FAQ: Timeline of “How We Got Here” (updated 3/27/15)


1910 – Essential and Necessary Doctrines Defined; tension between fundamentalists and modernists

1924 – Auburn Affirmation – modernist response

1927 – Ordination is no longer based on national standards but presbytery local option

1936 – Orthodox Presbyterian Church founded under leadership of J. Gresham Machen

1965 – Last year denomination grew; 4.25 million members; the Presbyterian Lay Committee formed to expose and address the undermining of theological and moral standards.

1967 – Book Of Confessions replaces Westminster Confession as confessional standard of the church; Confession of 1967 added; New ordination vows adopted – “Scripture is God’s word to you.

1973 – 260+ Congregations depart to form Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)

1978 – “Missions” (Great Commission around globe) redefined to “mission” (work of the church)

1978 – Definitive Guidance (wherein homosexuality a labeled “sin”) adopted by General Assembly; ordination of homosexuals prohibited; concurred by PCUS General Assembly in 1979

1981 – Mansfield Kaseman case – ordination approved even though he would not affirm “Jesus is God.”  Evangelical Presbyterian Church Formed (EPC) in anticipation of Reunion.

1982 – Both the UPCUSA and the PCUS add the assertion of express denominational trust over all local church property. Few people in the PCUS were aware of the change as the focus was on the documents related to Reunion.

1983 – Reunion of UPCUSA (Northern Church) and PCUS (Southern Church). An 8 year window is open for PCUS churches to leave with their property.

1986 – General Assembly reaffirms 1978 Definitive Guidance;

1989 – The Covenant Fellowship of Presbyterians and Presbyterians United for Biblical Concerns merged to form Presbyterians for Renewal

1993 – Reimagining God event – “Sophia” worship; God is portrayed as female; the substitutionary atonement is rejected.

1993 – General Assembly reaffirms 1978 Definitive Guidance

1996 – Fidelity and Chastity (G-6.0106b) added to Book of Order as Amendment B – prohibits ordination of practicing homosexuals and other people who persist in other sexual sins

1997 – General Assembly votes to overturn Fidelity and Chastity; Amendment A rejected by presbyteries

2001 – General Assembly refuses to acknowledge “the singular saving lordship of Jesus Christ.”  GA votes to overturn Fidelity and Chastity; Amendment 01A rejected by presbyteries

2001 – Confessing Church Movement arises – affirms authority of Scripture and Jesus as sole means of salvation; New Wineskins Movement develops

2006 – Peace, Unity and Purity (PUP) received and adopted; General Assembly issues Authoritative Interpretation to allow scruples over Fidelity and Chastity (effectively creating “local option”);

2007 – New Wineskins Association of Churches enters into relationship with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) to create pathway for exodus of churches;

2008 – General Assembly votes to overturn Fidelity and Chastity; Amendment B is rejected by presbyteries. But GA also voided all prior judicial rulings and Definitive Guidance on homosexuality; undoing 30 years of process and washing away the record of PJC rulings.

2010 – General Assembly votes to replace Fidelity and Chastity with milder language; Amendment 10A is approved by presbyteries; Pastors from seven large churches gather to express concern over decline in PCUSA and the Fellowship of Presbyterians begins to take shape.

2011 – Open letter to denomination from the seven large church pastors declaring PCUSA “deathly ill” and accompanying White Paper entitled “Time for Something New.”  Fellowship of Presbyterians formed at large gathering in Minneapolis. Ordinations of non-celibate LGBTQ people begin contrary to scripture; departures from PCUSA accelerate; down to 1.75 million members (from 4.25 million in 1965) by 2013.

2012 – ECO: Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians formed in Orlando. (ECO reports more than 200 churches by 2015.) Congregations also continue exodus from PCUSA to EPC which doubled in size between 2007 and 2012, from 180 to more than 400 congregations.

2014 – General Assembly approves overture to redefine marriage and Authoritative Interpretation to allow same-sex “marriage” ceremonies in PCUSA churches by PCUSA clergy in states where it is legal (civil law now dictates our polity, not Scripture). Amendment 14F passed in a majority of presbyteries and becomes effective June 21, 2015. The amendment preserves the right of clergy to not perform any marriage that is contrary to their understanding of the Scriptures. The PCUSA has officially arrived at the “everyone does what is right in his own eyes” position on marriage.

