Evangelical Presbyterian Church 31st General Assembly – Report of the Stated Clerk

Churches – there are 298 member churches that are a part of the EPC, an increase of 27 churches from 2009. Membership – total church membership grew from 99,795 (2009) to 105,908 in 2010. This is an increase of 6,113, or 6.1%.

Nearing the completion of my fifth year as Stated Clerk, I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve Jesus Christ and you in this ministry. Since 2006 my role, which was a departure from that of my predecessors Mike Glodo and Ed Davis, has continued to evolve as we address the opportunities and challenges of proclaiming and glorifying Jesus Christ in the 21st century.

In a World Outreach “Globe” column in February I wrote “if there is one word I can use to sum up the EPC in 2011, that word is change.” Change is coming to us in at least three ways. First is the growing number of churches that make up the EPC. As of May 24, we have 306 churches in the EPC. This is an increase of 121 churches (65%) since 2007, when we had 185 churches. One response to this change is the possible creation of new presbyteries, which you will consider at this Assembly.

A second change is our continued embrace of “missional” as a defining characteristic of our churches (in addition to being Presbyterian, Reformed and Evangelical). This missional emphasis is a declaration of renewed passion for God’s mission to share the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed to the mission field that is our community, country and world. Lastly, is the recognition that we are facing intense spiritual attack as we make these changes and seek to more faithfully obey and follow our Savior and Lord. In the midst of these changes, what does not and will not change is our commitment to Jesus Christ, His Gospel and His Word.

Ministry Report
As the CEO of the EPC, my work focuses on three major responsibilities: 1) contributing input and leadership to the goal of making the EPC a denomination of Presbyterian, Reformed, Evangelical and Missional churches, 2) Representing the EPC to the general public and the greater church, seeking to establish and improve those relationships that will glorify God and build/expand His kingdom, and 3) Establish and oversee the organization of the Office of the General Assembly that will best serve the local churches (and presbyteries) of the EPC in the vision, planning, growth and development of the church. I continue to file written monthly reports of my activities against these responsibilities to ensure that I’m focused and as effective as possible. Special areas of attention in 2010-2011 include:

1. New Presbyteries
Strong, vibrant presbyteries are critical to our mission. With the Committee on Administration’s encouragement, I’ve worked closely with the leadership groups planning the creation of new presbyteries.

For each of our new presbyteries to be well-organized, well-staffed and well-funded from the outset has been our goal. This objective was achieved with the creation of the Mid-America and Rivers & Lakes presbyteries in November, 2010.

West and proposed Pacific presbytery leadership has been hard at work since October, 2009. I’ve enjoyed working with the East, Midwest and proposed Alleghenies presbytery leadership since April, 2010.

We can anticipate great things for Christ from these new EPC presbyteries!

I am also serving with the Presbytery Boundary Study Committee, which is considering presbytery re-alignment and new presbyteries. This ad interim committee was appointed by Moderator Rob Liddon and is chaired by Mike Glodo).

2. Ecumenical Relations

St. Andrews Presbytery (Argentina) – I visited with the leadership of St. Andrews Presbytery on March 31-April 3. This visit further pursued commitments in the five year cooperative agreement we signed with St. Andrews in June, 2009. With the departure of EPC WO missionary Paul Branch from Argentina in December, 2010 it was important to ensure our Argentine colleagues that we are still with them.

I met with the ITSA (Institute of Theological Studies of Argentina) board and established specific objectives to be achieved-one objective had already been met, the Committee on Administration of the presbytery and with the presbytery at its April 2 meeting at Olivos. I also worshiped with and brought greetings to the Belgrano congregation on April 3.

Association of Reformed Churches of Kazakhstan – I had the privilege of being a member of the EPC delegation that celebrated the formation of the Association of Reformed Churches of Kazakhstan on May 8, 2011 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Presbyterian Church of the USA (PCUSA) – At the direction of our General Assembly, I met with PCUSA Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons on November 23, 2010 in Louisville, KY. We agreed to work to make the dismissal of PCUSA churches to the EPC as amicable as possible. In light of the recent change in ordination vows in the PCUSA, there has been an increase in calls to our office about the EPC.

