We are a member of the Presbyterian and Reformed family of churches. Our roots go back to the Presbyterian beginnings in Switzerland and Scotland. We are Presbyterian in government rather than Congregational or Episcopal. Our units of governments are: session, presbytery, synod & general assembly. We are a connectional Church, related on all levels. As congregations we are related as a whole. We were the first Presbyterian body to ordain women for the ministry. This began in the late 1800’s. We also ordain women as church officers. We came out of the old Presbyterian Church, February 4, 1810, as the result of differences over theology, ministerial education, methods of ministry, and the Great Revival of 1800. Almost 100 years later (1906) a union with the Presbyterian Church USA was consummated. The majority of our congregation, institutions, missions and ministers conformed to this action. At the time we were the third largest Presbyterian body in the nation. The majority of our parishes are small and medium membership churches. We have a few large congregations. We are a denomination with less that 150,000 members, serving in 19 states, with a concentration on congregations in Kentucky and Tennessee. We also have congregations in Hong Kong, Columbia, Japan and Liberia. We are ecumenical, relating to and working with other communions in the local community and beyond; such as, World Alliance of Reformed Churches, The Association of Presbyterian Church Educators, World Vision and more. We also maintain a significant communication and working relationship with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of America (Afro- American).We are non-liturgical, with no officially prescribed liturgy. This freedom of worship allows for a variety of patterns and practices, both formal & informal. A Directory of Worship is provided in the Confession of Faith as resource. The Cumberland Presbyterian faith has implications for works. There is a growing sense of environmental and social responsibility in the denomination. The Church attempts to speak to changing needs and problems related to society.
Our theology has been referred to as “Medium”- somewhere between Calvinism and Armenianism. We do not run to extremes, nor do we fanatic in theology, attitudes, or practices. Members reflect many denominations and theological backgrounds and concepts. We are tolerant and acceptive of different notions. We are not dogmatic. However, we have an official creed in our Confession of Faith to which we require loyalty on the part of ministers and church officers. We are evangelical. We believe salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ and that we have been commissioned to preach this good news to all the world. We attempt to conserve established traditions while at the same time we try to adapt our methods and messages to the present day.
We believe in God as Creator and Caretaker; in Jesus Christ as divine Savior and Lord; and in the Holy Spirit as God present and at work everywhere in creation. Human beings disobey God, like Adam and Eve, and are in need of spiritual rebirth. God initiates salvation, sending the Holy Spirit to all persons, calling them to repentance and faith. They have the choice of acceptance or rejection. “Whoever believes” is redeemed. We are not, nor have we ever been, Predestinarian. Persons are set in the right relations with God by faith, not works. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace, not something earned. Once God makes a covenant with persons, and they with God, they will never fall totally away from the state of grace, nor withdraw permanently from God. God never forsakes and continually works to maintain the relationship.
The holy scriptures are the authoritative guide for Christian living. The holy scriptures are the sixty-six books contained in the Old and New Testaments. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church considers itself to be part of the Holy Universal Church, consisting of all who have made a covenant with God through Jesus Christ.
The Sacraments are celebrations of the covenant in which Christ is present and active. We accept two sacraments: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
The elements of water, fruit of the vine and the bread are only signs and symbols and remain what they are. The Sacraments are not essential to salvation, but are necessary means of grace. They are central to Christian worship. The Lord’s Supper is celebrated often but not every Sunday. All believers are welcome to the table. In some congregations children partake of the Sacrament.
Baptism symbolizes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It marks membership in the church. It is administered to infants whose parents are members of the covenant community. It is also administered to those who affirm personal faith in Jesus Christ and have not received the sacrament. Pouring or sprinkling are generally accepted modes of baptism. However, we do accept the baptism of those who have been immersed.
We do not believe in the natural immorality of the soul. Eternal life is a gift from God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We are raised with him through our conversion. Eternal life is a living relationship with God (John 17:3)
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church accepts what the Bible says about heaven and hell, even though the Confession of Faith speaks briefly about them.