Presbyterian Church in America
This denomination, which was first known as the National Presbyterian Church but changed its name in 1974 to the Presbyterian Church in America, was organized at a constitutional assembly in December 1973. The Presbyterian Church in America separated from the Presbyterian Church in the United States (Southern) in opposition to a long-developing theological liberalism, which denied the deity of Jesus Christ and the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. Additionally, the Presbyterian Church in America held to the traditional position on the role of women in church offices—women could not hold offices of authority over men in the church. From its inception the church has determined its purpose to be "faithful to the Scriptures, true to the Reformed faith, and obedient to the Great Commission."
The Presbyterian Church in America is committed to the doctrinal standards that have been significant in the Presbyterian tradition since 1645, namely the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. These doctrinal standards express the distinctives of the Reformed tradition. As "Reformed" denotes the doctrinal beliefs of the Presbyterian Church in America, "Presbyterian" refers to the form of church government.
The Presbyterian Church in America maintains a Presbyterian or representative form of church government. Presbyters or elders are elected by the church members to govern local congregations. The presbyters sit in a session, which has the oversight of the faith and life of the local congregation. Representatives from the local sessions constitute the presbytery. The presbytery oversees the ministries of the churches in a designated geographical area. For example, there are two presbyteries in Georgia, the Central Georgia presbytery and the North Georgia presbytery. The local churches also send presbyters to the General Assembly—the highest court of the church. The assembly meets annually and enables all member churches to have a voice in guiding the spiritual and practical affairs of the entire denomination.
The denomination's headquarters moved to Lawrenceville in 1982, and the church's activities are organized into four program committees—Mission to the World, Mission to North America, Christian Education and Publication, and Reformed University Ministries. Perimeter Ministries International, a church-planting organization and a network of Presbyterian Church in America churches that cooperates with Mission to North America, is also located in Atlanta. The network includes twenty churches and missions in the greater Atlanta area.
John Edwards Richards, The Historical Birth of the Presbyterian Church in America (Liberty Hill, S.C.: Liberty Press, 1986).
Frank J. Smith, The History of the Presbyterian Church in America (Lawrenceville, Ga.: Presbyterian Scholars Press, 1999).
David S. Williams, From Mounds to Megachurches: Georgia's Religious Heritage (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2008).
Justin S. Holcomb, Emory University
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.