What Is a Presbyterian?

In the New Testament, Presbuteros means “elder”, and refers to the custom of choosing leaders and advisors from among the wisest members of the church. Presbyterians are a group of Protestants whose church is founded on this concept of democratic rule under the Word of God. The Presbyterian Denomination is a form of Christianity democratically organized to embrace the faith common to all Christians. All that is required to be a Presbyterian is to Confess the Christian faith. Trust in Christ as our forgiving Savoir. Promise to follow Christ and Christ’s example for living. Commit onesself to attend church and to become involved in its work. Anyone can be a Christian can be a Presbyterian.

What is the Presbyterian Church?

The Presbyterian church is a Representative Democracy governed by elders elected from and by the congregation. Authority resides with the duly elected representatives of the congregation in the appointed church governing bodies. The local church governing body is the Session. Local session oversee the day-to-day work of the church and supervise: Deacons elected to conduct the temporal and charitable ministry of the church. The overall church structure consists of 4 governing bodies: Session (the lowest governing body): ordained ministers (ministers of the Word) and elders–elected by the congregation. The Presbytery: Elders and Ministers from congregations who oversee local churches. The Synod: Representatives elected from each Presbytery to oversee several Presbyteries. The General Assembly: The highest governing body made up of equal numbers of lay people and clergy chosen by the Presbyteries.

What is the Presbyterian Worship and Ministry?

The creed of Presbyterianism emphasizes active participation for all of its members in Ministry and in Worship. The ministry is the membership of the church, not a special group set apart from the rest. Presbyterians follow a stated although not strick liturgy in their church services. Thoughtful reading and interpretation of scripture are the essentials of worship. The liturgy is designed to include the entire congregation in worship, just as the the ministry potentially includes all members. Presbyterians interpret the bible very much like other Protestants do. Ultimately, however, every Presbyterian must find a personal set of beliefs through study, contemplation and worship. So the Presbyterian church is really people such as: the Elders, the Ministers, the Deacon and you. To these men and women and to all Presbyterians, their faith means maintaining Christ habits such as regular church attendance, bible reading, prayer and participation in church activities and services. Setting a worthy example for the world as a person who strives to be more worthy like Christ. Giving regularly of time, money and abilities given to one by God and becoming informed about Christian work around the world, and supporting this work. That’s being an effective church member!

The Presbyterian Church has a rich and exciting History:

The Presbyterian church, like all Christian churches, traces its roots back to the early church in Jerusalem, to Augustine, and to Paul. Modern Presbyterianism is considered by many to be a rebirth of the early church of the New Testament. The Protestant Reformation moved forward in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg. Luther fought against the pretensions of authority by the Pope and called for direct authority from God. John Calvin, called the father of Presbyterianism, converted to Protestantism in 1533. He interpreted the Bible as the revelation of God, emphasizing theology, worship, education, thrift, ethical behavior and representative government for his followers. Presbyterianism spread from Calvin in Geneva throughout Europe. The Scottish Protestant, John Knox, fled persecution in his homeland and studied with Calvin in Geneva. He returned in 1559 and established Presbyterianism in. In the “Westminster Assembly” of 151 Presbyterians worked steadily between 1643 and 1649 to write the doctrinal guides, which Presbyterians now recognize as some of their basic texts. Presbyterians escaped persecution in Europe and settled in. Presbyterianism was so prevalent in that some British called the American Revolution the “Presbyterian Revolt.” At least 14 signers of the Declaration of Independence were Presbyterians (including clergyman John Witherspoon). The first presbytery in was established in Philadelphia in 1706. During the 1800’s division occurred in the church over the issues of Evangelism and slavery. This trend was reversed in the 1900’s, highlighted by the merger of the southern-based Presbyterian Church (PCUS) and the northern-based United Presbyterian Church (UPCUSA) in 1983.

More information can be found at the Presbyterian Church, USA.