Category Archives: World Outreach

Commissioners to 38th General Assembly approve Pastoral Letter on Human Sexuality, re-elect Stated Clerk, propose Commissioned Pastor revision

 

GA2018BannerCommissioners to the EPC’s 38th General Assembly approved 26 recommendations, declined two others, and for procedural reasons took no action on an additional five. The Assembly was held June 19-22 at Hope Church in suburban Memphis, Tenn.

TomWerner

Tom Werner, 38th GA Moderator

Recommendations that were approved include a Pastoral Letter on Human Sexuality, the re-election of Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah to a new three-year term, proposed changes to the role of Commissioned Pastor, and more. Commissioners also welcomed seven new churches to the EPC since last year’s Assembly; elected Tom Werner, Ruling Elder from Greentree Community Church in St. Louis, Mo., as Moderator; and elected Case Thorp, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean, as Moderator-Elect. Thorp serves as Senior Associate Pastor for First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Fla.

Pastoral Letter on Human Sexuality approved

The Pastoral Letter on Human Sexuality is a companion document to the Position Paper on Human Sexuality that was approved by the 36th General Assembly in 2016 and ratified by the 37th Assembly in 2017. The 36th General Assembly, meeting at Ward Church in Livonia, Mich., also approved the formation of an interim committee to write the Pastoral Letter. The committee held several listening sessions at the 37th General Assembly in Sacramento. The preliminary draft was released in January 2018 to Teaching Elders and Sessions for comment.

Sandy Willson, Interim Committee Chair, reported that the draft also was sent to “select outsiders who have particular expertise, training, and personal experiences that would qualify them to provide feedback. The men and women consulted included persons with personal and professional experiences with same-sex attraction, physical and sexual abuse, terminal degrees in counseling, and experience in theological education.”

The Letter was approved by unanimous vote of the Assembly.

Commissioned Pastor expansion proposed

The recommendation to expand the role of Commissioned Pastor was presented by the EPC’s Interim Committee on Ministerial Education (ICME), with the affirmation of both the permanent Ministerial Vocation Committee (MVC) and the Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC). If ratified by the EPC’s presbyteries, the recommendation will allow a Commissioned Pastor to serve on a church staff that has an ordained Teaching Elder serving as Pastor.

A Commissioned Pastor is a Ruling Elder who has been temporarily authorized by a presbytery and given the authority of a Teaching Elder. The role was previously reserved only for a congregation without a Pastor, mission churches, church plants, or chaplaincy roles in hospitals, hospices, prisons, or other institutions.

Michael Flake, MVC Chair reported approximately 40 Commissioned Pastors currently serve in the EPC.

“Almost all of these serve in their home church,” he said. “These are churches that do not have a Pastor, and one of their Ruling Elders will agree to be examined by the presbytery and become a Commissioned Pastor.”

He said one of the benefits of a Commissioned Pastor is that a church with this type of stable leadership is more likely to not only stabilize but also become healthy and grow to the extent that they can then call a Teaching Elder.

“Unfortunately,” Flake said, “in our current way of doing things when that happens the Commissioned Pastor is out of a job because we have no provision for having a Commissioned Pastor in a church with a Teaching Elder.”

Allowing a church to have both a Teaching Elder and a Commissioned Pastor “would continue to recognize the calling that God has placed in certain Ruling Elders’ lives—acknowledging what God is already doing,” Flake said, adding that it also could help with pastoral burnout by giving a Teaching Elder an opportunity to have a Ruling Elder step in and help with certain pastoral duties. He emphasized that a Commissioned Pastor would still be subject to the approval of the presbytery.

ICME Chair Fred Lian noted that the recommendation allows the presbytery—which can mandate theological continuing education for the Commissioned Pastor—to “invest in our Ruling Elders who have been called to a more fuller role of ministry to their churches and their communities.”

Because the Assembly-approved recommendation proposes changes to the EPC’s Book of Government, it is now Descending Overture 18A. Each of the EPC’s 14 presbyteries will vote on the Overture at their winter 2018 meeting, having discussed it at their fall meeting. Presbyteries may debate its substance, but the Overture may not be amended. To be presented for adoption at the 39th General Assembly, 11 of the 14 presbyteries must approve the Overture.

Stated Clerk re-elected

JeffJeremiah

Jeff Jeremiah

Jeremiah was elected to a fifth term as Stated Clerk. He has served as the EPC’s Chief Executive Officer since 2006.

“I am so very grateful to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me this ministry that you have just confirmed for three more years,” Jeremiah said following his unanimous re-election. “This will be my last term as the Stated Clerk. In the next three years, I will do all that I can to help prepare for the future of the EPC. I love you, and want God’s very best for you—and for us—when I lay this ministry down.”

He challenged the “Boomers” in attendance—those born between the early 1940s through the mid-1960s—to support, mentor, encourage, and champion the younger men and women in the EPC.

“We must do this if we are going to secure the future of the EPC as a mighty instrument used by God for the expansion of His Kingdom in this place and around the world,” Jeremiah said.

He said his other goal in his last term was to continue to work on behalf on Andrew Brunson. He referenced Luke 18—where Jesus addresses the issue of counting the cost—reflecting on the nearly two years since the EPC Teaching Elder was imprisoned in Turkey.

