Report on the ECO National Gathering

February 4 – 6, 2020

Dear Neelsville,

 

     Last week I was privileged to attend the ECO National Gathering, February 4-6 in Dallas, TX.  I offer you this report of my time there.  Others from our church might offer additional information as we were all in different breakout sessions.  I’ve included many web links to direct you to more information. 

     By the way, anyone can attend the ECO Presbytery meetings and Annual Conferences as an observer which is what I did!  Maybe next time you will go?  I am happy to answer questions about this event.  And I thank Neelsville for covering lodging expense for Brian and me at our groups’ airbnb.


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Sue Farrell

bfarrell01@aol.com

Attending:

1500 people from 407 churches. This includes 570 commissioners.  Neelsville sent Rev. Jeff Rickett and Brian Farrell as commissioners from our church, Jamie Swope and Amanda Enzenauer -  Neelville’s Family and Youth staff, and Val Rickett and I attended as observers.

Main Conference Speakers

Ruth Haley Barton of Northern Theological Seminary, author, and founder of the Transforming Center spoke on “Soul Care”, “compassion fatigue”, and the need for “solitude”, mostly directed at the pastors present.

 

Eugene Cho, pastor and author, spoke on mutual spurring to bring people into the kingdom.  Eugene has a book coming out:  Thou Shalt Not Be a Jerk.

 

Sameh Maurice encouraged the church to action and sacrificial service with stories of his church, Kasr El Dobara Church Evangelical Church, the largest church in Egypt (12,000 members).

 

Dana Allin, Synod Executive. 

  • ECO plans to plant 1000 churches and micro expressions of church by 2030. Need 1000 vocational leaders and 10,000 lay leaders to do this.  The main goal is impact for the kingdom of God.
  • ECO has a Church Transformation Cohort which has shown to increase church attendance by 10% average in 1 year.  Paul Borden is the principal who works with congregations. eco-pres.org/church-transformation

 

Lisa Johnson, ECO director of leadership Development - and Jamie’s Commissioned Lay Pastor (CLP) facilitator.  Quality of CLP students has been excellent.  Have been 8 pastors facilitating 9 cohorts of students.  32 have completed the program, 50 are in process, and 20 are pending a start.  Anyone in ECO can join in the CLP program. CLP curriculum and certification program is based upon ECO’s Ten Core Leadership Competencies.  Two certifications offered: CLP 1 and CLP 2 (CLP 2 includes CLP 1 and seminary courses.) churchleadershipcenter.org/eco-presbyterian-commissioned-lay-pastor-clp 

 

Kaitlyn Wood, Pastor at the United Church of Cohoes, Cohoes, NY - Told of how they made great changes to their dying church to adjust to the community needs.  Removed pews to make multipurpose space.  Reduced staff and board of elders.  Increased volunteer staff.  They  have had many baptisms, confessions of faith, increased membership from 90 to 124 so far, and stabilized finances.

 

NOTE:  All main sessions from the national Gathering were recorded and will be on the website by the end of February at econationalgathering.org


Music and worship - Amazing worship music by recording artists and worship leaders --- Shane & Shane!  Worship music was also led by Ashley Irons and her praise team from Dallas.

Breakout Sessions

39 different sessions were offered at three different times. I went to these three.

 

The Great Commission Today – with Andrew Adair of The Antioch Partners noted that in 2020 of the approximately 400,000 long term missionaries, the majority are now coming from the Southern Hemisphere (estimating 70%).  I have a one page session summary to share, just ask me!  Adair also encouraged churches to send students to the annual New Wilmington Mission Conference, in PA - nwmcmission.org and Urbana Mission Conference in IL - urbana.org 

 

The Spiritual Conversation Curve - Led by Don Everts of the Bonhomme Presby Church in St. Louis. My favorite break out session, discussed how to approach people with the gospel.  We first must determine a person’s receptivity – Unreceptive, Receptive, or Seeking.  How we respond to them is contingent on where they are on this curve.  Free online course on Prepared to Respond: The Spiritual Conversation at LHM.org/learn, also other online courses as well.

 

Practical Steps to Begin or Enhance a Multi-Cultural Ministry – Raymond Garcia, Roxborough Church and The Philadelphia Project.  Session was mostly about becoming a multicultural church, one that reflects the community where it is located, in membership and leadership. I have a copy of this powerpoint presentation to share.  If interested, let me know!

East Central Presbytery Meeting

Our presbytery had its own meeting one afternoon with about 65 present with business and committee reports and sharing. 

  • Rev. Jeff Rickett was welcomed as the newly installed pastor of Neelsville!
  • Talk by Nelson Ould of Community West Church in Richmond about “the power of the invitation”, he impressed the need to “Just Ask” people to come to church, to join in ministries, to attend gatherings.  Just ask and you will be surprised how many will attend.
  • One of our churches asked for prayers for a building after their move from PCUSA to ECO - Christ Presbyterian Church of Huntington, WV. 
  • Two of our churches are searching for a pastor.
  • Spring Meeting will be April 24-25, Christian Arabic Church, Crozier VA
  • Fall Meeting, October 23-24, Spring Hill PC, Staunton VA

ECO Synod Meeting

Some notes from the short meeting on Thursday morning:  Mark Frueh of Cornerstone Pres in Minot NC gave an opening homily.  Dana Allin discussed some ECO initiatives:  Flexible ordination requirements, including Masters in Theology or Biblical Studies, and experience for incoming pastors.  A professional parliamentarian was present to guide the meeting.  Commissioners voted on several mundane matters and approved some tweaks to the confessional standards which will be revised and printed.  Also the church received greetings from several international churches in partnership with ECO.  John Terech reported 407 churches in attendance at the conference and 570 commissioners.

Resources for ECO Partners

Online Seminary Courses - ECO's Flourish offers currently 12 online seminary courses and is on track to offer a full Masters of Divinity online. This is in partnership with Gordon-Conwell Theological seminary and starting at only $25.  See flourishmovement.org/online-seminary-courses


Other courses (some free) from Flourish. Too many to list here. 

See flourishmovement.org/flourishcourses


ECO Swag - Want an ECO shirt, pin, bag, socks, mug, beanie, etc?  Visit eco-pres.store


The Theology Team of ECO printed copies on Baptism and Gender in Christ (re: egalitarian ministry).  A copy of each will be our library soon.  And these two plus, the ECO Confessional Standards and the Constitution of ECO are all available online at Theology-eco.org


Information booths at the conference represented many Mission organizations, Presbyterians Protecting Life (PPL), Seminaries, Investment services, Youth information, Sunday School curricula, Book table.


AXIS - For Youth! Christian ministry that provides resources and materials to build lifelong faith in today’s youth including materials for leaders, pastors, parents, grandparents. Every ECO Church will receive one log in for the All Axis Pass for free! Pastor Mimi Kim of H.O.P.E. church highly recommended this resource that she uses to navigate the youth culture with her twins. See Eco-pres.org/axis