Presbyterian Church in America
|Presbyterian Church in America|
|Associations||North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council; National Association of Evangelicals; World Reformed Fellowship|
|Region||United States & Canada and has a Presbytery in Chile|
|Separated from||Presbyterian Church in the United States|
|Merge of||incorporated the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod in 1982|
The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is the second largest Presbyterian church body and the largest conservative Reformed denomination in the United States. The PCA is Reformed in theology, Presbyterian in government, Evangelical in spirit and mission minded. There is a blend of Reformed practice and broad evangelicalism.
- 1 History
- 2 Doctrine and practice
- 3 Statistics
- 4 Affiliations and Agencies
- 5 Relations with other Reformed Churches
- 6 Notable churches in the PCA
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
The PCA formed as part of a major realignment among U.S. Presbyterians, who had been divided on regional grounds since the Civil War between the southern PCUS and the northern-based (though it had grown to have congregations in all 50 states) UPCUSA. Yet the two regional denominations were also internally divided between theological liberals and conservatives. As momentum slowly built towards unification of the two regional denominations, conservative pastors and lay leaders became alarmed by the PCUS's drift from orthodoxy and historic confessional and biblical standards of the church. By the 1970s, conservative pastors in the PCUS began to plan an exit from the denomination. This was the Presbyterian Churchmen United formed by more than 500 ministers and ran 3/4 page statements of their beliefs in 30 newspapers. They sought to reaffirm the Westminster Confession of Faith as the fullest and clearest exposition of biblical faith and to call all pastors and leaders to affirm the inerrancy of Scripture. As a result they also felt the church should disavow the ordination of women.
The PCUS was a mostly conservative denomination until more liberal elements gained control in the 1950s. Conservative Presbyterians felt that presbyteries violate the Westminster Confession of Faith by receiving ministers who refuse to affirm the Virgin Birth and the bodily resurrection, while denying membership to faithful ministers. Conservatives criticized the PCUS Board of Christian Education's published literature and believed that the denomination’s Board of World Missions no longer placed its primary emphasis on carrying out the Great Commission.
Founding and expansion of the PCA
In December 4, 1973, delegates from 260 congregations (over half of them from Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina) with a combined communicant membership of over 41,000, that had left the PCUS gathered at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in suburban Birmingham, Alabama, and organized the National Presbyterian Church — 122 years to the day after the founding of the Southern Presbyterian Church. The church called itself the Continuing Presbyterian Church because they wanted to continue the faith of the Presbyterian church in the United States. After protests from a UPCUSA congregation of the same name in Washington, D.C., the denomination at its Second General Assembly (1974) renamed itself the National Reformed Presbyterian Church, then adopted its present name the next day. At its founding, the PCA consisted of 16 presbyteries.
Within a few years the church grew to include more than 500 congregations and 80,000 members.
During the 1970s, the denomination added a significant number of congregations outside the South when several UPCUSA churches in Ohio and Pennsylvania joined. This move was precipitated by a case regarding an ordination candidate, Wynn Kenyon, denied by the Pittsburgh presbytery because he refused to support women's ordination (a decision upheld by the UPCUSA General Assembly).
Dozens of churches from the Midwest become part of the Presbyterian Church in America leaving the Synod of the West of the PC(USA). Dissenting conservative Southern Presbyterian Churches joined the PCA until the early 1990s.
In 1982, the PCA merged with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, with 25,673 communicant members and 482 ministers in 189 congregations in the United States as well as in a few Canadian provinces. Discussions had begun in 1979 with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, which had itself come about due to a merger between the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (formerly the Bible Presbyterian Church-Columbus Synod and not the current denomination of the same same) and the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod (a group of "New Light" Covenanters). The RPCES brought to the PCA a more broadly national base of membership with a denominational college, Covenant College, and a seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary. Previously, the PCA had relied on independent evangelical institutions such as Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi and Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.
