As spring is emerging in its various forms across the country, we want to update you on ECO. The months since the Orlando conference have been filled with questions and answers, planning and preparation: many developments you will start to see more clearly in the very near future. These same months have also been filled with our observance of Lent and the joyful celebration of Easter. These themes of death and resurrection, and spiritual discernment, restoration, hope and new life, are permeating our lives. We continue to be excited to see what God is bringing about in our midst.
There are currently 47 congregations in the process of seeking release from the PC(USA) to join ECO. This process is different in the context of each presbytery, but always involves careful discernment, discussion, prayer, and several congregational meetings. Trinity Presbyterian Church, Satellite Beach Florida was the first congregation to complete the voting process. This past weekend two other congregations, Indian River Presbyterian Church in Fort Pierce, Florida and First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs, Colorado cast their official congregational votes—95% to come to ECO in each case. Other congregations will be voting in coming weeks. Another group of congregations are in the process of discernment with their session. After each congregation votes there still needs to be a vote to approve release by their presbytery. We will keep you updated.
Being received into ECO takes time. An application must first be completed. Representatives of ECO’s Committee on Assimilation will then conduct personal interviews with the pastor(s) and session. These interviews focus on a series of narrative questions that help the session determine:
- their level of comfort with the unique missional focus of ECO
- their understanding and affirmation of the theological essentials, and
- their understanding of ECO polity.
When the ECO representatives feel the pastors and session fully grasp the nature and purpose of ECO and are committed to this new way of being Church, the application will be sent to the ECO Board for approval. ECO leaders take this process very seriously, and realize that some congregations who are initially exploring ECO may discover this is not a fit. This is all part of the discernment process.