2015 – The Moderator of the PCUSA repeatedly preaches a sermon containing knowing error and is not held to account. On three occasions in January 2015, in videos you can watch on YouTube, the Moderator said that the Bible says we should take divorced people out of the sanctuary and stone them to death on the church steps. The Bible never says any such thing and when asked the Moderator admitted that he didn’t know exactly where the Bible said it but he was sure it did. Even when informed of his error, he continued to preach the same stump sermon in subsequent appearances.

The other pressing issues include:

  • a growing acceptance of universal theology by the clergy
  • support of abortion
  • divestment from holdings in corporations whose products are used for “non-peaceful pursuits” by Israel
  • social witness policies that are almost indistinguishable from the progressive agenda of the Democratic party
  • staff leadership that does not reflect the values nor priorities of the people in the pews.

 Download pdf file of timeline here.

Read more

Christians must cross the river to share the Gospel

bridge over waterDALLAS, Texas – There’s a good reason why a Christian might not feel completely comfortable inviting someone to church, said Jim Milley, a former missionary to Ethiopia and the founder of Bridges.

“There’s a tension within us. We want to invite our friends to church. We love our church. Yet, when we get [to the point of inviting friends] there is something that happens, and we don’t issue the invitation.”

The reason Milley told those attending his seminar at last week’s 2014 National Gathering of ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians and the Fellowship of Presbyterians, is that the “culture in the church has become completely different than the culture outside the church, and it is not your fault. It is not your church’s fault.”

Milley said that 100 million people go to church in the United States. “The challenge is that there are 200 million who don’t go to church anywhere and Jesus says to us ‘Go and make disciples.’”

During his seminar, Milley showed a photo of a bridge, which used to span the river, until a hurricane changed the water’s course. Now, the bridge sits on dry land.

He asked if it was a good bridge, to which he received answers of both “yes” and “no.”

“This is a symbol of the church in America,” he said. “The church is a good church. It was built by faithful, dedicated people. It is serving dedicated Christians.”

But for those who don’t attend church, who live on the other side of the river, and look back at the bridge (or the church), it doesn’t make much sense, he said. “The bridge (or church) is not necessarily relevant … as good as the bridge is, everything around it has changed.”

The church has a new challenge, said Milley.  “The culture on the other side of the river is different from this culture on this of the bridge … If I invite someone to church, I have to ask her to cross that river, and that is hard.”

Milley said that the church in Ethiopia is growing because “ordinary folks like you and me have learned how to cross the river and be Christian people where they live and work, everyday,” and that is something believers in America need to learn.

“If we view the U.S. as a mission field, and understand that we have not been taught the skills of cross-cultural ministry – and there is no way we could have been, since when the river went under the bridge we didn’t need them – it’s a whole new adventure,” he said.

Referring to the Scripture where Jesus said “Go and make disciples,” Milley pointed out that Jesus is saying “Go. Not come. Not go and invite. But go. We cross the river … If you want to live like missionaries in America, the first thing you have to do is go. You plant yourself.”

A missionary leaves the church culture, swims across the river and joins the group, whether it is a biker club or a mommy and me group, said Milley.

Pointing to the photo, Milley said that there are 200 million people across that river and most of them will not come to church, “so instead of inviting them, go and join them. … We must make a conscious choice to go and join the group instead of sitting on the bridge.”

Milley is the founder of Bridges, a ministry whose mission is to provide the very best support and capacity for leaders wanting to start new Christ-following communities, especially among people who think church is irrelevant.


Read more

Seminar leader: Even in the midst of the Middle East troubles, ‘God is alive and well’

Sasan TavassoliDALLAS, Texas — While acknowledging that these are dark days for the Christian church in the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world because of so much persecution, Sasan Tavassoli, an ordained Iranian pastor involved with ministries within the Iranian world, urged those in his seminar to remember that “God is alive and well, sitting on His throne and Jesus Christ is building His Church.”

“Sometimes it is hard to believe that,” he told those attending his seminar at the 2014 National Gathering of ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians and what is now the Fellowship Community (formerly the Fellowship of Presbyterians). “Sometimes we need to say, ‘Lord, I believe. Help me with my unbelief.”

