EPC churches in Puerto Rico request prayer in face of Hurricane Maria


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Puerto Rico, in red at bottom center, is expected to take a direct hit from Hurricane Maria on September 20. There are three EPC churches on the island. 

As Hurricane Maria bears down on Puerto Rico as a major category 5 storm, leaders of EPC churches on the island are requesting prayer.

“The entire island will be impacted and major damage is expected,” Alfredo Aponte, ruling elder for Iglesia Presbiteriana Westminster in Bayamón, wrote in an email on September 19. “Please pray for our island and our EPC churches in Bayamón, Añasco, and Mayaguez. May the Lord protect us. May the Lord be praised. May this be an opportunity to serve the Lord wherever we are, under all circumstances.”

The National Weather Service has issued a Hurricane Warning for Puerto Rico. Sustained winds are expected to be 105-125 mph, with gusts to 175 mph. The warning indicates “extreme” threat to life and property throughout the island from wind and flooding rain, and a high risk of storm surge and tornados.

“In Luke 18, Jesus reminds us of the power of persistent prayer,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “Please pray for the people of Puerto Rico, and for the protection of our churches there as they minister through and after this storm.”

Closer to God Church (Kearny, N.J.) receives 2017 Bart Hess Award


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Valdir Reis (right), pastor of Closer to God Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Kearny, N.J., received the Bart Hess Award on behalf of the congregation from Jeff Jeremiah during the church’s worship service on September 10.

Closer to God Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Kearny, N.J., is the recipient of the 2017 Bartlett L. Hess Award for church revitalization. The award was announced at the 37th General Assembly in June at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in Sacramento, Calif.

“This award is tremendous to our church,” pastor Valdir Reis told commissioners to the Assembly. “Thank you to the EPC, this faithful church that received us with much love.”

Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, presented the award to the congregation during their September 10 worship service.

Jeremiah said Closer to God Church received the 2017 award “because of its outstanding outreach efforts into their local community, which includes those of Brazilian, Mexican, Portuguese, and Dominican background—as well as many immigrants.” He also noted that the church provides professional courses, medical care, legal assistance, and counseling to immigrant families.

“They also serve the underprivileged in the Newark area through a food bank and used clothing store that deeply discounts its prices,” Jeremiah said. “I’m excited for the great things the Lord is doing through their ministry.”

The church was launched on July 3, 2011, and came into the EPC’s Presbytery of the East on April 5, 2012.

The Hess Award is given annually to the EPC church that has demonstrated the most innovative approach to church growth or revitalization. Church growth—in both its spiritual and numerical aspects—is an essential part of the mission of the church. The award provides a vehicle by which positive, reproducible innovation is encouraged and shared with others in the EPC. It is named for Bartlett L. “Bart” Hess, founding pastor of Ward Church in suburban Detroit, who was instrumental in the establishment of the EPC in 1981.

September Jeremiah Journal summarizes 37th General Assembly business


In the September edition of The Jeremiah Journal, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah summarizes the major business decisions made at the 37th General Assembly. The 2017 Assembly was held June 20-23 at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in Sacramento, California.

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.

#epc2017ga

Emergency fund launched for Hurricane Irma relief


EPNewsHurricaneIrmaReliefIn anticipation of Hurricane Irma’s potentially devastating impact on Florida and the Southeast, as well as in response to the storm’s havoc in the Caribbean, the EPC has launched an emergency relief fund to help with recovery efforts.

“This hurricane is the most powerful and potentially destructive storm to hit the Southeast in recent memory,” EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah said. “Even as our friends in Houston are facing a long recovery from Hurricane Harvey, millions of people are in the path of Irma, and it already has caused significant damage in the Caribbean. We are praying that Irma ends up not being nearly as ruinous as we all fear.”

Click here to donate online (Choose “Emergency Relief” from the first pulldown menu and “Hurricane Irma Relief (507)” from the second pulldown menu,) or make check payable to Evangelical Presbyterian Church and designated “Hurricane Irma 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 EPC churches in areas affected by the storm.

