February 29, 2012
Name That Denomination
Fred Rogers, from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was an ordained Presbyterian minister.
Are Presbyterian’s old? Of course not! But the name “Presbyterian,” is rooted in the Greek word presbuteros, which means “elder.” Presbyterians can trace their history back to the16th century, while the first American Presbyterian church was organized in Philadelphia in 1706.
With more than two million members and more than 10,000 congregations, the Presbyterian Church is holding strong even though the individual congregations may be considered small. Nearly 74 percent of Presbyterian churches have less than 200 members. This is often thought to create the tight-knit congregation that has stabilized the church. The largest Presbyterian congregation is Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Ga., with more than 9,000 members.
Presbyterians are distinctive in many ways but most notably in the belief in Predestination- a teaching that has sometimes been passionately disputed. John Calvin believed that scripture indicates that God “predestined” or “elected” some people to be saved in Jesus Christ and others not to be. Calvin insisted that no one is in a position to judge whether or not another person was saved.
Many Presbyterians believe that the doctrine of predestination demonstrates that God is free and gracious and salvation comes from God alone.
As a fun side-note, there are many well-known Presbyterians, including John Wayne, Shirley Temple, Roy Rogers, Dick Van Dyke, Mark Twain, Sam Walton (founder of WalMart), and nine U.S. Presidents, including Ronald Reagan.
Another notable Presbyterian is Fred Rogers from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Rogers was also an ordained Presbyterian minister.
Many of our local Presbyterian churches are listed on our church directory on page 13. For more information, visit www.pcusa.org.