“The kingdom of God is not in danger,” he said. Acknowledging that churches are being closed, and that Christians are being persecuted and killed, he reiterated that “the kingdom of God is not in danger … Jesus is in that mess. Jesus is building His Church. Don’t miss out on that reality.”

Tavassoli declared that reality is not defined by CNN or Fox News. “Reality is defined by the promises of Jesus … Jesus said, ‘I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.’”

He quoted Ephesians 1:11, “In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.”

To illustrate the verse, Tavassoli told about American Christian missionaries being kicked out of Iran in 1980 and how the churches were closed. At that time, the Iranian government declared “This is the end of the church.”

In the 30 years since, approximately 1 million Iranians have come to know Christ. “My point is, that if you kick out the Americans, the church will grow,” he joked. Seriously, though, he said that “When things look terrible and hopeless, God is at work.”

He also read Colossians 1:16, “For in Him all things were created:things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;all things have been created through Him and for Him.” Tavassoli reiterated what the verse said – “With all the powers and rules and thrones there are, somehow Jesus is in control.”

“These are dark, sad, tragic times,” he said, “but they are also the most exciting times concerning mission in the Muslim world … Churches need to get excited about how Muslims are opening their hearts to Jesus.”

He recommended the book, A Wind in the House of Islam, where author David Garrison divides the Muslim world into nine regions – or rooms – and documents “how in each room the Spirit of God is blowing.”

Tavassoli said that in studying the history of the mission to the Muslim world, Garrison found that in the first 1,300 years, there was not a single known instance of a volunteer movement of Muslims coming to faith in Christ. (Tavassoli defined a movement as 1,000 or more people.)

By the end of the 19th century there was one documented movement in Indonesia, where approximately 20,000 Muslims came to Christ. By the end of the 20th century, there had been nine to 10 movements.

Then, in the last 13 years of the 21st century, Garrison found approximately 70 movements – 4-5 million people – coming to Christ in the Muslim world.

“Something new is happening,” said Tavassoli, “and the church needs to be aware of that.”

It’s not in every country and in every people group, he warned, but “Jesus Christ is up to something.”

Tavassoli also spoke of the research and study done by J. Dudley Woodberry, dean emeritus and senior professor of Islamic studies at Fuller Theological Seminary.

He said that Woodberry speaks of the “hand of God in the glove of history, or the five trends through which God is at work in the Muslim world.” Those trends – or fingers – are:

  1. The rise of political Islam. “Whenever radical Muslims take over a country it opens up the Muslims to the Gospel.” He explained that when political Islam “comes into play” it usually includes assignations, deaths, persecution and more making the Muslims ask “Can all this death – evil – be from God? … They open up to Jesus.”
  2. Natural catastrophes – earthquakes, tsunamis, famines, etc. – “The people who show up to minister to the needs of the people are Christians. … There are reports of Syrian Muslims coming to faith in Christ in both Syria and Jordan as they are ministered to by Christians.”
  3. Migration. “Can we believe that God is bringing the mission field to our doorstep? … Can we love our new neighbors that God is bringing into our neighborhoods?” Tavassoli said that “When people come to a new country, they are opened up to new ideas … They are not under traditional pressures …. Many people fall in love with Jesus.
  4. Desire for blessings and healing.
  5. Ethnic and cultural resurgence. Tavassoli said that 4/5 of the Muslim world does not speak Arabic, yet Muslim prayers are recited in that language. These people wonder, “Why can’t we speak our prayers in our tongue?”

At this point, Tavassoli added two more fingers to the hand.

  1. The rise of modern technology, including satellite TV and Internet. This, he said was especially true in Iran and the Middle East. For the first time in history, Muslims can sit in their living rooms and watch satellite TV. While technically, satellite TV is illegal in Iran, it isn’t enforced. The country actually produces shows for the various stations. “We now have four 24/7 Christian channels broadcasting into Iran … and people are calling and emailing these stations.”
  2. The rise of the global Church taking the Gospel to the world. He mentioned churches in Brazil, China and South Korea that are catching a vision for mission. “The whole Church is rising up to take the Gospel, and they are crossing denominational lines … I’m a hard-core Presbyterian, and I am working with Pentecostals, because it is about Jesus, not about Calvin.”

