EPC General Assembly question

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Ploutos

Puritan Board Sophomore
Is there anyone here who can speak to a question I have about the recent EPC General Assembly? I know they voted to open fraternal relations with ECO, but I have heard (and I will state upfront that this is a rumor for which I am seeking additional info) that there is talk of a merger with ECO at some point. Is that true?
 
Is there anyone here who can speak to a question I have about the recent EPC General Assembly? I know they voted to open fraternal relations with ECO, but I have heard (and I will state upfront that this is a rumor for which I am seeking additional info) that there is talk of a merger with ECO at some point. Is that true?

Although I could be wrong, such a merger would be HIGHLY unlikely. Even if both sides wanted to merge, it would be more trouble than it is worth.
 
Although I could be wrong, such a merger would be HIGHLY unlikely. Even if both sides wanted to merge, it would be more trouble than it is worth.
My guess is that my friend heard someone talk about the opening of fraternal relations and, not being particularly versed on denominational politics, understood "fraternal relations" to mean "pending merger".
 
There may be at least as many differences between the EPC and the ECO as there are between the EPC and the PCA. Some EPC congregations are to the right of some PCA congregations. I know that Rosaria Butterfield has spoken at at least one EPC congregation, for example. There are people, including Teaching Elders, in the EPC who are Doug Wilson fans. I doubt there are many Wilson fans in the ECO. There are cultural differences as well as theological.

I think people see that both the EPC and ECO ordain women and assume that they have more in common than they do. The ECO's doctrinal standard is still a Book of Confessions, similar to the PCUSA, and they have more of a broadly evangelical (and less Reformed) identity than the EPC does, although the latter would still be "New School" or broadly evangelical from a strict subscriptionist point of view.

Some of the talk seems to be wishful thinking on the part of some in the PCA who would like to see PCA "progressives" depart to the EPC or the merged EPC and ECO, assuming that a merger between the two would be more attractive.

The ECO is more hardline on egalitarianism than the EPC is. From what I understand, you can't oppose the ordination of women and be an elder in the ECO the way you can in the EPC. EPC congregations can also bar women from holding any church office, including deacon. However, despite protestations to the contrary, it seems to me that everyone in the EPC is functionally egalitarian. How can you serve alongside women elders at presbytery and GA if you have a serious issue with it? It seems to me that there is a sense that everyone in the denomination, even those in congregations without women officers, is in submission to women elders since they are ruling alongside the men in the higher courts. I caught some of the EPC GA a couple of weeks ago. It seemed like every other speaker was a woman. Women elders became a lot more prevalent when the former PCUSA congregations were admitted.
 
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This is a troubling comment. There is a Christian duty towards visible ecclesiastical union.
That's an interesting statement coming from one who is a member of a micro-Presbyterian denomination. I'm not attacking your personally. But some might say that a denomination with 6 congregations ought not exist, that you should work out whatever differences you have with at least one other conservative confessional Presbyterian church.

Is your thought here that because both the EPC and ECO are more "broadly evangelical" that there really can't be any principled reason for remaining apart?
 
There may be at least as many differences between the EPC and the ECO as there are between the EPC and the PCA.
To be fair, there's probably less practical distance between most congregations in the PCA and most congregations in the EPC than there is between the PCA and either the RCUS or the RPCNA.

And, as to the ECO, if they wanted to be EPC, there was no reason to start an new denomination when they left the PCUSA. There had to be non-negotiables that kept that from happening.
 
That's an interesting statement coming from one who is a member of a micro-Presbyterian denomination. I'm not attacking your personally. But some might say that a denomination with 6 congregations ought not exist, that you should work out whatever differences you have with at least one other conservative confessional Presbyterian church.

Is your thought here that because both the EPC and ECO are more "broadly evangelical" that there really can't be any principled reason for remaining apart?

Jacob seemed to imply that merger is "more trouble than its worth." That is a troubling thought.

I am not going to rehash previous threads, but the PRC has been active in pursuing merger with likeminded bodies. I do not claim to speak for all of our presbyters or the denomination as a whole, but I am quite persuaded that we would be all for merger with other Westminster Confessing bodies; for example, we have petitioned the FCC for such. As for other NAPARC denominations, none of them hold the same confession (the unamended WCF) and have the same view of worship and practice as we do. I do not think union can be at the expense of a correct view of worship and doctrine.

I will gently flip this back on those in broader circles than my own. The EPC, PCA, ECO, and likely a number of others are younger than my own communion. Was there really no one worth joining? Why do the OPC and PCA remain separate when they have an identical confession? We have a duty to union; all of us. Folks in bigger denominations do not get to point fingers to those of us in smaller ones and claim that a schismatic spirit is unavoidable when one gets to a certain size and absolutely certain when one is small. I can pretty much guarantee you that many in my own communion feel the need for organic union and visible church unity to be a more pressing need than your general OPC or PCA minister.
 
We can say it another way at: is true unity accomplished by both having the same denomination name?

Certainly it is not less than that.

I admit we are probably in different worlds though. I cannot imagine being in fraternal relations with, much less sharing courts with, women elders. So my plea towards unity is probably misguided at this point. All I was trying to get at is that your comment that unity is not really worth the fight is a sad one. Cheers.
 
Certainly it is not less than that.

I admit we are probably in different worlds though. I cannot imagine being in fraternal relations with, much less sharing courts with, women elders. So my plea towards unity is probably misguided at this point. All I was trying to get at is that your comment that unity is not really worth the fight is a sad one. Cheers.
I think his point is that it would be a divisive and controversial thing, and this more trouble than it’s worse in that sense. Some of the EPC congregations have been in the denomination for 25-40 years. Others came out of the PCUSA around 15 years ago. The ECO was formed by congregations that came out of the PCUSA several years after the ones that went to the EPC did. There are reasons for that timing. Generally, the ones that formed the ECO didn’t think the EPC was egal enough, and they tended to have less of a Reformed identity. I can’t see a merger working unless the EPC were to go full blown egal with no “conscience clause or else the ECO would need to adopt the EPC view. A compromise either way would result in some ministers and congregations leaving.
 
