Elders/Ruling Elders

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Presbyterians in the American Colonies and then the United States not only delivered God’s Word from pulpits to worshipping congregations but also operated schools for children where they taught from masters’ desks. Ministers often prepared young adults for college, or in lieu of college tutored them in college subjects, and long before there were seminaries […]

Presbyterian polity is shepherding. It is care of the sheep of Christ’s flock using a connectional relationship with graduated levels of oversight. The fundamental unit for all aspects of shepherding is the elder. The Greek New Testament word presbuteros means elder, thus Presbyterians are those Christians who are shepherded by elders. Presbyterian polity is connectional […]

Following the First World War, J. Gresham Machen had concluded his work with the YMCA and was travelling in France while awaiting his return to the United States. In a letter written in February 1919, he mentioned to his mother, Mary (Minnie) Gresham Machen, that he had spent a night in Dijon. The city, likely associated more with mustard […]

Presbytery meetings of the past followed dockets that were built around a general framework or order of events and those events were recorded in the minutes. Minutes were not a transcription of all that was said during the meeting—like a court stenographer might do—but the clerk of presbytery instead recorded summaries of the actions taken […]

The transcription that follows is the text of a paper originally delivered by Stuart Robinson to the First General Presbyterian Council, which convened in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1877. Robinson had represented the United States churches in the committee that organized the council. Once the council convened, he was the chairman, i.e. moderator, of the morning […]

When Samuel Miller Breckinridge entered the Fort Street Presbyterian Church in Detroit, Michigan, for the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in 1891, he found himself in a spacious and ornate sanctuary. The central pulpit was set in front of the banks of brass organ pipes where it was clearly visible to each seat in […]

One of the difficulties faced when writing biographies about church personalities from the past is locating information about the membership and service of those who were not ministers. Sources regarding ministers are fairly common; sources for those workers and officers seated in the pews often are not. There are exceptions regarding some in the history […]