Like the entire fellowship worldwide, the year 2023 saw the Elders Service Committee (ESC) undergo transition as it also maintained a necessary stability. Led by Walter and Kim Evans (from Philadelphia, USA), the other members of the EST at the end of 2023 included Larry and Mary Lou Craig (New York), Darren and Sharon Gauthier (Chicago), Frank and Erica Kim (Denver), Losha and Tanya Kravets (Kiev), Yannick and Emma Le Noan (Paris), Dan and Elexa Liu (Hong Kong), Sylvia Mendez (San Diego), Frank and Femi Okodugha (Lagos), Mike and Scarlette Van Auken (Boston), and Tom and Lori Ziegler (San Antonio).  During the year, we expressed our deep thanks to John and Pat Brush and to Imagbe and Weiyinmi Igbinoba as both couples became emeritus members, stepping off of the committee after many years of dedicated service. The Brushes’ humble, faithful service and the work that the Igbinobas and others have done in Africa to raise up more elderships were particularly noted. The committee also warmly welcomed the Okodughas as they joined the group in the last months of the year.

At the end of 2023, we soberly observed how Losha and Tanya Kravets continue to serve courageously and tirelessly in Ukraine, shepherding the church and participating fully on this committee (please pray for them and all those caught in war-torn areas). Throughout the year, the ESC continued to serve our worldwide fellowship, meeting regularly to discuss and work on the issues that impact us all as we labored for the mission of God.

The first quarter of 2023 saw our fellowship return to a regular cycle of meetings to cultivate global unity and work toward impacting this world for Christ. Four elder couples from the committee participated in the spring meetings in Izmir, Turkiye, held in March.

Following continued labor guided by the Evanses and others, an elders and eldership training program for the South Asia family of churches emerged began in the fall. The committee, in collaboration with the leadership of the South Asia regional family, helped to organize a series of monthly training sessions for aspiring elders, their wives and for church leaders in the region. ESC members took part, providing online training to around twenty Indian men as they considered the role of the eldership. That phased training continues this year with a focus on local training during the spring of 2024. The South Asia elders and eldership training illustrates how the Elders Service Committee can support a regional family, collaborating with it as it pursues its own goal to raise up an eldership. The ESC continues to support, as needed, any and all efforts in this regard across the world.

In 2023 the Elders Service Committee began work to write and publish a companion book to Church Building Elderships: Godly Qualities that Produce Great Churches (2019), edited by Wyndham Shaw and Al Baird. This second book seeks to respond to the need for more practical training, targeting church leaders and elders-in-training as the intended audience. At the time of this report chapters have been drafted and the committee is making final touches on the book so that it can be published in 2024 and provide another resource to churches worldwide as God raises up those who desire to fulfill a noble task (1 Timothy 3:1 NIV).

The committee’s latest information is that there are 221 elders around the world, with 50 now outside of the United States. Of the 33 regional families of churches, nine do not yet have any elderships established in their churches, and these nine are all outside of the United States.

The ESC continues to work for the unity of the fellowship worldwide as we strive to honor God’s mission everywhere. The committee provides ongoing support to the training of mediators for conflict resolution, begun in 2021 by the Unity Task Force as the “Peacemakers” program. So far, over 200 participants from various churches have received training in this program.

For the near future, in 2024 the ESC intends to continue to focus on providing training materials, such as the soon-to-be-published book, and supporting training and development of elders and elderships worldwide. In addition, the Elders Service Committee continues to engage in conflict resolution activities across our fellowship. It is committed to maintaining and forging a unity that honors the God that we serve, one that crosses geographic lines and connects all the generations. We will continue to labor for the growth of all our churches and devote our energies to strengthening and deepening our unity in the years ahead.

Chairman: Walter Evans (Philadelphia)
Eldership Development and Training:  Oleksii Kravets (Kiev), Yannick Le Noan (Paris), Mike Van Auken (Boston), Tom Ziegler (San Antonio), Frank Okodugha (Lagos)
Marriage and Family: Frank Kim (Denver)
Conflict Resolution: Larry Craig (New York), Walter Evans (Philadelphia)
Unity: Darren Gauthier (Chicago)
Minutes and Communication: Dan Liu (Hong Kong)