Category Archives: Leadership Development

GA Women’s Resources activities feature discipleship, connection opportunities


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Speakers for the Women’s Resource Council gatherings include (from left), Sharon Beekmann, Mary Brown, Lana Roberts, Jacqueline Smith, Brent Stenberg, Leila Todd, and Karen Walls. 

The EPC Women’s Resource Council is hosting a variety of gatherings at the 38th General Assembly, June 19-22 at Hope Church in Cordova, Tenn.

“Connecting with the Marginalized” is the theme for the annual “TESS Talks” dinner on Wednesday, June 20. Speakers are Sharon Beekmann, Women’s Resource Council Chair; Jacqueline Smith, wife of Hope Church Senior Pastor Rufus Smith; and Karen Walls, Director of Hope Church’s Special Needs Ministry. Beekmann will discuss sexual abuse and harassment; Smith will examine Impacting Public Schools for Christ; and Walls’ topic is “Welcoming and Including People with Disabilities into the Family of God.” Each speaker’s 10-minute presentation will be followed by a 20-minute round-table discussion.

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.

“TESS Talks provide sisters in Christ the opportunity to consider and discuss topics that are relevant to churches today,” Beekmann said. “Plus, we have fun!”

Networking Lunches offer opportunities for fellowship and enrichment around a variety of relevant topics.

In “Connecting with God for Life” on Wednesday, Sharon Henderson will discuss growing in Christ as well as in spiritual disciplines. She is the wife of David Henderson, Pastor of Covenant EPC in West Lafayette, Ind.

On Thursday, Lana Roberts will host the annual lunch gathering for women Teaching Elders and candidates to connect, encourage, and pray for one another. Roberts has served on the pastoral staff of First Presbyterian Church in Fresno, Calif., for more than 10 years and is a member of the EPC Women’s Resource Council.

Also on Thursday, Brent Stenberg and Leila Todd of the Christian Psychological Center in Memphis will host a Networking Lunch for ministry spouses. In their topic, “Opportunities and Challenges,” Stenberg and Todd will focus on the unique challenges ministry spouses face, and on building resilience in order to thrive in the midst of the God-given opportunities and stressors of ministry life. All ministry spouses—male or female—are invited to attend.

On Thursday evening, the Women’s Ministry Dinner will feature Mary Brown as she discusses “Disciple Making: One Woman at a Time.” She will explore Jesus’ method of making disciples, including practical steps in disciple-making that beginners and mature Christians alike can use. Brown leads the Soul Healing Ministry, Women’s Ministry, support groups, and discipleship groups for Colonial Presbyterian Church in Kansas City and is a member of the EPC Women’s Resource Council.

“Mary’s passion for making disciples is contagious,” Beekmann said. “She will inspire us to proclaim the gospel and bring people into the body of Christ.”

For more information about the 38th General Assembly, including registration, daily schedules, and more, see www.epc.org/ga2018. For details about the ministries of the EPC Women’s Resource Council, see www.epc.org.org/thewell including an informational video featuring Mary Brown offering helpful tips and encouragement on mentoring new disciples of Christ.

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Rwandan genocide survivor, racial reconciliation expert, special needs ministry leader to keynote 2018 Leadership Institute


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Immaculée Ilibagiza, Greg Thompson, Jennifer Ross

Immaculée Ilibagiza, Greg Thompson, and Jennifer Ross are the keynote speakers for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church’s fourth annual Leadership Institute. The Institute is a strategic component of the EPC’s 38th General Assembly, to be held June 19-22 at Hope Church in suburban Memphis, Tenn.

The theme for the annual meeting—Forward!—reinforces awareness on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. that God is doing something bigger in Memphis and beyond than what He is doing in and through the EPC. Keeping with that concept, the plenary speakers will take an intentional look from contexts outside the EPC at deep hurts that can help attendees minister the gospel more effectively in our culture.

Ilibagiza is a survivor of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, in which more than 1 million people were massacred in ethnic violence following the assassination of the country’s president. Regarded as one of world’s leading speakers on faith, hope, and forgiveness, she has shared her inspirational story with world leaders, school children, multinational corporations, churches, and at events and conferences around the world.

Thompson serves as Director of Research and Strategy for Clayborn Reborn, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to reintroduce the historic Clayborn Temple in downtown Memphis to the city, and to engage a national audience. One of the country’s most significant church buildings, Clayborn Temple was the home of the EPC’s Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis from its opening in 1893 until 1949, and later became a landmark in the Civil Rights movement.

Ross is the Director of Matthew’s Ministry, the Special Needs Ministry of the Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City (a multi-campus United Methodist congregation), and serves as Education Chairperson for the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City. She will provide relevant data and biblical applications on the topic “Holding a Banquet and Welcoming All of God’s Children,” exploring why churches should offer programs for individuals with special needs.

Each plenary session will include a moderated time for questions and answers.

