Hello ECO Community! Hope you enjoy this month's newsletter! Make sure not to miss the end! Click on the blue link at the very bottom of this email that says " View entire message "!
The Church and Racial Reconciliation
A Message From Dana Allin, Synod Executive

Dear ECO,
I am heartbroken. While we continue to navigate this relatively new pandemic of COVID-19, we experience yet again the spark of an all too familiar epidemic in our country. Racism has now resulted in the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. Especially this past week as I watched images and listened to audio clips, I have been simultaneously horrified, disgusted, discouraged, sad, and angry. I weep and mourn with the families of these victims and with those for whom these events have touched into generations of explicit and implicit racism. 

My children are at the age where we are able to have different levels of conversations, not only about these specific events, but also the different experiences people have in our country. I shared with them what Keon Abner, Vice President of ECO’s Synod Executive Council, wrote after the death of Ahmaud Arbery. It was very helpful and enlightening to us...
By Rev. Dr. Dana Allin
ECO Synod Executive
It is probably not a stretch to say that right now has been the most challenging season to be a pastor. Between individual and group conversations, social media, blog posts, emails, and many conversations with friends and colleagues in ministry, I see the tremendous complexity of leading the local church in this time. I speak on behalf of our entire ECO staff when I say we pray continually for you all in the midst of these challenges and the myriad of ways it plays out in your local context. I am so impressed by the ways God has been working in and through you and how you have led with incredible imagination, creativity and love as you navigate such uncharted territory.

One of the best questions that I have heard that helps uncover how people are approaching this season is, “Do you and/or your congregation view COVID-19 as an interruption or a disruption to church life?”  

Let’s unpack the meaning behind that question. An interruption is similar to what occurs when you are watching TV and the news comes on and says, “We interrupt your program to bring you breaking news!” You then get your breaking news and then “return to your regularly scheduled program already in progress.” (I realize that using this analogy dates me... as watching programing on network TV is much rarer than it used to be!). The point is, that an interruption hits a pause button - and then we return to life as normal. So, some will view COVID-19 as an interruption, approaching the challenge by saying things like, “This pandemic caused us to leave our buildings, and cancel or modify programs. We will have a process of reintegrating these ministries, but eventually we will go back to normal.”
Ministry Resource Spotlight
Check out the latest Flourishing Church podcasts! 
Episode 23: Being a Non-Anxious Presence in Time of Anxiety
Dana Allin and Lisa Johnson discuss different ways we, as leaders, can maintain a non-anxious presence in the midst of challenging circumstances and pivotal moments in ministry. They share practical ways that we can seek to become a non-anxious presence in the different areas of life by learning from the way of Jesus by sharing principles and patterns for us to consider from John Mark Comer’s 5 Patterns, and what scripture says about following Jesus’ example. 
Episode 24: Redefining Normal
Lisa Johnson talks with Jennifer Howat about what it looks like to redefine normal in our everyday lives, as well as during the global pandemic we are currently navigating. Jennifer discusses how she has been able to give up normal and 6 key things that have helped her think about what it means to redefine normal.
Episode 25: 10 Church Predictions for the Next 10 Years
John Terech and Doug Paul discuss "10 Church Predictions for the Next 10 Years" recorded pre-COVID19. This conversation is as relevant as ever, as Doug calls the church to embrace the demanding and necessary changes ahead for Kingdom impact. They discuss the 10 different predictions that Doug believes will affect the church in the next 10 years and the changing landscape of our ministry and leadership. There are no quick fixes to innovation and mission in the church in Pre or Post Covid times only incremental ones founded on Jesus.
Save the date for our 2021 National Gathering! 

A quick note about the 2021 National Gathering: At this point, we are trusting and praying that we will gather together in February - we need it more than ever! Any COVID-19 changes and/or updates that potentially impact our gathering together as a large group in person, we will be certain to communicate as soon as possible. The following timeline may help in your planning: 

August 21  - We will send out a survey where you can share with us the likelihood that you will attend the 2021 NG in San Antonio.

September 1  - Registration opens. We will not charge you for registration at this point, but hold your credit card until we know for certain how we are able to proceed. 

November 2  - We will communicate a final decision whether we will gather in person, and/or virtually (or a combination of the two) and details regarding that plan. 
Thank you for your patience and we'd love for you to join us in praying! 
Questions in the meantime? Email  beth@eco-pres.org .

February 1-4, 2021
Registration will open September 1, 2020
Ordination Process 2.0 Webinar recording available 
If you were not able to join us or know someone who would be interested in hearing about our exciting new journey to ordination process, please watch the recording to get an overview of the new process launching in 2021 and have all of your questions answered.
Life, ministry, (and pandemics!) take their toll. If you have gotten to know Dr. Andrea Gurney through her teaching/counseling at the National Gathering or her recent webinar with ECO, (or even if you haven't!) you will want to check this out!
Reopening Church WEBINAR
Dear ECO,

A few weeks ago, we held a webinar with The Aspen Group that focused on higher level questions to be asking during the church reopening process. This webinar had double the attendance of any webinar we have done in our history! Obviously, reopening is a very challenging (and brand new to all of us!) topic to tackle. There are not only endless logistical considerations, but there are a variety of strong feelings and perspectives that are surfacing during this time.

