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Westminster Church is a congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA). As such we are considered a ‘connectional church’, which means that we don’t stand alone, but work together in conjunction with our sister churches across the United States. We are connected to this ‘greater church’ through several groups.
First, we are one of 96 churches in the Presbytery of the Great Rivers. This group of churches is located in Central Illinois and is defined on the western boundary by the Mississippi River. The Illinois River runs through the middle of Great Rivers Presbytery. The northern most cities are Rock Island and Moline, the southern most cities are Carrollton and Carlinville, and the eastern most cities are LeRoy and Cookesville. The 96 member churches meet four times each year and act upon issues that are common to all. Both clergy and ordained laity are represented at each of these meetings and work together to form the policies of the body. The Presbytery has a group of committees that function to strengthen and support the work of each of its member churches. From offering guidance in financial matters to advice and counsel in the selection of a Pastor and in the church’s relationship to its Pastor, the Presbytery is a partner in ministry. The Presbytery offices are located in Peoria, and the Presbytery is administered by an Executive Presbyter, who may be either a Pastor (called a ‘Teaching Elder’) or an ordained lay person (known as a ‘Ruling Elder’), who is elected by the membership of the Presbytery. Both men and women are able to be ordained as Elders and Teaching Elders in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Read more about our Presbytery by visiting www.greatriverspby.org.
The Great Rivers Presbytery is one of eight Presbyteries across Illinois and Indiana that join to form the Synod of Lincoln Trails. A Synod is an ancient word that means a gathering of church leaders or churches. The Synod helps to enable greater projects in mission and outreach, none of which might be possible for any single congregation or Presbytery. See more about the Synod of Lincoln Trails at www.lincolntrails.org.
Every two years, the Presbyteries from across the United States send delegates, both lay and clergy, to a meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). General Assembly is part convention, part worship service and part political gathering. During General Assembly the great issues facing the church are discussed and decided through fellowship, prayer and voting. Presbyterians feel that in open, frank and loving discussion, the will of God for the church may be revealed. To be sure that this is so, major decisions of the General Assembly are submitted to each individual Presbytery for affirmation. If two-thirds of the Presbyteries approve of the action of the General Assembly, it becomes ‘official policy’ of the church. No decision of the General Assembly is ‘forever’, but can be reopened for discussion at the next meeting of the body. The General Assembly elects a Moderator (again either a Teaching Elder or Ruling Elder) to be the representative head of the denomination for a two year period. In addition, the General Assembly keeps offices and an executive committee that attends to day-to-day matters of the church at large. The headquarters of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and its General Assembly are in Louisville, Kentucky, a location chosen for its central location in the United States as a symbol of our nationwide presence. For more information about the General Assembly and the PC (USA), we invite you to go to www.pcusa.org.
Each congregation of the PC(USA) has its own individual flavor, and style of ministry. Thus our congregations are more a collection of unique witnesses across the country rather than cookie cutter copies of each other. We invite you to join us at Westminster Church to see the way we bring our own unique witness to the historic Reformed Tradition as part of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
“What goes through your mind as you sit in the sanctuary and look around?
As I sit in my pew and look up at the cross with the wonderful light illuminating it, I am reminded of why I am at Westminster on this particular day. The cross reminds me that Christ died for me and, in a sense, I am to do the same in my daily life. The brightness of the cross illustrates for me the brightness of living my life in the way of Christ.”