North Carolina Senator visits Andrew Brunson in Turkish prison


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Thom Tillis

Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) announced on March 28 that he met with imprisoned EPC Teaching Elder Andrew Brunson on Monday, March 26, at Buca Prison in Ismir, Turkey. Brunson has been held since October 7, 2016, on terrorism-related charges.

Tillis issued the following statement:

“Pastor Brunson is strengthened by his love for his family and his faith in God, but his health has deteriorated. He has lost 50 pounds and spends 24 hours a day in a cell with limited human contact.  He is attempting to visit a doctor this week, which involves him being handcuffed and transported with several armed guards. He fears the possibility that the American government accepts the indictment and forgets about him, which we will not allow to happen.

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Andrew Brunson

“There should be no mistake that Pastor Brunson is the victim of false accusations, and we call upon the Turkish authorities to honestly and transparently review his indictment. Pastor Brunson is being used as a political pawn by some elements of the Turkish government. These elements seek to undercut the longstanding partnership between the United States and Turkey, in which our two nations have enjoyed close diplomatic, economic, and military ties. It is vital that our nations continue this partnership and continue to work together to pursue our common interests.

“I would also note the continued detention of multiple other U.S. citizens, as well as several Turkish staff of the U.S. diplomatic Mission, on scant evidence under the state of emergency, which continues to undermine the partnership between our two countries. It is time for Pastor Brunson and these individuals to be reunited with their families. We look forward to Pastor Brunson’s return home to America.”

Formal indictment filed against Andrew Brunson in Turkey


AndrewBrunsonOctober2017

Andrew Brunson

A court in Turkey has accepted a 62-page indictment against EPC Teaching Elder Andrew Brunson on terrorism-related charges. Prosecutors are asking for a 35-year prison sentence.

His trial is scheduled to begin April 16.

In a statement, Cece Heil of the American Center for Law and Justice—which is representing the Brunson family in legal and advocacy efforts—said the indictment is “wholly lacking merit” and “provides no evidence regarding criminal action by Pastor Andrew, which comes as no surprise. Incredibly, the indictment now admits that Turkey considers sharing the gospel an ‘act of terrorism.’”

Media reports indicate that the indictment charges Andrew with being an “executive” in the Gülen organization that Turkish President Erdoğan blames for the failed July 2016 coup attempt. Hurriyet News, the leading state-run media outlet in Turkey, reports Andrew is charged with committing crimes on behalf of terrorist organizations. In addition, the Global News Network is reporting that the indictment claims Andrew was using his position as a Christian minister to sow discord among the population, and sought to divide the nation and award authority of the result to the Gülenists and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which launched a separatist movement in 1984 and Turkey has designated a terrorist organization. An article in WorldWatch Monitor quotes Andrew’s Turkish lawyer, and explains the challenges Andrew’s defense team faces.

“I confess that I don’t understand how this all fits into God’s plan,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “Please continue to pray for Andrew and Norine in light of this development, and that somehow God would use it for His glory and Andrew’s freedom.”

Andrew Brunson’s daughter testifies to U.N. Human Rights Council; prosecutor demands 35-year prison sentence


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Jacqueline Furnari (center) implored the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 9 to help get her father, EPC Teaching Elder Andrew Brunson, released from Turkey where he has been imprisoned since October 2016.

Jacqueline Furnari, daughter of Andrew and Norine Brunson, told members of the United Nations Human Rights Council that Turkey “should not get away with holding my father one more day” and pleaded with the U.N. to work to get her father released and returned to the United States. She spoke to the Council on March 9 in Geneva, Switzerland.

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Andrew Brunson

Brunson, an EPC Teaching Elder who has lived in Turkey since 1993, has been imprisoned since October 7, 2016. He is accused of participation with groups the Turkish government blames for the failed July 2016 coup attempt.

On March 13, a Turkish prosecutor demanded a 35-year prison sentence, according to a report by the Doğan News Agency in Turkey. The prosecutor charged Brunson, 50, with being a “member and executive” of the Fetullah Gülen organization, which the government of Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan blames for the coup attempt and considers a terrorist group.

