Category Archives: World Outreach

World Outreach receives $50,000 gift for Lebanon early childhood development center ministry

 

Nearly 70 at-risk children in Lebanon and their families will benefit from a $50,000 donation to the Philemon Project Grow Center, a ministry headed by a World Outreach global worker in the region. The online donation was submitted in January and is the second major gift received by World Outreach in the past six weeks.

“The Grow Center is a vibrant ministry that shares Jesus’ love with children of migrant workers and Syrian refugees, as well as other at-risk children in Lebanon,” said Phil Linton, Director of World Outreach. “The Center also works to help break the cycle of disfunction by offering mentoring programs to the parents. The work they are doing is quite amazing.”

The Philemon Project was started to provide migrant workers in Beirut with high-quality, reasonably priced childcare. The organization has developed into a non-governmental organization (NGO) and is under the auspices of Resurrection Church Beirut. The Grow Center is a Christian-led early childhood development center and adult mentoring program. It welcomes underserved children and families from all ethnicities and religious backgrounds and provides a healthy place for children ages one to four to grow physically, cognitively, socially, and spiritually. The Center’s adult mentoring program helps parents develop skills to create lasting, healthy, and active relationships with their children.

For more information on giving to the EPC or EPC World Outreach, go to www.epc.org/donate or www.epcwo.org/support, respectively.

World Outreach receives $50,000 gift

 

The ministry of a World Outreach global worker who serves in a secure location overseas will benefit from a $50,000 gift the EPC received in December. The donation was the second major gift of the month, following a $250,000 contribution for church planting.

“It’s such a blessing to see what happens when believers respond to our Lord’s prompting,” said Phil Linton, Director of World Outreach. “All of us in World Outreach are confident that many people will come to Christ through this very generous gift.”

Linton also noted that the gift, which was donated through the global worker’s secure online donation form at www.epcwo.org, was made prior to the announcement of the gift for church planting.

“God is obviously at work in the hearts of His people,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “It’s exciting to think about the possibilities of how God is using the EPC through the gifts of generous donors to grow God’s Kingdom.”

To make a secure online donation to the EPC or EPC World Outreach, go to www.epc.org/donate or www.epcwo.org/support, respectively.

World Outreach plans three summer mission projects in U.S. for 2020

 

What are you doing this summer? EPC World Outreach is planning three mission projects among non-native people groups in the United States in July 2020—one designed for families and two intended for high school students. Each of the six-day experiences are in partnership with a local EPC church.

WO-ExperienceWO2020ExperienceWO: El Cajon will take place July 5-10 in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon, Calif. Participants will share the love of Christ among the local Muslim population by teaching English classes, leading children’s programs, and visiting homes in the neighborhood.

“This is a great trip for families or groups, as well as individuals,” said Phil Linton, Director of World Outreach. “You’ll learn how to spark conversations that create opportunities to share the gospel with our Muslim neighbors.”

Participants will stay with host families from the EPC’s Covenant Church in San Diego. The registration deadline for church groups is January 15. For more information and to register, see www.epcwo.org/experiencewo.

WO-SMJ2020Summer Mission Jam returns in 2020 with two opportunities for high school students. Participants will serve among Afghan, Bangladeshi, Iraqi, Pakistani, and Yemeni peoples in ethnically diverse areas of Hamtramck, Mich., July 13-18, and Sacramento, Calif., July 20-25.

Students are scheduled to spend the afternoon each day serving residents by picking up trash, cleaning yards, and leading outreach games and activities in a local park. In the evenings, students and leaders will gather for worship services and reflect on the experiences of the day.

“Summer Mission Jam is an amazing opportunity for churches 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, 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 local community. In the evenings, we’ll worship together around God’s Word, inspiring students to grasp that it is worth their life to follow Jesus…no matter the cost.”

Participants in Hamtramck will stay at Wayne State University in Detroit. Those who choose the Sacramento option will stay at the EPC’s Fremont Presbyterian Church in Sacramento. The registration deadline for either event is January 15.

For more information and to register, or see www.epcwo.org/summermissionjam.

If you have questions about any of the World Outreach summer mission projects, contact Stewart at shawn.s@epcwo.org or 828-273-2009; or Cassie Shultz, World Outreach Church and Agency Liaison, at cassie.s@epcwo.org or 407-930-4313.