His testimony

Tavassoli said he was raised in a Shitie Muslim home in Iran. During the Iraq-Iran war his parent sent him out of the country so he would not be drafted into the military. He was supposed to go to a Muslim community in England. Instead, he wound up in a Christian school in Portugal.

At that school, he was asked “How do you know the Koran is the word of God?”

“That question turned my life around,” he said. Tavassoli said he began to question what he beleived. He had his mom send him a copy of the Koran and began reading it. He attended a Christian church, all the time, struggling to find the truth.

He became a Christian in January, 1985 and “I felt that God had plans for me to take the Gospel back to Iran.”

Since 2006, he has been teaching the Iranian world through satellite television programs. Read more about him here.


Read more

God uses unlikely circumstances to show that it is His work


Carol Kaminski speaks during the 2014 National Gathering of ECO and the Fellowship of Presbyterians in Dallas, Texas.

DALLAS, Texas — Speaking at the Aug. 18 worship service, Carol Kaminski said that for “you and I to understand how God’s mission is accomplished today, we have to go back to Genesis 11:30, that says, ‘Now Sarah was barren. She had no child.'”

That statement in Genesis, said Kaminski, is anything but accidental or incidental. It is critical to understanding the book and to understanding God’s mission.

Kaminski was speaking at the 2014 National Gathering of ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians and the Fellowship of Presbyterians, held Aug. 17-20 in Dallas.

The statement “Now Sarah was barren. She had no child,” is remarkable for three reasons, said Kaminski.


ecoThree reasons

The first, she said, was that the key promised in Genesis is that Abraham will have many descendants, as many as the stars in the sky. She then asked, “Have you ever wondered when God makes this promise, why is God calling a barren woman?”

According to Kaminski, the second reason is that genealogies are very important to this book.

Genesis 5 lists the generations from Noah to Adam.

fopGenesis 7 lists another 10 generations from Shem to Abraham, but then with Abraham, there is no child. She asked, “The blessing of God is coming through the genealogies, so what is going on at this dead end?”

The third reason the statement is so remarkable concerns the Hebrew word “toledot,” which means “begat,” or “to beget.”

“Who doesn’t have a toledot? Abraham. He has a barren wife who is elderly,” she said. “It looks like the purposes of God are coming to a dead end.”

Not only was Sarah barren, Kaminski said, according to Genesis 18:11 she was past the age of child bearing. “It was humanly impossible for her to have kids.”

“If we want to begin mission work, and children are a part of it, I would probably chose a young man and a woman of child bearing age,” she said, “but God chose a elderly couple, the woman past the child-bearing age.”

Turning her focus on current times, Kaminski said that “some of you might feel like you are in some kind of waste land and you are unable to carry out the mission of God in your context. You feel like you are stuck in this, and you can’t carry out God’s work here … But I know that Scripture teaches us that over and over God’s purposes are not thwarted by adverse circumstances or barrenness, because this is the God who brings life out of that which is dead … And He is going to use a barren woman to show it.”

Only the Creator God can bring life out of what’s dead and barren. She continued, “when the children come, Paul says in Romans 9 that they will be the children of God. … God uses barrenness to show that it is His work and that He is doing it. … He likes to use unlikely circumstances to show that it is His work.”


Hebrew grammar lesson

God’s missional work is connected back to Genesis 1. In two places God tells His people to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28 to Adam and Eve; Genesis 9:1 to Noah). “This is the creation mandate,” she said.

Kaminksi said that in these two blessing the verbs that are used are “ordinary Hebrew verbs.” Using the ordinary verbs shows that “the people do this.”

But, when it comes to Abraham’s story, “the Hebrew verbs change, so that the subject changes to God,” explained Kaminksi.

So the message becomes “I will cause you to be fruitful. I will cause you to multiply. How do you know I’m doing it? I am going to choose a barren woman who can’t have kids so they won’t forget this is God’s work, not theirs.”

She added that what happens is when God shows up and does His work, people say that must be God and we sing To God be the Glory.”

This” Genesis barrenness” concept runs throughout Scripture, she said. “God uses circumstances that are less than ideal to accomplish His work. Think of Gideon.”

Gideon tells God that he is the least of his family, of the least tribe, but God says “I will go with you.” Later, Gideon goes to fight the Midianite army and God says that his already outnumbered army is too large. Gideon winds up defeated the Midianites with an army of 300.

