Basic Presbyterian Beliefs
SIN AND GRACE — We affirm the doctrine of “original sin”, which simply means that sin (brokenness, alienation) is a part of our lives that we can never escape. However, we also affirm the doctrine of “grace”, which means that God does not abandon us in our sin, but constantly reaches out to call us, help us, inspire us, save us, love us.
THE CHURCH — We affirm that the Church is the Body of Christ in our world. We believe that when Christ comes into a person’s life, Christ immediately calls that person to the Church.
Worship is absolutely the most important thing we do as Christians.
The Church is the place where we gather together for encouragement and fellowship, for learning and support, for guidance and fun. In the Church, we become family together . . . children of God, brothers and sisters of Christ, sisters and brothers of each other.
THE SACRAMENTS — We affirm, with other Protestant churches, the practice of two Sacraments: Baptism and Communion. Baptism is our entrance rite into the family of God in the Church. We believe that baptism is a symbol of God’s claim upon our lives, which comes to us even before we know how to respond. Communion is the meal in which God spiritually feeds us with the presence of Christ. We believe that all persons who are baptized are invited to participate in this holy meal with us.
THE BIBLE — We affirm that the Bible is the Word of God for our lives, for our Church, for our world. We believe that the Holy Spirit inspired writers of old, working with them through their own culture and world-view to speak God’s Word to specific people in specific situations. We also believe that the Holy Spirit continues to inspire us as we, in our own day and situations, try to listen for God’s Word in our lives.
CHURCH GOVERNMENT — Presbyterians traditionally have believed that church authority is best vested in groups rather than in individuals. Therefore, the pastors of a church meet together with people who are elected by and from the congregation as elders, and they all serve on the Session, which is the group that carries the primary responsibility for the life, mission, worship, and ministry of the local congregation. Some congregations, and ours is one, also ordain people to serve as deacons, entrusting them to lead us in areas of compassion, service, and mission to those in need. Every Session elects at least one elder who, with the pastor(s), serves on the next-larger regional group in the Church, known as the Presbytery.
Our Presbytery, which is Blackhawk Presbytery (roughly the northern one-third of Illinois, except Chicago), is responsible for the Church’s mission within its boundaries, for helping churches in times of difficulty, for assisting congregations who are searching for pastors, for providing resources that may be needed by local churches. Presbyteries, in turn, elect an equal number of elders and ministers to serve on the Synod (ours is the Synod of Lincoln Trails, which consists of the states of Illinois and Indiana), and also on the General Assembly (our national gathering of Presbyterians).
THE WORLD — We affirm that the world is created by God, and that we are called by God to be responsible stewards of the world and its resources. We believe that we are called to exhibit to the world the nature of the Kingdom of God, by how we live, how we serve, how we maintain our relationships. We believe that there is no place in the world where God is not present.