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Weaver Elected EPC Moderator

Weaver

The Rev. Dean Weaver (Photo by Scott Thomas Wiest}

The Rev. Dean Weaver was elected yesterday (6/12/17) as the moderator of the 37th General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Weaver, pastor of Memorial Park Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Allison Park, Pa., is a member of the EPC’s Presbytery of the Alleghenies.

Years ago, Weaver and his church were a part of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and as that denomination began straying from its Biblical and Reformed foundation, Weaver helped start and became co-moderator or the New Wineskins Association of Churches (NWAC), which eventually became part of the EPC.

Years ago, the EPC created a place for the New Wineskins churches, that “we very desperately needed. As we got to know one another and know this church that was Presbyterian, Reformed and missional, we found that we were parts of the same family,” said Weaver, following his unanimous election. “Over the past 10 years, for many of you who are like me, this has become home and we love it and we cherish it.”

Weaver continued, “God is still reforming and realigning His church, according to the word of God. We stand at this moment, for me, with incredible gratitude not just the business before this assembly but before this church … the bride of Christ in my view has never been more radiant or more beautiful.”

In her seconding speech, prior to the election, Betsy Rumer said she first knew Weaver as a pastor, then a boss, and “now I know him as mentor – most importantly I know him as my friend, my brother in Christ. …I will tell you as a colleague, Dean loves the bride of Christ. He loves the church. He has devoted himself and dedicated himself faithfully to the church for over 30 years. … I think Dean has been raised up for just such a time. He has the mind, the heart and the vision and the skill set to take the EPC into the next season.”

Weaver graduated from Grove City College in Grove City, Pa. in 1986; earned his master of divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary; and his doctor of ministry from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He currently is pursuing a Master of Theology in homiletics from Gordon-Conwell.

He and his wife, Beth have six children and one granddaughter.

Photo at the top: Past EPC General Assembly Moderators and Stated Clerks Pray for Weaver, and His Wife, Beth.  (Photo by Scott Thomas Wiest)

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EPC Opening Worship: Passing the Faith from Generation to Generation

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Rev. Kirk Bottomly (Photo by Scott Thomas Wiest}

The 37th General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church began yesterday (6/21/17) at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in Fair Oaks, Calif., with worship and a sermon by the church’s pastor.

The Rev. Kirk Bottomly based his sermon on the GA’s theme “Generation to Generation,” reading from Psalm 78:4-7 and Psalm 145:1;4-7.

“One generation shall praise Your works to another,” said Bottomly, highlighting the words from Psalm 145. “Declare, meditate, speak, celebrate and sing, that is how the Gospel gets passed on from generation to generation. … The church is a multi-generational program. We contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints, and we do it again, and again.”

Back to the beginning of Presbyterianism, back to the Apostles, the Gospel is a multi-generational project, he said.

In Deuteronomy 6:7-9, Moses said “these words that I command you today shall be on your year, you shall teach them diligently to your children.”

“You should do this in your house,” said Bottomly. “You relate God’s word to every activity in your life. … reinforce these lessons again and again, so that the faith takes in the next generation, so the generational hand-off takes place.”

Bottomly said that Psalm 145 speaks to the worship setting, while Deut. 6 speaks to the family setting.

“We do not live by bread alone, but on every one of these holy words that comes from God,” he said, These words that shape children into committed, thinking, spiritually mature, world changing believers.

God works through the parents, to teach a Biblical-centered worldview to the children, he said.

“Who is working in your family, in your church? Are the parents and grandparents in your church Biblically-literate enough to pull this off?”

Or, Bottomly asked, are they expecting the church to do this, “one hour a week during Sunday school? This is a tough assignment. We have families in our pews suffering from a famine of the Word. This is not a problem the greatest Sunday school in the world can fix.”

generation

Rev. Kirk Bottomly (Photo by Scott Thomas Wiest}

The other venue for the generational hand-off is the church. Quoting from Psalm 145, “One generation shall praise your works to one another.”

“The story of God, the truth about God and faith in God – they get passed to the next generation through praise, through worship,” said Bottomly. “The kids that are learning these things … they see Mom and Dad and grandparents worship God in genuine thanks and praise.

“The parents have the primary responsibility,” he said, “and the church has the secondary responsibility to equip the parents.”

“We not only need great preaching, we need great worship. Dry unemotional orthodoxy is a half-truth. It doesn’t touch the heart.”

Bottomly referred to Ephesians 5:18-19 and Colossians 3:16, both of which speak of “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.”

Bottomly continued by defining the terms mentioned in the verse:

  • “Psalmoi” or Pslam: the psalter, any song accompanied by a plucked instrument.
  • “Humnoi” or hymn: the new songs composed by the church phil 2; 1 Tim 3; Eph 4 1 Cor 15
  • Odai pneumatikai: the spiritual songs.

