Empowering — Equipping — Sending
The Evangelical Protestant Movement by Charles William Hanko, Educators Publishing Co.,Brooklyn, NY, 1955.
Protestant Reformation in the Baltic By Rachelle Harrison
The History Guide Lectures on early modern European history
General Conference of Evangelical Protestant Churches
Synod Region Bishops
- Rev. Dr. David Church
- Rev. Linda Dabney
- Rev. Dennis Overlein
- Rev. Dr. William Dorn
- Rev. Dr. Israel Ikpeka
- Rev. Dr. Francesco Reale
- Rev. Dr. Fred Macharia
- Rev. Dr. Elijah Ruboneka
- Rev. Dr. Michael Norton
- Rev. Dr. Harvey Menden
- Rev. Dr. Ralf Muller
- Rev. Jessica Johnston Executive Bishop/Vice President
- Rev. Dr. David Church, Director of Missions
- Rev, Ralf Muller, Rev. Patrick Pierce, Ecumenical Affairs
- Rev. Dennis Overlein, Director of Chaplaincy
The German speaking Evangelical Protestant Church began gathering together and sharing buildings, pastors and resources during the American Revolution. Most members were from Lutheran, Reformed and non-denominational backgrounds. Most members lived in log cabins in and around the village of Pittsburgh outside of Ft. Pitt. These new settlers came to America from churches in Germany where there was severe division over theology. This chaotic history and State interference in the churches in Germany caused these people to place high value on freedom of thought, tolerance for differences, and to cherish religious freedom. They respected the right of personal and individual conviction regarding faith because of having been so often told what they were to believe. The Scripture was held in high esteem and each believer's right to understand it as God showed them. The first German Evangelical Protestant came together,organized and met in a log cabin in 1782. In 1787 John Penn Sr. and John Jr. gave a land grant to build achurch building. The church building was finished in 1793.
The Lutherans and non Lutherans shared the same building and then unified in 1812 officially taking the name German Evangelical Protestant Church, Deutsche Evangelische Protestantische Kirche (German Evangelical Protestant Church). Evangelische was used in Germany to indicate non-Catholic churches. The word Protestant was used in Britain and the United States to mean the same thing as Evangelische. Pittsburgh Germans wanted to be very clear about their church to anyone who was interested. We continue this tradition today. The church became known as Smithfield Church and remains today in the city of Pittsburg, PA as the oldest Evangelical Protestant Church building in the world.
Many Evangelical Protestant churches began to spring up on both sides of the Ohio river extending into Cincinnati and on to Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. German immigrants as an extension of German life and culture began to join or form new churches where they settled. From one of the constitutions come these words "We join together to know the will of God as taught in the Holy Scriptures, allowing freedom of conscience and freedom of interpretation in points of doctrinal difference. We unite for the purpose of serving God and our fellow men [and women]." (1) Evangelical Protestants soon found thier way to North Carolina and South Carolina establishing a church in Amelia Township and continued to spread. Churches were congregational in government. Schools were established along with the churches. Orphanages and homes for the elderly became well known means of extending kindness and care to the less fortunate. An Evangelical Protestant Ministers Association was formed. Many years went by without denominational structure because of the fear the people had of being controlled but on September 16, 1885 it was decided that an official central organization was needed. The new denominational organization was called the German Evangelical Protestant Church of North America. They began to print denominational journals, periodicals and childrens papers as well as a yearbook, sunday school materials and hymnals. In 1912 the German reference was dropped and they were known as The Evangelical Protestant Church of North America.
The Evangelical Protestant Church of North America after many years was now an official denomination. Rev. Carl Voss served as the first President from 1913 to 1920. In 1917 the EPCNA adopted a Declaration of Principles. It said what they had always believed, "Our Church is called Evangelical because it accepts as the foundation and rule of faith and life the Gospel of Jesus Christ.Our Church is called Protestant because it protests against any compulsion in matters of faith and conscience. We expect our members to form their own convictions, based upon personal experience and deliberation. Differing opinions need not lead to discord as long as the spirit of true freedom and Christian love of neighbor prevails. We look up to the God of omnipotence, justice and love, who is our Father. We recognize in Jesus our highest ideal and divine Master, we believe in the blessedness of loving service, in the power of prayer, in the victory of truth, and in life eternal."(2)
As years past changes took place within the denomination. Young Christians in the EPCNA preferred to speak English so gradually German was dropped from the services leading to more of an Americanization of the churches. It was difficult to get pastors. Although much social work had occurred as the Evangelical Protestants sought to live out the Word of God in faith and practice, no seminaries for the training of ministers had been formed. Ministers from other faith traditions were pastoring EPC churches and some churches moved away with those ministers.They lacked home and foreign missions boards and felt unable to work effectively in the church at large.The answer seemed to be found in moving toward mergers with groups with like minded beliefs such as Congregational groups. In 1924 the denomination united with the Congregational Christian Church which then joined in 1925 the National Council of Congregational Churches. The EPC still maintaining it's sense of independence joined the Congregationalists as a separate,non-geographical conference. but gradually the associations within the conference dissolved. In 1957 many joined with the United Church of Christ and others with the Congregational Christian Conference in Ohio.
Due to changes taking place within many churches regarding scripture and social change a small group of Evangelical Protestant Christians re-organized in 1999 as a Church to restore the EPC as the General Conference of Evangelical Protestant Churches (GCEPC) in 2000. We incorporated in 2001 and became known denominationally as the Evangelical Protestant Church (GCEPC). In 2002 we added Lutheran to our name with the caveat that those who desire to do so may continue using Evangelical Protestant Church.
In answer to history's' dilemma regarding training EPC ministers we established Concordia Theologica in 2002.CTBI is now part of Concordia Evangelical Protestant Seminary. We developed a directed missions office and joined with other Christians, ministries and denominations worldwide in the National Association of Evangelicals. This association provides access and open doors for us as an organization and for our ministers to a global organization working together but separate for the common cause of Christ.
All EPC GCEPC/LEPC ministers have the opportunity to study our history through our on-line Bible School and/or through our copyrighted textbook workbook "Retracing the Steps...Learning about the GCEPC/LEPC" as part of the copyrighted course curriculum of Concordia Theologica. Information from Charles William Hanko’s book "The Evangelical Protestant Movement" has been used for reference along with substantial other works cited; The full version of Hankos book is included in our textbook. Other works cited include: "Protestant Reformation in the Baltic" by Rachelle Harrison and "The History Guide Lectures on early modern European history". If you are interested in individual further reading of the history of the EPC GCEPC/LEPC, Hanko’s book is available by contacting The Congregational Library in Boston, Massachusetts or your public library reference desk. Other works can be found on-line. EPC GCEPC/LEPC members have access to our EPC/LEPC Historical Society online. Further information for EPC GCEPC/LEPC ministers regarding Concordia is available upon request.