Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church

Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church

Infobox Christian denomination
name = Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church

imagewidth = 196px
caption = The seal of the ARPC.
main_classification = Protestant
orientation = Calvinist
polity = Presbyterian
founder =
founded_date = 1782
founded_place = Philadelphia
separated_from =
parent =
merger = Associate Presbyterian Church (Seceder) and almost all of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America
separations =
associations =
area =
congregations = 200+
members = 30,000
footnotes =

The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church is a small denomination, formed from the merger of the Associate (Seceder) and most of the Reformed Presbyterian (Covenanter) churches in Philadelphia in 1782. It is a conservative denomination and is one of the oldest in the United States.


Presbyterian pastor Ebenezer Erskine led a group of Christians in separating from the Church of Scotland into a separate Associate Presbytery. Other similar offshoots had formed the Reformed Presbytery. These emigrated to Ireland, and later to the United States, establishing congregations from around 1750 to 1770, mostly in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

Some churches of the two movements came together officially in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1782. Another synod was formed of churches in South Carolina and Georgia in 1803 and still another in Texas. The northern Synod merged with the Associate Presbyterians in 1858 to form the United Presbyterian Church of North America. The modern ARP Church descends from the southern Synod.

The ARPC today

The modern ARP Church in America contains [ more than two hundred churches] in [ ten presbyteries] and about thirty thousand members. The denominational office is located in Greenville, S.C. Also, the denomination operates a conference center, Bonclarken, in Flat Rock, N.C. It has churches in most states and Canada, although a preponderance of its congregations are found in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia; most are located in non-metropolitan, rural areas. Separate synods exist in Mexico and Pakistan. The ARP Church sponsors missionaries internationally through World Witness.

The ARP Church is affiliated with the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council and shares a common theology with conservative Presbyterian denominations. It holds to the infallibility of the Bible and does not ordain women as ministers or elders, though it does permit women deacons. Having been originally formed by a merger of two denominations holding to exclusive psalmody, this was the practice of the ARP Church until 1946, when its Synod allowed for the use of hymns other than the Biblical Psalms; each congregational session has right of discretion concerning the matter of music in worship.

In 1835 the church established in Due West, S.C., an academy for men, which in 1839 became Erskine College, the first four-year church-related college in that state. The small liberal arts college is highly ranked for academic quality [] .

Erskine Theological Seminary is the professional school of Erskine College. While the college has had a professor of divinity program since its inception, the seminary was established as a separate but associated school in 1858. Today, the seminary provides training for students of the ARPC and other denominations.

Basic Beliefs

Along with other presbyterian churches, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church uses the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism and the Shorter Catechism as subordinate standards. [] In its 1990 "Purpose Statement", the church declared that "we express our desire to continue to be a Presbyterian and Reformed church, committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and to the Bible as the Word of God." It listed some of its core commitments as:

* The worship of the Triune God.
* The Holy Scriptures as the basis for our faith and activity.
* Unity with other believers in Christ.
* Total Stewardship of life - time, talents, and money - including tithing through the local church.
* Excellence in education and equipping leaders for tomorrow.
* Loving and caring for one another and for other people.
* Spreading the Gospel to all parts of the world.
* Evaluating and changing church structures and priorities in order to meet the challenges of the future while preserving the best of the past. []

The ARPC takes a conservative view of the Bible, officially stating that the Old and New Testaments are divinely inspired, without error in their original form and that the Holy Spirit reveals through the text that "God the Father gave His Son to save us from our sins." It also designates the Sunday nearest to January 22 as "Sanctity of Human Life Sunday," encouraging non-violent opposition to legalized abortion. [] In addition, the denomination officially calls homosexuals "to repentance, cleansing, and deliverance in the saving power of Jesus Christ." []


Evangelist Billy Graham attended the Chalmers Memorial ARP Church in Charlotte as a child. His parents were members of the congregation.

Noted Southern writer Erskine Caldwell was the son of an ARP minister in Georgia.

Noted ARP Ministers:Dr. Jay E. Adams,Dr. Sinclair Ferguson,Dr. John R. de Witt,Dr. Mark Ross,Rev. Frank Reich

Further reading

*"The History of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church", by Ray King. [] .
*"The History of Erskine Theological Seminary 1837-1976", by Maynard Pittendreigh. []

External links

* [ ARP Synod Official Site]
* [ ARP Magazine]
* [ Outreach North America]
* [ World Witness]
* [ Christian Education Ministry]
* [ Erskine College]
* [ Bonclarken]
* [ ARP Church in Bartow, Florida, USA]
* [ ARP Church in Irvine, California, USA]
* [ Boyce Memorial ARP Church, Kings Mountain, NC, USA]
* [ Ballston Center ARP Church, Ballston Spa, NY, USA]

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