Dear Friends in The Fellowship of Presbyterians,
In the second week after representatives from 765 congregations attended the Covenanting Conference in Orlando, there is momentum, joyful expectation, and much work to do.
Our session (First Presbyterian Church, Colorado Springs) waited until after the Orlando Conference to make their recommendation to our congregation. They have voted to join ECO. We have official word that four other sessions have also voted to join ECO since Orlando and more are voting next week. A session vote begins the process of discussion with presbyteries about dismissal. Application forms and explanation of the process for pastors and sessions considering dismissal will be available after February 8 on the Fellowship website.
As hundreds of congregations consider joining the Fellowship, ECO, or some form of joint witness, it is helpful to remember that the values of The Fellowship of Presbyterians and the values of the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians are identical. Congregations affiliating with either group will strive to live into these values — some (the Fellowship) from within the PC(USA) and some (ECO) from just outside the PC(USA). Because these core values will be challenging for all of us, regardless of our denominational affiliation, we want to keep them in front of us as we sort out structural details.
Kingdom Vitality – “We believe congregations should vigorously reproduce new missional communities to expand the Kingdom of God.” This is something we Presbyterians were very good at doing decades ago, but in 2010 the PC(USA) established only 12 new congregations. Reproducing new worshiping communities is not part of the DNA of most existing congregations. It will take intentionality, selfless passion, and a great deal of sustained focus to launch and nurture healthy worshiping communities. We intend to bring the best resources and training we can find to get this started in our contexts.
Thoughtful Theology – “We believe in theological education, constant learning, and the life of the mind; celebrating this as one of the treasures of our Reformed heritage.” We know that “Kingdom Vitality” combined with educated faith creates a rare mix. Many fast growing movements among Christians seem less attentive to theological depth than they are to numbers. The Fellowship and ECO are committed to creating and nurturing this rare mix of breadth and depth. We have a new opportunity to study together and reach out together.
Even as we assimilate all we learned in Orlando and respond to requests from individuals and congregations, we are already planning for August 22‐24. We will be sending you regular updates in this format. We invite you to think and pray with us about the many challenges and possibilities we have in front of us, and discern where God is leading. Bless you all.
Yours in Christ,
President, The Fellowship of Presbyterians