Transition Update

We had a wonderful gathering on Sunday night to send the Knotts off to Cornerstone PCA in Columbia.  If you have not yet penned a note for the letter box you have two more Sundays to do that.  You also have two more Sundays to sign the scroll with Jeremiah 29:11 and Joshua 1:9 written on it.  This letter box and scroll will be lasting keepsakes for the Knotts which testify of your love for them.  Joshua has expressed to me how much these gestures have meant to him and the family.  They loved the send-off gathering.

We have been seeking the Lord individually, as elders and deacons, as a staff and in ministry teams as we move into the next season of life for our congregation.  The Session spent an hour in prayer this Monday before any discussion of business was undertaken, and a sizable portion of that time related to staff needs.  The Session determined that Rev. Don Post be hired as a part-time Assistant Pastor (up to 20 hours per week) to assist in shepherding, the pastoral care dimension of mercy ministry, and administration.  Please know that I will not be extracting myself from these areas of ministry.  I love of our flock and enjoy every facet of ministry at EPC.  Don and I will be working closely together.   

Don and Barbara are well known and greatly loved among us.  The Session sees the providence of the Lord in their return from the mission field in this unique season.  Don's role is envisioned as transitional this time.  But, those of you who know Pastor Post know how compassionate and gifted he is.  His experience in the military, the pastorate, as a Headmaster and a foreign missionary will be a blessing to our flock.  Pastor Knott's old office will become a small conference room that Pastor Post will utilize for meetings as needed but he will not be establishing a permanent office at the church. 

The Session, youth parents, youth group and staff have been working diligently on ministry plans for the fall and on a short and long-term replacement strategy for our pastoral needs at EPC.  We have had great white board sessions with youth group parents and the youth themselves to hear those hopes and dreams for youth ministry at EPC.  Staff has been working with parents to develop a new ministry schedule and plan for the fall.  Covenant Homes Team will receive a proposal from the staff to move youth group to Wednesday night.  They will also receive a proposal for children's discipleship on Wednesday evening.  The general concept is as follows:

Before Youth Group we will also have a Youth Choir (6th-12th).  We will have children's discipleship time too.  There will be a 30 minute open gym time followed by a 30 minute teaching segment in the gym with some small group follow up. Then, we will have 30 minutes of children's choir.  Finally, there will be a 30 minute block for activity that reinforces the theme of the lesson.  Deb Freer is to be congratulated for untangling the Gordian knot of the schedule. We were in the midst of two-hour staff meeting trying to figure out how to incorporate age appropriate content into the overall plan of what is happening on Wednesday evening when she had a eureka moment and proposed this schedule.  I am thankful that Drs. Higo and Ira Rodrigues will be working with youth and children's choirs respectively.   

All of this activity will be themed weekly around the New City Catechism, which is a 52 question catechism that combines the best of the Westminster Shorter Catechism and the Heidelberg Catechism.  We will tell you more about this Reformed resource as plans unfold.   We will be developing this curriculum with a distinctive theological emphasis, a focus on teaching in accordance with the best research on human growth and development, and a desire to have appropriate games, activities and music that are fun for children and provide an opportunity for adults to come alongside them. 

Lord willing, we would like to have a parents' study and prayer time led by myself or an elder on Wednesday nights so that we can minister to parents as we minister to children and youth.  The curricula for parents will be along the same lines in terms of the theme, but will be uniquely addressed to adults in general and parents in particular.  We have a women's study in place that is vibrant and healthy.  Many mothers of children will choose to attend that study.  Fathers and mothers and all adults in our congregation are welcome to come to the adult study.

At this juncture, I can personally say that I am very enthused about the content and approach that is proposed.  Our goal has been to offer the very best discipleship that we can for children, youth and families. We are on track to offer a uniquely useful ministry of discipleship for children and youth that will impart to them the truth of God's Word in lasting categories that will help them grow as Christ followers for years to come.  Additionally, we will have our youth integrated more into our Sunday night worship as a place to use their gifts and talents to minister to the body of Christ. 

With regard to our future needs, we have several things developing right now.  We are planning for a strong internal solution to meet needs for the fall if we cannot locate a staff person for youth ministry by September.  We have requested personnel information on PCA pastors looking for new calls.  We are also in active dialogue with a church planter, Mission to North America and Heritage Presbytery's Church Planting team about the potential for EPC to have church planting resident on our staff.  These residents have undergone a rigorous assessment.  Their ministry at EPC would focus in youth ministry, evangelism and assimilation (connecting those whom God brings us to the fellowship at EPC).  

We are exploring a church planting residency for two reasons.  First, it may form a dynamic pattern for ministry that we choose to continue.  EPC could become a sending station for gift pastors to plant churches in our region and beyond.  Second, and this is the reason we first considered the idea, We know that searching for a long-term pastoral position often takes at least a year.  We don't want our church, and especially our ministry to youth, to decline due to lack of nurture or resources.  A church planting residency can provide the church with a gifted, "vetted," minister quickly.  This pastor could have an immediate impact on our church while we look for the long-term candidate.    

It is a blessing to see and experience much prayer, communication and collaboration in this transition. We want to seek Christ our King and Head together in this season and always lead with prayer to Him.  We want to keep in step with the Spirit, for He is the one who causes the flame of the gospel to burn brightly among us.                  

With Much Love and Affection in Christ,

Pastor Jay