Category Archives: Ministers

Turkey levels charges against Andrew Brunson


Andrew Brunson

Andrew Brunson

Turkish media is reporting May 19 that EPC teaching elder Andrew Brunson is being accused of being a “Kurdish sympathizer” and a “Gülenist.” The timing of the media reports potentially reveals Turkey’s response to President Trump and Vice President Pence’s pleas to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on May 16 to release Brunson from prison and allow him to return to the United States. Brunson has been held since October 2016.

“I cannot stress enough how significant these accusations are,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “In fact, the Turkish government views them as nothing less than treason.”

Hurriyet, the leading English-language news outlet in Turkey, reported that prosecutors are citing Brunson for “delivering sermons to the Kurds with a ‘special purpose’”—wording that implies support for an ethnic group that Turkey is waging a military campaign against. The Kurds are a minority group in Turkey (primarily located in the eastern and southeastern parts of the country, as well in Iran, Iraq, and Syria) and for many years have unsuccessfully pressed for more autonomy.

Yeni Şafak, a pro-Erdoğan news outlet, published an article yesterday under the headline “FETO Chaplain” that condemned Brunson for supporting Islamic cleric Fethulah Gülen, who has lived in the United States since 1999. Gülen leads a loose organization involved largely in education but also in other areas. Gülen and Erdoğan are former allies, but in 2015 the Turkish government labeled his movement the Fethullahist Terror Organization—or FETO—and classified it as terrorist. Erdoğan blames Gülen and FETO for leading a coup attempt against him last summer that ultimately failed. Gülen has repeatedly denied the charge.

“It is time to redouble our prayer efforts,” Jeremiah said in a statement to the EPC. “Please take time in your worship services this weekend to plead to the Lord on Andrew’s behalf.”

Trump, Pence press Andrew Brunson’s release to Turkish President Erdoğan in White House meetings


FreePastorAndrew

In meetings held on May 16, U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence appealed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for Andrew Brunson’s release. Brunson, an EPC teaching elder, has been imprisoned in Izmir, Turkey, since October 2016.

The EPC received reports from two different sources that both Trump and Pence advocated for Andrew’s freedom.

Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, said that one of these individuals “told us that Mr. Pence asked him to reach out to the EPC directly. I know I speak for the Brunson family in expressing our most sincere appreciation to the President and Vice President for their efforts today.”

Jeremiah noted four items that occurred in the meetings:

  1. Pence met with the Turkish leader first, and pleaded that Andrew’s case be expedited and resolved as quickly as possible.
  2. At the lunch that followed, Trump raised Andrew’s case at both the beginning and end of lunch. His plea was very similar in language with the Vice President’s.
  3. After the lunch, Pence raised it a final time.
  4. Pence was personally engaged in this with Erdoğan, and Trump spoke knowledgeably about Andrew’s situation.

“We are all very grateful for the prayers of so many people in the days leading up to today’s events,” Jeremiah added. “Please keep praying in the aftermath of this meeting.”

Brunson’s situation has garnered attention from news organizations across the theological and political spectrum, including ABC News, CBS News, The Christian Post, Fox News, International Christian Concern, Jewish News Service, National Catholic Register, National Review, Presbyterian Lay Committee, Slate, Time Magazine, USA Today, World Watch Monitor, and others. Links to many of these reports are available on the EPC’s Andrew Brunson resource page at www.epc.org/forgottenamericaninturkey.

EPC Home Missionary John Bueno releases Spring 2017 newsletter


LatinsUnitedSpring2017John Bueno, EPC Home Missionary serving with Latins United Christian Ministries (LUCM), invites you to read his Spring 2017 newsletter, in which he discusses the overwhelming need in Uganda. The Moyo district of northern Uganda has seen an influx of more than 150,000 refugees from the Kajo Keji region of South Sudan, and refugees now outnumber the native population.

Bueno also highlights recent ministry efforts in Mexico and Columbia, as well as a church plant in the Hispanic community of Bellevue, Neb., in partnership with Avery Presbyterian Church.

Click here to download the Spring 2017 edition in pdf format.

For more information about LUCM, contact Bueno at john.bueno@epc.org or 402-350-3815.