The PCA had originally invited three denominations to the merger, including the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, but by the early 1980s only the RPCES remained as a willing and viable merger partner. The merger was called "Joining and Receiving." When a sufficient number of RPCES and PCA presbyteries voted in favor of the plan, the final votes occurred at the respective annual meetings, both held in Grand Rapids, Michigan: the RPCES Synod voted to join the PCA on June 12, 1982 and the PCA General Assembly voted to receive the RPCES on June 14. The Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod agencies and committees were united with their PCA counterparts. The history and historical documents of the RPCES were incorporated into the PCA. Graduates from Covenant College and Seminary were also officially recognized. The move reflected a rare phenomenon in American Protestantism of two conservative denominations merging, an occurrence that was far more common among mainline, moderate-to-liberal bodies in the 20th century (such as the UPCUSA/PCUS reunion).
In 1986 the PCA again invited the Orthodox Presbyterian Church to join them, but without success.
In 1983 several PCUS churches had joined the PCA, instead of merging with the UPCUSA into the current PC (USA); others joined the recently formed Evangelical Presbyterian Church, unrelated to the 1950s and 1960s body of that name. A clause in the Plan of Union between the two mainline bodies allowed dissenting PCUS congregations to refrain from joining the merger and to join a denomination of their choosing.
The PCA Historical Center, a repository of archives and manuscripts, is located in St. Louis, Missouri.
Doctrine and practice
The Presbyterian Church in America motto is "Faithful to the Scriptures, True to the Reformed faith, Obedient to the great commission of Jesus Christ". The PCA professes adherence to the historic confessional standards of Presbyterianism: the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and the Westminster Larger Catechism. These secondary documents are viewed as subordinate to the Bible, which alone is viewed as the inspired Word of God.
As might be expected given Presbyterianism's historically high esteem for education, the PCA has generally valued academic exploration more highly than revivalist traditions of evangelicalism. Apologetics in general and presuppositional apologetics has been a defining feature with many of its theologians and higher-ranking clergy, and many also practice "cultural apologetics" (pioneered by authors like Schaeffer) by engaging with and participating in secular cultural activities such as film, music, literature, and art in order to win them for Christ.
Additionally, the PCA emphasizes ministries of mercy such as outreach to the poor, the elderly, orphans, American Indians, people with physical and mental disabilities, refugees, etc. As a result, the denomination has held several national conferences to help equip members to participate in this type of work, and several PCA affiliates such as Desire Street Ministries, New City Fellowship, and New Song Fellowship have received national attention for their service to the community at large.
The PCA takes the following position on homosexuality: "Homosexual practice is sin. The Bible teaches that all particular sins flow from our rebellious disposition of heart. Just as with any other sin, the PCA deals with people in a pastoral way, seeking to transform their lifestyle through the power of the gospel as applied by the Holy Spirit. Hence, in condemning homosexual practice we claim no self-righteousness, but recognize that any and all sin is equally heinous in the sight of a holy God."
The PCA maintains the Presbyterian church government set forth in its Book of Church Order. Local church officers include teaching elders, ruling elders and deacons. Church government is exercised at three levels: the session, which governs the local church; the presbytery, a regional governing body, and the general assembly, the highest court of the denomination. The PCA does not have synods, which some other groups have either as the highest court or as an intermediate court between presbyteries and the general assembly.
Comparison to other Presbyterian denominations
The PCA is more socially and theologically conservative than the larger PC(USA). The PCA requires ordained pastors and elders to subscribe to the theological doctrines detailed in the Westminster Standards, with only minor exceptions allowed, while the PC(USA)'s Book of Confessions allows much more leeway. The PCA ordains only men who profess either traditional marriage or celibacy, while the PC(USA) allows the ordination of both women and non-celibate gays and lesbians as clergy. Like the PC(USA), however, the PCA accommodates different views of creation. The PCA strives for racial reconciliation. The PCA is unilaterally pro-life, believing life begins at conception. Unlike the PC(USA), the PCA has no ecumenical relationship with organizations which accept denominations that they perceive to have strayed from orthodoxy, such as the World Council of Churches or World Communion of Reformed Churches. It does maintain close a close relationship with North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council. In the PCA all church buildings belong to the local church. In that sense, the PCA church structure and politics are more prone to Congregational church structure than traditional Presbyterian structure.
