The 39th General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church has just begun gathering at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church, near Denver. Today, and most of tomorrow, there are workshops and classes as part of the annual Leadership Institute. Business sessions convene tomorrow afternoon, Wednesday 19 June, and will continue through Friday afternoon, as needed.
- There are the Schedule and the Docket (being issued in daily segments) so you know when the business sessions are and what is being covered.
- There is also the Commissioners Handbook by parts or as a full download from that page.
- Also, keep an eye on the EP Connection News Blog for news items from the Assembly.
- And don’t forget the current Book of Order and the Rules for Assembly.
As for social media, there is a bit of that out there. There is a Facebook page for the EPC that is currently being updated regularly with Leadership Institute and Assembly items. The official EPC Twitter feed is @EPChurch and the active official hashtag (#epc2019ga) has sprung to life. There is also a feed for EPC Student Ministries (@EPCStudentMin), EPC World Outreach (@EPCWO) and the Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah (@Jeff_Jeremiah ) -but none have been active for a while. However, the Moderator-elect, Case Thorp (@casethorp), has been actively tweeting leading up to the meeting.
As for individuals, strong live tweeting going from Matthew Everhard (@matt_everhard) and Zach Hopkins (@Zhop59). There are initial, promising tweets from Brandon M. Queen (@BQPHOTOS) and Andrew J. Winter (@TheAndrewWinter). And maybe we will see a bit more color and correction from Decent & In Order (@Decent_Orderly).
The theme of the Assembly is “Unstoppable: Keep on Asking, Keep on Seeking, Keep on Knocking,” based on Mathew 7:7.
One of the highlights of the Assembly will be the Wednesday morning and Thursday evening [corrected – regret the error] speaker, EPC Teaching Elder Andrew Brunson, who was released from detainment in Turkey last October after being held there for two years on charges of support of terrorism and espionage. According to the website, they expect an overflow crowd for worship that evening.
Another item of interest is the search for a new Stated Clerk to fill that position when Dr. Jeremiah steps down after his current term ends in 2021. The National Leadership Team is asking for authorization to form a search committee made up of one member from each of the EPC’s 14 presbyteries and to have it begin its work.
There is a good summary of all the action items coming to the Assembly this year. A couple of items of business stand out. One that caught my eye was an overture from the Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest that requests adding language to the Book of Order that clarifies that candidates being examined for ordination are being examined to be ordained by an EPC presbytery. The Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC) recommends approving this change. Another overture from the Presbytery of the East would add as voting members of a presbytery those ruling elders who were elected to leadership positions other than the officers of the presbytery. The PJC recommends it be disapproved as it does not meet “the requirements for clarity, consistency of language, and compatibility.”
Looking to the future the NLT is recommending the Moderator appoint an ad interim committee “composed of five REs or TEs from diverse, strongly-supporting churches across multiple presbyteries to address how to improve our churches’ long-term culture of giving to the EPC” and to evaluate the Per-Member Asking formula. On another front, the Next Generation Ministries Council is asking that presbyteries be encouraged “in creation of Next Generation Networks for children, youth, and college workers in collaboration with the Next Generation Ministries Council.”
For the polity wonks, there is a proposed amendment to the Book of Government section of the Book of Order brought forward by the National Leadership Team (NLT) that would make explicit in the constitution a policy that has been voiced for many years that the EPC does not have the called position of co-pastor. The paragraph from the NLT report captures this well:
Since 1985, when the Fifth General Assembly approved the Permanent Judicial Commission’s ruling that the office of “Co-Pastor” is “non-existent,” it has been the official position of the EPC that this office is prohibited. However, this position is not explicitly declared in the Book of Government. A number of EPC churches that came from another denomination in the past ten years were familiar with or had used the “co-pastor” model in their past. Some of these churches have questioned the “constitutionality” of the prohibition of co-pastor. The NLT recommended amendment to the Book of Government makes explicit constitutionally the position of the EPC since 1985.
A lot going on this week. I wish the EPC commissioners well and we will be lifting them up in our prayers as they meet.