Category Archives: Events

EPC pastors hold prominent roles at World Reformed Fellowship General Assembly

 

Rob Norris (right) convenes the Sixth General Assembly of the World Reformed Fellowship on October 27 at First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Fla. Seated are (from left) Case Thorp, FPCO Senior Associate Pastor for Evangelism, and Davi Gomes, WRF International Director.

Church and denominational leaders from the EPC held leading positions at the Sixth General Assembly of the World Reformed Fellowship (WRF) in October. The WRF meeting was held at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, Fla., with the theme, “The Nature and Mission of the Church.”

In noting that “the church is at the core of who we are,” Rob Norris opened the meeting on October 27. Norris is the WRF’s Chairman of the Board and serves as Teaching Pastor for the EPC’s Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Md. Norris also led the second Plenary session, “The Worship of the Church.”

“Everything that we are and everything we do as the community of Christ is designed to move towards the glory of God,” he said. “At the very center of our adoration is the blessing and the work of Jesus Christ.”

Norris added that the worship of God can only be accomplished in and through Christ.

“To approach God in any other way is unacceptable,” he emphasized. “Jesus also said the Father is seeking such to worship Him. In this worship we have direct access to the Father’s presence. Quite simply, the Father is seeking exclusive worship—that we would worship Him. He is seeking those who worship in spirit and truth. We are to be devoted to God through and through. To worship the Father in truth means according to the specifics that He revealed about Himself.”

“The Church Under Pressure from the State”

On October 28, EPC Stated Clerk Dean Weaver participated in a panel discussion, “The Church Under Pressure from the State.”

EPC Stated Clerk Dean Weaver (left) participated in a panel discussion on October 28, “The Church Under Pressure from the State.”

In response to a question about EPC Teaching Elder Andrew Brunson’s two-year imprisonment in Turkey from 2016-2018, Weaver noted the contrast between the Turkish and American governments.

“In Turkey, he experienced real persecution from the Turkish government. On the other side, the EPC—working to try to get freedom for Andrew—found a partner in the U.S. government to secure his freedom.”

Weaver noted that pressure on the church in the United States is likely different from that experienced by his fellow panelists.

“Pressure seems to be coming more from the culture than from the government,” he said, adding that societal pressures too often result in division rather than unity.

“The way the church in the U.S. is responding to pressure has been divisive, and it’s over things that aren’t even necessarily doctrinal,” Weaver said. “When the dust settles, 20 percent of the congregation is gone because you did or did not wear masks, and 20 percent of the people are new because you did or did not wear masks. People have made those decisions not on theological convictions but on political convictions.”

He also expressed concern over the church’s response to pressure, more than the pressure itself.

“Pressure is not in-and-of-itself is bad, but if we could see it as under the sovereignty of God rather than something to be avoided, then I think it should unite us. And yet in the last two years the pressure from the pandemic has divided the church.”

Weaver referenced discussions with EPC pastors over the past year to illustrate the point.

“What I have heard from a number of pastors in the EPC is that while attendance is down post-pandemic, giving is about the same. So it appears that the pressure of the pandemic maybe pruned away some who perhaps were not all that connected or invested, but those who have stayed are strong and just as —if not more—committed.”

Other panelists were John McClean, Vice Principal of Christ College in Sydney, Australia; Kin Yip Louie, Associate Professor in Theological Studies at China Graduate School of Theology in Hong Kong; and Sichan Siv, who escaped the “killing fields” of Cambodia’s Pol Pot regime in 1976, and later served U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 2001-2006. He currently serves as a deacon at First Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas.

“Made to Flourish: Faith and Work”

Case Thorp, Senior Associate Pastor of Evangelism and The Collaborative for host church FPCO and Moderator of the EPC’s 39th General Assembly, led a seminar on October 28, “Made to Flourish: Faith and Work.”

Case Thorp led a seminar, “Made to Flourish: Faith and Work” on October 28.

In describing his title, Thorp explained that The Collaborative is FPCO’s evangelism ministry.

“Note that in the name is “co-labor,” Thorp noted. “It is based on 1 Corinthians 1:9 where we are invited by God into fellowship with Christ.”

He also described how The Collaborative approaches evangelism from a relational perspective within the context of the community outside the church.

