Category Archives: General Assembly Meeting

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.”

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Brad Strait elected Moderator of 41st General Assembly

 

Brad Strait, Senior Pastor of Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Englewood, Colo., was elected Moderator of the EPC’s 41st General Assembly on June 23.

In his opening remarks, Strait noted that as a teenager he became a Christian in “one of the very first EPC churches as the EPC was being formed.”

“I grew up really not knowing anything but the fact that there is this denomination called the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, which stands for something,” he said. Later as a young businessman, Strait began serving in volunteer ministry leadership roles at the urging of Irv Rinehart, Moderator of the EPC’s second General Assembly.

Brad Strait (left) receives the Moderator’s cross and stole from Glenn Meyers, Moderator of the 40th General Assembly. (photo credit: Scott Wiest)

“I said yes, and that became a piece of what I did,” he said. “God blessed the whole church, and some of that excess flowed into our ministry. Eventually I was asked to leave the business world and become a pastor.”

He reported to the Assembly that he and his wife, Cathy, spent a week in fasting and prayer over the decision. “We heard nothing from God,” Strait confessed. “So as a step of faith I said, ‘let’s start walking this out and see what God tells us.’ He confirmed it, and the fact that the path has led here is completely overwhelming.”

Strait led the Assembly in a recitation of Psalm 119:68, “God, you are good. All you do is good. Show us your way.”

“I believe God is good, and everything He does is good,” Strait declared. “Which means the last year is good. And the next year will be good. And even if there is great difficulty and struggle and suffering ahead of us—and my brothers and sisters, I believe the world is going to get harder, not easier—the key is: will we find His way? Lord, show us what it is that you are doing that is good. That is my hope for the future. And that is my hope for the EPC.”

Strait has more than 30 years of pastoral experience, and also teaches at Denver Theological Seminary in both Leadership and Spiritual Formation. He served as a grief counselor following the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, the Aurora Theater tragedy in 2012, and the 2004 tsunami in south India. He has taught the Bible around the world and worked in refugee camps of Central America, South America, Africa, and Asia. He also has served as Chaplain for the Colorado House of Representatives, the Denver Rescue Mission, and several police and fire departments. He is a former Chairman of the EPC’s Ministerial Vocation Committee and was part of the team that produced the EPC’s Leadership Training Guide: A Resource for Pastors, Elders, and Churches.

He and his wife, Cathy, have been married for 39 years. They have three daughters and three granddaughters.

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41st General Assembly recordings available

 

Video recordings of the 41st General Assembly are available on the EPC website at www.epc.org/ga2021recordings. Included are the Leadership Institute plenary sessions, worship service messages, committee verbal reports, dinner programs, and more.

The videos feature Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss.; D.A. Carson, Emeritus Professor of New Testament for Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill..; George Robertson, Senior Pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn.; Rufus Smith, Senior Pastor of Hope Church in Memphis, Tenn.; Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk; Glenn Meyers, Moderator of the 40th General Assembly; and more.

In addition, audio recordings of the Leadership Institute seminars “Chaplains Workshop,” “Creating Church Planting Networks and Partnerships,” and “The Israel of God” are available. These also are available in podcast form on the EPC’s podcast channel at www.podcast.epc.org as well as Spotify and iTunes—search for “Evangelical Presbyterian Church.”

Audio recordings of numerous Networking Lunches will be available soon.

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2021 Leadership Institute: Chaplains Workshop

 

In the 2021 Chaplains Workshop, Mark Ingles encouraged the Chaplains to remember their calling in settings that are often difficult.

“It’s hard to be a Chaplain,” Ingles said. “Every Chaplain who is doing their ‘ministry of presence’ is on the front lines, regardless of your military rank or where you fit in the hierarchy of your civilian institution or organization. You may get the idea—or actually be told—that you are only there to fulfill an organizational responsibility. But always remember, the people you minister to and support know your value. As does God, who is ultimately who we serve.”

Ingles also led the Chaplains in round-table discussions of how COVID-19 has impacted their ministries over the past 15 months.

“We were all impacted in one form or another,” Ingles said.

Ingles is the EPC Chaplain Endorser and is a Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of the West.

