Category Archives: Resources

2016-17 Book of Order now available

 

Book-BookOfOrder2016-17600FrontThe spiral-bound, printed edition of the 2016-17 Book of Order is now available for purchase at www.epcresources.org/collections/books-and-booklets/products/bookoforder2016-17.

The cost per book is $7.57 plus shipping.

This 250-page document is Volume 1 of the EPC Constitution and includes amendments to the Book of Order and Rules for Assembly ratified by the 36th General Assembly (2016), as well as Acts of the 36th General Assembly. The Book of Order is comprised of the Book of Government, Book of Discipline, Book of Worship, Rules for Assembly, Acts of Assembly, and Forms for Discipline.

The 2016 General Assembly ratified extensive revisions to the Book of Discipline. It is highly recommended that each Pastor and Clerk of Session obtain a copy of this latest version.

The Constitution of the EPC consists of the Book of Order, the Westminster Confession of Faith (including the Larger and Shorter Catechisms), and the document “Essentials of Our Faith.” All these are subordinate to Scripture, which is “the supreme and final authority on all matters on which it speaks.”

2016-17 Book of Order available to download

 

book-bookoforder2016-17pdf600The 2016-17 edition of the Book of Order is now available for download at www.epc.org/downloads. This 260-page pdf document is Volume 1 of the EPC Constitution and includes amendments to the Book of Order and Rules for Assembly ratified by the 36th General Assembly (2016), as well as Acts of the 36th General Assembly. The Book of Order is comprised of the Book of Government, Book of Discipline, Book of Worship, Rules for Assembly, Acts of Assembly, and Forms for Discipline.

The Constitution of the EPC consists of the Book of Order, the Westminster Confession of Faith (including the Larger and Shorter Catechisms), and the document “Essentials of Our Faith.” All these are subordinate to Scripture, which is “the supreme and final authority on all matters on which it speaks.”

A spiral-bound print version is in production, and is tentatively scheduled for a February release. Watch for an announcement in EPConnection when it is available.

January Jeremiah Journal discusses 2016 EPC budget allocation

 

In the January edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah discusses how the 2016 EPC budget was allocated between the four Strategic Initiatives (Global Movement, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, and Effective Biblical Leadership) and a fifth category, “protecting the EPC.”

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 EPNews and the EPC’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Reformed Theological Seminary offers EPC polity course

 


rtsReformed Theological Seminary
(RTS) in Orlando is offering a course in EPC polity during its upcoming Winter 2017 term. The class will meet January 9-12 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Subjects to be studied include polity, discipline, EPC history, and current developments within the denomination. The course will focus on the biblical and theological foundations for Presbyterian polity and how they are applied through the confession, constitution, and policies of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church within the historical contexts of the Reformed tradition, American Presbyterianism, and the EPC’s own history and distinctives.

Instructors are Don Fortson, Mike Glodo, and Jeff Jeremiah. Fortson is Professor of Church History at RTS’s Charlotte, N.C., campus and author of Liberty in Non-Essentials: The Story of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Glodo is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at the RTS Orlando campus and served as EPC Stated Clerk from 2001-2006. Jeremiah has served as Stated Clerk of the EPC since 2006.

The course is open to EPC and non-EPC students from other seminaries, as well as RTS students of all campuses and will satisfy the Master of Divinity course requirement, regardless of the student’s denominational affiliation. Students can take the course for credit or as an audit.

For information on how to register, contact Winston Miller, Director of Admissions for the RTS Orlando campus, at wmiller@rts.edu.

Transitional (Interim) pastors training scheduled

 

The EPC Office of the General Assembly is hosting a Transitional Pastor training seminar January 30 through February 2, 2017, in Orlando, Fla.

Bill Enns, EPC Associate Executive for Collaborative Ministries, said the event is designed for those who serve in interim roles throughout the EPC.

“We have called these folks ‘interim pastors’ for a long time,” Enns said, “but we have changed the term to ‘transitional pastor’ for reasons that will be made clear at the seminar.”

A variety of pertinent topics will be discussed, including:

  • Six Types of Transitional Ministries
  • A Theological Framework for Transitional Ministries
  • Helping Congregations Assess their Need for a Transitional Pastor
  • Organizations in Transition
  • Questions to Ask When Interacting with Interim Search Teams and Sessions

In addition, Ken Priddy from the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic’s GO Center will present the Great Commission Matrix (GCM). The GCM is designed to help churches catch a vision of God for their local context, and is the primary tool used in the EPC’s church revitalization strategic initiative.

