Beliefs & Vision
A Brief History of First Presbyterian Church
First Presbyterian Church has existed and has been serving the Fort Wayne community since 1831. We are the oldest continuously active congregation in Fort Wayne and while we are very proud of our history and the many local and world-wide missions we have supported over the years, we are not content to dwell on past accomplishments. Over fifty years ago we made the decision to remain a downtown church and to focus much of our mission effort on the needs of downtown Fort Wayne and we continue to do so. First Presbyterian is a forward looking, energetic congregation of people willing to get involved in an amazing variety of causes. Whatever your interests, you will find an outlet (or perhaps help create one) through First Presbyterian Church.
Mission Statement of First Presbyterian Church
- We seek God's will, surrendering our own, loving and forgiving one another and living into peace.
- We are peacemakers. We support one another in our shared commitment to live and grow into the peace of Christ. We actively extend peace and justice to everyone, offering it as a beacon of light and hope to the world.
- We are a loving and forgiving community, treating one another with respect and civility. Through God's Spirit we receive strength to transcend our differences, vulnerabilities, and fears. In doing so, we are freed to experience God's joy, love, and abundant life.
- We are a faith-first community: seeking, learning, worshipping, forgiving, peace- making, serving, and generously giving, united as one in Christ's love.
- We create opportunities that draw us more deeply into a relationship with God and into Christ-centered relationships with one another.
- We protect, nurture, and utilize all the resources God provides to us and through us.
- We are dedicated to active service through sharing our gifts, our talents, and ourselves to extend Christ's love to all.
- We engage in a lifetime of continual study and growth into the peace of Christ.
- We cultivate a loving, joyful congregation. We challenge one another to experience the love of Christ in every relationship by accepting, respecting, and forgiving each other.
We actively support and cherish our youth, prayerfully hoping that each child will grow in faith and love with Christ and the community of believers.
Presbyterian 101: A general guide to facts about the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Presbyterians trace their history to the 16th century and the Protestant Reformation. Our heritage, and much of what we believe, began with the French lawyer John Calvin (1509-1564), whose writings crystallized much of the Reformed thinking that came before him.
Calvin did much of his writing from Geneva, Switzerland. From there, the Reformed movement spread to other parts of Europe and the British Isles. Many of the early Presbyterians in America came from England, Scotland and Ireland. The first American Presbytery was organized at Philadelphia in 1706. The first General Assembly was held in the same city in 1789. The first Assembly was convened by the Rev. John Witherspoon, the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence.
What is distinctive about Presbyterian Church?
Presbyterians are distinctive in two major ways: they adhere to a pattern of religious thought known as Reformed theology and a form of government that stresses the active, representational leadership of both ministers and church members.
A little Presbyterian history
Portions of the Presbyterian church in the United States have separated from the main body, and some parts have reunited, several times. The greatest division occurred in 1861 during the American Civil War. The two branches created by that division were reunited in 1983 to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), currently the largest Presbyterian group in this country.
Presbyterian theological beliefs
Some of the principles articulated by John Calvin remain at the core of Presbyterian beliefs. Among these are the sovereignty of God, the authority of the scripture, justification by grace through faith and the priesthood of all believers. What they mean is that God is the supreme authority throughout the universe. Our knowledge of God and God’s purpose for humanity comes from the Bible, particularly what is revealed in the New Testament through the life of Jesus Christ. Our salvation (justification) through Jesus is God’s generous gift to us and not the result of our own accomplishments. It is everyone’s job – ministers and lay people alike – to share this Good News with the whole world. That is also why the Presbyterian church is governed at all levels by a combination of clergy and laity, men and women alike.
Our position on social issues
In the 1958 Statement of the PCUA, p. 537: The General Assembly:
- Affirms its conviction that neither the Church as the body of Christ, nor Christians as individuals, can be neutral or indifferent toward evil in the world;
- Affirms its responsibility to speak on social and moral issues for the encouragement and instruction of the Church and its members, seeking earnestly both to know the mind of Christ and to speak always in humility and love;
- Reminds the churches that their duty is not only to encourage and train their members in daily obedience to God’s will, but corporately to reveal God’s grace in places of suffering and need, to resist the forces that tyrannize, and to support the forces that restore the dignity of all men as the children of God, for only so is the gospel most fully proclaimed.
Who are we Presbyterians?
As far back as 1837 the General Assembly declared that the church, by its very nature, is a missionary society whose purpose is to share the love of God in Jesus Christ in word and deed and with all the world. Witnessing to the good news of Jesus Christ throughout the world, Presbyterians engage in mission activities, seek to alleviate hunger, foster self-development, respond to disasters, support mission works, preach the gospel, heal the sick, and educate new generations for the future. In partnership with more than 150 churches and Christian organizations around the world, the missionary efforts of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) involve approximately 1,000 volunteers and compensated personnel.
Our Vision for the Future
Our Vision for the future is multi-faceted. Internally, we work to provide comfortable, welcoming, exciting and moving worship, learning and fellowship experiences for our members and guests. Externally we work to support a wide variety of missions and social welfare opportunities locally and around the globe.