Who are we Presbyterians?
Presbyterians believe in a triune God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. “In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit, we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks and to live holy and joyful lives, even as we watch for God’s new heaven and new earth praying, ‘Come, Lord Jesus.’” —From “A Brief Statement of Faith”
Presbyterians are distinctive in two major ways. They adhere to a pattern of religious thought known as Reformed theology and a form of government which stresses the active, representational leadership of both ministers and church members.
Presbuteros, the Greek word meaning “elder,” came from the New Testament of the Holy Bible where it is used 72 times. It is the Ruling Elders, along with the ministers or Teaching Elders, who are chosen by the people to govern the denomination. In fact the representation of laymen and laywomen (non-clergy) in the leadership of the church is what distinguishes our church from other protestant denominations. Each elder – teaching or ruling – can be elected to any governing body, once they have been elected to serve a particular congregation.
Because of the eleven Presbyterians who participated in shaping the government of the United States of America, there are many similarities in government such as an administrative component, a governing body, and a system of judicial process. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is both a confessional church and a connectional church with a current national membership of 2.3 million in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Presbyterians are SERVING PEOPLE
Our witness, as a body and as members, is rooted in the gospel ministries of preaching, teaching, and healing in the example of Christ’s advocacy for the poor, the hungry and the oppressed. As far back as 1837 the General Assembly declared that the church, by its very nature, is a missionary society whose purpose is to share the love of God in Jesus Christ in word and deed throughout the world.
Presbyterians participate in mission activities that seek to alleviate hunger, foster self-development, respond to disasters, preach the gospel, heal the sick, and educate new generations for the future.
We do mission in “good Presbyterian order” through the structures of our various bodies: the General Assembly on a national and international level, synods on a regional cluster level, presbyteries on a local level and churches on a neighborhood level.
Presbyterians LOOK TOWARD the FUTURE
Presbyterians in the 21st century have a vision of ministry that is vibrant and inviting and reflects the love and justice of Jesus Christ. We are called
- To invite all people to faith, repentance and the abundant life of God in Jesus Christ.
- To address wrongs in every aspect of life and the whole of creation.
- To deeper discipleship through Scripture, worship, prayer, study, stewardship and service.
- To rely on the Holy Spirit to mold our lives more and more into the likeness of Jesus
- To lead by the example of Jesus Christ.
- To identify spiritual gifts and to equip and support Christians of all ages for faithful and effective servant leadership in all parts of the body of Christ.
With the knowledge that in life and death we belong to God, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continues the journey with hope and confidence as we move toward a third century of witness and service to a world in need of love.