Category Archives: Uncategorized

EPC pastor pens book on financial obedience

 

DavidSwansonEconomyOfGodDavid Swanson, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, has published his fifth book, The Economy of God: Discovering the Joy of Financial Obedience. The book is a compilation of a 12-week sermon series on money and generosity.

As Swanson states in the book’s introduction, “in Scripture, God has an entire economy that He wants us to observe—a way of working and producing—a way of earning, spending, saving, and giving.”

He also notes that in his 27 years as a pastor, “I have seen time and again how money can be the source of pain, strife, discontent, and division … but it does not have to. Money, when rightly and biblically understood, can be an absolute source of joy and delight.”

The book is available in paperback and Amazon Kindle formats at https://smile.amazon.com/Economy-God-Discovering-Financial-Obedience/dp/1793135614/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1550520951&sr=1-1

You can support the ministries of the EPC by purchasing Swanson’s book (and other items) through the “smile.amazon” program at Amazon.com. When you login to your Amazon account (or set up a new account), use smile.amazon.com and select “Evangelical Presbyterian Church” as your preferred charitable organization. The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of purchase price to the EPC.

EPC issues statement on abortion legislation

 

StatementOnAbortionLawsThe Evangelical Presbyterian Church has issued a formal statement in response to recent legislative action at the state level regarding abortion. The statement begins with the words, “In light of recent legislation at the state level regarding abortion, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church continues to strongly and unequivocally affirm the dignity and value of every human life—born and unborn.”

“I am very pleased to affirm Scripture’s very clear message that abortion is nothing other than the taking of an innocent life,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “At the same time, as Christians we are called to love and support those who have experienced the physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds that result from a terminated pregnancy—whatever the reason.”

The full statement is as follows:

In light of recent legislation at the state level regarding abortion, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church continues to strongly and unequivocally affirm the dignity and value of every human life—born and unborn.

The EPC’s Position Paper on Abortion states that the Bible does not distinguish between prenatal and postnatal life. It attributes human personhood to the unborn child. This extends to the unborn child ex utero as no less a human being than the child in the mother’s womb.

Since abortion was legalized in the United States in 1973, more than 61 million Americans have been denied the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This concept is such a fundamental principle that it appears in the very first sentence of the Declaration of Independence, written almost 250 years ago.

Yet even more fundamental is the truth of Scripture, which was written more than 2,000 years ago and very clearly teaches that life begins at conception. To wit:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV).

“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth” (Psalm 139:15 NIV).

“Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name” (Isaiah 49:1 NIV).

“for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born” (Luke 1:15 NIV).

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41 NIV).

The Evangelical Presbyterian Church grieves over the murder of more than 61 million unborn children who were made in the image of God. We also stand in strong opposition to the legal and political decisions that have led to this tragedy. At the same time, we will continue to offer a loving and supportive community to those who have experienced physical, emotional, or spiritual wounds as a result of undergoing an abortion (or placing a child for adoption), and support those groups, parachurch ministries, and sponsoring agencies that offer viable alternatives to abortion.

Click here to download the statement in printable, PDF format.

 

39th General Assembly theme, speakers introduced in February Jeremiah Journal

 

In the February 2019 edition, Jeff introduces the theme and featured speakers for the 39th EPC General Assembly, June 19-21, 2019, at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Denver.

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.

Summer Mission Jam a unique outreach opportunity for high school students

 
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Hamtramck, Mich., is one of two Detroit-area sites of EPC World Outreach’s 2019 Summer Mission Jam.

What are you doing this summer? Summer Mission Jam is a new, entry-level missions and outreach equipping conference for high school students. Participants will serve among Lebanese, Bangladeshi, Yemeni, Iraqi, and Pakistani peoples in the Detroit, Mich., suburbs of Dearborn and Hamtramck from July 8-13, 2019.

“Summer Mission Jam is an amazing opportunity for churches, big and small, to invest in their students as they learn more about Muslims and how to interact in a way that is loving and beneficial for the Kingdom,” said Shawn Stewart, EPC World Outreach Mobilization Coordinator. “In the mornings and afternoons, students will learn how to ‘bridge the gap’ with Muslims and be the fragrance of Jesus through instructive teaching and service opportunities. In the evenings, we’ll worship together around God’s Word.”

The event begins on Monday evening, July 8, and concludes on Saturday, July 13. Registration is $450 per student and includes meals and accommodations.

“Step out and be a part of something new in the EPC,” said Phil Linton, Director of EPC World Outreach. “We are positive it will impact your world and give you new ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus in your own communities.”

Click here for more information and to register, or see www.epcwo.org/summermissionjam.

39th General Assembly planning continues, speakers include Andrew and Norine Brunson

 
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Members of the EPC’s GA Core Team from the Office of the General Assembly met with staff and leaders of Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in suburban Denver, Colo., on January 29. Cherry Creek is hosting the 39th General Assembly, June 19-21.

The 39th General Assembly will be held at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Englewood, Colo., June 19-21, 2019. The theme of this year’s Assembly is “Unstoppable” based on Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 7:7 to “keep on asking…keep on seeking…keep on knocking.”

Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, said the theme has multiple applications to the EPC in 2019.

“‘Unstoppable’ reflects the unstoppable gospel and our unstoppable Lord,” he said. “In addition, through Andrew Brunson’s ordeal in Turkey we experienced ‘unstoppable’ in a tangible way for two years as we lived in a season of unstoppable prayer for Andrew’s release.”

Jeremiah noted that when discussions began for a theme for the 39th Assembly, Brunson was still being held in Turkey.

“We prayed fervently that Andrew would be out of prison before the 2019 Assembly, but if the Lord had other plans we wanted to ensure that we were reiterating an ‘unstoppable’ force of prayer for him and Norine.”

The Brunsons are among the speakers at this year’s Assembly. Andrew will be the Leadership Institute plenary speaker on Wednesday morning, June 19, and preach on Thursday evening, June 20, during the World Outreach Global Worker Commissioning worship service. Norine will speak at the Ministry Wives’ Lunch on Thursday, June 20.

Other worship service speakers include Brad Strait, Pastor of Cherry Creek; Chris Piehl, Pastor of Students and Families for Cherry Creek; and Tom Werner, Moderator of the 38th General Assembly. Additional speakers, including Leadership Institute breakout session leaders, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Registration for the 39th General Assembly opens April 1. For more information, see www.epc.org/ga2019.

2018-19 Book of Order now available

 

BookOfOrderFacebookOverrideThe spiral-bound, printed edition of the 2018-19 Book of Order is now available for purchase through EPC Resources.

The cost per book is $7.91 plus shipping.

“I am excited about this new Book of Order,” said Jerry Iamurri, Assistant Stated Clerk. It provides clarity on several key issues that we’ve been working on over the last several years.”

This 254-page document is Volume 1 of the EPC Constitution and includes amendments to the Book of Order and Rules for Assembly ratified by the 38th General Assembly (2018), as well as Acts of the 38th 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.

“We highly recommended that each Pastor and Clerk of Session obtain a copy of this latest version,” Iamurri added.

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.”

 

Revelation 7:9 Task Force continues “listening tour”

 

Revelation79JanuaryMeetingMembers of the EPC’s Revelation 7:9 Task Force continue to study how the EPC can better become a denomination that faithfully embraces and serves its neighbors from every nation, tribe, people, and language as described Revelation 7:9. The group met at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando, February 5-6.

Continuing its focus on “input” during its first year, the group spent a significant portion of its meeting in discussions with individuals outside the EPC. These include Léonce Crump, Pastor of the multicultural Renovation Church in Atlanta, Ga.; Michael Chen, National Director of Training and Cross-Cultural Ministry for the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO); and Michael Thornhill, CCO Associate Director of Cross-Cultural Ministry and Recruiting. The CCO is a strategic partner of the EPC.

“The hard and heavy work of listening—and listening well—is helped considerably by the support of friends and partners like Pastor Léonce and the CCO,” said Dean Weaver, Pastor of Memorial Park Presbyterian Church in suburban Pittsburgh, Pa. “I know I speak on behalf of the entire Revelation 7:9 team when I ask everyone in the EPC to please keep us in your prayers as we continue this important work.”

The Task Force is co-chaired by Weaver and TE Rufus Smith, Presbytery of the West. Members are TE Tom Clymer, Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic; TE Marc de Jeu, Presbytery of the Alleghenies; TE David Dwight, Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic; RE Enid Flores, Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean; Phyllis Le Peau, Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes; TE Soon Pak, Presbytery of the Midwest; Beth Paz, Presbytery of the Pacific Southwest; Brandon Queen, Presbytery of the Gulf South; TE Tim Russell, Presbytery of the Central South; RE Tom Werner, Presbytery of Mid-America; and Ted Winters, Presbytery of Mid-America.

 

 

Andrew and Norine Brunson to attend State of the Union address

 
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Andrew and Norine Brunson, pictured preparing to leave Turkey in October 2018.