“How could we have counted the cost then, when we had no idea what was ultimately going to happen and how long this would take?” he asked. “The only answer I have is that there some tasks that our Lord calls us to, and we do them. I will admit that this task has been costly, but I bear that cost knowing that it is what God has called me to.”

Jeremiah described his relationships with numerous U.S. Government officials that he has developed over the 20 months since Brunson’s incarceration.

“I have been amazed by the doors the Lord has opened for us in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “But we know the only open door that matters is the door of the plane through which Andrew and Norine come back to the United States. Until that day comes, we will not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time will reap a harvest if we will not give up. I have spoken for all of us when I have repeatedly assured Andrew and Norine that we will never give up. Never.”

New interim committee to be appointed

Commissioners authorized Moderator Tom Werner to appoint an interim committee “to study how the EPC can better become a denomination that faithfully embraces and serves our neighbors from every nation, tribe, people, and language (Revelation 7:9).”

The recommendation came from the National Leadership Team (NLT), which explained the rationale for the committee in its report to the Assembly:

“At its January 2018 meeting, the NLT spent considerable time discussing where God is calling the EPC in the next decade. One of the areas in which the NLT believes we can improve as a denomination is in our efforts to minister to the diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural communities that surround many of our churches and that the Lord calls us to serve.”

Scott Griffin, NLT Chair, said the goal is to “make our denomination look more like the neighborhoods where God has planted us.”

The recommendation was unanimously approved by the Standing Committee on Administration, and added to an omnibus consent motion.

Budget, special projects approved

The total approved Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19—July 2018 through June 2019) budget for EPC operating expenses is $2,669,231. This amount includes $438,199 in direct funding of the four strategic initiatives—$92,690 for Church Revitalization; $182,680 for Church Planting; $121,290 for Effective Biblical Leadership; and $41,539 for Global Movement. In addition, 20 percent of Per Member Asking (PMA) contributions to the EPC support Global Movement in the form of funding the overall ministry of World Outreach. Funding for the strategic initiatives was added to the EPC operating budget in the FY2018 budget; they previously were funded through undesignated cash reserves since their 2014 inception.

The Assembly also approved a variety of Special Projects for FY19, which are supported outside of per-member-asking (PMA) but would be fully funded if each EPC church contributed an additional $5.62 per member above the PMA target of $23 per member.

In other administration-related business, commissioners approved:

  • A recommendation that shifts approval of applications to the EPC Church Loan Fund from the EPC Foundation to the NLT Finance Committee.
  • The EPC Restated Articles of Incorporation and Corporate Bylaws. These documents stem from a liability study undertaken in 2014. That study led to a corporate restructure of the EPC in which World Outreach and Benefit Resources, Inc., were separated as legal entities from the EPC ecclesiastical body, but remained under the oversight of the General Assembly.
  • A recommendation that ordained ministers drawing retirement income from the EPC 403(b)(9) Defined Contribution Retirement Plan be allowed to designate up to 100 percent of their retirement income for housing allowance.

New committee and board members elected

In addition to the election of Werner as Moderator and Thorp as Moderator-elect, the Assembly elected the following individuals to fill vacancies on the EPC’s permanent committees and boards as others complete their terms of service (TE denotes Teaching Elder. RE denotes Ruling Elder. * denotes second term.):

Benefit Resources, Inc., Board of Directors: RE Robert Draughon*, Presbytery of the Central South; Michael Moore, Presbytery of the Central South; TE Bill Reisenweaver, Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean.

Committee on Chaplains Work and Care: TE Greg Holman, Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic; TE Jennifer Prechter, Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean; TE David Snyder*, Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic; RE Richard Swedberg*, Presbytery of the West; TE Brad Yorton, Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest.

Committee on Church Planting and Revitalization: RE Franklin Carter*, Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic. (Carter was not seated due to Assembly approval of Recommendation GA38-14 to disband the Committee on Church Planting and Revitalization.)

EPC Foundation Board: RE Ben Borsay, Presbytery of the Midwest; Mark Eibel, Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest; RE John Graham, Presbytery of the Southeast.

Committee on Fraternal Relations: RE Carol Culbertson, Presbytery of the West; TE Don Fortson, Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic.

Committee on Ministerial Vocation: RE Neal McAtee*, Presbytery of the Central South; RE Caroline Tromble*, Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes.

National Leadership Team: RE Phil Fanara*, Presbytery of the East; RE Michael Gibson*, Presbytery of the Great Plains; RE Rob Liddon*, Presbytery of the Central South; RE Rosemary Lukens*, Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest.

Next Generation Ministries Council: Greg Aydt, Presbytery of the West; Meg DeHaven, Presbytery of the East; TE Andrew Mills, Presbytery of the Gulf South; RE Becky Shultz, Presbytery of the West; Ryan Suzuki, Presbytery of the Pacific Southwest.

Nominating Committee: RE Marion Bradshaw, Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes; TE Larry Carlson, Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest; RE Susan Humphreys, Presbytery of Mid-America; RE Joe McCoy, Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic; TE David Ricketts, Presbytery of the Pacific Southwest; TE Wayne Hardy, Presbytery of the Great Plains.

Permanent Judicial Commission: RE Amanda Cowan, Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean; RE Don Flater*, Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes; TE Dana Opp*, Presbytery of the Alleghenies.

Presbytery Review Committee: RE Cecil Matthews*, Presbytery of the West.

Committee on Theology: TE Ron DiNunzio, Presbytery of the East; TE Ryan Mowen, Presbytery of the Alleghenies.

Women’s Resource Council: TE Sharon Beekman*, Presbytery of the West; TE Mary Brown*, Presbytery of the Great Plains; RE Lynn Burdge, Presbytery of the Central South; Anita Campbell, Presbytery of the Alleghenies.

World Outreach Committee: TE Chris Bear, Presbytery of the East; TE Rick Dietzman, Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest; RE Patrick Tucker*, Presbytery of the Central South.

Other business items

Several other items of business were unanimously approved without discussion. Those items were:

  • Ratifying Descending Overtures 17-A, 17-B, 17-C, and 17-D. Overture 17-A amended the Book of Government sections 9-6A and 10-8B.2a, bringing consistency to the wording of the two sections by specifying the term of service for an out-of-bounds call as a renewable term of up to three years. Overture 17-B amended the Book of Government sections 21-2D.2e and f, expanding areas of ongoing authority that may be given to the Ministerial Committee at the discretion of the presbytery. Overture 17-C amended the Book of Government section 10-7 by creating and defining the called position of Transitional Pastor. Overture 17-D amended the Book of Government section 9-5A.1 for consistency with section 10-7 to clarify that all calls to Teaching Elders must be approved by the presbytery. Each of these overtures were approved by the 38th General Assembly, and subsequently approved by the presbyteries at their winter 2017-18 meetings.
  • Giving the permanent Fraternal Relations Committee the authority to develop a fraternal relationship with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, as well as the authority to appoint EPC representatives to engage with groups where participation of the Stated Clerk is not necessary.
  • Disbanding the permanent Church Planting and Revitalization Committee (CPRC). The CPRC stated in its report to the Assembly that the successful implementation of the Church Planting Team under the leadership of Tom Ricks and the Church Revitalization Task Force (now known as the GO Center led by Ken Priddy) since 2012 and 2013, respectively, made the CPRC “superfluous and no longer necessary.”
  • Re-assigning Benton, Washington, Crawford, and Sebastian counties in northwest Arkansas from the Presbytery of the Central South to the Presbytery of the Great Plains.
  • Approving Operation Mobilization as an approved Cooperative Mission Agency, Timothy Two as an approved Mission Agency, and Equip International as an approved Mission Agency of EPC’s World Outreach.
  • Supplementing the EPC Foundation Board with at least one volunteer representative from each presbytery. These volunteers would help expand awareness of the Foundation’s services as they speak to churches and individuals in their presbyteries.
  • Approving the minutes of the National Leadership Team, Next Generation Ministries Council, Women’s Resource Council, and permanent committees on Church Planting and Revitalization, Fraternal Relations, Ministerial Vocation, and World Outreach.
  • Approving the minutes of the 14 EPC presbyteries (with some minor exceptions requiring response to the permanent Presbytery Review Committee by December 31, 2018).
  • Accepting the invitation from Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo., to host the 39th General Assembly in June 2019.

Bart Hess Award for church growth and revitalization

The annual Bart Hess Award for church growth and revitalization was presented to Restoration Church in Munford, Tenn. for their revitalization efforts. Mike Gibson is the Pastor, and the congregation joined the EPC in 2010.

Limited by a sanctuary built in 1911 and now landlocked with no parking or expansion room, the church was experiencing only incremental, transfer growth and not reaching the unchurched in its community.

“We weren’t expanding the Kingdom, we were just rearranging the sheep,” Gibson said, noting that he and his leadership team undertook a study of its community to address the issue. “We wanted to know what kind of needs they had and what we could do to minister to them, and what were we doing or not doing to attract them or be a total disinterest to them.”

In response to what the study revealed about the church and the community, the congregation changed its name to Restoration Church, adopted a contemporary worship style, and developed a ministry to families.

“A lot of the people around us had been through a divorce but were very family-oriented,” he said. “They were very concerned about not repeating what had happened in their homes that resulted in divorce. And they were very interested in receiving help.”

Jeff Jeremiah affirmed the church’s willingness to not only ask hard questions about its health and ministry to its community, but also its effort to make changes in response to the answers they received.

“Under Mike’s leadership, lives are being redeemed, revived, and restored through the ministry of Restoration Church and I am thrilled that their hard work has been recognized by the entire EPC,” he said.

Church Planting Team highlights growth in plants, networks

In addition to business recommendations voted on by commissioners, the EPC’s interim and permanent committees and boards presented reports to the Assembly on their work over the past year.

TomRicks

Tom Ricks

Tom Ricks, Chair of the Church Planting Team (CPT), reported 43 active EPC church plants in 16 states. He also reported at least three churches “went from being a church plant to being a localized congregation, which is the ultimate goal—getting them to stand on their own two feet and then multiply themselves by planting other new churches.”