“That is how you celebrate the faith and how you transfer faith,” he said. “It captures the heard and the mind and can be passed on from one generation to another.”

Bottomly asked if the church was willing to make the changes needed to pass on the faith to the next generation? “Is your church aging out or will it pass the baton to the next generations. It’s such a fragile transfer,” he said. “I don’t know how it happened for 2,000 years, except for the One who sits in the command center, who said ‘I will build my church.’”

“The question for us, the evangelical church, is will we be a part of that?”

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EPC Continues to Grow in 2016

The Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) experienced another year of growth in 2016 – adding 26 churches and 967 members during the year. The denomination also increased its worship attendance by more than 2,000.

By the end of 2016, the EPC had 150,042 members, an increase of 967 from the 2015 total of 149,075. Total churches increased from 576 in 2015, to 602 in 2016 – an increase of 26 churches.

Between May 28, 2016 and May 22, 2015, 11 churches from the Presbyterian Church (USA) joined the EPC during the year, while four churches were either dismissed or dissolved.

An increase in worship attendance was also reported. In 2015, the EPC reported that 93,736 attended worship. That number increased by 2,168 in 2016 to a total of 95,904.

Other statistics found in the 2016 Annual Statistical Report Summary include: (Statistics found on page 362 of pdf file.)

  • Adult profession, 1,071
  • Youth profession, 1,351
  • Transfer gains,  1,870
  • Transfer loss, 942
  • Death,  1,461
  • Infant baptism, 1,502
  • Adult baptism, 701

GA begins Tuesday

The 37th Annual General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church begins Tuesday (6/20/17) at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in Sacramento, Calif.

The GA’s theme – Generation to Generation – comes from Psalm 79:13: “From generation to generation we will proclaim your praise.”

GA documents can be found here, and #epc2017ga is the assembly’s official hashtag to post, follow or comment on the work of the assembly. The GA brochure that includes the schedule, descriptions of events for adults and children and information on the keynote speakers is available here.

For more EPC General Assembly news, visit the EPConnection.

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Turkey Levels Charges Against Andrew Brunson

(EPConnection news release). Turkish media is reporting May 19 that EPC teaching elder Andrew Brunson is being accused of being a “Kurdish sympathizer” and a “Gülenist.” The timing of the media reports potentially reveals Turkey’s response to President Trump and Vice President Pence’s pleas to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on May 16 to release Brunson from prison and allow him to return to the United States. Brunson has been held since October 2016.

“I cannot stress enough how significant these accusations are,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “In fact, the Turkish government views them as nothing less than treason.”

Hurriyet, the leading English-language news outlet in Turkey, reported that prosecutors are citing Brunson for “delivering sermons to the Kurds with a ‘special purpose’”—wording that implies support for an ethnic group that Turkey is waging a military campaign against. The Kurds are a minority group in Turkey (primarily located in the eastern and southeastern parts of the country, as well in Iran, Iraq, and Syria) and for many years have unsuccessfully pressed for more autonomy.

Yeni Şafak, a pro-Erdoğan news outlet, published an article yesterday under the headline “FETO Chaplain” that condemned Brunson for supporting Islamic cleric Fethulah Gülen, who has lived in the United States since 1999. Gülen leads a loose organization involved largely in education but also in other areas. Gülen and Erdoğan are former allies, but in 2015 the Turkish government labeled his movement the Fethullahist Terror Organization—or FETO—and classified it as terrorist. Erdoğan blames Gülen and FETO for leading a coup attempt against him last summer that ultimately failed. Gülen has repeatedly denied the charge.

“It is time to redouble our prayer efforts,” Jeremiah said in a statement to the EPC. “Please take time in your worship services this weekend to plead to the Lord on Andrew’s behalf.”

Visit the EPC’s Free Pastor Andrew web site

Related articles: 

5 Facts About the #ForgottenAmericanInTurkey

US pastor jailed in Turkey accused of special sermons to Kurds, contact with Gülen movement

Trump, Pence Press Andrew Brunson’s Release to Turkish President Erdoğan in White House Meetings

Trump Commits to Securing American Pastor’s Release from Prison in Turkey

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Trump, Pence Press Andrew Brunson’s Release to Turkish President Erdoğan in White House Meetings

(EPConnection article). In meetings held on May 16, U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence appealed to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for Andrew Brunson’s release. Brunson, an Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) teaching elder, has been imprisoned in Izmir, Turkey, since October 2016.

The EPC received reports from two different sources that both Trump and Pence advocated for Andrew’s freedom.

Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, said that one of these individuals “told us that Mr. Pence asked him to reach out to the EPC directly. I know I speak for the Brunson family in expressing our most sincere appreciation to the President and Vice President for their efforts today.”

