The Presbyterian Church grew out of what is called the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther, a German priest and professor, started the movement when he posted a list of 95 grievances against the Roman Catholic Church on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, in 1517. Some twenty years later, a French/Swiss theologian, John Calvin, further refined the reformers’ new way of thinking about the nature of God and God’s relationship with humanity in what came to be known as Reformed theology. John Knox, a Scotsman who studied with Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland, took Calvin’s teachings back to Scotland. Other Reformed communities developed in England, Holland and France. The Presbyterian Church traces its ancestry back primarily to Scotland and England.
In the early 20th century, the Presbyterian vision for church and ministry was crystallized in the adoption of the Six Great Ends of the Church:
- the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind;
- the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God;
- the maintenance of divine worship;
- the preservation of the truth;
- the promotion of social righteousness;
- and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.
Some of the principles articulated by John Calvin are still at the core of Presbyterian beliefs. Among these are the sovereignty of God, the authority of Scripture, justification by grace through faith, and the priesthood of all believers. Also of great importance is inclusion. We are all sinners in need of the grace of God and so all are welcome in this community of faith, whether single, divorced, married, empty nester, youth or senior citizen. We are all part of the priesthood of believers.
The Presbyterian denominations in the United States have split, and parts have reunited several times starting in the 18th century. St. Andrew is part of the largest Presbyterian denomination, 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.” This reunion has been a bright spot of reconciliation and unity in the history of American Presbyterianism.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is governed by its constitution, the Book of Order and The Book of Confessions. You may find more detailed information regarding our history and beliefs at: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/what-we-believe/