Ricks reported two church planting networks currently, with two more in development. Ricks noted that one of these networks, in St. Louis, Mo., was formed by five EPC churches in the Presbytery of Mid-America. “We have bound together and have committed our resources and energies for the sole purpose of planting churches in the city of St. Louis—not in the county or in the surrounding area but in the urban part of the community.”

He also noted seven active church plants in underserved neighborhoods around the country. Ricks emphasizing that the CPT is looking at not only underserved neighborhoods, but also unreached areas—particularly in the northeast and on the West Coast.

“These are a couple of areas in our country where there is tremendous opportunity in a post-Christian era to plant churches and share the gospel.”

Additional church planting activities described in the Church Planting and Revitalization Committee’s printed report to the Assembly included:

  • A new church plant in an area of Nashville, Tenn., with an 80-percent minority population.
  • An Hispanic church plant in Charlotte, N.C., launched by Lake Forest Church in Hendersonville, N.C., in partnership with the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INPM). The EPC signed a church-planting partnership with the INPM in 2016, and the Charlotte congregation will be led by a church planter from Mexico.
  • Church of the Resurrection in New Orleans, La., launched in 2017 by the Gulf Coast Church Planting Network.
  • The inaugural “church planting cohort” designed to encourage and equip EPC church planters, and led by Bart Garrett, Lead Pastor of Christ Church East Bay in Berkeley, Calif.

Ricks, Teaching Elder in the Presbytery of Mid-America, is Pastor of Greentree Community Church in St. Louis, Mo.

GO Center describes revitalization tools, new funding model

KenPriddy

Ken Priddy

Ken Priddy, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic and Director of the EPC GO Center, provided the report for the GO Center, the primary EPC vehicle for church revitalization. He explained that the GO Center is an equipping ministry “that engages and empowers pastors, church leaders, and congregations to move forward into greater health and vitality—to revitalize—through training, consulting, coaching, and assessing.”

He said each of the EPC’s 600-plus churches “is at the epicenter of a domestic mission field,” noting that the people in these missions fields are not simply lost; they are missing from the family of God. “They are waiting for the gospel to get to them,” he said. “The question is, ‘How and when will our churches take the gospel out?’ That is the question that the GO Center seeks to answer.”

Priddy reported that 12 of the EPC’s 14 presbyteries now has a volunteer GO Center Coordinator, who serves as a link between the GO Center and the needs and interests of the presbyteries. Priddy also said that more than 30 volunteers have been trained to serve as GO Center Vision Team Coaches. Coaches work with a local church Vision Team to encourage and assist those teams through implementation of the GO Center training in their local context. He also said new training materials have been created and implemented.

A further area of emphasis over the past year has been the development of relevant metric tools to assess the health of participating churches and their progress through the GO Center’s revitalization process.

Finally, Priddy reported a shift in the ministry’s funding structure for the future. He said the GO Center has been incorporated as its own 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and effective July 1, 2018, will receive funding from three streams. The first is continued, though reduced, support from the EPC administrative budget. The second is a fee structure  attached to the ministry services provided, Third will be donor funding solicited by the GO Center through the EPC Foundation.

World Outreach reports progress, sets goals

PhilLinton

Phil Linton

Phil Linton, Director of World Outreach (WO), noted four major accomplishments since the 2017 Assembly in Sacramento:

  • The WO global worker assessment and approval process was completely revised.
  • A thorough mid-term evaluation of Engage 2025 was completed, and Engage 2025 Team Leaders (and their families) were brought together and given new tools, resources, and training to carry out their task.
  • A manual for International Business as Mission (IBAM) was developed and approved.
  • Multi-year Ministry Plans were developed to deliver specific goods and services to our International Theological Education Network partners.

Linton said IBAM will be a major focus for the coming year.

“This past year has seen the maturation of a process in laying the groundwork, and this is the year we want to see that implemented,” he said. “Our goal is to have six hubs for business professionals across the country to incubate and take advantage of the business acumen, counsel, and energy of business people in the EPC.”

He shared a second goal for IBAM of having two entrepreneurial business professionals joining the World Outreach team in the next year.

Linton also reported that the goal he shared at the 2017 General Assembly in Sacramento—11 new global workers commissioned at this year’s Assembly—was nearly met. Seven families and one single candidate were appointed by World Outreach Committee in the last 12 months.

“We still need to provide reinforcements for our Engage 2025 pioneer church planting teams,” Linton told the 2018 Assembly. He said World Outreach will be praying and working to have six new global workers commissioned next year to join existing Engage 2025 teams serving in the Muslim world.

#epc2018ga

38th GA World Outreach activities celebrate God’s work in the world

 

GA2018BannerMore than 50 EPC World Outreach global workers and staff are registered to attend the 38th General Assembly, June 19-22 at Hope Church in suburban Memphis, Tenn. Don’t miss the opportunity to get to know the ministries of World Outreach and its global workers! World Outreach activities and meetings include, but are not limited to:

Tuesday Leadership Institute: Building Blocks of a Missional Church
This seminar is geared to ignite your church to missional living and also help build a missional DNA within your congregation. God’s heart is for the nations, and we are all given the opportunity to participate in this work using our many different talents.

