About Presbyterians

Montclair Presbyterian Church (MPC)  is a Presbyterian Church in the Reformed Tradition. We’re proud of our history, and of our connections to the wider Presbyterian community.

What is the Presbyterian Church?

Presbyterian comes from the Greek for “elder.” Which captures the spirit of Presbyterianism, namely that the governing bodies – local churches, regional and national groups – elect laypersons to serve along with clergy. The origins of Presbyterianism are in the 16th century Reformation and leaders like John Calvin and John Knox.

How are Presbyterians different?

Presbyterians differ from other Protestants in governance, tradition, and confessions of faith; but none of these differences prevent us from working closely (“ecumenically”) with other Christian congregations, and even with other faith traditions. MPC is part of a “Faith Trio;” the other two, also in Oakland, are the Kehilla Synagogue and the Islamic Cultural Center. We think of ourselves as “progressive,” meaning, for instance, that we take the Bible seriously but not literally – when the Creation story in Genesis says that God created the universe in one week, it’s using metaphors! MPC is also known for its strong commitment to social justice.

Do all Presbyterians think the same?

As in any church (or any large organization, for that matter), there is a diversity of opinion within the Presbyterian Church. One way to experience that range is to check out the “We Are Presbyterian 2011″ video project created by Bruce Reyes-Chow. From 2008–2010, Bruce was the Moderator of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Currently, he authors a weblog about Presbyterianism and writes for various online media outlets.

Where can I learn more?

A good source for learning more about “progressive” Christianity is a book by Marcus Borg entitled The Heart of Christianity. There is also a history of MPC from 1968 to 1996, called Alleluia, available in the Church Office.  You may also wish to visit the Presbyterian Church (USA) website.