- The Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church
The Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church (LEPC) is a mainline Protestant denomination under the General Conference of Evangelical Protestant Churches (GCEPC). The earliest Lutherans in America came from Dutch, Swedish and German stock.The LEPC is successor to the Evangelical Protestant Church of North America [http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Library_of_Congress_Classification:Class_B,_subclass_BX_--_Christian_Denominations] having begun in 1912 in the Ohio Valley which sprang from an original German speaking Free Church group residing in the State of Pennsylvania in the late 1800s. [http://www.smithfieldchurch.org/ourbuilding.htm] The former group later became part of the Evangelical Protestant Conference of Congregational Churches.A small group of Dutch Lutherans moved from New York to James Island in South Carolina where they began to worship and establish a faith community. [http://www.archive.org/details/thelutheransinam00wolfuoft] The corporate administration for the LEPC is located in West Columbia-Cayce, South Carolina in the United States of America. The vision for the LEPC came in 1999 as an answer to rising demand among some Lutherans for a conservative and biblical approach to their faith. The LEPC was initiated in the year 2000. The LEPC is among a number of small Lutheran denominations some of which came out of the concerns being seen in the wider Lutheran Church body. The largest Lutheran Church denomination in the United States is the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Americathen the Lutheran Church Missouri Synodand thirdly the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. The Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church (LEPC/GCEPC) ministers across the United States of America and around the world. The LEPC is mission minded. It is apostolic in focus through church and ministry planting and the training of indigenous ministers for the spreading of the Christian message of faith, grace and salvation through Jesus Christ.
The roots of the LEPC are founded in the
Protestant Reformationin the Evangelical Protestant Church (Lutheran), established during the 16th-century movement.Evangelical Lutherans along with the Catholic Church were the most dominant Church in Germany during the Protestant Reformation. Other religious groups of the time were Mennonites, Jews, Quakers, Huguenots, and Moravian. Martin Luther was the leader of the Protestant Reformation. He is credited with being the Father of the Reformation Movement (Lutheran Reformation). Protestant reformers were in disagreement with various church practices including the belief in purgatory, the selling of indulgences, worhip of Mary, the intercession of the saints, the sacraments except Baptism and the Eucharist and absolution, and the authority of the Pope. On All Saints Day, 1517, Luther posted his concerns in what is known as the Niniety-Five Thesis on the door of the Catholic Cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany. Martin Luther’s Ninety- Five thesis can be summarized as “Sola Gratia "by Divine Grace alone,” Sola Fide "by Faith alone,” and Sola Scriptura, which means "by the Bible alone".This doctrine of salvation through faith through Divine grace is held to be true by the LEPC. Scripture alone in matters of life, faith and practice is held to be true rather than the doctrines and traditions of men. These three are considered to be what makes the LEPC “Lutheran.” The LEPC adheres to the three creeds, Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian and the seven documents of the Book of Concord.
The following are the Core Beliefs of the GCEPC/LEPC/EPC as stated on their website at http://lutheranepc.com and http://gcepc-lutheranepc.com
# The Holy Scriptures, in the original tongues, are the inspired and inerrant word of God; (Matthew 4:4, 2 Timothy 3:16,17)
# In one God, eternal and self-existent, Creator and Ruler of the Universe, and manifested through the Father, Son and Holy Spirit;(John 1:18, Matthew 3:16-17, John 1:1, Rev 22:13, Romans 9:15)
# That Jesus Christ is truly divine and truly human having been conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary;(Matthew 1:18-24)
# That Jesus Christ died on the cross and shed His blood as a Sacrifice for our sins; He arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High;(1 John 2:2, Hebrews 7:27, Mark 15:33-37, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-45, Luke 24:51, Psalm 110:1, Matthew 22:44)
# That humankind was created in the image of God, but fell into sin causing separation from God;(Genesis 3:1-24, 1 Cor 15:21)
# That salvation has been provided through Jesus Christ for all; and those who repent and believe on Him are born again of the Holy Spirit, receive the gift of eternal life and become the children of God;(John 1:10-13)
# That the water baptism identifies us with the death and burial of Christ and that we should arise to walk in the newness of life;(Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 8:26-40)
# In the ministry of the Holy Spirit to glorify Christ, to convict, to enable the believer to live a godly life and to empower the Church to carry the gospel into all the world;(Matthew 12:31, Matt 28:19, Luke 1:35, Luke11: 31, Acts 13:2)
# In the personal and visible return of Jesus Christ for His Church;(Matthew 24:30, Rev 1:7, Rev 22:12)
# In the bodily resurrection of the just and the unjust, the everlasting blessedness of the saved and everlasting separation from God of all those who reject Jesus Christ. (John 1:10-13, Rev 20:11-15, Rev 22:14-15, Matthew 25:31-46)
The following are the Position Statements of the GCEPC/LEPC/EPC as stated on their website at http://lutheranepc.com and http://gcepc-lutheranepc.com
Baptism: Water baptism identifies the believer with the death and burial of Christ and that the believer should arise to walk in newness of life. (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 8:26-40) In baptism a believer is identified with Christ whether by immersion, sprinkling, dunking, or pouring where water is provided for such service. Baptism may be by immersion or pouring or sprinkling if water is not available for immersion.