Thanksgiving offering to support World Outreach women’s retreat

 

2019ThanksgivingOfferingThe 2019 EPC Thanksgiving Offering has been designated for the 2019 World Outreach (WO) retreat for WO Direct female global workers. The “Reflect, Connect & Envision” retreat will be hosted by WO Member Care Directors Chris and Debbie Gibson from April 2-6, 2020, in Budapest, Hungary.

“This gathering is designed for our missionary women who are sent through World Outreach to come together for renewal, revitalization, and refreshment,” said Phil Linton, Director of World Outreach. “Most of our global workers who serve with our co-op partners have annual conferences and retreats put on by their agencies. Our workers sent directly by World Outreach only have this type of event every three years at our Family Gathering.”

Linton added that the 2020 retreat is an effort “to help our ladies on the front lines to feel loved and recharge their batteries. Our 15 WO Direct women have expressed a desire to form relationships with their counterparts who share many of the same ministry, family, parenting, and team issues,” he said.

“The theme of the event, Reflect, Connect & Envision’ will include a variety of activities, all designed to Reflect on who God is, Connect with other women in similar situations, and Envision how God wants to lead—both personally and within ministry,” Linton noted.

The financial goal for the 2019 Thanksgiving Offering is $18,000. The cost per global worker to attend is approximately $1,200 and includes airfare, ground transportation, and meals.

Secure online donations to the Thanksgiving Offering can be made at www.epc.org/donate/thanksgivingoffering. Individuals also can utilize text-to-give by texting “epcthanksgivingoffering” to 50155 from any smart device. Donors who prefer to send a check should put “Thanksgiving Offering (041)” on the memo line and send to:

Evangelical Presbyterian Church
Attn: Finance Office
5850 T.G. Lee Blvd., Suite 510
Orlando, FL 32822

For help with donations, contact Catherine Rutter, World Outreach Finance Assistant, at catherine.r@epcwo.org or 407-930-4473.

For more information about the retreat, email chris.g@epcwo.org or call 501-413-0054.

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

World Outreach Committee reviews ongoing work, interviews candidates for future ministry

 

WorldOutreachCommitteeMeeting201910At its fall 2019 meeting, the EPC World Outreach (WO) Committee discussed a variety of topics related to policy and finance, heard reports on several ministry projects, and interviewed several candidates for potential future appointment as global workers.

The committee met October 17-18 at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando.

Phil Linton, Director of World Outreach, noted the importance of spending time on administrative matters.

“We have to continually review our policies and procedures to ensure that we are providing the best possible support for our global workers out there on the front lines,” Linton said. “I am grateful that the members of the committee take that responsibility seriously.”

Among those items were amendments to the World Outreach Manual concerning vehicles and transportation, housing, excess support, and administrative fees. The committee also discussed issues related to approved agencies and heard reports on ministry projects in Kazakhstan and Indonesia.

“It’s exciting to know that God is working in and through EPC World Outreach,” Linton noted. “The disappointing part is that because of where so many of our people are serving, we have to be so careful in our reporting so we don’t jeopardize their safety.”

Members of the World Outreach Committee are Kevin Cauley, Chairman, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic; Brad Buescher, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the Great Plains; Rick Dietzman Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest; Phyllis Ellsworth, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Midwest; Susan Lear, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Great Plains; Johnny Long, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the West; David Miller, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes; Patrick Tucker, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Gulf South; and David Van Valkenburg, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the West.

World Outreach Evaluation Team convenes first meeting

 
WorldOutreachStudyCommittee

Members of the World Outreach Evaluation Team are (left to right) Rob Liddon, Jerry Iamurri, Alan Johnson, Brad Gill, Brian Tweedie, Betsy Rumer, Johnny Long, and Kevin Cauley.  

In its report to the 39th General Assembly, the EPC National Leadership Team (NLT) announced the formation of a World Outreach Evaluation Team in response to Phil Linton’s retirement in June 2021. Linton has served as Director of World Outreach since 2014. The Evaluation Team held its first meeting August 27-28 at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando, with the goal of filing its report in time for the NLT to form the World Outreach Director Search Committee by the 40th General Assembly.

“Anticipating that the search for Phil’s successor will begin in earnest after the 2020 General Assembly, the NLT concluded that the next ten to twelve months would be an excellent opportunity to review and evaluate the ministries and work of World Outreach,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “This is not a search committee, but their work will help set the table for the task that a search committee will undertake in 2020 and 2021.”

