How can Trinity Presbyterian Church be described? What do we believe? What does it mean to be Reformed and Presbyterian?
These are all great questions, and while this overview may not answer every question, there are some principles and characteristics that not only accurately describe Trinity but also give us our guiding values for the future.
We are Protestant
Trinity is a Protestant Christian Church of about 1,400 members. Because many other such churches no longer believe nor teach some of the basic truths of historic Christianity, we joyfully affirm our unity with those who believe in certain fundamentals of the Christian faith: the existence of the triune God, the deity of Jesus Christ, the virgin birth and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, the vicarious or substitutionary atonement of Christ, the certain and bodily return of Jesus Christ, the necessity of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ for salvation from sin, the historicity of supernatural events described in the Bible, and the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible which is our only guide for faith and practice. Though we may have certain disagreements in areas beyond these fundamental truths, we affirm our unity with those who share our common commitment to these most important doctrines.
We are Reformed
To say that we are reformed means that our theological heritage descends from the Protestation Reformation of the 16th century and the theology of reformers such as John Calvin, John Knox, and Martin Luther. These distinctives include: the sovereignty of God in His creation, providence and election of believers apart from any merit of their own; the irresistible grace of God provided for and preceding the faith of the individual; the sufficiency of God’s grace apart from which man is dead in sin and wholly defiled in all his faculties of soul and body; the efficacy of Christ’s death for all those who believe in Him by grace; the safe-guarding of all those for whom Christ died for eternal life; salvation by grace (alone) through faith (alone) in Christ (alone); and the unity of the Old and New Testaments and abiding validity of the moral law (Ten Commandments). This reformed heritage is articulated in our Confession of Faith and Catechisms. These documents (available free of charge from the church) are not infallible; however, we believe that these documents are faithful expressions of God’s word. Therefore, while our members are not required to subscribe to the Confession and Catechisms, our officers (Ministers, Elders and Deacons) are. All teachers in the Church commit to teach in conformity with the Confession and Catechisms.
We are Evangelistic
Jesus told His church to, “Make disciples of all nations…” To say that we are evangelistic means that we take that commission very seriously and therefore are committed to aggressive evangelism in our community, city, state, nation, and world. The gospel is the “power of salvation for all who believe” and is therefore the hope of the world, not simply the message for the church.
We are Means of Grace Oriented
One of the most important questions anyone could ask is, “How do I grow as a Christian?” We believe that God will bless and grow His people through the use of the ordinary means of grace: the reading and preaching of God’s Word, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, prayer, and the fellowship and accountability of the church family. Therefore, the means of grace have a priority in the life and ministry of Trinity Presbyterian Church whether in worship, discipleship, or outreach and missions. We are committed to simple, God-centered worship that draws on the rich heritage of the reformed worship tradition.
We are Presbyterian
Trinity is a Presbyterian Church affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). “Presbyterian” refers to our type of government through “Elders” or “presbyters” who govern the church together. The body of Elders that governs a local church like Trinity is called a “Session”; the body that governs a large geographical area of churches is called a “Presbytery”; the body that governs the entire denomination is called “General Assembly”. This Presbyterian form of government is contrasted to congregational (government by the entire congregation) and episcopal (government by a bishop).
We are Kingdom-minded and “Catholic”
Historically Trinity has had opportunity, by God’s grace, to participate in a wide variety of ministries beyond the specific ministries of this church body. We are committed to engaging in ministry with other like-minded local churches, presbyteries, denominations, and worldwide ministries in order to extend the kingdom of God to the end of the earth. While we are committed to being as specific and narrow as possible in our theological formulations, we are committed to being as catholic (universal or broad) as possible in our fellowship and cooperation with other Christians.
We are Confessional
This means that we have a written Confession of Faith which we believe to be a good and accurate summary of the Bible’s teaching. Our Confession consists of the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger Catechism and the Shorter Catechism. These documents (available in both our bookstore and our library) are not without flaw; yet we believe they do contain carefully worded summaries of the Bible’s content. All Ministers and Officers in our Church must vow that they hold to these standards and are required to indicate to their presbyteries or sessions where they take exception. It is important to note that every church has a confession, formal or informal, even though some claim they have “no confession but Christ” or “no creed but the Bible.” Every church summarizes its convictions in some form in order to distinguish its members from those who are not believers or from those who do not believe in their church’s distinctives.