The Fraternal Relations Committee report to the 43rd General Assembly of its work during 2022-2023, plus recommendations for consideration by the Assembly.
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TE, Presbytery of the Gulf South
SUMMARY OF WORK
The Committee takes as its charge to Identify, develop, and implement relationships with other bodies of Christians that will promote the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the unity of His Body, and the strengthening of the Kingdom of God on earth. (84-06)
43-10 That the 43rd General Assembly approve the EPC withdrawing from the World Communion of Reformed Churches.
43-11 That the 43rd General Assembly approve entering into a fraternal relationship with the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO). 12-10 1.a.
WORK OF THE COMMITTEE
1. In 1994, the General Assembly instructed the Fraternal Relations Committee to pursue and explore fraternal relations with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI). For a variety of reasons this did not happen. However, over the last few years, we have held extensive conversations with the PCI and concluded that we should, indeed, enter into a fraternal relationship (12-10-1A). However, at the request of the PCI, this motion is to be delayed until 2024.
2. The Committee has worked to re-energize its relationship with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP), with which the EPC has been in a fraternal relationship since 1985. We are pleased to see this relationship bearing fruit.
3. The Committee has spent time reviewing and renewing existing fraternal relationships, wherever possible, and updating contact information. This work will continue. We currently have international fraternal relations with: St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Argentina; the Association of Charismatic Presbyterian Churches in Puerto Rico; the Evangelical Reformed Church of Kazakhstan; the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar; the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INPM); the Evangelical and Reformed Presbyterian Church of Peru; the Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPB); and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Sierra Leone.
4. The Committee has entered into a fruitful discussion with representatives of the National Union of Evangelical Reformed Protestant Churches of France (UNEPREF). We are currently exploring in what ways a formal fraternal relationship could benefit both denominations.
5. The Committee has also been in discussion with the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus – West Gambella Bethel Synod.
6. The Committee continues in relationship with the Christian Reformed Church; the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE); and, the World Reformed Fellowship (WRF).
7. The Committee has maintained informal relations with the following denominations: the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA); and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA).
That the 43rd General Assembly approve the EPC withdrawing from the World Communion of Reformed Churches.
Rationale: In 1994, the General Assembly instructed the Fraternal Relations Committee to study the EPC’s membership in what was then called the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. In 1997, the Assembly sought membership in a new global network of Presbyterian and Reformed bodies that became the World Reformed Fellowship. Over the last few years, the Committee has reevaluated our relationship with the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) and concluded that the EPC should withdraw from this body. We no longer have any congregations whose dismissal agreements contain reversionary clauses should the EPC leave the WCRC. We believe that it is time to concentrate our international relationships through the World Reformed Fellowship.
That the 43rd General Assembly approve entering into a fraternal relationship with the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO). 12-10 1.a.
Rationale: In 2017, the General Assembly charged the Fraternal Relations Committee to explore a relationship with the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO). Having held discussions with representatives of ECO, we have concluded that we should enter into a fraternal relationship (12-10-1A). This will make it easier for us to cooperate, for example in training for transitional ministry.
Alan Trafford (Chairman)
TE, Presbytery of the Gulf South
TE, Presbytery of the Coastal Mid-Atlantic
TE, Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean
RE, Presbytery of the West
RE, Presbytery of the Midwest
Stan Van den Berg
TE, Presbytery of the Great Plains
August 30, 2022: Video Conference
January 26, 2023: Video Conference
April 20, 2023: Video Conference
Alan Trafford, Chairman