Presbyterian Beliefs

Welcome to Second Presbyterian Church!  Thank you for choosing to look at who we are and, on this page, what we believe.  We invite you to experience us in person as this will give you the best information.

Members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) denomination are followers of Jesus Christ, something we share with all Christians.  We celebrate Christ as Head of the Church.  We are guided in our common life together by the Bible, inspired by God and written by humans; the Book of Confessions, written statements of faith relevant to the times in which we live; and the Book of Order, which instructs the daily living of our faith in the fellowship and work of the church.

Presbyterians trace their history to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.  Martin Luther and John Calvin parted ways with Catholicism that was requiring believers to pay money for forgiveness.  Their Reformed Theology declared that God is sovereign, the supreme authority; Scripture is authoritative; salvation is given through grace alone; and every person is a priest, responsible for acting like Jesus and sharing the Good News. 

The name “Presbyterian” comes from the Greek term in the New Testament for elder, “presbuteros.”   We celebrate two sacraments, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, both given and endorsed by Jesus Christ.  Our church government emphasizes that the leadership of the church is shared between those called to be ministers (Teaching Elders) and church members called to be elders (Ruling Elders).  Ministers and elders are elected by the congregation.  At every level, the denomination shares leadership by equal numbers of ministers and elders.  We could best be described as a “representative democracy,” which incidentally formed the pattern for the United States government. 

We believe the Kingdom of God is both an inner personal reality and an outward community of God’s people.  We have a strong history of mission, education, and social action.  You are welcome to join us!

Covenant Theology & the Sacraments

Jesus Christ is the only Savior. He is the ultimate revelation of God’s character because He is God Himself; and, thus, He perfectly fulfills the requirements of the Old Covenant, the Covenant of Works. To put it another way, God keeps His promises made to His people by means of Himself. The work of Christ Jesus satisfied the justice of God and ushered in the New Covenant, the covenant in which God’s grace is poured out upon sinners who could not keep the Covenant of Works. God has saved His people unto Himself by the finished work of Jesus Christ. The New Covenant is based upon faith in the work of Christ rather than our own meritorious works (Jer. 31:31-34).

Sacraments are holy ordinances instituted by Christ Jesus, which function as signs and seals of the New Covenant, and, thus, they are given for the benefit of God’s people. They signify spiritual realities while also confirming participation in what they represent. The Westminster Confession states that the sacraments exist “to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to His Word” (27.1).

There are two sacraments in Scripture: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism is a rite of initiation, which replaces circumcision (Col. 2:11-12), a sign of the Old Covenant with Israel, as the unique mark placed upon God’s people and their children (Acts 2:39). Baptism is a sign and seal of the New Covenant given in Christ Jesus and also of entrance into the visible Church. The Lord’s Supper, on the other hand, is a rite of fellowship. The Jewish Passover, as an Old Covenant meal, corresponds to the Lord’s Supper, as is made clear in the Gospel accounts of its institution (Matt. 26; Mark 14; Luke 22). Bread and wine (or juice) represent the body and blood of Jesus. All who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ are welcome to participate in the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:26-30). By faith in Christ alone, believers show forth His death and receive spiritual nourishment as they partake of the elements (John 6:35, 53; 1 Cor. 11:26).