We continue to persist in our long-standing policy of not initiating contact, soliciting or recruiting churches outside of the EPC. We do respond to enquiries and invitations from Sessions and congregations who want to learn more about us.

Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization – The EPC had five representatives at Capetown, 2011: Sandy Willson, John Wood, David Henderson, Don Sweeting and Greg Livingstone.

National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) – I participated in the NAE Denominational Leaders meeting September 23-24, 2010 in Atlanta, GA. Due to conflicts, I was not able to attend NAE Board meetings in October, 2010 and March, 2011.

3. Visits
My goal each year is to visit at least one meeting of each of our presbyteries. With one exception (Mid-Atlantic) I was able to meet this goal. Speaking at new churches to the EPC at their “Celebration” worship service has been a special privilege. I did this on three occasions in 2010-2011.

4. General Assembly Staffing
The mission statement of the General Assembly office is 1) Resourcing and encouraging EPC leaders, churches and presbyteries to pursue God’s mission in the world, and, 2) Ensuring our connectional life is consistent with Presbyterian polity as it is expressed in God’s Word.

At last year’s General Assembly I reported to you that while the number of churches in the EPC had increased from 185 to 285, the number of GA office staff had not changed. Although we later added Dana Cadman as Director of Information Systems and Communications, by October, 2010 I reported to the COA that “something had to give,” especially as the increased number of churches affected my responsibilities as Stated Clerk. The Committee on Administration has a staffing proposal for your consideration at this Assembly. I greatly appreciate the COA (especially the Personnel Committee) for their concern and encouragement as we respond to the changes and challenges we face.

5. General Assembly Office
In January 2010 the Committee on Administration decided that the GA Office should remain in the greater Livonia, MI area for the time being. After a search of potential sites and the advent of a new landlord for our current building, negotiations for a new lease on our current space ensued. Thanks to Moderator Rob Liddon, who is a commercial real estate lawyer, a very favorable five year lease was signed on December 5, 2010. A noticeable benefit of the new lease is the allowance for office upgrades, especially in the common areas and meeting rooms.

Statistical Overview
I’ll follow the same format as last year: 1) Serving in the EPC, 2) Gathering the EPC, and 3) Supporting the EPC.

1. Serving in the EPC

A. Teaching Elders: We currently have:
– 449 Teaching Elders serving in EPC churches,
– 6 Teaching Elders serving as Administrators
– 88 Teaching Elders serving in out-of-bounds ministries such as World Vision,
Navigators, NAE, Intervarsity, correctional institutions and Christian schools, universities and seminaries,
– 36 Teaching Elders serving in Chaplaincy ministries,
– 78 Teaching Elders who are retired from full time ministry (although many are s still actively engaged in activities such as leading Bible studies, volunteering as
chaplains, and writing), and
– 19 Teaching Elders who are serving as EPC World Outreach missionaries.
– 65 Teaching Elders currently without a presbytery-approved call.

B. Ruling Elders: A total of 2,786 Ruling Elders are serving in our 306 EPC churches.

2. Gathering the EPC – as of January 1, 2011:

A. Churches – there are 298 member churches that are a part of the EPC, an
increase of 27 churches from 2009.

B. Membership – total church membership grew from 99,795 (2009) to 105,908 in
2010. This is an increase of 6,113, or 6.1%.

C. Worship – Worship attendance in 2010 was 89,857, an increase of 2,438 over the
2009 figure of 87,419. This was growth of 2.8%.

3. Supporting the EPC

Giving Overview – A total of $4,282,509 was donated to the EPC and its ministries during 2010. This is an increase of 3.6% over 2009 giving. Due to a drop in per member asking (PMA) in 2010 from $25 to $23, total PMA support declined by 2.3%, from $1,446,899 to $1,413,891. Most other areas of EPC ministry experienced increases in benevolent giving in 2010.

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