The PCA is generally less theologically conservative than the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (which split from mainline Presbyterianism much earlier), but more conservative than the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (which split from the mainline more recently), though the differences can vary from presbytery to presbytery and even congregation to congregation. The PCA, as mentioned above, will not ordain women as teaching elders (pastors), ruling elders, or deacons; the EPC considers this issue a "non-essential" matter left to the individual ordaining body. The EPC is also more tolerant of the charismatic movement than the PCA.
The PCA has little doctrinal quarrel with the OPC. Both denominations have similar views on the Federal Vision, creation and justification. While most OPC congregations allow women only to teach children and other women in Sunday school, some moderate PCA congregations allow women to do anything a non-ordained man can do. While the OPC and the PCA both adhere to the Westminster Standards, the OPC is generally more strict in requiring its officers to subscribe to those standards without exception. It is hard to find any doctrinal differences between these two denominations. In recent years the OPC and PCA published substantial similar reports on the Creation Days and the debate about Justification and the issue of the Federal Vision. They have identical positions on social issues like women in combat, Freemasonry and abortion. The only divergence of any significance is the matter of charismatic gifts. The OPC maintains a strict cessationist position, while the PCA allows presbyteries to ordaine non-cessationists if they do not believe that ongoing gifts are relevatory and they promise not to teach their distinctive views, but most PCA presbyteries would refuse to ordain such a man. Many PCA churches have moved toward contemporary worship, while the OPC is dominated by traditional Reformed worship. The southern roots of the Presbyterian Church in America were tempered somewhat by the merger with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod and the northern roots of the OPC was also tempered by the infux of Van Til and Kuyper. Nonetheless, the two denominations enjoy fraternal relations and cooperate in a number of ways, such as sharing control of a publication company, Great Commission Publications, which produces Sunday school curricula for both denominations.
The PCA is one of the faster growing denominations in the United States, having experienced steady growth since its founding in 1973.
As of December 31, 2011, the Presbyterian Church in America had 1,771 churches (includes established churches and new church plants) representing all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 5 Canadian provinces. More than 200 churches of the denomination are ethnic Korean church. There were 351,406 communicant and non-communicant members. The PCA has 80 presbyteries or regional governing bodies.
In 2012 the PCA had 1,777 congregations - 1,474 particular and 303 mission churches - that means a net increase of 6, membership developed by 12,613 total of 364,019. The number of ordained PCA ministers are 4,321.
The PCA has grown tenfold in thirty years. This was partly the result of the union with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod and the voluntary realigment of some Orthodox Presbyterian Churches.
Adherents and population penetration
The greatest concentration is in the states of the Deep South, with more scattered strength in the Upper South, the upper Ohio Valley, and the Southwest. Two-thirds of PCA churches and members are found in the Southeast, and 25 churches are in the metro Atlanta area.[not in citation given] The state of Florida has the most numerous PCA churches with more than 150 congregations, but Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas in the South and Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia in the Eastern Shore remain the strongholds in the denomination. Mississippi has the highest percentage of adherents per 1,000 people, followed by Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and Delaware, and Georgia. Numerous mega churches can be found in the American South and East as well as in Illinois, but the first and second largest churches in the denomination are the Korean Church. A Korean congregation, Sarang Community Church of Southern California in Anaheim, CA claims the biggest congregation in the denomination.
When the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod merged with the PCA Canadian congregations entered the union. Since the merger other congregations were added through evangelism. Canadian churches report that secularism and unbelief provide an opportunity to evangelism. There are more than 20 congregations in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Most PCA members are predominatly caucasian [according to whom?], but the denomination includes more than 200 Korean-American Churches. Koreans consist of approximately 15% of entire denomination adherents and majority of them are located in West coast and Northeast region. There are about 40 Hispanic American PCA churches in Alabama, Florida, California, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Approximately 15 Brazilian or Portuguese-speaking congregations was affiliated with the denomination in 2011, mainly in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Georgia, New Jersey and Florida. Several multi-ethnic African American, Haitian, Japanese, Nepali ethnic churches belong to the Presbyterian Church in America and the denomination begun to build relationship with the First Nations/Native American groups in the United States and Canada. The PCA has congregations outside North America. These International congregations can be found in the Grand Cayman Island, in Okinawa, Japan, South Korea, Prague and various cities in Germany.