“In those unlikely and less than ideal circumstances,” Kaminski said, “God was not just working through them, He plans them.”

“You and I have an unwritten list of ideal circumstances and ideal people for God to work through and with,” she said.

Then she warned that in North America there have been certain circumstances in which God’s people have worked, “but those circumstances are crumbling around us … Can He only work in favorable circumstances or can He work in the unfavorable? Scripture says he loves to work in the unfavorable.”


Barrenness goes with faith

God’s mission, she said, is also accomplished by faith, she said. “The theme of barrenness goes with faith. You have to keep them together.”

To explain what she meant, Kaminski turned to Genesis 15 — the story where Abraham told God that he remained childless, and God showed him the stars in the sky and said “so shall your offspring be.”

Abraham’s response? He believed in the Lord.

“Abraham was asking and believing God to do what he could not do. That is why it is without works in Romans 12. Abraham can’t have kids so he has to believe that God will do what he can’t do himself. He believes that God can bring life out of deadness.”


Resurrection faith

Kaminski called this resurrection faith. In Genesis 15, Abraham looked at Sarah’s dead womb, but believed God when He said that his offspring would be like the stars in the sky.

See Romans 4, she said. “Resurrection faith is not a one-time faith … It is an ongoing faith because God is the Creator God … We need more resurrection faith that says God can bring life out of the dead.”

Kaminksi said that “We have lost the vision that God works in all kinds of situations, not just the right circumstances, because He is the Creator God. Can God work when the laws of the land are less favorable or does He only work when they are favorable. Can He work in these less than ideal circumstances? I believe He can. I believe the Scripture say Amen and Amen.”


Unfavorable circumstances can be the catalyst

“When you look at the way God works in Scripture, it is sometimes these unfavorable circumstances that are actually a catalyst for a new mission of God,” she said. She then provided a few Biblical examples.

  • It was God’s plan for the children of Israel to be Egypt. It is where they multiplied. God had a plan to show Pharaoh His power.
  • Think of Naomi and Ruth. There’s a famine in the land of Bethlehem. It’s the famine that sends the family to Moab, and that is how a Moab woman comes into the genealogy of King David.
  • Think of Stephen’s death. He preaches a wonderful sermon and is then stoned to death. Read Acts 8. The Christians are persecuted, and they fled “throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria,” but if you read Acts 1, Jesus commands His followers “you will bemy witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea andSamaria, andto the end of the earth.: Acts 8 starts the Gentile mission because of the persecution. Persecution leads to mission.
  • Think of Paul in the Roman prison. He had always wanted to go to Rome, and now he is in pitiful circumstances, but he writes to the Philippians of “greater progress.”

Kaminski asked, “Is it possible in your current context — individual and denominational — that God is working for even greater progress of the Gospel?”

“We need to rethink our context … We need to rethink how we do mission and we need to have a resurrection faith,” she said. “When we pray, we ask God to change the context. We think He works in the ideal circumstances. Scripture teaches that God works in the midst of the mess — in less than ideal circumstances.

She quoted from Isaiah 43:

I am theLord,your Holy One, Israel’s Creator,your King.” This is what theLordsays— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew outthe chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they laythere, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

She then asked, “Do you believe that this evening?”

Read more

My mixed birth metaphor coming out of the ECO/Fellowship Dallas Gathering

After the official Synod meeting of the ECO: Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, the Dallas Gathering
continued for another two days and included The Fellowship of Presbyterians, which birthed ECO, but which is now conjoined with Presbyterians for Renewal (PFR) as the Fellowship Community

That admixture made for awkward moments, like when Paul Detterman, who is staying in the PCUSA and shepherding the Fellowship Community, introduced the head of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Mission Agency, Linda Valentine. Several of her staff members were also present, hosted booths in the exhibit area, lead workshops throughout the gathering and were credited with publishing the resource on The Apostles’ Creed that was distributed – at the expense of the PCUSA’s Congregational Ministries Division – to all Gathering attendees.

Salt – in the world or in wounds? fellowshipcommunity

At the closing worship service Bryan Dunagan, the new senior minister of the Highland Park Presbyterian Church, now in ECO, preached a message sending people out into the mess of the world that God so loves.