The cost for training event is $65 per person, and includes materials and lunch each day. A reduced rate of $149 per night is available at the Residence Inn Orlando Airport, which will provide breakfast each day and transportation to and from the airport. Evening meals will be the responsibility of the participant.

Click here to register for the training, or go to www.tinyurl.com/hl6lpol. For hotel reservations, click here or go to www.tinyurl.com/jsemte9. The deadline to register at the reduced rate is December 30.

For more information, contact Enns at bill.enns@epc.org

Church revitalization coaches meet for training

 
gocentercoachestraining

Bob Stauffer, Church Development Coordinator for the Presbytery for the Alleghenies, leads participants in the GO Center coaches training in a discussion of the three primary life cycles of a local church.

Transformation—church revitalization—is one of four strategic initiatives at the forefront of EPC denominational ministry efforts. Leading that charge is the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic’s GO Center, a group of church revitalization trainer/consultants from across the EPC.

Nearly 200 churches in the EPC have either completed or are working through the Great Commission Matrix, the process by which the GO Center Team leads congregations and presbyteries to evaluate their ministries in light of the Great Commission command to make disciples.

A key component of the EPC church revitalization strategy is developing a network of Church Revitalization Coaches, and 18 new coaches met at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando for training October 13-14.

Evelio Vilches, Pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Pembroke Pines, Fla., attended as a new coach. His congregation is being mentored through the GO Center revitalization process, and he said it was fruitful to go through the training both as a participant and a coach. “Hearing the content in a different form keeps it fresh for me,” he said, adding that the process of church revitalization and vitality is something that is never complete.

“Every church has to keep their finger on the pulse of their vitality,” Vilches said. “You never arrive. If you do get to the point where you think ‘I’m now vital’ and you stop, that’s when the church ends up in a state of recline and can so easily move to decline. Vitality is really important and you have to stay on it consistently.”

Bob Stauffer, Church Development Coordinator for the Presbytery of the Alleghenies, noted that requests from churches to participate in the Go Center revitalization process is far greater than can be met by the GO Center’s three-person staff.

“We want to build a cadre of coaches for each presbytery,” Stauffer said. “To really have church revitalization sink into the culture, we need 150 coaches.”

Ken Priddy, Executive Director of the GO Center, said the coaches provide a critical link between the material and the church leaders. He explained that the initial steps in the process involve he, Stauffer, or Bill Rasch (the third member of the GO Center Team) meeting with the church’s “Vision Team.” However, due to the many demands on the GO Center Team it is often difficult to maintain an ongoing relationship with each congregation’s Vision Team. He stressed that this is why each church having a revitalization coach is so important.

“We have seen over and over again that if the church experiences a hiccup along the way, the tendency is to delay, shelve, or even quit the process,” Priddy said. “But what you—the Vision Team coach—provide is the routine contact and encouragement, as well as reinforcing the material.”

Priddy emphasized the combination of the coach’s expertise and the relationship with the Vision Team will move the process along. “If you work the process, the process works,” he said.

Jeff Moore, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Aurora, Ill., serves as chair of the EPC Church Planting and Revitalization Committee. He also is a GO Center coach and is leading his congregation through the Great Commission Matrix.

“What I have learned through this as much as anything,” Moore said, “is that many times a church—mine included—gets revved up with a great idea. We go into the community and serve, and then we retreat back into our church and wait for something to happen. You know, it is so simple yet so profound: you have to go back again and again and again and again to serve so you can earn the right to share our hope in Christ. We have to have perseverance if we are going to impact our communities and churches.”

An online training opportunity launches on October 25 with GO Clusters that will work through Priddy’s training materials. GO Clusters will meet on Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m. (EST) and will meet for one year of training and consulting, alternating months between online group training sessions and one-on-one phone consultations. Sessions will be devoted to training, discussion, problem solving, planning, and implementation.

For more information about the GO Center or the new GO Clusters online training, see www.pmaofepc.org/the_go_center. For information about becoming a church vision team coach, contact Bob Stauffer at stauffer.ra@gmail.com.

Global Movement the focus of World Outreach Forum

 

WOForum2016

This year’s World Outreach Forum will address the topic of “creating a structure for a global movement,” one of the EPC’s four strategic initiatives. Come to Orlando on November 14-15 and collaborate with presbytery and church mission leaders and the World Outreach U.S. Team.

