FAQ

What does "orthodox" mean in Orthodox Presbyterian Church?

From its inception in 1936 as a refuge from liberalism, which skewed the Bible to fit contemporary culture, our denomination espoused the straight teaching or "orthodoxy" of Scripture. Orthodox is not a reference to any other church or denomination, but to our commitment to teaching and preaching biblically.

Why do you worship the way you do?

Worship is a meeting of God and his people. Since the new covenant was established by Christ through his resurrection on the first day of the week, we follow the tradition of the New Testament church in observing Sundays as the Christian Sabbath. It is a holy day, the only holy day of the new covenant, and as such we rest from our labors and spend the day in worship of God and fellowship with one another. This is why we bracket the day with morning and evening worship.

As a meeting with God, worship is to be reverential and so we avoid lightheartedness and casual structure. Our services are defined by a formal liturgy regulated by the Word of God, including only the elements commanded by Scripture. Prayers are serious-minded and filled with biblical content. Song selections are scripturally rich and make ample use of the Bible's own hymnbook, the Psalms.

Reverence in worship does not, of course, exclude joy. However, true God-given joy cannot be manufactured; not through music or lighting or setting or enthusiastic speech. Rather, Christian joy derives from and is driven by the good news of God's salvation of his people from their sin by his son Jesus — the Gospel! When God's people hear the Gospel, and when they hear that their God is present with them, the only true and proper response of the believer is joy. That is lasting reality, not a fleeting feeling stirred up by showmanship.

Why does the pastor wear a robe?

The robe identifies the minister during services of worship and is intended to obscure personal style while focusing the worshiper on the seriousness of the pastor's task: the preaching of God's Word. The Genevan gown has a long tradition of use in the Protestant church and is intentionally simple in contrast to the ornate vestments of the priests of the Catholic church. For more on this issue, this article from Christ URC in Santee, California is helpful: "'Why Is The Pastor Dressed Like Harry Potter?': Why The Minister Wears A Robe At CURC."

Why don't you sing any contemporary songs?

At SAPC our services contain arrangements of the Psalms and hymns selected for their biblical fidelity, richness, and depth of meaning. While most of our selections are relatively old, we recognize that every generation produces both excellent and poor hymnody and hold no age standard for our music. Our criteria is that each song must be biblical: glorifying to God and edifying to the worshiper.

Why do the children remain in the worship service?

Worship is an event in which God and his people meet. He speaks to us in his Word, and we speak to him in prayer and praise. This is an event for the whole of God's people, of every age. While infants and little children may not fully understand the services, part of learning to love the worship of God is to experience it from the earliest ages and grow into comprehension. A play area with an audio feed of the service is provided outside the meeting hall as an option for parents to use at their discretion.

Why do you celebrate communion weekly?

The sacraments are a means of grace by which the Gospel is signified and sealed, and as such the Lord's Supper clarifies and amplifies the Gospel preached in every sermon at SAPC as a part of our resolution to know nothing but Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1–5). Since the Lord's Supper was established by Jesus as a means for remembering him and his crucifixion, it is a blessing to the believer, who partakes of it by faith.

Regarding frequency, Scripture seems to indicate that the New Testament church observed the Supper regularly, particularly when it gathered for public worship (1 Corinthians 11:23–34). We do not believe that weekly communion is mandated by the Bible, but the Bible seems to lead us in the direction of greater frequency than less. For that reason, we rejoice to be blessed by Christ's gracious provision in communion on a weekly basis.

Do you use wine at communion?

We currently use grape juice per our landlord's relevant policies. Wine is our preference, but a non-alcoholic option will always be made available.

Do children partake of communion?

It depends. We do not affirm the practice of paedocommunion, the practice of serving the elements to children at the earliest of ages. Rather, based on 1 Corinthians 11, we believe that a person must be capable of examining himself to discern the body of Christ in order to properly participate in communion. Therefore, we urge our children to profess their own personal faith and trust in Christ alone for salvation and thereby become communicants of the church. At that time they are permitted to observe the Supper.

What role do women play in the church?

Women play many essential roles in the life of the church. In our congregation both women and men teach Sunday school, select music, and sit on and chair committees, among other capacities. Though humanly we believe that women could undertake the roles of minister, elder, and deacon, God in his Word clearly designates these offices to godly men only (1 Timothy 2:12-14, 1 Timothy 3:2) and we submit ourselves to his instruction.