The Presbyterian name comes from the Greek word presbuteros, which means elder. We are a congregation governed by elders in a representative form of government. The board of elders, also called the session, is composed of a council of men and women elected by the congregation. Although the elders are responsible for the decision-making process, the cooperative team of elders, deacons and the pastor provide the overall leadership for our church. The presbytery, synod and general assembly are other levels of Presbyterian government that also use representative councils for decision-making. All of these bodies provide structure and order for our local, national, and global Christian missions and their related functions.
Our structure is based on a two-part constitution. Part I is the Book of Confessions, a book outlining our beliefs as stated in many historic creeds and confessions. Part II is the Book of Order, which outlines our government and gives a rationale for the functions of the Church at all levels.
The Protestant Reformation, which began with Martin Luther in 1517, was further influenced by John Calvin, a French theologian and pastor. His Institutes of the Christian Religion, published in 1536, became the basis of the Reformed Tradition, also known as Calvinism. John Knox, a Scottish clergyman, was greatly influenced by the teachings of John Calvin and eventually led the Protestant Reformation in Scotland. He is considered the founder of the Presbyterian denomination in that country.
The first American Presbytery was organized in Philadelphia in 1706 by the Rev. Francis Makemie, who came to the United States from Ireland. Presbyterian denominations in the United States have split and parts have reunited many times over the past three centuries. First Presbyterian Church in Hopkinsville is a member of the largest Presbyterian denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), which has its national offices in Louisville, Ky. It was formed in 1983 as a result of a reunion between the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (PCUS), the southern branch, and the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA), the northern branch.
Our WorshipOur Sunday traditional Christian worship service includes prayer, hymns, unison readings, scripture reading and a sermon. However, we are not bound by our constitution to have unbending orders of worship or exact prayer texts. On the second and fourth Wednesday evenings of every month, we have a contemporary service that allows us to worship in a more informal manner. The first paragraph of the Directory of Worship in our Book of Order provides an understanding of the focus of our worship:
Christian worship joyfully ascribes all praise and honor, glory and power to the triune God.
In worship, the people of God acknowledge God present in the world and in their lives. As
they respond to God's claim and redemptive action in Jesus Christ, believers are transformed
and renewed. In worship, the faithful offer themselves to God and are equipped for service to
God in the world.
As part of our worship, we celebrate two sacraments, The Lord's Supper (Communion) and Baptism. We believe the sacraments are signs of the real presence and power of Christ in the church and symbols of the action of God. Through the Sacraments, God seals believers in redemption, renews their identity as the people of God, and marks them for service. (Directory for Worship, W-1.3033)
More information about the Presbyterian Church (USA) can be found on the following website: