Providence Presbyterian Church (OPC) in submission to the Word of God, holds to certain standards of doctrine, government, discipline, and worship: Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Form of Government, Book of Discipline, and Directory for the Public Worship of God. This constitution is not the final authority in the OPC, but is subordinate to the primary standard of the Church, namely, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Since the Scriptures are "the rule of faith and life," the Confession subordinates itself to them, declaring that "in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal unto them" (chap. 1). The OPC, under the lordship of Jesus Christ, is guided in all matters by the Word of God, as illuminated by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Church endeavors, humbly and prayerfully, to follow the Bible's teachings, regardless of the world's current "wisdom."
Our doctrinal standards are the Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism. The Confession (like the Catechisms) is essentially the one prepared by the Westminster Assembly in the 1640s, but it incorporates a few modifications that have been adopted during the course of American Presbyterian history, notably statements separating the state from involvement with the church. These documents set forth the basic teachings of the Bible.
The documents regulating our government, discipline, and worship follow scriptural principles and are published together as The Book of Church Order. They consist of the Form of Government, the Book of Discipline, and the Directory for the Public Worship of God.
OFFICERS & MEMBERS
The church is Christ's body, of which he is the head. As a faithful branch of the true church, the OPC acknowledges Jesus Christ as her only head and his word as the final authority in all matters of faith and life.
It is our desire to be faithful to our Lord, not only in matters of doctrine, but also in matters of structure, government, and order. Accordingly, we have a Presbyterian form of government. Each congregation is governed by a session, which consists of one or more ministers (teaching elders) and a number of ruling elders (depending on the size of the congregation). Elders must meet the scriptural qualifications for the eldership. They are ordained for life and installed to office. Ministers are licensed and ordained by regional presbyteries and are called by congregations; ruling elders are elected by congregations. Deacons are elected by congregations to oversee their ministries of mercy. They are ordained, but they do not exercise spiritual rule alongside elders. As required by the Scriptures, all officers must be men, not women. Nonordained people often sit on committees that supervise important areas of congregational life, but always under the oversight of the session.
The local church focuses on worship, education, evangelism, ministries of mercy, and godly discipline. The session ensures that the Word of God is faithfully preached, that the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper are properly administered, and that spiritual care—including, where necessary, the discipline of erring members—is lovingly and effectively provided. Sessions meet together to direct and supervise the ministries of local congregations, to examine and receive new members, and to provide wisdom and judgment when disputes arise within the church. Because of these responsibilities, elders (and also deacons) are required to "sincerely receive and adopt" the doctrinal standards of the OPC—the Confession of Faith along with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms—"as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures."
Members are received into a local Orthodox Presbyterian congregation by the session on the basis of their credible profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Reformed theology, as expressed in our Confession and Catechisms, is rich and comprehensive, encompassing the full range of biblical teaching. We endeavor to preach and teach this "whole counsel of God." Furthermore, we understand the teachings of the Bible to form a system of doctrine. We follow the Bible wherever it leads us, but we are also careful not to add to its teachings. If the Bible does not condemn a certain practice or idea, neither do we. We allow Christian liberty in matters in which the Word of God allows liberty.While members are exposed to the Reformed faith from the pulpit, from the teaching ministry of the church, and from the sincere convictions of their elders and deacons, they are not required to receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms as a standard for membership. Believers who have been baptized and who have professed their faith in Christ to the elders of the church are termed "communicant members." They are admitted to the Lord's Supper and have voting rights and responsibilities within the congregation. Their baptized children are received as "noncommunicant members" of the congregation, and as such do not partake of the Lord's Supper or exercise voting rights.
When baptized believers are received into the church’s communicant membership, either covenant children who are professing their faith or other Christians who are being received in the OPC, the following questions must be affirmed:
(1) Do you believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, to be the Word of God, and its doctrine of salvation to be the perfect and only true doctrine of salvation?
(2) Do you believe in one living and true God, in whom eternally there are three distinct persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—who are the same in being and equal in power and glory, and that Jesus Christ is God the Son, come in the flesh?
(3) Do you confess that because of your sinfulness you abhor and humble yourself before God, that you repent of your sin, and that you trust for salvation not in yourself but in Jesus Christ alone?
(4) Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord, and do you promise that, in reliance on the grace of God, you will serve him with all that is in you, forsake the world, resist the devil, put to death your sinful deeds and desires, and lead a godly life?
(5) Do you promise to participate faithfully in this church’s worship and service, to submit in the Lord to its government, and to heed its discipline, even in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life?