Whoever you are, wherever you are on your faith journey, you are welcome at Hope Presbyterian Church.
What is distinctive about the Presbyterian Church?
Presbyterians are distinctive in two major ways:
- We follow a formulation of religious thought known as Reformed theology.
- We have a form of government which stresses the active, representational leadership of ministers and church members.
Presbyterians believe the will of God may be better discerned by a collective body of believers rather than by a single individual, which is why the Presbyterian Church is governed at all levels by a combination of clergy and laity, men and women who represent the diversity of the congregation.
Presbyterians trace their 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 synthesized much of the Reformed thinking that came before him. Calvin did much of his writing in 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, and it was convened by the Rev. John Witherspoon, the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence.
What do Presbyterians believe?
Some of the principles expressed by John Calvin remain at the core of Presbyterian beliefs.
Among these are:
- The sovereignty of God
- The authority of Scripture
- Justification by grace through faith
- The priesthood of all believers
Collectively, these beliefs affirm that God is the supreme authority throughout the universe and our knowledge of God and God’s purpose for humanity comes from the Bible, particularly as revealed in the New Testament through the life, teachings, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Our salvation (justification) through Jesus is God’s generous gift to us and not something that we can earn through doing good works. “For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, 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—in fact we cannot do anything because everything already has been done by and through Jesus Christ—but everyone is called to respond to this free gift through acts of ministry, mission, and service. We do not respond because we have got to, but because we get to out of our love for all that Jesus has done for us.
For more details, visit the PCUSA website.