The Chaplains Workshop is part of the Leadership Institute, an equipping component of the annual General Assembly Meeting.

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2021 Leadership Institute: The Israel of God

 

In the 2021 Leadership Institute seminar The Israel of God, Mike Kuhn examined an array of passages from both the Old and New Testaments in light of the question, “how we should understand ‘Israel’ biblically?” He also considered three implications regarding the current state of Israel:

First, the identity boundaries of Israel were never ethnic but covenantal.

“The sign of the covenant was the identity marker,” he said.

Second, the Old Testament anticipates what the New Testament teaches—an expansion of those boundaries in terms of both land and people.

Third, all nations are included in the Israel of God—people—and the promised land is a renewal of all creation.

“Jesus, in word and action, gave sufficient indication that the true people of God are those people who believe the testimony about Him and join themselves to him to become one with Him,” Kuhn said. “Jesus is the spiritual progenitor of a new people, a new nation consisting of both Jews and Gentiles.”

Kuhn emphasized that this new nation is the inclusive and expansive continuation of Old Testament Israel.

“The difference is that now the anointed prophet, priest, and king has appeared—God’s eternal purpose for His people is fulfilled in Christ,” he said. “To use the language of Hebrews, the shadow has now given way to the reality. In Christ, God’s purposes are not merely proclaimed, but achieved. Christ is the Israel of God.”

Kuhn serves as Missional Theology Specialist for EPC World Outreach’s International Theological Education Network (ITEN). For more than 28 years, he lived in three different Arab countries: Morocco, Egypt, and Lebanon, where he served as Professor of Biblical Theology and Discipleship at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut from 2012-2018.

The Leadership Institute is an equipping component of the annual General Assembly meeting.

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2021 Leadership Institute: Creating Church Planting Networks

 

In the 2021 Leadership Institute seminar Creating Church Planting Networks and Partnerships, Shane Sunn discussed three bottlenecks for starting a new church.

“First is having the right planter—an available, properly assessed church planter,” Sunn said. “We always want to have planters in the pipeline.”

He noted that the other two potential bottlenecks for planting a church are funding and location.

“We know where we want to go next, and it’s not always a city,” Sunn said. “We just planted a church in Kansas in a community of 2,500 people. But we always want to have a variety of options available—we don’t fully know how the Holy Spirit is working in the planter’s life.”

Sunn is Director of the Aspen Grove Church Planting Network in Denver, Colo.

The Leadership Institute is an equipping component of the annual General Assembly meeting.

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General Assembly check-in is underway

 

Commissioner check-in for the 41st General Assembly has begun in earnest on Tuesday morning, June 22. The Assembly is June 22-25 at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn. From left, registration staff Marti Ratcliff, Vanessa Mullendore, Rachel Joseph, and Cassie Shultz assist commissioners with their registration packets.

General Assembly kicks off on Tuesday, June 25, with the Leadership Institute. The plenary sessions, as well as Assembly business and worship services, are available via live stream at www.epc.org/ga2021livestream. More information on the 41st General Assemly, including a complete schedule of activities, is available at www.epc.org/ga2021.

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#epc2021ga the official General Assembly hashtag

 

Add your voice to the proceedings of the 41st General Assembly by including the hashtag #epc2021ga on your social media posts. Connect your message with others on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms.

If you are not attending the Assembly, you can watch the live stream and monitor the social media feed at the same time at www.epc.org/ga2021livestream. The Leadership Institute plenary sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, the worship services, and the business sessions will be available on the stream. Audio recordings of select Leadership Institute workshops and Networking Lunches will be available following the Assembly.

Start talking!

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GA worship services focus on Assembly theme of ‘God Will Restore’

 

Worship services are an integral part of the EPC’s General Assembly meeting each year. The 41st GA is no exception, and the worship speakers will speak to the Assembly’s theme, “God Will Restore.” The 41st General Assembly will be held June 22-25 at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn., and each of the messages will be available via live stream at www.epc.org/ga2021livestream.

Phil Linton, Director of EPC World Outreach, will speak prior to the opening business session on Wednesday, June 23. His message, “What Comes Before Restoration,” focuses on Philippians 1:1-30. The service begins at 3:15 p.m. (Central).

