Detailed Report from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church 2011 General Assembly

The 31st General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbytery Church met in Memphis on June 23-24-25. Following is a detail report of what occurred on each day.

Report of Thursday Events

Moderator Rob Liddon convened the 31st General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church at 10:00.

Chaplain Brian Hill offered the convening prayer.

The Business Sessions began with the election of the Recording Clerks and Minutes Committee members. A representative of Hope Church made welcoming remarks and announcements about local arrangements.

World Outreach (WO) Dir. George Carey introduced our WO missionaries. Sixteen of our 40 missionary units were present for this Assembly. For reasons of security, many last names and no photos are available. Please pray for all of our missionaries and for the safety of those working in restricted zones.

Carey recognized the work of our Kazakhstan missionaries. In 18 years, EPC missionaries have helped raise up six churches into a presbytery that is now the Association of Reformed Churches of Kazakhstan (ARCK). The Kazak people are now leading their own national church.

Following the WO presentation, Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah announced that we have a quorum. He also reported that we have a record number of attendees, commissioners, and churches represented at this year’s Assembly. The docket for the day was approved.

Malcolm Bain, chairman of the Nominating Committee announced the nomination of Rev. Doug Klein (Faith Church, Aurora, CO) as our Moderator. Klein was elected and the Assembly thanked the outgoing Moderator Rob Liddon for his year of service.

Following this, the Permanent Judicial Committee (PJC) Chair Jim Rimmel introduced Recommendations #1 and #20.

Recommendation #1 – That Part One of the Overture from the Florida Presbytery not be brought before the General Assembly for consideration, such being inconsistent with the constitutional amendment procedure set out at section 17.2 of the Book of Government. The motion passed.

Recommendation #20 – Amend the Book of Government 5-4 by adding paragraph C, and enumerating the previous paragraphs A and B. The motion passed.

After this, Stated Clerk Jeremiah reported that all the descending overtures from the 30th General Assembly passed (as reported in the Commissioner’s Handbook – PAGES 28-32), including Descending Overture 10-A, 10-B, and 10-C regarding the ordination of women teaching elders. The Assembly then voted to receive the Minutes of the 30th General Assembly.

Don Fortson, chairman of the Permanent Fraternal Relations Committee, presented Recommendation #12 to establish formal relations with the association of Reformed Churches of Kazakhstan (ARCK). This motion passed.

Nominating Committee Chairman Bain announced the nomination of Ken Roberts (Cherry Creek Church, Englewood, CO) as the Moderator-elect. All of the nominations for chairmen of our permanent standing committees were also announced.

PJC Chairman Rimmel presented Recommendation #21. Recommendation #17 and #18 were referred to a Standing Committees as legislative acts instead of constitutional amendments.

Stated Clerk Jeremiah then moved that Recommendations #2 through #38, with the exception of #20 and #21, be approved as a whole. The motion passed. Jeremiah also stated that any new business for consideration must be submitted by noon on Friday.

Thursday’s business session began with a presentation of our military, police, and other chaplains. Stated Clerk Jeremiah presented his report. The Assembly was then dismissed to attend the permanent standing committee meetings.

Report of Friday Events

Rev. Klein called the Business Session to order. Chaplain Ron Pierce offered the opening prayer. The Assembly approved the docket for the day. Our official count of commissioners – 215 TE and 245 RE. A record number for the EPC.

Moderator Klein then recognized our newest churches (20) by asking their representatives to stand as he read the names of the churches. Bill Meyer, the Moderator of the 25th General Assembly, offered a prayer for our newest churches.

The Presbytery Boundary Study Committee made a motion on descending overture 11-B regarding the formation of two new presbyteries – Presbytery of the Pacific (formed from West) and Presbytery of the Alleghenies (formed from East, Midwest, and Mid-Atlantic). Both overtures passed. Presbyteries are formed not just based on number of churches, but on financial resources and regional culture.

National Outreach Committee (NOC) Chairman Frank Clepper introduced our Home Missionaries – Kevin Brown, John and Diane Davis, and John Bueno. Chairman Clepper also announced the 2011 winner of the Bart Hess Award: Tunica Presbyterian Church, Tunica, MS. Dr. Paul Husband, pastor, received the award for their work in global mission, for developing a center for short-term missionaries in Tunica, and for helping Tunica pastors unite to reclaim their county for Christ, despite being located in the poorest county of the United States.

In the second report of the Nominating Committee, Chairman Bain acknowledged the members of the Committee and the listed the nominees for all permanent standing committees.

PJC Chairman Jim Rimmel presented Recommendation #39 to sustain a ruling of the Stated Clerk regarding procedures to be followed when a person is served with disciplinary charges and refuses delivery. In such cases, the person may be prosecuted for rebellion. The motion passed.

