The Presbyterian Church's Foundational
Principles for Governance
Chapter 3 - The Church: Its Unity and Relationships
The Unity of the Church In Mission
The unity of the church is a gift of its Lord and finds expression in its faithfulness to the mission to which Christ calls it. The church is a fellowship of believers which seeks the enlargement of the circle of faith to include all people and is never content to enjoy the benefits of Christian community for itself alone.
There is one church. As the Bible speaks of the one body which is the church living under the one Spirit of God known through Christ, it reminds us that we have "one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all" (Eph. 4:5–6).
Visible oneness, by which a diversity of persons, gifts, and understandings is brought together, is an important sign of the unity of God’s people. It is also a means by which that unity is achieved. Further, while divisions into different denominations do not destroy this unity, they do obscure it for both the church and the world. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), affirming its historical continuity with the whole church of Jesus Christ, is committed to the reduction of that obscurity.
The Church: Its Diversity
The church in its witness to the uniqueness of the Christian faith responds to diversity in both the church and the world. The fellowship of Christians, as it gathers in worship and in the ordering of all aspects of its life, is to display a rich variety of form, practice, language, program, nurture and service.
Openness to Others
Our unity in Christ enables and requires the church to be open to all persons and the variety of their talents and gifts, implementing policies and procedures that guarantee full participation and access to representation in the decision making of the church. Thus, the church is called to affirm itself as a community of diversity in fact as well as in faith. The inclusion of all ages, races, and conditions provides a visible sign of the new humanity.
In its call to witness to the richness and benevolence of God’s creation, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and all its governing bodies shall give life to policies and procedures that enhance the church’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness in all aspects of its life. Persons of all racial ethnic groups, different ages, both sexes, various disabilities, diverse geographical areas, different theological positions consistent with the Reformed tradition, as well as different marital conditions (married, single, widowed, or divorced) shall be guaranteed full participation and access to representation in the decision making of the church.
Return to What Presbyterians Believe