About the Presbyterian Church (USA)

 Presbyterians trace their history to the 16th century and the  Protestant Reformation. Our heritage, and much of what we  believe, began with the French lawyer John Calvin (1509-1564),  whose writings crystallized much of the Reformed thinking that  came before him.

 Calvin did much of his writing from Geneva, Switzerland. From  there, the Reformed movement spread to other parts of Europe  and the British Isles. Many of the early Presbyterians in America  came from England, Scotland and Ireland. The first American Presbytery was organized at Philadelphia in 1706. The first General Assembly was convened by the Rev. John Witherspoon, the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence.

 

 What is distinctive about Presbyterian Church?

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.

 

A Little Presbyterian History

Portions of the Presbyterian church in the United States have separated from the main body, and some parts have reunited, several times.  The greatest division occurred in 1861 during the American Civil War.  The two branches created by that division were reunited in 1983 to form the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently the largest Presbyterian group in this country.

 

Presbyterian theological beliefs

Some of the principles articulated by John Calvin remain at the core of Presbyterian beliefs. Among these are the sovereignty of God, the authority of the scripture, justification by grace through faith and the priesthood of all believers. What they mean is that God is the supreme authority throughout the universe. Our knowledge of God and God's purpose for humanity comes from the Bible, particularly what is reaveled in the New Testament through the life of Jesus Christ. Our salvation (justification) through Jesus is God's generous gift to us and not the result of our own accomplishments. It is everyone's job -- ministers and lay people alike -- to share this Good News with the whole world. That is also why the Presbyterian church is governed at all levels by a combination of clergy and laity, men and women alike.

 

Get to Know the Presbyterian Church

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.

God comes to us in free and undeserved favor in the person of Jesus Christ who lived, died, and rose for us that we might belong to God and serve Christ in the world. Following Jesus, Presbyterians are engaged in the world and in seeking thoughtful solutions to the challenges of our time.

 

Presbyterians affirm that God comes to us with grace and love in the person of Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose for us so that we might have eternal and abundant life in him. As Christ’s disciples, called to ministry in his name, we seek to continue his mission of teaching the truth, feeding the hungry, healing the broken, and welcoming strangers. God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, giving us the energy, intelligence, imagination, and love to be Christ’s faithful disciples in the world.

 

More than two million people call the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) their spiritual home. Worshiping in 10,000 Presbyterian congregations throughout the United States, they engage the communities in which they live and serve with God’s love.

 

Who are Presbyterians?

 

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 and with all the world. Witnessing to the good news of Jesus Christ throughout the world, Presbyterians engage in mission activities, seek to allevaite hunger, foster self-development, respond to disasters, support mission works, preach the gospel, heal the sick and educate new generations for the future. In partnership with more than 150 churches and Christian organizations around the world, the missionary efforts of the Presbyterian Church (USA) involve approximately 1,000 volunteers and compensated personnel.

To find out more about this dynamic and thriving denomination, come to the PCUSA main website.

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