Andrew Brunson subject of U.N. oral intervention; Turkey may accelerate trial


Andrew Brunson

Andrew Brunson

The International Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) delivered an oral intervention March 10 to the 34th session of United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on behalf of EPC teaching elder Andrew Brunson. Brunson has been imprisoned in Turkey since October 7, 2016. The ACLJ is representing the Brunson family in legal efforts to secure Andrew’s release and return to the United States.

Also on March 9, USA Today reported that Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim will consider speeding up Brunson’s trial on charges of “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” The Brunson family, the EPC, and the ACLJ strongly refute the allegation, and the charging documents state that no evidence has been gathered against him.

“Please pray for Andrew and his wife regarding these new developments,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “She especially needs our prayers as she not only remains in Turkey to minister to Andrew in her weekly visits, but also deals with the emotional roller coaster of emotions when new developments occur.”

The EPC has set up an Andrew Brunson Resources web page that provides information about the ongoing situation, ways to keep Andrew’s plight in the public eye, and links to news article about his imprisonment.

Congressional leaders release letter requesting Andrew Brunson’s freedom


senateletterrelease

The Foreign Affairs committees of the United States House and Senate issued a press release on February 16 calling for the immediate release of EPC teaching Elder Andrew Brunson. The press release urging Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to grant Brunson’s freedom was signed by 78 members of Congress and includes both Republicans and Democrats.

https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/press-release/congressional-leaders-seek-release-american-pastor-unjustly-detained-turkey/

Brunson was detained in October 2016 and falsely charged with “membership in an armed terrorist organization” in December. He has been held for more than four months despite the charging documents presenting no evidence against him.

U.S. Senate letter to Turkey garners 78 congressional signatures to release Andrew Brunson


sfrc_andrewbrunsonletterAn open letter from the U.S. Senate to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey, has garnered 78 signatures from members of the Unites States Congress. The letter requests that EPC teaching elder Andrew Brunson, “an American citizen who has been unjustly detained in Turkey, be immediately released and deported.”

Signatories to the letter remind Erdoğan that Brunson’s imprisonment “has been raised repeatedly by U.S. Government officials with officials of the Government of Turkey. Unfortunately, high-level efforts to secure Mr. Brunson’s release have been unsuccessful. We have closely followed developments with this case, and are deeply disappointed.”

The letter was led by Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Representatives Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the chairman and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“I continue to be very grateful for our friends on Capitol Hill,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “The letter they have drafted sends a very clear message that we want nothing less than Andrew safely back in the United States soon.”

Click here to read the full text of the letter, which is expected to be released by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to national media outlets on February 16.

Other Senators who have signed are Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ron Paul (R-Ky.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), James E. Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Roger F. Wicker (R-Miss.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.);

Representatives who have signed are Robert B. Aderholt (R-Ala.), Brian Babin (R-Texas), Gus M. Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Mike Bost (R-Ill.), Brendan F. Boyle (D-Pa.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.), Gerry E. Connolly (D-Va.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), Garret Graves (R-La.), Bill Flores (R-Texas), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Thomas A. Garrett Jr. (R-Va.), George Holding (R-N.C.), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.), David P. Joyce (R-Ohio), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill), Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), Tom Marino (R-Pa.), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), Ted Poe (R-Texas), David E. Price (D-N.C.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Peter J. Roskam (R-Ill.), Steve Russell (R-Okla.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), and David G. Valadao (R-Calif.).

Signature counter on Andrew Brunson petition now registering


brunsonpetitionb

For the first time since it launched on February 6, the White House petition to free Andrew Brunson is now indicating more than one signature. On February 14, the counter moved from 1 to 208 in the late afternoon (EST), then slowly grew in number to approximately 1200 by 10:00 p.m. As of Wednesday morning, the petition was registering more than 3,800 signatures. The petition needs 100,000 signatures by March 8 to receive a response from the White House.

The petition is available at https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/forgotten-american-turkey.

Andrew Brunson

Andrew Brunson

Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, is requesting that all EPC churches inform the members of their congregations about Brunson’s situation.

“If your church has an email newsletter, would you consider using it to make your congregation aware of Andrew’s situation and this action they can take on his behalf?” he said. “A quick way to bring your people up to speed is to share our EPConnection articles and our Facebook page.”

These are available at www.epconnection.org/?s=brunson  and www.facebook/EPChurch.

Individuals are encouraged to share these articles among their social media networks, and include the hashtag #ForgottenAmericanInTurkey and the Twitter handles @WhiteHouse and @realDonaldTrump as they share these links.