Presbyterians share many things in common with all Christians. We are followers of Jesus Christ, who is Immanuel, “God with us”. Through his life and ministry God’s love for all people was revealed. By his death on the cross we were reconciled to God. By Christ’s rising from the tomb, we are offered the chance at life, abundant and eternal life.
Presbyterians are unique among Christians by our emphasis on the sovereignty of God. We believe that God has a purpose in all areas of life, not just life in the church. God’s presence and purpose are revealed in the arts, politics, social values and ethics, and in academic pursuits. Therefore, we believe the Kingdom of God is more than an inner personal reality. It is also to be found in the lives of those out in the world, the same world God loved so much that God sent Jesus Christ into it in order to save it. A strong sense of mission involvement in the world, both domestically and internationally, has always characterized our Presbyterian form of Christianity. As such, Presbyterians have a strong sense of public duty and service, shown by the disproportionally high percentage of elected officials in state, local, and national levels relative to our actual membership.
The Presbyterian Church is governed by a constitution. We elect “presbyters” or elders to represent the people both locally, regionally, and nationally. It is a representative democracy that became the pattern for the United States Constitution and our American form of government. We believe that flawed and sinful human beings often err, but when joined together with other committed Christians, we more easily can discern the will of God through deliberation, debate, and consensus. That approach is seen clearly in our constitutional documents, particularly in our confessions, historical documents that express the faith of the Reformed tradition, of which we are apart.
Perhaps the clearest expression of our faith and beliefs is found in the first chapter of our Book of Order known as “The Great Ends of the Church”. Those “great ends” or purposes of the church are: 1) The proclamation of the Gospel for the salvation of humankind, 2) the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God, 3) the maintenance of divine worship, 4) the preservation of the truth, 5)the promotion of social righteousness, and 6) the exhibition of the kingdom of heaven to the world.
For more details on our faith and beliefs, go to the Presbyterian Church USA’s home web site at www.pcusa.org