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What's Presbyterian?

Presbyterian is simply a reference to our church’s form of government. There are three basic forms of church government:

  • Hierarchical (e.g. Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist),
  • Congregational/Independent (e.g. Baptists)
  • Presbyterian

In Catholicism and Episcopalianism, the church is governed by a hierarchy of bishops. In Catholicism the pope (Bishop of Rome) is the head of the church and authority flows from the top down. In Congregational church governance the congregation is the final court of appeal.

In Presbyterianism the congregation is represented by the men it chooses to lead/shepherd them (Acts 14:23). The congregation then submits, in the Lord, to those they have chosen (Hebrews 13:17).  Elders are to be men of prayer and Word, they should be humble and have a compassionate shepherds heart (1 Peter 5:1-5).  The elders of a particular church, are accountable to a group of elders from all the churches in a region.  This group is known as the presbytery. Crosswater is a member of the James River Presbytery. Elders representing all the churches in the entire country meet once a year at a General Assebbly to do the work of the national church (see Acts 15).

These are two key principles of Presbyterianism: representation and accountability. The leaders of a presbyterian congregation are called elders (see Acts 14:23 Acts 20:17,28, Philippians 1:1; 1 Tim. 4:14; 1 Tim. 5:17; Titus 1:5; 1 Peter 5:1,2; James 5:14). In our denomination (Presbyterian Church in America, PCA), only men serve as elders (1 Timothy 2:9-3:7). Every congregation is composed of a plurality of elders and these elders form a Session.

We welcome you to our Church even if you've never been to a Presbyterian Church before. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us.