History of the OPC
The Orthodox Presbyterian Church was founded on June 11, 1936, in the aftermath of the fundamentalist-modernist controversy, under the leadership of J. Gresham Machen (longtime professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, who also founded Westminster Theological Seminary in 1929). With the infiltration of theological liberalism, the mainline Presbyterian Church in the USA had departed from historic Christianity, including the rejection of doctrines such as the inspiration and authority of Scripture, the virgin birth of Christ, and the substitutionary atonement. Originally calling itself the Presbyterian Church of America, the young church was forced by the threat of a lawsuit to change its name in 1939, and it adopted the name Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
In nearly eight decades since its founding, the OPC has slowly grown to over 30,000 members in over 300 churches throughout the United States and Canada. It has been vigorous in its defense and propagation of the historic Reformed faith as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. The church’s efforts in worldwide outreach are conducted largely through three denominational standing committees: foreign missions, home missions and church extension, and Christian education. The OPC recognizes other churches of like faith and practice and is a member of the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC) and the International Conference of Reformed Churches (ICRC).
More information about the history of the OPC can be found in the booklet, What is the OPC? Several other helpful resources that describe our history are listed below.
The best analogy to describe God’s providence in establishing Bethel Presbyterian Church is the conjoining of three streams in the formation of an ever-growing river.
From 1991-1998, Greg (and Janet) Thurston served as a pastor-teacher in Ft. Collins, Colorado. During this time, he and Janet on occasion would visit their families living in the Arvada-Broomfield area. The Thurston’s extended family were having difficulty finding a church that was faithful to the Scriptures. So Greg and Janet visited many local churches in the hopes of locating a solid, Reformed church. Sadly, most of the churches they attended had either dispensational or charismatic leanings. Others were so enamored with growth that their worship had been compromised by entertainment. Consequently, Greg and Janet began praying for God to plant a Reformed church in the Broomfield-North Arvada area never thinking that God would include them in the answer to their prayer.
Greg’s ministry in Fort Collins came to an end in 1998. While awaiting the eventual call that he would receive to serve as a pastor-teacher in Homestead, Florida, he served as pulpit supply for a church in Boulder. It was during this time that Greg became acquainted with what would become the core group of Bethel Presbyterian Church.
In 1998, Dave (and Linda) Berry, one of the pastors from the church in Boulder in which Greg served as pulpit supply, had been leading a Bible study in Louisville for several years as a ministry of his church. The Lord had been growing a strong desire in these families to plant a strong Reformed church in the Louisville/Broomfield area. They had been praying earnestly that the Lord would provide the means whereby this church plant would come to fruition. Their church was also actively encouraging them to labor toward that end.
As Greg filled the pulpit and became better acquainted with these families, it became obvious that the core group and Greg had a shared vision and passion for the church. However, as Greg had been called to serve in Florida, the Thurstons moved to Florida and the core group continued meeting under the pastoral care and oversight of the Boulder church.
In April 1999, Ken (and Peggy) Banks, one of the pastors from a church in Denver, and an associate began to work on a vision statement for a church plant in Denver- a church which would be committed to worshipping God in spirit and in truth. Soon the concept of a Denver Reformed Study Fellowship (DRSF) took shape. The idea was to study foundational doctrines of the church as contained in the Heidelberg and Westminster Catechisms.
For two years, the people of DRSF studied, prayed, and fellowshipped together in the format of a Sunday night fellowship. In June 2001, it was apparent that it was time to move in the direction of a church plant.
The Conjoining of Two Streams
Fifteen months after the Thurstons left for Florida, the Boulder church approached Greg about returning to serve as a pastor-teacher in a church plant in Broomfield. However, shortly thereafter the Boulder church encountered internal difficulties. Consequently they withdrew their “formal” support of the project. Nevertheless they continued to encourage the core group and Greg to labor toward a church plant.
During this time Greg and Dave spent many hours on the phone honing a vision that God was engrafting in them, focusing on the feasibility of planting a church without the support of a sending church. As well, the core group was praying and actively laboring toward accumulating the necessary funds for the prospect of establishing the work.
Our First Year
On June 10, 2001, Bethel Presbyterian Church (under the name of Broomfield Presbyterian Church) officially began meeting as a mission work of the OPC! In its first year of service, great strides were made in establishing a unified vision and in formulating the principles which would guide this church family to the present.
Throughout BPC’s first year, God continued to add families to our number- each bringing with them unique gifts and abilities, and yet each coming with the same vision and passion by which God initially planted this church.
The Joining of the Third Stream
Within months of worshiping together, God brought some of the core members of the Denver Reformed Study Fellowship into our congregation. Because they shared the same vision and passion for the Lord and His work as BPC, it was clear that God had raised up the DRSF for the purpose of planting Bethel Presbyterian Church. An important addition had been added to this family.
Our Name Change
On July 2, 2006 we changed our name to Bethel Presbyterian Church. At the beginning of this church plant when we set down to choose a name, we wanted a moniker that would identify us with the community. We looked in the Broomfield phone book and saw that there wasn’t a “Broomfield Presbyterian Church.” So we grabbed the name. Within six months we received a communication from the pastor of “The Presbyterian Church of Broomfield” (a.k.a. Broomfield Presbyterian Church- a local congregation that has been in Broomfield for decades). He inquired as to why we named our church the same as theirs. We were quite apologetic and explained the faux pas. Yet for the next five years we fielded many wrong numbers due to the mix up in our names- so many that it became obvious that we needed to change our name. While Bethel Presbyterian is not associated with the community of Broomfield, nevertheless it is quite an appropriate name as it embodies the essence of what we stand for as a church body. Truly as Bethel was the place where Christ specially manifested Himself to Jacob (Gen. 28:10-22; Jn. 1:51), so we delight that our gathering each Lord’s Day constitutes Bethel (“the house of God”)!