“At FPCO, we talk about living missionally in our family, neighborhood, and our vocation—and that’s the Collaborative,” Thorp said. “Our focus is discipleship of Christ-followers for their effectiveness in and through their work, and through the culture of their company. I know theology and Bible, but our people know the culture and jargon of their industries. They know where the brokenness and idols are. So we come alongside.”

“Distinguished by Christ”

David Swanson, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, concluded the Assembly with his message, “Distinguished by Christ,” on Sunday morning, October 30.

Preaching from Matthew 16:13-20, Swanson address some of the deepest questions about identity.

David Swanson, FPCO Senior Pastor, preached the conclusion of the Assembly on October 30.

“Who are we in our identity in Christ? Who are we in relationship to the Bride of Christ that God has called us to inhabit and be part of from the moment of our conversion? Who am I in relationship to all my other brothers and sisters? And then Who are we as a church in relationship to the rest of the world? How are we known? How does the world know us? And how do we know each other?”

He said all those questions are critical in the life of the church.

Referencing the Matthew 16 text, Swanson said it was time for the central issue of that day and time to be clarified: Who is Jesus? He emphasized that the question continues to be asked.

“What is staggering to me is that people today get to that place where they are trying to figure out who Jesus is, and they let ‘I’m not sure’ be their answer. They just stop searching. I mean, if there is even the most remote possibility that Jesus could actually be the incarnate Son of God and the Savior of the world don’t you think you ought to get that nailed down? Don’t you think you ought to at least explore? And as the church today, don’t you think we ought to have that question nailed down?”

Assembly Business

In Assembly business, commissioners heard a report from the Theological Commission which presented a proposed Statement on Ecclesiology. The 22-page statement encompassed 12 sections: The Trinity and the Church, The Nature of the Church, The Church and the Kingdom of God, The Church as a Covenant People, The Authority of the Church, The Liturgy of the Church, The Gifts and Ministry of the Church, The Unity of the Church, On Separation and Schism, On Church and Parachurch, The Mission of the Church, and Application of Ecclesiology.

Luder Whitlock, EPC Teaching Elder and former President of Reformed Theological Seminary, opened the WRF business session with prayer on October 28.

The Assembly also honored Luder Whitlock, Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean and former member of the EPC National Leadership Team, for his role in founding the WRF in 2000. Whitlock hosted the organizing meeting of the WRF with leaders from the World Fellowship of Reformed Churches and the International Reformed Fellowship.

The WRF is comprised of more than 73 denominational members in 30 countries, 54 congregational members in 26 countries, 114 organizational members in 30 countries, and 374 individual members in 53 countries.

Designed to offer a gathering point where Reformed leaders can work out mutually beneficial cooperative agreements, the WRF focuses on the contemporary needs of the international Reformed community, such as the plight of persecuted Christians, religious freedom, societal changes, incorporation of theological education, missions, publications, and the expansion of evangelical fellowship into all parts of the world.

The EPC is a denominational member of the World Reformed Fellowship.

Kim Wells highlights inclusive leadership principles at annual Executive Pastor/Church Administrator gathering

 

At the first of two EPC Executive Pastor/Church Administrator workshops, executive educator and leadership coach Kim Wells discussed the topic “The Strategic Power of Inclusive Leadership.” The event was held October 13-14 in Denver, Colo.

Wells, who serves as the Executive Director of Executive Education at the Howard University School of Business in Washington, D.C., said inclusive leadership involves six areas: knowing how to listen, getting feedback from stakeholders and/or constituents, not only listening but also acting, being a facilitator, having strong mental health, and demonstrating commitment to their people by action.

Wells noted that listening and getting feedback should come from a wide variety of sources.

“Are we talking to the people on the front lines? Are we listening? Are we coming down from our big offices and connecting? How can we have a forum where we are learning from our people? People are watching what we do, not what we say. How do we behave? How was that decision made? We can avoid a lot of confusion and strife if we include them in the process.”

He also explained the importance of a leader going beyond listening and being open to input from others.

“Don’t try to make big decisions in a vacuum,” he said. “There will be times as a leader when you have no choice, and hopefully you’ve done your homework. But inclusive leadership shows people that their contributions are valued. As we do that, we use our resources more efficiently. Ask the question: who else should we have here? We need to come out of our own sphere.”