Click here for more coverage of Furnari’s testimony to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

On March 13 and 14, multiple media reports in the U.S. indicated that Andrew had been officially indicted on charges that he was an “executive” with the Gülen movement. (Under the Turkish legal system, once an indictment is made the court has 15 days to return a decision on the indictment. If approved, the case will proceed and the prosecution phase will begin.)

“Norine and I have been in regular contact via encrypted email this week,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “She is so grateful for our continued prayers for her husband, and confirmed to me on Thursday, March 15, that the news reports of an indictment were inaccurate.”

Click here for a detailed report on the most recent accusations.

March Jeremiah Journal describes General Assembly participation benefits


In the March edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah describes just a few of the benefits of attending the EPC’s annual General Assembly in June.

The Jeremiah Journal is a monthly video blog hosted on the EPC’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/EPChurch80. Each month’s update also is posted to EPConnection and the EPC’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

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

Jeff and Cindy Jeremiah to represent EPC at Billy Graham memorial service


BillyGrahamEPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah and his wife, Cindy, will represent the denomination at the private memorial service for Billy Graham on Friday, March 2, at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C.

“We are beyond honored to be invited to this celebration of Billy Graham’s life,” Jeremiah said. “It’s truly amazing to think about how God used him to share the gospel with millions of people around the world.”

About 2,300 invited guests are expected to attend the service, which will be held under a large tent that has been constructed in the main parking lot in front of the Library. The tent is designed to serve as a reminder of Graham’s early ministry in “The Canvas Cathedral”—the white canvas tent in downtown Los Angeles where 350,000 people heard him share the gospel over eight weeks in 1949.

Following the 90-minute service, Graham will be laid to rest beside his late wife, Ruth, in the Library’s Prayer Garden.

Among Graham’s many personal connections to members of the EPC, Ruth was a member of Christ Community Church in Montreat, N.C.

“Billy and Ruth were married in Graham Chapel (on the campus of Montreat College), which is where we gather weekly to worship,” said Richard White, Pastor of Christ Community Church, which joined the EPC in 2007. “She was a member of the church until her passing.”

A live stream of the memorial service will be available beginning at 10:00 a.m. (EST) at https://memorial.billygraham.org/live-stream/.

Andrew Brunson languishes in Turkish prison as 16-month mark passes


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Andrew Brunson

by Jeff Jeremiah
EPC Stated Clerk

Your continued, fervent prayers for our brother in Christ, EPC Teaching Elder Andrew Brunson, are most appreciated and much needed. February has been very difficult for him.

On February 7 (the day marking his 16th month in captivity), Andrew was questioned by the prosecutor. Although Andrew’s lawyer was present, the interview did not go well. Providentially, Andrew had a consular visit afterward and was able to get the following note to his wife, Norine, which she posted on social media:

“Today was a hard day for Andrew. The prosecutor called him for more questioning/statement. There was a previously scheduled meeting with someone from the consulate right afterwards so he was able to write me a note: ‘I am pretty shattered … I am very discouraged. Please have prayer for me.‘”

Norine added:

“Andrew has been walking by pure faith in the dark, but oh, for the Lord to break through with a sense of His presence.

May the lies—and those telling the lies—be exposed in the name of Jesus.

May we have the Lord’s perspective on all things—on Him, ourselves, eternity, suffering …

Thanks for praying…”

Relations between Turkey and the United States have a direct impact on efforts to free Andrew. A number of factors have led to this relationship deteriorating since the beginning of the year. The most prominent and pressing component is the situation in northern Syria, where an enclave of Syrian Kurds live. There are no less than seven armed forces and militia groups in this area, so there is the possibility of hostilities between U.S. and Turkish troops. Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State, is meeting in Ankara, Turkey, with the Turkish President and Foreign Minister February 15-16 in an effort to defuse this potential crisis with our NATO ally.

Please pray for a productive and God-honoring meeting between these national leaders.

For continued updates on Andrew’s situation, you can follow Norine’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AndrewAndNorine or by internet news searches of “Andrew Brunson.”

To conclude this update, I hope you are aware of the song Andrew wrote in prison, “You Are Worthy.” A recording and sheet music are available on the Free Pastor Andrew page of the EPC website. As we continue to pray and do what we can to work for Andrew’s release, our prayer and plan—God willing—is to have Andrew lead us in singing “You are Worthy” at our General Assembly in June.

Thank you again for your continued prayers for Andrew and Norine.