In addition to the plenary speakers, 14 seminars are available on Tuesday, June 19:

  1. The Beauty of Reformed Worship.
    Led by Zach Hopkins, Pastor of Edgington EPC in Taylor Ridge, Ill.
  2. Being a Public, Media-Friendly Evangelical in the Trump Era.
    Led by Carmen LaBerge, President of Reformation Press (formerly Presbyterian Lay Committee).
  3. Building Blocks of a Missional Church.
    Led by Randy H, EPC World Outreach Global Worker who serves in an unpublished location.
  4. Discerning the Spirits.
    Led by Sharon Beekmann, Chair of the EPC Women’s Resource Council and author of Rescued and Redeemed: How to Discern Demons from the Divine.
  5. Discipleship in Student Ministry.
    Led by Meg DeHaven, Director of Children and Youth for Bethany EPC in Havertown, Pa., and Mike DeHaven, Assistant Director of Youth for Bethany EPC.
  6. Embracing God’s Cities: Bus Tour of Memphis.
    Led by Larry Lloyd, President of the Memphis Leadership Foundation, and Eli Morris, Senior Associate Pastor of Hope Church in Memphis.
  7. The Gospel in Dark Places: Ministry to Exploited and Trafficked Women.
    Led by Bonnie Gatchell, Director of Route One Ministry in Boston, Mass., and Tricia Grant, educator, speaker, and trafficking survivor.
  8. The Lord’s Supper in the Reformed Tradition.
    Led by Stephen Hess, Pastor of Highview EPC in Dousman, Wis.
  9. Making Disciples Who Make Disciples.
    Led by Doug Resler, Senior Pastor of Parker EPC in Parker, Colo.
  10. The Means of Grace in the Scriptures Proclaimed.
    Led by JT Holderman, Pastor of Bellevue Presbyterian Church in Gap, Pa.
  11. The Reformation of Preaching.
    Led by David Swanson, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Fla.
  12. Religious Support and Protecting Free Exercise.
    Led by Daniel Blomberg, Senior Counsel for Becket Law in Washington, D.C.
  13. Planting Multi-Ethnic Churches.
    Led by Léonce Crump, Pastor of Renovation Church in Atlanta, Ga., and Richard Rieves, Pastor of Downtown Church in Memphis.
  14. Putting Baptism to Use.
    Led by Mike Glodo, Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Dean of the Chapel for Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Fla.

Click here for more information on the Leadership Institute, including full seminar descriptions, times, and speaker bios.

Click here for more information about the 38th General Assembly, including links to online registration, discounted hotel rates, and more.

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April Jeremiah Journal reports work of MVC and presbytery Ministerial Committees


In the April edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah reports on how the work of the Ministerial Vocation Committee and presbytery Ministerial Committees helps fulfill the EPC’s strategic initiative of creating and sustaining a culture of leadership development. This includes the pastoral search and candidate care processes, Mentored Apprenticeship Program, a recommendation to expand the role of Commissioned Pastor, and more.

The Jeremiah Journal is a monthly video blog hosted on the EPC’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/EPChurch80. Each month’s update also is posted to EPConnection and the EPC’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

For a transcript of this month’s edition in printable pdf format, click here.

38th General Assembly registration open


GA2018BannerOnline registration for the 38th General Assembly is now open. The Assembly meets June 19–22 at Hope Church in suburban Memphis, Tenn. The theme of this year’s annual meeting is “Forward: Engage, Empower, Embrace,” based on Philippians 3:13–14.

The annual Leadership Institute on Tuesday has 14 seminars this year to help provide resources for building a leadership development culture. Topics include:

  • Being a Public, Media-Friendly Evangelical in the Trump Era
  • Building Blocks of a Missional Church
  • Discerning the Spirits
  • Discipleship in Student Ministry
  • Making Disciples Who Make Disciples
  • Planting Multi-Ethnic Churches
  • Putting Baptism to Use
  • Religious Support and Protecting Free Enterprise
  • The Beauty of Reformed Worship
  • The Gospel in Dark Places: Ministry to Exploited and Trafficked Women
  • The Lord’s Supper in the Reformed Tradition
  • The Means of Grace in the Scriptures Proclaimed
  • The Reformation of Preaching
  • The Life and Legacy of MLK in Memphis (special bus tour of MLK-related sites)

The theme reinforces our awareness on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that something bigger is happening in Memphis and beyond in our culture in 2018 than just what God is doing in and through the EPC. Our Leadership Institute plenary speakers on Wednesday—Immaculée Ilibagiza, Greg Thompson, and Jennifer Ross—will take an intentional look at deep hurts beyond our denomination to help us minister the gospel effectively in our culture.

Ilibagiza is a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide and is regarded as one of world’s leading speakers on faith, hope, and forgiveness. Her book Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust has sold more than two million copies and has been translated into 17 languages.