Nan McCallum introduced fraternal guest Amos Cahuich, President of San Pablo Seminary of the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico. Trinity Church (Plymouth, MI) is supporting this seminary. Pres. Cahuich thanked everyone for the opportunity to be here and to share with us. The NPC of Mexico is the largest of the 5 Presbyterian denominations in Mexico. The seminary trains people in counseling, leadership formation, and sacred music. The goal is to glorify God for the expansion of His Kingdom. Presbyterian churches in Mexico are growing very fast; 2010 census showed NPC membership has grown from 1.5 million to 2 million. But, what was most important is that 80% of this membership is in the five southern provinces of Mexico served by the seminary.

We also heard welcoming remarks from fraternal guest Peter Borgdorff, from the Christian Reformed Church. We have had fraternal relations with the CRC from very early in the history of our denomination and it was an honor to have someone from the CRC present at our Assembly.

Next, Director of Communications and Information Systems, Dana Cadman, applauded those churches that are effectively using social media. Dir. Cadman asked churches to send him their videos and other stories so they can be shared with and celebrated by the rest of our denomination. He also encouraged people without an online network – small church leaders, female teaching elders and candidates, and others to join EPC Community (http://EPC.SocialGo.com). EPC Community is a resource for all members to uses to communicate with, collaborate with, and encourage each other in their ministries.

Cadman also announced that the Leadership Training Guide will be updated next year. Churches will receive a survey this summer that needs to be quickly completed and returned to the General Assembly office so we can review the results this fall and begin the work of updating the LTG.

After lunch, Army chaplain Lt. Bobby Brown opened the Business Session with prayer.

Ron Hogan Chairman of the Board of Benefits offered his report. The Board has attempted keep costs from rising, but this year premiums have had to increase because of market conditions and a significant increase in claims last year. The new Federal health care mandate was 3000 pages long, but short on implementation guidelines, so we are still assessing what the new health care means to us. The Board of Benefits will continue to monitor the situation and keep those in the plan advised of news as it occurs.

Hogan offered Recommendation #10 that permits ministers to withdraw funds from their 403(b) for housing expenses within the guidelines of Federal regulations. We passed the same recommendation last year and recommendation #10 passed this year.

Dir. of Benefits, Mike Leighton, asked everyone to consider the 3 P’s of benefits – prevention, pharmacy, and planning. Prevention – get a physical once a year; it is part of your benefits. The exam is covered, so use it. Pharmacy – ask your pharmacist if there is a generic version of your prescription. It will save you money. Also, ordering a 90-day supply by mail will save you money over the typical 30-day supply from a pharmacy. Finally, Plan – plan for your retirement. Many people using the EPC 403(b) are invested in only one fund; you must diversify to prepare for the future. Dir. Leighton encouraged everyone to work with a financial planner to plan for retirement.

Bill Vogler, Moderator of the 27th General Assembly introduced our fraternal guests from the Presbyterian Church of Brazil, Moderator Roberto Silva and Corresponding Secretary Davi Gomes. Moderator Silva considers it an honor to be with us. Their church has just reached 1 million souls. This is not the result of any organization or person, but is attributable to the work of our God. 54% of the PCB’s revenues is allocated to missionary work.

Administration Committee Chairman Ron Bengelink asked the Assembly to approve Recommendation #7 to increase the 2011 budget from $1,502,400 to $1,610,835; Recommendation #8 to approve a 2012 Administration Budget of $1,677,912; and a Benevolence Askings Budget of $395,500. All three recommendations passed.

Dana Opp, chair of the Ministerial Vocation Committee presented Recommendation #16 – That the Assembly affirm the current constitutional guidance of the Office of the Stated Clerk. The Committee is also recommended the creation of a new permanent committee on the work and care of chaplains, who work very hard in often difficult conditions. The Recommendation passed.

Jerry Kidd, chair of the World Outreach Committee, made Recommendation #36 that the Assembly designates the 2011 Thanksgiving Offering for Engage 2025 Development. Dir. George Carey offered thanks to everyone for their support of their missionaries and the hope is that by 2025 we will have five, or six, or eight fraternal relations with new national churches like the ARCK. Dir. Carey reported that the total giving for our 40 missionary units in 23 countries, from all sources inside and outside the EPC, was $2.4 million.”

New developments in World Outreach include a member care ministry to shepherd our missionaries and the Missionary Prayer Network. MPN has more than 100 churches logging into a secure site to pray over missionary requests.

Bill Rasch, chair of the Overtures and Resolutions Committee made his report. Rasch’s committee recommended that Part II of overture 11-A not be adopted. The motion to not adopt 11-A, granting time to further study the issue of women’s ordination, passed. The Assembly also passed a substitute for Recommendations #17 and #18 extending the provision for transitional membership in geographic presbyteries to Dec 31st, 2012.