The two-day workshop will equip and challenge missions leaders in each presbytery to:

  • Help all the churches of the EPC in their missions callings and missions health
  • Help connect and gather the churches of each presbytery in mission endeavors
  • Help our churches to strategically engage with EPC World Outreach

“We want to get ready for the time when each presbytery has asked to have an active missions committee and broader team of leaders who have a key role on their councils to empower their churches,” said Phil Linton, Director of World Outreach.

The annual Forum is a time of training, vision casting, and alignment around the global focus of the EPC and is designed especially for church and Presbytery mission/world outreach committee team members, mission pastors and directors, and other point people working on World Outreach projects like Engage 2025.

“We are committed to becoming a missional family of churches as we refocus our mission and reach out to serve others for Christ in the 21st century,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Lead Pastor/Stated Clerk. “The annual World Outreach Forum helps keep that in front of us.”

Click here for more information and to register.

EPC history published in honor of denomination’s 35th anniversary

 

LibertyInNonEssentialsIn celebration of the 35th anniversary of its founding in 1981, the EPC is releasing Liberty in Non-Essentials: The Story of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The book was written by EPC teaching elder Don Fortson, Professor of Church History and Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, N.C.

Featuring a foreword by Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah, the 275-page book includes chapters on Presbyterian history in North America; Bart Hess and Andy Jumper (key architects of the EPC); early General Assembly meetings; the denomination’s evangelical heritage, Reformed roots, and missional focus; explosive growth in the last 10 years, and more. Also included are 20 pages of full-color photos, 14 maps that illustrate presbytery development through the years, and a detailed index.

“I am thrilled that we are able to make this history of the EPC available at this year’s Assembly,” Jeremiah said. “We are celebrating 35 years as a family of churches at the same time that Ward Church—our GA host whose pastor in 1981, Bart Hess, was instrumental in our founding—is celebrating 60 years of ministry.”

Fortson spent four years researching and writing the volume.

“It has been an immense blessing to review, absorb, wonder, and write about all the Lord has done in our midst,” Fortson said.

Jeremiah said the book is timely and important because for many in the EPC, the names of EPC leaders in the 1980s and 1990s are just that—names.

“We praise God for the significant leadership they brought to creating a new denomination, and the entire EPC should know about them, what they did, and how they did it,” Jeremiah noted. “More than 400 churches have joined the EPC since 2007 and may not know the stories behind these dedicated servants. And for those churches God will send our way in the future, this will be a great resource for answering the question, ‘Who is the EPC?’”

Liberty in Non-Essentials will be available at the General Assembly book table in the displays area. Following the Assembly, it will be available at www.epcresources.org.

EPC pastor awarded Christianity Today 2016 Book of the Year

 

ZachEswineZack Eswine, Pastor of Riverside Church in Webster Groves, Mo., received Christianity Today’s “2016 Book of the Year” award in the category of The Church/Pastoral Leadership for his volume The Imperfect Pastor: Discovering Joy in Our Limitations through a Daily Apprenticeship with Jesus. The awards were announced in the January/February 2016 edition of the magazine.

Eswine, author of five other books, is Moderator of the Mid-America Presbytery and also serves as Adjunct Professor of Applied Theology and Director of the Homiletics Program at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis.

The Imperfect Pastor book coverChristianity Today’s 2016 Book Awards are the publication’s picks for the books most likely to shape evangelical life, thought, and culture.

“We recognize Christian writers for painstaking research and trenchant analysis, for dazzling prose and arresting imagery,” said Matt Reynolds, CT Associate Editor for Books.

Renowned theologian Cornelius Plantinga Jr. described The Imperfect Pastor as “so gritty, liberating, godly, and honest that it was hard to put down. Drawing from Scripture, theology, and close observation of life, Eswine describes the life of ministry in a way that unshackles the minister from impossible demands—and all the dread, depression, and burnout that accompanies them. For the minister, this book is full of mercy and encouragement. For everyone else, it reminds us of a glad irony: God chooses to do imperfect ministry through imperfect persons rather than personally doing it perfectly.”

Click here for more information about the Christianity Today 2016 Book Awards.

 

2015-16 Book of Order available to download

 

BookOfOrder2015-16The 2015-16 edition of the Book of Order is now available for download at www.epc.org/resources/documents. This 252-page pdf document includes the Book of Government, Book of Discipline, Book of Worship, Rules for Assembly, Acts of Assembly, and Forms for Discipline.

