Category Archives: Events

Church Planters Retreat offers refresh and recharge


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Attendees of the EPC Church Planters Retreat enjoyed breakout sessions on a variety of topics, including fundraising, self-care, worship, and more.

As one of the EPC’s four strategic initiatives, church planting is a priority in the EPC. A significant aspect of supporting church planting is supporting and ministering to church planters. A key strategy in supporting EPC church planters is the annual Church Planters Retreat.

This year’s retreat was held October 25-27 at Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, Colo. Nearly 50 EPC church planters, their spouses, and members of the Church Planting Team (CPT) joined presbytery leaders and others for three days of training and renewal that included peer networking, breakout and mentoring sessions, fellowship, prayer, and more.

Tom Ricks, CPT chair, explained that “church planting nuts-and-bolts” training sessions focused on topics such as fundraising, worship, self-care, and preaching in a start-up situation.

“Church planting is one of the hardest and loneliest endeavors of which I have ever been a part,” said James Daniels, pastor of Chelsea Presbyterian Church in suburban Birmingham, Ala. The church plant is not yet holding formal worship services, but is in the formation stage of hosting social events such as prayer breakfasts to build a local core group.

“The retreat came at a critical time in the process, and offered a beautiful balance of information and transformation,” Daniels added. “I’m entering back into my local community renewed and inspired for the days ahead.”

“This retreat was absolutely necessary,” said Brian Roskin, pastor of River City Church in St. Charles, Mo. “The topics were thoughtful and relevant for my current situation. I was able to connect with others doing the same thing, creating a network for me.”

Breakout sessions for spouses were led by Patty Robinson, wife of Shawn Robinson, founding pastor of Clayton Community Church in Clayton, Calif., and a CPT member. Her topic, “Engaging, Equipping, and Encouraging,” addressed how to navigate the call to be a church planter’s wife—including managing expectations and boundaries.

“Taking care of your relationship with God, knowing how and when to invest in the (church) plant, and protecting your marriage and family is what make the journey unique,” she said.

Another component of support for EPC church planters is a Church Planters’ Cohort, now in the planning phase with a launch goal of January 2018.

“The cohort will meet bi-monthly via FaceTime,” Ricks noted, “and cover topics essential to the first two years of church planting.” He added that “covenant triads” will provide opportunity for church planters to check in, support, and pray for each other.

Cohort leader Bart Garrett, pastor of Christ Church East Bay in Berkeley, Calif., reported that eleven church planters expressed interest during the retreat in this continuing training/support effort.

Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, noted that the retreat could not happen without local church giving to Per Member Asking, since food and lodging are funded in the EPC budget.

“Commissioners to the 2017 General Assembly in Sacramento approved funding church planting—as well as the other strategic initiatives of church revitalization, effective biblical leadership, and global movement—in the EPC budget, so every church that participates in Per Member Asking is investing in EPC church planting.”

Ricks noted that many EPC presbyteries pay travel expenses for church planters and their spouses, “so they can attend virtually cost-free.”

“The Church Planting Team and I are grateful for the opportunity to help invest in and grow the next generation of EPC church planters,” Ricks said. “We’ve seen many churches come along side us as ‘Parents, Partners, and Patrons’ of church planting. Thank you to everyone who supports church planting. If you’re not yet involved but interested in learning more, let me know!”

Ricks can be contacted at tom@greentreechurch.com or 314-909-9197, ext. 1007.

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EPC church planters and their spouses at the 2017 Church Planters Retreat in Colorado Springs, Colo.

 

Executive Pastor/Church Administrator Roundtable features church leadership expert Mike Bonem


XPRoundtableAt the first of two EPC Executive Pastor/Church Administrator Roundtable workshops held this fall, noted church leadership coach and consultant Mike Bonem discussed the joys and challenges of the “second chair” role. He defined a Second Chair Leader as “a person in a subordinate role whose influence with others adds value throughout the organization.”

Bonem earned an MBA from Harvard University, is a longtime business executive, and later served 11 years as Executive Pastor for a large church in Houston, Texas. He is author of Leading from the Second Chair, Thriving in the Second Chair, In Pursuit of Great and Godly Leadership, and Leading Congregational Change.