Inclusive leadership also involves investing in the entire team, Wells noted.

“Provide learning and development opportunities,” he said. “Invest in them—invest, invest, invest. And not just the younger people. Let your older people know that they are still valuable to you.”

Regarding action planning, Wells explained the need for leaders to be aware of their own unconscious biases and how they affect others.

“Stop being unaware of your own behaviors and interactions, and educate yourself,” he said. “Ask for feedback to keep your unconscious biases in check. Inclusive leadership is not about race or gender, it is about listening—to different ideas, different perspectives, different people. And not just listening but engaging with others.”

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

In addition to discussing recent challenges and opportunities in their ministry settings, participants shared best practices on a variety of topics related to church administration and operations, technology systems, personnel, vision and strategy, finance, and more.

The workshop is a resource of the Office of the General Assembly. The second roundtable, which also features Wells and has the same format as the October event, takes place November 10-11 in Orlando. For more information, see www.epc.org/xpadmingathering.

Dean Weaver, Brad Strait to host March 2023 Israel pilgrimage tour

 

In March 2023, EPC Stated Clerk Dean Weaver and NLT Chairman Brad Strait will lead a “Best of Israel” spiritual renewal tour of the Holy Land.

“More pastors than ever are discouraged, depressed, struggling in their relationships, or burning out,” Strait said. “As a denomination, we are working to create ‘refilling moments’ that can strengthen our fellow pastors and encourage their love, faith, relationships, preaching, and effectiveness in Jesus’ church. This renewal trip to Israel for pastors, their spouses, and other leaders is one part of this effort.”

“We will see the best Israel has to offer—places that will fan every person’s faith and magnify their biblical knowledge. Every day is filled with ‘wow’ moments of Jesus and biblical times and places. Each stop is a living encounter with the words of Scripture, and a sermon waiting to be preached,” Strait noted.

The tour is March 7-16, 2023, and costs $3100 per person, all-inclusive from New York City.

For complete information, see www.epc.org/israeltour2023.

Ohio EPC church to host nation’s largest disability ministry conference

 

Bay Presbyterian Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, will host Inclusion Fusion Live (IFL2022) on Friday and Saturday, April 29-30. IFL2022, the largest annual disability ministry conference in the country, is hosted by Key Ministry in collaboration with the Tim Tebow Foundation.

Topics of this year’s conference include:

  • Supporting outreach and reintegration into church of persons impacted by disability after the pandemic.
  • Finding, empowering, and resourcing individuals with disabilities and families impacted by disability to launch and lead ministry.
  • Growing mental health ministry.
  • Innovative disability ministry strategies.
  • Impacts of trauma upon disability.

IFL2022 is designed for pastors, leadership teams, care teams, and children’s/student ministry leaders. Cost is $99 per person, and EPC members are eligible for a $22 discount by using the code EPC22 at registration.

“If your church has a disability ministry—or you are praying about starting one—this event should be on your annual calendar,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “My dear friend Beth Golik leads the Special Needs Ministry at Bay Pres, and also is on staff with Key Ministry. This conference will be a blessing to many people.”

For more information about the event, see www.keyministry.org/ifl2022.

Reformed Theological Seminary dedicates Jeremiah Patio

 

EPC Stated Clerk Emeritus Jeff Jeremiah and his wife, Cindy, were honored on November 3 with the dedication of the Jeremiah Patio at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in Orlando. The 32-by-16-foot fellowship space is centrally located adjacent to the main entrance of the campus and features seating for up to 20 people, lighting, and two woodburning fire pits with removable tabletops.

“I am very grateful for the relationship that I’ve enjoyed with Reformed Theological Seminary that extends back to the mid-to-late 1980s,” Jeremiah said. “I especially remember conversations with leadership of RTS then about the possibility of online learning and how that might expand the education of the next generation of leaders in the church of Jesus Christ.”

In remarks made prior to cutting the ribbon to open the patio, Jeremiah thanked Scott Swain, RTS Orlando Campus President; Leigh Swanson, RTS Executive Vice President; Mike Glodo, RTS Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Jeremiah’s predecessor as EPC Stated Clerk; and the staff of the EPC Office of the General Assembly, many of whom attended.

