What is “Presbyterian?”
If you haven’t been a member of a Presbyterian church in the past, you may be wondering what that word means in connection with the church you visit. The word “presbyterian” refers to the presbyterian form of church government, which is governed by representative assemblies of “presbyters” or elders. When capitalized as “Presbyterian” it applies uniquely to churches that trace their roots to the Church of Scotland, as well as several English dissenter groups that formed during the English Civil War. As a result of splits and unions and mergers over the years, several separate denominations use the Presbyterian name in the United States. Covenant Presbyterian is a member of the largest of those, the Presbyterian Church (USA), known by some for its relatively progressive stance on doctrine.
Presbyterians distinguish themselves from other denominations by doctrine, institutional organization (or “church order”) and worship; using a “Book of Order” to regulate common practice and order. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures, and the necessity of grace through faith in Christ. The PC(USA) looks to the creeds and confessions contained in its Book of Confessions as statements of faith and witness to God’s grace in Jesus Christ as expressed from time to time within the history of God’s people.
As a member congregation of the PC(USA), Covenant is consequently a member church of Holston Presbytery, an intermediate council with responsibility for PC(USA) churches in East Tennessee east of Knoxville.
Apart from this thumbnail sketch, more information about the Presbyterian Church (USA) and Holston Presbytery is available at their websites, links to which are provided below: