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.

EPC partnership with National Presbyterian Church of Mexico ratified


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EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah (center) and INPM President (Moderator) Amador Hernandez (right) sign the official partnership agreement September 8 in Mexico while EPC Home Missionary John Bueno looks on. Bueno served as translator for the EPC delegation to the INPM General Assembly.

The EPC and the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (La Iglesia Nacional Presbiteriana de México or INPM) formally ratified an historic partnership on September 8 at the INPM General Assembly in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico. Attending the meeting from the EPC were Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk; Mike Moses, National Leadership Team chairman; and Bill Enns, EPC Associate Executive for Collaborative Ministries. The EPC 36th General Assembly approved a fraternal agreement with INPM in June.

The initial emphasis of the relationship is for INPM to send pastors to the United States to help plant churches among the growing Latino population, and for the EPC to send pastors to help INPM plant churches in ten cities in northeastern Mexico.

Jeremiah noted that the INPM leaders initiated the request to work with the EPC.

“They told us that they want to plant churches in large Mexican communities, and they’ve seen what we’ve been doing and want us to help them do that,” he said. “God has brought together two denominations in two different countries who both have a strong commitment to church planting.”

“What’s unique,” Jeremiah added, “is that we both need each other. We need their help planting churches in Latino communities in the U.S.”

Moses, Pastor of Lake Forest Church in Huntersville, N.C., said his congregation is already working with an INPM pastor in a church plant.

“We are graced for my home church to be the first guinea pig in this relationship, as we are planting such a church soon with one of their young pastors,” Moses said. “May God be glorified and followers of Jesus be encouraged in both countries by this partnership!”

Discussions about a potential ministry partnership began in October 2015, when INPM Secretary Adolfo Job invited Moses and others from the EPC to visit Mexico to discuss the possibility of a fraternal relationship that would focus on church planting in Hispanic communities in the United States.

The INPM has two million members and is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the western hemisphere. The majority of its churches are in the Mexico City area and southern Mexico. Under the leadership of then-President (Moderator) Danny Ramirez Celis, the INPM severed ties with the PCUSA in 2011.

Three representatives of INPM attended the EPC General Assembly at Ward Church in June and brought greetings from the 6,000 Presbyterian churches in Mexico. Job, INPM President (Moderator) Amador Hernandez, and Camarillo Vasquez described their three primary objectives of the partnership: church planting in both countries, enhancing education in seminaries and local schools, and relating church-to-church as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Jeff Jeremiah launches video series


With a recap of his Stated Clerk Report to the 36th General Assembly, Jeff Jeremiah launched a new video series, “The Jeremiah Journal,” in which he discusses a variety of topics relevant to the EPC.

“I wanted to do this to help our church leaders and others stay better informed about how God is working in our denomination,” Jeremiah said. “Even with as much travel as I do, with nearly 600 churches in the EPC I just can’t get to every one or see every pastor as often as I (and hopefully they) would like.”

Jeremiah hopes to record at least one video each month. The videos will be hosted on the EPC’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/EPChurch80 and also will be posted to EPNews and the EPC’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Emergency fund launched for Louisiana flood relief


EPNewsBatonRougeFloodReliefIn response to unprecedented flooding in southern Louisiana, the EPC has launched an emergency relief fund to help meet the affected population. Donations to the fund will be sent to First Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge and other EPC churches ministering to the thousands of people displaced by flooding in the region.

On August 14, CNN was reporting that at least three people had lost their lives and one was missing. Tens of thousands of people had been forced from their homes, and more than 7,000 had been evacuated.

Gerrit Dawson, Pastor of First Baton Rouge, said that rising water had inundated neighborhoods that previously had never flooded. “It is devastating,” he said. “This will take years to mend, but it could be a great opportunity to work for reconciliation in our community,” he said.

Click here to donate online (Choose “Emergency Relief” from the first pulldown menu and “Baton Rouge Flood Relief (504)” from the second pulldown menu,) or make check payable to Evangelical Presbyterian Church and designated “Baton Rouge Flood Relief,” and send to:

Evangelical Presbyterian Church
17197 N. Laurel Park Dr., Suite 567
Livonia, MI 48152

Thank you for helping provide relief to those in need.

Pastoral Letter interim committee appointed


 

SandyWillson

Sandy Willson

In June, the 36th General Assembly approved a motion calling for the Moderator to appoint an interim committee to draft a pastoral letter on “Ministering to the Church and World on Issues Pertaining to Human Sexuality.” The committee will make its report to the 38th General Assembly in 2018.

Teaching Elder Sandy Willson, Pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn., will serve as chair of the Interim Committee on Drafting a Pastoral Letter on Human Sexuality. Willson chaired the Interim Committee on Position Paper Revision that wrote the Position Paper on Human Sexuality. Moderator Scott Griffin commended his leadership and asked him to lead the new committee as well.

