The ICOC Elders Service Committee (ESC) consists of elders and wives from all around the world. Under the leadership of Walter and Kim Evans (Philadelphia, United States), the other members of the EST at the end of 2022 included John and Pat Brush (Southeast Florida), Larry and Marylou Craig (New York), Darren and Sharon Gauthier (Chicago), Imagbe and Weyinmi Igbinoba (Lagos), Frank and Erica Kim (Denver), Losha and Tanya Kravets (Kiev), Yannick and Emma Le Noan (Paris), Dan and Elexa Liu (Hong Kong), Sylvia Mendez (San Diego), Mike and Scarlette Van Auken (Boston), and Tom and Lori Ziegler (San Antonio). During the year, the Elders Service Committee witnessed some changes. We expressed our gratitude to Bill and Sally Hooper, Al Baird, and Jerry and Erlyn Sugarman as they all achieved “emeritus” status, stepping off of the committee after many years of dedicated service. The committee also warmly welcomed the Van Aukens and the Zieglers as new members, starting in the last quarter of the year. Throughout 2022, the ESC continued to serve our broad fellowship of churches, meeting almost monthly to discuss the issues that impact us around the world as we labored to live out the mission of God.
One issue that drew needed attention from the ESC was the unity of our churches worldwide. During the first quarter of the year, the Unity Task Force, overseen by the ESC, put forward for a vote three proposals and two affirmations to the ICOC delegates. Together these proposals and affirmations provided more clarity and guidance as we continue to work on our unity. The first affirmation reiterated our commitment to cooperation, contribution (financial), and relational connection. The second provided “a pathway” on how to add churches to our fellowship, affirming our common culture. The three proposals defined levels of decision-making on decisions that affect other regions, steps to be taken when a conflict emerges beyond a regional family area, and steps to follow when an “intractable conflict” arises. The ICOC delegates approved all of these proposals and affirmations.
The ESC also focused on Bible and gender as it sought to maintain and strengthen the unity of our fellowship around the world. At the very beginning of 2022 it issued an appeal to the regional family chairs regarding the role of women in our fellowship, seeking to inform, unify, and nudge us all forward as the year began. That statement was the culmination of much effort to collect information on and summarize the current practices of our regional families in this regard, an effort that was spearheaded by an ESC subcommittee tasked to gather and consolidate this feedback, established after the Jakarta meeting in early 2020.
The committee continued its work for the worldwide fellowship at the Vision 2022 World Discipleship Summit in Orlando, Florida, held in July-August. At that conference the ESC provided the guidance for the Youth and Family Conference of the Summit, helping to organize 24 classes for it. Furthermore, to promote the ongoing development of our churches the ESC also hosted a track in Orlando on raising up of elders and elderships worldwide. The committee’s latest information is that there are 218 elders around the world, with 39 now outside of the United States. Of the 34 regional families of churches worldwide, eleven do not yet have any elderships established in any of their churches, and these 11 are all outside of the United States.
The ESC continues to work for unity as together we strive to honor God’s mission for us in this world. The committee provides ongoing support to the training of mediators for conflict resolution, begun in 2021 by the Unity Task Force as the “Peacemakers” program. In 2019 every member of the service committee at that time contributed to a new book titled Church Building Elderships: Godly Qualities that Produce Great Churches, edited by Wyndham Shaw and Al Baird. For the near future, in 2023 the ESC intends to focus on the development of elders training materials that can be useful to churches around the world seeking to appoint elders and establish their own elderships. The Elders Service Committee will continue to labor for the growth of all our churches and devote its energies to strengthening and deepening our unity in the years ahead.
Chairman: Walter Evans (Philadelphia)
Eldership Development and Training: John Brush (Southeast Florida), Oleksii Kravets (Kiev), Yannick Le Noan (Paris), Mike Van Auken (Boston), Tom Ziegler (San Antonio)
Marriage and Family: Frank Kim (Denver)
Conflict Resolution: Larry Craig (New York), Walter Evans (Philadelphia)
Unity: Darren Gauthier (Chicago)
Prayer and Comfort: Imagbe Igbinoba (Lagos)
Minutes and Communication: Dan Liu (Hong Kong)