Ordination: Ordination into Christian service is for men and woman who have experienced salvation through faith in Christ Jesus and who are baptized believers called by Christ through the Holy Spirit to serve Him in ministry. TheLEPC believes that God has set aside particular individuals for service and that ordination is man’s recognition of what God Himself has already done. Men and women may serve as co-laborers with Christ in the harvest fields. Men and women may serve as deacons, overseers, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelist as examples of all of these can be found in scripture concerning both male and female. From the beginning authority was given to both male and female. In Christ there is neither male nor female, Gentile or Jew, but all are children and servants of God. All are called as a royal priesthood. All levels of leadership are open to spirit led men and women of God.
Homosexuality: The Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church follows the Bible in all matters of faith including the issue of homosexuality. The LEPC will not knowingly ordain any practicing homosexual to the Christian ministry. The belief of the LEPC is that homosexuality should not be an issue causing division and debate within the Church at large, as Holy Scripture already settles the debate. The Christian faith and the love of Christ calls believers to love the sinner but hate the sin. LEPC Clergy minister to all people,welcomes all people following the example of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Marriage: Marriage is the union of a man and a woman. It is a vow made before God that the two (male and female) shall become one. The General Conference of Evangelical Protestant Churches, LEPC and EPC, does not perform same sex unions or bless same sex couples.
Abortion: Abortion is the willful taking of innocent human life. Human life begins at conception because there is simply no other point that it can begin. Therefore, abortion is not acceptable under any circumstance except in the rare and unusual instance where the life of the mother is at real risk. Only then should an abortion be considered.
Israel and the Jewish People: The Jewish people are God's chosen people. Believers should bless them as scripture says that God will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel. The LEPC/EPC/GCEPC recant and renounce the works and words of Martin Luther concerning the Jewish people. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Jews_and_their_Lies] Prayer is offered for the healing of the Jewish people, their peace and their prosperity. Prayer is offered for the peace of Jerusalem.With deep sorrow and regret repentance is offered to the Jewish People for the harm that Martin Luther caused and any contribution to their harm. Forgiveness is requested of the Jewish People for these actions.The Gospel is to the Jew first and then the Gentile. Gentiles (believers in Christ other than Jews) have been grafted into the vine. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile but the Lord's desire is that there be one new man from the two for Christ broke down the wall of separation with His own body (Ephesians 2:14-15).The LEPC/EPC/GCEPC blesses Israel and the Jewish people. Prayers are offered for the Middle East and for the salvation and peace of the Arab world.
Unity of the Body of Christ: The GCEPC, LEPC and EPC, admonishes and encourages "In the essentials unity, in the non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity." The GCEPC/LEPC/EPC shares the essentials with our many Christian sisters and brothers and this is necessary to our faith and belief in Jesus Christ for salvation. Many schisms have come in the Body of Christ because of conflicts and disagreements over "non-essentials." In the non-essentials liberty is offered for where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. In all things charity is offered as well as blessing. The LEPC/EPc/GCEPC labors alongside others in the Body of Christ in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ as all believers long for His second coming. The Lord Jesus Himself first announced his salvation to world, which cannot be neglected, and God added His witness through signs, wonders, and the distribution of the gifts of the Holy Spirit according to God's will. (Hebrews 2:1-4) The Lord Jesus is the head of God's Church. There are many parts but one Body. Each part of the Body of Christ has been given an assignment from the Lord to fulfill until Jesus' coming. The GCEPC/LEPC/EPC endeavors to complete this work in the spirit of unity and in the bonds of peace.