Affiliations and Agencies
Additionally, the denomination has its own agency for sending missionaries around the world (Mission to the World). Through Mission to the World about 600 foreign missionaries are working in about 60 nations. Mission to North America serves PCA churches and presbyteries through the development of evangelism and church planting in Canada and USA. An average of 3 new churces are planted in a month in the 2 nations and currently has more than 300 mission churches in the United States alone. More than 40% of all congregations are less than 25 years old, due to church planting. The PCA puts into the field the worlds largest Presbyterian mission force.
The PCA church planters must raise their own support and the denomination turned to the use of church planting networks of like-minded churches to found church planters. The PCA frequently use the evangelist model of startind a new church where the evangelist under the oversight of the Presbyteries home missions committee has the powere of the sessions in his own person. The PCA supports one foreign missionary for every three congregations. Further, there are more than 100 chaplains in the military, hospitals, prisons and 45 college and university campus ministers. The church has high emphasis on education.
The PCA has its own ministry to students on college campuses (Reformed University Fellowship), its own camp and conference center, the Ridge Haven Conference and Retreat Center (Ridge Haven in Brevard, North Carolina), and its own liberal arts college (Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, near Chattanooga, Tennessee) and seminary (Covenant Theological Seminary in Saint Louis, Missouri). Covenant Theological Seminary is a fully accredited theological institution that offers several academic degrees: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts, Master of Theology and Doctor of Ministry. The Seminary is home to the Francis Schaeffer Institute. The PCA also publishes its own denominational magazine, byFaith.
The church maintains headquarters in Lawrenceville, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. The site was once the headquarters of the PCUS, but all offices of the united PC(USA) were moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 1988.
The PCA Ministry Buildings in Lawrenceville is the location from which the ministries of the denomination are coordinated. These ministries are Mission to the World, Mission to North America, Christian Education and Publications, Administrative Committee and Reformed University Fellowship.
Relations with other Reformed Churches
The PCA is a member of the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC), an interchurch body representing traditional denominations in the Calvinist tradition; and the World Reformed Fellowship, a worldwide organisation of Churches where reformed, presbyterian and reformed baptist denominations, congregations and individuals can also participate. It is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals.
The Presbyterian Church in America enjoys fraternal relations with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. In 2008 the Presbyterian Church of Brazil and the Presbyterian Church in America entered into full fraternal relationship with each other. The National Presbyterian Church in Mexico and the PCA also work together in missions and evangelizing. In 1994 The Fellowship of Reformed Churches was formed and was a product of the dialogue between the PCA, the Presbyterian Church in Brazil and the National Presbyterian Church in Mexico. They decided to invite other Latin American Reformed Churches to the Fellowship.
PCA missionaries have helped found the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ukraine the Christian Presbyterian Church in Portugal, the Evangelical Presbyterian Reformed Church in Colombia and the Presbyterian Church in America, Chile the Africa Evangelical Presbyterian Church and the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Australia.
Notable churches in the PCA
- Back Creek Presbyterian Church (Mount Ulla, North Carolina)
- Briarwood Presbyterian Church (Birmingham, Alabama)
- Christ the King Presbyterian Church (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
- College Hill Presbyterian Church (Oxford, Mississippi)
- Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
- First Presbyterian Church (Augusta, Georgia)
- First Presbyterian Church (Greenville, Alabama)
- First Presbyterian Church (Eutaw, Alabama)
- First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi
- First Presbyterian Church (Macon, Georgia)
- First Presbyterian Church (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
- Hickory Withe Presbyterian Church (Hickory Withe, Tennessee)
- Korean Central Presbyterian Church (Centreville, Virginia)
- Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Utica, Mississippi
- New Hope Christian Church (Monsey, New York)
- Old First Presbyterian Church (Kosciusko, Mississippi)
- Park Cities Presbyterian Church (Dallas, Texas)
- Pine Ridge Church in Natchez, Mississippi
- Redeemer Presbyterian Church (New York City)
- Sarang Community Church of Southern California (Anaheim, California)
- Tenth Presbyterian Church (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
- Third Presbyterian Church (Birmingham, Alabama)
- Trinity Presbyterian Church (Charlottesville, Virginia)
- Union Church Presbyterian Church in Union Church, MS
- Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee
- Bible Presbyterian Church
- Evangelical Presbyterian Church (1961)
- Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod
- Presbyterian Church in the United States
- Old School-New School Controversy
- Wallace, W Jason (October 3, 2011). "Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved November 27, 2012.
