Who We Are
Founded in January 2012, ECO is a Presbyterian denomination that exists to serve the local church. We seek to nurture leaders and connect congregations so as to reclaim a sense of covenanted biblical community within a denominational context.
ECO is committed to four priorities through 2018:
1. Lift up the centrality of the gospel.
2. Grow with an emerging generation of leaders.
3. Prioritize a wave of church innovation.
4. Create an atmosphere of relational accountability.
The name ECO is not an acronym. It reinforces our passion for strengthening the ecosystems of local churches. We believe the church is a living organism that needs life-giving resources to help it grow, thrive, and multiply. ECO is committed to cultivating a healthy, diverse, resource-rich ecosystem where pastors and congregations can flourish.
Our full name (ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians) speaks to our core commitments:
Covenant: Connecting leaders in accountable relationships; Encouraging collaboration; Ministering out of God’s unrelenting grace and covenant with His people
Order: Uniting around a shared theological core; Committing to a shared way of life; Nurturing gospel-centered leaders
Evangelical: Advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ; Planting new missional communities; Serving our communities and God’s world in Jesus’ name
Presbyterian: Standing within our Reformed and confessional heritage; Affirming the life of the mind; Embracing the value of representative government
How ECO Began
In the summer of 2010, seven pastors from the Presbyterian Church (USA) spoke of finding new ways to encourage each other in faith, ministry, and mission. They were concerned by the declining membership within their denomination (from four million to two million in 40 years), and they worried that growing denominational disputes over theology and bureaucracy stole focus from their pastoral calling of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and equipping a new generation to lead. These pastors dreamed of reclaiming a sense of covenanted community among leaders from a Presbyterian and Reformed heritage, and to find new ways for churches to connect, grow, and multiply.
In January 2011, these pastors sent out a letter to PC(USA) pastors around the country, asking if others wanted to join in crafting a new way forward. The response was overwhelming: just seven months later, in August 2011, nearly 2,000 men and women gathered in Minneapolis to dream and pray. This became the birth of The Fellowship of Presbyterians, a ministry association that seeks to equip and connect those in various Presbyterian denominations including the PC(USA). But some pastors and congregations felt God calling them to leave the PC(USA), and many young seminarians were looking for a different context for ordination. As a result, in January 2012, at a conference in Orlando with more than 2,200 in attendance, a new denomination was formed: ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.
ECO today is a diverse and fast-growing denomination, with churches ranging in size from 50 members to 4,000 members. In the first year, 80 churches either joined ECO or began the process of joining. 105 people also applied for ordination. In the second year, these numbers doubled and continue to climb into 2014. (See current members.) Though ECO was originally born out of the work of The Fellowship of Presbyterians, these organizations exist today as separate entities — ECO as a Reformed denomination and The Fellowship as a ministry association serving multiple denominations — but they remain partners in a common mission: to build flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ.