Hope Church Memphis featured in The Gospel Coalition


HopeChurchTGCThe Gospel Coalition’s lead story on November 2, “How the Country’s Largest White Presbyterian Church Became Multiethnic,” tells the story of Hope Church in Cordova, Tenn. Planted in 1988 in a predominately white suburban area, within 20 years the congregation was the largest in Memphis—but with less than 1 percent of its 7,000 attendees African American.

The EPC’s largest congregation is now more than 20 percent African American, including the senior pastor, Rufus Smith.

Hope Church will host the 38th EPC General Assembly in June 2018.

Click here for the full story.

The Gospel Coalition is a network of evangelical churches in the Reformed tradition, and was founded by Tim Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and D.A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill.

International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church set for November 5, 12


IDOP2017Hebrews 13:3 command Christians to pray for those suffering as if they themselves were suffering. In an effort to unite believers in this scriptural principle, November 5 and 12 have been designated International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) by the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).

The command is especially meaningful in the EPC, as Teaching Elder Andrew Brunson marked one year in a Turkish prison in October.

“Scripture is clear that if one suffers, we all suffer,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “I know I have experienced this over the past 13 months with Andrew Brunson’s imprisonment.”

Eric Metaxas, author of the New York Times #1 bestselling Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy included Brunson in a list of Christians around the world persecuted for their faith.

“In Turkey last year, American missionary Andrew Brunson was locked up on the absurd grounds that he was a terrorist,” Metaxas wrote in a blog post on BreakPoint.org.

The WEA reports persecution as a daily reality of at least 100 million Christians around the world. Now marking its 21st year, the IDOP is observed in more than 100 countries. This year’s theme is “From Ashes to Glory.”

For more information and free IDOP church resource kits, see www.idop.org or www.opendoorsusa.org.

As a “global movement of churches,” the EPC stands with—and prays for—persecuted Christians and is committed to:

  • The global mission of EPC World Outreach, which is to tell the story of Jesus in the Hard Places among people who have no church;
  • Fraternal partnerships with like-minded, Bible-believing bodies; and
  • Awareness of and solidarity with persecuted Christians.

IRS ruling allows donation of paid time off for hurricane relief


HurricaneCleanupA recent IRS ruling could hold significant impact for EPC hurricane relief in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Under the provision of the ruling, employees who earn paid time off (PTO) can donate their vacation, sick, or personal leave in exchange for a cash payment by the employer to a charitable organization. As a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the EPC is eligible to receive these donations.

“What a great way for people to help those who are still dealing with the effects of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and especially Maria,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “I encourage our churches to inform their congregations—especially those church members who own businesses with employees, or are in HR or other roles. This gives people who may not have the resources to donate money directly a method help in a tangible way.”

The PTO donation is not included in the income or wages of the employee, and therefore not subject to income or payroll tax withholding. However, the employee cannot claim a charitable contribution deduction for the value of the donated PTO.

The provision also allows a for-profit employer to deduct the payments it makes to charities in connection with the donated PTO as a business expense, resulting in the payments not being subject to the charitable contribution deduction limits normally applicable to charitable contributions.

Click here for more information from the IRS website.

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.

Executive Pastor/Church Administrator Roundtable features church leadership expert Mike Bonem


XPRoundtableAt the first of two EPC Executive Pastor/Church Administrator Roundtable workshops held this fall, noted church leadership coach and consultant Mike Bonem discussed the joys and challenges of the “second chair” role. He defined a Second Chair Leader as “a person in a subordinate role whose influence with others adds value throughout the organization.”

Bonem earned an MBA from Harvard University, is a longtime business executive, and later served 11 years as Executive Pastor for a large church in Houston, Texas. He is author of Leading from the Second Chair, Thriving in the Second Chair, In Pursuit of Great and Godly Leadership, and Leading Congregational Change.

The roundtable, now in its fifth year, is a two-day workshop for EPC executive pastors, church administrators, and others in senior ministry (but second-chair) leadership positions.

Phil VanValkenburg, EPC Chief Operating Officer, hosts the roundtable each year.

“We want our church leaders to know that they have peers who face many of the same issues as they do in their ministries,” VanValkenburg said. “As we continue to focus on effective biblical leadership as one of our strategic initiatives, by being ‘better together’ we glean from each other’s experience and each of their churches gets great benefit.”