Jeff Jeremiah, outgoing EPC Stated Clerk, will preach on Wednesday evening, June 23. His message, “God Will Restore,” is based on the Assembly’s theme verse, Joel 2:25-27. An offering will be received for the EPC’s Restore Church Planter Health Fund. Proceeds will fund projects designed to help restore the emotional and spiritual health of EPC church planters in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The service begins at 7:30 p.m. (Central).

George Robertson, Second Presbyterian Church Senior Pastor, will deliver the message at the Morning Worship Service at 9:00 a.m. (Central) on Thursday, June 24. His message, “Encouragement for Ministry in Difficult Places,” is based on Jeremiah 1:13-19. An offering will be received for the EPC’s Restore Pastor Health Fund. As with the Wednesday evening offering, donations will fund projects designed to help restore the emotional and spiritual health of EPC pastors in light of the pandemic. The service begins at 9:00 a.m. (Central).

D.A. Carson will preach in the Global Worker Commissioning Service on Thursday evening, June 24. Carson is Emeritus Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill. His message, “Choosing Your Identity,” is based on Colossians 3:1-17. An offering will be received for the EPC’s Restore Global Worker Health Fund. Proceeds will fund projects designed to help restore the emotional and spiritual health of World Outreach global workers. The service begins at 7:30 p.m. (Central).

Glenn Meyers, Moderator of the 40th General Assembly, will lead the Moderator’s Service of Communion and Prayer at 9:00 a.m. (Central) on Friday, June 25. His message, “Be Aware. Be Transformed. Be Hopeful” focuses on Mark 13:3-13. An offering will be received for the EPC’s Moderator’s Scholarship Fund. Donations provide financial assistance to offset travel costs for ministers and Ruling Elders from smaller EPC churches who otherwise may not be able to attend General Assembly.

Click here for more information about the 41st General Assembly, including daily schedules, business items, and more.

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Updated mobile app available for 41st General Assembly

 

The EPC’s GA mobile app, updated with information and content for the 41st General Assembly, is now available for Apple iOS and Android operating systems.

The app includes a wide variety of information, including daily schedules, meeting room locations, all GA-related documents including the Commissioner’s Handbook of action items and other information, permanent and interim committee reports, standing committee assignments and meeting details, and more. Users can donate to the worship service offerings and send prayer requests to the host church prayer team. The app also offers one-touch access to EPConnection (the EPC’s news and information service) and the denomination’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Previous users of the iOS version will need to update the app on their mobile device for the most current content (look for the EPC GA app under the “Updates” tab of the App Store).

New users can click here to download the GA app for iOS; click here to download for Android, or search for “EPC GA” in the iPhone App Store or the Google Play Store app.

The app was developed by the EPC Communications Department and AppsforMinistry.com.

The 41st General Assembly is June 22-25 at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn. For more information, see www.epc.org/ga2021.

 

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41st General Assembly final preparations underway

 

In an annual tradition, it’s “all hands on deck” for the staff of the Office of the General Assembly compiling registration packets for the 41st General Assembly. From left, Cathy Flores, Marti Ratcliff, Vanessa Mullendore, Pat Coelho, Zenaida Bermudez, Rachel Joseph, Liz Francescone, Wosene Scott, April Hair, Catherine Rutter, Cassie Shultz, Janet Linton, and Phil Linton ensure that each on-site Commissioner’s lanyard receives the proper credentials, meal tickets, and more.

The 41st General Assembly will be held June 22-25 at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn.

Go to www.epc.org/ga2021 for complete GA information, including schedule, worship speakers, business session documents, and more.

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Commissioner’s Handbook, committee reports available for 41st General Assembly

 

The 41st General Assembly Commissioner’s Handbook and reports from the EPC’s permanent and interim committees to the Assembly are now available for download in PDF format at www.epc.org/ga2021documents. The Handbook is available in its entirety as well by individual sections.

The Assembly will be held June 22-25 at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn.

“Every Commissioner should take time between now and the Assembly to familiarize themselves with the 30 Recommendations we will act on,” said Jeff Jeremiah, Stated Clerk.

