Presbyterian Church in America
The following is an excerpt from the
book about Atlanta prepared for the 1996 Summer Olympics. (Used with permission.)
A Vision for the New Millennium
Phyllis S. Fraley
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN AMERICA
The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) contributes to the
ethos of the Atlanta community by teaching and encouraging its members to integrate life
and faith. Unlike many activist organizations that lobby local, state, and federal
governments for the enactment of laws, neither the PCA nor its churches attempts to
represent its members in public matters. The PCA does encourage its members to be active
in political and civic organizations. Consequently, the denomination is well represented
in prison ministries, adoption services, pregnancy crisis centers, disaster relief, and
many other such organizations in the communities where the churches are located. The PCA
does humbly petition the government, when appropriate, regarding the significant moral
issues that trouble our communities and nation.
The Presbyterian Church in America also cooperates with other
denominations and churches where there are common goals. One example is Quest Atlanta '96,
in which 25 denominations and some 1,500 churches are working together. Quest Atlanta '96
is committed to unite the body of Christ to welcome the world during the Olympic Games in
an effort to proclaim and demonstrate the love of God.
The PCA is one of the faster growing
denominations in the United States, with over 1450 churches and missions
throughout the USA and Canada. There
were over 306,000 communicant and non-communicant members as of December
"Reformed" defines the doctrinal beliefs of the
PCA, which holds that the purest expressions of scriptural doctrine are found in the
Calvinistic creeds, particularly the Westminster Confession of Faith.
The PCA's representative form of church government is rooted
in its name -- presbyterian. Local churches are governed by elders (presbyters) elected by
the church members. This form of government extends through the regional presbyteries,
which facilitate connectionalism, to the national General Assembly, which expresses PCA's
connectionalism and the bond of union between/among all the churches.
Most of the work of the denomination is coordinated in the
PCA Office Building in Lawrenceville. That work is carried out by four program committees --
Mission to the World,
Mission to North America, Christian Education and Publication
and Reformed University Ministries. In
addition, there is the Office of the
Stated Clerk, which is responsible for the administration of the General Assembly; the
PCA Foundation, which teaches more
effective stewardship; and
PCA Retirement & Benefits, Inc, which provides life, disability, retirement
plan benefits and a relief fund for PCA pastors, lay church workers, and the staffs of PCA
committees, agencies, and institutions.
The PCA moved to Atlanta in 1982 and bought its current
building in Lawrenceville in 2001. Two-thirds of the PCA's churches and members are
in the Southeast, and 25 churches are located in the Atlanta metro area.
National denominational institutions located outside PCA's
headquarters include Ridge Haven, a conference center located close to Rosman, North
Carolina; Covenant College, a liberal arts college
with over 750 students, located at Lookout Mountain, Georgia; and Covenant Theological Seminary, in St. Louis,
The PCA's influence extends far beyond the walls of the local
church. Through Mission to the World,
about 600 foreign missionaries are working in about 60 nations. Because of the unique
relationship between Mission to the World and over 30 mission agencies with which some of
PCA's missionaries are working, many people consider PCA's influence to be far greater
than its size might indicate. Further, with close to 160 chaplains in the military and in
hospitals, the Gospel is proclaimed to a rather large audience around the world not
reached through usual ecclesiastical channels. Because of the emphasis on education, many
members of the PCA are teachers and professors at all levels of education, including large
universities and quite a few theological seminaries.
North America assists presbyteries and local congregations in their church-planting
efforts through vision communication, strategic planning, and the recruitment, assessment,
and training of church planters.
Education and Publications' mission is to glorify God by serving the PCA in its
commitment to creating disciples. It does this by teaching and training leaders and church
members as well as by providing a biblically based Sunday school curriculum for all ages
through its publishing house, Great Commission Publications. The Women in the Church is
under the oversight and direction of the Christian Education and Publications Committee
and provides seminars, retreats, and materials for women.
of the Stated Clerk is under the oversight of the Administrative
Committee, whose ministry is service. In addition to planning, coordinating, and
arranging facilities and services for the annual meeting of the General Assembly, the
ruling body made up of about 2,980 commissioners (ministers and ordained lay leaders), the
Clerk's office serves as a liaison between the General Assembly and the presbyteries and
sessions, as well as other denominational bodies. Other areas of service include assisting
church pulpit committees and pastors in their search for churches and overseeing corporate
civil matters, the PCA Historical Center in St. Louis, and the management and operation of
the Atlanta headquarters.
Return to AC Home Page