Jeremiah noted four items that occurred in the meetings:

  1. Pence met with the Turkish leader first, and pleaded that Andrew’s case be expedited and resolved as quickly as possible.
  2. At the lunch that followed, Trump raised Andrew’s case at both the beginning and end of lunch. His plea was very similar in language with the Vice President’s.
  3. After the lunch, Pence raised it a final time.
  4. Pence was personally engaged in this with Erdoğan, and Trump spoke knowledgeably about Andrew’s situation.

“We are all very grateful for the prayers of so many people in the days leading up to today’s events,” Jeremiah added. “Please keep praying in the aftermath of this meeting.”

Brunson’s situation has garnered attention from news organizations across the theological and political spectrum, including ABC News, CBS News, The Christian Post, Fox News, International Christian Concern, Jewish News Service, National Catholic Register, National Review, Presbyterian Lay Committee, Slate, Time Magazine, USA Today, World Watch Monitor, and others. Links to many of these reports are available on the EPC’s Andrew Brunson resource page at www.epc.org/forgottenamericaninturkey.

View article on the EPConnection web site

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Brunson’s Message to Trump: ‘Please Do Not Leave Me Here’

(By Jordan Sekulow, ACLJ). American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who is wrongfully imprisoned in Turkey for his Christian faith spoke with U.S. embassy officials today, pleading with President Trump, “please help me.”

Pastor Andrew – a U.S. citizen – faces false charges in Turkey of “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” After peacefully serving the people of Turkey for more than 23 years without any issues from the Turkish government, this U.S. citizen now languishes in prison.

Pastor Andrew delivered the following statement today to U.S. embassy officials who were able to meet with him in the prison:

Will the Turkish government face no consequence for stubbornly continuing to hold an American citizen as a political prisoner?  Even though I have a long public track record as a church pastor, they falsely accuse me of being a member of an Islamist terrorist group. I have been imprisoned since October 7, 2016. During this time the Turkish government has produced no proof and has rebuffed numerous attempts by the American government to secure my return to the United States. In fact they are treating the US government with contempt and paying no price for it.

I plead with my government – with the Trump Administration – to fight for me.  I ask the State Department to impose sanctions. I appeal to President Trump:  please help me. Let the Turkish government know that you will not cooperate with them in any way until they release me. Please do not leave me here in prison.

We echo Pastor Andrew’s call. The U.S. government must take a more active role in fighting for Pastor Andrew’s release. He has done nothing wrong. He is a U.S. citizen wrongfully imprisoned in a foreign land because of his Christian faith. He deserves to be free.

Pastor Andrew should be immediately released and allowed to return to his wife and children in the U.S. who desperately miss him.

At the ACLJ, we continue to represent Pastor Andrew and are engaged in an aggressive legal advocacy campaign across the globe for his freedom.

Do not let him be forgotten.  Be Pastor Andrew’s voice.  Amplify his plea: “Please do not leave me here in prison.”

Join with over 233,000 others who have signed our petition for his freedom. Take action (below and) at BeHeardProject.com.

Visit the ACLJ web site and sign the petition. 

Visit the EPC’s web page for Andrew Brunson

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Presbyterian Pastor a ‘Pawn’ for Turkey

(By Bill Bumpas, OneNewsNow.com). The Evangelical Presbyterian Church says it has launched a petition drive in hopes of drawing attention to the imprisonment of Andrew Brunson. 

The American-born Presbyterian teaching elder has been ministering to the Turkish people for more than 20 years.  But in October of last year, he was arrested and accused of having “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” 

Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, says that charge is false and Brunson’s only “crime” is being a Christian.

“He’s only being held, I believe, as essentially an international pawn,” she alleges, “in Turkey’s attempt to have the United States extradite a person who lives here that Turkey would very much like to have in Turkey so that they can charge him with issues in their own country.”

LaBerge says believers should speak out against this.

“The punitive nature of this related to their faith is something that Christians must be concerned about,” she says. “And as an American who is being held in a foreign country for no legitimate reason, it is an issue that should rise to the concern of our federal government as well.”

She asks for prayers for Brunson and his family.

Article originally posted at OneNewsNow.com.

Sign the petition by clicking here.

Related article: Evangelical Presbyterian Church launches petition to free imprisoned pastor in Turkey, Washington Times

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Imprisoned American Pastor Formally Charged in Turkey

(EPC Press Release).

Rev. Andrew Brunson, a pastor from Black Mountain, N.C., has been charged in Turkey with membership in an armed terrorist organization and sent to prison. Brunson is a Teaching Elder in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and has lived in Turkey since 1993. During that time, he has served as pastor of two Protestant congregations and worked among refugees and in other humanitarian efforts.

Brunson had been held without charge in a detention center in Izmir, Turkey, since October 7. He was interrogated without notice on December 9 and imprisoned.