Other documents available include the 2020 Annual Church Report; Auditor’s reports of the EPC’s Combined Financial Statements and Benefit Resources, Inc, (BRI) Benefits Plan and BRI Retirement Plan financial statements; Churches Received, Dismissed, and Dissolved in 2020-2021; Provisional Minutes of the 40th General Assembly, and more.

In addition, Commissioner assignments for the Standing Committees on Administration, Memorials and Appreciation, Theology, and World Outreach are available. In-person Commissioners will participate in Standing Committees on Thursday, June 24.

In addition to the GA Documents page of the website, all permanent and committee reports for the 2020-2021 ministry year are available at www.epc.org/committees/reports.

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General Assembly to consider new Presbyteries, Book of Government amendments, Approved Agency separation

 

Commissioners to the 41st General Assembly will vote on a variety of recommendations from the EPC’s permanent and interim committees and boards. The Assembly is June 22-25 at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn. The meeting is the EPC’s first “hybrid” General Assembly, in which Commissioners will participate both in-person and virtually.

“Since our hybrid format requires us to close registration on June 4 and not permit walk-up registrations or day passes at the Assembly, we wanted to announce ahead of time some of the business items that the Assembly will consider,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk.

Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic

The Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic is overturing the Assembly to split into three presbyteries, effective January 1, 2022. With 117 churches, the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic is the EPC’s largest. Between 20 and 73 churches comprise each of the EPC’s other 13 presbyteries, and each of the new presbyteries would include a similar number of congregations.

Theology Committee

The Theology Committee is recommending that the Assembly withdraw approval of Bethany Christian Services (BCS) as an Approved Agency of the EPC. A Christian adoption and child services organization, BCS announced in March 2021 that they would change their national policy and begin placing children with same-sex couples.

“This recommendation is not set before the General Assembly lightly,” said Zach Hopkins, Theology Committee Chairman. “Our committee was asked to review the EPC’s relationship to BCS in light of our commitments to Scripture, the Westminster Standards, and our Constitution—especially as it is expressed in our Position Papers. When this matter was first brought to the attention of the General Assembly, the concern was focused on only one specific chapter of Bethany’s organization. However, within two years, Bethany has made the approval of same-sex adoption a matter of national policy. The EPC cannot in good conscience remain in partnership with an agency that does not align with the doctrine and practice of the historic Christian faith.”

Hopkins is a Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes, and serves as Pastor of Edgington Presbyterian Church in Taylor Ridge, Ill.

The Theology Committee also will present a motion to amend the EPC’s Book of Government regarding ministry to and inclusion of the disabled.

National Leadership Team

The National Leadership Team (NLT) is presenting a motion to name current Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah as Stated Clerk Emeritus upon his retirement at the conclusion of the Assembly.

Case Thorp, NLT Chairman, said the committee’s decision to honor Jeremiah with the title “was unanimous and easy.”

Other motions presented by the National Leadership Team are the EPC’s fiscal year 2022 administration budget and Special Projects, as well as an in-depth description of the role and purpose of the Office of the General Assembly.

Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee is presenting Brad Strait, Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of the West, as its nominee for Moderator, and Rosemary Lukens, Ruling Elder in the Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest as Moderator-elect. Strait serves as Senior Pastor of Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in suburban Denver, Colo. Lukens is a Ruling Elder for Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Gig Harbor, Wash.

“I am thrilled that Rosemary accepted the Nominating Committee’s invitation to be presented as Moderator-elect,” said Dean Weaver, Stated Clerk-elect. “She has served with distinction on the National Leadership Team and will bring a wealth of leadership development experience to the role.”

Chaplains Work and Care Committee

The Chaplains Work and Care Committee (CWCC) will present a motion to amend sections of the Book of Government and Book of Worship that address Chaplains’ administering of the sacraments. The CWCC also will present for vote a revised Policy Statement on Chaplain Ministry to Same-Sex Couples and LGBTQ individuals.

