Presbyterian Beliefs

Get to Know the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Presbyterians affirm that God comes to us with grace and love in the person of Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose for us so 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 the gospel, feeding the hungry, healing the broken, and welcoming strangers. God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, giving us the energy, intelligence, imagination, and love to be Christ’s faithful disciples in the world.

More than two million people call the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) their spiritual home. Worshiping in 10,000 Presbyterian congregations throughout the United States, they engage the communities in which they live and serve with God’s love.

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A few quick facts:

  • Presbyterians are distinctive in two major ways. They adhere to a pattern of religious thought known as Reformed theology (which evolved during the 16th century religious movement known as the Protestant Reformation) and a form of government that stresses the active, representational leadership of both ministers (Teaching Elders) and church members (Ruling Elders). The word “Presbyterian” comes from the Greek word for “elder.”
  • In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), women are ordained as elders and ministers.
  • Alpharetta Presbyterian Church is part of the Greater Atlanta Presbytery, a governing body of local churches. The General Assembly oversees the entire denomination.
  • The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has two sacraments: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Communion). All are welcome to receive the sacraments.
  • Baptism is God’s gift of grace and also God’s summons to respond to that grace. Baptism usually occurs during infancy, witnessing to the truth that God’s love claims people before they are able to respond in faith. Baptism may also be administered later in life to those who profess their faith.
  • The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) believes that persons of other denominations are part of one body of Christian believers; therefore, it recognizes and accepts baptisms by other Christian churches and allows all to take part in the Lord’s Supper.
  • Predestination is a frequently misunderstood doctrine. In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the doctrine of predestination frees us from speculating about who is “saved” and who is not. Predestination is the belief that salvation is God’s gracious gift: “before we loved God, God first loved us.”