Related to this, Dean Weaver, chair of the New Wineskins Transitional Presbytery Committee presented his committee’s report. This year is the last meeting of the New Wineskins Presbytery which will dissolve in June 2012.The work of the Committee after this General Assembly will be to help the remaining New Wineskins churches transition into the EPC. Recommendation #19, a one-time exception allowing ministers in transitional presbyteries that are without a call in June 2012 to be received by geographic presbyteries.

Jackie Gatliff, Director of Women in Ministries presented her report. Dir. Gatliff talked about the IN in Women In Ministry, that women are ministry leaders whether they lead a team, raise a family, or take care of an elderly parent. “In” emphasizes inclusion that women are called to be partners in ministry and need to be equipped to do so. Dir. Gatliff shared that more than 1000 copies of R.E.A.L. Training has been sold to equip women to serve in ministry. Version 2.0 will be available in July for download as individual chapters.

Women In Ministry has supported the Eagle’s Wings Foundation which supports a transitional house in Albania for teen girls leaving orphanages. Girls must leave their orphanages at age 14 and are often forced in prostitution .EPC women have raised more than $110,000 to support the house.

Howard Shockley, Chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee announced that next year, the Committee will present for review a revised Book of Order to make this 30-year old document more user-friendly. The Committee has been working on this revision since 2009.

Dave Brogan, chair of the College Ministries Committee presented three Recommendations. 1 – Convene a commission the Tuesday before the 32nd GA to discuss the direction needed and resources required to effectively minister to college students. 2 – Make information available about the Ascent Conference in April 2012. 3 – That a 3-5 year strategic plan be made for college ministries. All three recommendations passed.

Helen Franssell, Chairman of the Presbytery Review Committee presented her report. She applauded the work of the presbyteries which have done a lot of work this last year to receive a lot of churches and ministers this year. Frassnell also recommended that the Assembly accept in one motion all of the minutes and exceptions of all nine presbyteries and the transitional presbyteries. The motion passed.

Report of Saturday Events

Kevin Brown, chaplain for the New Orleans Hornets opened the Business Sessions with prayer. The docket for the day was approved.

Moderator Klein asked Stated Clerk Jeremiah to present the omnibus motion. The motion included the following Recommendations:
#3 – That Rules for Assembly 11-1 be amended in order to increase the number of members of the Nominating Committee.
#4 – That Rules for Assembly 11-4 (Nominating Committee) be amended by adding new sections 6 and 7.
#5 – That the General Assembly accept with thanks the invitation from First Presbyterian Church, Baton Rouge, Louisiana to host the 32nd General Assembly (2012). (See Communication 11-02)
#6 – That the General Assembly instruct the Fraternal Relations Committee to review our ecumenical relationships and make a report to the 32nd General Assembly in 2012.
#11 – That the Assembly approve Families Alive® as an Approved Resource Agency.
#13 – That the Assembly approve the proposed “Ministry Policy for EPC Chaplains for Dealing with Persons Who Practice Homosexual Behavior and Claim Homosexual Identity”.
#14 – That the Rules for Assembly be amended by adding a new 10-1M to create a new Permanent Committee of General Assembly on Chaplains Work and Care.
#38 – That the 31st General Assembly extend for an additional year the assignment to review the Position Papers on Value and Respect for Human Life and Abortion without changing their fundamental conclusions.

The Omnibus motion passed.

Nominating Committee Chairman Malcolm Bain came forward to place Ken Roberts’ (RE Cherry Creek, Englewood, CO) name in nomination for Moderator-elect. Roberts was elected as the Moderator of our 32nd General Assembly.

The committee nominees, including nominees for the new committee on the work and care of chaplains, was voted on. The motion passed. Moderator Klein nominated Mark Jumper as the first chairman for this new committee; the Assembly approved the nomination. In this position, Dr. Jumper now serves as the EPC’s Chaplain Endorser.

Student Ministries Coordinator Susan Holland made her report. Holland has been on staff for six year, but has usually been on mission trips and unable to attend General Assembly. The Committee has transitioned from directing student ministry activity to coming along side churches and helping them with their local work. Student Ministries also has a new web site – www.EPCStudentMinistries.org – to equip and resource EPC student ministries. Youth workers can also connect on Facebook and Twitter (@StudentMin). The committee has also updated the student ministries handbook for equipping youth workers and leaders.

NOTE: To help all youth workers help each other, contact Susan Holland at the office of the General Assembly (or on Facebook or Twitter) to let her know who is the point of contact for your student ministry/ministries.

Hawley Ingram, chair of the Memorials and Appreciations Committee, made his report. Ingram read the name of TEs and Res who have “gone onto the Church Triumphant”.

The Assembly then closed. The 32nd General Assembly will be held in Baton Rouge, LA in 2012.

Source: http://www.EPC.org/2011ga [Editor’s note: the original URL (link) referenced in this article is no longer valid, so the link has been removed.]