New this year is the Book of Worship, which was ratified at the 35th General Assembly in June.

A spiral-bound print version is in production, and is tentatively scheduled for a November release. Watch for an announcement in EPNews when it is available.

Smartphone app available for 35th General Assembly

 

GA2015AppInformation and content for the EPC 35th General Assembly is now available as an app for Apple iOS and Android operating systems.

The app includes a wide variety of information, including area maps, daily schedules, GA-related documents including daily dockets, committee reports, standing committee information, and more. The app also offers one-touch access to EPNews (the EPC’s news and information service), as well as the denomination’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.

“This app is a huge step forward for the EPC,” said Ed McCallum, EPC Assistant Stated Clerk. “It will be a fantastic tool for our commissioners and others to stay connected with the proceedings and to have important information for GA right at their fingertips.”

The app was produced by AppsforMinistry.com and the EPC Communications Department, and is available in the iPhone App Store and Google Play. Search for EPC GA, click here to download for iOS, or click here to download for Android.

Click to download for iOSClick to download for Android

EPC Leadership Institute launches at 35th General Assembly

 
Leadership Institute speakers include, from left: Thom Rainer, Rebekah Layton, Ken Priddy, Tom Ricks, and Jimmy Dodd.

Leadership Institute speakers include, from left: Thom Rainer, Rebekah Layton, Ken Priddy, Tom Ricks, and Jimmy Dodd.

A key strategy for the future of the EPC is “creating a leadership development culture” as the denomination transitions from a period of transfer growth to a goal of long-term sustainable transformational growth. Implementation of that strategy kicks off with the inaugural EPC Leadership Institute on Tuesday, June 23, prior to the 35th General Assembly in Orlando, and continues with Thom Rainer on Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

Four tracks will be available on Tuesday from 1:00-5:00 p.m.:

  1. Lead Like Jesus
  2. The Impact of Leadership on Church Revitalization
  3. Cultivating Denominational Growth
  4. Six Key Relationships Every Pastor Needs

On Wednesday and Thursday mornings from 9:00-11:45, Rainer will keynote the Leadership Institute by addressing leadership themes from his book, Simple Church.

Rainer serves as President of Lifeway Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama, and earned MDiv and PhD degrees from Southern Seminary. Prior to leading LifeWay, he served as president of Rainer Group consulting and dean at Southern Seminary. He also has served as pastor of four churches and has authored or co-authored 26 books.

Track 1: Lead like Jesus
Leaders influence others, and—more than a trait—leadership is a skill that can be learned.

In this workshop, Rebekah Layton will provide tools to equip women to influence others for Christ, wherever God has placed them. As Layton will explain in detail, a relational leadership model based on biblical principles is applicable in the family, congregation, workplace, and community. Women can learn to lead like Jesus.

Rebekah Layton is Director of Organizational Development at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo. A former Director of Evangelism at a large multi-site church, her passion is to equip women to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and to create Christ-honoring cultures in the home, workplace, and congregation.

Track 2: The Impact of Leadership on Church Revitalization
The EPC GO Center Team will lead the three-session workshop that focuses on the lifecycle of a local church and the difference of both good and ineffective leadership on that cycle.

  • Session 1: The Impact of Leadership on Small Church Turnaround
  • Session 2: The Impact of Leadership on the Church Lifecycle
  • Session 3: The Impact of Leadership on Missional Growth

Each session will be guided by a theme verse and include practical applications to help leaders move from concept to planning to implementation. Presenters include the GO Center Team and other REs and TEs throughout the EPC.

Track 3: Cultivating a Growing EPC Movement
Like farming, the growth of the Church is dependent on God’s kind provision and cannot be reduced to formulaic manipulation. However, God promises to grow His Church and graciously calls us to participate in His work. Join Tom Ricks and the EPC Church Planting Team for a discussion about various practices that can help cultivate the growth of the EPC.

  • Session 1: Where to Begin
  • Session 2: Creating a Church Planting Pipeline
  • Session 3: Round Table Discussion

Track 4: Six Key Relationships Every Pastor Needs
Pastors everywhere struggle with ever-increasing challenges in the backstage of their private worlds and front stage of their public ministries. But you don’t have to just survive—you can thrive. In this workshop, pastoral care expert Jimmy Dodd will reveal how pastors can make the shift by investing in six key relationships.

Dodd is the founder of PastorServe, an EPC Ministerial Vocation Committee commended resource. A well-known and respected speaker, Dodd is a graduate of Wheaton College and Gordon-Conwell Seminary, and served as a pastor for more than 20 years.