In noting the heavy travel responsibilities of his 15 years as Stated Clerk, Jeremiah also thanked his wife, Cindy, “for her sacrificial commitment to her Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, the sacrificial commitment she made to the EPC, and the sacrificial commitment she made to me.”

The patio was announced at Jeremiah’s retirement banquet during the 41st General Assembly in June and is a joint effort between RTS and the presbyteries of Florida and the Caribbean, East, Gulf South, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and West.

Swanson also spoke at the dedication, thanking the EPC and the contributing presbyteries “for making this beautiful fellowship space possible.”

“We also honor Jeff and Cindy, thanking God for their ministry,” she said. “They have been steadfast in their service to Christ. They have given care to countless pastors and their families. They have made sacrifices well beyond what we have seen. It is our privilege to name the patio in your honor.”

Pastor-spouse retreat: a gift of refreshment and healing

 

Annie Rose

by Annie Rose
TE, Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes

From October 18 to 22, about 70 EPC pastors, spouses, and global workers gathered in Seven Springs, Pa., for the first-ever EPC Pastor-Spouse retreat. I was blessed to be a part of this group as we came together to rest and be refreshed by the Lord.

Our retreat was led by Jim and Shari Hobby, Anglican pastors who masterfully guided us through an exploration of lament via Psalm 13. Together we reckoned with the biblical invitation to:

  1. Bring our pain to God.
  2. Ask God to intervene, and
  3. Embrace hope.

The Hobbys wove this teaching together with their own personal stories of struggle and lament, which gave everyone in the room permission to be honest and vulnerable about our own challenges. As we sat around our tables throughout the week, brothers and sisters gave voice to the burdens of their hearts, and together we lifted our voices to our heavenly Father, seeking His intervention and clinging to the hope we have in Christ.

Each day we were led in praise and worship by Jeremy Casella and Matthew Montgomery, both talented musicians who led us in praising God through singing Psalms and the great hymns of our faith, often set to new melodies. Jeremy and Matthew also blessed us with a worship concert one evening, which was a wonderful way to bookend the day in praising the Lord.

Following on the intensity of leading a church through COVID, this retreat was for me an oasis. It was a beautiful opportunity to engage in a rhythm of life-giving worship and interaction with my brothers and sisters in the mornings and quiet solitude in the afternoons. What a gift to put aside all other responsibilities for a few days and be fully present to one another and to the Lord!

During those quiet afternoons, retreat participants had several options for how to spend their time. Some took naps, while others explored the hiking trails of Seven Springs or enjoyed bowling or golf. Many took advantage of the resort’s spa services, and perhaps even more were eager to sign up for spiritual direction with the Hobbys or counseling with Tara Gunther or Laura Duggan—professional therapists the EPC brought to the retreat to minister to us! We had a smorgasbord of options for pursuing rest and growth in the Lord, and the cost of everything we did on the grounds of the resort was covered by the EPC.

And speaking of a smorgasbord, all of us were overwhelmed by the quality of the meals provided at Seven Springs. Especially for those of us who are the cooks in our families, it was a gift not only to rest from meal planning but also to enjoy such delicious and healthy food. Our bodies and souls were well fed on this retreat! Our mealtimes were rich with fellowship in the Holy Spirit and with laughter. They were a taste of the world to come!

Finally, one of the subtle but meaningful blessings of the Seven Springs retreat was the participation of our denominational leadership. Stated Clerk Dean Weaver not only led the retreat planning team and recruited all those who served, but he and his wife, Beth, also fully participated in every part of the retreat. Assistant Stated Clerk Jerry Iamurri also participated, and World Outreach Director Gabriel de Guia and his wife, Rachel, were there as well. Seeing our leaders make the time to not simply run a retreat but participate in it validated the importance of the experience and in an unspoken way gave the rest of us permission to put aside our normal tasks and responsibilities and commit our full attention to the deep work the Holy Spirit was doing among us.

I can’t say enough about how wonderful the retreat at Seven Springs was. As Presbyterians, we know the blessing of coming together to worship and to conduct church business. What a blessing to see that we can also come together simply to enjoy one another and be refreshed by the Lord’s Spirit together.

