FPC-Clarksdale is a member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). What does this mean and why is it significant to our identity?

PRESBYTERIAN IS A FORM OF CHURCH GOVERNMENT

The word “Presbyterian” refers specifically to a system of church government in which authority resides in the hands of elders, who are chosen from and by the people. The elders’ authority is exercised in three tiers of church “courts”—the Session (elders of a local church), the Presbytery (pastors and elder representatives of churches in a geographical area), and the General Assembly (pastors and elder representatives of the Presbyteries).

Some of the strengths of our system of government are:

  • Accountability: We answer to those outside of our church for our life and doctrine, which accountability is particularly crucial in times of conflict.
  • Connectedness: We are part of something bigger than our church. We share resources, supporting ministries and missionaries, and use gifts for the edification of the broader church.
  • Leadership Plurality. Members of each church court share authority equally. As pastor of our church I have no more authority than the other elders, which is a good check on everyone’s ego and an attempt institutionalize the proverb, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (Prov. 15:22).

THE STORY OF THE PCA

Logo-620-e1466640354284The PCA was born out of the old Southern Presbyterian Church (the PCUS) in 1973.

After years of concern about the theological direction of the denomination, theological conservatives banded together to form a new denomination with the stated purpose to be “faithful to the Scriptures, true to the reformed faith, and obedient to the Great Commission.” Our denomination has been exactly what our founders imagined. 40+ years later the PCA continues as an evangelical, Reformed, and evangelistic denomination. We are the largest evangelical Presbyterian denomination in America, with 1900 churches and 370k members, but still are dwarfed in size by the mainline Presbyterian denomination, the PCUSA, which boasts 10k churches and 2.8 million members.

I love being a part of the PCA and give thanks to God regularly for it. Yet the story of our denomination is not without its imperfections. One of these is our ambivalence towards the struggle for the human rights of black Americans going on in the days of our inception. At our 2016 General Assembly, we passed overwhelming the Resolution on Civil Rights, owning and repenting of these sins.

THE WONDERFUL AND WIDE WORK OF THE PCA

It’s difficult to summarize the wonderful and wide work of our denomination, so I’ll leave it to the interested to dig deeper. Here’s an overview of the committees and ministries:

Administration Committee (AC): Oversees the planning and execution of the yearly General Assembly (which is a massive undertaking). Publishes our excellent denominational magazine, byFaith. Helps connect pastors looking for churches with churches looking for pastors.

UnknownChristian Discipleship Ministries (CDM): Publishes Sunday School
curriculum, offers conferences for training teachers and
discipleship leaders.

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Mission to the World (MTW) The missionary-sending agency of the PCA. There are MTW missionaries all over the world, working in teams to evangelize the lost and plant new churches. This video is awesome.

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Mission to North America (MNA) Coordinates church planting and missional partnerships to serve PCA churches and presbyteries in North America in their mission to grow and multiply biblically healthy churches.

logo-ruf.jpgReformed University Fellowship(RUF): The campus ministry of the PCA, RUF has ordained ministers serving on 140 university campuses throughout the US and even around the world. Many of the young generation in the PCA who did not grow up in the denomination have come in through the influence of RUF, me among them! RUF at the University of Georgia is a prime reason I am a PCA minister now.

Covenant Seminary: Located in St. Louis,covenant.png MO, Covenant is our excellent denominational seminary. Most PCA ministers were educated either at Covenant or Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS).

Covenant College: The PCA’s undergraduate college is also called Covenant—told you we are serious about our Covenant Theology! It’s one of the most scenic colleges around, nestled on the summit of Lookout Mountain on the Georgia-Tennessee state line near Chattanooga.

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PCA Foundation: Financial planning arm that assists those looking to give large gifts to the ministries and churches of the PCA.

RBILOGOSWebColor16-.pngRetirement & Benefits Incorporated (RBI): RBI provides financial direction and benefits to ministers in the PCA and all employees of our churches. It’s basically the financial advisor arm of the denomination.

Unknown-1.jpegRidge Haven Conference & Retreat Center: Ridge Haven is a retreat center in the Western North Carolina mountains—one of my favorite areas in the world. They host camps and conferences for PCA folks and beyond.

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