Who Are Presbyterians?
The Presbyterian Church was established in the 16th Century during the development of Protestantism. Originally influenced by John Calvin’s involvement in the French Protestant movement, this focus on a balance of power through “elder” (Greek: presbuteros) leadership in the church, made its way to the British Isles, where it flourished and was launched into the rest of the world.
Presbyterians are unique in two primary ways:
- adherence to a pattern of Christian thought known as Reformed theology, and;
- the practice of a form of church government that stresses the active, representative leadership of both pastors and elders (elected lay people who serve on the Session, the governing board of the church). Incidently, the form of government of the United States of America is founded on the Presbyterian model, which means there would be no United States of America, as we know it, without us Presbyterians!
Some basic principles of Presbyterian and Reformed theology are:
The Sovereignty of God
God is the supreme authority throughout the universe and is in control of all that exists.
The Centrality of Jesus Christ
Presbyterians share with all Christians the belief that Jesus Christ is central to our lives, our worship, and our service. We believe Jesus Christ is God Incarnate: 100% human and 100% divine, a mystery. We believe that God in Christ came to live among us, and die for us, that all might come to know the grace of God and the gift of salvation through faith in Him.
The Authority of Scripture
The Bible is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God. Presbyterians are not literalists or fundamentalists, but do understand the Bible to be the authoritative source of faith and practice for all of life. It is not the words on the page that are authoritative, but it is the Spirit of God that speaks through these words that make them the Word.
Justification by Grace through Faith
Our salvation (justification) through Jesus Christ is God’s generous gift (grace) to us and not the result of our own accomplishments. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The Priesthood of All Believers
Presbyterians believe it is everyone’s responsibility (not just pastors) to share the Good News of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.
We are Saved to Serve
Presbyterians believe the purpose of salvation is to serve God by serving others. Salvation is not understood as a thing, or a commodity, or as fire insurance, but as God’s gracious election for the purpose of service. Christian service includes, but is not limited to, the following: Worship, Sharing the Good News (evangelism), Mission, Christian Education, Love of Neighbor and Enemy, Prayer and Meditation, Social and Political Awareness and Activity.
We Presbyterians state, in our Book of Order, that there are six Great Ends (purposes) 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 truth; the promotion of social righteousness; and, the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.
Our Mission and Vision
In response to God’s grace, love and peace, and inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Presbyterian Church of Deep Run has as its mission: To Know Christ as our Lord and Savior and to share Christ within this congregation and throughout the world.
The Presbyterian Church of Deep Run is a church in which God’s love is nurtured by its parishioners and shared with each other. We are at our best when we carry each other’s burdens. The mutual concern and tender mercies foster the cohesiveness of the congregation. There is a distinct sense of community that we feel sets us apart and should remain vibrant in the future, even as we grow. It is vital that we continue to carry on mission work and service to others within our congregation, our community, and our world.
In studying our history and culture, we have come to understand that we have functioned at times as both a pastor-centered church and a program-centered church. While the lay leadership of the church has become more empowered over recent years and has become a solid foundation for the administration, programs, and spirituality of the congregation, Deep Run still relies heavily upon its pastoral leadership to lead us in directing our energies and resources. We realize that we have become better at working together and collaborating with each other. We have also come to realize that, when we take on leadership responsibility, we are able to have a more collaborative relationship with our pastor. So as we look forward to establishing a relationship with our next installed pastor, we are seeking someone who is able to combine being a strong pastoral leader with working as part of a leadership team to help Deep Run become the church that God wants us to be.
In our last vision statement prepared in 2009, we envisioned working toward some specific goals—developing greater lay leadership, becoming a more mission-minded congregation, seeking greater participation in adult educational opportunities, and expanding our spiritual growth. We have worked hard to accomplish these goals. We now see these as some of the strengths of our congregation. We believe we have in place the leadership and programs so that these areas of church life will continue to be a strength even as we look to developing new priorities.
As we envision the future with our next installed pastor, the congregation has made known that it has particular aims and goals. The congregation has made it known that it wants to make ministry to families, youth, and children a high priority. Since our congregation is concerned not just about today, but about our future, we realize that we must make a stronger effort to attract and retain families, youth, and children. We realize that developing our priorities in this area will likely mean that some of the next pastor’s time, talents, and energies will not be as focused on some other areas of church life. But, we believe that prioritizing family ministry is best for Deep Run over time.
As Deep Run looks to the future, it does so with a mixture of hope and apprehension. Yet, we know that it is only by trusting more completely in God and by having faith in Jesus Christ that we can be the church God wants us to be. We are ready and willing to make the adjustments, the adaptations, and the sacrifices to truly be Christ’s church here at Deep Run.
Adopted by the session of the Presbyterian Church of Deep Run November 12, 2015