“I will sing of the LORD, because he has dealt so lovingly with me;
Indeed, I will praise the name of the LORD Most High.” —Psalm 13:6

For details about the February retreat in Orlando, see www.epc.org/pastorspouseretreat.

Worship was a key component of the Pastor-Spouse Retreat.

Church Planters Retreat offers fellowship, equipping, connection, refreshment

 

With 9,500-foot Cheyenne Mountain as backdrop, more than 80 EPC church planters and others gathered at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, Colo., the week of October 18 for the annual Church Planters Retreat.

The theme for the three-day gathering was “Resilience” and featured guest speakers Becky Lanha and Thurman Williams, worship led by Adrianna Christmas, and couples’ coaching sessions led by Cron and Elizabeth Gibson. In addition, participants enjoyed plenty of free time to relax, fellowship with one another, connect over shared experiences, and enjoy the fall colors and striking mountain vistas.

Pete Roman Jr. and his wife, Renee, attended from Saint George, S.C., where he is planting The Village Church of Saint George.

“This week has been fantastic,” he said. “To be able to be around other church planters and encourage one another—to hear the struggles that are going on and the praises and encouraging things that are happening—it’s a huge blessing to be a part of it.”

He noted the similarity in church planting to the eight years they served as missionaries in Bulgaria.

“Nobody really understands missionaries except for other missionaries,” Roman said. “You could be at churches explaining who you were and where your heart is, but unless they had been on the mission field themselves, they just wouldn’t fully get it. This has been the same experience. Being able to be together here and be fed and worship with other people who ‘get’ you is a huge thing.”

In plenary equipping sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, Thurman spoke on “The Fuel for Resiliency: The Power of Weakness,” and “Advancing the Gospel Through Adversity.” Lanha addressed “Evangelism: The Art of Making Friends” and “The Beauty and Pain of Perseverance.” Thurman serves as church panting pastor of New City West End (PCA) in St. Louis, Mo., and Director of Homiletics at Covenant Theological Seminary. Lanha is the church planting pastor of Goodland Church (ECO) in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Friendship and evangelism go hand-in-hand

On Tuesday afternoon, Lanha said friendship is the key to evangelism.

Becky Lanha

“We have made telling our friends about Jesus into a very pressure-filled, event-driven thing,” she told the attendees. “But evangelism is an overflow of the heart, and it starts with friendship.”

She explained that evangelism and friendship go “hand-in-hand,” noting the five thresholds of evangelism described in the book I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus.

“The first threshold is that a person once trusted a Christian—let that sink in,” she said. “So how do we build trust with people? We need to know how to make friends.”

She then outlined five ways to help make friends: Become the mayor of Starbucks, go beyond speed dating, remember what it was like to get your learner’s permit, be Ted Lasso, and unmute yourself from Zoom.

Describing how a daily customer who “lingered longer” received an honorary mayoral title at his local coffee shop, Lanha asked how someone gets elected mayor.

“Becoming a mayor is letting yourself show up, be present, and be fully aware in a place,” she said. “In the early church, they walked into villages and towns with an expectation. They knew that if they were sent there, God was already at work there. So the first step in making friends is to be the mayor. And not only do they get to know you, you get to know them.”

To “go beyond speed dating,” Lanha noted that “we know a little bit about a lot of people, and we let a lot of people know a little bit about us. The safe part, the good part. Instead, we need to open ourselves us to depth to relationships. It’s risky because people hurt people, and it takes a lot of trust in Jesus. Most of us—and most of the world—are struggling with a loneliness epidemic. And it has gospel ramifications.”

Lanha’s fourth method for developing friendships is to remember the excitement of having a learner’s permit.

“You wanted to drive everywhere, any time, with anyone. Remember? And when you only have a learner’s permit, you have to drive with someone else,” she said. “The gospel stories are full of this. Jesus brought people with Him on the greatest journey ever. Invite people along for your ride.”

To be Ted Lasso, Lanha recommended building community through friendships.

“Ted Lasso has a million one-liners, but my favorite is the scene in the first season when two people who know him but don’t know each other come into the room. Lasso said, ‘Congratulations you just met an awesome person!’”

The point, Lanha said, is that Lasso shares his friendships—he doesn’t hog them.

Greg Austen, Assistant Pastor of Church Planting for Ashland Church in Voorhees, N.J., partakes in communion served at the Church Planters Retreat on October 20.

“Not only do people need a friend, they need a place to belong—a community that knows and loves them. Our churches aim to be that, so a step in building friendships is building community.”

She explained the importance of “unmuting yourself from Zoom” was “to be open to letting who you really are come to the table. When we let others know who we really are, we invite others to let us know who they really are.”

She concluded by re-emphasizing that friendship is the “first step” in evangelism.

“There is so much hurt,” she said. “People can come near to Jesus because we have extended the hand of friendship. There is something very, very compelling about friendship. Non-Christians smell it out when it’s only about getting them into your church.”

‘The invitation is to experience suffering’

Speaking from Romans 5:1-11 on Wednesday afternoon, she reminded the attendees that the word “suffering” in verse 3 is a picture of the overall afflictions of life.

“Paul was not caught off guard by this idea of suffering. After all, he was the one who persecuted those who claimed to follow Christ. It was his job, so he knew what he was getting into. But we in the church have created the message that Christ is going to make your life better. We may not do it out loud, but we believe that narrative. But it’s clear here that the invitation is to die and to experience suffering.”

She added that Paul rejoiced in his sufferings because “it’s part of the deal—it’s what he signed up for. We need to normalize suffering in the Christian faith. If you’re suffering, you’re doing it right!”

In describing Paul’s progression of suffering producing endurance producing character producing hope, Lanha noted that the hope is “the assured finish line.”

“We will stand in the glory of God restored to relationship 100 percent. It’s certain,” she said. “Jesus walked the road we walk. His obedience to the Father brought suffering. But here’s the thing: In that obedience, Jesus demonstrated complete and total confidence that God will be faithful to His promises.”

In a similar vein, on Wednesday afternoon Williams told the attendees that adversity is the instrument of the gospel’s advancement. He spoke from Philippians 1:12-14 in his session, “Advancing the Gospel Though Adversity.”

Thurman Williams

“When I first read this passage, I thought that advancing through adversity meant that the gospel is so powerful that God is able to advance the gospel even in the midst of adversity, even in spite of adversity,” Williams said. “But that’s not what Paul is saying here. What Paul is saying is that his adversity is not a hindrance but is the very means of advancement. That is what God uses to advance the gospel.”

Williams explained that in verse 12, Paul says the whole Imperial Guard heard the gospel because he had been imprisoned in Rome.

“How else could he share the gospel with the entire Imperial Guard of the Emperor?” Williams asked. “Through his adversity, he was able to share the gospel with people he never would have been able to.”

He encouraged the church planters to look for opportunities to “enter into the pain” in their communities and find opportunities where God can use adversity.

Fellowship dinners in the foothills of Cheyenne Mountain provided striking views of Colorado Springs and opportunity for connection and relaxation.

“The ultimate instrument of the advance is the cross itself—Jesus becoming a curse for us,” Williams declared. “The impact of the cross of Jesus Christ on unbelievers is that everyone who calls on His name will be saved. The impact on believers is that they will be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. So this passage calls us to enter into adversity and see the gospel advance through it, not in just spite of it or in the midst of it, but because of it.”

In addition to the equipping sessions and couples’ coaching sessions, attendees enjoyed morning yoga with Jessie Steadman, whose husband, Brian, is Pastor of Resurrection Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, N.Y.; and evening fellowship meals at a large home in the foothills of Cheyenne Mountain.

“I am thrilled that we can resource this event for our church planters,” said Dean Weaver, EPC Stated Clerk. “In so many cases, these brothers and sisters are doing an incredibly difficult work in a culture that sees their efforts as increasingly irrelevant. Yet they are standing firm on their calling and persevering through the adversity that they understand is the very thing God will use to help them reach their communities for Christ.”

The retreat is an annual resource for EPC church planters, hosted by the Church Planting Team. For more information on EPC church planting, see www.epc.org/churchplanting.

