The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is rooted in one of the most historic traditions of the Charlotte area. The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) separated from the Presbyterian Church USA in 1973 to combat liberalism which denied the deity of Jesus Christ and the inerrancy and authority of scripture. At first they were called the National Presbyterian Church, but changed their name a year later to Presbyterian Church in America. The denomination has grown rapidly from 260 churches, and 41,428 at the inception to 1,499 Churches and 358,516 members in 2014. Growth has been fueled because many churches desire a more conservative stance. They were joined by the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod in 1982.
The Presbyterian churches celebrate Scottish roots because of the founder John Knox. John Knox was born about 1513 in Scotland, where he sought to reform the Scottish church but was forced into exile in England. While in England he was ordained to the Church of England, served as chamberlain to King Edward VI and had an influence on the Book of Common Prayer. When Mary Tudor came to power, he was forced into further exile. He was influenced in his faith by contemporary George Wishart in Scotland and by John Calvin while he was in exile in Geneva, Switzerland.
John Knox brought his learning with him on his return home to Scotland in 1559. It was a period of unrest as battles raged between Catholics, Anglicans and Reformers. This period ended with John Knox being asked to draft a 8Scotch confession of faith, into which he placed the ideas for a Presbyterian form of church government rather than an episcopal hierarchy. This is the beginning of the Presbyterian movement which now numbers millions.
Charlotte has the highest concentration of Presbyterian churches in the United States, a distinction only matched by Pittsburg, PA. As with Baptists the Presbyterian Church is not one denomination, but many of including: Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (PCUSA), Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), Bible Presbyterian Church (BPC), Cumberland Presbyterian Church (CPC), Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO), Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA), Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP), Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States (RPCUS), Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly, Reformed Presbyterian Church – Hanover Presbytery, Covenant Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Reformed Church, Westminster Presbyterian Church in the United States, Korean American Presbyterian Church, and the Free Presbyterian Church of North America.
Member churches in the Charlotte area include Christ Central, Cross Park, East Charlotte, Hope Community, Sovereign Grace, and Uptown Presbyterian in Charlotte; Christ Covenant in Matthews; Second Street Presbyterian in Albemarle and Carolina Presbyterian in Locust. Across the United States there are over 1700 churches with 335,000 members.
The church is Calvinistic in nature and holds to standards of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms which were originally drawn up by the Church of England in 1645 to protect the purity of faith. This Confession has been called Scholastic Calvinism, and contains 33 articles of faith.
The two most important Faith principles held by PCA Churches are the Doctrine of the Bible and Doctrines of Grace. The Bible alone (sola scriptura) are the source of truth. The Scriptures came about by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and are free from error of fact, of doctrine, and of judgment — all of which were to be an infallible rule of faith and life.
The Doctrine of Grace begins with the fact of (1) total depravity which says man is completely incapable within himself to reach out towards God, Romans 3:10-23. (2) unconditional election by the grace of God means there is absolutely no condition in any person for which God would save him. Ephesians 1:4-5. (3) Particular atonement tells us God sent Jesus Christ to die as a substitute for the sins of a large but specific number of people, Romans 8:29-30. (4) Irresistible grace believes the work of the Holy Spirit calls each particular person to apply the work of redemption, John 3:5-6. (5) Perseverance of the saints teaches God’s sanctification whereby the Lord enables a saved person to persevere to the end, Romans 8:30, 38-39, Philippians 1:6.
The PCA maintains the historic polity of Presbyterian governance set forth in The Book of Church Order. Presbyterian polity developed as a reaction to hierarchical government where the church is ruled top down through a chain of command. Presbyterian Churches are guided through a form of government developed by John Calvin in Geneva. Through this system the church elects elders who function through a committee called a session. Smaller geographical areas are organized into Presbyteries, which are organized into larger Synods and then participate in the General Assembly, a national level of Presbyterian Churches . The PCA has self-consciously taken a more democratic position (rule from the grassroots up) on presbyterian governance in contrast to a more prelatical form (rule from the top assemblies down).
Within the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), one will find a wide range of worship styles from traditional forms of worship to more contemporary styles aimed at church growth. The sermon or teaching is central to a Presbyterian worship service. While PCA is a traditional church and one would expect them to follow the Solemn League and Covenant (1643), the denomination recognized at first they must adapt to cultural differences, and more recently the church must implement some more current musical styles.