Click here for more information on the Leadership Institute.

EPC unveils redesigned website with enhanced features

 

www.epc.orgby Brian Smith, EPC Director of Communications

The Evangelical Presbyterian Church has launched a new, redesigned version of its website, www.epc.org. The site features a cleaner and more attractive design, significantly streamlined navigation, and a more engaging user experience.

Additional functions include multiple ways for a user to find an EPC church, a social-media-rich EPNews, and an integrated portal for Annual Church Reporting.

Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, said the new site is a welcome addition and should be a helpful tool for EPC churches and individuals. “Our staff team, led by Phil VanValkenburg, has been working very hard on this for a number of months and I am very grateful for their efforts. It is so much easier for someone to find what they are looking for than it used to be.”

Users are now able to search for an EPC congregation in a number of ways:

  • By distance from their current location using Google maps;
  • By church name or state;
  • By presbytery.

The map function will determine the user’s location, whether on a desktop or mobile device, and then provide a list of the closest EPC churches including address, church website, and contact information.

“I’m really excited about the ability to find a church by searching for its name or city, or by searching the presbytery,” Jeremiah added. “With just a few clicks I can pull up a list of all the EPC churches in Texas, for example, or in the Presbytery of the East.”

EPNews now has high-level integrated social media functions, which will allow a reader to easily rate or comment on an article, as well as instantly share through a number of channels including Facebook and Twitter.

Launched earlier is a companion site, asfr.epc.org, which is the EPC’s Annual Church Reporting portal. Churches can now provide their annual financial and statistical data online, as well as access appropriate church-specific information from the Office of the General Assembly.

Comments and other feedback on the new site are welcome; please feel free to contact Brian Smith, EPC Director of Communications, at brian.smith@epc.org.

Student Ministries online book study “Sustainable Youth Ministry” begins February 2

 

Sustainable Youth MinistryThe EPC Student Ministries 2015 online book study, featuring Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark Devries, kicks off the week of February 2 and runs through the week of March 23. The study will be facilitated by Mark Steimer, Middle School Pastor at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tenn., and an EPC teaching elder.

Participants will read the book in community with other leaders, and respond to weekly discussion questions on the EPC Student Ministries “Sustainable Youth Ministry” Facebook group page.

You should take this course if you are a:

Youth Leader
If you are sold on the idea of building a youth ministry that will be stronger years after you are gone than it is today, this study is well worth your investment. We will study and discuss ideas for developing or re-developing a sustainable vision, and learn ways to communicate the vision to the larger church.

Senior Pastor
No one will more strongly influence the building of sustainable youth ministry. You are uniquely positioned to help your church reach the next generation in a deliberate and lasting way. This study also is a great a resource for developing a picture of what is reasonable to expect from your Student Ministry staff.

Search Committee
The key advice from this study is “Don’t hurry and don’t settle.” The people you hire will do what they like to do, so hire people who like to do the things the job requires. Therefore, you should discuss vision before you ever announce a job opening.

Youth Elder
You will learn and discuss ideas for creating an intentional process for maximizing the possibility that younger, inexperienced staff can succeed, thrive, and receive training to become effective leaders—to the next generation as well as the larger church.

For more Information, click here to download the syllabus.

2014-15 Book of Order now available for download

 

BookofOrder2014-15

The 2014-15 edition of the EPC Book of Order is now available for download. This bookmarked PDF edition includes the new Book of Government ratified in June 2014, as well as updates to the Acts of Assembly and Rules for Assembly. The print version is in production, and there will be an announcement in EPNews when it is available to be ordered.

Click here to download the 2014-15 Book of Order.

November 9 set for International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted

 

IDOP2014

The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) has named the first two Sundays in November as the 2014 International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted.

More than 100 million Christians worldwide face persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ.

“Christians in Eritrea, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Sudan, Sri Lanka, and many others face imprisonment, violence and even death daily,” says Godfrey Yogarajah, Executive Director of the WEA Religious Liberty Commission. “We are calling on Christians everywhere to stand by these persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ by praying for them and assisting them in any way possible, as commanded in Scripture.”

The WEA urges Christians to follow the commands of Hebrews 13:3 to “remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

Resources for pastors and Christian leaders to use in worship services or small groups, including stories, videos, and devotionals, as well as information on persecution and prayer resources are available at www.idop.org