The Presbyterian Church began in Europe in the sixteenth century. We are part of the Protestant Reformation which began with Martin Luther and continued with one of our theological fathers, John Calvin. Luther wanted to “reform” the Catholic Church of the fifteenth century because he thought they were missing the message of the Bible by solely relying on the traditions and leadership of the church. Luther longed for the gospel, as illustrated in the Bible, to be available to everyone, not just the religious elite. Reformed and always reforming, the Presbyterian Church understands that God will continually be revealed to us through the power of the Holy Spirit and the witness of Jesus Christ. Now around the world the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. is comprised of many cultures and languages.
The sacraments of the church are there to confirm, proclaim, and seal the promise of God’s grace to us. They are a way for us to visibly see the ways that an invisible God reaches out to us. Presbyterians practice two sacraments: baptism and communion.
In the Presbyterian Church, baptism is a sign of the promise of God to the entire family, whether it is an infant or an adult. In both cases, baptism is a way for the person being baptized to proclaim that they are part of the story of Jesus and a member of His Church.
When we celebrate communion we remember and give thanks for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the entire world. Presbyterians believe that the bread and cup are a symbol of Jesus’ body and blood that was broken and shed for us and invites us to participate in God’s mission to and for the world.
The name “Presbyterian” is used because the church is governed by groups called presbyteries. Presbyteries are groups of churches organized by geographical region. Groups of presbyteries are then placed into another large group called a synod. Members of the presbytery and the synod attend a national gathering called General Assembly.
Presbyterians use a representative process. The governing body of the local church is called a session. Each person is elected by their congregation to become a ruling elder. They gather together to discern God’s dreams for the congregation. Ruling elders serve in the presbytery and at the synod level.
For more information feel free to look up our denomination here: www.pcusa.org