Though God has done so much in the life of this fellowship, nevertheless with each person that God brings our joy is increased as the family of God at BPC becomes all that God intends it to be.
Philosophy of Ministry
People Oriented and Thus Connectional
The ministry of the kingdom of God has a twofold objective: (1) glorifying/worshipping and thus enjoying God, and (2) raising up true worshippers of God. Consequently, while the ministry of BPC must ever and always be God-centered, nevertheless we also strive to be people-oriented rather than program-oriented. And this raises a very important principle…
It is a common malady in the church today to fund programs with people. This is a serious error for our “program” as it relates to the outworking of the kingdom of God is people. Consequently, this principle must govern all that we do when it comes to ministries, events, programs, and committee work. We are as much about the process as we are the product, Mt. 28:19! Our work must first and foremost be… CONNECTIONAL!
A connectional ministry is people-oriented rather than program-oriented. It has as its goal relating with another human being such that you have invested in their lives, encouraged them in their walks with Christ, and have been a part of the Master’s work in their life, 1 Cor. 3:9.
The Nature of Gospel Ministry
It Includes All Members
Every member of God’s church has as a responsibility for the work of ministry (Eph. 4:12). The church is not a social club, nor is it an athletic event where most “spectate” and few participate. Indeed, God’s church is an organism in which God’s people are bought with a price for the purpose of serving God and one another (1 Cor. 6:20; Gal. 5:13).
It Involves Serving
This service is to be unto the Lord (Col. 3:23), out of a heart of gratitude and love (Lk. 16:13; cf. Gal. 5:13), unto the building up of one another (1 Cor. 12:7; 1 Pet. 4:11-12). It’s not to be done grudgingly, but out of an intense desire to enjoy God (2 Cor. 9:7). The focus is not getting all you can get, but giving all that you have unto God and one another.
Thus, where a need arises in the church, depending on the type of need, for the most part, the responsibility to meet that need does not lay with the elders/deacons, but with the congregation. The one who recognizes the need has obviously been given a burden for it, and should consequently be encouraged to meet it. The elder’s/deacon’s responsibility is to examine that one to determine whether or not he/she is qualified to serve in that area, encourage that one, and give the necessary equipping he/she needs to fulfill their ministry.
Ministry of Worship
Worship is central to all of life and ministry (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 1:18). It is that from which all else flows. Because of this, worship is integral to the life and ministry of the church both corporately and individually. As such, the ministry of any faithful church will endeavor to train and equip true worshippers of God.
Toward this end, as we gather for corporate worship we recognize that it is God’s word that regulates or governs the worship we offer. Truly, “the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men… or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture” (WCF 21.1). As such, our worship services are not intended for entertainment, but to provide God’s children with the opportunity for involvement in praise, confession, thanksgiving, prayer, instruction in the word of God, and the receiving of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper
Ministry of the Saints
Ministry of Fellowship: When God created man, the Lord fashioned him as a fellowshipping being. As Adam’s helpmate, Eve was much more than just a marriage partner with which to “fill the earth.” Eve became a source of rich and abiding communion. Truly, it is not God’s will for all of mankind to be married (1 Cor. 7:8-9). It is, however, God’s preceptive will for all of mankind to be a part of a fellowship- which is the body of Christ (1 Jn. 1:3; Heb. 10:25).
Consequently, fellowship is an important part of the church’s ministry. Indeed, the apostolic church was a gathering church (Acts 2:46-47; 4:23, 32). However, that which bound them together was not a commitment to social discourse. Rather, as the early church gathered together they did so in order to invest in each other’s salvation (Acts 2:42, 44). Truly, that which separates Biblical fellowship from socializing is the “commonness” that is shared between believers- and that commonness is Jesus Christ. And thus, Biblical fellowship- the investing in one another’s salvation- must be a fundamental part of the church’s ministry.
Ministry of Equipping the Saints: The discipling ministry of the church today is somewhat of an enigma. From churches which view discipleship as an activity of the “spiritual giant” to those which view discipleship as another means of growing the church numerically, today the discipling ministry of the church is varied and broad. Yet the Bible is quite clear when it comes to the church’s goal for its people. The call of the church is to make disciples or specifically, “learners of Christ” (Mt.28:19-20), who hold as their chief end God’s glory and their delighting in Him.
As such, the discipling ministry of Bethel is designed primarily with the spiritual maturation of the particular member in mind, not his entertainment or his social pressure. It is our desire that the child of God be equipped with the Gospel. He must be taught and discipled in the faith. He must learn to identify himself as a sinner who has been saved by grace. Accordingly, the discipleship ministry of BPC ultimately will seek to produce learners of Christ who relate to God and their world on the basis of God’s sovereign grace.
Ministry of Outreach
A large part of our outreach as a congregation is expected to take place, “as we go” (Mt. 28:18). As our congregation worships together and as it is equipped and encouraged in their walks with Christ through Christian education and Fellowship, BPC will mature into men and women of faith. This maturation necessarily should result in the body sharing of Christ at home, in their neighborhoods, at work, during play, etc.
Learn more about our ministries by visiting our Ministries page