Equip for Ministry
Volume 4, Number 3
The Historical Overview of Christian Education and Publications
When the Presbyterian Church in America was established, Christian Education and Publications was one of the first three program committees put into place. Christian education is a God ordained covenantal process and the denomination established CEP to lead, nurture, and instruct its people. CEP’s purpose is simply stated:
To glorify God by serving the Presbyterian Church in America in its worldwide commitment to make disciples, teaching and training leaders in biblical church growth and vitalization principles, discipleship, family living, the development of a consistently biblical worldview and a holistic view of the church’s mission.
CEP is not primarily a publishing house, although it does some publishing. Our Sunday school curriculum is produced through Great Commission Publications (GCP), which is jointly owned by the PCA and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church since 1975. Today, approximately 60% of PCA churches use this curriculum in a variety of ways in their local programs. More than 40,000 pieces of literature are distributed each week to our churches. GCP also gives the PCA an opportunity to extend its ministry to other interested churches. Almost 30% of its curriculum distribution is to non-PCA and OPC churches. GCP also produces the denominational Trinity Hymnal, which used in a growing number of PCA churches.
Paul Settle, the first CEP Coordinator, served that post for three years. During that time CEP published the denominational news tabloid, Continuing; developed teacher training seminars; and Women in the Church (WIC) ministries. Under Settle’s leadership the joint venture, GCP, came to be. An annual pastor’s conference was also established at that time.
Settle was replaced by Dr. Charles Dunahoo, pastor and member of the PCA organizing committee. Dr. Dunahoo has served in that position since January of 1977. The CEP office, which was originally in Montgomery, AL relocated to the Atlanta area in the close proximity of the other program committees. During that time Continuing was replaced by The PCA Messenger. Arthur Matthews served as the first editor of that publication. The Messenger was a denominational magazine that was originally mailed without charge to individual members upon request. In 1986 the publication began to be available by subscription During the eight year period that the magazine was published, its circulation reached 60,000. Then in 1994, for various reasons, the assembly agreed to discontinue the publication. This enabled CE/P to develop its generic magazine, Equip for Ministry, designed especially for local church leaders. More than 8,000 copies are distributed bi-monthly to that select audience plus a few other interested readers.
Much emphasis was placed from the very beginning on seminar training that offered more than just educational leadership. The whole work of the church was generally the subject matter, including specific officer and general leadership seminars. Planning, management, and team operation became themes of the seminars as well as teacher training and general Christian education topics.
To help strengthen homes, seminars on marriage and family have been offered as well as training on identifying one’s gifts and their utilization in ministry. Continuing education was an early theme of CEP’s ministry. Ministers conferences have been held on a regular basis, and since 1982, when the PCA was joined by the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod, those annual and bi-annual conferences, Partners in Ministry, have generally included the pastor’s wife.
Annual conferences have been held under CEP’s oversight focusing on music and worship. Annual training for WIC leaders has continued to grow over the years. This past March more than 125 women from presbyteries and local churches met for 2