Presbyterians are Christians who follow a Reformed Theology, and who govern themselves by democratic rule. Summit Avenue is a member congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and, regionally, of the Seattle Presbytery. The following is a brief synopsis of what Presbyterian means and what we believe. For more on what Presbyterians believe, click here.
Presbuteros, the Greek word meaning "elder," is used 72 times in the New Testament. In Apostolic times leaders were chosen from among the wisest members of the church. It provided the name for the Presbyterian family of churches, which includes the Reformed churches of the world. While originally only men were selected as elders, in today's Presbyterian Church (USA) congregations, both women and men serve in leadership roles, from elders and deacons to ministers and preachers. We believe God's Spirit to be more powerful and the gospel bigger than gender, and so we welcome the gifts and leadership of the many men and women whom God calls to ministry.
John Calvin is considered the father of Presbyterianism. During the period 1533 - 1564 he became a leader of the Protestant Reformation in Geneva, Switzerland. His teachings stressed a direct relationship with God. After studying under Calvin, John Knox returned to Scotland in 1559 and established the Presbyterian faith. The Westminster Assembly called together an alliance of English, Scottish and Irish Presbyterians and prepared the Psalter, Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms and other key texts from 1643 to 1649. Religious persecution drove many Presbyterians to America.
In America, the first presbytery was organized in 1706, the first synod in 1717. The first General Assembly was held in 1789. Today's Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was created by the 1983 reunion of the two main branches of Presbyterians in America, separated since the Civil War: the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. and the United presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The latter had been created by the union of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the United Presbyterian Church of North America in 1958
PCUSA is distinctly a confessional church and a connectional church, distinguished by the representation of elders - laymen and laywomen - in its government. The church has approximately 2.3 million members in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, in over 10,000 congregations. The denominational offices are located in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Ten Essential Beliefs of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
1. Trinity - We believe in one God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer).
2. Incarnation - The eternal Word of God became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is fully divine and fully human.
3. Justification - Salvation is by grace alone through faith, not through our good works.
4. Scripture - The Bible is the sole and final authority for salvation and the life of faith.
5. Sovereignty of God - The Lord creates, sustains, rules and redeems the world in sovereign righteousness and love, reflecting God's majesty, holiness and providence.
6. Election - God chooses people for salvation and service. Election is through grace alone, not because of our merit or good works.
7. Covenant - God's covenant of grace is revealed in both the Old and the New Testaments (one covenant in the whole Bible). The Sacraments are related to the them of covenant.
Baptism is God's act of bringing us, whether as infants or adults, into the covenant community.
The Lord's Supper reminds us of God covenant of grace through Christ's broken body and shed
blood. The real, spiritual presence of Christ is felt to a greater degree when this sacrament is
The covenant life of the church is marked by a disciplined concern for order according to the Word of God.
8. Stewardship - In gratitude for salvation through God's grace, we respond by living simply and by being good stewards of all that God has give us. We seek to be faithful steward's of God's creation by shunning ostentation and using God's gifts properly.
9. Sin - We take seriously the fact of sin in our lives and in our world especially:
- The sin of idolatry, which is worshipping anything or anyone other than God.
- The sin of tyranny, which denies the Lordship of Christ over all of life.
10. Obedience - We are called to live in obedience to Jesus Christ. In obedience to Christ, we work for justice and peace in the transformation of society.
For more on what Presbyterians believe, click here.