Scotchtown Presbyterian Church was assembled in 1797, and incorporated in 1801. Our church is the “light on the hill.” Our mission, to lead people to Christ, and our service to the community, is central to our identity. Throughout our history, we’ve reached out to those within the New York community and within our church to promote a deep and abiding faith in Christ.
What We Believe
The Presbyterian Church (USA) is a church denomination in the Protestant Reformed theological tradition, which both shares certain theological beliefs with Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians and other Protestant denominations, and also has beliefs unique to being Reformed. Some of these beliefs are as follows:
- A triune God who is the sovereign Creator of the universe, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who created humankind in the image of God.
- The fallen nature of humankind—our condition of sin that separates us from God—and the need to be delivered from that condition of sin and reconciled with God.
- That Jesus was the incarnate Son of God, and through his death on the cross and resurrection has destroyed our condition of sin and made atonement for us to reconcile us with God; that Jesus therefore is the Way the Truth and the Life, uniquely the one through whom we come to God.
- The Holy Spirit is a living and dynamic power that proceeds from the Father and Son and is made manifest among believers, conveying the living nature of an unchanging God through continued revelation to changing generations over time.
- The Church—the worldwide community of believers—has become the body of Christ on Earth.
- We believe in two sacraments that are a sign and seal of God’s grace shown through Christ, which Jesus commanded us to observe: baptism and the Lord’s Supper
- That the Bible is our highest earthly authority for faith.
- Ongoing critical interpretation of scripture is a faithful response to the continued revelation of the Holy Spirit to changing generations.
In light of God’s continuing revelation through the Holy Spirit, the PC (USA) for decades has believed that women should not be denied God’s call to serve as elders and ministers by any congregation based on a certain archaic reading of scripture, and we honor their leadership. The same is now true of members of the LGBT community. We also believe that in relation to an individual’s acceptance of the foregoing beliefs, God alone is Lord of the conscience. We also believe that YOU are welcome at our church!
The Presbyterian Church (USA) is one of several church denominations all identifying as Presbyterian—it is the largest with about 1.5 million members—but with a range of nuances in their theological understanding and mission priorities. It is a rich time in Presbyterian history, as within the last 40 years there has been much spirited debate over which of these nuances is the most faithful to Scripture and Christian tradition. As a result, several new Presbyterian denominations have been established in recent decades as Presbyterian believers have tried to work out their differences in approaching Biblical interpretation and theological convictions. Interestingly, the PC (USA) is one of the few of these denominations formed by two different denominations seeking union and reconciliation, which occurred in 1983. The PC (USA) could be understood as seeking faithfully to be a “big tent” church. That is to say, our denomination understands that it is natural for Christian believers to have differing views on matters of faith, and rather than split over our differences, we should make room for a range of beliefs, and congregations that embody that range.
At the heart of it, the root word “presbyter” says it all. This is the word, in the original Greek of the New Testament, translated as “elder.” Based on our reading of the New Testament, Presbyterian churches understand that elders—both lay elders and ministers—should be responsible for carrying out the ministry and mission of the church in a democratic fashion, rather than under the authority of a hierarchical priesthood. This was a widespread theological insight that re-emerged in the Protestant Reformation that unfolded from the 15th through the 17th centuries, from which Presbyterianism arose.
Our denomination’s constitution is comprised of a Book of Confessions and a Book of Order. That constitution lays out the overarching boundaries of what we believe and how we function as a church, understanding that within those boundaries, congregations and individuals will differ in how they carry out those beliefs and functions. Congregations within a certain region comprise a Presbytery, and their members understand themselves to be “connected” with and accountable to the other churches in that Presbytery. In turn, Presbyteries within a certain region are interconnected and comprise a Synod. The entire structure is governed by a General Assembly that convenes every 2 years to decide matters of theology, worldwide mission, and governance, and is maintained by administrative offices in Louisville, Kentucky.