What We Beleive
Our system of doctrine is the Reformed faith, also called Calvinism (because Calvin was the most important exponent of it during the Reformation). It pulls together the most significant doctrines taught in the Bible. These doctrines are set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms (with accompanying biblical references). Our system of doctrine is summarized in the following paragraphs.
Presbyterians trace their history to the 16th century and the Protestant Reformation. Our heritage, and much of what we believe, began with the French lawyer John Calvin (1509-1564), whose writings crystallized much of the Reformed thinking that came before him. Calvin did much of his writing from Geneva, Switzerland. From there, the Reformed movement spread to other parts of Europe and the British Isles.Started by missionaries from Scotland in the late 1800’s, the PCEA church is today led by Africans with its headqaurter in Nairobi, Kenya. PCEA has about 4 million members, over 1,500 congregations, 500 parishes, 55 presbyteries in Kenya and _ in Tanzania. The church envisions starting presbyteries and congreagtions beyond East Africa. Learn more.
Most of the principles articulated by John Calvin are still at the core of Presbyterian beliefs. Among these are the sovereignty of God, the authority of Scripture, justification by grace through faith and the priesthood of all believers. What these tenets mean is that God is the supreme authority throughout the universe. Our knowledge of God and God’s purpose for humanity comes from the Bible, particularly what is revealed in the Old and New Testament through the life of Jesus Christ. Our salvation (justification) through Jesus is God’s generous gift to us and not the result of our own accomplishments. It is everyone’s job — ministers and lay people alike — to share this Good News with the whole world. That is also why the Presbyterian church is governed at all levels by a combination of clergy and laity, men and women alike.
Grounded in Scriptures
Our Church believes that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, the only infallible rule for our faith and conduct. We believe that the Bible alone gives us the correct knowledge of who God is and how we may please him. It teaches that God the Father gave up his Son Jesus Christ to death on the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of his people. We want to share with you the joy that comes from a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Points of interest
Presbyterians confess their beliefs through statements that have been adopted over the years and are contained in The Book of Confessions. These statements reflect our understanding of God and what God expects of us at different times in history, but all are faithful to the fundamental beliefs described above. Even though we share these common beliefs, Presbyterians understand that God alone is lord of the conscience, and it is up to each individual to understand what these principles mean in his or her life.
We trace our historical roots to the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation and its seventeenth-century doctrinal statement, the Westminster Confession of Faith, along with its Larger and Shorter Catechisms. The Presbyterian Church understands the importance of defending and maintaining the truths of God's Word. Her ministers, elders, and deacons sincerely receive and adopt these Westminster standards as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures and known as the Reformed faith.
From the time of Abraham in the Old Testament, God's church has been led by wise elders, men gifted by God and called to govern his church. The word presbyterian comes from the New Testament Greek word presbyteros, meaning "elder." The Presbyterian Church has followed this biblical pattern for church government. Local church elders, along with the pastor, form a "session" to care for the spiritual welfare of our members. Matters of common concern for churches in a given region, such as establishing new congregations and ordaining ministers, are regulated by a body of ministers and elders called a "presbytery." Annually, representatives of our fifty five presbyteries form a "general assembly" to give the whole Church direction and advice.
Presbyterian church government emphasizes that the leadership of the church is shared between those called to be ministers and church members called to be elders within the congregation — we use the terms Teaching Elder to refer to ministers and Ruling Elder to refer to church members called to be elders. This strong emphasis on Presbyterian church government is our heritage from Scottish Presbyterians. The Presbyterian Church is Reformed in its theology and Presbyterian in its church government.
The church puts strong emphasis on the grace of God in Jesus Christ, this is our heritage from the founder of the Reformed tradition, John Calvin.
What is unique about the Presbyterian Church?
What’s Presbyterian worship like?
Frequently Asked Questions (f.a.q.s).
Belief and Practice
The supreme standard for belief and practice is the Bible, received as the inspired and inerrant Word of God. In common with all Reformed Faith Presbyterian churches adopts the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. This documents are held to be a systematic and accurate summary of the teaching of Scripture. These documents are the subordinate standards of the denomination.
Our theology is apostolic, Protestant, Reformed and evangelical. There is a desire to maintain in its depth and purity the Christian faith handed down from the beginning. We give prominence to the kingship of Christ. This has implications for human life in all its spheres.
Areas which we continue emphasizing includes Worship, Education and Health. Guided by Words from Colossians 1:18 which express the core of Covenanting theology: 'that in everything he (Christ) might have the supremacy’.
A sacrament is a rite or ceremony instituted by Jesus, and observed by the church as a means of or visible sign of grace. As a visual aid, it illustrates and confirms the spiritual truths and promises contained in the gospel. The English word sacrament is from the Latin sacramentum, which means to make holy, or to consecrate.
Sacraments are ceremonial in nature, which separates them from other things that Jesus instructed believers to do (for example, "go and make disciples of all nations", Matthew 28:18).
The Presbyterian Church of East Afrca celebrates two sacraments, Baptism and Communion.
- Baptism is given to unbaptised adults who profess faith in Christ. It is also administered to the children of believers, who are recognised as included in God’s covenant of grace, of which baptism is a sign and seal. The sacrament is performed with water, which may properly be administered by immersion, pouring or, preferably, sprinkling.
- Holy Communion, also called the Lord's Supper, is open to all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ and have made public profession of faith.The frequency of observance of the Lord’s supper is decided by each Session. Its administered to those in good satnding with the church practices provided that their Christian testimony and practice are known to the elders.
Like most historic reformed churches, worship centres on the reading and preaching of the Bible, with the response of the people to God in praises, prayer and giving.
The parish minister / elders are responsible for leading worship although increasingly, church members including deacons, and readers are involved in both planning and helping to lead worship. Regular services of worship are at the heart of the life of the Church, congregational life often includes prayer groups, Sunday schools for children, youth groups, the Guild, social activities and support groups for people facing problems.
Music is an essential part of the Church's worship and can take a wide variety of different forms. Increasingly embracing multimedia technologies common during church services to help spread the word of God in the 21st century.
We beleive it is important to gather weekly for worship. The primary responsibility of the church to the community is that of evangelism and each local congregation is a centre from which the gospel is communicated to the surrounding neighbourhood. Missionary work outside the bounds of established congregations is being carried on by the board of missions beyond East Africa.
Central to the our church is our love and worship of God through following the teachings and examples of Jesus Christ. We express our love for God by our love and practical care for each other and for those we live with and encounter in our daily lives.
A monthly denominational magazine, the way, is published quatery for the benefit of the whole church and missionary works updates.
There are several categories of professing Christians with which the Reformed Presbyterian Church can have no official fellowship.
Closest relations in the family of Christ are Reformed Presbyterian Churches in Scotland, North America, Australia, Japan and Cyprus. The denomination is a constituent member of the National Council of churches of churches of Kenya. Our Ministers serve on the boards of such bodies as Scripture union,navigators, chaplaincy, Evangelical Fellowship. Links are continually being strengthened with Christians in many other denominations and increasing co-operation with biblical churches is actively pursued.
Ecclesiastical polity is the operational and governance structure of a church or of a Christian denomination.
Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition within Protestantism which traces its origins to the British Isles, particularly Scotland. Presbyterian churches derive their name from the presbyterian form of church government, which is governed by representative assemblies of elders.
The Presbyterian Church of East Africa governing system is presbyterian which means that no one person or group within the Church has more influence or say than any other. The Church does not have one person who acts as the head of faith, as that role is the Lord God's. Its supreme rule of faith and life is through the teachings of the Bible.
We believe that the Bible is the written revelation of who God is.
The Presbyterian faith goes back behind all denominational divisions and interpretations to the Bible. The Bible inspires and guides us in what we believe and how we live. Presbyterians consider the bible to be the most authoritative source for faith and practice. The writers of the Bible were guided and inspired by God to record events and God’s instructions. By reading the Bible, succeeding generations know what God has done and what God requires.
Scripture is partly shaped by its particular historical and cultural circumstances. We are also conditioned by our own time and culture. We bring to Scripture our own presuppositions. The task of joining text with reader involves four major components that are constantly interrelated.
- We are prompted by the Spirit working on our experience to listen afresh for God’s Word witnessed to in Scripture.
- We seek to understand the Bible in its original historical setting, recognizing the variety of material it contains. For this, a wise use of historical-critical methods is essential.
- We look at the biblical material as a canonical whole. We look for the underlying unity and diversity, continuity and discontinuity in Scripture, paying particular attention to the relationships between the Old and New Testaments.
- We bring the biblical materials to bear on our contemporary situation. The gift of discernment is especially needed here. We must pray for the guidance of the same Holy Spirit who inspired Scripture.
Benedictions, which are words of blessing from God to His people, should not be confused with ascriptions, which are words of praise and blessing for God offered by His people. Ascriptions may be offered by any and by all, as praise and adoration to God. Some benedictions are framed as prayers and as prayers, they may be prayed by any and all, as our words spoken to God.
But benedictions are official declarations from God Himself, given through His appointed messengers, to His people, to grant them blessing. Only duly ordained ministers of the Word may pronounce benedictions.
ORDINATIONS AND INSTALLATIONS
These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. Acts 6:6.
- The only King and Head of the Church is the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom all power in heaven and on earth has been given by God the Father. Being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, Christ has given gifts to His Church that some might be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers. By His apostles He has also provided for elders to rule and deacons to serve in the Church, and for setting them apart by prayer and the laying on of hands.
- Ordination is the solemn act of setting apart a person to a church office by a court of the Church having authority to do so. In the case of ministers, it is performed by a presbytery. In case of ruling elders it is normally performed by the Kirk Session by authority of the presbytery, for the deacons in a congregation its by the Kirk Session.
- Installation is the solemn act of placing in office those who have been elected and lawfully ordained to the office. Those who are installed in an office to which they have previously been ordained are not ordained again. Ordination to an office is for life, unless the officer is released from the office or is deposed by a process of discipline.
- Ordination and installation of church officers shall take place in a service of public worship, conducted by the appropriate court of the Church in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Those who are ordained to office shall solemnly promise to maintain the doctrine, government, discipline, and worship of the Church, by giving affirmative response to the questions found in the Form of Government. Those being installed in an office to which they have previously been ordained shall be asked to reaffirm their vows.
- At each service of ordination/installation to office in a local church, the members of the congregation shall be asked to acknowledge and receive these officers, and promise to give them all the honor, obedience, encouragement, and assistance in the spirit of love to which their office entitles them, according to the Word of God and practice and procedure of the PCEA Church.
- When all the questions have been answered affirmatively, the one(s) to be ordained should (if able) kneel for the ordination, while the ministers of the court lay their hands upon the person(s) and the ordination prayer is offered. Following the prayer, it is fitting for the apostolic Trinitarian benediction to be pronounced upon those who have been ordained.
- When the ordination/installation has been completed, the presiding officer shall declare in the name of Christ that the officer(s) has (have) been duly ordained and/or installed in the sacred office to which he (they) has (have) been called, using the formula found in the Form of Government.
- A charge to the officers shall be given regarding their Christian responsibilities to the Lord, to each other, and to the Church.
. . . a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
- Marriage has been instituted by God as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman. God has established marriage for the mutual help and companionship of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with descendants and the Church with a holy seed, and for prevention of immorality. It is an earthly image of the heavenly union between Christ and His Church. Jesus Christ blessed this relationship by His presence at the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. Those who enter into marriage are to pledge their love and fidelity to each other, as long as they both shall live.
- It is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord. In Christian marriage both the bride and the groom are to be professing Christians, and share a common Christian faith.
- Before any man and woman are joined in Christian marriage, they shall fulfil all the lawful requirements of the state in which the marriage is to be performed. The minister shall counsel with the couple to assess whether they are prepared to enter into marriage with maturity and wisdom.
- If, after counselling, the minister is not convinced in his conscience of the propriety of the marriage under the laws of the state and of Holy Scripture, as interpreted in The Standards of the Practice and Procedure of the Church, he shall not perform the ceremony.
- A Christian marriage ceremony may be ordered as a service of worship before God. When it is, it should be conducted in conformity with the Scriptural principles governing worship, outlined elsewhere in this directory. As in all services of worship, reverence shall be expected on the part of all present. Any music included in the service must be fitting and appropriate for a service of worship to God. When it is conducted in the house of God, the service of worship shall be under the authority of the minister and the session.
- The order for a Christian marriage service of worship shall include a brief statement of the Biblical meaning of marriage. There shall be prayers for the couple as they enter their new estate. The man and the woman shall make vows in accordance with the Biblical teaching on marriage. There may be an exchange of rings, or the giving of a ring to the woman by the man. There may be a charge to them, laying before them the privileges and obligations which they are about to receive and undertake. There shall be a declaration by the minister that the man and woman standing before him are now joined in marriage according to the ordinance of God and the law of the state. The service shall conclude with a benediction.
- The minister shall comply with all requirements of the state for the proper performance and registration of the marriage. He shall also see that the Church maintains an adequate record of all marriages within the congregation.
FUNERALS AND MEMORIAL SERVICES
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psa 116:15
- In the presence of death, Christians witness to their faith that God, in Jesus Christ, has conquered death and raises His people from death to life eternal. In order that those who are bereaved may find strength and comfort in the presence of God, and support from the people of God, it is appropriate that a service of worship be held. When a service of worship is held, it should be conducted by a minister and shall be under the authority of the minister and the session. A service held in a church provides the best setting for turning the hearts of those bereaved to the comfort of God to be found in Christ, but circumstances may suggest another setting.
- The funeral or memorial service should be conducted with dignity in consideration of the life and circumstances of the deceased, and the pastoral needs of the family, congregation, and community. As our Lord Himself wept at the grave of Lazarus, beholding the tears of Mary and the others, so it is appropriate that due place be given for the grief which is present when a loved one dies.
- The worship service must include a witness to the resurrection and the promise of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Believers have the sure and certain hope that Jesus Christ has conquered death, has gone to prepare a place for them, and will come again to receive them to Himself, that where He is they may be also. Assurance should be given that when believers are absent from the body, they are present with the Lord, awaiting the blessed day of Christ’s return when all who are in their tombs will hear the voice of the Son of Man, and those who have believed will come forth to the resurrection of life.
- The worship service should include the reading of appropriate passages from the Holy Scripture and the offering of prayers of thanksgiving, intercession, and supplication. Personal remarks about the deceased may be made to give honor to whom honor is due, and thanksgiving to God for benefits received and a good example given, as appropriate in each case. However, due care should always be taken to keep the focus of the service on God, who helps and comforts those who grieve, and to whom alone all praise belongs. Intercessions should not be offered in behalf of the dead, nor attempts made to speak to the dead. If songs or other music are included, they should be appropriate for the worship of God. When the casket is present, it should remain closed during the worship in order that those present may more completely be directed to God. The service should be closed with a benediction unless followed by a service of committal to which all are invited.
- The service of committal should be done with Scripture and prayer, and the service closed with a benediction.
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