WHAT IS A PRESBYTERY?
What is a Presbytery?
A Presbytery is not a local church, but rather the collective expression of the church in a particular area. The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area includes 60 Presbyterian congregations and worshipping communities in eastern and southern Minnesota and far western Wisconsin. (You can find them on our Presbytery map.) We are geographically diverse—urban and suburban and exurban and rural churches—but united in serving and supporting each other and the communities we serve.
In formal language, from the Book of Order that governs Presbyterian churches all across the United States, “the presbytery is responsible for the government of the church throughout its district, and for assisting and supporting the witness of congregations to the sovereign activity of God in the world, so that all congregations become communities of faith, hope, love, and witness.” That’s what a Presbytery is.
What do Presbyteries do?
For one, a Presbytery is home to the Presbyterian ministers within its bounds, providing care and support and oversight for our ministers, whether they serve a congregation or work in others areas of ministry—teachers or chaplains, for instance. Here, that’s more than 250 ministers, active and retired. It is the presbytery who guides and eventually ordains new ministers as well. When a church is without a pastor, the presbytery provides unique support for that church until a new pastor is chosen.
Presbyteries also serve and equip their congregations and leaders in their work of ministry, in the places and with the people to which God has called them, by providing guidance, programs, and other forms of support that enable congregations to grow and thrive. Again, in our formal language, the Presbytery exists “for assisting and supporting the witness of congregations to the sovereign activity of God in the world, so that all congregations become communities of faith, hope, love, and witness.” A Presbytery will also organize new congregations, merge or divide congregations, occasionally close a congregation. In turn, congregations support the Presbytery financially as well. And in times when it’s important to join our voices together on issues important to our society, the Presbytery can be that collective voice and organizer.
What Guides Your Work as a Presbytery?
In the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, this work to which God is calling us is rooted in values that we hold together. Values that are aspirational—the voice of the Spirit out ahead of us—and at the same time the vital foundation on which our actions depend and are built. Values we believe can and should be guiding and supporting our actions every day, every week, every month, in our common life and work.
It is God who shapes our identity. We love God, others, and ourselves because God loved us first. Our purpose in the world, and our calling as individuals and as congregations, begins and is shaped by our identity in God, as “beloved.”
It is Christ who calls us into ministry. Our congregations and leaders seek to be vital communities of faith, hope, love, and witness to those they serve, pointing beyond themselves through word and work to the good news of God’s transforming grace in Christ Jesus.
It is the Holy Spirit who leads us forward. This is a Presbytery of deeply gifted individuals, impactful ministry, and significant resources. We believe we are the body of Christ in the world and, by working together by faith, we can in fact move mountains. And when we follow the Spirit, in things big and small, spontaneous and structured, then God promises to “work out all things for good.”
In trusting God, we come to trust ourselves and each other. We believe and we act based on God’s reliability. In seeing God’s good hand in all that we do, we both deepen the trust we have in the gifts for ministry God has given us and our sisters and brothers in the faith.
Compassion guides our relationships. In every interaction, in every phone call and email, and in every debate on the floor of Presbytery, we seek to experience and nurture the spark of Jesus Christ in every person. Following Christ’s example, we come at this calling with mercy, seeing people in their highest potential so that, when they are ready, they can see themselves in this same Spirit-blessed light.
This is who we are. This is the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area.
Want to know more about the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)? You’ll find that here.