Since its inception in 1966, PRMI (formerly PCC) has primarily served a proverbial alphabet soup of Presbyterian and Reformed Christians: UPCUSA, PCUS, RCA, RCC, PC(USA), EPC etc.
Lately a new ingredient has been added to the mix.
Perhaps you’ve already heard of ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. (It isn’t an acronym. Originally we were Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians, but that was too close to Evangelical Covenant Church, so we changed the name. We kept the tag ECO, however, because this new movement is passionate about ”strengthening the ECO- systems to support flourishing churches that makes disciples of Jesus Christ.” Besides, no one liked the tag COEP!)
In two years this movement has grown from 0 to more than 150 congregations nationwide, with new churches joining regularly. Some of those churches have deep connections with PRMI. As a matter of fact, the Woodbury Church where I serve was one of two Orlando congregations to join ECO on September 7, 2014.In August I had the joyous and exciting privilege of attending the National Gathering of ECO in Dallas. There I shared fellowship, worship and teaching with many others, including some fellow PRMI folks. The fellowship was sweet, the worship was inspiring and the teaching was excellent. One of the high points was Alan Hirsch’s powerful teaching on Ephesians 4. He emphasized that for us to be the biblically missional church we long to be, we need to recover the scriptural offices of Apostle, Prophet and Evangelist as well as Shepherd/Pastor and Teacher. (It was very similar to a teaching I’ve heard from Brad Long.) Only the Holy Spirit, who calls, equips and gives officers to the Church, can make that happen with any authenticity.
Many of you know a passion that stirs me. I hunger to let the delicious teaching of PRMI and Dunamis flavor this new denomination while it is still fresh. I read with joy (and a little envy) that the EPC has officially endorsed the PRMI teachings as a resource. Because of the depth, scriptural soundness, theological integrity, truth and power of those teachings, I would love to see the same thing happen in ECO. Some of you have already helped make that dream come true. You donated copies of Growing the Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit for me to distribute to dozens of ECO pastors and other leaders. Thank you. Several leaders have responded positively and some have expressed interest in taking a Dunamis Course (especially when one is offered in California).
Why does this passion boil in me? Because I agree profoundly with something Tim Keller said to the ECO gathering in 2013. Keller claimed that our culture has become so much like the Greco-Roman culture that the Book of Acts is our direct missions manual. Pardon the pun, but he echoed my thoughts almost exactly. Dr. Keller, a PCA pastor, fudged a little (but less than I expected) on the miraculous aspects of God’s work in Acts being available today, but like PRMI, I don’t fudge on that at all. In fact I’m convinced that the only way we will reach our culture with the Gospel of Jesus Christ is with the supernatural empowerment of the Holy Spirit. That, of course, is the heartbeat of PRMI.
ECO is wide open to the Holy Spirit, and PRMI can enrich the taste and texture of this movement of God in significant ways. So pray with me, please, for this new denomination. Pray that, like others who have been influenced by PRMI, it will be seeped and seasoned in the Spirit’s broth. Pray with me that ECO will experience the empowerment of the Holy Spirit for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
For more information about ECO visit www.eco-pres.org.
Pastor, Woodbury Presbyterian Church