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Denominational Updates from First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen » About ECO & Fellowship http://updates.dunellenpres.org Denomination Updates from First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen Fri, 11 Jan 2013 12:17:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5 CATALOG OF IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=461 http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=461#comments Tue, 15 May 2012 22:07:07 +0000 editor http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=461 Here are links to some of the most important documents that can introduce you to the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO).

Introducing a New Denominational Home – PowerPoint




Introduction to ECO polity

ECO Polity

ECO Theological Foundations








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Frequently Asked Questions about ECO http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=459 http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=459#comments Mon, 07 May 2012 00:09:12 +0000 editor http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=459 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO)

 1.      Where did ECO come from?

In January, 2011, a group of evangelical pastors in the Presbyterian Church (USA) issued a “white paper” that outlined their differences with the denomination, and some possible ways that evangelicals might respond. One of the possible ways forward that was outlined in the paper was the creation of a new denomination that would be evangelical in theology, lean in structure, and outwardly focused in mission. In January 2012, this new denomination was born at a gathering in Orlando, Florida, with over 2000 participants representing almost 700 churches.

2.      How large is ECO?

At the moment, there are about 45 churches that are actively moving into ECO, including several of the largest churches in the Presbyterian Church (USA). It is expected that this number will grow as many other congregations across the nation enter into or complete discernment processes about their relationship with the PC(USA).

3.      Does ECO support abortion rights?

No. ECO clearly states that all human life is sacred, from conception until natural death. The ECO medical benefits plan also does not pay for elective abortions.

4.      What is ECO’s position on sexuality?

ECO is clear that God calls all people either to fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.

5.      Does ECO allow women to be pastors, elders, and deacons?

Yes. ECO actively celebrates the ministry gifts of both men and women in all ministries of the church.

6.      How do we know that ECO will not follow in the footsteps of the PC(USA) and become another liberal denomination?

Every ordained leader in ECO must agree to a list of “essential tenets” that state the core theological beliefs of the church. These tenets form the foundation of all of ECO’s theology and practice.

7.      Will ECO own our church’s property?

No. In ECO, every congregation retains full ownership of its property and finances.

8.      Does ECO charge a per-capita?

No. Of course, every denomination needs money to finance its basic operations, but ECO is committed to minimizing structure to maximize mission. ECO requires that each congregation contribute 1% of its annual unrestricted income to support the structure and ministry of the denomination. In our case this would be approximately $4000, compared to an $11,000 per capita apportionment in the PC(USA).

9.      Does ECO have a medical plan for our church staff?

Yes. The plan is comparable to the PC(USA) benefits plan.

10.  Does ECO have a retirement plan for our staff?

Yes and no. ECO requires each church to the equivalent of 10% of each pastor’s effective salary into a retirement savings plan of the church’s choice. While ECO does have a retirement savings plan available, churches can use any fund that they feel will best suit their pastor’s needs.

11.  How will our presbytery function with churches spread all over the country?

At the moment, we don’t know. We do know that we will be in a presbytery of like-minded churches that are committed to encouraging and supporting one another in ministry. Due to the wonders of modern technology, we may end up using video-conferencing to meet until there are enough churches to form local presbyteries within driving distance.

12.  Where can I learn more about ECO’s polity and theology?

You can download copies of the ECO “Book of Order” and core theological documents at http://www.fellowship-pres.org/documents/. From the same page, you can find complete news and updates about the new denomination.

If you don’t have internet access, please call the church office and we will be happy to provide you with printed copies.

You can also go to http://updates.dunellenpres.org and subscribe to receive updates throughout our entire dismissal process.


