from “Who Are Presbyterians?”
by our friends at the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.
From “Working Together” by Tamiko Corbett in the Presbyterian Record, March 1997
A Presbyterian could be a colleague at work. She could be the volunteer who teaches English. He could be the smiling face handing out blankets, or the quiet widower down the street. They could be that group sharing faith stories together and offering support. A Presbyterian could be anyone. What unites Presbyterians is their common faith in God, the way in which they worship and their ability to achieve extraordinary goals for the sake of others.
The word Presbyterian means elder. Elders are church members elected for Christian service by their congregations to represent them and to serve God and the church. There are two kinds of elders who participate in the government of the church: ruling elders are laypeople and teaching elders are ordained ministers.
Our churches use various styles of worship, but we are all focused on the authority of scripture and on being Christ-centred. Living Faith is a statement of Christian belief arising from the Canadian Presbyterian experience.
Presbyterians work to bring the grace of God to all people at work and at home. This transformation begins in their own lives as they grow in Christian faith. Their hands have improved the lives of abandoned children, homeless men and women, communities shattered by war or environmental disasters, and refugees searching for a second chance.
Presbyterians have an exciting history and, like all Christian churches, we trace our roots back to the New Testament. The birth of Presbyterianism took place in the 16th century.
John Calvin, known as the father of Presbyterianism, was a leading figure in the Protestant Reformation. Worship, education and the role of laypeople were a large part of his teachings. Calvin’s teachings spread throughout Europe and also in Scotland, where John Knox later established Presbyterianism in 1545. Today there are nearly 1,000 Presbyterian congregations across Canada.
To find out more about The Presbyterian Church in Canada, we invite you to attend our service this Sunday, and ask questions. God bless you!
What is Important to Us
God as Triune
Belief in the Trinity — God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit — is central to the faith. God is the Father to whom we come, the Son through whom we come, and the Spirit by whom we come.
The Presbyterian faith goes back behind all denominational divisions and interpretations to the Bible. The Bible inspires and guides us in what we believe and how we live.
Worship and the Sacraments
Worship gives Presbyterians an opportunity to praise, listen, and respond to God. Most congregations organize the worship service into four parts: gathering, listening, thanking, and going. These parts are expressed in terms like: Gather in God’s name; Proclaim the Word of God; Give thanks to God; Go in God’s name.
In worship we celebrate two sacraments – Baptism and Communion.
Baptism can occur at any age in The Presbyterian Church in Canada. It occurs in conjunction with a profession of faith and admission to church membership. Believing parents bring their child for Baptism and promise to raise their child to love and serve God. The entire congregation promises to support the child. Usually the minister pours or sprinkles water on the person’s head in Baptism. The waters of Baptism symbolize refreshment, cleansing, new life, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Because Baptism is seen as an act of the whole church and a sign of church membership, Baptism always happens in the presence of the worshipping congregation.
Traditionally, Communion is celebrated four times a year, but more and more Canadian Presbyterian churches offer it more frequently – monthly or even every Sunday.
Both Baptism and Communion are visible expressions of the gospel given as a way to enter and encourage Christian growth.
Reaching Out and Serving
The Christian church exists for others.
We believe that our faith is alive through our actions of service (James 2:14-26). In Presbyterian churches we find evidence of activities that build community and reach out to serve others. Many congregations sponsor Girl Guide or Scouts Canada groups, encouraging the young people to get involved in Religion in Life Programs. On bulletin boards we see notices about coffee hours, potluck dinners, meetings of parents’ groups or CGIT.
worship, but in all of life.