It all started in the summer of 2010 when seven ministers from the PC(USA) met and began to talk, pray, and dream.
They talked about what it might mean to belong to a Presbyterian denomination that was freed from theological disputes, political proclamations, and ever-entangling bureaucracy, a denomination built on Jesus Christ and the rich history of Presbyterian theology while having a heart for a lost world.
In January 2011, these pastors sent out a letter to PC(USA) pastors around the country, asking if others wanted to join them in exploring a new way of doing ministry. Seven months later, nearly 2,000 men and women gathered in Minneapolis to dream and pray. In January 2012, in Orlando more than 2,000 believers gathered and ‘ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians’ was formed. In just five short years, ECO has grown to over 350 churches with new churches joining almost every week.
What does the name mean? Let’s take it apart.
Many people have asked what ECO stands for. It is not only an acronym but a reminder that ECO exists to help build a spiritual ecosystem that will grow strong, diverse, Presbyterian congregations.
This refers to the fact that all ECO churches must covenant (agree) on the essentials of the faith and commit to be in a mutually supportive relationship with other ECO churches.
For some, the word “evangelical” carries a negative connotation as it is used to describe shyster preachers or disgraced TV evangelists. However, the term "evangelical" comes from the Greek word euangelion, meaning "the good news" or the "gospel” and is a common word in the New Testament. For example Mark 1:1 says: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The Biblical meaning of evangelical is someone who is a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. It is sad that such a great word has been misused and thus misunderstood.
This refers to our rich tradition that goes back to the reformation and the early church. Presbyterian comes from the Greek word for “elder” and simply means a church ruled by elders.