I think his point is that it would be a divisive and controversial thing, and this more trouble than it’s worse in that sense. Some of the EPC congregations have been in the denomination for 25-40 years. Others came out of the PCUSA around 15 years ago. The ECO was formed by congregations that came out of the PCUSA several years after the ones that went to the EPC did. There are reasons for that timing. Generally, the ones that formed the ECO didn’t think the EPC was egal enough, and they tended to have less of a Reformed identity. I can’t see a merger working unless the EPC were to go full blown egal with no “conscience clause or else the ECO would need to adopt the EPC view. A compromise either way would result in some ministers and congregations leaving.

Right. I meant it would be a bunch of red tape for something that probably won't happen and unity is seen along other lines by other church bodies, anyway.
 
Why do the OPC and PCA remain separate when they have an identical confession?
Because the OPC was smart enough to back away when the PCA tied up with RPC,ES.

And, in broad terms, OPC valued fidelity at the expense of outreach, the PCA valued outreach at the expense of fidelity. Same confession with differing values.
 
Because the OPC was smart enough to back away when the PCA tied up with RPC,ES.

And, in broad terms, OPC valued fidelity at the expense of outreach, the PCA valued outreach at the expense of fidelity. Same confession with differing values.
You’re not understanding what I’m getting at. When what is now the PCA left the souther church in the seventies, why did they form another church instead of join one that was confessionally and constitutionally identical? It’s easy to pick on us small denominations, but as a matter of fact there are far less hindrances to the OPC and PCA joining than one likes to make it seem like. Being relatively large doesn’t alleviate one from the duty towards ecclesiastical merger. the relativity of size is also important. I grew up in the SBC (and am probably still on the rolls at a few churches), the PCA is a micro-denomination to my former eyes.

Let me ask it this way, do you believe that the OPC and PCA have a duty to unite or is it perfectly acceptable that NAPARC continues for perpetuity and denominations keep multiplying and never joining?
 
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When what is now the PCA left the souther church in the seventies, why did they form another church instead of join one that was confessionally and constitutionally identical?
Still too soon after the war to fully trust the yankees. Even today in the deep south, there appears to not be a single OPC church in Mississippi, one in Alabama, three in Louisiana, and two in Georgia outside the yankeefied Metro Atlanta area.

As for your other question - I thought that the OPC was wrong when it backed away from the three way merger. In hindsight, I now believe they made the correct decision, and would be foolish to tie up with the PCA at this point. Perhaps the trajectory of the PCA will reverse, and hindsight will again prove me wrong.
 
Still too soon after the war to fully trust the yankees. Even today in the deep south, there appears to not be a single OPC church in Mississippi, one in Alabama, three in Louisiana, and two in Georgia outside the yankeefied Metro Atlanta area.

As for your other question - I thought that the OPC was wrong when it backed away from the three way merger. In hindsight, I now believe they made the correct decision, and would be foolish to tie up with the PCA at this point. Perhaps the trajectory of the PCA will reverse, and hindsight will again prove me wrong.

I thought it was the PCA who backed away in 1981 or 1982, whenever the "joining and receiving" was where the RPCES joined the PCA. Norman Shepherd was an issue then. My understanding is that the OPC voted in favor of a merger with the RPCES in 1975 but the RPCES rejected it. In another effort in 1986 (the OPC's 50th anniversary) the vote failed to reach the 2/3 majority in the OPC, although a majority voted for it. Since then, it seems that there has been more clarity when it comes to why the OPC should maintain a separate existence.

I was only aware of two congregations in Louisiana, a mission church in New Orleans having closed years ago. I looked it up and was surprised to see a new one in Madisonville. I can't help but think that this effort is a result of the Covington PCA leaving, soon to probably join the CREC. It is doubtful it would be happening otherwise. There is very little info online though. I only found a FB page that doesn't have much info. Hopefully they will build a website later. (I think churches make a mistake by relying entirely on FB.) There are also two EPC congregations in the area, neither of which would be the type to join the ECO for the kinds of reasons discussed in this thread, whatever their shortcomings from a Reformed standpoint. For example, the pastor of one just finished a 2-3 year study of the Institutes in Sunday School, which is something that wouldn't be done in a completely wishy washy church, and would likely never be done in some PCA congregations. And this is congregation and pastor that came out of the PCUSA within maybe the last 10-12 years. It appears that some who left the PCUSA for the EPC reevaluated their whole position instead of just leaving over sexuality and nothing more. The Covington PCA, at least in the last 15 years or so, never got beyond a few dozen folks.

It looks like they are meeting in the PCUSA building in Madisonville. I don't know if it closed or if they are just renting space.
 
I was only aware of two congregations in Louisiana,
I had written two, and then fact checked myself, and was also surprised to see 3 in Louisiana.

I thought it was the PCA who backed away in 1981 or 1982, whenever the "joining and receiving"
From recollection (factcheck will have to wait until after work) PCA initially balked, and then a year later decided to proceed, but by then the OPC decided not to go along.

(I think churches make a mistake by relying entirely on FB.)
I used to say that if a church didn't have a website, they didn't want new members. I assume most of the ones that just do Facebook have a combination of a lack of funds an a lack of savvy in the congregation. I coded the original website for the Southwest Church Planting network 25 years ago. It didn't look nearly as good as the professional version they have now, but it was functional and it was far better than nothing. But tools are a lot easier to use these days, and free or near free is available.
 
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