Pictured (clockwise from left) are TE Sharon Beekmann, Presbytery of the West (Chair); Rebecca Duvall, Presbytery of the Pacific Southwest; Heidi Bethel, Presbytery of the Southeast; Becky Melancon, Presbytery of the Gulf South; Joe Ann Stenstrom, Presbytery of the East; Kathy Clymer, Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic; TE Mary Brown, Presbytery of the Great Plains; RE Kim Sinclair, Presbytery of the Midwest; and Melissa Cable, Presbytery of Mid-America. Additional Council members not pictured are RE Lynn Burge, Presbytery of the Central South; Kathy Marcy, Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes; and Tina Picard, Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest.
The EPC Women’s Resource Council met at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando January 14-15. Topics discussed by the group included exploring ways to better connect women across the EPC with each other, planning for the EPC General Assembly in June, and discussing resources for potential review.
Resources that the Council agrees to consider for review are vetted, and those approved for recommendation are categorized as Endorsed and Recommended as defined in the EPC Endorsement Policy. Completed reviews are posted in the Women’s Resources section of the EPC website at www.epc.org/thewell, and the Women’s Resource Council social media channels at www.epcthewellorg.wordpress.com, and www.facebook.com/groups/TheWellEPC.
Andrew Brunson (left, wearing red tie and glasses) leaves the court in Aliağa, Turkey on October 12 after being convicted of terrorism charges but released on time served. (Photo: AP / Emre Tazegul)
President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and others took to social media to celebrate the release of Andrew Brunson on October 12. Brunson was convicted by a Turkish court on terrorism charges and sentenced to 37 months in prison. The judge reduced his sentence to two years for good behavior, and ordered Brunson released on time served.
He was originally detained on October 7, 2016, and held until July 25, 2018, when he was released from prison to house arrest.
Brunson is scheduled to be flown to a U.S. air base in Germany by military transport on October 12 before returning to the United States.
In a statement to the court before the verdict was issued, Brunson tearfully refuted all the allegations.
“I’m an innocent man,” he said. “I love Jesus. I love this country.”
Brunson’s defense attorney, Ismail Cem Halavurt, said the verdict was “the best of a bad situation. He is going to go (to the United States) but I hope he is able to come back. He is someone who absolutely loves Turkey.”
One of the EPC’s four current strategic initiatives is to promote and resource church planting. In the months since it was identified as a priority (along with promoting and resourcing church revitalization, creating a leadership development culture, and creating a structure suitable for a global movement), church planting is increasingly becoming part of the fabric of the EPC.
Several new Church Planting Networks—consortiums of churches in a city or region that join forces and leverage their collective resources to plant new congregations—have launched. In many cases, these networks work in partnership with the appropriate presbyteries to plant new EPC churches.
The following seven networks are already working or beginning to come together:
- Memphis Church Planting Network, Memphis, Tenn.
- Aspen Grove Church Planting Network, Denver, Colo.
- Resurrection Brooklyn Church Planting Network, Brooklyn, N.Y.
- Bay Area Church Planting Network, San Francisco, Calif.
- St. Louis Area Church Planting Network, St. Louis, Mo.
- Gulf Coast Church Planting Network, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La.; southern Mississippi; and Alabama.
- Detroit Area Church Planting Network, Detroit, Mich.
In addition, several more church planting networks are in their formative stages in other regions and cities.
Further, the EPC now has 27 church plants, which represents approximately 4.7 percent of the EPC’s current total church count of 571. Researchers such as the Barna Group and Ed Stetzer of Lifeway Research have stated that a healthy, growing denomination should have new church plants represent 5-7 percent of its churches. By this measure, the EPC is making progress—but there is still work to do. The goal is for every EPC church to be a “parent, partner, or patron” of church planting, and the strategic initiative provides an outlet for every congregation to be intentional in growing God’s kingdom by helping start new congregations.
For more information about how you or your church can get involved in these—or future—EPC church planting networks, contact Tom Ricks of the EPC Church Planting Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.