COVID-19 curtailed many of the activities of our fellowship in 2020, but the Elders Service Team (EST) has been actively working to strengthen churches all around the world through this pandemic. The New Year started with more discussion on the leaders hip model adopted by our family of churches. In February, Darren Gauthier and Dan Liu attended the meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia that included the different task force representatives as well as the Regional Family Chairmen. The focus of the meeting was to appreciate and build upon the unity among us whether worldwide or regionally. The discussions in the larger gatherings at the meeting centered on remembering how we have collaborated as a fellowship under the Unity Proposal. Along with that discussion, Vince Hawkins, the Heartland chairman, spearheaded developing a concrete proposal on how to equip the regional families by providing training in conflict resolution.
Another aspect of unity discussed at the meeting in Jakarta was the issue of the women’s roles in the churches and the teachings of the Bible. As a follow up to that, the EST and their wives reviewed the paper researched and written by the Teachers Service Team during the following months to provide feedback. A subcommittee was formed to reach out to the regional families to encourage feedback from them as to what issues would be arising concerning the women’s role. The pandemic and other concerns have taken center stage so the discussion on the women’s role has diminished somewhat, but the subcommittee is ready for whatever input may come from the different regions.
The social and political unrest in the United States surrounding racial injustice has been a main focus for the work of the EST with the Diversity Committee. The Diversity Committee has worked with the SQUAD to help develop ideas and training to assist the churches in the United States as they face these challenges. Darren Gauthier continues to serve on the Diversity Team.
Unity Task Force
In order to help equip churches deal with issues that challenge our unity between and within our churches, the EST worked with the Unity Task Force to develop the Peacemakers Training Program. Where possible, the EST seeks to provide appropriate training to build skills for conflict resolution. The idea was first introduced in Jakarta and the program has been revised several times. It was to be taught at now postponed World Discipleship Summit, but the goal is for it to be offered online starting in early 2021.
Since the last Elders Service Team report, we mourn the loss of two beloved brothers, Wyndham Shaw and Ron Brumley. Wyndham Shaw passed away after a long illness in November of 2019. Wyndham was instrumental for so much of what this committee stands for and what it desires to do for our brotherhood. We will miss his wisdom and determination to lead as ones who live by the Golden Rule as well as grow in reaching the lost. Wyndham was one of the driving forces of the book we all contributed to last year. His dream of having elderships throughout our brotherhood is so much a part of our decisions and dreams for the future. He was also instrumental in having elders from all around the world to be members of the EST so the concerns and cultures of the different regions could be considered.
Our brother Ron Brumley passed away in October of this year after being a longtime member of this committee. Ron left a lasting legacy of biblical conviction, exemplary parenting shown in the family that he and his wife Linda raised, and influence in so many churches around the United States and the world. He combined all that with a sense of humor and wit that touched the lives of so many. The EST was able to spend some valuable moments with Ron on a Zoom call a few weeks before his passing where we could express our love and appreciation for him.
Statement of Purpose
As the ICOC continues to evolve and the leadership format is refined in our family of churches, the EST thought it would be prudent to develop a statement of purpose that would explain our current and future objectives. After forming a subcommittee to draft the statement and having several meeting with the elders and wives, we now have a statement of purpose that will be circulated to our RFCs and service committees.
In the Future
As we enter 2021, the EST is discussing what we need to focus on in the future in order to strengthen and grow our fellowship. Led by Frank and Erica Kim, one focus will be to investigate and strengthen the family ministries in our churches to help them raise the children in the churches to do well spiritually when they grow older and are no longer in the family ministry. The creation of tools to help develop the biblical and spiritual foundation of the children ‘growing up in the church’ will be a necessary aspect of church health and growth.
Finally, the creation of elderships in churches worldwide will always be an aspect of our work. The last few years has seen several new elderships formed and new elders added to existing elderships. The goal will always be to help mature and strengthen churches so the wisdom and faith of biblical elders can be spread through many more churches throughout the world. Directed by Al Baird, this focus is continuing to inspire men to grow in faith, wisdom and perseverance so that many more churches can mature with the addition of elders in their leadership teams.