But it was hard to miss the mess that was right there in the room. Again the Fellowship Community’s Paul Detterman – in a room of 1300 people – singled out for recognition Brian Ellison, the openly partnered gay minister who heads the pro-LGBT Covenant Network of Presbyterians. Apparently Ellison had failed to arrive at the event before the closing service but he was long enough to be celebrated from the dias.

Now, for those who have paid millions of dollars and invested untold hours of prayer and grief to extricate themselves from the PCUSA, such recognitions – during what was supposed their new denomination’s big event- were brow-furrowing. For the hundred or so members of Highland Park, the host church for the event, who had volunteered throughout the event, the recognition was offensive. (To clarify, I am not suggesting that Ellison was not welcome nor deserving of the same gracious hospitality extended to everyone. The point I am seeking to make is that those who are now in ECO – and who comprised the majority of attendees – were offended by the recognition, not Ellison’s presence.) HPPC is currently in active litigation with the PCUSA’s Grace Presbytery which wants tens of millions of dollars to “allow” HPPC to leave with its property and endowment.

All in all it was a great event for networking, connecting, fellowship and missional equipping. But at the level of the optics there was a political naivete that must be overcome for ECO and/or the Fellowship Community to genuinely prosper.




Read more

Fellowship and Presbyterians for Renewal plan merger

fopThe Layman

There’s a lot going on with the Fellowship of Presbyterians (FOP) this summer.

In an email sent at the end of last week, it was announced that FOP will merge with Presbyterians for Renewal (PFR) to “nurture and connect gospel-centered Presbyterian Church (USA) congregations and expand relationships with our counterparts in other mainline traditions.”

The merger of the two organizations should be complete by Jan. 1, 2015.

pfr“To this new community, the Fellowship brings its identity and founding vision; a movement within the PCUSA nurturing leaders to meet the challenges of the contemporary church and creating a supportive Biblical community. PFR brings financial and structural resources along with a deep commitment to smaller membership congregations, elders as spiritual leaders, evangelical seminary students and faculty, and the nurture of women in leadership,” the announcement stated.

During the same time period, the Fellowship will be ending its corporate connection with ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. The email did note that relationship will continue to be nurtured between the PCUSA, ECO and FOP through common values, the Essential Tenets, Mission Affinity Groups and other relational opportunities.

A new board of directors for the merged organization should be in place before the upcoming National Gathering, co-sponsored by ECO and FOP.

The 2014 National Gathering: From Consumerism to Community will be held Aug. 18-20 in Dallas, Texas, at the InterContinental Hotel.

Speakers include Alan Hirsch, founding director of Forge Mission Training Network; Dr. Carol Kaminski, associate professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; Kevin Ford, chief visionary officer, TAG Consulting; Katherine Leary Alsdorf, co-author, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work; Kent Carlson and Mike Lueken, co-authors of Renovation of the Church and co-pastors of Oak Hills Church; Anna Kent, director of Mission Affinity Groups of ECO and FOP; and Singleton.

A video about the Gathering and a schedule of events is available on the web site.

Online registration is available.


GA event

Also announced in the email was a Fellowship and PFR breakfast to be held on June 18 at the PCUSA’s 221st General Assembly in Detroit, Mich. It will be held at the Marriott Hotel, and Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, will be the speaker.

The email was sent by Bill Teng, president of PFR; Jim Singleton, president of the FOP; and Paul Detterman, executive director of both. Detterman has been the executive director of both organizations since the Fellowship was formed.

Since its first gathering in August of 2011, the Fellowship has grown to 230 churches.

Read more

Registration open for ECO/Fellowship National Gathering

ecoThe Layman

Registration is under way for the 2014 National Gathering of ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians and the Fellowship of Presbyterians (FOP).

The gathering will take place Aug. 18-20 in Dallas, Texas, at the Intercontinental Dallas Hotel. It will be the first gathering since January 2013 when the groups met in Orlando, Fla.