On May 17th, we had a handful of congregations that opened for public worship. I have invited the pastors of three of those churches to participate in a panel discussion next Thursday. 
Thursday, June 4th at 
10am PDT/1pm EDT
We will talk about their processes of reopening and what their experiences have been for the last three Sundays of public worship. These congregations are different sizes and in different types of communities, so we will get as wide of a perspective as possible at this time, given the very few churches that have opened.

Please also note that I/we are not advocating for or against beginning public worship. Each congregation has to make their own decisions given their geographic location, local regulations, congregational size and make up, physical property, and a variety of other factors. However, we know that each ECO congregation will be wrestling with when and how to reopen public worship at some point - and we are thankful for these pastors are willing to share their experience and wisdom in doing so.

I have curated some common questions to ask the three pastors during the one hour webinar. We will have 20 minutes at the end of our time for additional questions that may not have been covered. The webinar will be recorded for those who can’t attend “live” or would like to make it available for those in their churches who are wrestling with these questions. It will be posted on our website at: 

I look forward to a great discussion that will enhance the ability of all of our ECO churches to flourish during this unprecedented time.

In Christ,
Zoom Meeting ID: 915 7420 0166

Or Join by telephone (dial by your location)
US: +1 408 638 0968 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923 or +1 301 715 8592 
The pandemic has changed the way we can interact as a church community, including the usual plans for mission and outreach. For example, short-term mission trips and mission partner visits have been disrupted. But the priority to participate in God’s mission in our local and global community has not changed!  

In a panel discussion on May 28, ECO mission leaders shared some of the creative adaptations they are trying as they hold fast to the priority of mission when trips are cancelled, budgets are uncertain, local needs change, and engaging the church shifts to virtual. You can see what they shared in this video recording.

If you’d like to share challenges or adaptations you are making during the pandemic, or get connected to the community of mission leaders in ECO, send a note to Jen Haddox, Director of Global Engagement at jen@eco-pres.org .
First Call Pastors WEBINAR
with John and Laura Crosby
Thursday, June 18th @ 1PM
Join us for a webinar with John and Laura Crosby who lead and mentor a cohort of young ECO leaders in their first call. Hear about what they’re up to in the cohort, what key challenges young leaders are facing and ways we can support them more comprehensively going forward. 
Webinar ID: 928 4810 2505
Or Telephone: US: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 408 638 0968 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 253 215 8782 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923 or +1 301 715 8592 
Webinar ID: 928 4810 2505
Rev. Caitlin Rhodes, Associate Pastor of Equipping & Sending, First Presbyterian Church, Houston, TX
I am grateful for God's sovereignty and timing: God began to open my eyes to His calling into occupational ministry just as ECO was in its early stages of formation. I have marveled at the miracle it was for a reformed evangelical woman like myself to have this denominational home already well-established by the time I was ready to pursue ordination. Since I not only share a deep belief in the ECO Essential Tenets, but also our ethos for ministry, the fit feels perfect. I have been most encouraged by the National Gatherings and my monthly pastor coaching calls, as well as my Pastors' Covenant Group, and am grateful to God that He planted me in ECO as my denominational home.
Rev. Jennifer Cronk, Pastor of Children and Families, College Hill Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati, OH
What has been your best support/encouragement as a first call pastor?   Several years ago, I got connected with a small group of other children's leaders. We were doing a leadership course together, and over the years, we have become more friends and sisters than just co-laborers. We laugh together, we cry together, we celebrate each other. When I found out I had been approved for ordination, I shared with one of these gals. She shared with the whole group, and one of them sent me a package, addressed to "Pastor Jennifer," and full of sweet, thoughtful, fun gifts. Especially as a single woman, I've found it's critical to have "safe people" to share and do life (and ministry) with.

Where could you use more support in your first call? Having served in complementarian churches for the majority of my ministry years, I don't have a huge base of ordained female pastor friends. It would be nice to be connected with more female pastors, to share struggles, ask questions, support one another, and pray for each other. I was blessed to meet several awesome ordained women at the ECO National Gathering, and have connected with them since, but I'm guessing this isn't the experience for everyone. We also need to be careful not to place the full weight of this responsibility on a select few women, by creating more intentional avenues for ECO women to connect with and support one another.
Rev. Dr. Charlie Dunn, Teaching Pastor, Highland Park Presbyterian Church / Pastor, Grace Church Lake Highlands
Sitting in a Starbucks studying for my final seminary exams, I was suddenly terrified by the recognition that I still had so much to learn. I had this strange notion that seminary would teach me everything I needed to know for ministry, and then I’d spend the rest of my life simply applying it. But in that moment of self-sufficient anxiety, it was as if God said to me: “I’m going to teach you what you need to know when you need to know it. I’m not calling you into pastoral ministry for you to simply teach others. I’m going to teach you to live in dependence upon me.” 

I have been slowly learning that lesson through my experience in my “first-call.” In a way, I was first called to Highland Park Presbyterian when in the 8th grade a friend literally called to invite me to a Bible study at the church. Since then, HP Pres has been my church home, and over the last 13 years, I’ve served on staff as a summer intern, a high school ministry associate, a pastoral intern, a pastoral resident, the student pastor, the teaching pastor, and currently, as a church planting pastor. In the course of that time, I’ve worked under three senior pastors and various other church leaders, who have taught me countless ministry lessons. Many of these “just in time” lessons have come in the midst of ministry “firsts.” Here are a few… READ MORE
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