A presbyterian is a Reformed Christian. 'Presbyterian' describes two things:
What we believe;
How our life together is organized.
What we believe:
Presbyterians trace their spiritual heritage back to Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation of 1525. Martin Luther worked tirelessly to reform the Church, and his reforms reached as far as Scotland. In Scotland, a minister by the name of John Knox expanded on Luther's reforms and founded the Presbyterian Church.
Presbyterians believe that...
• There is one God. This God made covenants with the people of Israel throughout histroy, and fulfilled and extended the covenants most fully in the person of Jesus Christ.
• Jesus Christ is the only son of God. Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, lived, died, and rose from the grave to bring salvation to all men and women. Jesus Christ is the living hope of the Church throughout the ages.
• The Holy Spirit is the comfort and guide for the Church. The Holy Spirit is God's inspiring power that brings men and women to faith, convicts them of sin, and assures them of God's pardon.
• The Bible is the inspired and authoritative Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation. The Bible is comprised of the Old (Hebrew) Testament and the New Testament. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the Bible is still speaking to God's people.
• Faith in Jesus Christ is all that is necessary for salvation and to receive God's grace.
• Grace is God's free gift to those who exercise faith in Jesus Christ. Grace is the assurance that sins have been forgiven and that a new life is possible.
• Sacraments are a way that we experience God's grace, and there are two: baptism and communion.
◦ Baptism is the symbolic act of washing away sin. Baptism confirms that all are born in grace and forgiven of sin, and is for infants, children, and adults alike.
◦ Communion, or the Lord's Supper, is a meal of remembrance where we are physically and spiritually nourished by the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Communion at The First Presbyterian Church is open to all.
• The Church is the body of Christ in the world. Though there are many parts of this body, they are one by Christ's power, and all men an women are called to be a part of this body.
How our life together is organized:
The word 'presbyterian' is derived from the Greek word meaning 'elder'. At each level of the Church a group of elders make decisions about church doctrine, government, discipline, and worship. Elders are men and women, old and young, cradle Presbyterians and those who might be new to the tradition. Elders are elected from within the local congregation to serve at the various levels of the church. Presbyterians do not have a bishop or one person who makes decisions about the life of the Church. Presbyterianism is a democratic system of government.
The First Presbyterian Church is a member of the PC(USA), the largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States.
The structure of the PC(USA):
Session--governing body of the local congregation
Presbytery--governing body of congregations in an area within a state
Synod--governing body of a multi-state area
General Assembly--governing body of the national denomination
Do you want to know more about Presbyterian beliefs and how we organize our life together?
We welcome you to worship, learn, and share community with us!