Glossary

Deacon
Elected by the congregation to a ministry of sympathy, witness, and service.

Elder
Elected by the congregation to serve on the session and to be responsible for the mission and government of a particular church.
Elders also provide representation at the other governing bodies of the Presbyterian Church.

Minister of the Word and Sacrament
Called by the congregation, pastors, co-pastors and associate pastors are responsible for studying, teaching, and preaching the word, for administering the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, for praying with and for the congregation, for pastoral care, and for commending the gospel to all persons.

Governing Bodies
These include session, presbytery, synod, and General Assembly. (See section preceding Glossary, Presbyterian Government at a Glance.)

Agency
The General Assembly has agencies that carry out the work of the Assembly. Some of these agencies are: Church Vocations Ministry Unit, Global Mission Ministry Unit, Social Justice and Peacemaking Ministry Unit, Education and Congregational Nurture Ministry Unit, Board of Pensions, Common Theological Education Foundation, and the Committee on Social Witness Policy.

Moderator
The presiding officer responsible for preserving order and conducting efficiently the business of the governing body. In a particular church, the pastor is the moderator of the Session. The moderator of a presbytery, synod, or General Assembly is elected to the office for a term not to exceed one year. (Synod moderators may be elected for a two-year term.)

Stated Clerk
This official records the transactions of the governing body, keeps its rolls of membership and attendance, preserves its records carefully, and provides extracts of records when required. At the session level, this person is called the “clerk” and is an elder
elected by the session.

The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
This document consists of two parts: Part I, The Book of Confessions, which contains ten confessional statements (as of 1990) that are instructive for our understanding of the faith of the church; and Part II, Book of Order, which includes the Form of Government, the Directory for Worship, and the Rules of Discipline.

Presbyterian Women (PW)
A national organization of women who share an historic and present commitment to the mission of the church. This organization operates in particular churches, in presbyterial regions, and on a national level.

Presbyterian Men (PM)
A nation organization of men who share a commitment to the mission of the church at every level.

Ecumenical Commitment
Our desire to manifest visibly the unity of the church of Jesus Christ calls us into relationship with other religious bodies and
with secular groups as well. Relationships with these other bodies lead us toward greater understanding and provide opportunities for common mission.

Much of the global mission of the church is accomplished ecumenically and always in cooperation with indigenous churches. Some of the ecumenical organizations with which we are in correspondence are:

  • American Bible Society
  • Church World Service
  • Consultation on Church Union
  • Nation Council of Churches
  • World Alliance of Reformed Churches
  • World Council of Churches