35th General Assembly Of The Evangelical Presbyterian Church

EvangelicalPresbyterianChurchLogoAfter a short respite we now turn to the 35th General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church which will be meeting in Disney World Orlando, Florida. The host church is First Presbyterian Church of Orlando. The meeting began today (23 June) with a Leadership Institute which will continue tomorrow morning and again Thursday morning. The Assembly will convene with worship after lunch tomorrow (24 June). The meeting concludes with lunch on Saturday 27 June.

The Assembly meeting will be live streamed through the host church. There is a lot of information online to help you follow along:

  • There is the Schedule and the Docket (being issued in daily segments) so you know when the business sessions are and what is being covered.
  • Almost all of what you need will be on the Documents page which also has another embedded webcast window. This includes the Commissioners Handbook by parts or as a full download. Also note that there are additional and replacement pages available on the page or by download. There are also two interesting appendices – the statistical report for us data geeks (and also check out the Stated Clerk’s report) and the proposed Revised Book of Worship.
  • At some point we can expect daily summaries to be posted and I will link here. Also keep an eye on the EP News Blog.
  • And yes, there is an app for that – The church has made available a Smartphone App for both Android and Apple iOS. (But at least the Android version does not seem a best seller as it is listed 10-50 downloads when I installed it on my phone.)
  • And don’t forget the current Book of Order from the web site.

As for social media, there is a bit of that out there. There is a Facebook page for the EPC that is currently being updated regularly with Leadership Institute items. The official EPC Twitter feed is @EPChurch and the declared official hashtag (#epc2015ga) has sprung to life. There is also a feed for EPC Student Ministries (@EPCStudentMin) and the Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah (@Jeff_Jeremiah). I would add to this the host church, @fpcorlando.

As I look at individuals to follow the first two I would suggest are individuals who will be speaking at the GA. Thom Rainer of Life@ay (@ThomRainer) will be giving two keynotes as part of the Leadership Institute. Carmen Fowler LaBerge of the Presbyterian Lay Committee (@CarmenLaBerge) will be bringing the word at Friday evening’s worship service. I am seeing a few other familiar faces on Twitter but will update my list here are the meeting gets rolling.

gaidentity1Regarding the business before the Assembly, I had mentioned above the revision of the Book of Worship. This revision was approved by the 34th General Assembly and received the concurrance of all the presbyteries. It is now before this Assembly to give it the final ratification. There is an ascending overture to this Assembly (15-B) “to erect a study committee to examine and report on the Evangelical Presbyterian Church’s understanding of the Regulative Principle of Worship in our Reformed and Confessional heritage, and its application thereunto.” It is helpful to note that the Book of Worship is structured around the Westminster Standards and this overture seeks to tie that understanding with the Regulative Principle of Worship. It is interesting to note that in the recommendations section of the Commissioner Handbook, Recommendation #56 from the Committee on Theology (on page 52) deals with the Book of Worship and what is allowed in the Westminster Confession 21-8. This is in response to the issue being brought before the Assembly last year. The recommendation is that the Book of Worship is sufficient and deals with primarily with worship and that regarding the WCF on sabbath keeping:

What the Book of Worship 2-2 does not do is further embrace nor deny the Westminster
Confession 21-8, which further regulates actions, “rest the whole day from their own works
and words, and from thoughts about their worldly activities and recreations; and take up the whole time in public and private worship and in the duties of necessity and mercy.” The
Book of Worship 2-2, in effect, creates allowances for exceptions of the Westminster
Confession 21-8.

This is of interest because a similar matter was before the PCA General Assembly and they chose to not study it further.

The other recommendation to the GA from the Committee on Theology is to erect a study committee to consider the expansion of the church’s position papers on Homosexuality and The Sanctity of Marriage.

It is instructive to note that there are a grand total of two ascending overtures, the other one (15-A) is related to presbytery boundaries and extending Florida to include Puerto Rico now that a church on that island has joined the EPC.

With that, I will wish the EPC commissioners well and we will be lifting them up in our prayers as they meet.

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