Presbyterian Church (USA)

Presbyterian

Faith of the Reformed Tradition

The Church affirms ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda, that is, “the church reformed, always reforming,” according to the Word of God and the call of the Spirit. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is of the reformed tradition identifying with the affirmation of the Protestant Reformation, the focus of which is God’s everlasting grace in Jesus Christ.

Central to the reformed tradition is the affirmation of the majesty, holiness and providence of God who creates, sustains, rules and redeems the world in the freedom of sovereign righteousness and love. To say it succinctly: God in Jesus Christ is the judge of all humankind disclosing the depth of sin in the world. At the same time, all who put their trust in Christ face divine judgment without fear, for the judge is their redeemer. We are justified (saved) by grace through faith.

Reformed Beliefs

Trinity

The Trinity is a term used to capture the essence of the three primary ways God has chosen to express his nature:

Father

God is the Creator of all things. He loves, forgives and cares for each of us. The God of the Old and New Testaments is one, has chosen a people to be his own and will never forsake them. We’re a part of that people. God is all knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere present.

Son

Jesus, by his birth, life, death and resurrection shows us the depth of God’s love and grace. Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead to conquer sin and death. Jesus calls us to be his disciples and to tell others about the power of God’s forgiving love. Jesus is our model teacher by word and example. But more than this, Jesus is also the Son of God and our Savior.

Holy Spirit

When we say “Holy Spirit” we mean God’s power or presence in and among us, other than that which the world can provide. The Holy Spirit is the power of God working in the world to sustain, guide, enlighten and enable us to be Christian in our thoughts and behavior. The Holy Spirit is the living presence of God in our lives.

Worship

Something or someone rules in the heart of every human being. As Christians we believe that the Living God, known to us in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, rules in our hearts.

Each Sunday morning, and in our personal lives, we worship the ruler of our hearts. Christian worship is central to our shared lives. It is the celebration of the Resurrection. It is a time to gather together to thank and praise God for His goodness.

In worship we hear the Scriptures read and proclaimed. We praise God through music; we pray for his strength to be helpful to others; we respond with our lives and gifts.

We share two sacraments or “signs” of God’s faithful love:baptism, which is the welcome sign into Christ’s church family; and holy communion which is the constant reminder of Jesus’ sacrificial love and forgiveness to all. The common, everyday elements of water, bread and fruit of the vine are the visible signs of Jesus’ care and constant presence among his people.

Stewardship and Evangelism

Everything we have or possess is a gift from God. God the creator made all things and gave human beings the responsibility to care for his creation. Stewardship is the measure of our use of our lives and God’s resources entrusted to us. Stewardship is measured by our decisions and actions concerning the use of our time, talents and tithe.

The word “Evangelism” means to “tell the Good News.” Outreach is a way of telling the Good News to all kinds of people through words, actions and financial resources.

The Bible

The word Bible means “library.” The Holy Bible is God’s library! It is a collection of books written by divinely inspired people. The Bible has two parts: The Old Testament and the New Testament. It tells of God’s covenant relationship with humanity. The Old Testament is based on the covenant of law. The New Testament tells us of the covenant of faith in Jesus who fulfilled the Old Testament law by his death and resurrection, conquering sin. The Bible is the best book in this world because it directs us to God’s “Living Word,” which is Jesus. It is our guide for daily living. It is the “only infallible rule of faith and practice.”

The Church

The Church is a community of human beings called to be God’s people in the world. We gather so we may be strengthened to share the “news” in every way, every place, every day!

The word “Church” comes from the Greek word ecclesia, which means “called out,” or chosen for a purpose. The church is made up of people chosen for a purpose.

The Christian church had its birth on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit gave simple human beings the power to be witnesses to God’s loving forgiveness shown in the Risen Jesus Christ. Jesus is the head of the Living Church, God’s loving people. Only in the church do we find sinful people who know that in Jesus they are forgiven and, who by the power of his love, can be transformed from all forms of death to life, even eternal life!

Constitution of the Presbyterian Church

The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church consists of:

The Book of Confessions
The Book of Order

The Presbyterian Church states its faith and bears witness to God’s grace in Jesus Christ in the creeds and confessions in The Book of Confessions. In these confessional statements, the church declares to its members and to the world who and what it is, what it believes, what it resolves to do.

These statements identify the church as a community of people known by its convictions, as well as, by its actions. They guide the church in its study and interpretation of the Scriptures; they summarize the essence of Christian tradition; they direct the church in maintaining sound doctrines; they equip the church for its work of proclamation.

Contained in the Book of Confessions are the following creeds or confessions.

Name

Purpose

Nicene Creed

To settle controversy about the nature and meaning of Jesus Christ

Apostles’ Creed

To unify the early church with one statement of faith all could accept

Scots Confession

To proclaim Protestant faith in Scotland and England

Heidelberg Catechism

To explain the differences between the Presbyterians, Lutherans and Catholics

Second Helvetic

To describe the experience of the Confessing Christian Life

Westminster Confession

To state Protestant beliefs in a way that would help Protestant groups in England get along

Shorter Catechism

To teach Protestant children the Westminster Confession of Faith

Larger Catechism

To provide a longer, more detailed version of the Shorter Catechism

Barmen Declaration

To protest the rise of Hitler Nazism

Confession of 1967

To state the faith in today’s words; a call for reconciliation

Brief Statement of Faith

To provide a short modern statement of Faith to use in worship and at other times

The Book of Order contains the Form of Government, Directory of Worship, and Rules of Discipline.

Presbyterian Church Government

The uniqueness of the Presbyterian Church is discovered in its form of government. Taken from the word “presbyter” or elder, the Presbyterian Church features a form of government in which elders are called to share gifts of leadership on behalf of the congregation.

The Presbyterian Church does not place power in individuals, but predominately places power in groups. Because we each have a limited frame of vision, we trust that we can be most effective when we are alert to Christ’s promise, “where two are more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)

Many persons believe that our own form of federal government is a direct outgrowth of the influence of the Presbyterian Church.Many of our forebears were Presbyterians, and they naturally brought their traditions with them as our own government evolved and was shaped in this land.

The Session

The Session is essentially the governing board for our church. Both our Pastor and the Elders, elected by the congregation, serve on the Session. The Session at Southminster Church consists of 15 Elders, each serving a three-year term. All men and women members of Southminster are eligible to serve on the Session. The Session is the essential decision-making body for the mission and government of the church.

The Board of Deacons

Southminster has 12 Deacons who serve as shepherds to our congregational family. One Deacon serves each of Southminster’s 11 geographical districts. In order to maintain a sense of continuity, each Deacon serves on the Board for a minimum of three years.

Your Deacon is a care-giver… a shepherd – seeing to the pastoral needs of each and every member of his or her “flock.” It is not at all uncommon to receive a phone call from your Deacon to invite you to a social function or just to see how you and your family are doing. If you would like to know who your Deacon is, please call the church office.