The roundtable, now in its fifth year, is a two-day workshop for EPC executive pastors, church administrators, and others in senior ministry (but second-chair) leadership positions.

Phil VanValkenburg, EPC Chief Operating Officer, hosts the roundtable each year.

“We want our church leaders to know that they have peers who face many of the same issues as they do in their ministries,” VanValkenburg said. “As we continue to focus on effective biblical leadership as one of our strategic initiatives, by being ‘better together’ we glean from each other’s experience and each of their churches gets great benefit.”

Twenty EPC church leaders participated in the workshop October 26-27 in Denver, Colorado. Participants discussed their specific ministry victories and challenges, shared best practices on a variety of topics related to church administration, and networked on such issues as technology systems, personnel, vision and strategy, finance, and many others.

The workshop is a resource of the Office of the General Assembly. The second roundtable takes place November 16-17 in Orlando.

World Outreach Forum hotel deadline approaching


Forum2017The annual World Outreach Forum is coming to Orlando in November, and the deadline to secure the group hotel rate is October 13.

This year’s Forum will focus on “Mobilizing Our Churches for Global Movement” and features a look at ways EPC congregations can:

  • Directly engage unreached people groups nearby,
  • Impart vision to reach the lost through short-term mission trips, and
  • Strategically send their own sons and daughters long-term through Engage 2025.

The Forum is a time of training, vision casting, and alignment around the global focus of the EPC. It is a great opportunity for presbytery Missions/World Outreach Committee members, church mission directors, and other mission-minded laymen, working on projects such as Engage 2025 to sharpen and learn from each other.

The workshop will be held November 13-14 at the Marriott SpringHill Suites Orlando Airport, starting at 1:00 p.m. with lunch on Monday and concluding after lunch on Tuesday.

“Representatives from EPC churches at the cutting edge of missions will share their stories, and we’ll explore how World Outreach can help all of our congregations,” said Phil Linton, Director of EPC World Outreach.

The cost is $79 per person and includes registration, two lunches, and one dinner. Lodging is available for $129 per night through October 13. Hotel rates increase after that date.

For more information and to register and make hotel arrangements, see www.epcwo.org/forum or contact the World Outreach office at wo@epcwo.org.

World Outreach Forum to highlight ways to mobilize the local church


Forum2017The 2017 World Outreach Forum will address the topic of “Mobilizing our churches for global movement” by addressing ways EPC congregations can:

  • Impart vision to reach the lost through short-term mission trips,
  • Directly engage unreached people groups in their local communities, and
  • Strategically send their own sons and daughters long-term through Engage 2025.

The workshop will be held November 13-14 in Orlando, Fla., starting at 1:00 p.m. with lunch on Monday and concluding after lunch on Tuesday. Come and collaborate with presbytery and church mission leaders and the World Outreach U.S. Team for a time of sharing, vision casting, and alignment around the global focus of the EPC.

“The mission initiatives of our churches are a treasure, and the Forum is where we get to look at the crown jewels,” said Phil Linton, Director of EPC World Outreach.  “Representatives from EPC churches at the cutting edge of missions will share their stories, and we’ll explore how World Outreach can help our congregations.”

The cost is $79 per person and includes registration, two lunches, and one dinner. Lodging is available for $129 per night and the deadline to secure the group rate is October 13.

For more information and to register and make hotel arrangements, see www.epcwo.org/forum or contact the World Outreach office at wo@epcwo.org.

Dick Stenbakken’s renowned first-person narratives open to all during GA Chaplains Workshop


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Col. Dick Stenbakken, U.S. Army (Retired)

Imagine that you have been assigned as the U.S. Army chaplain to the leaders of the German High Command on trial for war crimes following World War II. How would you minister to men who had intentionally, willfully, and systematically murdered millions of people?

Now imagine that you are on board the troop ship S.S. Dorchester, torpedoed in the North Atlantic by a German U-boat in 1943 and immortalized by the selfless actions of four Army chaplains who gave their life jackets so others might survive. As recipient of one of those life vests, how do you respond?

