The Presbyterian Church (USA)

About two million people call the Presbyterian Church (USA) their spiritual home. There are more than 10,000 PC(USA) churches across the nation.

 

We come in all colors and shapes and sizes. Conservative, liberal, old, young, big, small, thin, fat, cheerful, grouchy, Democrat, Republican, old-fashioned, new-fangled, gay, straight, shy, bold — if you're looking for people who look or think or talk or act just like you, you'll surely find a few. But you'll find many, many more Presbyterians who are different from you, sometimes very different.

 

What unites us all is God's love and grace. We can't earn God's love, but we all need it — and God has given it to us freely. Whatever the circumstances of our lives, we're all equally in need of God's mercy and forgiveness. God gives us these things in overflowing abundance.

 

Our theology (literally, 'God-talk') is 'Reformed', a pattern of religious thought dating back five hundred years to the time of the Reformation in Europe. We are one of about 750 Reformed denominations in the world.

 

Our most distinctive characteristic is our form of government. Authority and responsibility are shared between 'teaching elders' (ministers) and 'ruling elders' (church members elected by other church members). Teaching elders and ruling elders are 'ordained' (they're 'under orders') to specific types of ministry, but Presbyterians believe that all people are called to ministry in whatever walk of life they follow. In other words, we're all ministers.

 

Our History

 

The first Presbyterians in America were mainly Scottish and English immigrants who migrated in the mid- to late seventeenth century. By the early 1700s they were well established; the first American presbytery (a group of Presbyterian churches working together) was founded in Philadelphia in 1706. Presbyteries in New York, Delaware, and Maryland soon followed.

 

Parts 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 Civil War. The two branches created by that division were reunited in 1983 to form the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently the largest branch of Presbyterianism in the United States.

 

Our Beliefs

 

Through the centuries, Presbyterians have emphasized the love, power and grace of the one God, the Holy One of Israel, whom alone we worship and serve.

 

We conceive of God as a trinity of three persons: in traditional language, 'Father, Son, and Holy Spirit'; in other words, 'Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer'.

 

Presbyterians traditionally have a strong sense of human sinfulness and brokenness, but this only highlights how strongly we view God's grace, which easily overcomes and overwhelms anything and everything in its path — including human sinfulness and brokenness.

 

This means that we think and speak and act not because we fear hellfire and damnation, but because we're grateful for God's grace,

God's mercy, God's forgiveness, God's desire to save all God's creatures and reconcile all of creation to Godself.

 

The language of hellfire and damnation is the language of judgment and condemnation, and we believe that no human being is in a position to judge or condemn another. Only Christ is in a position to judge or condemn us — and Christ lived for us, Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power over us, and Christ prays for us.

 

In other words, in the end there is only one judge of humanity, and that judge is our redeemer!

 

God loves us and forgives us in Jesus Christ, and God commands us to love and forgive each other. There can be no real love in human relationships without real forgiveness. We are required to take forgiveness so seriously that we must even forgive our enemies — in order that we may love our enemies!

 

Jesus Christ is the head of the church, which we call the 'body' of Christ. Presbyterians are a small part of this body. As Christ’s disciples, called to ministry in his name, we seek to continue his mission by proclaiming God's word, feeding the hungry, healing the broken, befriending the outcast, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting those who are sick or in prison, and welcoming strangers.

 

God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, giving us the energy, intelligence, imagination, and love to accomplish these tasks, and to console us and comfort us and encourage us and strengthen us when these tasks seem too heavy to bear.

 

To learn more, follow this link to the PCUSA  main website.