Being a Presbyterian
"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 that stresses the active, representational leadership of both ministers and church members. Presbuteros, the Greek word meaning elder, is used 72 times in the New Testament. It provided the name for the Presbyterian family of churches, which includes the Reformed churches of the world. Both Presbyterian and Reformed are synonymous with churches of the Calvinist tradition. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is distinctly a confessional and a connectional church, distinguished by the representation of elders—laymen and laywomen—in its government.
Today’s Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was created by the 1983 reunion of the two main branches of Presbyterians in America, separated since the Civil War: the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. and the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The latter had been created by the union of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the United Presbyterian Church of North America in 1958.
Presbyterians Are BELIEVERS and DOERS
WE BELIEVE — in the Great Ends of the Church, as set forth in our Book of Order: "the proclamation of the Gospel for the salvation of humankind; the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God; the maintenance of divine worship; the preservation of the truth; the promotion of social righteousness; and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world."
WE BELIEVE — in a theology of mission, as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith. "Christ hath commissioned his Church to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations. All believers are therefore under obligation . . . to contribute by their prayers, gifts, and personal efforts to the extension of the Kingdom of Christ throughout the whole earth."
WE DO — mission and its related functions in "good Presbyterian order" through the structures of our General Assembly, synods, presbyteries, and local churches, which provide accountability in a connectional system. The chief agencies of the General Assembly are Office of the General Assembly; General Assembly Council, which coordinates and provides services for all of the agencies; Mission Support Services; Congregational Ministries Division; National Ministries Division; Worldwide Ministries Division; Board of Pensions; Presbyterian Foundation; Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program; and Presbyterian Publishing Corporation.
WE DO — mission locally, nationally, globally by setting priorities for our available resources, guided by the emphases given by our General Assembly, the annual meeting of clergy and lay commissioners who represent the presbyteries of the church. Through the General Assembly, all Presbyterians have a voice in setting directions for mission and, through their General Mission Giving, have a vital responsibility in carrying out what the General Assembly has mandated.
Excerpted from PC(USA) Web site. To learn more about being a Presbyterian, visit http://www.pcusa.org/101/