- Settle, Paul G. "Our Formative Years: The History of the Presbyterian Church in America, 1973–1993.". PCA Historical Center. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- Keys, Kenneth S. "History of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)". Committee for Christian Education & Publications. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- "A Brief History of the Presbyterian Church in America". Presbyterian Church in America. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- Church directory, PCA net
- http://pcahistory.org/presbyteries.html/Siouxlands Presbytery
- Johnson, William ‘Bill’ (June 11, 2012). ""Joining and Receiving:" a fading footnote or a summons to more?". byFaith (The Presbyterian Church in America). Retrieved November 7, 2012.
- Westminster Confession of Faith. Wikisource. I.10.
- Westminster Confession of Faith. Wikisource. I.9.
- PCA General Assembly (2009). "PCA Statements on Homosexuality". PCANews. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- "12–14" (PDF). The Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America (6th ed.). The Office of the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America.
- Matheson, Alison (May 11, 2011). "PCUSA Votes to Allow Openly Gay Clergy". Christian Post. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- "Report of the Creation Study Committee". PCA Historical Center. 2000. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- "Pastoral Letter on Racism: Approved at the March 2004 MNA Committee Meeting as the Committee’s Recommendation to the Thirty-Second General Assembly" (PDF). PCA Historical Center. Committee on Mission to North America. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- Rogers, Michael A. "How does the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) differ from the Presbyterian Church, USA (PCUSA)?". Westminster Presbyterian Church. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- Fraley, Phyllis S (1995). Atlanta: A Vision for the New Millennium. Longstreet Press. ISBN 978-1563522659.
- Taylor, L. Roy. "Actions of the 40th General Assembly of the PCA" (PDF). Presbyterian Church in America Administrative Committee. p. 4. Retrieved 2012-07-10.
- PCA Church Directory
- Reformiert Online Promotig Unity among Reformed denominations
- Korean ministries
- Church-planting ministries
- "About The WRF". World Reformed Fellowship. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- 202011/doc11_060.pdf www.executivaipb.com.br/Atas_CE_SC/CE/CE 2011/doc11_060.pdf
- http://ipbipanguacu-rn.blogspot.hu/ Recent decades
- List of Presbyterian Church in America related articles
- Loetscher, Lefferts A., The Broadening Church: A Study of Theological Issues in the Presbyterian Church Since 1869. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1954.
- Smith, Morton H. How is the Gold Become Dim. Jackson, MS: Premier Printing Company, 1973.
- Smartt, Kennedy. I Am Reminded. Chestnut Mountain, GA: n.p., n.d.
- Hutchinson, George P. The History Behind the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod Cherry Hill, NJ: Mack Publishing, 1974.
- Nutt Rick. "The Tie That No Longer Binds: The Origins of the Presbyterian Church in America." In The Confessional Mosaic: Presbyterians and Twentieth-Century Theology. Edited by Milton J. Coalter, John M. Mulder, and Louis B. Weeks, 236-56. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1990. ISBN 0-664-25151-X
- North, Gary. Crossed Fingers: How the Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church. Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1996. ISBN 0-930464-74-5
- Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Book of Confessions: Study Edition. Louisville, KY.: Geneva Press, c1999. ISBN 0-664-50012-9
- Settle, Paul. To God All Praise and Glory: 1973 to 1998 – The First 25 Years. Atlanta, GA: PCA Administrative Committee, 1998. ISBN 0-934688-90-7
- Smith, Frank Joseph. The History of the Presbyterian Church in America. Presbyterian Scholars Press, 1999. ISBN 0-9676991-0-X
- Lucas, Sean Michael. On Being Presbyterian. Phillipsburg, PA: P&R Publishing, 2006. ISBN 1-59638-019-5
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