Category Archives: Pastors

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 leaders highlight spring commencement exercises


Three EPC leaders will deliver commencement speeches for institutions of higher learning in May 2017.

JeffJeremiah

Jeff Jeremiah

Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, will speak at Knox Theological Seminary. Mike Moses, Pastor of Lake Forest Church in Huntersville, N.C. and Moderator of the 35th General Assembly, will address Montreat College. Sandy Willson, Pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn., will speak at the Memphis Center for Urban Theological Studies (MCUTS).

The graduation ceremony for Knox Theological Seminary will be May 19 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The seminary was founded in 1989 by Dr. D. James Kennedy and leaders of the Coral Ridge congregation, whose desire was to establish a seminary with a theological perspective of historic Reformed theology as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. More than 300 students are currently enrolled in Knox’s residential and online learning programs.

MikeMoses

Mike Moses

The commencement service for Montreat College will be held May 13 at 2:00 p.m. in the school’s Anderson Auditorium in Montreat, N.C. An independent, Christ-centered, liberal arts institution in North Carolina, Montreat College has undergraduate campuses in Montreat and Black Mountain, and adult and graduate studies locations in Asheville, Charlotte, Morganton, Montreat, and online.

SandyWillson

Sandy Willson

The MCUTS commencement ceremony will be held May 1 at 6:00 p.m. at Life Church in Memphis. The non-denominational educational institution provides affordable, accessible, and accredited theological education and training for people serving in the urban context. Affiliated with Lancaster Bible College and Capitol Seminary and Graduate School, it was formed in 2000 through the collaborative effort of the Memphis Leadership Foundation, Neighborhood Christian Centers, Hope Christian Community Foundation, Second Presbyterian Church, and Hope Presbyterian Church.

Andrew Brunson’s imprisonment featured in April 13 NPR segment


National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” afternoon news program broadcast a segment April 13 on Andrew Brunson’s imprisonment in Turkey. Interviewed for the story were Andrew’s sister, Beth Herman, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner, and Cece Heil, a lawyer with the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is representing the Brunsons in legal efforts to secure Andrew’s release.

Click here to listen to the 3-minute, 37-second story. “All Things Considered” is the most listened-to radio program of its kind in the country.

NPR

First Orlando’s Case Thorp pens Wall Street Journal op-ed on Keller/Princeton flap


Case Thorp, Senior Associate Pastor of the EPC’s First Presbyterian Church of Orlando and an alumnus of Princeton Theological Seminary, has written an op-ed article published in the Wall Street Journal on March 23. Thorp’s piece addresses the recent controversy surrounding the seminary’s retraction of its annual Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness. Earlier this year, the mainline seminary announced that it would present the award to Keller, but rescinded the honor on March 22 in response to protests by individuals who do not support the PCA (of which Keller is a member)’s stance on female and LGBTQ clergy.

The article on the Wall Street Journal is behind a paywall, but you can click here to read it on Thorp’s blog at www.casethorp.com.

ThorpWSJ

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.

EPC Pastor Jerry Iamurri named Assistant Stated Clerk


jerryiamurri

Jerry Iamurri

Jerry Iamurri, Pastor of Bethany Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Havertown, Pa., has been named Assistant Stated Clerk for the EPC Office of the General Assembly. He fills the role being vacated by Ed McCallum, who has served in this capacity since 1998.

“I am excited to serve the EPC as Assistant Stated Clerk,” Iamurri said. “I’m looking forward to serving pastors and church leaders in areas of polity and supporting the four strategic initiatives. The EPC has been a great home for me, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude to the Lord for this opportunity.”

He has served as Pastor of Bethany EPC since 2008. Under his leadership, the congregation transitioned to the EPC in 2012. He previously served Presbyterian congregations in Forest Grove, Philadelphia, and Ardmore, Pa.; El Paso, Texas; and Toms River, N.J. In addition to his ministry experience, Iamurri was an Assistant District Attorney for the Philadelphia (Pa.) District Attorney’s Office from 1999 to 2003. As a trial and appellate attorney, he litigated more than 5,000 preliminary hearings and tried more than 500 felony cases.

He also is a previous chairman of the EPC Ministerial Vocation Committee.

Iamurri earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2014; a juris doctorate from the Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Del., in 1998; a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1993, and a bachelor’s degree in political science and English from Allegheny College in 1989.

The Assistant Stated Clerk Search Team consisted of EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah and National Leadership Team members Scott Griffin (Moderator) and Leigh Swanson (Personnel Committee chair).

“It was clear to all three of us,” Jeremiah noted, “that God has been preparing Jerry ‘for such a time as this’ in the life of the EPC. He is uniquely gifted to carry on the level of excellence and care that Ed McCallum brought to the role for almost 20 years. I couldn’t be more pleased that Jerry has chosen to join the team in Orlando at the Office of the General Assembly.”

“I am thankful to Ed McCallum for his years of faithful service,” Griffin added, “and delighted that God has provided the perfect replacement. God has been preparing Jerry his whole life to step into the role, and I am delighted for the opportunity to serve beside him.”

Swanson said that Iamurri has “unique experience, exceptional gifting, a warm personality, and a deep love for Christ and His church. I am thrilled that Jerry has agreed to become the Assistant Stated Clerk of the EPC.”

Iamurri and his wife, Sandi, have two children: Matthew, 12, and Kimberly, 10. Jerry begins his responsibilities in Orlando on April 24.

McCallum is retiring from the Assistant Stated Clerk role after 19 years. He and his wife, Nan, were commissioned as World Outreach global workers through the International Theological Education Network (ITEN) at the 2016 General Assembly. They start their new ministry in July 2017.