Archives and Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church

Manuscript Collections :
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Presbyterian Alphabet Soup :
What All Those Initials Mean . . .

ARPC Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.
[or BoCO]
Book of Church Order. This is the document that provides details on how the denomination is governed, how its courts are organized and operate, and how its worship is to be carried out. The PCA speaks of its BCO, whereas the OPC employs the acronym BoCO.
BPC Bible Presbyterian Church. This group formed in 1938 as a split from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. In 1956 it divided into two groups, the larger BPC, Columbus Synod and the smaller BPC, Collingswood Synod. The Columbus Synod group changed its name in 1961 to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, a name which it held until 1965, when it merged with the RPCNA,GS to become the RPCES. The BPC, Collingswood Synod group is still operating under the BPC name.
CRC Christian Reformed Church. Not precisely a Presbyterian denomination, this Reformed Church was formed by Dutch immigrants. In the late 20th century it moved to allow the ordination of women, prompting more conservative denominations to break with it.
EPC Evangelical Presbyterian Church. This name has been held by two different Presbyterian denominations. From 1961 to 1965 it was the name taken by the Columbus Synod division of the Bible Presbyterian Church. In the 1980s a different group took the same EPC designation upon leaving the United Presbyterian denomination.
GA General Assembly. The highest court within the Presbyterian system of tiered courts. The Session, or Board of Elders represents the local church. The Presbytery, or association of churches within a geographical boundary, is the next level of court. Some denominations also emply the Synod level court, which is an association of several Presbyteries. And finally, the General Assembly.
North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council. This is a conservative ecumenical organization which was organized in 1976. The current constituency of NAPARC includes the following denominations:
NL New Light. This refers to different movements toward splits in both the American and Scottish Presbyterian churches. A New Light split led to the formation of the Church of Christ by Kentucky Presbyterians after the camp meeting revivals. Covenanters in both America and Scotland broke out in the 1830s over several issues.
NS New Side or New School. Names for different movements in American Presbyterian history. The New Side represented a mainly orthodox but more revivalistic wing of the 1700s Presbyterian Church. The New School was a generally inclusivist and often liberal movement within the 1800s PCUSA.
NPC National Presbyterian Church. The organizational name of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) during its formation in 1973. The name was voluntarily relinquished when a local congregation in Washington D.C. with the same name objected to the new denomination taking this designation.
OL Old Light (see New Light). Orthodox Presbyterians of Kentucky and Tennessee during the revivalist controversy. Conservative or traditionalist elements of the American and Scottish Covenanter churches in the 1830s schism.
OS Old Side or Old School. Names for different movements in American Presbyterian history. The Old Side represented the ultra-Calvinistic wing of the schism of the 1700s. The Old School was the orthodox Reformed church in the controversies of the 1800s.
OPC Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Established in 1936 under its original name as the Presbyterian Church of America, by conservatives leaving the northern Presbyterian church. The PC(USA) quickly brought suit forcing the name change to the current OPC.
PCA Presbyterian Church in America, organized in 1973 and ongoing.
PCCSA Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America. Organization of the southern church from 1861-1865. After the Civil War the church changed its name to the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS).
PCUS Presbyterian Church in the United States. The major southern branch of the American Presbyterianism from 1865 to 1983 when it merged with the UPCUSA to form a new PCUSA.
PCUSA Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Originally the name for the largest Presbyterian denomination in America, with its origins in the Presbytery of Philadelphia (1706) and the Synod of Philadelphia (1717). Despite several divisions and reunions, this body continued under the PCUSA name until 1958 when it merged with the United Presbyterian Church. The united group took the UPCUSA name until its union with the PCUS in 1983, at which time the newly united church returned to the old PCUSA name [with a distinction now that its initials are PC(USA)].
RAO Rules of Assembly Operation. These rules order the business of the General Assembly.
RE Ruling Elder. An ordained position of service within the local congregation.
RPCES Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod. Denomination formed in April of 1965 from the merger of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America, General Synod (RPCNA,GS) and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC).
RPCNA Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, Synod (or, Covenanter). This denomination, still in existence, is also known as the Old Light division of the original Reformed Presbytery, which dated back to 1774.
RPCNA,GS Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, General Synod (New Light). The other wing of the 1833 division of the Reformed Presbytery. The New Light RP's, after near extinction, began to rebound and eventually united with the Bible Presbyterian Church (Columbus Synod) to form the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod.
RRO Robert's Rules of Order. And RRONR = Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised. Parliamentary rules clearly laid out for a proper ordering of any meeting.
SJC Standing Judicial Commisson. A committee at the General Assembly level tasked with hearing ecclesiastical judicial cases that rise to that level, and given the authority to pass final judgment on each of these cases. There is no appeal beyond the SJC, as there is no higher court within the denomination.
TE Teaching Elder. An ordained pastor serving in the local congregation.
UPCNA United Presbyterian Church of North America). A smaller mainline denomination in existence from 1858 to 1958. Its churches were located primarily in the midwest and in the north.
UPCUSA United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. This was the name of the denomination formed by the 1958 merger of two largely northern Presbyterian denominations, the PCUSA and the UPCNA. This resulting body continued under the UPCUSA name until 1983, when it merged with the southern PCUS to form a new denomination under the old name of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA).

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