What Does Presbyterian Mean?

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The Presbyterian Church was an offspring of a religious movement called the Reformation, which occurred in the 1500s. Two of the leading reformers of the time, Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564) had no intention of forming a new church; at least not initially. Their desire was to reform their present-day Catholic Church, to make corrections, and to set it more in line with the traditions and teachings of Scripture and the early church. The Reformers became known as Protestants because their requests for change sounded like protests.

The Presbyterian church is one of several churches that trace its origins to the Reformation. While the Lutherans were greatly influenced by the teachings of Luther, Presbyterians and others in the Reformed tradition were greatly influenced by the teachings of John Calvin. Presbyterians get their name from the Greek word presbuteros, which means elder. The term refers to the system we see in the New Testament of choosing leaders from among the wisest members of the church. A prominent doctrine of the Reformation was the priesthood of all believers. Reformed churches organized themselves in ways that gave more power to the congregation. They designed a system of representative government that greatly influenced the writers of the United States Constitution as they instituted the representative system of our national government.

In our church today are teaching elders (the pastors) and ruling elders (those from the congregation who serve on the Session, or governing board). Pastors, therefore, are teaching elders but not ruling elders. Elders are ordained for life. They serve Communion and help govern the church. They will serve one or more three-year terms on the Session.

The French organized the first congregation in 1555, and the French Huguenots were some of the first Presbyterians to reach America, followed closely by the English, Dutch, German, Irish and Scots. In 1706 the first American presbytery was formed in Philadelphia.

In the United States, just as the country did, the church knew westward expansion. Sadly, the church was divided during the Civil War into a northern and a southern group. This split was repaired in the 1980s when the northern and southern churches reunited forming The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA).

The Early History of Southport Presbyterian Church

Very early in the 1800s pioneer families from New England and Virginia were moving into the Middle West. They were followed by itinerant preachers on horseback known as “circuit riders.” These sturdy ministers rode through the wilderness visiting scattered clusters of log cabins to preach the Gospel and to encourage their listeners to organize formal churches.

Original church building illustrationThe seed for SPC was planted by such an itinerant minister, the Rev. Isaac Reed, in the log cabin of John B. Smock located at what is now the intersection of Madison Avenue and County Line Road, where Greenwood Park Mall now sits. A historical marker indicates the spot. In this cabin, on December 31, 1825, Rev. Reed constituted the Greenfield Church, the first Presbyterian church to exist in the wilderness area south of Indianapolis. (In the early 1800s, the Greenwood area was known as Greenfield.) Nine persons made up the congregation, eight of them Smocks, one a Brewer. They met for Communion on the following day, January 1, 1826.

In 1831 the Presbytery (a group of local churches) divided the Greenfield church into two congregations – one to serve Southport, the other to serve the Greenwood area. The Southport church has had various names. For a time it was called New Providence because some of its members had moved from New Providence, Kentucky. Later it was known as First Presbyterian Church of Southport. When the congregation moved to the current worship site, they changed the name to Southport Presbyterian Church.

In 1833 the congregation began worshiping in a school building, known as the “Old Mud Schoolhouse,” which stood on the corner of Banta and McFarland Roads.

Later, the church relocated to a log building on the northeast corner of Madison Avenue and Union Street which is now Southport Road. This sanctuary, in time, was succeeded by two on the south side of Union Street east of the railroad at the corner of Church Street. By 1956 the congregation had outgrown the facilities there and moved to the new church at 1427 Southview Drive in Homecroft.

In the 1980s during a leadership retreat, the elders sensed that God had greater things in store for SPC. During several years of discernment and change, the congregation worked, prayed and planned for a new move and a new future. The result of this was the move to the McFarland site and the refit of the old building for several new ministries, including the administrative offices, the pastors’ offices, Welcome Place Child Care, the Adult Day Center and the Counseling Center.

In 1997, the congregation began worshiping in the new church near the intersection of Stop 11 and McFarland Blvd. God has greatly blessed SPC and our present congregation benefits greatly from the prayers, sacrifices and hard work of earlier generations who loved God and served Him at Southport Presbyterian Church.

