March 2023 Reverend Reflections

Hello First Presbyterian Church,

One of the cherished characteristics of Presbyterianism is something called “connectionalism.” Attend a meeting of Presbytery or General Assembly and you are almost guaranteed to hear someone mention their love for the fact that we are a “connectional” church. It is one of those things that is often repeated for fear of losing it. 

Connectionalism is the reality that churches within the EPC are connected (hence connectionalism) in real, meaningful, and significant ways. Any church who wants to join the denomination must affirm the following: “The congregation and its governing body have concurred in the request, and have agreed to walk together as a church, based upon the faith and government of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, to be faithful to one another, to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, to the support of the whole Church, to be obedient to the order and doctrines of our faith, submitting themselves to the government and discipline of the Church, and promising to promote its purity and peace” 

Connectionalism is more than just common commitments and mutual support between churches, though. It also defines the way we govern, with Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders from every church in a particular Presbytery participating in the governance of that larger body. This is the reality reflected all the way up to the General Assembly, the national gathering of EPC churches.

A vibrant connectionalism can be a beautiful thing, but it is difficult to realize and maintain, which is why you hear “connectionalism” often mentioned in gatherings of Presbyterians. Unfortunately, despite our efforts to the contrary, it is often the case that only Teaching Elders and a handful of Ruling Elders—the people actually attending meetings of the Presbytery and General Assembly—who experience the benefit of our connectionalism, and the mutual support and participation in the gospel doesn’t make its way into the awareness of the average parishioner. 

In order to raise your awareness of our connectional reality I want to share with you a link to the EPConnection. This is the “news and information service” of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church that is maintained by the EPC’s Home Office in Orlando. On the right hand side of the home page is a field for you to enter your email address so that you will receive an email whenever new content is posted. The content posted here ranges greatly—videos of the Stated Clerk of the denomination discussing things like the recent revival at Asbury University; strategic plans for evangelization and missionary work; ways to help during natural disasters like the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria; and financial reports for the denomination. It is a treasure trove for all things EPC!

I hope that you enjoy exploring this page and I pray you feel more connected to our denomination as a result.

Grace and peace,
Jonathan +