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Presbyterian Basics

The origins of the Presbyterian church are Scottish immigrants who were Reformed/Calvinists.

Presbuteros, the Greek word meaning “elder,” is used 72 times in the New Testament. It provided the name for the Presbyterian family of churches who are governed by their elders.

In America the first presbytery (regional grouping of congregations) was organized in Philadelphia in 1706. Presbyterians had a significant influence in the formation and structure of the government of the United States of America.  The structure of the United States government was patterned after the Presbyterian style of government.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is distinctly a confessional and a connectional church, distinguished by the representation of elders — laypeople — in its government. There are congregations in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Currently there are nearly 10,000 congregations.

Presbyterians are BELIEVERS and DOERS

WE BELIEVE — in a theology of mission, as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith: “… Christ hath commissioned his Church to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations. All believers are therefore under obligation … to contribute by their prayers, gifts, and personal efforts to the extension of the Kingdom of Christ throughout the whole earth.”

WE DO — mission in partnership locally, regionally, nationally and globally by prioritizing our available resources.  At Salisbury our Deacons’ Outreach Ministry leads us in our financial support of missions and in coordinating our participation in local mission and international mission.

Presbyterians are ATTUNED to the TIMES

Our style for doing mission is biblically based and historically appropriate. It builds solidly on our past commitments and mission experience, but it also adapts to newly emerging needs and to changing relationships in a sensitive manner.

Our witness, corporately and individually, is rooted in the gospel ministries of preaching, teaching and healing and in Christ’s example of advocacy for the poor, the hungry and the oppressed.

Presbyterians are LOOKING TOWARD the FUTURE

Presbyterians in the 21st century have a vision of ministry that is vibrant and inviting and reflects the love and justice of Jesus Christ.

The denomination has set four mission priorities for the next phase of our life as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):

Evangelism and Witness — We are called to invite all people to faith, repentance and the abundant life of God in Jesus Christ, to encourage congregations in joyfully sharing the gospel and through the power of the Holy Spirit to grow in membership and discipleship.

Justice and Compassion — We are called to address wrongs in every aspect of life and the whole of creation, intentionally working with and on behalf of poor, oppressed and disadvantaged people as did Jesus Christ, even at risk to our corporate and personal lives.

Spirituality and Discipleship — We are called to deeper discipleship through Scripture, worship, prayer, study, stewardship and service and to rely on the Holy Spirit to mold our lives more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

Leadership and Vocation — We are called to lead by Jesus Christ’s example, to identify spiritual gifts and to equip and support Christians of all ages for faithful and effective servant leadership in all parts of the body of Christ.

With the knowledge that in life and death we belong to God, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continues the journey with hope and confidence as we move into a fourth century of witness and service to a world in need of love.