The Brunson family has retained the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is active in defending persecuted Christians around the globe, as their legal counsel and leaders of the public campaign for Andrew’s release.

In a statement, ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said Brunson is “facing grave danger in a Turkish prison where he is being held simply because of his Christian beliefs,” adding that if convicted, he could may face years in prison based on extremely serious—but false—charges.

At the time of Brunson’s detention in October, his activities were considered by the Turkish government to be “against national security.” However, no other reason was given for Andrew’s incarceration and no formal charges had been filed against him.

As of December 8, he had been held without charges for 63 days. In more than two months of detention, Andrew has been permitted only two U.S. consular visits.

The U.S. State Department, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and other U.S.  government officials have been working with EPC leaders to gain Brunson’s release.

The Brunson family issued a statement December 14 in which they thanked those working to secure Andrew’s freedom. “We will not rest until Andrew is free,” they said. “We’re grateful for the support of the ACLJ and others who are working to demand that Turkey release Andrew without delay.”

The Evangelical Presbyterian Church firmly believes that Andrew Brunson’s detention is unfounded. The Brunsons have absolutely no connection to any armed terrorist organization in the country where he has lived peacefully for more than 20 years and where they raised their three children.

Andrew’s daughter, Jacqueline, who attends college in North Carolina, said the family is shocked by the charges against him and urged the Turkish government to release him immediately.

“It is both troubling and disturbing that my father, who has called Turkey home for the last 23 years, is imprisoned without cause,” she said. “I grew up in Turkey and saw firsthand how much he loves Turkey and the Turkish people. He has exhibited nothing but love, mercy, and grace during his time there. The best Christmas present our family could receive this year is the release of my father.”

For more information about Brunson, contact:

Dr. Jeffrey Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk
(734) 536-5814
[email protected]
www.epc.org

 

 

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Presbyterian Scholars Conference: What Happens When Mainliners Sit at Table with Split P’s?

(By Chuck Wiggins, The Presbyterian Outlook). “I often wonder what kind of shape the Presbyterian Church would be in today if the Orthodox Presbyterians, the PCA, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and ECO had not departed,” mused Joseph D. Small, former Presbyterian Church (USA.) Theology & Worship director.

Those particularly thought provoking words came during the recent Presbyterian Scholars Conference held October 18-19 at Wheaton College in Illinois.

A glimpse of that musing was evident as 30 scholars from various streams of the Presbyterian enterprise gathered to offer papers and exchange remarks on “the future of American Presbyterianism.”

From my perspective, the spirit and the tenor of the conference with scholars from the PC(USA), OPC, EPC, and ECO under one roof during both the lectures and at table during meals was — how shall I say it — downright genial.

Headlining a list of outstanding scholars besides Small, included Bradley Longfield of University of Dubuque Theological Seminary; OPC historian extraordinaire and Hillsdale College professor Darryl Hart; and George Marsden, distinguished professor from Notre Dame University and arguably the premier historian of American church history.

Perhaps the highlight of the conference was the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the publication of Longfield’s groundbreaking work, “The Presbyterian Controversy: Fundamentalists, Modernists & Moderates.” Longfield’s award-winning book has been widely regarded by Presbyterians of all theological stripes as an even-handed analysis of the fundamentalist-modernist controversies of the 1920s and 1930s and their aftermath. (In my opinion, previous historical narratives by mainline P’s have largely tended to dismiss departing conservatives as simplistic cranks; while the “split P’s” have approached their forbears uncritically with a kind of surreal, hagiographic reverence.)

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Three INPM Presbyteries Seek Church Planting Partners in the EPC

(The EPConnection). The EPC and National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INPM) ratified a fraternal relationship on September 8 that focuses on church planting in both countries. In October, the EPC was notified that three INPM presbyteries are ready to initiate a relationship with EPC presbyteries:

  • The Presbytery of de la Chontalpa, located in the state of Tabasco in southeast Mexico. This presbytery was organized in March 2016.
  • The Presbytery of de la Riviera Maya in the state of Quintana Roo. It is centered in Cancun, in southeast Mexico.
  • The Presbytery of the State of Morelos, located in south-central Mexico.

Adolfo Arias Job, INPM Executive Secretary, said the three presbyteries present unique church planting opportunities.

“The presbyteries of Chontalpa and Morelos are located in rural zones that are very needy,” he said, “and the Riviera Maya presbytery is in a tourist zone. For these reasons, we have given them all the freedom to evaluate and choose with which presbytery they would like to work in the EPC.”

EPC presbyteries and churches interested in pursuing a relationship with one of these INPM presbyteries should contact EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah at [email protected].

Visit the EPConnection web site.

Related articles:

EPC Partnership with National Presbyterian Church of Mexico Ratified

EPC Enters Fraternal Agreement with Presbyterian Church of Mexico

 

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