Prayer Opportunities & Prayer Support

Prayer Requests      Prayer Opportunities

Prayer is vital to our personal relationship with Jesus Christ and an effective ministry of our church. Each of us needs to worship God daily for who He is, thank Him for what He does, to pray for ourselves and intercede on behalf of others. SPC offers several opportunities to pray for others or to have others pray for you. Members and friends are encouraged to be a part of the Prayer Ministry.

The Prayer Ministry includes a 7-day-a-week, 24-hours per day prayer vigil. Participants commit to pray for one hour a week. Each month a prayer list of the needs and concerns of the congregation, pastors and ministry directors is compiled. The prayer list is available to those participating in the prayer vigil.

The people of SPC are willing to pray for you and your loved ones when there is an urgent situation or for daily needs and concerns. For emergency or urgent prayer requests for you or your family, call 317-534-2900 during office hours and your request will be put on the prayer phone tree and people will be contacted to pray immediately. The request will also be shared with the prayer group. The pastors may be called in the case of an emergency.

If you are requesting prayer for other persons, please respect their privacy and obtain their permission prior to making the request known.

Prayer Requests via the Website - Use the form below to enter your prayer request. Your prayer request will be delivered to the office at SPC and then distributed by e-mail to members of your Prayer Team.

[contact-form 10 "prayer"]


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At Southport Presbyterian Church, we want you to experience a welcoming atmosphere, friendly people, inspiring music and encouraging messages. Our church family desires to meet your expectations.

At SPC you can expect . . .

  • a warm handshake
  • a welcoming smile
  • a donut and cup of coffee before worship
  • interest in you as a person
  • a message based on Scripture
  • opportunities to learn about and experience God’s love
  • and more

What do we believe

Essentials of Our Faith

All Scripture is self-attesting and being Truth, requires our unreserved submission in all areas of life. The infallible Word of God, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, is a complete and unified witness to God's redemptive acts culminating in the incarnation of the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible, uniquely and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, is the supreme and final authority on all matters on which it speaks. On this sure foundation we affirm these additional Essentials of our faith:

  1. We believe in one God, the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all things, infinitely perfect and eternally existing in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To Him be all honor, glory and praise forever!
  2. Jesus Christ, the living Word, became flesh through His miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit and His virgin birth. He who is true God became true man united in one Person forever. He died on the cross a sacrifice for our sins according to the Scriptures. On the third day He arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven, where, at the right hand of the Majesty on High, He now is our High Priest and Mediator.
  3. The Holy Spirit has come to glorify Christ and to apply the saving work of Christ to our hearts. He convicts us of sin and draws us to the Savior. Indwelling our hearts, He gives new life to us, empowers and imparts gifts to us for service. He instructs and guides us into all truth, and seals us for the day of redemption.
  4. Being estranged from God and condemned by our sinfulness, our salvation is wholly dependent upon the work of God's free grace. God credits His righteousness to those who put their faith in Christ alone for their salvation, thereby justifies them in His sight. Only such as are born of the Holy Spirit and receive Jesus Christ become children of God and heirs of eternal life.
  5. The true Church is composed of all persons who through saving faith in Jesus Christ and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit are united together in the body of Christ. The Church finds her visible, yet imperfect, expression in local congregations where the Word of God is preached in its purity and the sacraments are administered in their integrity; where scriptural discipline is practiced, and where loving fellowship is maintained. For her perfecting, she awaits the return of her Lord.
  6. Jesus Christ will come again to the earth-personally, visibly, and bodily-to judge the living and the dead, and to consummate history and the eternal plan of God. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." (Rev. 22:20)
  7. The Lord Jesus Christ commands all believers to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world and to make disciples of all nations. Obedience to the Great Commission requires total commitment to "Him who loved us and gave Himself for us." He calls us to a life of self-denying love and service. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Eph. 2:10)