EPC Teaching Elder Andrew Brunson and his wife, Norine, will attend the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., on February 5. The North Carolina natives will be guests of U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). Tillis worked to help secure the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was held in Turkey for two years on charges of terrorism and espionage. Though innocent of the charges, he was convicted on October 12, 2018. He was released on the equivalent of time served and returned to the United States, where he met with President Donald Trump at the White House on October 13.

“The Brunsons demonstrated tremendous grace and unshakable faith during Andrew’s nearly two-year imprisonment and house arrest,” Tillis said in a statement released February 4. “His plight caused Americans from every corner to pray for his release and for leaders in both political parties to work together to apply pressure on the Turkish government to secure his return to American soil. It’s an incredible feeling that nearly one year after I first met Pastor Andrew Brunson in a Turkish prison, where he faced an effective life sentence, I now have the honor of welcoming him and his wife, Norine, as my special guests to the State of the Union.”

Trump will deliver the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House of Representatives Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building. The address is scheduled to begin at 9:00 p.m. EST.

Effective Biblical Leadership the topic of January Jeremiah Journal

 

In the January 2019 edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah discusses why Effective Biblical Leadership is a strategic priority for 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 EPConnection and the EPC’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

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

National Leadership Team’s January meeting focuses on strategic planning

 
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The EPC National Leadership Team prayed for Tom Ricks (second from left, standing), Chair of the EPC Church Planting Team, as well as for each EPC church planter by name. Standing with Ricks are (left to right) Moderator-elect Case Thorp, Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah, and Moderator Tom Werner.

At its January 2019 meeting, the EPC National Leadership Team (NLT) addressed a variety of topics related to its scope of overseeing the continuing work of the General Assembly between stated meetings. The winter meeting—held January 22-23 at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando—is one of four in-person gatherings each year and largely focuses on strategic planning.

Central to the meeting agenda was a review of the EPC mission and vision statements,  and the four strategic initiatives of global movement, transformation, multiplication, and effective biblical leadership. Robust discussion of the EPC’s commitment to each of the four emphases resulted in a minor change in terminology from “strategic initiatives” to “strategic priorities.”

“The word ‘initiative’ can be thought of as ‘something we do for a season,’ but ‘priority’ better conveys how we approach these four areas,” said Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah. “The NLT wanted to make it clear that the EPC remains committed to transformation, multiplication, and the others—however they may be implemented—and they are not going away any time soon.”

As part of the review and discussion of the multiplication priority, Tom Ricks reported on denominational church planting efforts. Ricks is Chair of the EPC Church Planting Team. He described several new churches that are in the pipeline, as well as efforts to foster community and share best practices among church planters at the annual Church Planters Retreat held in Colorado Springs each October.

For more information on EPC church planting, see www.epc.org/churchplanting.

The next meeting of the National Leadership Team is scheduled for April 9-10.

Nación Santa in Haines City, Fla., celebrates particularization as state’s first Spanish-speaking EPC congregation

 
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Leslee Quiñones (center) leads worship during Nación Santa’s celebration service on January 20, 2019. To her right is Pastor Luis Quiñones; to her left is Case Thorp, Senior Associate for First Presbyterian Church in Orlando.

Nación Santa (Holy Nation Church) in Haines City, Fla., celebrated particularization on Sunday, January 20, as the newest congregation in the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean.

“I want to say ‘Thank you’ to the presbytery and the EPC,” Pastor Luis Quiñones told the gathering of more than 100 members and guests. “To God be the glory; we made it!”

The multi-national congregation—the first Spanish-speaking EPC church in Florida—has members from Chile, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico. Nación Santa started as a mission church in Kissimmee in 2008, and relocated to the campus of First Presbyterian Church in Haines City in 2014. In early 2017, Quiñones approached David Swanson, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, about leaving their denomination and coming under the oversight of FPCO and the EPC’s Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean.

“When we remember how we started our relationship with (FPCO), we have to say that God was moving in material ways,” Quiñones said. “Thank you for your love and support. You are one of us.”

Case Thorp, FPCO Senior Associate Pastor and EPC Moderator-elect, delivered a message from Philemon in which he asked the question, “What does it mean to be evangelical?”

Referencing verse 19, in which Paul reminds Philemon that he owes Paul “his very self,” Thorp posed two questions.

“Who do you owe? Who told you about Jesus?” he asked. “But further, who owes their life in Jesus to you because of your life and ministry? Who are you teaching and bringing up in Jesus?”