Giving Culture Study Committee

The Giving Culture Study Committee will recommend that a proposed change in the EPC’s funding formula from Per Member Asking (PMA) to Percent of Budget (POB) be sent to all Presbyteries and churches for study. On Thursday afternoon, June 24, committee member Scott McKee will present the rationale behind the formula change. His presentation will be available to virtual participants and those viewing the live stream, and will take place concurrent with the Assembly’s Standing Committee meetings. McKee, a Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of the Midwest, serves as Senior Pastor of Ward Presbyterian Church in suburban Detroit.

In addition to the business items, Weaver will be installed as the EPC’s fourth Stated Clerk, and Gabriel de Guia introduced as the new Executive Director of EPC World Outreach.

The Commissioner’s Handbook includes each of the recommendations to the Assembly. The Handbook will be posted on the EPC website at www.epc.org/ga2021documents no later than June 1.

Registration for the 41st General Assembly ends on Friday, June 4, at 5:00 p.m. (Eastern). Online registration is available at www.epc.org/ga2021.

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General Assembly registration fees double June 1, registration closes June 4

 

If you have not yet registered for the 41st General Assembly, June 22-25 at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn., please don’t delay—registration fees double on June 1 and registration closes on June 4 at 5:00 p.m. (Eastern). Click here to register now.

This year’s meeting is the EPC’s first “hybrid” General Assembly, in which Commissioners will participate both in-person and virtually. In addition, the worship services and business sessions will be available via live stream on the EPC website at www.epc.org/ga2021livestream.

“Closing registration on June 4 ensures that we have a final list of virtual Commissioners in enough time to send the login credentials to the Zoom component as well as the orientation meetings,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “It also gives our office time to ensure that all Ruling Elder certification forms have been received for our registered Ruling Elders.”

Two virtual Commissioners Orientation meetings are scheduled. The identical meetings will be held Tuesday, June 15, from 4:00-5:30 p.m., and Thursday, June 17, from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Jeremiah noted that the orientation meetings are recommended for all participants.

“Like last year’s fully virtual format, we will all be ‘new Commissioners’ at this hybrid General Assembly,” Jeremiah said. “It is important for everyone to understand how we will conduct this meeting, since there will be some differences from past years when we have been able to gather exclusively in person.”

Registered Commissioners will be emailed the link to the orientation meetings no later than Tuesday, June 8.

In other GA-related news, final editing of the Commissioner’s Handbook and Committee Reports is nearing completion. These and other Assembly documents will be posted on the EPC website no later than June 1.

Online registration is available at www.epc.org/ga2021.

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General Assembly women’s gatherings feature discipleship, connection opportunities

 

Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn., is hosting several gatherings designed for women attending the 41st General Assembly, June 22-25.

TESS Talks Dinner

“Growing as Word-filled Women” is the theme for the annual TESS Talks dinner on Wednesday, June 23. Speakers are Mary Willson Hannah, Leesa Jensen, Kelsie Ellison, and Rong Guo. Willson is Director of Women’s Ministry at Second Presbyterian Church. Jensen and Ellison serve on the women’s Bible study teaching team at Second Presbyterian Church. Guo was trained as a surgeon in China and came to the United States in 1999. She accepted Christ in 2000, was baptized at Second Presbyterian Church in 2001, and has since served as a workplace chaplain, assistant youth group teacher, and a children’s leader with Bible Study Fellowship.

Modeled after the popular “Ted Talks,” TESS (Teaching, Encouragement, and Spiritual Sustenance) Talks offer practical discussions on topics of interest for women across the EPC.

Ministry Wives Luncheon

“The Joys and Challenges of Following Christ as a Ministry Spouse” is the topic of this year’s Ministry Wives Luncheon on Thursday, June 24. The speakers are Lynn Erickson, whose husband, Todd, serves as Pastoral Executive for Second Presbyterian Church; Gina Johnson, whose husband, Tim, serves as pastor of the EPC church plant The Avenue Community Church in Memphis; and Sarah Sadlow, whose husband, Ron, served on the pastoral staff at Second for 32 years.

Female Teaching Elders Networking Lunch

On Friday, Carolyn Poteet will host the annual Networking Lunch for women Teaching Elders (and ordination candidates) to connect, encourage, and pray for one another. Poteet serves as Lead Pastor for Mt. Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pa.

For details about these gatherings, see www.epc.org/ga2021womensevents.

