The General Assembly, the highest Court of the denomination, is composed of all the courts (Presbyteries) and local congregations of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The General Assembly has the responsibility of overseeing the total work of the Church.
Presbyteries are the EPC’s regional governing and missional bodies. There are currently 14 Presbyteries, with details available at www.epc.org/presbyteries.
A Session is the judicial and administrative body presiding over a local congregation, and is made up of the ordained ministers (Teaching Elders) and elected lay members (Ruling Elders) of the congregation.
The General Assembly Meeting is the annual June event where the highest Court of the denomination gathers EPC leaders—Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders (designated as “Commissioners”)—and guests gather to worship, get refreshed and equipped, connect with each other, and decide on actions and issues for the whole EPC.
Commissioners are Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders who are sent by their presbyteries (for Teaching Elders) or Sessions (for Ruling Elders) to gather at the General Assembly meeting to vote on recommendations presented by the various boards, commissions, presbyteries, and committees of the national Church.
The Stated Clerk is the Chief Executive Officer of the national Church. In the EPC, the Stated Clerk is elected to a renewable 3-year term as a full-time, executive-level employee of the Office of the General Assembly (the denomination's national office) with responsibility for helping guide the denomination between Assemblies and carrying out the Assembly’s actions.
The National Leadership Team (NLT) provides coordination of program committee work and oversees the continuing work of the General Assembly between annual meetings. It provides strategic guidance to the Office of the General Assembly, works with the Stated Clerk in personnel administration of the Office of the General Assembly staff, and develops the annual administration budget and Special Projects. The NLT also serves as directors of the corporation and executes legal and corporate business.
The General Assembly Moderator chairs the meeting. According to the EPC Book of Order, “the Moderator of a court has the necessary authority to keep order, to expedite business, to convene, recess and adjourn meetings in conformity with rules of the court.”
The Moderator-Elect is the “presumptive nominee” for the Moderator of the next General Assembly. Once elected as Moderator-Elect by the General Assembly in which he or she is nominated, this designee must be formally elected as Moderator by the next Assembly.
The Office of the General Assembly (OGA) is the national headquarters for the EPC, is located in Orlando, Florida, and exists to support local EPC churches and presbyteries as it administers the actions of past General Assemblies. The OGA also houses the offices and staff of World Outreach and Benefit Resources, Inc. (BRI), both of which are solely owned subsidiaries of the EPC.
The ministries and business of the General Assembly are conducted primarily through Permanent Committees, Boards, and Commissions. In addition, Special Committees may be formed to address specific areas of concern or emphasis. Committee membership generally is limited to Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders, with the exception of:
A Standing Committee is a temporary committee that meets (or “has standing”) only during the meeting of the General Assembly. A standing committees exists from the time it convenes for business (typically on Thursday afternoon of the General Assembly meeting) until the General Assembly adjourns on Friday.
Ruling Elders are lay members of a local congregation who are elected to serve on the Session, the judicial and administrative body presiding over the local church. In the EPC General Assembly, a Ruling Elder shares the same authority with a Teaching Elder in all of the courts of the Church, in both rights and duties.
A Teaching Elder is an ordained minister of the church.