First United Presbyterian Church
1717 Highwood Ave.
Pekin, IL 61554


Q. What is a Presbyterian?

In the New Testament, Presbuteros means "elder", and refers to the custom of choosing leaders and advisors from among the wisest members of the church. The Presbyterian Church is founded on this concept of democratic rule under the Word of God.

Q. How is the Presbyterian church governed?

The overall church structure consists of four (4) governing bodies:

  • General Assembly: The national governing body is made up of equal numbers of lay people and clergy chosen by the Presbyteries.
  • Synod: Representatives are elected from each Presbytery to oversee several Presbyteries.
  • Presbytery: Elders and ministers from congregations who oversee the local churches.
  • Session: The local governing body. Ordained ministers (ministers of the Word) and elders--all elected by the congregation.

Q. What is the historical timeline of the Presbyterian church?

The Presbyterian church traces its roots back to the early church in Jerusalem. The protestant reformation moved forward in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany.

John Calvin, called the father of Presbyterianism, converted to Protestantism in 1533. He interpreted the bible as the revelation of God, emphasizing theology, worship, education, thrift, ethical behavior and representative government for his followers. From his home city, Geneva, Calvin's ideas spread throughout Europe.

The Scottish protestant, John Knox, fled persecution in his homeland and studied with Calvin in Geneva. He returned in 1559 and established Presbyterianism in Scotland.

In England the "Westminster Assembly" of 151 Presbyterians worked steadily between 1643 and 1649 to write the doctrinal guides which Presbyterians now recognize as some of their basic texts.

The first presbytery in America was established in Philadelphia in 1706. During the 1800s, disagreement over slavery and evangelism broke the church into northern and southern branches. The two branches reunited in 1983 to form the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Q. What do Presbyterians believe?

There is no strict set of beliefs that unite Presbyterians or separates them from other followers of Christ. Presbyterians have always believed that the Bible is the most authoritative source for faith and practice for all people and that the Bible is an inspired record of the revelation of God to All.

Q. What sacraments do Presbyterians recognize?

Baptism: Is the sacrament that unites us with Jesus Christ and makes us members of God's family, the church.

Communion: Also called The Lord's Supper, Holy Communion, or The Eucharist--is a time to renew faith and strengthen participants for the duties and privileges of Christian service.

Q. What is an effective church member?

An effective church member maintains Christian habits such as regular church attendance, bible reading, prayer, and participation in church activities and services.