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

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General Assembly World Outreach gatherings celebrate Phil Linton, commission new global workers, introduce new Executive Director

 

EPC World Outreach is sponsoring a variety of gatherings at the 41st General Assembly, June 22-25 at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn.

On Tuesday, June 22, longtime World Outreach global worker Mike Kuhn will lead “The Israel of God” as part of this year’s Leadership Institute.

As ongoing tensions have flared into military conflict in recent days between Israel and the Palestinians, the territorial and political dispute is just one of many challenges facing the missional outreach of the church to the Muslim world. Kuhn’s presentation will discuss the identity of Israel in the biblical narrative (apart from contemporary political considerations), examine God’s purposes for His covenant people as revealed in Scripture, and seek wisdom as to how Christ’s church should respond with compassion and justice to both Israelis and Arabs.

Kuhn serves as Missional Theology Specialist for World Outreach’s International Theological Education Network (ITEN). He spent more than 28 years in Morocco, Egypt, and Lebanon, where he served as Professor of Biblical Theology and Discipleship at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut from 2012-2018.

Tuesday evening banquet

Josh Hanson, Senior Pastor of Gateway Church in Findlay, Ohio, is the speaker for this year’s World Outreach banquet. His topic is “Unexpected Kingdom.”

Attendees will have opportunity to celebrate Phil and Janet Linton as part of the evening’s program. He is retiring as Director of World Outreach following the 41st General Assembly. In addition, he is preaching at the Wednesday afternoon worship service prior to the Assembly’s first business session.

Wednesday evening dinner

The Global Worker Presentations Dinner on Wednesday, June 23, from 5:00-6:30 p.m. provides opportunity to hear World Outreach global workers describe how God is using and blessing their work among those people groups of the world that have little to no access to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Global worker commissioning

On Thursday, June 24, World Outreach will commission its newest global workers during the evening worship service. The speaker for the service is D.A. Carson, Emeritus Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill.

Networking Lunches

On Wednesday, June 23, on-site participants can meet the new Executive Director of World Outreach, Gabriel de Guia, and his wife, Rachel. He is the unanimous choice of the nine-member search committee to succeed Linton, and previously served 26 years with Cru in a variety of capacities.

On Thursday, June 24, the 2021 class of global workers will discuss the ministry God has called them to and share their hearts for the Kingdom of God. These workers will be commissioned in the Thursday evening worship service.

All on-site attendees are invited to participate in these World Outreach gatherings, but registration is required for the Tuesday evening banquet as space is limited. The worship services on Wednesday and Thursday will be live-streamed and available to virtual participants of the hybrid Assembly. Other gatherings are limited to on-site Commissioners and guests.

For complete details about World Outreach activities at the 41st General Assembly, see www.epc.org/ga2021worldoutreachevents.

For more information about the 41st General Assembly, including registration, daily schedules, and more, see www.epc.org/ga2021. For details about the World Outreach Banquet, contact Cassie Shultz at cassie.s@epcwo.org or 407-930-4313.

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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

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

April Jeremiah Journal reports on National Leadership Team meeting

 

In the April 2021 edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah reports on the April meeting of the National Leadership Team, including the EPC budget they will recommend for approval at the 41st General Assembly, June 22-25 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.

 

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

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.”

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.

Helga Hoffman, wife of 15th GA Moderator Wayne Hoffman, dies at 87

 

Helga Hoffman, 1933-2021

Helga Svanhild Tofteland Hoffman of Urbandale, Iowa, wife of 15th (1995) General Assembly Moderator Wayne Hoffman, died on January 27. She was 87.

She was born in Luverne, Minn., on August 27, 1933, to Reinert and Tilda (Akersmyr) Tofteland and raised on the Tofteland farm where the family spoke Norwegian. She first learned English when she began her education in a one-room schoolhouse. She graduated from Augustana Academy and furthered her education at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, Iowa.

Helga married Wayne Hoffman on June 21, 1953. Through their 67 years of marriage, Wayne and Helga lived in South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Iowa. Helga was an integral and vital part of Wayne’s ministry in the many churches he served as a Presbyterian pastor. During his service as General Assembly Moderator, he was Pastor of Westkirk Presbyterian Church in Urbandale, Iowa. They served the Westkirk congregation until his retirement in 2002, when he was named Pastor Emeritus. The Hoffmans continued to make their home in Urbandale.