Retired Army Col. Dick Stenbakken will portray these two individuals in first-person narratives from 9:15-10:30 a.m. and 1:15-2:30 p.m. as part of the annual EPC Chaplain’s Workshop on in conjunction with the 37th General Assembly in Sacramento, Calif. The Workshop will be held on Tuesday, June 20, in the Wells Chapel at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church. Stenbakken’s presentations are open to all on a space-available basis.

In “The Nuremberg Chaplain,” Stenbakken portrays Henry Gerecke, chaplain to men who the world labeled as monsters, parishioners with whom he walked to the gallows.

In “The Dorchester Story,” Stenbakken recounts the S.S. Dorchester and the chaplain who gave him the chance to live.

Stenbakken served 24 years as an Army Chaplain, including one year of combat duty in Vietnam, and four years as the director of Family Life Ministries for the Army Chief of Chaplains Office. Following his retirement from the Army, he directed Chaplaincy Ministries on a world-wide basis for his denominational headquarters. He has presented to the U.S. Senate, the Pentagon, major health care organizations, leadership conferences, college campus settings, and a variety of military and civilian congregations across North America, Africa, India, Asia, Europe, Japan, and Germany. He holds four Master’s Degrees and a Doctorate in Education. For more information about his first-person narratives, see www.biblefaces.com.

For more information about the 37th General Assembly, see www.epc.org/ga2017. For details about the Chaplain’s Workshop, click here or contact Mark Ingles, EPC Chaplain Endorser, at epcendorser@yahoo.com.

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CCO Jubilee Conference available at no cost for EPC leaders


One of the EPC’s strategies for reaching and building Next Generation leaders is through its strategic partnership with Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO). Through that partnership, any EPC leader may attend CCO’s 2017 Jubilee Conference at no cost for registration. Jubilee will be held February 17-19 at the Westin Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh, Pa. The annual event attracts more than 3,000 attendees each year.

For more than 40 years, the Jubilee Conference has helped college students talk, learn, think, and dream about the public implications of their personal transformation. And it’s not just for those pursuing a career in ministry—Jubilee is designed for all students to help them understand how to be involved faithfully in whatever discipline they choose—both in college and the years to come.

The three-day conference normally costs approximately $300 per person. In addition to the waived registration fee, EPC leaders are offered a discounted rate at the Omni William Penn Hotel. Two meals also will be provided free of charge—Saturday lunch and Saturday dinner.

Free registration is available to any EPC pastor, elder, church or presbytery staff member, or other leader as a ministry of the EPC Student and College Ministries (SCM) Committee. One of the committee’s primary goals is to further develop EPC’s partnership with CCO to help growing numbers of EPC churches develop or improve their ministry to college students and millennials.

To register, go to the Jubilee Partners page at www.jubileeconference.com/jubilee-partner. For more information, see the CCO website at www.ccojubilee.org or contact Elliott Simko, CCO Partnership Coordinator, at esimko@ccojubilee.org.

Reformed Theological Seminary offers EPC polity course



rtsReformed Theological Seminary
(RTS) in Orlando is offering a course in EPC polity during its upcoming Winter 2017 term. The class will meet January 9-12 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Subjects to be studied include polity, discipline, EPC history, and current developments within the denomination. The course will focus on the biblical and theological foundations for Presbyterian polity and how they are applied through the confession, constitution, and policies of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church within the historical contexts of the Reformed tradition, American Presbyterianism, and the EPC’s own history and distinctives.

Instructors are Don Fortson, Mike Glodo, and Jeff Jeremiah. Fortson is Professor of Church History at RTS’s Charlotte, N.C., campus and author of Liberty in Non-Essentials: The Story of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Glodo is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at the RTS Orlando campus and served as EPC Stated Clerk from 2001-2006. Jeremiah has served as Stated Clerk of the EPC since 2006.

The course is open to EPC and non-EPC students from other seminaries, as well as RTS students of all campuses and will satisfy the Master of Divinity course requirement, regardless of the student’s denominational affiliation. Students can take the course for credit or as an audit.

For information on how to register, contact Winston Miller, Director of Admissions for the RTS Orlando campus, at wmiller@rts.edu.