Other committee members are RE John Graham (Presbytery of the Southeast), RE Rick Schatz (Midwest), RE Annie Rose (Rivers and Lakes), RE Scott Griffin (Pacific), TE Mike Glodo (Florida), TE Adam Barr (Midwest), and TE Sharon Beekmann (West). Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah will serve as staff resource.

The committee will begin its work on September 12 when it holds its first meeting in Memphis.

EPC signs religious liberty statement


JeffJeremiahby Jeff Jeremiah
EPC Stated Clerk

Can you imagine a state punishing a Christian school for upholding traditional Christian teachings? That is what could happen if the California Senate passes Bill No. 1146 (SB 1146).

The proposed legislation would reduce the number of California colleges and universities that can claim exemptions from federal Title IX anti-discrimination law—applying the exemption only to seminaries and schools of divinity. This means that Christian colleges could face a loss of accreditation status with the state of California, resulting in their students’ inability to qualify for state and federal grants and loans.

SB 1146 has been called a “real test” as to whether a state legislature (and most likely the court system) is going to impose the U.S. Supreme Court-imposed orthodoxy concerning sexual orientation and marriage.

This bill is a direct challenge to long-standing exceptions for claims of religious free exercise. If passed, it would change the legal landscape for religious adherents both individually and collectively. Not only is SB 1146 disastrous for religious post-secondary education in California, it also sets a dangerous precedent for other states.

For these reasons, the EPC signed on to a “Multi-faith Statement to Protect Religious Higher Education,” which was released on August 9 by Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (the text of this statement is below). As of August 9, more than 140 signatories from across the religious and political spectrum had signed, including presidents or administrators from more than 50 colleges and seminaries.

David Tyra, member of the EPC Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC) and a Ruling Elder for Centerpoint Community Church in Roseville, Calif., is providing legal counsel for some of the religious institutions that would be affected by this statute. Please pray for David as he represents these colleges and universities in this politically charged situation.

A vote in the Appropriations Committee as to whether SB 1146 will come to the floor of the California Assembly will take place on August 11. We will keep you informed as this situation continues to develop.

Thank you for praying once again for God to be glorified in the face of continual secular government overreach.

“Multi-faith Statement on the Protection of Religious Higher Education”

The California Assembly has proposed legislation that is harmful to the free exercise of religion in higher education. In particular, the legislation disadvantages low-income minority students who want an education at private religious colleges. Though it purports to eliminate discrimination, Senate Bill 1146 results in its own form of discrimination by stigmatizing and coercively punishing religious beliefs that disagree on contested matters related to human sexuality. If SB 1146 were to pass, it would deny students’ ability to participate in state grant programs—programs that exist to help low-income students, and which are overwhelmingly used by racial minorities—at schools that are found in violation of the bill. Moreover, it would severely restrict the ability of religious education institutions to set expectations of belief and conduct that align with the institution’s religious tenets. While we do not all agree on religious matters, we all agree that the government has no place in discriminating against poor religious minorities or in pitting a religious education institution’s faith-based identity against its American identity. This legislation puts into principle that majoritarian beliefs are more deserving of legal protection, and that minority viewpoints are deserving of government harassment. Legislation of this nature threatens the integrity not only of religious institutions, but of any viewpoint wishing to exercise basic American freedoms, not least of which is the freedom of conscience.

We, the undersigned, do not necessarily agree with one another’s religious views, but we agree on the necessity of the liberty to exercise these views. At the root of the American experiment is the idea that conscience and religious conviction come before the demands of the state. Some of us disagree with the sexual ethics of orthodox Jews, Christians, and Muslims giving rise to this legislation, but we are unified in our resistance to the government setting up its own system of orthodoxy. As the American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin once said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” No less is this true than on matters of religious liberty. Where the state can encroach on one religion’s free exercise, it can just as easily trample on any other religion’s free exercise. We therefore join in solidarity across religious lines to speak against Senate Bill 1146.

We call on the California Assembly to abandon Senate Bill 1146. To ensure the future of the free exercise of religion in higher education in California and across America, we respectfully call on the supporters of Senate Bill 1146 to immediately withdraw their support of this bill, with the commitment to disavow similar intrusions in the future. Opposition to this bill is not grounded in the protection of religious liberty only, nor for the special pleading of one religion in particular, but for the protection of American society and American democracy. Such protection requires a civil society welcoming of religious diversity.

The future of a free America requires the full participation of religion in public life. Religious higher education cultivates both the mind and the soul. Senate Bill 1146 endangers the integrity of religious education institutions and discourages them from acting according to their conscience for fear of government retribution. As Americans with a rich legacy of freedoms afforded to us by the laws of nature and of nature’s God, and enshrined in the Constitution, we can do better. As we renew our commitment to religious pluralism in the public square, we should embrace debate, welcome dissent, and encourage civility as we work together for the sake of the common good and of a country we are all unreservedly blessed to call our home.

Click here for the list of signatories to the statement.