Be sure to mark your calendar February 24th! We are going to enjoy a morning of blessings with an EPC Missionary to Lebanon whom Cornerstone supports financially. She will speak during our Sunday School hour and also a few minutes during Worship. After the service we will welcome her (and possibly her daughter) with a Lunch in Fellowship Hall.
This missionary and her husband have been our lead missionaries in that country for several years and are spending about six months on home leave now. What a joy it will be to hear how she and her husband (and their two children) have been led in Lebanon and what God is doing in their lives.
An RSVP card will be handed out soon – please let us know how many of you will be attending the lunch so that we will have enough food prepared. Cornerstone will provide the meat but we will be posting a Sign Up Genius for the sides, dessert and ways to serve.
This Missions Lunch will not only be a loving welcome but also a celebration of the work being done in the name of our Lord. Come and meet her!
What are you doing this summer? Don’t miss out an a unique mission opportunity for your high school students. Summer Mission Jam is a new, entry mission and outreach equipping conference for students, serving among Lebanese, Bangladeshi, Yemeni, Iraqi, and Pakistani peoples in America’s most diverse neighborhoods of Dearborn and Hamtramck, Michigan.
Students will learn how to ‘bridge the gap’ with Muslims and be the fragrance of Jesus through supportive and instructive teaching and service outreach opportunities. Summer Jam starts Monday evening, July 8, and wraps up Saturday, July 13. Registration is $450 per student and includes delicious meals, comfortable accommodations, and the best missions training you can receive.
If you already have plans for this summer, consider bringing a few student leaders to check out Summer Mission Jam for future summers (Fremont, CA in 2020 & Michigan in 2021).
Summer Mission Jam is an amazing opportunity for churches, big and small, to invest in their students as they learn more about Muslims and how to interact in a way that is loving and beneficial for the Kingdom. This summer, step out and be a part of something new with the EPC denomination. We are positive it will impact your world and give you new ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus in your own communities.
You can register and learn more about Summer Mission Jam by going to our website: Summer Mission Jam
If you know of anyone that might be interested in attending Summer Mission Jam, we invite you to pass it along and share on social media!
There are scholarships available for people of color through the EPC – these scholarships cover 1/2 of registration! We desire to see, within the EPC denomination, more people of color being empowered to lead and go into missions long-term through EPC World Outreach. Please contact us for more information about how to apply.
This is Cornerstone’s 12th year to host our Feeding B4 Feasting food drive. The purpose of Feeding B4 Feasting is to provide Thanksgiving meals for the hungry before we enjoy our own feasts. We will accept donations starting October 21 through November 11. Our goal is to put together 16 boxed Thanksgiving meals for the customers of Katy Christian Ministries. Please consider helping in the following ways:
- Sign up to bring menu items by visiting: Feeding B4 Feasting 2018
- You may leave your donations in the red barrel in the Carol Kutzer’s office.
- In lieu of providing food (particularly perishables like turkeys, pies, breads, etc) consider donating a gift card from Kroger ($25)
- Write a letter to the family who will receive the meal.
- Include a favorite recipe with all the ingredients with a special note as to why it’s a family tradition.
- Pray for the families receiving the meals.
The CSCK families will spend the morning of November 11th decorating boxes and writing letters and prayers to the KCM customers.
In response to a Turkish court’s ruling July 25 to release Andrew Brunson from prison to house arrest, officials in Washington, D.C., have issued statements supporting the decision.
Senators James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) issued a joint statement in which they called the move a “step in the right direction.”
“Today’s decision by the Turkish Court system to move Pastor Andrew Brunson from prison to house arrest is a step in the right direction and will help alleviate some of the unacceptable hardship and anguish Pastor Brunson and his family have endured over the last 20 months,” the senators said. “The Government of Turkey should now release Pastor Brunson and immediately return him to the United States, an action that would begin to restore the longstanding friendship between our two nations.”
The United States Council on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) also welcomed the court’s ruling.