Worship is a key component of the Church Planters Retreat.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spaces still available for October pastor-spouse retreat

 

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

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

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

World Outreach webinar to address Afghanistan crisis, opportunity

 

In response to the crisis in Afghanistan, EPC World Outreach is hosting a free webinar on Wednesday, August 25, at 3:30 p.m. (Eastern). “Afghanistan Crisis and Opportunity: How Your Church Can Respond” will provide answers to the questions of how followers of Jesus can respond to the Afghan crisis and refugees coming to the U.S.

“We will talk about God’s heart for the refugees, how to be in prayer for Afghanistan and God’s Kingdom there, and how we in the EPC can reach out in practical ways to Afghan refugees that are coming to the U.S.” said Gabriel de Guia, Executive Director of World Outreach.

To register for the webinar, go to www.epc.org/afghanistancrisisopportunity

“We want to give specific ways for people to be praying for the situation in Afghanistan,” de Guia added. “One of our workers who is intimately involved in that region and among those people sent us the prayer points below. All of us in World Outreach encourage our EPC brothers and sisters to join us in prayer in the coming days and weeks for God’s glory to be revealed in Afghanistan and among the Afghan refugees.”

Prayers from a World Outreach global worker

  1. Peace of heart. Too many people are crowding the airport and making rash decisions, including believers—albeit they have reason for concern. God is in control and has higher authority than the Taliban.
  2. Relief to internally displaced people. Thousands of Afghans fled their homes to flock to Kabul, only to get caught there now but they are without much food, water, or money. No one is there to help them that we know about.
  3. Civil government. God ordains rulers and kings. The new rulers have the task of running a civil government and society that is stable and peaceful. Even if it is along lines we do not prefer, such laws have not stopped the Church in the past nor will it now.
  4. Protection from fear and boldness of believers. Evacuation is not the best route for every believer nor all Afghans. Looking to the West has become an idol. God is able to protect them and make the Good News to those around them now and protect them even unto death.
  5. Opportunity for Christian workers to Afghanistan. Once there is order there will be a huge need for humanitarian/Christian aid organizations to return. We worked under them before and will likely do so again.
  6. God’s Kingdom to come to Afghanistan. There are no human solutions. Not armies, nor money, nor training, etc. have been able to change their hearts, the real root of the problem. Only God can do that through Jesus.

Registration open for EPC pastor-spouse retreats

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff Jeremiah elected Stated Clerk Emeritus, honored at celebration dinner with testimonies, RTS fellowship space

 

Jeff Jeremiah

The 41st General Assembly unanimously elected outgoing Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah as Stated Clerk Emeritus on June 25. Jeremiah served as Stated Clerk of the EPC since 2006 and retired from the role upon completion of his fifth three-year term in June 2021.

“I am so very thankful that the Lord allowed me to serve Him and His Church as Stated Clerk for the past 15 years,” Jeremiah said. “Just the fact the He used me is humbling, and for the EPC to honor me in this way goes beyond anything I would have thought when I accepted this call. It has not always been easy, but it has been a labor of love.”

Recommendation 41-09 from the National Leadership Team (NLT) was approved 375 to 0, and marked the only unanimous vote across the past two Assemblies in which ballots were cast electronically.

“After our fully virtual 40th General Assembly when Commissioners voted by Zoom, I thought we would never have another unanimous vote—I am thankful to have been proved wrong,” Jeremiah quipped.

Celebration Dinner

During the “Jeff and Cindy Jeremiah Celebration Dinner” program on June 24 hosted by Bill Dudley, several EPC colleagues shared remembrances of the Jeremiahs’ impact on their lives over the years.

“I had only been in the EPC a short time when I developed a medical issue,” said Dudley, Moderator of the 33rd General Assembly. He related to the audience that he had been in intensive care for more than a week.

“I had just been rolled that morning from intensive care to my room,” Dudley recalled. “I felt horrible. There came a knock on my door, and there was Jeff Jeremiah. That day, I was prayed for by a pastor who came to visit me and to care for me. He sat there an entire day while a snowstorm just kept blowing across Chattanooga. He did that for a pastor that needed care.”

Norine and Andrew Brunson spoke about Jeff Jeremiah’s impact during his two-year imprisonment in Turkey.