The theme of this year’s gathering is “From Consumerism to Community.” More than 1,200 people are expected to gather from across the Reformed family for two days of worship, connection, training, Gospel teaching, prayer and inspiration. Stories of missional community and growth in PCUSA and ECO churches also will be shared.

fop logoConfirmed speakers for the event include Jim Singleton, president of FOP; Alan Hirsch, founding director of Forge Mission Training Network; Katherine Leary Alsdorf, co-author of Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work; Kent Carlson and Mike Lueken, co-authors of Renovation of the Church and co-pastors at Oak Hills Church; Kevin Ford, chief visionary officer of TAG Consulting and co-author of The Leadership Triangle; and Anna Kent, director of Mission Affinity Groups for ECO and FOP.

The event kicks off Monday, Aug. 18 with an ECO Synod meeting at 9 a.m., and opening worship, led by Singleton, starts at 1 p.m.

In addition to discussions led by the featured speakers, there will be a number of breakout sessions offered on a variety of topics throughout the gathering.

The registration fee, which includes lunch on Aug. 19, is $180 on or before Aug. 1 and $225 after Aug. 1.

To view a short video promotion for the event, visit

To register for the National Gathering, visit

The Fellowship of Presbyterians got its start began in January 2011 as a conversation between seven Presbyterian Church (USA) pastors who wanted to find new ways to encourage each other in common faith, ministry and mission. Those pastors expressed concern about the health of the PCUSA as a denomination, where membership has dropped steadily over 40 years and ongoing disputes over theology and bureaucracy were creating a culture of contention rather than Kingdom vitality.

The seven pastors issued a nationwide call to others of like mind who envisioned a new future for congregations to connect and grow while sharing a Presbyterian, Reformed, Evangelical heritage. In August 2011, more than 1,900 people of diverse ages and ethnicities answered that call in Minneapolis.

In January 2012, a Covenanting Conference in Orlando solidified The Fellowship of Presbyterians, and they launched the new Reformed body, ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. Between the Minneapolis and Orlando gatherings, 1,159 unique congregations were represented.

In August 2012, two regional gatherings in Colorado Springs and Atlanta gave attendees a first-hand experience of what life in The Fellowship and ECO would be like. Since that time, hundreds of congregations and individuals have joined The Fellowship of Presbyterians and begun the process of affiliation with ECO, which already has 118 congregations and nearly 200 pastors since it launched more than two years ago.

Read more

Presbyterian Global Fellowship is dissolved

pgfBy Jerry Deck
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I’m writing today to give you an update on Presbyterian Global Fellowship.
Seven years ago a group of Presbyterians gathered at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in order to worship the God who sent his Son into the world in order to save it. The question that brought them together during those days is what it meant to be the church, the people of God whom the Father, Son and Holy Spirit has sent out to be his witnesses. It was a time to confess our past unwillingness to go into all the world (including our neighborhoods), to understand more thoroughly the new context in which many of us found ourselves and to ask how we as Presbyterians and followers of Christ could best move forward.
Out of this initial conversation Presbyterian Global Fellowship was founded, with the desire to help transform mainline congregations into missional communities following Jesus Christ. Over the next few years, through national and regional conferences, webinars, blogs, video curriculum and a growing network of “missional leaders” PGF provided resources to pastors, elders and church members that would help them to live out the missional call.
Since that first meeting in 2006 the missional conversation exploded and PGF was an active part of reclaiming our ancient call of being God’s sent people. This has been PGF’s passion from its inception and we feel blessed to have seen churches changed as they have caught the Spirit’s winds and left the safe confines of their homes and church buildings in order to follow God into their neighborhood.
Read more

Like the moon reflects the sun, Christians must reflect the Son

ECOGREENVILLE, S.C. – The Rev. Paul Detterman encouraged those attending Equip 2013, the Southeast region event of ECO: A Covenant Order of Presbyterians and the Fellowship of Presbyterians, to reflect the light of the Son during Friday morning’s devotions.

Detterman, the executive director of the FOP, read from what he called “a little section on the Sermon on the Mount … We know it pretty well … If you been in the church at all, you know these words and it suffers from familiarity.”

“If you want to understand the impact of Matthew 5,” he encouraged those listening to ask an unbeliever to read that passage of Scripture. “Find your favorite pagan.  What they will say is, ‘Oh my gosh, who lives that way?’”

“If you read Matthew 5 with a truly open mind, the only response is ‘God save me.’ In this we see the holiness of God.”

