Epikos has seen it’s fair share of change over the years. It was started by a sacrificial group of people who were following God’s lead. They all came together and God breathed life into the Epikos community. Many of you have watched God move through Epikos. You’ve seen it and I’ve seen it. We’ve seen God move in the lives of hundreds and hundreds of people as they’ve crossed the line of faith and decided to give their life to Jesus. And over 115 people people declared that they were ‘All In’ and followed Jesus in baptism. We’ve clothed and fed the hungry and the homeless. We’ve sent more than $450,000 to Uganda to build a dormitory, an orphanage, and an investment program. We even brought clean water and hand washing to our sons and daughters in Uganda. So much giving, that Project Hope Uganda was created to widen the impact. They've grown from serving 40 orphans to 82 now.
We have also poured into our local city with compassion by throwing parties for underprivileged kids. We’ve provided 300 plus backpacks, over 100 pairs of shoes, and stuffed almost a 100 heavy helpers for The Children’s Center. Our Epikos Youth built two houses from scratch in Mexico and helped construct 3 houses on an Apache reservation in AZ. They helped homeless families each year at the Winter Hospitality Overflow and gave part of their summers to bless the disadvantaged in Seattle. On top of this, we created a great community where people with differing beliefs, orientations, backgrounds, and experience could come together and love and be loved without judgement.
When the leadership at Epikos changed hands we began a new season. We had less staff, less people attending, and we didn’t have the giving we once had when Epikos first started. It was a time when I gathered our Elders together and we created our first budget. Despite our work, our hopes for a church building decreased as we struggled to do ministry and stay within our new budget. This wasn’t an easy transition after years of donations from people out of state who never even stepped foot inside our church, but wanted our young church plant to succeed. Growing from a church plant dependent on outside funds to becoming mostly member supported is not an easy transition.
We made a lot of tough decisions and started cutting more and more. We could have asked for more money and made money the main thing we talked about every week, but we knew there is only so much a small community can give.
Through it all, each of you have been very faithful with your time, money, and love for Epikos.
We all kept our eye on the goal of reaching people with the love of Jesus and doing the next right thing. Life is full of unexpected events, but we’ve seen our community grow in different ways in the last few years. We grew in our worship. We grew in our outreach to our city. We also grew in learning how to be the family of God by being there for each other. We grew in our number of baptisms. There were seasons when our attendance surged, but over time it has decreased. Some of our attendance decreased because people moved out state or out of the city. Others had a change in job, and some chose to grow in a different place.
Thankfully, you all prayed and submitted names for elders. They are a great group of people who love God and listen to him. We have prayed together, sought God’s will together, laughed together, and grown together. And together, we finally came to the realization God may be leading us to a place we never thought we would go.
PNW summers have always been notoriously low attended, but this summer was the least attended summer since I’ve been here. This led to low attendance and low giving in the fall as well.
If you’ve led a team or been part of a team and had all of your volunteers out of town, you know what it’s like to try to do a weekend service when most of the people here are either in the band or serving on a team. It’s very thin and it’s hard on a few hands to share the work. This is what we have experienced the last five to six months. There have been a few well attended weekends, but even our Christmas was half the size it usually is.
Our group of elders and I prayed hard. We reached out to other church planters and consultants for guidance and talked to many of you along the way to a very difficult decision.
On top of our struggles to increase attendance, we reached a place in December where making payroll for January was going to be very difficult. We reached out to donors and asked them to move their designated funds so we could survive into the new year. I started looking for work so I could go half-time or even become a lay pastor so Epikos could continue.
After prayer and consulting and many conversations, we realized God was moving in other areas and in other organizations in our city and we needed to follow his leading.
We didn’t want to leave people we do business with and use for services to not get paid. We didn’t want to leave our employees without paychecks and we didn’t want to go into bankruptcy. We wanted to honorably and responsibly follow God into the next chapter.
For this reason, we made a decision to close Epikos at the end of January. I know this may be a huge shock to some of you. And you need to know we were willing for God to show up in a miraculous way during Christmas for us to see a different path, but that is not what happened.
As hard as it is to hear this and to process this, there is a lot to celebrate this month. God has done tremendous miracles through each of you and this church and we want to celebrate what God has done together through Epikos. When you look back, God has done so much!
We will have two more Go Communities on January 5, and then on January 26. You can find more info on our event page. I will also continue to do Wake Up With Faith as long as I am able with my new job.
You can find more about our upcoming events at epikoschurch.com/events
We understand this is a lot to process, so below this letter you will see information for all of the elders along with their contact information. Please reach out to them if you have questions.
Lastly, we need to talk about the building fund. Many of you have given toward it, and some of you have taken money you gave toward it and re-designated it to our general fund.
We do have quite a few expenses with bills continuing to come in, our lease agreement, storage, employee compensation, our debt to Mission Catalyst, lawyer fees, accounting, and much more as we dissolve our organization.
If you have given to the building fund, we are asking that you make a decision to either transfer these funds over to our general fund to help out with the above listed expenses or have them returned to you along with a 1099.
Any funds left over after all expenses and working with our lawyer to dissolve Epikos, will be approved to go to organizations the church has relationships with or has supported, such as, but not limited to Project Hope Uganda. The Attorney General of the state of Washington has the final decision on our recommendations.
You can take action on this today by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and stating where you want to the money to go.
If you wish to receive your funds by 1099, you we need you to fill out a W-9 and attach it to your email. You can access the W-9 below.
Thank you so much for your all of your love and support through the years for Epikos and the Kingdom.
Your brother in Christ,
PLEASE SEE BELOW FOR MORE INFO