Tuesday Evening World Outreach Banquet
This year’s World Outreach banquet will honor Greg and Sally Livingstone, who helped start Operation Mobilization in the 1960s, directed the U.S. office of North Africa Mission in the 1970s, founded Frontiers in the 1980s, and now serve as EPC World Outreach Senior Advisors. The guest speaker is Bob Blincoe, President of Frontiers USA. Also featured will be “stories from the mission field” presented by World Outreach global workers serving overseas.

Wednesday Networking Lunch: Where in the World are You Going?
Need ideas for short-term mission projects for your church? Join us to discover what other EPC churches are doing, exchange information and ideas, and create an opportunity for new partnerships to begin. If you have a short-term opportunity to share, contact Shawn Stewart at shawn.s@epcwo.org.

Wednesday Dinner: Global Worker Presentations
For those who purchased tickets for Wednesday dinner, come hear World Outreach global workers describe how God is using and blessing their work among people groups who have little or no access to the gospel.

Thursday Dinner: Global Worker Meet-and-Greet
Join us for dinner and meet your World Outreach global workers, including our newest appointees who will be presented to the Assembly in the worship service following dinner.

Thursday Evening Worship with Global Worker Commissioning
The featured speaker for the Thursday evening worship service is Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary. In addition, new World Outreach global workers will be commissioned. Please note that due to potential security concerns, the commissioning portion of this service will not be live streamed.

World Outreach exhibits
Many of our global workers will have displays about their ministries at the World Outreach exhibit area in the Main Lobby at Hope Church. Stop by any time between Tuesday and Friday afternoon and get acquainted!

For additional World Outreach events at this year’s General Assembly, including more Networking Lunches on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, see www.epc.org/ ga2018worldoutreachevents. If you have questions about any of these activities, contact Cassie Shultz at cassie.s@epcwo.org or 407-930-4313.

For details about the 38th General Assembly, including daily schedules, Assembly documents, and more, see www.epc.org/ga2018.

#epc2018ga

GA2018WO

 

World Outreach dinner to feature Bob Blincoe, honor Greg and Sally Livingstone

 

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BobBlincoe

Bob Blincoe

Bob Blincoe, President of Frontiers USA, is the guest speaker for this year’s World Outreach banquet in conjunction with the 38th General Assembly. The dinner and program will be held on Tuesday, June 19, at Hope Church in Cordova, Tenn.

In addition, Greg and Sally Livingstone will be honored for their lifetime sharing the love of Christ with and in the Muslim world. The Livingstones helped start Operation Mobilization in the 1960s, directed the U.S. office of North Africa Mission in the 1970s, founded Frontiers in the 1980s, and now serve as EPC World Outreach Senior Advisors. Greg is the author of several books, including You’ve Got Libya: A Life Serving the Muslim World and The Muslim World: A Presbyterian Mandate.

GregSallyLivingstone

Greg and Sally Livingstone

Phil Linton, Director of World Outreach, said GA attendees “won’t want to miss hearing John Piper, George Verwer, and Bob Blincoe tell the story of how God has used an EPC couple to change the missional course of the global Church.” Piper and Verwer will appear via pre-recorded video.

The banquet also will feature reports from several EPC global workers, who will tell stories of how God is working among the various people groups they serve.

For more information about the 38th General Assembly, including registration, daily schedules, other World Outreach activities, and more, see www.epc.org/ga2018. For details about the World Outreach Dinner, contact Cassie Shultz, World Outreach Assistant, at cassie.s@epcwo.org or 407-930-4313.

EPC short-term missions in 2018: Puerto Rico and beyond

 
ShawnStewart

Shawn Stewart

by Shawn Stewart
Coordinator of Mobilization,
EPC World Outreach

Puerto Rico…

Our EPC churches in Puerto Rico are right in the middle of neighborhoods that are still suffering from the effects of Hurricane Maria. The need for short-term mission teams in Puerto Rico has never been higher!

Our three EPC churches in Puerto Rico are now working with Praying Pelican Missions to assist EPC churches in sending short-term mission teams to the island. Will your church be one of them?

If you are interested, contact Kevin Gamradt of Praying Pelican Missions and let him know you are an EPC church interested in working with one or more of our EPC churches in Puerto Rico: Iglesia Presbiteriana Westminster-Bayamón in the San Juan area, or Iglesia Presbiteriana Evangélica en Añasco or Iglesia Presbiteriana Evangélica Mayagüez on the western part of the island.

They are seeking teams for spring, summer, and fall. These teams can be made up of youth, adults, or combined (it will be extremely helpful for at least one member of your team to be fluent in Spanish). And just for the record, in my best missiological speculation Praying Pelicans does missions well. They have genuine, year-round partnerships with the local church, and they work through the local church in their plans and efforts.

I will be in Puerto Rico in February to learn more, so watch for a follow-up report on the needs and opportunities.

and beyond…

EPC World Outreach tried to birth a 2018 summer mission trip for high school students to work among the Middle Eastern population (particularly Muslim) of Dearborn and Hamtramck, Michigan. Due to problems finding appropriate housing and a sending agency to help coordinate this, we have postponed our launch until 2019.

