To know Christ, to make Him known
and to exhibit His love through worship, education and service.
Members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) denomination (PCUSA) are followers of Jesus Christ, something we share with all Christians. We celebrate this Christ as Head of the Church. With other Christians, we believe that God became known in human history in three ways, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, known as the Trinity.
Presbyterians are guided in their common life together by the Bible, which we believe to be the Word of God written, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ. Where this Word is read and proclaimed, Jesus Christ the Living Word is present by the inward witness of the Holy Spirit.
As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ is the reconciler of God and humanity. By His death on a cross, He obtained forgiveness for all wrongs. By Christ’s resurrection, we believe He offers new life and eternal life. We believe that the Christian life begins in the power of an open tomb and the celebration of a good, yet just and forgiving God.
Presbyterians also lean heavily on the sovereignty of God, believing our Lord has a purpose in all arenas of life such as the arts, culture, the political arena, personal ethics and societal ethics.
We believe the Kingdom of God is both an inner personal reality and an outward community with boundaries by God’s grace. A strong sense of missional involvement has always characterized Presbyterian Christianity.
Presbyterians believe there are two sacraments, both given and endorsed by Jesus Christ. The sacrament of Baptism symbolizes our initial belonging to Christ and cleansing by Him. We believe baptism is for both adults and children who are nurtured in the Christian faith. The other sacrament, the Lord’s Supper, recognizes our continuing need to be reminded of the forgiving grace of God through the cross of Jesus.
Our mission is to share by our words and our deeds the life and power of Jesus Christ so that all may come to embrace Him and acknowledge Him as Lord of all.
We are governed by presbyters or elders and could best be described as a “representative democracy,” which incidentally from our denomination became the pattern for U.S. government. Most Presbyterian churches also have deacons along with elders to govern the church’s compassion needs as well as to oversee the church’s worship and decision-making.
In many ways, what we believe is common to all of Christianity, and yet the above emphases also identifies us as the Presbyterian part of Christ’s larger church.
Presbyterians are also guided by the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which consists of two parts, The Book of Confessions and the Book of Order. The Book of Confessions contains the following confessions and statements of belief:
- The Nicene Creed
- The Apostles’ Creed
- The Scots Confession
- The Heidelberg Catechism
- The Second Helvetic Confession
- The Westminster Confession of Faith
- The Larger Catechism
- The Shorter Catechism
- The Theological Declaration of Barmen
- The Confession of 1967
- A Brief Statement of Faith—Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
In its Constitution, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) sets out for its members and the world to see what it believes and how it organizes itself, its officers and its members for ministry. In its confessions, the Church expresses the faith of the Reformed tradition, a tradition rooted in key events in 16th and 17th century Germany, Switzerland, France, Holland, Hungary, England, Scotland and other European countries.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) expresses its belief in many ways in its constitutional documents. One is the formulation known as the “Great Ends of the Church,” which are:
- The proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind.
- The shelter, nurture and spiritual fellowship of the children of God.
- The maintenance of divine worship.
- The preservation of the truth.
- The promotion of social righteousness.
- The exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.