Awesome Things About the PC(USA)
We are Christ-Centered Through-and-Through
In Presbyterian history and our confessions we have stated our trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We know who we are and whose we are. Jesus Christ is our hope, even as a recent official document of our denomination is entitled, Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ (This statement was approved by the General Assembly in 2002 by a vote of 497-11-5, 96.88%). Here is an excerpt from that document that makes our allegiance and hope clear:
“…Jesus Christ is the only Savior and Lord, and all people everywhere are called to place their faith, hope, and love in him. No one is saved by virtue of inherent goodness or admirable living, for ‘by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God’ (Ephesians 2:8).’ No one is saved apart from God’s gracious redemption in Jesus Christ.
Because the church is founded and enlivened by the presence of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, we can be confident that it is Christ who works through the imperfect and sinful fellowship of the church. Even in our brokenness we testify that we belong solely to Jesus Christ. In the power of the Holy Spirit, we proclaim Christ’s love, in word and deed, to all the world.”
We are Committed to God’s Word
Presbyterians love God with all their minds, as well as with their hearts and souls (Mt 22:37). Therefore, we continue reading the scriptures with the best that scholarship has to offer. We don’t just follow the herd; we think through our faith and plumb the depths of God’s truth for all humanity, and indeed for all creation.
We encourage curiosity and debate in our exploration of the Bible, knowing that God’s word often comes to us from those on the margins of society, just as it came through the prophets of the Old Testament.
As we gain new insights, we confess our faith in each new day, thinking through what God’s call to love and justice means for us in our own time (see our Book of Confessions). We are so secure in God’s claim over our lives, that we are able to stay in close fellowship with brothers and sisters whose interpretations may differ from ours. We see ourselves as the covenant family of God, chosen and blessed by God to restore all creation. For more on how Presbyterians use and understand Scripture, see: Presbyterian Understanding and Use of Holy Scripture
We’ve been Active in World Mission for 175 years
We have over 175 years of experience and partner with churches in over 100 countries. You can’t go anywhere in the developing world (now called the “majority world” because of its majority population) without running into someone who says, “You’re Presbyterian? My mother’s life was saved in one of your hospitals.” Or, “My father learned to read in one of your schools.”
We have a great theology of mission: Mission is not something Presbyterians “do to people,” but an adventure we do with God and with global partners around the world. Presbyterian mission co-workers are teachers, church planters, doctors, public health specialists, chaplains and human rights advocates. They teach theology, church history, Greek, Hebrew and English. They preach and evangelize. They organize and host mission teams from the United States.
World Mission recently launched a poverty campaign with a goal “to provide quality education for 1 million children by the year 2020.”
We’re Recognized as Experts in Training Volunteers
Few, if any, help others better in a crisis than the PC(USA). Presbyterian Disaster Assistance enables congregations and mission partners of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) to witness to the healing love of Christ through caring for communities adversely affected by catastrophic events.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is the emergency and refugee program of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. PDA is renowned for its training of people and its commitment to long-term relief.
In 2013, PDA received a $1.4 million grant from the American Red Cross to coordinate volunteer housing for Hurricane Sandy relief workers.
“In the seven years I’ve been with PDA [five as a volunteer and the past two as staff] we’ve made good contacts with the Red Cross,” said Rick Turner. “This grant is recognition that we know what we’re doing and do it well.”
The core budget, including staff and administrative costs, is funded through the One Great Hour of Sharing, and its program work is additionally funded through designated gifts.
We are at the Forefront of Evangelism in New Ways
Presbyterians are on the forefront of evangelizing people who are outside the reach of the established church. Since 2012 when the movement was launched, over 250 New Worshipping Communities have been birthed.
Over the next seven years, our denomination will start 1001 new worshipping communities, but the true vision is to make millions of new disciples who are currently outside the reach of the established church. This movement is designed to help our denomination make the shift from an inward- focused, membership-maintenance model of church to a more outward, creative, and disciple-making model of church. The question must change from “How do we do church better?” to “How we can be church in a new way?” Watch Video: Presbyteries Receive Inspiration and Energy
In order to reconnect with the missional DNA already present in our churches, we must make the “proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind” a priority for each member of our congregations. This proclamation in word and deed must start with disciples who have a vibrant faith going out to share their faith with friends, neighbors, and their communities. In order for us to live into this missional ecclesiology, existing congregations must catch the vision to plant new worshiping communities.
We Educate and Equip Seminary Students to Lead
As Presbyterians, we take seriously loving God with our minds. We look to Scripture and advances in theological discovery that help us understand Gods’ will for our lives today. In part, that’s what it means to be Reformed.
For this reason, we place a high value in educating our clergy. Doing so is a hallmark of our denomination – a source of pride.
To continue this tradition of excellence, we have entrusted 10 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seminaries, and two theological institutions related to the denomination by covenant agreement, with the responsibility of educating and equipping persons of faith for pastoral leadership.
Seminary students come in all shapes and sizes. The 3,100 students who attend our PCUSA seminaries are black and white, Asian and Hispanic, Native American and Middle Eastern. These women and men of faith come from varying socio-economic backgrounds, and from urban, rural, small town and suburban settings. In short, they reflect the diverse nature of the Presbyterian Church.
We are Engaging Young Adults through Service
“A Year in Service Can Change Your Life” is this program’s slogan, and it’s true! The Young Adult Volunteer program is a one-year service opportunity for young adults from 19 to 30 years, that trains young adults to think and live missionally for the rest of their lives.
YAVs are first thoroughly trained by experienced missionaries and then placed in agencies or churches with jobs depending on the needs of partners and the skills of the volunteer.
YAVs are exposed to some of the hardest problems in the world – poverty, violence and reconciliation, and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ – while living and reflecting with other volunteers on the meaning and motivation of their Christian faith.
We Advocate for Social Justice
Both are woven throughout our work in the U.S. and abroad. In the U.S., we advocate for social justice through the Office of Public Witness, which is the public policy information and advocacy office of the Presbyterian Church (USA). We participate in direct advocacy with members congress and the administration through in person meetings, letters and phone calls. And, we encourage Presbyterians to call for action by congress and the administration on matters of conscience and faith, as well as advocate for the less fortunate.
We work for environmental justice, and work to help feed the hungry both here and abroad. We work to provide health solutions to those who need assistance in the U.S. and abroad. We work for fair trade, and fair food, and against the scourge of human trafficking.