I had the privilege of attending the annual gathering of The FC (Fellowship Community) and ECO in Dallas, TX this last August.
I was commissioned by the PRMI Board of Directors to represent PRMI at this event.
From the start, I was pleasantly surprised. As an observer, I attended an annual gathering for a new denomination, ECO (A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, I know, it’s not an acronym. (See Rod Pinder’s excellent article for more on the name.)
Equally pleasing and surprising was my experience as an observer of an ECO presbytery meeting.
This meeting also included worship, reports of significant growth and spontaneous prayer for the new leader of the presbytery with everyone gathering around for blessing and the laying on hands. And this meeting only lasted one hour.
What do these short but rich meetings say to me?
They say that the FC and ECO are more of a movement than a denomination.
To me, modern denominations seem to be or are becoming an increasingly rigid structure defining the life of one part of the Church universal.
Too often denominations seem to act as if the mission of the local church is to promote the life of the denomination.
In both the FC and in ECO it is clear that the larger body exists to empower and support the mission and ministry of the local church.
Further, instead of maintaining a highly defined way of “doing church” the FC and ECO have the refreshing and exhilarating risk-taking qualities more often associated with a rising, entrepreneurial Silicone Valley success stories than with the modern, western Church.
At the beginning I mentioned the Fellowship Community.
You may not be familiar with that name because it just came into being at this gathering.
You may have heard of the Fellowship of Presbyterians, a renewal organization that included people in ECO and in the PC(USA) (see http://eco-pres.org/who-we-are/our-story/ for further explanation of the origin and relationship of these organizations.)
You may also be familiar with the organization called Presbyterians For Renewal. In Dallas the two organizations merged into one, called the Fellowship Community.
The rest of the three-day national gathering was devoted to worship, fellowship and the study of the Word. Of particular interest to me was the last of three presentations on the Trinity, focusing on the Holy Spirit. The presentation was titled, “Ghost Protocol: An Introduction to the Holy Spirit”, given by Mateen Elass, Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Edmond, OK.
Pastor Elass gave a meticulously supported, biblically founded portrayal of the Holy Spirit. While a bit long on detail and perhaps a tiny bit short on practical application, this talk would otherwise fit into one of the first few sessions of a PRMI Gateways workshop.
I enjoyed meeting with and speaking with several of the FC and ECO leaders. I am looking forward to seeing what relationships and partnerships God intends to build between PRMI and FC/ECO.
Rev. Tom Willcox