The 28th General Assembly
The Evangelical Presbyterian Church
"I left spiritually refreshed and energized."
"We had a blast and I can't wait till next year."
"It was a wonderful Assembly."
"It’s continually heartwarming to be among EPC people, who are always of one mind on what truly matters for The LORD - and who don't become disagreeable when disagreeing on the peripheral."
This is a sampling of the comments received from commissioners at the 28th General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church which was held at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland, from June 18 through June 21, 2008.
This is a summary of what happened at the General Assembly:
The missional denomination recommendation of the Long Range Planning Committee was approved as a "working definition" by the Assembly. The permanent Theology Committee was asked to review and refine the language of the recommendation. With great appreciation for their work over the last three years, the Assembly then voted to dissolve the Long Range Planning Committee.
Before the introduction of new churches, TE Steve Bryant spoke to the Assembly of the excitement and joy that he and the church he pastors (Grace Chapel, Madison, Mississippi) have experienced as they've come into the EPC. The "Love Jesus and stop fighting" quotation from Steve's son was memorable. Representatives from our 43 new churches were then introduced and stood for an extended time of applause and affirmation. John Adamson, chair of the National Transitional Presbytery Commission, led the Assembly in prayer for these new churches.
Former World Outreach Director Rev. Jeff Chadwick was recognized and thanked with a sustained standing ovation by the Assembly on Thursday morning.
Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church (ARP) of Columbia, South Carolina delivered two outstanding messages: "The Church and Christ's Burden" on Thursday night and "The Church and Christ's Presence" on Friday evening.
At our Thursday night worship service, we commissioned eight World Outreach Missionaries, some serving Asia and Europe, and others working internationally based in the U.S.
On Friday night, our worship featured the commissioning of four National Outreach Home Missionaries: John and Diane Davis (Border Transitions Ministry, Laredo, TX) and Thomas and Jennifer Covington (Trinity Christian Community, New Orleans, LA).
The opening worship service of the Assembly included an inspiring message by host Pastor Rob Norris entitled, "The Amazing Power of God." RE Allen Roes was elected the Moderator of the General Assembly and TE Nate Atwood was elected Moderator-Elect.
In response to accusations that the EPC is recruiting, soliciting and encouraging churches to leave the PCUSA, the Assembly approved the sending of a letter to the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) "stating and documenting the EPC's commitment to, and actions of scrupulous ethical conduct with regard to congregations stating an interest in the EPC," and asking for "relief from public statements of accusation made by the PCUSA."
The Assembly endorsed a statement of vision presented by TE Bill Meyer for the New Wineskins/EPC Transitional Presbytery which calls for a full integration of New Wineskins and EPC churches by 2012.
The permanent Theology Committee will be busy in the coming year. Chaired by TE Paul Husband, the committee was asked to rework its Preliminary Position Paper on Scripture and to review and refine the language of the working definition of a missional denomination.
The Bart Hess Award: City Church of Homestead, Florida was this year's recipient. TE Chris Coppolo, pastor of the church spoke of their outreach to the arts community in the greater Miami, Florida area which includes Homestead.
Overtures addressing the office of co-pastor and a recommendation for special chaplaincy situations were referred to the permanent Ministerial Vocation and Theology Committees for further study.
It is not often that a "lighter note" of our business sessions is the report of the Nominating Committee, but the wit and humor of chair RE Jerry Alpert was enjoyed by all.
The Thursday lunchtime was extended by 30 minutes to ensure plenty of time was allowed for networking luncheons to take place. At least eight groups met.
The introduction of the REAL training materials and seminars and the new Faith Focus project were major features of the Women In Ministry program. An offering of over $6000 was received for the Faith Focus project, which seeks to address the horrors of sexual trafficking.
By more than 100 participants, we enjoyed our highest turnout ever for our Assembly Workshop on Wednesday. The speakers addressing the theme "Re-engage: Christ as Culture's Hope" challenging us to engage in and understand our culture before seeking to minister Christ to people in it. The permanent College committee, chaired by TE Rick Stauffer did an outstanding job with this workshop. CD's will be available to order after July 7 from National Conference Recording Services.
On a motion from the floor, the Assembly voted to retain a full-time Interim Director of Student Ministries through 2009.
The Per Member Asking for 2009 was increased by two dollars from $23 per member to $25 per member.
A motion to change the name of the Committee on Administration to the Executive Council was withdrawn. A motion to change the position title "Executive Pastor/Stated Clerk" to "Executive Director" was also withdrawn. The Assembly then moved that the title be changed back to Stated Clerk.
Dr. Jeff Jeremiah