When ECO began in January 2012 with just a few dozen churches officially represented, there were just 2 Presbyteries (the local regional groupings) - the Presbyteries of the East and the West divided by the Mississippi River. Since then 9 Presbyteries have formed and in the next few years this number will almost double again. The Southern California Presbytery of ECO began as a separate entity from the Presbytery of the West with an unofficial meeting in January 2014 at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Santa Ana, CA. The first official meeting of the Southern California Presbytery came on June 14, 2014. There are now close to 30 churches in the Southern California Presbytery and more will join in the next year. The Southern California Presbytery exists to help its individual churches to grow stronger in ministry and outreach in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the summer of 2010, seven pastors from the Presbyterian Church (USA) spoke of finding new ways to encourage each other in faith, ministry, and mission. They were concerned by the declining membership within their denomination (from four million to two million in 40 years). And they worried that growing denominational disputes over theology and bureaucracy stole focus from their pastoral calling of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and equipping a new generation to lead. These pastors dreamed of reclaiming a sense of covenanted community among leaders from a Presbyterian and Reformed heritage, and to find new ways for churches to connect, grow, and multiply.
In January 2011, these pastors sent out a letter to PC(USA) pastors around the country, asking if others wanted to join in a crafting new way forward. The response was overwhelming: just seven months later, in August 2011, nearly 2,000 men and women gathered in Minneapolis to dream and pray. This became the birth of The Fellowship of Presbyterians, a ministry association that seeks to equip and connect those in various Presbyterian denominations including the PC(USA). But some pastors and congregations felt God calling them to leave the PC(USA), and many young seminarians were looking for a different context for ordination. As a result, in January 2012, at a conference in Orlando with more than 2,200 in attendance, a new denomination was formed: ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.
The name ECO is not an acronym. It reinforces our passion for strengthening the ecosystems of local churches. We believe the church is a living organism that needs life-giving resources to help it grow, thrive, and multiply. ECO is committed to cultivating a healthy, diverse, resource-rich ecosystem where pastors and congregations can flourish.
Our full name (ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians) speaks to our core commitments:
Today ECO is a rapidly-growing Presbyterian denomination that exists to serve the local church and reclaim a sense of covenanted biblical community.