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.
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.
In life and in death we belong to God.
Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit,
we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel,
whom alone we worship and serve.
We trust in Jesus Christ,
Fully human, fully God.
Jesus proclaimed the reign of God:
preaching good news to the poor
and release to the captives,
teaching by word and deed
and blessing the children,
healing the sick
and binding up the brokenhearted,
eating with outcasts,
and calling all to repent and believe the gospel.
Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition,
Jesus was crucified
suffering the depths of human pain
and giving his life for the sins of the world.
God raise this Jesus from the dead,
vindicating his sinless life,
breaking the power of sin and evil,
delivering us from death to life eternal.
We trust in God,
whom Jesus called Abba, Father.
In sovereign love God created the world good
and makes everyone equally in God’s image
male and female, of every race and people,
to live as one community.
But we rebel against God; we hide from our Creator.
Ignoring God’s commandments,
we violate the image of God in others and ourselves,
accept lies as truth,
exploit neighbor and nature,
and threaten death to the planet entrusted to our care.
We deserve God’s condemnation.
Yet God acts with justice and mercy to redeem creation.
In everlasting love, the God of Abraham and Sarah chose to covenant people
to bless all families of the earth.
Hearing their cry,
God delivered the children of Israel
from the house of bondage.
Loving us still,
God makes us heirs with Christ of the covenant.
Like a mother who will not forsake her nursing child,
like a father who runs to welcome the prodigal home,
God is faithful still.
We trust in God the Holy Spirit,
everywhere the giver and renewer of life.
The Spirit justifies us by the grace through faith,
sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor,
and binds us together with all believers
in the one body of Christ, the Church.
The same Spirit
who inspired the prophets and apostles
rules our faith and life in Christ though Scripture,
engages us through the Word proclaimed,
claims us in the waters of baptism,
feeds us with the bread of life and the cup of salvation,
and calls women and men to all ministries of the church.
In a broken and fearful world
the Spirit gives us courage
to pray without ceasing,
to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior,
to unmask idolatries in Church and culture,
to hear the voices of people long silenced,
and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace.
In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit,
we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks
and to live holy and joyful lives,
even as we watch for God’s new heaven and new earth,
praying, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
With believers in every time and place,
we rejoice that nothing in life or death
can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.