OPC Denomination

OPC Denomination

What is the Orthodox Presbyterian Church?

First meeting of General Assembly (June 11, 1936)

The Orthodox Presbyterian Church was founded on June 11, 1936, in the aftermath of the fundamentalist-modernist controversy, under the leadership of J. Gresham Machen, a longtime professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, who also founded Westminster Theological Seminary in 1929. With the infiltration of theological liberalism, the mainline Presbyterian Church in the USA had departed from historic Christianity, including the rejection of doctrines such as the inspiration and authority of Scripture, the virgin birth of Christ, and the substitutionary atonement. Originally calling itself the Presbyterian Church of America, the young church was forced by the threat of a lawsuit to change its name in 1939, and it adopted the name Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

We are a gospel-centered church. The word gospel means good news, and we believe we have the best news in the world. Jesus Christ has come. He died for our sins on the cross and God has raised Him from the dead. This is the good news we proclaim. We are unashamed to declare that Christ said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life and that no one comes to God except through Me’ (John 14:6).

We want to be true to the Bible’s teaching and what Christians have historically believed. Sometimes we are called are a confessional church because we believe the Westminster Standards most accurately summarizes what the Bible teaches. That’s what a confession does, it gives you an anchor to God’s revealed truth. Therefore, we believe that we need to be true to the historic Christian faith. For this reason we are a Protestant church, in line with historic, biblical Christianity. We are called “Orthodox” because we try, by God’s power, to stay true to His Word in the Bible.

We are a connected church, that is, congregations are bound together to serve  and help one another. Every one of our bulletins   declares on the cover, “A Mission Church of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.”  In an age of non-denominationalism why are we denominational? The Westminster Standards connect us to believers from the historic Presbyterian Church as far back at the 17th century. . They also link us to each other. Just as every state in the USA must follow the United States’ Constitution, so every congregation in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church must follow the Orthodox Presbyterian Church’s confession.

The congregations of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church are led by elders or ‘presbyters’, men who have committed themselves to serving the church. There are three parts of a Presbyterian church: the session, the presbytery, and the General Assembly. A session is the elected body of men in a local congregation. Groups of congregations in the same geographic region send elders to a body called the presbytery. In turn, each presbytery in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church elects presbyters to attend the national General Assembly. At every level, Orthodox Presbyterian church government provides accountability and connects each congregation to the worldwide mission of the church.

The Orthodox Presbyterian Church doesn’t have any illusions that we are a perfect church or the only Christian church. We recognize that there are many ways in which we fall short, yet it is our sincere desire to be honest and consistent in our life, worship, and witness – an Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

“You’ll find Orthodox Presbyterian churches of many sizes in many communities throughout North America. All are called to demonstrate the love of God and the relevance of Christ’s message of deliverance to a society that is weary of sin, hollow materialism, and shattered relationships.”