What We Believe
“In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit, we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks and to live holy and joyful lives, even as we watch for God’s new heaven and new earth praying, ‘Come, Lord Jesus.’”
—From “A Brief Statement of Faith”
A Brief Presbyterian History
Presbyterians are part of the Reformed Tradition and trace our history to the 16th century and the Protestant Reformation. Our heritage, and much of what we believe, began with the French lawyer John Calvin (1509-1564), whose writings crystallized much of the Reformed thinking that came before him.
Calvin did much of his writing from Geneva, Switzerland. From there, the Reformed movement spread to other parts of Europe and the British Isles. Many of the early Presbyterians in America came from England, Scotland and Ireland. The first American Presbytery was organized at Philadelphia in 1706. The first General Assembly was held in the same city in 1789. The first Assembly was convened by the Rev. John Witherspoon, the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Our Core Beliefs
Presbyterians confess our beliefs through statements that have been adopted over the years and are contained in the Book of Confessions. These statements reflect our understanding of God and what God expects of us at different points in history but all all faithful to these fundamental beliefs.
As Presbyterians, there is no set list of things that you must subscribe to in order to become a member. The only affirmation required is trusting in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Below are some core beliefs taught in the Presbyterian church:
The Sovereignty of God
God is the supreme authority of the universe.
The Authority of Scripture
Our knowledge of God and God's purpose for humanity comes from the Bible, particularly what is revealed in the New Testament through the life of Jesus Christ.
Justification By Grace Through Faith
Our salvation (justification) through Jesus is God's generous gift to us and not the result of our own accomplishments.
The Priesthood of All Believers
It is everyone's job to share the Good News with the whole world. This is one reason the Presbyterian church is governed by all levels by a combination of clergy and laity, men and women alike.
Even though we share these common beliefs, Presbyterians understand that God alone is lord of the conscience and it is up to each individual to understand what these principles mean in his or her own life.