If you would be interested in helping us organize this—or a similar project in Fremont, Calif., among that city’s large Afghan population—please contact me at shawn.s@epcwo.org. I am particularly interested in talking to folks who would like to serve on a planning team.

Thank you for your prayerful consideration of these opportunities!

Support EPC World Outreach on Giving Tuesday

 

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The EPC and its missions arm, World Outreach, has joined the global social media initiative, #GivingTuesday, that seeks to counteract the consumerism of Black Friday and  Cyber Monday with a celebration of giving.

“World Outreach desires to be an organization that gives some of our most precious resources—the members of our EPC churches—to the least-reached and unengaged places of the world for the expansion of the Church and the glory of God,” said Phil Linton, Director of World Outreach. “On this day that emphasizes online charitable giving, we follow the path set before us from our Heavenly Father, who loved the world so much that He gave His only Son for it.”

Click here to participate in #GivingTuesday with your support of World Outreach global workers or special projects.

Thanksgiving offering to support World Outreach Family Gathering

 

2017ThanksgivingOfferingThe 2017 EPC Thanksgiving Offering has been designated for the World Outreach Family Gathering. To help facilitate contributions, a bulletin insert is available in printable pdf format on the EPC website.

Family Gathering, held every four years, is six days of fellowship, worship, and renewal for all World Outreach global workers. The 2018 Family Gathering will be held in Greece.

“These gatherings are a delightful respite for our workers, many of whom are lonely for Christian fellowship, or just plain weary from the demands of ministry in the Hard Places,” said Phil Linton, Director of World Outreach. “Contributions will augment the World Outreach Family Gathering budget and help pay for expenses such as travel, lodging, and food.”

The annual Thanksgiving Offering supports a project approved by the General Assembly each June, alternating between World Outreach and Church Planting and Revitalization.

For more information, contact World Outreach at wo@epcwo.org or 407-930-4328.

World Outreach Forum hotel deadline approaching

 

Forum2017The annual World Outreach Forum is coming to Orlando in November, and the deadline to secure the group hotel rate is October 13.

This year’s Forum will focus on “Mobilizing Our Churches for Global Movement” and features a look at ways EPC congregations can:

  • Directly engage unreached people groups nearby,
  • Impart vision to reach the lost through short-term mission trips, and
  • Strategically send their own sons and daughters long-term through Engage 2025.

The Forum is a time of training, vision casting, and alignment around the global focus of the EPC. It is a great opportunity for presbytery Missions/World Outreach Committee members, church mission directors, and other mission-minded laymen, working on projects such as Engage 2025 to sharpen and learn from each other.

The workshop will be held November 13-14 at the Marriott SpringHill Suites Orlando Airport, starting at 1:00 p.m. with lunch on Monday and concluding after lunch on Tuesday.

“Representatives from EPC churches at the cutting edge of missions will share their stories, and we’ll explore how World Outreach can help all of our congregations,” said Phil Linton, Director of EPC World Outreach.

The cost is $79 per person and includes registration, two lunches, and one dinner. Lodging is available for $129 per night through October 13. Hotel rates increase after that date.

For more information and to register and make hotel arrangements, see www.epcwo.org/forum or contact the World Outreach office at wo@epcwo.org.

World Outreach Forum to highlight ways to mobilize the local church

 

Forum2017The 2017 World Outreach Forum will address the topic of “Mobilizing our churches for global movement” by addressing ways EPC congregations can:

  • Impart vision to reach the lost through short-term mission trips,
  • Directly engage unreached people groups in their local communities, and
  • Strategically send their own sons and daughters long-term through Engage 2025.

The workshop will be held November 13-14 in Orlando, Fla., starting at 1:00 p.m. with lunch on Monday and concluding after lunch on Tuesday. Come and collaborate with presbytery and church mission leaders and the World Outreach U.S. Team for a time of sharing, vision casting, and alignment around the global focus of the EPC.

“The mission initiatives of our churches are a treasure, and the Forum is where we get to look at the crown jewels,” said Phil Linton, Director of EPC World Outreach.  “Representatives from EPC churches at the cutting edge of missions will share their stories, and we’ll explore how World Outreach can help our congregations.”

The cost is $79 per person and includes registration, two lunches, and one dinner. Lodging is available for $129 per night and the deadline to secure the group rate is October 13.

For more information and to register and make hotel arrangements, see www.epcwo.org/forum or contact the World Outreach office at wo@epcwo.org.

Meet World Outreach global workers at the 37th General Assembly

 

2017GAbannerRegOnlineMore than 50 World Outreach global workers and staff are registered to attend the 37th General Assembly, June 20-23 at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in Sacramento, Calif. Attendees have numerous opportunities to get to know them and their ministries.

WOlogoTuesday Evening World Outreach Banquet
This ticketed-only event on Tuesday, June 20, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. will feature “field reports” from WO global workers in Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia. The guest speaker for the evening is Emily Foreman, author of We Died Before We Came Here.

Wednesday Networking Lunch: Global Worker Meet-and-Greet
Grab a boxed lunch on Wednesday, June 21, in the Nelson Family Life Center Rec Hall and head to Conference Room C/D for the WO Global Worker Meet-And-Greet Networking Lunch from 12:00-1:30 p.m.

