In Manhattan there are two mainline Presbyterian Churches (PCUSA), we are the only Church in the denomination Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). That has lead many to ask, what's the difference? Below are a few of the significant distinctions.


The PCUSA is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S. PCUSA has approximately 10,038 congregations, 1,760,200 members, and 20,562 ministers. The denomination has been steadily losing members and churches since 1983, and has lost 37 percent of its membership since 1992.

The PCA (Manhattan Pres) is the second largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S. The PCA has approximately 1,808 congregations, 367,033 members, and 4,416 ministers. The denomination has been one of the faster growing denominations in the United States, growing tenfold since 1983.


Doctrinal Standards

PCUSA: The Bible and the Book of Confessions, which includes the Nicene Creed, the Apostles' Creed, the Scots Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Second Helvetic Confession, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Shorter Catechism, the Larger Catechism, the Theological Declaration of Barmen, the Confession of 1967, and the Brief Statement of Faith.

PCA: The Bible, the Westminster Confession of Faith, together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, and the Book of Church Order.




PCUSA: Allows for the ordination of both men and women, including non-celibate homosexuals.

PCA: Only ordains men in “obedience to the New Testament standard for those who rule the church and teach doctrine.”



PCUSA: Does not teach that Scripture is inerrant.

PCA: Teaches that Scripture is inerrant.


Church Property

PCUSA: Church property belongs to the denomination.

PCA: Church property belongs to the local congregation without any right of reversion whatsoever to any Presbytery or General Assembly.


Social Issues


PCUSA: Teaches that abortion can be “morally acceptable” though it “ought to be an option of last resort.”

PCA: Teaches that all abortions are wrong. (e.g., “Abortion would terminate the life of an individual, a bearer of God's image, who is being divinely formed and prepared for a God-given role in the world.”)



PCUSA: In 1952 the PCUSA General Assembly moved to amend sections of the Westminster Confession, eliminating “innocent parties” language, broadening the grounds to include no-fault divorce.

PCA: Teaches that divorce is a sin except in cases of adultery or desertion.



PCUSA: In 2010, the General Assembly expressed that “The PCUSA has no consensus in the interpretation of Scripture on issues of same-sex practice.” Currently, homosexuals (both celibate and non-celibate) can serve as ministers and the churches endorses same-sex “blessing” ceremonies. Recently, the General Assembly amended the Book of Order to redefine marriage as between “two people” rather than between a man and a woman and allows ministers to perform any legal marriage between two people. That amendment will require the approval of a majority of the presbyteries before it will take effect.

PCA: Teaches that homosexual practice is sin.


This was originally written by Joe Carter for the Gospel Coalition.