Helga had a strong connection to her Norwegian heritage, which she lovingly shared with her family through food, language, and traditions. She was greatly loved and admired by her family who continue to be blessed by her sweet and kind spirit. Her deep and abiding faith in God were evident in her gracious and gentle nature. At every dinner or party, Helga was everyone’s favorite companion due to her genuine warmth and friendliness. When you left her home, she was always at the front window and gave her famous “grandma wave.”

She is survived by her husband, Wayne; daughter and son-in-law Peggy Ann and Tom Radio; daughter and son-in-law Pamela Jo and John Merrick; son and daughter-in-law Eric Jon and Rebecca Hoffman; Daughter and son-in-law Nancy Helga and Stan Thompson; son and daughter-in-law Jason Wayne and Tina Hoffman; 14 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Click here for a full memorial notice.

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.

41st General Assembly to be hybrid virtual/on-site

 

The EPC’s 41st General Assembly will be a hybrid of on-site and virtual participation, hosted by Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn. The modification is in response to local requirements for in-person gatherings.

“When we met with Second’s leadership on January 26, they told us that masks and six-foot social distancing are essential requirements for all onsite meetings at the church—and have been for months,” Jeremiah said. “They are working on the assumption that these restrictions will remain in place through the summer.”

The social distancing requirement reduces capacity of the church’s Sanctuary to 550, and correspondingly limits the capacity of meeting rooms and other campus facilities. Delaying the Assembly until the fall was not an option due to the church’s programming schedule and an on-site school.

“We quickly realized that to accommodate 550 people, we would have to cap registration at 400 commissioners to allow for spouses and guests,” Jeremiah said. “Limiting commissioner participation is something we never want to do.  The idea of another fully virtual Assembly was a non-starter, since being together is such a core value of our Assembly.”

Jeremiah emphasized that a hybrid General Assembly provides the safest in-person gathering possible, while still giving Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders who are uncomfortable or unable to gather in-person the opportunity to participate in the Assembly.

“We think this in a win-win,” he said. “While we need to gather as an Assembly, our primary concern as an expression of loving each other is for the health and safety of our Commissioners, our host church, and its staff and volunteers.”

While a hybrid event is challenging, Jeremiah said, “We enjoyed great success putting on a virtual GA in September, and Second’s tech team has successfully facilitated virtual presbytery meetings. We are confident that all the pieces are in place to conduct a hybrid Assembly that both honors the high value of being together and allows more than 400 commissioners to participate.”

In response to the January 26 meeting, on January 27 the National Leadership Team elected to add the virtual participation component to the Assembly. On January 29, Jeremiah issued a provisional opinion that allowed virtual Commissioners—a situation not addressed by the EPC’s Rules for Assembly. On February 3, the Permanent Judicial Commission reviewed the provisional opinion and will recommend that the 41st General Assembly sustain it.

Provisional Opinion 2021-01

Because the virtual nature of the 40th General Assembly was believed to be a one-time occurrence, Commissioners to that Assembly were not asked to amend the EPC’s Rules for Assembly—which govern the proceedings—to permit virtual participation. Rather, as their first action Commissioners voted to suspend Rules for the duration of the 40th GA.

“In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I was asked by a Ruling Elder if it was appropriate to allow virtual participation in the 41st GA so Commissioners could consider amending Rules,” Jeremiah said. “In my provisional opinion, I am allowing virtual participation in addition to in-person Commissioners. I also am asking the 41st GA to consider if Rules should be amended to allow virtual provision so we don’t have to constantly suspend Rules to accommodate circumstances outside our control.”

Adjustments to various aspects of the Assembly—such as the Leadership Institute, Standing Committees, Networking Lunches, and other meetings—are likely and will be announced as details are confirmed.

Online registration is scheduled to open on April 1. For more information and regular updates about the 41st General Assembly, see www.epc.org/ga2021. To read Provisional Opinion 2021-01, see www.epc.org/files/provisionalopinion2021-01.