Rob Liddon, Ruling Elder for Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn., and Moderator of the 30th General Assembly, is serving as chairman. Other members are Kevin Cauley, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic; Brad Gill, Ruling Elder from Presbytery of the Midwest; Alan Johnson, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the West; Johnny Long, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the West; Betsy Rumer, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the Alleghenies; and Brian Tweedie, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the Midwest. Assistant Stated Clerk Jerry Iamurri is serving the committee as staff resource from the Office of the General Assembly.

Cauley and Long are members of the permanent World Outreach Committee; Johnson and Rumer are former members of the World Outreach Committee, with Rumer serving as Chairman in 2017-2018. Liddon also serves on the National Leadership Team.

City of Hamtramck, Mich., thanks World Outreach Summer Mission Jam participants

 

SummerMissionJam2019HamtramckIn a July 11 post on its Facebook page, the City of Hamtramck, Mich., thanked EPC World Outreach for holding its Summer Mission Jam in the southeastern Michigan city.

“Thank you for making Hamtramck a destination again this year for your Team Summer Jam!,” the post reads. “We enjoy working with you on keeping our city ‘Klean’ and beautiful!”

Surrounded by the city of Detroit, Hamtramck has a significant Bangladeshi, Yemeni, and Bengali population. The city made national news in 2015 when residents elected the first Muslim-majority city council in the country.

“We are thankful for our relationships with the people and leaders of Hamtramck,” said Phil Linton, World Outreach Director. “Our Summer Mission Jam provides an opportunity for high school students to make Muslim friends and talk with them about Jesus without traveling halfway around the world. Hamtramck is a great setting for our students to ‘find somewhere different to love your neighbor,’ as we like to say.”

Students from three EPC churches took part in this year’s event, held July 8-13. Participants spent the afternoon each day serving Hamtramck residents by picking up trash, cleaning yards, and leading outreach games and activities in a local park. In the evenings, students and leaders gathered for worship services in which they were challenged to reimagine the cost of following Christ.

Will, a rising 11th grader from Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church in Signal Mountain, Tenn., said his favorite part of the experience was “the opportunity to show God’s love to the people around us and just to be able to serve.”

The 2020 Summer Mission Jam is scheduled for July 20-25 in Fremont, Calif. For more information, see www.epcwo.org/summermissionjam.

Summer Mission Jam a unique outreach opportunity for high school students

 
SummerMissionJamHamtramck

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.

Student mission conferences offer unique worldview experiences

 

High school and college-aged students—as well as their leaders—have multiple opportunities in the coming months to be encouraged, equipped, and challenged to dig deeper into the God’s Word and His heart for the nations. For more information about any of these conferences, contact Cassie Shultz, EPC World Outreach Church Liaison, at cassie.s@epcwo.org or 407-930-4314.

EPC Summer Mission Jam
June 24-29, 2019—Fremont, Calif.
July 8-13, 2019—Hamtramck, Mich.

SummerMissionJam2019Summer Mission Jam is a mission and outreach equipping conference for high school groups. Participants will work alongside EPC partner churches to minister to Muslim peoples in these two cities. Registration is $480 and includes lodging and meals (except dinner on Monday).

A minimum of 80 registered students is required by November 15 in order to host this event; students, leaders, or youth groups interested can complete a brief online survey to learn more and indicate interest in either the California or Michigan event.

Urbana
December 27-31, 2018—St. Louis, Mo.

Urbana2018Held every third December, Urbana is a global mission conference that creates a sacred space for college students to learn more about missions and discern God’s call for their life. Among the speakers is the EPC’s own Beth Paz, Director of High School Ministry for First Presbyterian Church in Fresno, Calif.

Registration is $515 until November 15; $615 after that date; lodging is approximately $125 plus taxes. The EPC Next Generation Ministries Council provides a limited number of $150 scholarships to students interested in attending; go to www.epc.org/nextgen/urbanascholarshipapplication for details and to apply. Learn more about this potentially life-changing conference at www.urbana.org.

Cross Conference
January 2-5, 2019—Louisville, Ky.