Taking a serious look at the passage, Detterman said that the readers see Jesus telling His disciples that they are the light of the world.

matthew 5 13-16“If we meditate on that,” he said, “we want to say, ‘No, Jesus, you are the light of the world. And Jesus is the light.”

Detterman then asked the South Carolina crowd, “How many of you had a chance to look at the moon last night?”

He urged his listeners to think about “that chunk of rock, suspended in a very dark nothingness, and the way we appreciate the moon is when this other source of light gets to shine full on it.”

Did anyone notice, he asked, that “you could walk around last night without a light and not hurt yourself? … We could stare at the moon, and look at it for 10 minutes with no problem. We can’t stare at the sun for five seconds without damage to our eyes.”

“No one can see God and live,” said Detterman, “but we can stare deeply at the reflection of God’s light all around us. You are the light of the world – the lamp that lights up the house.”

He emphasized it again, saying “You are the light of the world. Jesus has created you, redeemed you and called you to shine – to reflect the radiance of God who we can’t look straight at in our fallen state and live … We can see the reflection of the Son.”

Looking at the text in a slightly different way, Detterman asked, what would happen if Christians didn’t let their light shine? “What happens if we don’t live into our calling?”

“People won’t see,” was his answer. “In the darkness, in the time when the moon is in a different phase, when the power is out, when the light is under a bowl, we wander around in our darkness. We stumble. We fall and we hurt ourselves and others.”

“If we don’t shine as we should, people will wander in the darkness,” Detterman said, “People won’t give glory to our Father in heaven and most importantly, people won’t see any point in all of the other teachings of Jesus, if they don’t see the light of Jesus shining in us.”

The world is desperately looking for something that will shine in the darkness. They are looking for Jesus, said Detterman, “and if they don’t see His light shining through us in the way we love one another and the way we deal with the issues around us … they will not believe in the other teachings of Jesus.”

“So, sisters and brothers, go shine!”

Read more

TAP(ping) mission leaders

TAPThe Antioch Partners (TAP) is a missionary agency that works with local Presbyterian churches in the United States to send followers of Jesus to participate in God’s mission in the world.

TAP works through multiple Presbyterian denominations to develop missionaries and send them into the mission fields to do God’s work. Those participating in kingdom work such as inviting people to follow Jesus, social justice, discipleship, supporting church planting movements, leadership development and business have been called by God for long-term, cross-cultural ministry.

To help further that purpose, The Antioch Partners, along with The Outreach foundation and Frontier Fellowship, will present “Connecting Mission Leaders,” a conference for Presbyterian congregational leaders Sept. 19-21, 2013, at First Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas.

The event is open to leaders of ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), Fellowship of Presbyterians (FOP) and Presbyterian Church (USA).


Carl Medearis

The event begins with dinner at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 19 and includes four talks by keynote speaker Carl Medearis, author of Speaking of Jesus: the art of non-evangelism and Muslims, Christians and Jesus: Gaining Understanding and Building Relationships. He is a catalyst for a number of current movements in the Middle East to promote peace-making, as well as cultural, political and religious dialogue leading toward reconciliation.

The event also includes worship services, breakout groups, free time and networking opportunities. Sessions Friday and Saturday start at 9 a.m., and the conference wraps up at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Scheduled breakout sessions include:

  • Missions Leadership 101;
  • Local and urban engagement in your community;
  • Training ST teams for spiritual formation at every step in the process;
  • Developing mission leaders/champions in your local congregation;
  • Mission-minded Families: mobilizing, equipping and facilitating family engagement in mission;
  • Taking Your Mission Trips to the Next Level – from Projects to Partnership;
  • Engaging the Unreached – Learning from the Experiences of Other Congregations; and
  • Serving as Senders: Raising Up and Sending Out Effective Cross-cultural Missionaries from Your Church.

In partnership with local Presbyterian churches, missionaries are serving through TAP in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Avenues for TAP missionaries to serve in the United States as well as unnamed Christian immigrant communities also are being explored.

TAP is committed to increasing the number of Presbyterian churches it serves in the sending of missionaries, the number of missionaries being sent, as well as the areas of the world and number of unreached people groups where these missionaries are serving.

Registration and conference information can be found at Registration fee for the event is $85. Space is limited.

Anyone interested in serving the world through TAP can contact the personnel coordinator at or 713-490-9571.

Read more