The elders of this church have recently announced our intention to seek dismissal from the Presbyterian Church (USA) in order to join with a new Presbyterian denomination, The Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (or ECO)–a denomination which is young, but not novel, as it is determined to carry the best practices and doctrines of the Reformed tradition into our present day.
Why is this change needed? You’d like to learn more?
There are a number of answers to these questions, and you will receive more information than you ever wanted in the next few months, but here are a few recommendations for you from my own desk as pastor. Start by reading the “White Paper” and a letter from some key leaders in the denomination last year, known as the “Deathly Ill Letter”:
These two documents began a discussion, which amassed a following, which quickly became the Fellowship of Presbyterians.
Much has happened in the last two years, and the “New Reformed Body” has emerged with the name The Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO). Hundreds of churches are in the process of joining this denomination as we speak, each with unique situations in their own presbyteries. The session unanimously agrees that the best future course for our ministry is to join with this new Reformed body, and to work with Cherokee Presbytery to negotiate our dismissal. This process will take a number of months (but not years, as in other presbyteries).
I was at the Fellowship of Presbyterians meeting in Orlando when this new Reformed body was first introduced by John Ortberg. His entire address is linked below, and you can watch it for yourself. I have to say, it was one of the most moving experiences of my career. It was truly a moment when a man with a mantle of leadership stepped forward to show us a direction we could go in faithfulness to Christ, and offered a vision of the future that with hope. It was a Churchill-type moment…a “what you can do for your country,” “nothing to fear but fear itself,” “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” kind of moment. I hope you’ll take the time to watch this presentation for yourself and catch some of the energy and vision of this new Reformed body, ready to carry on the direction of ministry we share at Eastminster.
John Ortberg introduces ECO:
There is plenty positive to say about the PCUSA, and we are proud of this heritage and legacy, but the recent changes and declines are too severe for Eastminster to continue in affiliation. The elders here are convicted that the trajectory the denomination has chosen is simply not compatible with the trajectory of our ministries at Eastminster, and it is time to peaceably withdraw and lovingly part ways with mutual blessing. When Paul and Barnabas separated their missions in Acts 15, the end result was a strengthening of all the churches. May the same be true for us as Presbyterians in this season. This isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, and I ask you to be in prayer for me as your pastor, the staff, and the elders as we navigate this critical moment in our church’s history.