material in a succinct, practical, and winsome style. In addition, the fresh new look is a welcome improvement over the previous edition, which makes the content even more accessible.”

The 230-page, spiral-bound book is designed to assist churches in leadership development and includes instructions on how to use the material to prepare ministers, Ruling Elders, and deacons for their ordination vows. The 15 chapters are Early Church History, Reformed Church History, Reading the Bible, Theology, Anthropology, Christology, Soteriology, The Holy Spirit, Ecclesiology and the Sacraments, Eschatology, The Purpose for Which God Created the World, Church Government, The Officers of the Church, The Life and Character of the Officer, and Leading Healthy Churches. Each chapter concludes with practical leadership applications and questions for review and discussion. Also included are the EPC ordination vows and an Emotional/Spiritual Health Inventory.

The cost per book is $12.69 plus shipping.

Two Minute Topics video series continues with IRS non-profit organization group exemption changes

 

In the latest installment of the EPC’s video series, “Two Minute Topics,” Assistant Stated Clerk Jerry Iamurri discusses two steps EPC churches must take in order to comply with recent changes to the Internal Revenue Service’s non-profit organization group exemption.

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

 

Session 4 recording of Church Revitalization Workshop now available

 

The recording of “The Revitalization of the Session, Part 2” of the 2020-2021 Church Revitalization Workshop is now available. The workshop is being held via video conference on the fourth Wednesday of each month through May 2021.

The presentation was hosted by Doug Resler, Senior Pastor of Parker Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Parker, Colo. Panelists were:

The video recording also is posted on the EPC website at www.epc.org/churchrevitalizationworkshop, where registration for future installments of the workshop is available, and on the EPC YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/EPChurch80. Audio podcasts of each workshop session are available on the EPC podcast channel and iTunes.

February Jeremiah Journal notes 41st General Assembly adjustments

 

In the February 2021 edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah describes two key changes being made for the 41st General Assembly, scheduled for June 22-25, 2021, at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn.

The Jeremiah Journal is a monthly video blog hosted on the EPC’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/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.

January 2021 EPC budget report: PMA support 6 percent above projection, slightly behind 2019 pace

 

Contributions to Per Member Asking (PMA) received by the Office of the General Assembly in fiscal year 2021 (FY21) through January 31 total $1,409,822.

The total is $190,581 (15.6 percent) more than the $1,219,241 FY21 PMA support projection to fund the EPC’s Collaborative Ministries, Connectional Support, and Custodial Operations.

PMA support in the first seven months of FY21 (which runs from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021) is $61,312 (4 percent) behind the $1,471,134 contributed over the same period in FY20, and roughly the same percentage lower than the original FY21 PMA projection—which was reduced by 17 percent and approved by the 40th General Assembly in September 2020 as the “Bare Bones Plus budget.” In addition, January PMA support of $174,936 lowers the 12-month rolling average for monthly PMA contributions to $195,210—approximately 3 percent less than the rolling average as of January 31, 2020.

“I am very grateful that as we turned the calendar from 2020 to 2021 our churches continue their commitment to the EPC through Per Member Asking,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “God gets the glory that PMA contributions have remained strong. At the same time, we made some drastic cuts to this year’s budget that are not sustainable for the long-term. So even though we are ahead of our projections, I hope our churches continue to commit to PMA.”

Of the $1,409,822 received, $281,964 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, $3,386,153 in designated gifts were received through January 31. This total was $235,107 (6.5 percent) lower than the $3,621,260 in designated gifts received in the same period 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 Thanksgiving and Christmas offerings.

Of the total, $3,314,830 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $71,323 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.

Leadership development the topic of February 24 installment of Church Revitalization Workshop

 

The EPC’s 2020-2021 virtual Church Revitalization Workshop continues on Wednesday, February 24, with a discussion of how to develop a leadership pipeline for the church officer nomination and training process.

Facilitators of the workshop include John Mabray, Associate Pastor for Covenant Presbyterian Church in Monroe, La.; 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). There is no cost to register, and the workshops are open to both Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders. For more information and to register, see www.epc.org/churchrevitalizationworkshop.

