What Is a Presbyterian?

As Presbyterians, we trace our history to the 16th century and the Protestant Reformation. Our heritage, and much of what we believe, began with the French lawyer John Calvin (1509-1564), whose writings crystallized much of the Reformed thinking that came before him. Many of the early Presbyterians in America came from England, Scotland and Ireland. The first American Presbytery was organized at Philadelphia in 1706. The first General Assembly was held in the same city in 1789 and was convened by the Rev. John Witherspoon, the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Presbyterians are distinctive in two major ways. We adhere to a pattern of religious thought known as Reformed theology and a form of government that stresses the active, representational leadership of both ministers and church members.

The core of Presbyterian beliefs includes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the scripture, justification by grace through faith and the priesthood of all believers. We believe God is the supreme authority throughout the universe. Our knowledge of God and God's purpose for humanity comes from the Bible, particularly what is revealed in the New Testament through the life of Jesus Christ. Our salvation (justification) through Jesus is God's generous gift to us, and not the result of our own accomplishments. It is everyone's privilege - ministers and lay people alike - to share this Good News with the whole world. That is also why the Presbyterian church is governed at all levels by a combination of clergy and laity, men and women alike.

Presbyterians are BELIEVERS and DOERS

WE BELIEVE - in the Great Ends of the Church as set forth in our Book of Order: "the proclamation of the Gospel for the salvation of humankind; the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God; the maintenance of divine worship; the preservation of the truth; the promotion of social righteousness; and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world."

WE BELIEVE - in a theology of mission, as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith: "... Christ hath commissioned his Church to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations. All believers are therefore under obligation ... to contribute by their prayers, gifts, and personal efforts to the extension of the Kingdom of Christ throughout the whole earth."

WE DO - mission and its related functions in "good Presbyterian order" through the structures of our General Assembly, synods, presbyteries and local churches, which provide accountability in a connectional system.

WE DO - mission in partnership locally, nationally and globally by prioritizing our available resources.

Mission Statement

It is our mission to bear witness to the good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit in Northern New England.

The Core Practices of the Presbytery are:

  • PNNE will support the mission of our local churches.
  • PNNE will act collectively to proclaim the gospel and care for the children of God appropriate to our gifts and opportunities.
  • PNNE will encourage relationships of trust and communication among leaders and congregations.
  • PNNE will nurture mutual support and collaboration among our people and pastors.
  • PNNE will participate in the covenantal/connectional order and programs of PCUSA.
  • PNNE will strive for excellence in the calling, care, and accountability of our leaders.