CrossConference2019Cross Conference is a global missions conference for college students that focuses on reaching the unreached peoples of the world. Registration is $119 until November 30, and $139 until registration closes on December 18, 2018. Lodging is approximately $116 plus taxes. The EPC Next Generation Ministries Council provides a limited number of $40 scholarships to students interested in attending; go to www.epc.org/nextgen/crossconferencescholarshipapplication for details and to apply. Learn more about this exciting conference at www.crossforthenations.org.

In the short video below, David Platt, Pastor-Teacher for McLean Bible Church in McLean, Va., and former President of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, explains why Cross is not just for those who sense a personal call to serve on the mission field.

World Outreach commissions 13 new global workers

 

WOlogo-RGB900EPC World Outreach commissioned 13 new global workers on June 21, 2018, at Hope Church in Cordova, Tenn. The commissioning took place during the Thursday evening worship service of the 38th General Assembly.

To financially support one or more of these new workers, visit www.epcwo.org and click the “Give/Support” button. For more information about World Outreach and its ministries or people, email wo@epcwo.org.

Meet these new global workers:

Scott and Colleen
Scott and Colleen have been serving at First Presbyterian Church of Little Rock, Iowa, since 2004, when Scott was called to become their pastor. In recent years, they sensed God leading them to pursue cross-cultural mission outreach. While carrying out pastoral responsibilities in Little Rock, Scott and Colleen completed Serge’s Sonship course and four months of WO-mentored Muslim outreach. They will join a Serge church planting team in a predominantly Muslim, multi-ethnic community in London, England.

Tim and Debbie
Tim and Debbie honed their cross-cultural and language skills over decades of pioneer church planting in East Asia. They’ve taught at local high schools and colleges, started non-profit development organizations, raised cattle, and operated camps for “third-culture kids” (children raised in a culture other than that of their parents’). Their home church is Trinity EPC in Florence, S.C. They will serve under a co-op agreement with Pioneers.

Todd and Pru
Todd and Pru spent the first decade of their marriage on an OM International church planting team in North Africa. They put the lessons learns there to use in designing a program to train a new generation of evangelists and disciple-makers for the Turkic world. Their family now includes two sons, Brennen and Corren, who have visited five continents in their short lives. They are members of First Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Oregon City, Ore. They will join the Presbytery of the Great Plains’ Engage 2025 initiative to plant churches among Albanian Muslims in Macedonia.

Saul and Jesse
Saul and Jesse have lived out the missional calling since their early years. Saul went on his first mission trip when he was 11 years old, and Jesse grew up in Malawi where her parents were missionaries. They are members of Hope Church of Carbondale, Ill., where as newlyweds they helped start Hope’s first mission committee. While researching ministry opportunities for their church family, they attended an Encounter WO event in December 2014. They have served as volunteer WO Mission Assistants since October 2016, and now will join the WO Mobilization Team.

S and A
S and A both grew up in South Asia—S in an extended family of prominent Muslims, and A in a Christian family from a Hindu background. They have been commissioned to plant churches among Muslims of South Asia and metro Detroit. After their marriage, S and A reached out to their primarily Muslim neighbors and work contacts, and were instrumental in starting several household Bible studies in the Detroit area. For more than 10 years, S has been praying for Rohingyas—a Muslim people fleeing violence in their home country of Myanmar. This year, local authorities gave him an open invitation to work in the world’s largest refugee camp, which is home to more than 500,000 Rohingya refugees. S and A are members of Faith EPC in Rochester Hills, Mich.

Portia
After graduating from Nyack College in New York with a major in Intercultural Studies, Portia moved to a majority Muslim city in Europe to join an OM International church planting team. As teammates left one-by-one, Portia persevered, building friendships and reading the Bible with those friends. Goodwill Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, N.Y., sent her out six years ago, and she was commissioned this year as a WO/OM International co-op worker.

Ben and Ellie
A year after their marriage in 2012, Ben and Ellie moved to High Wycombe, England, to join Greg and Sally Livingstone on a church planting team among South Asian Muslims. Three years later, they returned to the U.S. to continue Muslim outreach in Dearborn, Mich., and finish their studies at Moody Theological Seminary. They will serve as co-op workers through Frontiers, and will move to a Muslim city in South Asia next year where Ben has accepted a teaching position. Ben and Ellie are members of Cornerstone EPC in Brighton, Mich.

 

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

 

GA2018Banner

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

 

GivingTuesday
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.