Presbyterianism has its roots in Scotland during the Reformation led by John Knox in the 15th Century. Knox was heavily influenced by the teachings of Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland, having studied for a time under Calvin. Presbyterianism was “imported” into the “New World” with a steady stream of immigrants coming from Scotland to Canada and the US, particularly in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Orthodox Presbyterian church as a denomination was founded in 1936 in the US. One of the founding fathers, John Gresham Machen, in his response to a spirit of tolerance toward liberal theology, together with a number of other Churchmen, broke away from the mainstream Presbyterian Church. They formed what eventually was called the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, a denomination that emphasizes its commitment to Biblical Doctrine (Orthodoxy) while maintaining its form of government and heritage (Presbyterian).

What is a Presbyterian?

Presbyterianism is distinguishable by its government, doctrine and worship.

The church holds a high view of the office of elders and deacons. As such, time is invested in the training of qualified men who have a calling to be elders and deacons and are generally ordained for life. The church is governed by councils called the Session, the Presbytery and the General Assembly. The lowest level is the Session made up of the ordained teaching and ruling elders that oversee the nurture and mission of a local congregation. Teaching elders are ordained men who have received Seminary training. Their role is to teach the Bible, administer the sacraments and provide oversight. Ruling elders are men who are trained for the office who provide oversight, occasionally teach and are sometimes trained for a specific ministry in the church – e.g discipleship, counselling, evangelism, mission.

The Sessions in a certain geographical area together form the Presbytery which oversees the ordination of men for the office of Teaching Elder and oversees disputes and the functioning of the Sessions. The highest council is the General Assembly which will review any questions of doctrine and oversee the functioning of the Presbyteries.
Presbyterianism holds to the parity of elders. During Session, Presbytery or General Assembly, no decision is made by one man alone and no man has authority over another. Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders are considered to be equal in the decision making process.
The deacons are under the oversight of the Session and are responsible for meeting the practical needs of the church and the community that the church is serving in – all working together to fulfill the nurturing and mission focus of the church.

The OPC holds to Biblical doctrine as laid out by the Reformers, predominantly by Knox and Calvin. As a confessional church we hold to the Biblical doctrines as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith and larger/shorter Catechism. As these documents are lesser, in that they do not have the authority of Scripture, we do not practice the preaching of Catechism Sermons. We believe the Bible to be the final authority and therefore all our preaching is from Scripture alone. For more on what we believe click here.

We believe that how we worship is specifically laid out in Scripture, holding the regulative principle of worship (if it is not mentioned in Scripture then it is forbidden for the Church to practice). As such we sing Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual songs in our sung worship (Acts 6:25, Eph 5:19, Rev 5:9). We practice orderly congregational worship (1 Cor 14:26-40) with a focus on the preaching of the word, the sacraments and prayer (Acts 2:42). We also see the church as a body and as such we minister to one another and practice hospitality. (Acts 2:43-47). We see the church as a mission (Matt 28:16-20). We are engaged in reaching out to the hurt and lost in our community, bringing the hope of the Gospel.