Many people have questions about our name. What does it mean? What is an Associate Reformed Presbyterian? For many, a brief explanation of each of those three words is helpful. Simply put, each of the three parts in the name has something to do with the history of our denomination.
What does that name tell us? It comes from events in Scotland when a group of ministers left the Church of Scotland in the 1700s and formed a new group that emphasized, among other things, the grace of God in our spiritual growth. They were called Associate Presbyterians.
Where does this name come from? Some assume that it means that our church professes the beliefs of “reformed theology”. Though our beliefs are in that theological tradition, the name itself actually comes from a second group of people in Scotland, which also left the Church of Scotland in the 1700s, but over disagreements in the form of church government. They were called Reformed Presbyterians.
The meaning of this word is more obvious and generally understood. It identifies our particular church as being a member of the Presbyterian family of churches. Presbyterian simply means “rule by elders” that occurs within a local church.
There are a number of Presbyterian denominations including the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA), the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). As an Associate Reformed Presbyterian church, we too are a historical Presbyterian denomination. As the historical roots of our name suggest, we would best be characterized a conservative, evangelical, reformed, Presbyterian, Christian denomination, which has been emphasizing the good news of God’s grace to us in Jesus Christ since 1783.