The Presbyterian Church can trace it’s history all the way back to Martin Luther and the beginning of the Protestant Reformation in 1517. Not far behind Luther was John Calvin, a French pastor and theologian who published the Institutes of Christian Religion in 1536. The Institutes are still read and studied today in Presbyterian Seminaries and have become the basis and foundation for the Reformed Tradition (also known as Calvinism). John Knox, a Scotsman, studied with Calvin and brought Calvin’s teachings back to Scotland where the church became known as The Presbtyerian Church.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) was established in 1983 when the Presbyterian Church in the United States merged with the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. The PCUSA is the largest Presbyterian denomination with 1,301,785 members, 13,000 ordained ministers in 9,004 congregations. Our denominational offices can be found in Louisville, Kentucky.
Our structure is based on a two-part constitution. Part I is the Book of Confessions a book outlining our beliefs as stated in many historic Creeds and Confessions. Part II is the Book of Order which outlines our government and gives a rationale for the functions of the Church at all levels.
The PCUSA has a representative form of government with four levels of administration within that government: The Session, The Presbytery, The Synod and the General Assembly.
Our worship follows the Reformed Tradition as it was established by John Calvin during the time of the Reformation. We believe worship is not only a time for prayer but for reading Scripture and celebrating the Sacraments.
We in the PCUSA celebrate 2 Sacraments, we believe Sacraments were instituted by God and comended by Jesus Christ. These 2 Sacraments are Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Sacraments are “signs of the real presence and power of Christ in the Church, symbols of God’s action” and through the Sacraments “God seals believers in redemption, renews their identity as the people of God and marks them for service.” -Book of Order, W 1.3033
We believe the elements of Christian Worship are Prayer, Scripture Reading and Proclimation, Baptism, The Lord’s Supper, Self-Offering (As the Holy Spirit has graced each member with particular gifts for strengthening the body of Christ for mission, so worship should provide opportunitites to recognize these gifts and offer them to serve Christ in the church and in the world. -Book of Order,W 2.5002) and Relating to Each Other and the World (through confession, greeting, recognizing of visitors, etc.)
In the PCUSA we believe Baptism is a sign and seal of God’s grace. That grace is extended to us even when we do no recognize it or know it. Therefore we baptize adults, children, and babies as a sign to the whole community of God’s overflowing grace and love.
Presbyterians are believers and doers.
We believe in “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 truth; the promotion of social righteousness; and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.”
Presbyterians are attuned to the times.
Our style for mission is built on our past commitments and experience, but adapts to newly emerging needs and changing relationships. Our witness, corporately and individually, is rooted in the gospel ministries of preaching, teaching and healing, and in Christ’s example of advocacy for the poor, the hungry, and the oppressed.
Presbyterians are justice seeking people.
We are called to address wrongs in every aspect of life and the whole of creation, intentionally working with and on behalf of poor, oppressed, and disadvantaged people as did Jesus Christ, even at the risk to our corporate and personal lives.
Presbyterians are caring people.
We are called to deeper discipleship through Scripture, worship, prayer, study, stewardship and service, and to rely on the Holy Spirit to mold our lives more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Presbyterians are looking toward the future.
We are called to lead by Jesus Christ’s example, 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.
The Brief Statement of Faith
In life and in death we belong to God.
Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit,
we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel,
whom alone we worship and serve.
We trust in Jesus Christ,
Fully human, fully God.
Jesus proclaimed the reign of God:
preaching good news to the poor
and release to the captives,
teaching by word and deed
and blessing the children,
healing the sick
and binding up the brokenhearted,
eating with outcasts,
and calling all to repent and believe the gospel.
Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition,
Jesus was crucified,
suffering the depths of human pain
and giving his life for the sins of the world.
God raised this Jesus from the dead,
vindicating his sinless life,
breaking the power of sin and evil,
delivering us from death to life eternal.
We trust in God,
whom Jesus called Abba, Father.
In sovereign love God created the world good
and makes everyone equally in God’s image
male and female, of every race and people,
to live as one community.
But we rebel against God; we hide from our Creator.
Ignoring God’s commandments,
we violate the image of God in others and ourselves,
accept lies as truth,
exploit neighbor and nature,
and threaten death to the planet entrusted to our care.
We deserve God’s condemnation.
Yet God acts with justice and mercy to redeem creation.
In everlasting love,
the God of Abraham and Sarah chose a covenant people
to bless all families of the earth.
Hearing their cry,
God delivered the children of Israel
from the house of bondage.
Loving us still,
God makes us heirs with Christ of the covenant.
Like a mother who will not forsake her nursing child,
like a father who runs to welcome the prodigal home,
God is faithful still.
We trust in God the Holy Spirit,
everywhere the giver and renewer of life.
The Spirit justifies us by grace through faith,
sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor,
and binds us together with all believers
in the one body of Christ, the Church.
The same Spirit
who inspired the prophets and apostles
rules our faith and life in Christ through Scripture,
engages us through the Word proclaimed,
claims us in the waters of baptism,
feeds us with the bread of life and the cup of salvation,
and calls women and men to all ministries of the church.
In a broken and fearful world
the Spirit gives us courage
to pray without ceasing,
to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior,
to unmask idolatries in Church and culture,
to hear the voices of peoples long silenced,
and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace.
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!”
With believers in every time and place,
we rejoice that nothing in life or in death
can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.*