Wednesday Breakout Dinner: Global Worker Presentations
For those who purchased tickets for Wednesday dinner at Fair Oaks, join us in Conference Room B/C for a breakout dinner and hear ministry updates from Brian and Keri (East Asia), Asaph and Lynn (South Asia), Robert and Joyce (Middle East), David and Meg (Central Asia), and Chris and Kirsten (Europe).

Thursday Networking Lunch: International Theological Education Network
ITEN is World Outreach’s ministry to train global leaders so that they can train and send their own missionaries to unreached peoples. Join Bruce Anderson and Stephen Woodworth on Thursday, June 22, from 12:00-1:30 p.m. in the Family Life Center, Conference Room B, and hear inspiring stories, get information about ITEN sites developing around the world, share your ideas and experience, learn from specialists working in the field, and find out how you can be involved.

Thursday Networking Lunch: International Business as Mission
Grab a boxed lunch and come to Room 12 on the first floor of the Kids and Youth (KAY) Center on Thursday, June 22, from 12:00-1:30 p.m. and hear Randy H., an entrepreneur who has worked in Southeast Asia for 17 years; Harry T., an entrepreneur actively seeking God’s direction on how to be involved; and John M., World Outreach stateside IBAM global worker. This panel will explain how to use your business talents and experiences in mission; how to coach and mentor entrepreneurs and businesses; how to financially support business as mission; and how to do vocational workplace ministry in your own neighborhood.

Thursday Evening Worship
The featured speaker for the Thursday evening worship service, 7:30 p.m. in the Fair Oaks Worship Center, is World Outreach’s own Mike Kuhn. Kuhn serves as Lecturer in Discipleship and Biblical Theology for the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut, Lebanon. In addition, new World Outreach global workers will be commissioned. Please note that due to potential security concerns, the commissioning portion of this service will not be streamed.

Friday Networking Lunch: Sending our EPC Sons and Daughters
Historically, the pioneers from America to Korea, the Arab Middle East, Turkey, and Iran were Bible-soaked Presbyterians. World Outreach has embraced that challenge once again—sending long-term teams of 6-8 individuals to people groups without biblical churches and where very few nationals are able and willing to go. Who will you prepare and send from your church? Join Shawn Stewart and Greg Livingstone on Friday, June 23, from 12:00-1:30 p.m. in the Fair Oaks Family Life Center, Conference Room B.

World Outreach exhibit area
Many of our global workers will have displays about their ministries at the World Outreach exhibit area in the Nelson Family Life Center Rec Hall at Fair Oaks. Stop by any time between Tuesday and Friday afternoon and get acquainted!

  • Bruce Anderson, ITEN
  • Rob, Mobilization
  • John and Allison, Central Asia
  • Brian and Keri, East Asia
  • Asaph and Lynn, South Asia
  • David and Mindy Fenska, Mobilization
  • Chris and Debbie Gibson, Member Care
  • Alison, South Asia
  • Randy and Martha, Southeast Asia
  • Robert and Joyce, Middle East
  • Stephen Kelley, Muslim World
  • Jacqy, New Appointee
  • Greg and Karen, Muslim World
  • Mike, Middle East
  • Greg and Sally Livingstone, Mobilization
  • John and Jan, IBAM
  • Ed and Nan McCallum, ITEN
  • Mike and Tammy, Southeast Asia
  • Greg, Middle East
  • David and Meg, Central Asia
  • Elizabeth, Middle East
  • Shawn and Lisa Stewart, Mobilization
  • Phil Thrash, Mobilization
  • Dan Tidwell, Communications
  • Mark and MJ, Mobilization
  • David and Debbie Walker, Southeast Asia
  • Stephen Woodworth, ITEN
  • The Youngs, South Asia

Note: Some last names have been omitted for security reasons.

#epc2017ga

General Assembly Networking Lunches offer more than mid-day meal

 

2017GAbannerRegOnlineNetworking Lunches at the EPC 37th General Assembly provide opportunity for connecting with others with similar ministry interests on June 21-23 from 12:00-1:30 p.m. at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in Sacramento. For more information, including descriptions and meeting locations, see www.epc.org/ga2017networkinglunches

Wednesday, June 21

  • Church Planting (hosted by the EPC Church Planting Team)
  • For the Church, For the Generations (hosted by Reformed Youth Ministries)
  • How to Build a Contagious Church Culture (hosted by Vanderbloemen Search Group)
  • How to Make Progress on Leadership Challenges (hosted by PastorServe)
  • Joy Together in Ministry and Mission (hosted by Serge)
  • Jump-Starting Church Revitalization (hosted by the EPC GO Center)
  • Presbyterians Pro-Life (hosted by Presbyterians Pro-Life)
  • What Is the Westminster Confession? (hosted by the Westminster Society)
  • Who Is My Neighbor? (hosted by the EPC Women’s Resource Council)
  • World Outreach Global Worker Meet-and-Greet (hosted by EPC World Outreach)
  • Young Ministers in the EPC (hosted by the EPC Young Ministers Network)