Thompson is a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and currently serves as Director of Research and Strategy at Clayborn Reborn, a historic Civil Rights site in Memphis. He is active in national conversations surrounding race and equity in America, and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia where he wrote his dissertation on Martin Luther King Jr.

Ross has served as Director of Matthew’s Ministry, the Special Needs Ministry of the Church of the Resurrection (United Methodist) in Kansas City, for 15 years. She also serves as Education Chairperson for the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City and serves on the board of Inclusion Connections—a regional non-profit organization serving the special needs community. She has degree in special education and 30 years of experience working with individuals with special needs in schools, state facilities, colleges, and churches.

The first of five business sessions convenes on Wednesday afternoon, June 20, at 4:00 p.m. Business sessions continue on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; and Friday at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. (if needed).

Worship service speakers include:

  • Rufus Smith, Senior Pastor of Hope Church (Thursday at 8:30 a.m.)
  • Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary (Thursday at 7:30 p.m.); and
  • Dean Weaver, EPC Moderator (Friday at 8:30 a.m.).

A special event this year is a Wednesday evening program featured renowned comedian Michael Jr. He has appeared on The Tonight Show, Comedy Central, Jimmy Kimmel Live, CNN, ComedyTV, as well as in the most prestigious comedy clubs in the country, including The Improv, The Laugh Factory, The Comedy Store, and others. He also is well-known for bringing his family friendly comedy to Christian and church audiences.

Numerous other gatherings are available that cover a wide variety of ministry interests, including Networking Lunches, World Outreach, Women’s Ministry, and more.

For complete information, see www.epc.org/ga2018.

Seminary programs benefit EPC students preparing for ministry


Partnerships between the EPC and two evangelical seminaries offer significant financial savings for those pursuing formal theological education.

MAPThe EPC’s Mentored Apprenticeship Program (MAP), de­vel­oped in collaboration with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, makes eight specific ministry courses available online at half the normal cost of tuition. These courses—dis­cipleship, ethics, leadership, pastoral care/counseling, ministry as mission, apologetics, preaching, and evangelism—may be taken while at­tending any other seminary and are all transferrable according to Association of Theo­logical Schools (ATS) rules.

The EPC’s new requirements for ordination to the office of Teaching Elder, approved by the 36th General Assembly in response to changing trends in theological education nationwide now require the completion of these eight courses.

RTSIn addition to MAP courses through Gordon-Conwell, the Andrew Jumper Scholarship is available for EPC-affiliated students at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS). The scholarship is a full-tuition award for an incoming, residential Master of Divinity (MDiv) student at any RTS campus, and is named for the EPC “Founding Father” and longtime pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Mo.

Candidates for the Jumper Scholarship should be members in good standing of an EPC church, under care of an EPC presbytery, and must demonstrate future commitment to the EPC. The deadline for application is March 15 for entry into the MDiv program in the following summer or fall.

Brian Gault, RTS Director of Financial Aid, said the scholarship exists because of the generosity of donors who care for the preparation of future pastors in the EPC, adding that additional donations to the scholarship fund directly support students.

“As the fund grows, we can support more students,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be amazing if future EPC ministers never had to pay for tuition to attend RTS?”

Kent Mathews, Pastor of the EPC’s Grace Community Fellowship in Ottawa, Kan., serves as the Director of MAP. He noted that the online MAP courses not only involve the same types of readings, videos, and assignments encountered in a traditional seminary course, they also involve a mentored relationship with a local pastor or other ministry leader, as well as in-the-field ministry project for each course.

“Research demonstrates that the top three things seminary students currently wish of their education are reduced tuition, a relation­ship with a mentor, and the opportunity to gain practical experience in the subjects they are studying” he said.

“The MAP course projects help students gain that practical ministry experience in their local context, and because they are offered at half the normal cost of tuition, it is literally like receiving a $7500 scholarship.”

Mathews added that a student completing at least six of the eight MAP courses will earn a Certificate of Completion from Gordon-Conwell. He emphasized that a student does not need to be a pursuing a master’s degree—or even have a bachelor’s degree—to take the courses, making it an ideal training vehicle for even non-ordained church or parachurch staff who want to improve their skills and knowledge.

Gordon-Conwell operates campuses in Hamilton, Mass; Boston, Mass.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Jacksonville, Fla. (Registration for MAP courses is through the Charlotte campus.) For more information, contact Mathews at kentmathews@sbcglobal.net or 785-418-1635.

Reformed Theological Seminary offers the MDiv degree at its campuses in Jackson, Miss., Orlando, Fla.; Charlotte, N.C.; Atlanta, Ga.; Washington, D.C.; Dallas, Texas; and Houston, Texas. For more information about the Jumper Scholarship, contact Gault at bgault@rts.edu.

Church Planters Retreat offers refresh and recharge


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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