History

homepageOur Historical Roots

Our faith was brought to the shores of America by immigrants landing by ship in the ports of Pennsylvania and South Carolina/ North Carolina and later New Orleans and New York. The immediate history of the GCEPC/Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church (LEPC) began in 1912, in the Ohio Valley by German immigrants. The EPC/LEPC is the successor to the Evangelical Protestant Church of North America and the Evangelical Protestant Conference of Congregational Churches. The EPC is historically rooted in the Protestant Reformation. The Evangelical Protestant Church is characterized especially as stressing the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, personal conversion experiences, scripture as the sole basis for faith and practice, and the winning of souls to Christ.

To understand the importance of these characteristics one must understand that until the Protestant Reformation much of this was not possible. Scripture was not in the common language of the people as it is today. Priests, Bishops and Popes let the people know what was expected of them and that expectation was not necessarily from scripture. There was emphasis on works as opposed to faith in Christ who then brings about good works as a product of faith in him. Forgiveness was not taught as being through repentance, the shed blood of Christ, and that our justification is by faith alone and cannot be purchased.

The Protestant Reformation of the 1600s changed Christendom. The Protestant Reformation was a European movement of protest against many teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Many Catholics were distrubed by what they believed were false doctrines and malpractices within the Catholic Church especially involving the teaching and sale of indulgences, suspected corruption in the hierarchy and the buying of position. The purchasing of repentance and forgiveness through “Indulgences” was abhorred by Martin Luther. His questioning on many levels ultimately put him in the forefront of the Reformation Movement.

LUTHER AND ZWINGLI REVOLT

Martin Luther had strong reservations regarding the selling of indulgences as well as other issues within the Catholic Church that he believed needed to be reformed. On October 31, 1517, on All Saints’ Day, he posted his famous Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the Catholic Cathedral in Wittenberg, Germany. A year later, Ulrich Zwingli, a Swiss priest, listed his Sixty-Seven Articles of protest against the Church as well. One of Zwingli’s main concerns was that the proper focus of Scripture was being neglected as he witnessed a decline in moral righteousness, especially among the clergy.

OUR HISTORICAL LINKAGE

Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses can be summarized as faith alone, grace alone, scripture alone. The just shall live by faith. Grace comes from God alone. The Scriptures are the sole authority in matters of faith and practice. Baptism and Communion are the only two Sacraments. Luther’s Theses was in direct opposition to the Catholic Church that believed in the selling of Indulgences, buying one’s way into Heaven, Papal authority and in seven sacraments.

Zwingli’s Sixty-Seven Articles can be summarized as Christ alone is our righteousness and salvation, we pray only to Jesus Christ, there is no Purgatory, the clergy should be allowed to marry and shameful living among the clergy is to be avoided. Zwingli’s Articles, like Luther’s Theses, were in opposition to the Catholic teachings. His Articles spoke out against the selling of Indulgences, praying to Saints, Purgatory, the ban on clergy marriage and the sinful living of many clergy.

Luther, Zwingli and their respective followers, constituted the Evangelical Protestant movement. Luther’s followers became known as Lutherans; Zwingli’s, Reformed. Subsequently, Lutheran and Reformed churches were established all over Europe, especially in Germany and Switzerland. They were known to work together in the gospel and to share churches and ministers.

THE EVANGELICAL PROTESTANT CHURCH OF NORTH AMERICA

On September 16, 1885, a meeting of pastors from the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati areas met at the First Evangelical Protestant Church in Pittsburgh and formed the Evangelical Protestant Church of North America. This was a loosely organized group of believers with no organizational structure or constitution. However, on July 19th and 20th, 1912, the organization affirmed the body and a constitution was adopted at the Mt. Washington Evangelical Protestant Church in Pittsburgh. The Evangelical Protestant Church of North America after many years was now an official denomination. As years past changes took place within the denomination with mergers into Congregational groups and then into the United Church of Christ. Many of the Churches with whom the EPC merged became theologically and morally liberal moving away from the original faith and practice of the Evangelical Protestant movement.

A NEW BEGINNING

Due to changes taking place within many churches regarding scripture and social change a small group of Evangelical Protestant Christians decided, in the latter part of 1999, to re-organize as a Church to restore the EPC as the General Conference of Evangelical Protestant Churches (GCEPC). The GCEPC became known denominationally as the Evangelical Protestant Church (EPC) and The Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church. The GCEPC recognizes the Lord Jesus Christ as its savior and Lord and the head of His Church.

CURRENT MINISTRIES

Today the Lutheran/Evangelical Protestant Church continues the historical tradition Biblical Christianity and humanitarian work. In September,2002, members formally voted to add Lutheran to the name, becoming officially The Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church with the caveat that those members desiring to do so may use only Evangelical Protestant Church. The GCEPC is missions oriented. It seeks the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit recognizing the diversity of ministries that the Lord desires for his Church and his people.

The GCEPC believes “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.” There is in “the essentials unity, in the non-essentials liberty and in all things charity.” We have men and women of God with diverse backgrounds from all over the world serving together the one Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in apostolic, prophetic, teaching, pastoring, evangelistic ministries as well as missions, chaplaincy, counseling, campus ministry, healing ministry, outreaches, and a variety of others. The GCEPC believes in education and provides Concordia Theologica for this purpose.

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