“It is good that Pastor Brunson will have some relief after being held in a Turkish prison for more than 600 days,” said USCIRF Vice Chair Kristina Arriaga in the statement. “This is welcome news … but it is not enough. The Turkish government has deprived this innocent man of his due process rights and liberty for too long, and it must completely release him. If it fails to do so, the Trump Administration and the Congress should respond strongly and swiftly with targeted sanctions against the authorities responsible.”
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted on July 25 that house arrest was a positive development, but Brunson “should have been freed long ago.”
Turkish media is reporting that Andrew Brunson has been moved from prison and put under house arrest. According to the Daily Sabah, the EPC Teaching Elder has been moved to his home in Izmir due to “health issues.”
The Second High Penal Court in Izmir issued the ruling on July 25, which also included an international travel ban meaning Brunson cannot leave the country. The same court ruled on July 18 that Brunson be returned to prison until the hearing in the trial, scheduled for October 12.
“We are very thankful for this court ruling to allow Andrew to be detained at his house instead of behind bars, where he has spent more than 21 months,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “At the same time, this trial is not over. He is still facing serious charges so we press on in praying, fasting, and advocating for Andrew.”
Brunson has lived in Turkey since 1993 and was arrested in October 2016. He was indicted on charges of having links to Fethullah Gülen, the Turkish cleric who has lived in Pennsylvania since 1999 and whom Ankara blames for the failed 2016 coup attempt, and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey calls a terrorist group.
In response to Andrew Brunson’s return to custody following hearings on July 18, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis, Jeanne Shaheen, James Lankford, and Lindsey Graham issued a joint statement calling for his immediate release. The court in Aliaga, Turkey, remanded the EPC Teaching Elder to prison until the trial resumes on October 12.
“Pastor Andrew Brunson has languished in a Turkish prison for the last two years, causing tremendous hardship and heartache for him and his family,” the senators said in the statement. “He is an innocent man and has been unlawfully detained simply because he is an American pastor who assists all those in need, no matter their ethnicity or religious beliefs. Turkey and the United States are longstanding NATO allies and it is imperative to the interests of both nations that Turkey starts behaving like one. We call for the immediate release of Pastor Brunson and other American citizens currently detained in Turkey, including Serkan Golge. We encourage the Administration to use all the tools at their disposal to ensure the release of these innocent people before Congress is forced to press for even stricter legislative measures that will be difficult to unwind.”
Brunson has been imprisoned in Turkey since October 7, 2016. In April, he was indicted on charges related to terrorism and espionage. He faces up to 35 years in prison.
In April, the four senators led the effort to craft a bipartisan letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calling for Brunson’s release. The letter was signed by 71 senators. Tillis has visited Turkey twice, including meeting with Brunson and attending his trial on April 16. Shaheen and Graham visited Brunson in prison in June, and also met with Erdoğan and pressed for Brunson’s release.
In previous legislative actions, Tillis and Shaheen secured a provision that directs the Secretary of Defense to submit a plan to Congress to remove Turkey from participation in the F-35 fighter jet program. The provision is based in part on legislation introduced by Lankford, Tillis, and Shaheen. Lankford and Shaheen have worked with Graham to include sanctions in this year’s State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill. Those measures target Turkish officials complicit in the unlawful arrest of Americans.
The senators are part of a growing chorus of condemnation in Washington, D.C., against the court’s ongoing decision to keep Brunson imprisoned.
In an article titled “The Brunson farce” published July 17 by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in response to speculation following discussions between Erdoğan and President Trump, Aykan Erdemir wrote that Brunson should be released “not because of a deal, but because there isn’t a shred of evidence against him.” Erdemir is a senior fellow at the FDD and a former member of the Turkish parliament.
On July 18, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) issued a statement declaring that “Turkey continues to make a mockery of justice in its treatment of Pastor Brunson.” The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission.
In a strongly worded statement issued July 18, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) decried the decision by a Turkish court to return Andrew Brunson to prison until the next phase of the trial on October 12.
“The government of Turkey continues to make a mockery of justice in its treatment of Pastor Brunson,” said USCIRF Vice-Chair Kristina Arriaga. “Today I was hoping to see the judge order his complete release and put an end to the miscarriage of justice that Pastor Brunson’s entire case represents. Turkish authorities still have not provided one good reason for depriving Pastor Brunson of his liberties. The Trump Administration and the Congress should continue to apply pressure, including using targeted sanctions against officials connected to this case, until Pastor Brunson is released.”