Session 3 recording of Church Revitalization Workshop now available

 

The recording of “The Revitalization of the Session,” session 3 of the 2020-2021 Church Revitalization Workshop, is now available. The workshop is being held via video conference on the fourth Wednesday of each month through May 2021.

The presentation was hosted by Doug Resler, Senior Pastor of Parker Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Parker, Colo. Panelists were:

The recording also is posted on the EPC website at www.epc.org/churchrevitalizationworkshop, where registrations for future installments is available, and on the EPC YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/EPChurch80. Audio podcasts of each workshop session are available on the EPC podcast channel and iTunes.

January Jeremiah Journal describes changes at the Office of the General Assembly

 

In the January 2021 edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah Jeff discusses some major transitions taking place at the Office of the General Assembly.

The Jeremiah Journal is a monthly video blog hosted on the EPC’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/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.

Church Revitalization Workshop continues with January 27 session on sessions

 

The EPC’s 2020-2021 virtual Church Revitalization Workshop continues on Wednesday, January 27, with the topic, “Revitalization of the Session.” The discussion will focus on the practical, cultural, and spiritual aspects of shepherding the session of a local church.

Facilitators include John Mabray, Associate Pastor for Covenant Presbyterian Church in Monroe, La.; 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). There is no cost to register, and the workshops are open to both Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders. For more information and to register, see www.epc.org/churchrevitalizationworkshop.

December 2020 EPC budget report: strategic priorities spending restored amid continued strong PMA support

 

Support for Per Member Asking (PMA) over the first six months of the EPC’s fiscal year continues to be strong. As a result, the National Leadership Team (NLT) reinstated $60,000 in the Office of the General Assembly’s budget for church planting and $26,000 for church revitalization at its January 19 meeting.

PMA contributions received by the Office of the General Assembly since the July 1 start of fiscal year 2021 (FY21) total $1,234,886. While the amount is $18,863 less than the $1,253,749 received during the same period in fiscal year 2020, year-to-date contributions are 13.7 percent ($149,219) above the $1,085,667 “Bare Bones Plus” budget.

“We reduced the 2020-2021 budget by 17 percent out of an abundance of caution, since we did not know how the ongoing pandemic would affect our churches financially,” Jeremiah said. “We did not want to be in a position where we had to make cuts to an approved budget later. But I am so thankful that our churches continue to demonstrate their commitment to the EPC in such uncertain times.”

Jeremiah noted that the 40th General Assembly not only approved the reduced budget but also authorized the National Leadership Team to increase funding for strategic ministry opportunities should FY21 revenue exceed projected spending.

The 12-month rolling average for monthly PMA contributions is $197,809—within 1 percent of the rolling average as of December 31, 2020. PMA support in December 2020 was $312,238.

Of the $1,234,886 received, $246,977 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, $2,954,022 was received through December 30 for designated funds. This total is $218,006 (6.9 percent) lower than the $3,172,027 in designated gifts received in the same period in fiscal year 2020.

Jeremiah said if significant donations to two funds in 2019—Emergency Relief and Church Planting—are not considered, designated giving is up more than $369,000 (14.4 percent) in FY21. Nearly $320,000 was donated to the Emergency Relief Fund through December 30, 2019, in response to Hurricane Dorian. An anonymous donor gave $250,000 in December 2019, designated for church planting.

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.

Of the total, $2,905,521 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $48,501 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.

Committee announces updates to World Outreach Executive Director search

 

The World Outreach Executive Director Search Committee has extended the deadline for applications to February 28. In addition, the requirement that the next Executive Director of World Outreach live in Orlando has been relaxed.

“We want to allow as much time as possible for interested individuals to complete the application materials,” said Rob Liddon, chairman of the nine-member search committee. “Also, the committee recognizes—and the National Leadership Team affirms—that while local residency to the office is strongly preferred, a leader with the experience and qualifications we are seeking for the role may well have strategic contacts, networks, and other relationships that a relocation may weaken. In short, by making these two adjustments to the search process we believe we are removing two potential stumbling blocks that may prevent us hearing from the best—and God’s preferred—candidate for this critical position.”

World Outreach is the international missions arm of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. 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.

