We get that question a lot. The word sounds complicated and many people are unfamiliar with the term. They know about Roman Catholics, Baptists, and Methodists, but they don’t really know about Presbyterians. So what is a Presbyterian?
A Presbyterian is a Christian. We believe in God. We rely upon Jesus Christ for our salvation. We trust in the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the life of our church using the Bible as guide. The words of scripture, as revelation from God, have authority over our lives.
We are called Presbyterian because of the way our churches organize themselves, individually and collectively. Presbyterian means the church is run by elders. Elders are members of the congregation that have heard God’s call to serve their congregation in a special way. The elders are nominated and elected by the congregation in an annual meeting. These elders then join the Session, which is the group of elders who are currently serving as the leadership of the church. They make decisions about pretty much everything else the church is involved in. An elder is an elder for life, but serves on the Session for a 3-year period. There isn’t enough space here to explain all the complexities of being an elder or to do justice to the honor it is to have been ordained as an elder. But because we have elders who manage and run the church we are called Presbyterian.