Presbyterians are distinctive in that they adhere to a pattern of religious thought known as the Reformed theology.
Important points of what reformed Christians believe and how we practice our faith are documented in our constitution: “The Book of Confessions” and “The Book of Order.” Some of the principles articulated by John Calvin remain at the core of our Presbyterian beliefs. Among these are the Sovereignty of God, the authority of scripture, justification by grace through faith and the priesthood of all believers.
An interpretation of these essential tenets of the Reformed Faith can be understood this way: God is the supreme authority within all creation. Our knowledge of God and God’s purpose for humanity is found in the Bible, particularly what is revealed in the New Testament through the life of Jesus Christ. Our salvation (justification) through Jesus is God’s generous gift to us and is not a result of our own accomplishments. (“For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own grace, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9) Although we do not have to do anything to earn salvation- it is a gift of God’s grace- we are called to respond to this free gift through acts of worship, ministry, mission and service. It is everyone’s job–ministers and lay people alike–to share this Good News with the whole world.
Presbyterians affirm that God comes to us with grace and love in the person of Jesus Christ, who lived, died and rose for us that we might have eternal and abundant life in him. As Christ’s disciples, called to ministry in his name, we seek to continue his mission of teaching about grace and love, feeding the hungry, healing the sick and broken, and welcoming strangers. God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, giving us energy, intelligence, imagination and love to be Christ’s faithful disciples in the world.
We believe that there is a relational quality to a life of faith. Not only does God call us into a relationship with the Divine, God calls us into community as the Living Body of Christ, the church. It is in this relationship that we live out the Christian life together. We seek to be a church home, a family of faith, where people of all ages and backgrounds can “come as they are” and feel welcomed, deepen their relationship with God, develop lasting relationships with others, and find a place to be nurtured spiritually. In our worship life together, we celebrate two sacraments- Baptism and Communion.
Our faith in Christ as the One who accurately reflects the all-loving God, our confidence in the Bible as the witness and rule for our life of faith and our emphasis on relationships are the essential beliefs that we hold in common. In other areas of conviction we celebrate a diversity of perspectives. First Presbyterian Church is made up of people who come from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences, including different religious traditions which are complimented by a diversity of gifts, skills, and personalities, perspectives and passions for ministry. We celebrate this multiplicity and are committed to creating a climate of acceptance and welcome in the midst of our differences.
We believe two historically Presbyterian affirmations found in our “Book of Order.”
- “In the name of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Christian community worships and serves God in shared experiences of life, in personal discipleship, in mutual ministry, and in common ministry in the world,”
- “The church is called to be a sign in and for the world of the new reality which God has made available to people in Jesus Christ.”
Presbyterians in the 21st century have a vision of ministry that is vibrant and inviting and reflects the love and justice of Jesus Christ. As a denomination we have set four mission priorities for the next phase of our life as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). They are as follows:
* Evangelism and Witness– We are called to invite all people to faith, and abundant life in God through Jesus Christ; to encourage congregations to joyfully share the gospel; and through the power of the Holy Spirit to grow in discipleship and membership.
* Justice and Compassion– We are called to address wrongs in every aspect of life and the whole creation, intentionally working with and on behalf of the poor, oppressed, and disadvantaged people as did Jesus Christ, even at the risk of our corporate and personal lives.
* Spirituality and Discipleship– We are called to deeper discipleship through Scripture, worship, prayer, study, stewardship, 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.
We acknowledge that in life and in death we belong to God. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continues to journey with hope and confidence as we move toward a third century of witness and service to a world in need of love.