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 Earlier this year, the mainline seminary announced that it would present the award to Keller, but rescinded the honor on March 22 in response to protests by individuals who do not support the PCA (of which Keller is a member)’s stance on female and LGBTQ clergy.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 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.
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.
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.
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.
An 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.).
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.
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.”
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.
The EPC has received information from a reliable source that every signature on the EPC’s #ForgottenAmericanInTurkey petition is reaching a “central register” in the White House. There have been concerns that signatures were not being tallied since the counter on the petition website has remained at “1 Signed” since it launched on February 6. The same individual reported that the White House petition system is receiving higher traffic than it has experienced in the past, which is “overwhelming the register.”
The petition is an effort to bring EPC teaching elder Andrew Brunson’s plight in Turkey to the attention of the White House and President Donald Trump.
Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan talked for a reported 45 minutes by telephone on February 7. As of February 10, there has been no confirmation that the two leaders discussed anything related to Brunson’s imprisonment.
The petition is available at https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/forgotten-american-turkey. In addition, citizens can contact the White House at www.whitehouse.gov/contact – page and are encouraged to share the link to the petition among their social media networks.
Brunson was arrested 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.