|ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians|
|Leader||Rev. Dana Allin|
|Associations||World Communion of Reformed Churches (provisional member)|
|Headquarters||Santa Barbara, California|
|Separated from||Presbyterian Church (USA)|
|Congregations||115 (as of March 2014)|
ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians is an evangelical Presbyterian denomination in the United States. It was established in 2012 by former congregations and members of the Presbyterian Church (USA). As a Presbyterian church, ECO adheres to Reformed theology and Presbyterian polity.
"ECO" is not an acronym. The denomination's name represents its three-fold commitment to make disciples of Jesus Christ (Evangelical), connect leaders through accountable relationships and encourage collaboration (Covenant), and commit to a shared way of life together (Order). The name "ECO" also speaks to the commitment to "strengthen the 'ecosystems' of local churches" by providing the environment and resources to produce healthy churches.
Plans for establishing what would become ECO were initiated in January 2012 by the Fellowship of Presbyterians, an umbrella organization of theologically conservative Presbyterians. ECO was conceived of as an alternative to the Presbyterian Church (USA), which theologically conservative Presbyterians considered too liberal. In particular, the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s decision to lift its ban on non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy in 2011 led a number of congregations to search for an alternative Presbyterian denomination. While other conservative Presbyterian churches in the United States existed, most of these, with the exception of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, did not permit female clergy.
The beliefs of ECO are expressed in a statement of Essential Tenets. The Essential Tenets affirm that the Old and New Testaments are infallible and authoritative, containing everything necessary for faith and life. In common with other Christians, ECO believes in the doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation—the "two central Christian mysteries"—and that the only hope of salvation and adoption as children of God is God's grace in Jesus Christ. Reflecting its Reformed heritage, ECO believes that, as a consequence of the Fall of Man, humans lost free will and are incapable of turning towards God. Salvation is only made possible by the irresistible grace of God, who chose the elect before the world was created.
The Essential Tenets explain that within the church God's grace is received through the preaching of the Word of God, the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper, and church discipline. ECO practices open communion. The offices of teaching elder, deacon, and ruling elder correspond to Christ's three-fold office of prophet, priest, and king. Because it believes that both men and women are called to all ministries in the church, ECO ordains women. It also believes that all church members are to embody the three-fold offices in their daily lives by sharing and enacting the Gospel and extending the lordship of Jesus Christ. According to the Essential Tenets, progressive sanctification is an expected characteristic of a Christian life. This includes a life of prayer, regular self-examination (especially guided by the Ten Commandments), and sincere confession of sin.
While ECO recognizes the Bible as the primary authority governing matters of faith and doctrine, the Essential Tenets affirm the Book of Confessions as a faithful explanation of scriptural truth and a subordinate standard of doctrine. The Book of Confessions, inherited from the Presbyterian Church (USA), includes the following creeds, confessions, and catechisms:
- Nicene Creed
- Apostles' Creed
- Scots Confession
- Heidelberg Catechism
- Second Helvetic Confession
- Westminster Confession of Faith with the Shorter and Larger Catechisms
- Barmen Declaration
- Confession of 1967
- A Brief Statement of Faith (written in 1983 for the creation of the Presbyterian Church (USA))
ECO prohibits those who are openly gay from being clergy in the churches of that denomination.
ECO follows presbyterian polity. While originally, congregations were organized into the Presbytery of the East and the Presbytery of the West, divided by the Mississippi River, to accommodate growth, the denomination created new presbyteries out of the old ones in February of 2014. The Presbytery of the East was divided into the Presbytery of Florida, the Presbytery of the Northeast (Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and state to their east and north), the Great Lakes Presbytery (Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin) and the East Central Presbytery ,(Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., remaining southern states east of the Mississippi River, including Louisiana). Meanwhile, the Presbytery of the West was divided into the Presbytery of the Northwest (Oregon, Washington and Alaska), the Presbytery of Texas, the Presbyteries of Northern and Southern Califiornia, and the Presbytery of the West (all other states west of the Mississippi River, including Minnesota).
- De Guzman, Zaimarie, Fort Pierce pastor to head new Evangelical Covenant Order, Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, May 26, 2012, accessed May 27, 2012.
- "ECO received as a member-church of WCRC" (June 3, 2013), The Layman Online. Accessed June 5, 2013.
- Nathan Key (February 6, 2014), "Newest Presbyterian Denomination", The Layman Online. Accessed February 6, 2014.
- "Our Name", ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. Accessed June 5, 2013.
- "Our Story", The Fellowship of Presbyterians. Accessed June 5, 2013.
- Daniel Burke (January 21, 2012), "Conservative Presbyterians in U.S. launch new denomination", The Presbyterian Outlook. Accessed June 5, 2013.
- Essential Tenets and Confessional Standards. ECO:A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. Accessed June 5, 2013.
- Essential Tenets I, p. 2.
- Essential Tenets II-III.A, pp. 2-4.
- Essential Tenets III.B, p. 4.
- Essential Tenets III.C, p. 4.
- ECO Polity and Discipline, Polity 1.0302, p. 5. Accessed June 5, 2013.
- Essential Tenets III.D, pp. 4-5.
- Essential Tenets III.E, p. 5.
- Essential Tenets and Confessional Standards I, pp. 2, 7.
- Essential Tenets and Confessional Standards, p. 6.
- Edgar Walters (February 23, 2014). "Houston Church Opts Not to Defect From Denomination". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
- Nathan Key "ECO forms new Presbyteries," The Layman Online February 14th, 2013, retrieved February 27th, 2014 http://www.layman.org/eco-forms-new-presbyteries/
- ECO Polity, ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. Accessed June 5, 2013.
- Official website
- Book of Confessions of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
- Disaffected Presbyterians Announce New Evangelical Body
- Conservative Presbyterians in U.S. Launch New Denomination