He noted that the answer to the second question “is why we are evangelical.”

In addition to Thorp, other guests included FPCO Ruling Elders Chris Phillips and Chris Morgan; Mike Gillett, Moderator-elect of the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean; and Juan Rivera, pastor of Iglesia Presbiteriana Westminster in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. Rivera delivered the installation charge to Nación Santa’s first class of Ruling Elders— Esther Duque, Adalberto Negrón, Reinaldo Perez, and Kelvin Velez.

 

EPC pastors share victories and challenges, strengthen connectionalism

 

Pastors500-1000Pastors who lead EPC churches with membership of 500-1000 meet each January for networking, fellowship, community, and sharing best practices. At this year’s gathering, held January 16-18 at the Office of the General Assembly, 16 of these pastors discussed a variety of topics relevant to their ministries and settings.

Elder shepherding and discipling, discerning vision, strategic planning, leading through seasons of spiritual attack, self- and staff care, and the blessings and potential pitfalls of a congregation becoming more multi-cultural sparked rich discussion.

Mark Fuller, Pastor of Trinity Church in Plymouth, Mich., said the gathering “is the most encouraging thing I do all year. It is so refreshing to spend this time with peers; I go back home each year excited about how God is going to use what I get from being with this group.”

Others attending were Adam Barr, Peace Church in Middleville, Mich.; Scott Castleman, First Presbyterian Church in Ocean Springs, Miss.; Jeff Chandler, First Presbyterian Church in Bakersfield, Calif.; Scott Farmer, Community Presbyterian Church in Danville, Calif.; Bryan Gregory, Knox Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, Mich.; David Henderson, Covenant Church in West Lafayette, Ind., Scott Koenigsaecker, Sequim Community Church in Sequim, Wash.; Jeff Moore, First Presbyterian Church in Aurora, Ill.; Tony Myers, St. Paul’s EPC in Somerset, Pa.; Robert Perkins, Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church in Moraga, Calif.; Carolyn Poteet, Mt. Lebanon EPC in Pittsburgh, Pa.; Doug Resler, Parker EPC in Parker, Colo.; Tom Ricks, Greentree Community Church in Kirkwood, Mo.; Jeremy Vaccaro, First Presbyterian Church in Fresno, Calif.; and Richard White, Christ Community Church in Montreat, N.C.

Women’s Resource Council meets in Orlando

 
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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.

Goal reached for Andrew Brunson recuperation fund

 
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Andrew and Norine Brunson, pictured as they are leaving Turkey on October 12, 2018.

Editor’s note: This article replaces an earlier version that contained potentially sensitive information.

As of January 2, the goal for the EPC’s “Welcome Back, Andrew!” Fund has been met. Donations to the fund will be used to assist Andrew and Norine Brunson in their recovery from their ordeal in Turkey. The Brunsons returned to the United States on October 13, 2018, following Andrew’s two-year imprisonment on charges of terrorism and espionage.

When the fund was launched in October, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah said the fund would be closed to new donations when the target was reached.

“I know I speak for Andrew and Norine—and Christ Community Church—that starting 2019 knowing that Andrew’s year of recovery is fully funded is an enormous blessing,” Jeremiah said. “I am thankful for so many churches and individuals who gave sacrificially so Andrew and Norine can have this time to recover and seek what God has for them in their next chapter of ministry.”

Andrew is serving as Missionary-in-Residence at Christ Community Church in Montreat, N.C.—his and Norine’s home church. Gifts to the fund are financing the position (which was designed and created specifically for the Brunsons) for one year. Donations to the fund will cover court costs Andrew incurred with his conviction in Turkey of terrorism charges; relocation expenses; a travel allowance to help the Brunsons reconnect with their adult children (who live in three different parts of the U.S.); and seek medical and spiritual assistance as needed.

Merry Christmas from Jeff Jeremiah and the Office of the General Assembly staff

 

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We wish you a blessed Christmas! Left to right: Jeff Jeremiah, Wosene Scott, Phil Linton, Jerry Iamurri, Samantha Arcara, Jason Dunn, Catherine Rutter, Phil VanValkenburg, Jan Kelley, Cassie Shultz, Kristi Jeffcoat, Joan Smith, Pat Coelho, Zenaida Bermudez, Edward McDowell, Rebeca Santana, Bart Francescone, Caroline Swanson. Not pictured: Marti Brenner, Brian Smith.

December Jeremiah Journal offers Christmas greetings

 

In the December edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah brings Christmas greetings on behalf of the staff of the Office of the 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.