ECO (denomination)

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ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians
Classification Protestant
Orientation Reformed Evangelical
Polity Presbyterian
Leader Rev. Dana Allin[1]
Associations World Communion of Reformed Churches (provisional member)[2]
Headquarters Santa Barbara, California
Origin 2012
Separated from Presbyterian Church (USA)
Congregations 273 [3]
Members 85,000+[4]
Official website

ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians is an evangelical Presbyterian denomination in the United States. It was established in 2012 by former congregations and members of the Presbyterian Church (USA). As a Presbyterian church, ECO adheres to Reformed theology and Presbyterian polity.


The denomination's name, "ECO", represents its three-fold commitment to make disciples of Jesus Christ (Evangelical), connect leaders through accountable relationships and encourage collaboration (Covenant), and commit to a shared way of life together (Order). The name "ECO" also speaks to the commitment to "strengthen the 'ecosystems' of local churches" by providing the environment and resources to produce healthy churches.[5]


Plans for establishing what would become ECO were initiated in January 2012 by the Fellowship of Presbyterians (now The Fellowship Community), an umbrella organization of theologically conservative Presbyterians.[6] However, The Fellowship Community is now separate and "not a waiting room for departure" from the PC(USA).[7] ECO was conceived of as an alternative to the Presbyterian Church (USA), which theologically conservative Presbyterians considered too liberal. In particular, the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s decision to lift its ban on non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy in 2011 led a number of congregations to search for an alternative Presbyterian denomination. While other conservative Presbyterian churches in the United States existed, most of these, with the exception of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, did not permit female clergy.[8]


The beliefs of ECO are expressed in a statement of Essential Tenets.[9] The Essential Tenets affirm that the Old and New Testaments are infallible and authoritative, containing everything necessary for faith and life.[10] In common with other Christians, ECO believes in the doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation—the "two central Christian mysteries"—and that the only hope of salvation and adoption as children of God is God's grace in Jesus Christ.[11] Reflecting its Reformed heritage, ECO believes that, as a consequence of the Fall of Man, humans lost free will and are incapable of turning towards God. Salvation is only made possible by the irresistible grace of God, who chose the elect before the world was created.[12]

The Essential Tenets explain that within the church God's grace is received through the preaching of the Word of God, the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper, and church discipline.[13] ECO practices open communion.[14] The offices of teaching elder, deacon, and ruling elder correspond to Christ's three-fold office of prophet, priest, and king. Because it believes that both men and women are called to all ministries in the church, ECO ordains women. (It does not ordain non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy.) It also believes that all church members are to embody the three-fold offices in their daily lives by sharing and enacting the Gospel and extending the lordship of Jesus Christ.[15] According to the Essential Tenets, progressive sanctification is an expected characteristic of a Christian life. This includes a life of prayer, regular self-examination (especially guided by the Ten Commandments), and sincere confession of sin.[16]

While ECO recognizes the Bible as the primary authority governing matters of faith and doctrine, the Essential Tenets affirm the Book of Confessions (editions prior to the revision[specify] of the Heidelberg Catechism) as a faithful explanation of scriptural truth and a subordinate standard of doctrine.[17] The Book of Confessions , inherited from the Presbyterian Church (USA), includes the following creeds, confessions, and catechisms:[18]


First Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, Washington, designed by Ralph Adams Cram and completed in 1925

ECO follows presbyterian polity. A synod is the chief decision making body of the denomination.[19] Congregations are organized into eight geographical presbyteries:

  • Presbytery of Florida
  • Presbytery of the Northeast (Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and state to their east and north)
  • Great Lakes Presbytery (Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin)
  • East Central Presbytery (Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., remaining southern states east of the Mississippi River, including *Louisiana)
  • Presbytery of the Northwest (Oregon, Washington and Alaska)
  • Presbytery of Texas
  • Presbyteries of Northern and Southern California
  • Presbytery of the West (all other states west of the Mississippi River, including Minnesota).[20]


As of June 20, 2014 ECO had in California 24 churches, and Pennsylvania 23 churches. These 2 states have the highest ECO church membership rate, followed by Washington (12), Florida (11), Colorado and Texas (8), and Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Alaska (6). ECO is also present in Oregon (5), Virginia (4), Ohio (3), Kentucky and New Jersey (2), and Minnesota, North Dakota, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Alabama (1).[21] As of November 13, 2015 there are 231 congregations and 344 pastors that are a part of ECO.[22]

Notable congregations


  1. De Guzman, Zaimarie (May 26, 2012). "Fort Pierce pastor looking forward to new challenge as head of Evangelical Covenant Order". Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. Retrieved January 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "ECO received as a member-church of WCRC". The Layman Online. June 3, 2013. Retrieved June 5, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Allin, Dana (August 22, 2014). "When We Gathered in Dallas: ECO's Synod Meeting". ECO Blog. Retrieved January 22, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Our Name", ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. Accessed June 5, 2013.
  6. "Our Story", The Fellowship of Presbyterians. Accessed June 5, 2013.
  7. (U.S.A.), Presbyterian Church. "Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) - News & Announcements - Fellowship, Presbyterians for Renewal plan merger that would offer a new home to evangelicals". Retrieved 2016-04-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Daniel Burke (January 21, 2012), "Conservative Presbyterians in U.S. launch new denomination", The Presbyterian Outlook. Accessed June 5, 2013.
  9. Essential Tenets and Confessional Standards. ECO:A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. Accessed June 5, 2013.
  10. Essential Tenets I, p. 2.
  11. Essential Tenets II-III.A, pp. 2-4.
  12. Essential Tenets III.B, p. 4.
  13. Essential Tenets III.C, p. 4.
  14. ECO Polity and Discipline, Polity 1.0302, p. 5. Accessed June 5, 2013.
  15. Essential Tenets III.D, pp. 4-5.
  16. Essential Tenets III.E, p. 5.
  17. Essential Tenets and Confessional Standards I, pp. 2, 7.
  18. Essential Tenets and Confessional Standards, p. 6.
  19. ECO Polity, ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. Accessed June 5, 2013.
  20. Nathan Key "ECO forms new Presbyteries," The Layman Online February 14th, 2013, retrieved February 27th, 2014

External links