In its statement, the USCIRF reported that former church members testified against Brunson for more than two hours on July 18. When the judge asked Brunson to reply to the witnesses, he said: “My faith teaches me to forgive, so I forgive those who testified against me.”
Click here to read the entire statement.
A Turkish court ordered Andrew Brunson returned to prison on July 18, and set his next hearing for October 12. The EPC Teaching Elder is being tried on charges of espionage and aid to terrorist groups.
“I am deeply saddened by this morning’s ruling,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “Thankfully, our Lord was not surprised and continues to be in control of the situation. Our disappointment today is matched by our resolve to continue to pray and advocate for Andrew and Norine.”
Bill Campbell, Pastor of Hendersonville (N.C.) Presbyterian Church, attended the hearing in Aliaga, Turkey.
“As usual, there was much spurious testimony against Andrew,” Campbell said via encrypted text message following adjournment of the proceedings. “Andrew’s testimony was absolutely powerful. He presented the gospel with confidence and defended himself with boldness.”
News media present for the trial reported that the court heard testimony from three witnesses for the prosecution, and one for the defense—marking the first time in the trial’s three hearings that the judge permitted a defense witness to speak.
“The court allowed a favorable witness,” Campbell said, “and one who was to speak against him actually spoke in Andrew’s favor. It felt like they had decided the outcome before the trial.”
Media reported that the judge asked Brunson to reply to the witnesses, several of whom were former members of the Izmir Resurrection Church which Brunson led for more than 20 years.
“My faith teaches me to forgive, so I forgive those who testified against me,” Brunson said.
Media also noted that he waved at supporters after the hearing, saying only “thank you” in English.
The trial of Andrew Brunson, EPC Teaching Elder imprisoned in Turkey since October 2016, resumes on Wednesday, July 18. In an effort to stand with and pray for the Brunson family, the EPC is issuing a Call to Prayer and Fasting for Tuesday, July 17.
Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk, has been communicating with Andrew’s wife, Norine, by encrypted text message.
“She is so thankful for our ongoing prayers and support,” Jeremiah said. “On July 7, she posted on her Facebook page, ‘Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for persevering in prayer with us. I pass on your comments to Andrew from time to time. YOU, the body of Christ, are truly amazing! Where else do people love and pray for others they’ve never met? What a testimony YOU have been.’”
Jeremiah also suggested praying Scripture in four specific ways in advance of the July 18 hearing:
- That Andrew will be strengthened, emboldened, and released: Pray Isaiah 42:3 (A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out. In faithfulness, He will establish justice.); Isaiah 40:31 (Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength); and Luke 4:18 (The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free).
- That Norine will not grow weary: Pray Exodus 17:12 (When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady until sunset.) and Isaiah 40:29 (He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak).
- That the Brunson’s children (Jordan, Jacqueline, and Blaise) would walk in the steadfast love of the Lord: Pray Lamentations 3:22-23 (Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness).
- That Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey, would be directed by the Holy Spirit: Pray Proverbs 21:1 (The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases).
Prosecutors in the case have asked for a 35-year prison sentence on charges that Brunson helped terrorist organizations and worked to convert Turks to Christianity.
At least one media outlet in Turkey is speculating that Andrew could be home soon. The article, titled “Pastor Brunson’s detention has become too costly for Turkey,” offers the opinion that “many diplomats in Ankara expect (Andrew’s) potential release followed by his deportation pending trial on the July 18 hearing” yet cautions that “it is impossible to foresee what the court’s decision will be, but (Andrew’s) release would sure help the ongoing reconciliation process between Turkey and the U.S.”
“We all fervently hope and pray that Andrew’s release is the outcome of next week’s hearing,” Jeremiah said.
A printable prayer guide/bulletin insert in PDF format with these Scripture prayers can be downloaded at www.epc.org/news/freepastorandrew.
Even though the due date of June 17 has come and gone, it’s never to late to turn in the Pregnancy Help Center baby bottles. Even if they are empty, please return them. Thank you!!