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ECO remains ECO – but with a twist http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=384 http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=384#comments Mon, 16 Apr 2012 13:22:53 +0000 editor http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=384 What’s in a Name?
April 9, 2012

It was December, December 6th to be precise, in Chicago, where those of us who had been wrestling for months to come up with a name for the baby we affectionately referred to as the “new Reformed body” returned to the table, committed to its Christening. We had come up with all kinds of names, but nothing had really stuck. To that point we had assembled collections of words, accurate in meaning but uninspired. We wanted a name that caused us to think and live differently, embrace a larger mission and higher calling with more creativity. We wanted a name that was God-inspired.

As we talked and prayed that morning, three descriptive words emerged – evangelical, covenant and order. Evangelical directs us to be witnesses to the hope of the gospel, engaged in our culture and planting missional communities. Order is a word rich in heritage but not typically used in American denominational circles these days. It conveys commitment to live life together around a common theological core. Covenant reminds us that God initiated a relationship with us that then connects us to each other. We added Presbyterian. Presbyterian certainly describes our style of government, but even more it describes our continuity with a larger, global family of faith.

As we continued our discussion, these words took hold of us. We began to see the beauty of the message they conveyed. We left Chicago in agreement on Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians, ECO for short to bring to mind our desire to create an ecosystem for flourishing congregations. We announced the name at the January conference in Orlando. John Ortberg outlined the vision for ECO in his opening presentation. Since then ECO has taken hold of the imagination of many individuals and congregations.

Shortly after the Orlando conference, we were contacted by the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), a denomination of 800 congregations based in Chicago, expressing a concern that that our new name is too close to the ECC and has the potential to cause confusion. Our subsequent conversations with the ECC have been nothing but beautiful and respectful. We have looked at our core values and tried to live into our relationships as Christian brothers and sisters with mutual respect and affirmation of ministry.

Because we value this relationship and want to honor their concerns, we have agreed to modify our name slightly. We will keep the acronym ECO, but we will change the descriptors. Beginning today, April 9, 2012, we will be known as ECO: a Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. It is a small change for us but has major significance for our partners in ministry in the ECC.

What’s in a name? A good name communicates identity. We are and want to be an accountable community of Resurrection people. ECO: a Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.

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A brief comparison of ECO and EPC http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=314 http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=314#comments Tue, 14 Feb 2012 19:36:55 +0000 editor http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=314 Part one of a comparison of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and the new Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians by Mary Naegeli.


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John Ortberg: A Vision for Ministry & Introducing ECO http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=286 http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=286#comments Mon, 23 Jan 2012 03:25:45 +0000 editor http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=286 John Ortberg opened the Fellowship of Presbyterians Covenanting Conference with this sermon. It is one of the most uplifting, inspiring, and challenging messages I’ve heard in a long time. Enjoy!

John Ortberg: A Vision for Ministry & Introducing ECO from Fellowship of Presbyterians on Vimeo.

John Ortberg: A Vision for Ministry & Introducing ECO



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FAQ on Orlando Conference http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=279 http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=279#comments Mon, 23 Jan 2012 02:48:47 +0000 editor http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=279 I’m still processing my experiences at the Fellowship of Presbyterians Covenanting Conference in Orlando, so look for several more posts over the next few days. Today I’d like to answer a couple of the questions I was asked most frequently at church this morning.

1) What is the relationship between ECO (The Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians – a new denomination), the Fellowship of Presbyterians, and the Presbyterian Church (USA)?


The Fellowship of Presbyterians is a group of pastors, elders, and churches who are in a covenantal relationship with one another for accountability and encouragement in ministry. The Fellowship is both evangelical and reformed. Membership is available to anyone in any denomination that share its core beliefs and purpose.

ECO is a new denomination that was officially launched on January 19 in Orlando. It was born out of The Fellowship of Presbyterians, and has a symbiotic relationship with The Fellowship. In other words, all churches and individuals who are part of ECO are part of The Fellowship. But, The Fellowship also includes churches and individuals who are part of the PC(USA) but not a part of ECO.


2) What positions do ECO and The Fellowship take on abortion and the ordination of self-avowed practicing homosexuals? 

The Fellowship (and ECO) are very clear that they uphold the sanctity of life, and the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. They are also very clear that while these are very important issue, they are not the basis for these new ministries. They are Presbyterians working together to nurture a new way of doing church. They exist to make disciples of Jesus Christ.


3) What relationship does First Presbyterian Church have with either the Fellowship or ECO?

At this time, our church has no formal relationship with either group, but we are trying to be as well informed as possible as we seek our way forward. On the other hand, I have indicated my personal commitment to  The Fellowship of Presbyterians by signing The Fellowship Covenant, which you can read here: http://www.fellowship-pres.org/wp-content/uploads/Fellowship-Covenant.pdf.

Please feel free to post your questions in the Comments section, and I’ll do my best to put more information here as time allows. The best way to learn about The Fellowship and ECO is to go to their website: http://www.fellowship-pres.org/

-Jeff Wildrick

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The New Reformed Body has a Name http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=269 http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=269#comments Thu, 19 Jan 2012 22:29:00 +0000 editor http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=269 This morning began with a dynamic worship service. John Ortberg’s sermon raised up a vision of what God is calling the church to be based on Acts 2:42-47:

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

He proclaimed “There was a time when people were so devoted to God and irrationally connected to each other in service… when they took off their masks and changed the world.”

That is the kind of church God is calling us to be today. He  challenged us to imagine a church that is Spirit led and Christ centered, devoted to teaching the nations; where the claims of Jesus are expressed in thoughtful, winsome, and compelling ways; where anyone can come, bring their hurts and doubts, and hear a clear, confident, humble expression of the gospel; where church meetings are never a waste of anyone’s time because they are focused on how to reach people, do justice, and build disciples; and where hundreds of thousands of people are being won to Jesus. “Can God not do that today?”

He then introduced the name and mission statement of the New Reformed Body:

Evangelical – Bringing the Good News (Evangel) to all people

Covenant – Expressing a commitment and accountability to God and one another

Order – Committing to a way of life together.

Playing around with the initials “ECO”, Ortberg reminded us that a healthy eco-system provides a place where a multitude of organisms can flourish and grow. An unhealthy ecosystem becomes toxic to living organisms.  ECO will exist to help congregations flourish in making disciples of Jesus Christ.

“Will you devote the rest of your life to be part of such a church?”

More in my next update on how ECO and the Fellowship of Presbyterians hope to live into that vision.

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Covenanting Conference of Fellowship of Presbyterians Begins http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=266 http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=266#comments Thu, 19 Jan 2012 02:34:05 +0000 editor http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=266 Elder Suzanne Geiger and I are attending the “Covenanting Conference” of the Fellowship of Presbyterians in Orlando, Florida. The conference began tonight, Jan. 18 and will conclude Friday night. I’ll try to give updates several times each day.

Tonight’s gathering focused on one thing – worship. The service was in the Taizé style, with beautiful contemplative singing and prayers.

The sermon was given by the Rev. Hope Lee who gave us a tour of Nehemiah 1, with some very pointed applications for our churches and ourselves. She started by asking what difference it would make in our communities if our church disappeared tomorrow. Would anyone other than the congregation notice – or care? If so, then why are there so many empty parking places and seats in our churches on Sunday mornings, while the line at Starbucks stretches around the corner?

Pointing to Nehemiah, she challenged us to allow our hearts to be broken for our communities. Confess the many ways we have failed to actively live and speak the gospel to a lost and hurting world. Weep, rather than casting blame on the denomination, or society, for our failure to engage our neighborhoods with the gospel. Repent – which means to change our ways. Then, GET ON WITH IT!  ”Property can be repaired or replaced… But people are irreplaceable in the eyes of God.”

One scripture that was read really captured my heart.

18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
20 The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
21 the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.
Isaiah 43:18-21

Please pray for all here that we may be faithful to God as we seek a new way forward as brothers and sisters in Christ.

-Pastor Jeff Wildrick

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