Sexual abuse: Incidents of sexual abuse will be reported to civil authorities. Ministers known as perpetrators will not be reassigned nor will known perpetrators be allowed to continue in ministry with the LEPC/GCEPC.
The LEPC is headed with a life appointment by the Presiding Bishop. The Board of Advisors appoints the Presiding Bishop with nominations from the Conference. Synod Bishops are appointed by the Presiding Bishop for life with Board of Advisor approval with a three-year review. The Board of Advisors serves in staggered three and two year renewable terms. LEPC congregations and ministries are autonomous. The church is divided into geographical synods and non-geographical synods.Home groups and one new man fellowships are encouraged.
Role of Women
The LEPC ordains both men and women to the gospel ministry noting that scripture states that in “ Christ Jesus there is neither male not female, Jew or Greek..” Also,noting that the
Book of Concordstates that seminaries are for the preparation of men and women but more so that Holy Scripture does not specifically direct yes or no but rather indicates by example that women did pursue the gospel ministry and did serve in positions of authority in Biblical times. The LEPC professes the “priesthood of all believers.” The current and sixth Presiding Bishop of the LEPC is The Most Rev. Nancy Kinard Drew who is believed to be the first female Presiding Bishop of any Lutheran denomination. Both males and females may serve on the Executive and Advisory Boards and the Council of Bishops.
The LEPC is in historic and valid Apostolic Succession (AS). AS is not required for salvation or for the ordaining of ministers in the LEPC but is done upon request by the laying on of hands for those who understand and value the process and desires this honor. AS serves as a further encouragement and support in the ministry as well as a channel for open doors among certain people groups.
The LEPC confesses two sacraments: the Eucharist (Communion, The Lord’s Supper) and Holy Baptism. All believers are welcome at the Lord’s Table. The LEPC will baptize infants but for salvation there must be faith in Christ. As seen by the thief on the cross who was told “Today, you shall be with me in paradise,” there are exceptions to the requirements of baptism. One is not saved through baptism only. Such practice would be empty without faith in Christ but one can be saved by faith in Christ without baptism. Baptism alone does not save. It should not be said "I am saved because I am baptized but rather I am saved because of faith in Christ therefore I am/will be baptized."
The LEPC is Missions oriented and has congregations and church plants in The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Angola and Kenya. Concordia Bible Institute of Kenya prepares indigenous ministers to take the salvation message to their own people.Courses through Concordia Theologica Institute for Biblical Studies are available online anywhere in the world for those who desire to meet the educational requirements of the LEPC and link with the LEPC in ministry.
The LEPC permits a broad range of worship styles from contemporary to traditional to liturgical to renewal/charismatic to messianic.
* [http://lutheranepc.com Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church web site]
* [http://lutheranepc-gcepc.injesus.com Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church web site]
*The Creeds of Christendom with a History and Critical Notes by Phillip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/creeds3.i.html] (See Evangelical Protestant Churches)
*Smithfield United Church of Christ [http://www.smithfieldchurch.org/ourbuilding.htm]
*The Lutheran Church in America, Wolfe, Edmund Jacob, NY JA Hill [http://www.archive.org/details/thelutheransinam00wolfuoft]
*Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Evangelical Protestant Conference of Congregational Churches [http://www.lcms.org/ca/www/cyclopedia/02/display.asp?t1=E&word=EVANGELICALPROTESTANTCONFERENCEOFCONGREGATIONALCHURCHES]
*Etna Congregational Church [http://etnacongregationalchurch.org/History]
*Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [http://www.elca.org/]
*Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod [http://www.wels.net/cgi-bin/site.pl] See Also
List of Lutheran denominations
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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