I am Pastor of Old Union Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Magazine and Booneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church. I know that when I use the term "Presbyterian" I may generate some concern, since the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, better known as the PCUSA, has been in the media lately.
I’m writing this letter to clarify some issues that have arisen concerning the denomination that I serve.
Many people confuse the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the PCUSA, thinking that they are one and the same. I want to set the record straight - the Cumberland Presbyterian Church has been a separate denomination since 1810 when our forefathers broke away from the Presbyterian Church over various governmental and doctrinal issues, that occurred in the Cumberland Region of Kentucky and Tennessee, hence the name.
In their General Assembly last month the PCUSA affirmed same-sex marriage, allowing their pastors to perform gay marriage if they wish to, in states where it is legal. That action, in addition to their previous acceptance of gay clergy, has created a firestorm among members of that body and in the rest of the Christian community.
In their June decision, The PCUSA modified their Constitution to read that marriage is between "two people" rather than the previous statement "between a man and a woman".
While this latest action must be ratified by a majority of their governing bodies, called Presbyteries, it appears to be a done deal.
In addition, the PCUSA, seems to have turned their backs on Israel, favoring the Palestinians in another decision in June.
But I’m not writing this letter to cause damage to the PCUSA (their leaders seem to be doing that themselves). My purpose is to defend the great denomination that I serve.
About the only similarity between the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the PCUSA is in the word "Presbyterian", which refers merely to a system of church government. The term derives from the Greek word "presbuteros", which means "Elder". The PCUSA, as well as other Presbyterian bodies that I know of, and my church, is composed of four judicatories: the local Session, made up of Elders elected by the members of the church; the Presbytery, made up of a number of churches in an area; the Synod, composed of several Presbyteries; and the General Assembly, the highest judicial body.
We in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church are not in any way affiliated with the PCUSA. We are a distinct and separate denomination. We do not call ourselves Presbyterians any more than members of the C.M.E. Church refer to themselves as Methodists or Regular Baptists call themselves Baptists. We are "Cumberland Presbyterians".
I hasten to make this distinction because I have been approached by several people who assume that my church is to be associated with the error of the PCUSA.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church is a conservative, evangelistic denomination in the U.S. and several countries. We do not approve of gay clergy, gay marriage or gay anything. We practice a Bible-based, "Whosoever Will" Gospel; we preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified; we believe that people are saved through the atoning blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ through Regeneration (being born again).
We do not support the ultra-liberal views of some Protestant churches, so please, when you refer to any Cumberland Presbyterian Church, don’t forget to use the entire title. It will avoid any confusion in the future.
If you are a believer or a seeker, I invite you to either Old Union in Magazine, or Booneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church. You will find a congregation where fundamental and traditional values are in place, and where Jesus Christ and His Gospel are preached. Thank you, and may God bless you and yours.
Rev. Henry A. Jenkins, pastor
Old Union & Booneville Cumberland Presbyterian Churches