Frequently Asked Questions:
1.What does ECO stand for?
2.What does it mean to be “Evangelical”?
- A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians
- ECO is an evangelical Presbyterian denomination in the United States.
- As a Presbyterian church, ECO adheres to Reformed theology and Presbyterian polity.
- ECO was established in 2012.
- ECO has over 380 congregations and over 500 pastors.
3.What does it mean to adhere to “Reformed theology”?
- To believe that the promotion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the center of the Church’s mission.
- To believe in the importance of sharing the good news that through Jesus Christ the kingdom of God has been inaugurated, freeing people from the guilt and power of sin through personal faith and repentance.
- This means that while social justice, education, care for the poor, etc. are essential ways to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, these activities can never replace the central task of the Church which is to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).
4.What does it mean to adhere to “Presbyterian polity”?
- Theologically, it means belief in the absolute sovereignty of God and that the highest good is God’s glory.
- During the 16th century, Reformers tried to correct the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, calling it back to obedience to God’s Word.Martin Luther tried to make these changes from “within” the church; it was only after this attempt failed that the Reformers broke from the church.
- We trace our roots back to John Calvin’s work in the Reformation to reform the Church according to Scripture.
5.What is the role of the “Session”?
- Derived from Greek: presbuteros, which means “Elder”.
- To be a Presbyterian Church is to be a church governed by elders.
- Each congregation elects elders (ruling elders) to sit with pastors (teaching elders) on a session which is the governing body of local churches.
- Each church belongs to a Presbytery-regional body that supervises local churches. Worthington Presbyterian Church belongs to the Rivers of Life Presbytery.
- In ECO Polity, the role of the presbytery is to support, encourage, and be a resource for local congregations. ECO presbyteries are designed to be flexible and to cultivate connection and community among member churches. There are currently 22 presbyteries in ECO.
- The synod is the widest council of ECO giving support and guidance to the presbyteries and congregations. The synod shall assess and proclaim the missional vision and theology of ECO.
6.What is the role of “Deacons”?
- Every congregation is governed by its session.
- The session consists of the elders duly elected by and from the covenant partners of the congregation, along with the congregation’s installed pastors.
- The session has responsibility and authority for governing the congregation and guiding its mission for Christ in the world. In the Reformed tradition the marks of the church are the proclamation of the Word, the Sacraments rightly celebrated, and the exercise of discipline.
- The session shall: Provide for the worship and educational life of the congregation; provide a place where the congregation may regularly worship; provide for the regular preaching of the Word by persons properly approved; oversee the planning and the ordering of the worship services of the congregation; lead the congregation in ministries of evangelism, compassion, and justice; and develop and nurture relations with other congregations.
- Authorize and provide for the regular celebration of the Lord’s Supper; authorize the administration of Baptism; exercise due care and provide sufficient education to the congregation and to new believers that the Sacraments may be rightly received as means of grace.
- Plan for and provide an effective disciple-making, ministry-discernment process for the congregation and new believers, equipping them to be missional Christians and being faithful to nurture them into spiritual maturity and significant ministry.
- Provide for and nurture the common life of the congregation; receive and dismiss covenant partners; exercise oversight of all programs and finances of the congregation; train, examine, ordain and install those men and women chosen to serve as elders and deacons; lead and teach the congregation in matters of stewardship and Christian living; direct the ministry of deacons, trustees, and all other organizations of the congregation; bear witness against error in doctrine and practice; and serve in judicial matters pertaining to the congregation as specified in the Rules of Discipline.
- The session shall adopt and administer an annual budget and shall publish it to the congregation.
7.What is the role of the “Pastor”?
- Ordinarily, the biblical office of deacon shall be utilized by the congregation.
- Deacons lead ministries that nurture fellowship and caregiving within and beyond the congregation. Deacons may also be asked to preach and teach.
- The session shall oversee and direct the ministry of the deacons.
8.What are the categories of membership?
- Pastors are to use their spiritual gifts for ministry, with a particular emphasis on the gifts of apostleship, prophecy, evangelism, shepherding, and teaching (Ephesians 4:11-12).
- A pastor is to nurture the spiritual health and maturity of the body of Christ in order that the body may be equipped to partner with God in His redemptive work in the world.
The membership of a congregation of ECO includes baptized members and covenant partners.
9.The Sacrament of Baptism
- A baptized member is a person who has received the Sacrament of Baptism, but either has not yet made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior or has not become a covenant partner.
- A covenant partner is a person who has made a profession of faith in Christ, has been baptized, has been received into the membership of the church, has voluntary submitted to the government of this church, and participates in the church’s worship and work. Covenant partners are eligible to vote in congregational meetings.
10.The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
- Through baptism an individual (infant, child, youth or adult) is joined to the Church universal, the body of Christ.
- The sacrament of baptism shall be approved for an individual, by a session, one time and all Christian baptisms will be recognized by ECO congregations.
- The congregation’s fellowship shall be open to all who seek to explore spiritual life by participating in the fellowship of the risen Lord.
- The congregation shall be gracious in providing pastoral care to all who consider themselves a part of the congregation, in the hope that these spiritual friends might become members of Christ’s body.
- All who put their trust in Jesus Christ are welcomed to receive the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
- After completing a meaningful preparation process as determined by the session, those who wish to embrace the congregation’s covenantal expectations may become covenant partners by action of the session after hearing testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
- For those not previously baptized, the Sacrament of Baptism is to be provided for these new covenant partners and offered to children under their care.
- Individuals may testify to their faith in one of the following ways:
a)Public profession of faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord, after the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit yields
personal faith in Christ.
b)Reaffirmation of faith, for those previously professing faith publicly and already baptized in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. If they are members or covenant partners of another congregation, this transfer
of membership/covenant partnership shall be communicated to the former congregation.