Presbyterians - As We Believe, So We Do
Presbyterians are distinctive in two major ways: they adhere to a pattern of religious thought known as Reformed theology and a form of government that stresses the active, representational leadership of both ministers and church members.
God’s call for all Christians is to love God with all our hearts, minds and souls and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The church is God’s agent of transformation for each of us. “Churches Change People to Change the World,” is a theme that Rev. Teichert preached about in the spring of 2011 and resonated deeply with many of the people we spoke to. We are called as individuals to be in community, to worship, to learn, and to belong so that we can be transformed by God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. As loved and equipped people, we go forth to transform the world.
Beyond this call, God calls a community at a particular moment in time to use their particular gifts to demonstrate God’s astonishing love for the world. Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church’s gifts and strengths and the context in which we live led us to our vision.
What is God Calling Us To Do?
As busy people pulled by the competing demands of contemporary life, we are called to make Jesus Christ the center of our lives.
Pulled by the often conflicting stresses of daily living, we seek to center our lives in the Spirit of God and the ways of Jesus Christ. Through worship, study, prayer, community life, and pastoral care, we seek to deepen our relationship with Jesus. Centered in the love of God, we welcome a broad spectrum of perspectives and ministry interests, and strengthen our bonds of faith and friendship. We support each other as we grapple with the everyday choices we must make to keep Christ at the center of our lives.
As a church blessed with the vitality of children, youth, and young families, we are called to receive the riches of this blessing and to nurture and equip the next generation of the faith.
While most Presbyterian churches are rapidly aging, CCPC is an exception. We have been given a special gift in the sheer number of young people in our congregation. We have a special calling to nurture the faith of children and youth. We are called to include children and youth in every aspect of our church life for the benefit of everyone in the congregation. We envision opportunities for people of every age to participate in acts of service and mission, and to focus on opportunities to work across the generations. We are called to reach out and invite the young families in our neighborhood who have no faith affiliation to come to CCPC. We envision equipping and supporting parents, grandparents, and mentors in raising spiritually healthy children and youth.
As people blessed with education, access to power, and financial resources, we are called to work for justice.
We hear and respond to Jesus’ call to serve “the least of these” in our neighborhoods and in the wider world. Through many and various outreach projects in the church, all people, young and old, busy and not, have the opportunity to engage in advocacy and hands-on mission work in addition to practicing the discipline of charity. In our neighborhood, city, nation and world, we work with partners in mission and service to multiply our efforts to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give voice to those who are oppressed, practice peace, and restore the health of creation.
God is calling CCPC to make Christ the center of our lives, to celebrate and equip the youngest generation of our church to do the work to which Christ has called us all, and to work in the world for justice.
Christ, our Center
Children, our Blessing
Justice, our Passion
Read the 2011 CCPC Visioning Report, “Dreaming a New Day.”
Some of the principles articulated by John Calvin remain at the core of Presbyterian beliefs. Among these are the sovereignty of God, the authority of the scripture, justification by grace through faith and the priesthood of all believers. What they mean is that God is the supreme authority throughout the universe. Our knowledge of God and God's purpose for humanity comes from the Bible, particularly what is revealed in the New Testament through the life of Jesus Christ. Our salvation (justification) through Jesus is God's generous gift to us and not the result of our own accomplishments. It is everyone's job - ministers and lay people alike - to share this Good News with the whole world. That is also why the Presbyterian church is governed at all levels by a combination of clergy, laity, men, and women alike.
"In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit, we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks and to live holy and joyful lives, even as we watch for God's new heaven and new earth, praying, 'Come, Lord Jesus.'" - From A Brief Statement of Faith.
Presbyterians Are Looking Toward the 21st Century
Presbyterians in the 21st century have a vision of ministry that is vibrant and inviting and reflects the love and justice of Jesus Christ. The denomination has set four mission priorities for the next phase of our life as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):
- Evangelism and Witness - We are called to invite all people of faith, repentance, and the abundant life of God in Jesus Christ, to encourage congregations in joyfully sharing the gospel, and through the power of the Holy Spirit to grow in membership and discipleship.
- Justice and Compassion - We are called to address wrongs in every aspect of life and the whole of creation, intentionally working with and on behalf of poor, oppressed, and disadvantaged people, as did Jesus Christ, even at risk to our corporate and personal lives.
- Spirituality and Discipleship - We are called to deeper discipleship through Scripture, worship, prayer, study, stewardship, and service, and to rely on the Holy Spirit to mold our lives more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
- Leadership and Vocation - We are called to lead by Jesus Christ's example, to identify spiritual gifts, and to equip and support Christians of all ages for faithful and effective servant leadership in all parts of the body of Christ.
Presbuteros, the Greek word meaning elder, is used 72 times in the New Testament. It provided the name for the Presbyterian family of churches, which includes the Reformed churches of the world. Both Presbyterian and Reformed are synonymous with churches of the Calvinist tradition.
In America, the first presbytery was organized in 1706 and the first synod in 1717; the first General Assembly was held in 1789. Today's Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was created by the 1983 reunion of the two main branches of Presbyterians in America, separated since the Civil War: the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. and the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The latter had been created by the union of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the United Presbyterian Church of North America in 1958.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is distinctly a confessional and a connectional church, distinguished by the representation of elders - laymen and laywomen - in its government. At the end of 2009 (our most recent data), there were 10,657 congregations and 2,077,138 members in all fifty states and Puerto Rico.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has about 11,000 congregations which are organized into 173 presbyteries (district governing bodies) and 16 synods (regional governing bodies). The local church is governed through its Session. The denomination is governed through the Office of the General Assembly.
The Session of a local church consists of Elders, who are members elected by the congregation and ordained for service. Elders serve a three-year term and may be re-elected for another three-year term. The Moderator of Session is the pastor. The Session meets regularly and oversees the spiritual life and business of the church.
A Presbytery is the local governing body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), consisting of presbyters (that is, elders and ministers) of local congregations. CCPC belongs to the National Capital Presbytery (NCP), which is made up of 109 Churches and about 36,000 members and serves Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and part of Maryland. The NCP Office staff includes the General Presbyter, the Rev. Dr. Wilson Gunn, and the Stated Clerk/Treasurer, the Rev. Richard McFail. Presbytery meetings are held six times a year and are presided by a Moderator elected yearly. The NCP office is located just outside the Beltway at 11300 Rockville Pike, Suite 1009, Rockville, MD 20852.
A Synod is a regional governing body for coordinating resources. Our synod is the Mid-Atlantic Synod with headquarters in Richmond, Virginia.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has its national office, the Office of the General Assembly, in Louisville, Kentucky. The Office of the General Assembly is the ecclesiastical arm of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Under the leadership of the Stated Clerk, the OGA staff carries out the directives assigned to the Clerk by the General Assembly, the denomination's highest governing body.
The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) consists of several parts. The first volume is the Book of Confessions, while the second (consisting of the Form of Government, Directory for Worship, and Rules of Discipline) is called the Book of Order. The Book of Confessions contains historical statements of what we as a church believe. The Book of Order is Part II of the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This document contains the Form of Government, Directory for Worship, Rules of Discipline, and the Formula of Agreement.
The General Assembly consists of ministers and lay people elected every two years to a meeting that reviews the work of synods, resolves controversies in the church, is responsible for matters of common concern for the whole church, and serves as a symbol of unity for the church. A Moderator of the General Assembly is also elected every two years to preside over the plenary sessions. The Moderator can be a minister or lay person and serves a two-year term promoting the church’s mission. The current Moderator of the General Assembly is the Elder Cindy Bolbach (from National Capital Presbytery).