Presbyterian History & Organization
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has approximately 2.4 million members, 11,100 congregations and 14,000 ordained and active ministers. 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 crystallized much of the Reformed thinking that came before him. Calvin did much of his writing from Geneva, Switzerland. From there, the Reformed movement spread to other part of Europe and the British Isles. Many of the early Presbyterians in America came from England, Scotland and Ireland.
"The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has approximately 2.4 million members, 11,100 congregations and 14,000 ordained and active ministers."
Presbyterians have featured prominently in United States history. The Rev. Francis Makemie, who arrived in the U.S. from Ireland in 1683, helped to organize the first American Presbytery at Philadelphia in 1706. The first General Assembly was held in the same city in 1789. This Assembly was convened by the Rev. John Witherspoon, the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence. The Rev. William Tennent founded a ministerial "log college" in New Jersey that evolved into Princeton University. Other Presbyterian ministers, such as the Rev. Jonathan Edwards and the Rev. Gilbert Tennent, were driving forces in the so-called "Great Awakening," a revivalist movement in the early 18th century.
The Presbyterian church in the United States has split and parts have reunited several times. Currently the largest group is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which has its national offices in Louisville, Ky. It was formed in 1983 as a result of reunion between the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (PCUS), the so-called "southern branch," and the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA), the so-called "northern branch." Other Presbyterian churches in the United States include: the Presbyterian Church in America, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and others. (pcusa.org)
The PCUSA uses a representative form of church government based on four ruling councils. Members of these councils are elected by their respective bodies to represent their bodies. The four councils are the Session (the ruling council in a local church), the Presbytery (the ruling council for a collection of churches in a geographical region), the Synod (the ruling council for a collection of presbyteries) and the General Assembly (the ruling council for the entire denomination). Our Presbytery is called Flint River Presbytery and oversees the 49 churches that reside in the southwest corner of our state. To visit our Flint River Presbytery website, click here. (flintriverpresbytery.org)