Through World Outreach, the EPC and its more than 630 Christ-centered congregations seek to extend God’s Kingdom by making disciples of all nations by commissioning and sending workers, as well as partnering with like-minded mission organizations around the world. The Executive Director of World Outreach will be on the forefront of building on a strong tradition of global partnerships, as well as leading change and guiding mission impact.

For more information, including application materials and the position description, see www.epc.org/woexecutivedirectorsearch.

Rick Schatz, member of Pastoral Letter on Human Sexuality Pastoral Letter committee, dies at 76

 

Frederic “Rick” Schatz

Rick Schatz, a member of the EPC’s interim committee that developed the Pastoral Letter on Human Sexuality approved by the 38th General Assembly, died on January 1. He was 76.

Schatz is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was a founding Ruling Elder of Evangelical Community Church. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati and received an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he received Christ during his second year of studies. Following a successful business career, he joined the National Coalition Against Pornography (now PureHOPE), which he served as COO and President from 1990-2014. He also served as Executive Director of the Religious Alliance Against Pornography, and Chief Operating Officer of The Prayer Covenant.

He is survived by his wife, Sharon; son and daughter-in-law Mark and Leah; son and daughter-in-law Brett and Betsy; son and daughter-in-law Tim and Sarah; and 11 grandchildren.

A full memorial notice is available here.

2021 Per Member Asking stays at $23

 

Per Member Asking (PMA) to the national level of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church for 2021 remains at $23. PMA is the primary means of funding the EPC’s mission and vision.

Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah noted that PMA has been held at $23 per church member, per year, for the eleventh consecutive year.

“The amount has not changed since 2010, when it was reduced from $25 in 2009 to $23 in 2010,” Jeremiah said. “With all the economic uncertainties in our country, the National Leadership Team felt it was important to hold PMA steady. I am very grateful that our churches have been so generous in supporting the EPC.”

PMA contributions to the Office of the General Assembly are put to work through collaborative ministries, connectional support, and custodial operations.

  • Collaborative Ministries serve and support local church and presbytery initiatives to achieve our mission and vision better together than alone.
  • Connectional Support ensures that EPC constitutional mandates unite and align churches, sessions, presbyteries, and committees with the General Assembly.
  • Custodial Operations ensures prudent stewardship, protection, and management of EPC assets, integrity, finances, information, and employees.

Contributions to PMA can be made by check or online. For more information, see www.epc.org/donate/permemberasking.

In addition to the PMA for the national level of the denomination, each of the EPC’s 14 presbyteries has its own PMA target. Churches should contact their presbytery office for information about financially supporting the work of their presbytery.

November 2020 EPC budget report: PMA support 16 percent above budget, 2.5 percent behind 2019 pace

 

Contributions to Per Member Asking (PMA) received by the Office of the General Assembly in fiscal year 2021 (FY21) through November 30 total $922,648.

The total is $133,152 (16.9 percent) more than the $789,496 “Bare Bones Plus” budget projection to support the EPC’s Collaborative Ministries, Connectional Support, and Custodial Operations. However, PMA support in the first five months of FY21 (which runs from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021) is $23,474 less than the $946,122 contributed in the first five months of the previous fiscal year (FY20). November PMA support of $141,742 lowers the 12-month rolling average for monthly PMA contributions to $197,425—approximately 2.6 percent less than the rolling average as of November 30, 2020.

“The year 2020 could be described in many ways, not least of which is ‘financial uncertainty,’” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “Yet despite the hardships they have faced, our congregations have demonstrated their commitment to the EPC by supporting PMA so strongly. I am grateful for their faithfulness and generosity.”

Of the $922,648 received, $184,530 (20 percent) was contributed to EPC World Outreach.

In addition to PMA contributions, $2,187,026 in designated gifts were received through November 30. This total was $70,792 (3.1 percent) lower than the $2,257,818 in designated gifts received in the same period in fiscal year 2020—which included nearly $300,000 in donations to the Emergency Relief Fund in response to Hurricane Dorian. If those gifts are not considered, giving to designated funds is up more than $223,000 (11.4 percent).

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.

Of the total, $2,165,187 was designated for World Outreach workers and projects, and $21,838 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.