What is a Presbyterian?

John CalvinA Presbyterian is a follower of Jesus who is connected to the Church through one of the historic Protestant denominations. The “presbyterian” heritage is traceable to the 16th century reformer John Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland. His understanding of God’s sovereign grace and the new way to organize the Christian life and practice were recorded in the INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, first published in 1536. Calvin’s impact on the Church has been extensive, particularly in the branch of Christian faith associated with “Reformed Theology.” That tradition took root most strongly among the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland, who brought their faith to North America as colonists and early immigrants.

The word “presbyterian” derives from the Greek word for elder: presbuteros. Therefore the name of the church signifies a system of governance led by elders. Presbyterians have a very high standard and view of lay leadership. Elders provide substantial guidance for the direction of the church. They are elected into positions of leadership within the congregation and at every level of the denominational structure, serving in key roles that are reserved for clergy in many other systems of church government.

Northminster is a part of the Presbyterian Church (USA), a denomination known historically for its proclamation of the Gospel, an emphasis on international mission, the value of education, and a commitment to social justice. The national meeting, or General Assembly, meets every other year. Locally, Northminster connects with approximately eighty other congregations in the Presbytery of Cincinnati.