September 7, 2017 — by ECO NEWS

Continued Prayers for Peace & Protection

ECO friends, as we continue to pray for South Texas and the clean-up efforts along the Gulf Coast, we are now compelled to widen our prayers to include our sisters and brothers in the Caribbean, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and possibly other states as Hurricane Irma heads towards the East Coast. We ask everyone to pray that the storm shifts east and does not directly hit any coastline of the Eastern United States.

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August 31, 2017 — by Dana Allin

Entering into the Messiness

After the resurrection, Jesus returns to His disciples. He calms their fears and then commissions them by saying, “As the father sent me, so I am sending you”  (John 20:21). What has struck me recently about this passage is that just prior to commissioning the disciples, Jesus shows them the wounds in His hands and His side...the results of being sent into the world! Jesus was incarnated into the messiness of the world by being born in a stable, He ministered in the messiness of the world, and He died by the cruelty of the world. After all of that, Jesus says, “AS the Father sent me, so I am SENDING YOU.” We are sent into the messiness, and sometimes even the cruelty of the world, to show the tangible love and mercy of Jesus.

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August 31, 2017 — by Jen Haddox

An Invitation to Freedom Sunday – Integrating Justice into our Mission Values

In seeking to be a movement, not just a denomination, one of the core values we hold to is Missional Centrality: We believe in living out the whole of the Great Commission – including evangelism, spiritual formation, compassion, and redemptive justice both in our communities and around the world.  One of the ways our ECO churches have lived out redemptive justice is sharing in the work of the International Justice Mission. With Freedom Sunday coming September 24th, we have an opportunity to mobilize awareness and resources to support the work of International Justice Mission (IJM) as they work to redeem those trapped in slavery.  

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July 28, 2017 — by Nate Dreesmann

Ecclesiastical Support & Church Transformation

“What does the Executive Director of Ecclesiastical Support do?”  Everywhere I travel for ECO I’m asked this question.  Over the next several months my hope is to profile how ECO is helping local churches to flourish and how my position contributes to that.

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July 28, 2017 — by Dana Allin

July Newsletter | A Word From Dana Allin

It has been exciting to see that over fifty churches are officially participating in the Becoming a Flourishing Church material.  We know that some churches are using the materials with their sessions but have not officially signed up, and others will begin to use the material in the fall. A few churches are using the material with their entire congregations to help increase the strength of individual discipleship as well as to get wider input into the health of their congregations. We have even had some churches who are not in ECO indicate that they are using the material for their sessions.

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July 24, 2017 — by ECO NEWS

ECO Theological Task Force Introduces the ECO Book of Confessions

The ECO Book of Confessions is a very special collection of documents that give witness to the system of doctrine embraced by countless reformed and Presbyterian believers over many centuries. Each document has played an important part in our history as a church and continues to guide us through the present and into our future together. Upon the formation of ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians it was decided that all of the current confessions of the PC(USA) would be kept as our founding documents. Therefore the ECO Book of Confessions stands as it was at the moment in time that ECO came into existence. This was a wise and faithful decision as the vast majority of incoming members had taken vows in support of this Book of Confessions. There was also a commitment made that there would be further study and reflection upon this decision after the denomination was established.

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July 11, 2017 — by Dana Allin

Reflections from the 2017 WCRC General Council

A few weeks ago, along with Jen Haddox and John Terech, I had the privilege of representing ECO at the General Council meeting of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) in Leipzig, Germany.  The General Council meets every 7 years and consists of delegates from 220 member churches from around the world.  ECO became a member of the WCRC in 2013 with the endorsement from the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRC) and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), who were already members.

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June 2, 2017 — by Dana Allin

Raising the Bar | "Flourishing Leaders"

Many people have commented about how ECO seeks to create an environment that continues to raise the bar on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. There are many ways that this environment is encouraged within ECO congregations and presbyteries. One of the ways that I am thrilled to watch unfold among our churches is the hunger to have lay leaders flourish in their various and diverse ministries.

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May 31, 2017 — by Jen Haddox

Join us in Praying for Muslims Around the World!

When we pray, "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," in our regular weekly or daily prayers, we can easily lose sight of the radical petition we are making. We are asking for God’s sovereign love and power to come to fullness of expression right here among us. We are praying for God’s perfect love, justice, and peace to reign in our world. We are expressing a sure hope and complete trust that God is actively at work in our world through the Risen Christ to transform and renew all things.  We cannot make the Kingdom of God come by our own efforts, but Jesus invites us to pray and live into its reality in our midst.  

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May 31, 2017 — by Mickie O'Donnell

When Flourishing Churches Gather: Synod 2018 Meeting

Hi, my name is Mickie O'Donnell and I want to tell you about one of the reasons I am so excited about the 2018 national gathering! I know it may seem early to think about it, but now is the perfect time to start planning on how you are going to bring all your hard working and faithful ministry educators with you. You know who they are; Children and Family Ministry Director, Missions Director, Youth Director, and even Nursery School Director. The January 2018 national gathering will be a perfect place to come together as a staff team and help everyone experience the synergy that is evident when flourishing churches gather.

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May 23, 2017 — by Dave Reichelderfer

Covenant Relationships: Lifting One Another Up In Prayer

We had a great Thanksgiving.  Our house was full for dinner with four generations being represented.    The activity level was increased by the presence of our three grandchildren, two girls and a boy, who literally ran from one end of the house to another.   After our guests departed, and we were able to clean-up the aftermath, Ann and I retired for a good night’s rest.  It was a wonderful evening!

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April 19, 2017 — by Greg Wagenfuhr

Good Enough?

I hope many of you have received an email, or the April ECO newsletter that introduces myself and my task as the part–time Resource Coordinator for our national Theology Task Force. I am very excited to have the honor of serving ECO in this way.

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April 6, 2017 — by Dana Allin

Dana Allin's April Newsletter Article

I am thrilled with the number of churches who are utilizing the “Becoming a Flourishing Church” series that is available on our website. The feedback has been very positive as many leaders wrestle with the question of what is next for their congregations as they seek to truly flourish. My only concern are the leaders who say, “Our church is only going to do the last two sessions related to being a flourishing church.

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April 6, 2017 — by ECO NEWS

A Resource for Care: Shepherd's Heart Ministry

Shepherd’s Heart Ministry has been serving Pastoral Couples since 2004 in one of their many retreat centers around the world, and has partnered with ECO to assist in supporting their Pastoral Couples in Issues such as burnout, conflict in their ministry assignments, marriage issues and moral failure which are just a few of the challenges that face those serving in ministry.  ECO believes strongly in caring for their Pastoral Couples and has set up several resources to help you on your journey.  

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April 6, 2017 — by Anna Kent

A Community Committed to Christ's Commission

Over the past year, I am thankful to have been involved with a couple of initiatives through ECO.  The pilot project of the Discipleship Initiative was a great learning experience on how to develop a disciple-making culture within a church.  Also, I have been actively involved with one of our Mission Affinity Groups which includes four churches who are going through the Elder Leadership Institute (ELI) together.  I remain thrilled with and excited about the development of the Becoming a Flourishing Church resource and cannot wait to hear responses to it from ECO leaders!

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April 6, 2017 — by Juan Sarmiento

"Joyful Encounters" Via The Outreach Foundation

“Muslim-Christian encounters do not consist primarily of discussions regarding doctrines. Instead, Muslims are first encountered as neighbors. Religion should not be the only marker of their identity that motivates us to reach out to them (or avoid their presence). Christians meet Muslims first and foremost because they have felt the joy of God radiating toward themselves and now feel the same joy leading them towards others.” — Evelyne A. Reisacher "Joyful Witness in the Muslim World, Sharing the Gospel in Everyday Encounters" Baker Academic, p 157

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March 27, 2017 — by Matthew Lee

ECO Church Planting Quarterly Update

In an effort to promote connection, continuity and above all, intercession for our church planters, this is our 2nd quarterly prayer update for ECO Church Planting. As you are observing this season of Lent, it is our prayer that God causes our hearts to intensely burn with Christ's commission to make disciples of all nations; what more effective way than through church planting!

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February 23, 2017 — by Will & Kari Ritter

Expanding the Kingdom of God in Jerome Idaho

One of ECO’s core values is Kingdom Vitality.  We believe that congregations should vigorously reproduce new missional communities to expand the Kingdom of God! We are thrilled to announce that First Presbyterian Church in Jerome, Idaho has done just that! FPC Jerome has been involved with helping two ECO church plants become a reality. Headwaters Ministries is a beautiful and growing missional community in the Wood River Valley around Hailey, Idaho. In addition, this month marks the launch of Renew, a remarkably unique ministry in the heart of downtown Jerome. So why is FPC Jerome launching a church plant just blocks away? 

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February 22, 2017 — by Chris Handley

Helping Florence Flourish

Helping Florence Flourish is an exciting gospel city movement happening in Florence, South Carolina. HFF is modelled after many other movements around the country such as in Modesto, California, Lansing, Michigan and New York City.  (See Glenn Barth’s Good City for more info on Gospel City Movements).  As a GCM, we are working toward a visible demonstration of the unity of the body of Christ (John 17:21) to bless our community (Jeremiah 29:7).  We have been working on racial division, which is a critical issue in our community. 

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February 22, 2017 — by Dana Allin

Catalyzing The Flourishing Of Churches

It was so wonderful to be with our ECO family in Greenville, South Carolina at the end of January.  What a great week we had worshiping together, engaging with encouraging speakers, and connecting with friends and colleagues!

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January 10, 2017 — by ECO NEWS

Rev. Lisa Johnson Modifies Role To “Unleash Laity”

The Elder Leadership Institute (ELI) began several years ago under the direction of Sara Singleton, and later Lisa Johnson became the assistant director. At that time, the ELI program was a ministry under the Fellowship of Presbyterians. A little less than two years ago, the ministry was given over to Flourish: a ministry arm of ECO that serves churches of different denominations. When the ministry moved to Flourish, Lisa became ELI's new director.  

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January 10, 2017 — by Dana Allin

Looking Forward In 2017

I was recently re-reading Les McKeown’s book Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track and Keeping it There.  He talks about the life stages of a startup organization.   The initial stage is called “Early Struggle” and it is about the challenges that an organization faces in getting off the ground.  

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December 23, 2016 — by ECO NEWS

Merry Christmas From Littlerock Community Church!

I am currently the Head of Staff at Littlerock Community Church and a candidate for ordination through ECO.  Our church joined ECO just about a year ago and God has truly blessed us in the past year.  We are a small church located in California's Antelope Valley and so some of this may seem quite insignificant compared to our larger sister churches.  But in the past year, we started an adult Sunday School class which now averages around 15-17 every week and growing!  We also re-started a children’s Sunday School class that now has between 8-12 children each week.  We started a Saturday morning book study (currently reading through Max Lucado’s book on Grace) which has around 8 people each week.  Our growth had been stagnant, but during the past year, we have added 6 new members and I have had the privilege of baptizing four individuals!

Our people now truly feel challenged to “think outside of the box” and as a result, in addition to our normal Christmas caroling to members who are shut-in, we contacted a local “senior” mobile home park and asked if there were any residents that would like us to come.  We were given several names, so we were able to minister to them on a Friday night.  Every home that we sang to wanted to know the name of the church that we represented and we are already seeing some of their relatives coming to visit us!

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November 30, 2016 — by Anna Kent

Building a Healthy Team With ELI & MAGs

I want to share with you a pretty exciting thing God has made happen in one of our ECO Mission Affinity Groups.  At the beginning of the year, Lisa Johnson, Director of ELI, Dana Allin and I sat down to discuss just how we might begin a pilot project of inviting a Mission Affinity Group into an experience of the Elder Leadership Institute.  Lisa has done an incredible job of building on the foundation of ELI by revamping some of the content and the approach so that the experience accommodates the transformational change we hope happens in ECO churches.  The MAG relationship is a perfect crucible to experiment and test out some of the enhancements. Lisa and I invited a group of Alabama churches to be the first guinea pigs.  I knew from being involved with this MAG that they were interested in strengthening the elder leadership through additional training and hoped to do that together. Westminster Pres and Overlook Pres both in Mobile, Bryan Memorial in Hoover, and the Eden Seekers in Enterprise were the perfect fit.  

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November 30, 2016 — by Jen Haddox

Steams of Living Water in the Desert

When I think of the Arabian Peninsula, I imagine the Arabian desert with sand and lots of it!  Blazing sun and parched land with sparse vegetation, and the occasion camel or oasis.  The desert wilderness is not an easy place to live, but it is a place where God is at work!  As witnessed by the Hebrew people who were led out of Egypt and wandered for 40 years in such conditions, there was much to complain about with the harsh living conditions. But also tremendous opportunities to encounter the living God – just re-read Exodus 16-20! On a recent journey to the United Arab Emirates with our partners at Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship (PFF), I discovered that God is very active encountering the people who live and work in this fascinating place in our world. 

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November 30, 2016 — by Dana Allin

What are the Greatest Needs of ECO Churches?

In the last six months, I have tried to ascertain what are the greatest needs of ECO churches.  I have conducted informal and formal questioning around this subject with various pastors and congregational leaders.  I have compared their answers with my own observations from personal interactions.  While all of our congregations are different, there are some common themes that emerge within many of them.  

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