Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Face-to-Face With the EPC

The pastors and session of the Kirk had a meeting with three representatives of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) on Monday night. This meeting was the first big step in our process of moving to that denomination. The representatives were the Stated Clerk of the Midwest Presbytery, a pastor from St. Louis, and another pastor from Lawrence, Kansas, who also is the moderator-elect of the denomination.

The meeting was remarkable—compared to our experience of denominational meetings in the past—in that it was rich with Scripture and prayer. We discussed how the EPC has formulated its stands on Scriptural, rather than social, foundations. When one of us asked a question of an EPC representative, more often than not, the answer was given in the context of what Scripture teaches. At one point in the conversation I stopped everyone just to remark on this.

We also talked about the creedal basis of the EPC. Unlike our former denomination, which lists many creeds while identifying none as operative or central, the EPC holds to the one historical Presbyterian creed, the Westminster Confession. They actually expect their pastors and elders to believe their essential tenets! The EPC sincerely holds to the Westminster Confession and does so in a gracious and thoughtful manner.

The only negative part of the evening (and this was but a small part of it) was addressing concerns that our former presbytery had sent to the EPC regarding the Kirk. Wayne and I addressed this mostly at a dinner we had with the EPC representatives before the session meeting.

Our former presbytery wrote to the EPC presbytery, complaining of the way in which we left the PCUSA. Their concern was for the “calculated series of irregular actions” by which we left and that our witness is “severely weakened by the shadows of these highly irregular actions.” They go on to ask the EPC to wait for us to go through the PCUSA’s process before admitting us into membership.

The EPC rightly needs to consider all these things. Having explained the events driving us to our “highly irregular action” I believe that they understand what has happened. In fact, the origin of the EPC was in reaction to similar forces from the [U]PCUSA against their charter congregations.

I am thankful for the time we spent together and, as a result, feel even more strongly that this denomination will be a good fit for us. We continue our conversations, though. Wayne and I and, perhaps, some of our elders, will attend the Midwest presbytery meeting later this month.

Keep praying—keep the faith,
Tom

9 comments:

katie said...

i can't believe the presbytery sent a letter to the epc!! how childish! i didn't know they did this & i am active in the presbytery!
who knows what else they are doing behind peoples backs! i'd bet there are no min. from this meeting either ;~)

~~katie

arthur.woodling said...

Katie,

You write that as if you are pretty sure the EPC didn't ask the EOP for input.

Tom,

Did they, or didn't they?

Arthur

TomGray said...

Arthur,
No, the EPC did not request input. In fact, the letter was sent to the wrong address and took a long time to get to the EPC's attention.
Tom

Dan Dermyer said...

The curious thing to me is that in the PCUSA's vision, the EPC is hardly on the horizon. It is not a denomionation "in correspondance".

Looks to me like a good think someone corresponded. Maybe the PCUSA will open its eyes a bit wider.

My prayers continue to remain with you at the Kirk as you work through this process and also that the Lord will use these actions within the PCUSA.

Dave Ayers said...

Dan Dermyer says that the EPC isn't "in correspondence" with the PCUSA. I was told by our presbytery that they are in correspondence with EPC. Is this a presbytery or a national decision?

TomGray said...

Dave,
I think that the PCUSA and EPC are in some kind of communion or correspondence, if only that both are members of the WARC.

This communication was from presbytery to presbytery. We have been told that there has also been a communication between Kirkpatrick and the Stated Clerk of the EPC GA.
Tom

Ted Rossier said...

Tom,

Shock! Horror!

A Reformed denomination that actually expects its elders to teach according to the Westminster Standards! :)

Sadly they are small and far between these days, but Lord willing they will grow. The Kirk is in our family's prayers.

Ted
(a closet Presbyterian in a Southern Baptist church)

Terry said...

In our former Church my wife and I were part of the Interim Minister Search Committee. After working very hard in a large group of VERY diverse people we found a married couple that were both ministers and could fit both the interim and the permament position and we felt there was a mutual desire to work together. We had the blessings of the session to proceed with bringing them in. Then the phone call from the COM, everything gone, the couple ran from us, we never were told who called or what was said by anybody.

We later found out through the confession from one of the involved members of session. That a group of five members of our Church (200 member Church) and the COM had plotted the removal of the current minister. And had hand picked the interim and the new permanent minister before even the removal of our old minister.

I makes me mad even to this day, that between the COM and a couple members of session, that we were allowed to go through all the hoops at their insistence and with their blessings. When they knew they were going to chuck everything we did.

If they had just came before us at the first and said like it or not, this is what we are going to do, I could have come to grips with it. But to lie to our faces and send us on wild goose chases, was a worse and condemnable offense. I have lost all respect for our local presbytery and I believe that they have lied to themselves and others so much that they really don’t know what the truth is any longer other than to be true to serving themselves.

Fortunately, this did not sour us on the church or even being Presbyterian. Unfortunately our old Church was the only Reformed Church in town, and while me and my wife are currently enjoying attending a local Baptist Church, we long on a constant basis to return to where we belong.

Dan Dermyer said...

Tom and others
My mistake about "in correspondance". Tom is correct--the connection is official through the WARC. I just checked and want to make good my wrong comment.
thanks,