Twenty EPC church leaders participated in the workshop October 26-27 in Denver, Colorado. Participants discussed their specific ministry victories and challenges, shared best practices on a variety of topics related to church administration, and networked on such issues as technology systems, personnel, vision and strategy, finance, and many others.

The workshop is a resource of the Office of the General Assembly. The second roundtable takes place November 16-17 in Orlando.

Bart Francescone named Executive Director of EPC Benefit Resources, Inc.


BartFrancescone

Bart Francescone

Following a nationwide search, Bart Francescone of Cream Ridge, N.J., has been named Executive Director of EPC Benefit Resources, Inc. (BRI). He fills a vacancy created when the BRI Board of Directors elected to relocate operations to the EPC Office of the General Assembly in Orlando, Fla. Current Director of Benefits Don Voyles declined an offer to move to Orlando, and completes his work with the EPC on October 31.

“Don has served the EPC with distinction for almost four years,” said Phil VanValkenburg, EPC Chief Operating Officer. “Largely through his efforts and expertise, EPC Benefits is in a much better place than it was in 2013. We look forward to Bart building on the great foundation Don has set for us.”

Francescone comes to the EPC from Heartland Fidelity Insurance Co. of Washington, D.C., where he served as Chief Operating Officer. He previously was Executive Vice President for Benecard Services (Clifton N.J.; Orlando, Fla.; and Mechanicsburg, Va.). Earlier in his career he managed an entrepreneurial program at Princeton University; worked in business development and venture management; and was a staff accountant with a CPA firm.

“I very much look forward to serving the EPC,” Francescone said. “I hope to put everyone at ease regarding their healthcare needs and retirement plans, and enable all to more fully focus on their ministerial callings.”

He has more than 20 years of experience with companies that provide health benefit plan administration services, benefit consulting, and insurance protection to employer and union health plans. He holds insurance producer licenses in health, life, property, and casualty in 45 states. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

Francescone is an active member of Allentown Presbyterian Church in Allentown, N.J., where he has served as an adult education teacher, confirmation instructor, small group leader, youth leader, prayer leader, and church treasurer. He also has served as a substitute teacher and member of the Finance Committee at Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, N.J. He has served as a Young Life volunteer leader and committee member, and volunteers in local youth and recovery programs as well as in food, shelter, and medical care organizations.

He and his wife, Lisa, have been married 29 years and have three adult children: Alex, Liz, and Holly. Lisa has served as a special education teacher in the Upper Freehold (N.J.) Regional School District for 10 years.

Emergency fund launched for Mexico earthquake relief


EPNewsMexicoEarthquakesRelief

Photo credit: EDGARD GARRIDO / Reuters

In response to requests for assistance from leadership of the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (La Iglesia Nacional Presbiteriana de México or INPM) following a series of devastating earthquakes that hit Mexico in September, the EPC has launched an emergency relief fund to help with recovery efforts. The EPC and INPM entered into a fraternal partnership in 2016, with an initial focus on church planting.

On September 8, an 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck near the coast of Chiapas in Southern Mexico. The epicenter of a 7.1-magnitude earthquake that hit on September 19 was approximately 40 miles south of Mexico City—resulting in the collapse of more than 40 buildings. On September 23, a 6.1-magnitude quake shook the southern state of Oaxaca. More than 500 people have been reported killed, with more than 6,300 injured. The majority of INPM churches are located south and east of Mexico City, in some of the highest-damage areas.

“We understand that ‘donor fatique’ is a possibility,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “The EPC has already given more than $550,000 to the Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria disaster relief funds. However, the National Leadership Team believes we should make this effort for our fraternal partners to the south, trusting the Lord will provide.”

Click here to donate online (Choose “Emergency Relief” from the first pulldown menu and “Mexico Earthquakes Relief (509)” from the second pulldown menu,) or make check payable to Evangelical Presbyterian Church and designated “Mexico Earthquakes Relief,” and send to:

Evangelical Presbyterian Church
5850 T.G. Lee Blvd., Suite 510
Orlando, FL 32822

Donations to the fund will be sent to the INPM. Thank you for providing help to those in need.