Andrew Brunson, EPC Teaching Elder who was imprisoned in Turkey from October 2016 through October 2018, recapped how Jeremiah leveraged contacts in Washington, D.C., made through 14 years of ministry at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Md., on the Brunsons’ behalf—including then-Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“How remarkable what Jeff did for someone he had never met, and never even talked to,” Brunson said. “We were known to very few people in the EPC, and Jeff changed that for someone he didn’t know. So many people prayed for me in the EPC … Jeff was the one that God was really using to raise this prayer up in the EPC.”

Brunson concluded by stated that he has known Jeff “for a lot less time than most of you in this room, but I don’t think there’s anybody who owes more to Jeff than I do.”

Other speakers at the dinner included Brunson’s wife, Norine; John Adamson, Moderator of the 12th General Assembly and a member of the 2006 Stated Clerk Search Committee; Dean Weaver, Moderator of the 37th General Assembly and Jeremiah’s successor as Stated Clerk; Nancy Duff, Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of the Pacific Southwest and former member of the National Leadership Team; Case Thorp, Moderator of the 39th General Assembly; and Mary Griffin, wife of Scott Griffin, Moderator of the 36th General Assembly. A video of the 80-minute program is available below.

Jeremiah Patio

Thorp, a Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean, announced the construction of the “Jeremiah Patio” on the campus of Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS)’s Orlando campus. The project is a joint effort between RTS and the presbyteries of Florida and the Caribbean, East, Gulf South, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and West.

The Jeremiah Patio at Reformed Theological Seminary’s Orlando campus is slated for the open area through the “loggia” under the clock tower at the school’s main entrance.

“We’ve always dreamed of having an outdoor fellowship space,” said Leigh Swanson, RTS Vice President of Community Relations. “The center of community activity on our campus is an area we call ‘the loggia,’ which is directly beyond our main entrance under the clock tower. Our students enjoy congregating on the green spaces just off the loggia, and the patio on that spot will be an immeasurable addition to campus life.”

Swanson said “the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean offered the lead gift to honor Jeff and Cindy this way, and everyone at RTS was thrilled with the idea. Five other presbyteries quickly joined the effort.”

When complete, the 32-by-16-foot patio will feature seating for up to 20 students, lighting, and two woodburning fire pits with removable tabletops. A dedication service is planned for this fall, Swanson said.

“RTS is honored to provide something for our students that recognizes long and faithful service to Christ and His church,” she added. “Jeff and Cindy have served Christ faithfully—and well—for so many years. Having their name on this outdoor gathering space where our students hang out every day is an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up.”

#epc2021ga

Church Revitalization Workshop session 7 recording, other resources now available

 

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

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

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

Church Revitalization Workshop concludes May 26

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

Wednesday, June 23

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

Thursday, June 24

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

Friday, June 25

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

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

#epc2021ga

National Day of Prayer: facing an urgent and great need

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Jeff Jeremiah
EPC Stated Clerk

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.

2021 Leadership Institute features Ligon Duncan, George Robertson, Rufus Smith, practical training workshops

 

Ligon Duncan, George Robertson, and Rufus Smith are the keynote speakers for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church’s sixth annual Leadership Institute. The Institute is a strategic component of the EPC’s 41st General Assembly, to be held June 22-25 at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn.

Each of the plenary speakers will address a topic related to this year’s General Assembly theme, “God Will Restore.” The theme is 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 … ”

Duncan, Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss., will address “Combating Biblical Anemia: Scripture, Discipleship, Worship, and Preaching” on Tuesday, June 22. His presentation will be available via live stream on the EPC website.

On Wednesday morning, June 23, Robertson will discuss “Soul Care for Pastors.” He serves as Senior Pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, host church for the Assembly.

On Wednesday afternoon, Smith will speak about “Kindness that Leads to Reconciliation.” He serves as Senior Pastor of Hope Church in Memphis. Both Wednesday sessions will be available via live stream and include time for Q-and-A.

Four ministry-specific leadership development gatherings will be available for in-person 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.

Each of these workshops is open to anyone attending the 41st General Assembly in person.

See www.epc.org/ga2021leadershipinstitute for more information on the Leadership Institute, including full seminar descriptions, times, and speaker bios.

See www.epc.org/ga2021 for more information about the 41st General Assembly, including a full schedule, links to online registration, and more.

#epc2021ga

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

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.

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.

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.