Thursday, June 22

  • Building a Culture of Generosity (hosted by the EPC Foundation)
  • Conflict Management: What Seminary Never Taught You (hosted by Pastor-In-Residence Ministries)
  • EPC Benefits “Lunch and Learn: Retirement Plan Changes” (hosted by EPC Benefit Resources, Inc.)
  • International Theological Education Network (hosted by EPC World Outreach)
  • Reaching Millennials (hosted by the EPC GO Center)
  • Reaching the Next Generation of College Students for Christ (hosted by the Coalition for Christian Outreach)
  • Understanding Gender Dysphoria and the Transgender Experience (hosted by OnebyOne)
  • Who Will Lead After You? A Guide to Effective Succession Planning (hosted by Vanderbloemen Search Group)
  • Women Teaching Elders and Candidates (hosted by the EPC Office of the General Assembly)
  • World Outreach Needs Business Professionals (hosted by EPC World Outreach)

Friday, June 23

  • Clerks of Session (hosted by the EPC Presbytery of the Pacific)
  • Coaching Church Revitalization (hosted by the EPC GO Center)
  • Come to The Well: Women’s Ministries Resources (hosted by the EPC Women’s Resource Council)
  • Engaging Muslim Communities for Christ Through Literacy (hosted by Literacy and Evangelism International)
  • EPC Benefits “Lunch and Learn: Retirement Plan Changes” (hosted by EPC Benefit Resources, Inc.)
  • Growing Your Church Through Small Groups (hosted by Hope Church, Richmond, Va.)
  • How to Lead Your Team to Fulfill Your Church’s Vision (hosted by Vanderbloemen Search Group)
  • Leaders of Small Churches (hosted by the EPC Z–4:10 Network)
  • Sending Our EPC Sons and Daughters (hosted by EPC World Outreach)

GA World Outreach Dinner features missionary widowed by al Qaeda

 

WeDiedBeforeWeGotHereEmily Foreman, author of We Died Before We Came Here, is the featured guest speaker at this year’s World Outreach Dinner in conjunction with the 37th General Assembly. The dinner and program will be held on Tuesday, June 20, at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in Sacramento, Calif.

Foreman—which is a pseudonym due to security concerns—is a YWAM missionary in a Muslim country in North Africa where Christianity is illegal. Her husband was assassinated by Al Qaeda there, leaving her widowed with four children. She has since remarried and returned to North Africa with her family to reach Muslims for Christ, in addition to inspiring Christians across North America to see the Muslim world through a lens of faith.

Click here to listen to a 2016 interview with Foreman conducted by American Family Radio.

For more information about the 37th General Assembly, see www.epc.org/ga2017. For details about the World Outreach Dinner, contact Erin Rhoden, World Outreach Assistant, at erin.rhoden@epc.org or 407-930-4313.

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.

International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church set for November

 

idop2017While every Sunday is a good Sunday to remember our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ throughout the world who suffer for their faith, November 6 and 13 have been designated International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) by the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).

The WAE reports statistics showing persecution as “a daily reality of at least 100 million Christians around the world.” Now marking its 20th year, the IDOP has grown substantially and is observed in more than 100 countries. This year’s theme is “If one suffers we all suffer together” (1 Corinthians 12.26).

Free IDOP church resource kits are available online at www.opendoorsusa.org, www.idop.org, and www.persecution.com.

We believe that standing with—and praying for—persecuted Christians is part of God’s vision for the EPC. As a “global movement of churches,” we’re committed to:

  • The global mission of EPC World Outreach
  • Fraternal partnerships with other churches (for example, our recent partnership with the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico), and
  • Awareness of and solidarity with persecuted Christians.

September Jeremiah Journal provides strategic initiatives update

 

In the September edition of The Jeremiah Journal, Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah provides a status update on the EPC’s four strategic initiatives: Global Movement, Multiplication (church planting), Transformation (church revitalization), and Effective Biblical Leadership.

The Jeremiah Journal is 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.

World Outreach Forum to address “Engaging Our Presbyteries in Mission”

 

WOForum2016We believe God has called the EPC to be a global movement of Evangelical Presbyterian Churches. A significant way to create a structure suitable for a global movement is to solicit as much input and buy-in as possible. A gathering of presbytery missions leaders at the 36th General Assembly in June was a step in that direction. In an effort to build on that effort, the topic of this year’s annual World Outreach Forum is “Engaging Our Presbyteries in Mission.”

The workshop will be held November 14-15 in Orlando. The two-day event 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

“The Forum is designed to strengthen relationships and to channel our energies toward the fulfillment of the EPC’s vision,” said Phil Linton, Director of World Outreach. “We will take time to listen to you and hopefully inspire you with World Outreach’s high calling to go to those with the least access to the gospel—not just to send others, but to go ourselves.”

The 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.

Linton said attendees can expect to hear progress reports on Engage 2025, the International Theological Education Network (ITEN), refugee response, and the Malay breakthrough prayer effort.

“We believe that God will continue to do great things through the EPC,” Linton said. “Let’s spend some quality time together in Orlando and see what God wants to do through us.”

For more information, see www.epcwo.org/forum2016.

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.