EPC churches in Puerto Rico ‘doing very well’ following Hurricane Irma


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Waves from Hurricane Irma hit Fajardo, on the eastern tip of Puerto Rico, on September 7. (photo credit REUTERS/Alvin Baez)

Juan Rivera, pastor of Iglesia Presbiteria Westminster in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, reported on September 7 that the EPC’s three churches on the island emerged from Hurricane Irma in good condition.

“Thanks be to God!” he said. “We are doing very well; Westminster, Anasco, and Mayaguez also. Praying for all in Irma’s route and giving thanks for the EPC family.”

The Miami Herald reported that nearly 1 million people in Puerto Rico lost power after the storm skirted the island on September 6, and some areas could be without power for up to four to six months.

A Hurricane Irma Emergency Relief Fund will be launched soon for people to donate funds for recovery and cleanup in areas affected by the storm.

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.

Hurricane Harvey relief fund surpasses $66,000


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A deacon from Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Katy, Texas, reported that flood waters in the Canyon Gate neighborhood in Katy, Texas, rose an additional four feet after this photo was taken from his living room.

As of September 5, more than $66,000 has been donated to the EPC’s Hurricane Harvey emergency relief fund as the denomination’s churches in southeast Texas continue to minister during the cleanup effort. In many cases, the relief and recovery extends to their own members and families.

Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church (CEPC) in Houston is serving Samaritan’s Purse as the volunteer housing center for central Houston. Richard Harris, pastor of CEPC, said local volunteers can show up to the church at either 7:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. (for those who can only work half a day) for orientation with Samaritan’s Purse and to go out with their teams to clean out houses. The local Samaritan’s Purse cell number is 713-851-5493, and the church address is 8300 Katy Freeway. Volunteers coming from out of town who can arrange their own accommodations can come to CEPC at either 7:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m., while volunteers who need a place to stay must arrange lodging through Samaritan’s Purse at www.spvolunteernetwork.org.

For more information on CEPC’s efforts, see www.cepc.org/discover/flood-relief/

Alan Trafford, pastor of Covenant Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Lake Jackson, Texas, said the members of the congregation “are in the thick of it” by feeding refugees, filling sandbags, and distributing supplies.

“We are hopeful that the church itself won’t flood,” he said, “but about a dozen families have already had water in their homes.”

Trafford requested prayer for Brazoria County, south of Houston. The Brazos river crested over the Labor Day weekend and is 11 miles wide in the northern part of the county.

“Northern parts of Lake Jackson are under mandatory evacuation orders,” he said, “and most of the surrounding cities are expected to be under water. Thousands of people have been displaced. The level of devastation in Southeast Texas is simply unprecedented.”

Daniel Situka, EPC chaplain in the Houston area, reported that he has not been able to assess his home yet.

“It seems like we lost our cars, but don’t know about the house because we are not allowed to go back,” he said. “We slept in a shelter one night but have now moved to a motel for seven days. We hope we will be approved for FEMA for temporary residence till our home is fixed.”

Evangelist Daniel Nguyen from the Bellaire Vietnamese Fellowship in Houston reported that his home was safe and none of the church members’ homes were flooded, though one family’s rental residence had a roof leak that causing rain to drip through the ceiling.

He added that while some of their people lost income due to not working during the hurricane, “we now trust in Jesus even more and humbly stand firm on His promise ‘for God shall supply all our need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.’”

“Please keep praying for the Vietnamese EPC mission group as we earnestly reach out to the Vietnamese people with the gospel of Christ Jesus,” Nguyen added.

The EPC’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund will remain open for people to assist with recovery efforts in southeast Texas. In collaboration with the Presbytery of the Gulf South, donations to the fund will be sent to EPC churches in the greater Houston area affected by the storm. Click here to donate online (Choose “Emergency Relief” from the first pulldown menu and “Hurricane Harvey Relief (506)” from the second pulldown menu,) or make check payable to Evangelical Presbyterian Church and designated “Hurricane Harvey Relief,” and send to:

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