Category Archives: Resources

Open Enrollment for EPC Benefits begins November 1

 

BRIlogo-96dpiRGBOpen Enrollment for EPC Benefits is November 1 through November 22. Coverages and changes are effective January 1, 2018. Benefits participants have three options during Open Enrollment:

  • Individuals enrolling in EPC benefits for the first time must complete the Benefits Enrollment Form and have a church officer sign and submit the form to the contact information on the form.
  • Current participants in EPC benefits who do not need (or want) to make changes to their benefits selections for 2018 do not need do anything, except pay the January 2018 invoice.
  • Participants who need or want to make changes to their benefit selections for 2018 must complete a new Benefits Enrollment Form with all requested information, including the desired changes. This form must be signed by a church officer and submitted to the contact information on the form.

Changes for 2018 include new premium rates for the Medical, Prescription Drug, and Life and Long-Term Disability (LTD) bundled premiums rates. Other changes include a new hearing aid program and a revised delivery method for maintenance drugs.

For more information, see the Benefits 2018 Open Enrollment page at www.epc.org/benefits/2018openenrollment or contact Diane Pray in the EPC Benefits office at 734-838-6942 or benefits@epc.org. Participants in the EPC Benefits plans may contact their church administrator and/or pastor for information on specific benefit plans offered by their church.

Call to Prayer and Fasting to mark one year of Andrew Brunson imprisonment

 

AndrewBrunsonPrayerGuideOn October 7, EPC teaching elder Andrew Brunson will have been imprisoned in Turkey for one year. To mark the date, the denomination is issuing a Call to Prayer and Fasting for the weekend of October 7-8.

“We are asking everyone in the EPC to consider fasting and praying for Andrew on Saturday, October 7,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “Also, we ask that our churches pray for Andrew and Norine during their worship services on Sunday, October 8.”

To help facilitate a corporate prayer, a bulletin insert is available in printable pdf format on the EPC website that includes Scripture prayers, as well as a specific prayer for the Brunson family. The bulletin insert—which is available in two sizes—was developed by Christ Community Church in Montreat, N.C. (the Brunsons’ home church) and the EPC Communications Department.

Brunson and his wife, Norine, have lived in Turkey since 1993. At the time of his arrest, he was serving as pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church in the coastal city of Izmir. He faces charges of espionage, acquiring secret political and military information, attempting to destroy constitutional order and overthrowing the Turkish parliament, and membership in an armed terroristic organization.

General Assembly adopts Position Paper on Human Sexuality

 

GA2017PositionPaperHumanSexualityCommissioners to the 37th General Assembly adopted the Preliminary Position Paper on Human Sexuality as the EPC’s official Position Paper on Human Sexuality, effective at the close of the Assembly on June 23. The paper replaces the Position Paper on Homosexuality and Position Paper on the Sanctity of Marriage.

The 35th General Assembly, meeting in Orlando in 2015, approved the formation of an interim committee to edit the homosexuality paper, which had been adopted in 1986 and revised in 1994 and 2014. While the EPC’s position on the issue had not changed, the 2015 Assembly recommended that language in the paper be updated to reflect how that position is expressed in response to changing cultural trends.

Mike Moses, Moderator of the 2015 Assembly, appointed the interim committee, which was chaired by Sandy Willson, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the Central South.

Following comments and feedback from all EPC Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders to its first draft in early 2016, the interim committee presented the Proposed Position Paper on Human Sexuality to the 36th General Assembly in June 2016 at Ward Church in Northville, Mich. That Assembly approved the proposed paper, changing its status from “Proposed” to “Preliminary Position Paper.” As a Preliminary Position Paper, it was then sent to all EPC churches and presbyteries for review in anticipation of being presented for approval to this year’s Assembly.

A Position Paper expresses the mind of the General Assembly of the EPC on a subject of compelling interest. It is a definitive but not an exhaustive statement, and is not to be regarded as binding on the conscience of churches or individuals.

Click here to download the Position Paper on Human Sexuality.

#epc2017ga

Preliminary Position Paper and Pastoral Letter highlight May Jeremiah Journal

 

In the May edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah provides an update on the Preliminary Position Paper on Human Sexuality, which will be presented for approval as an official EPC Position Paper at the 37th General Assembly in June, and the Pastoral Letter on Ministering to the Church and the World on Issues Pertaining to Human Sexuality, the writing of which was approved by the 36th General Assembly.

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

For a transcript of this month’s edition in printable pdf format, click here.

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.