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Frequently Asked Questions

Even the most seasoned Presbyterian can’t answer some of the basic questions about Presbyterian polity, so here are a couple of questions and answers based upon information from the Book of Order Part II 2011/2013 and Presbytery Polity for Church Leaders, 4th Ed, by Joan S. Gray and Joyce C. Tucker (2012).

What is the lectionary? How do we use it?

The primary intent of the lectionary is to encourage a disciplined reading of the whole range of the biblical witness in worship. A lectionary (from the Latin lectio for “selection” or “reading”) is a set of scripture readings chosen for use in worship. Since at least the 4th century, churches have arranged selections of scripture to accompany the church year and/or to allow for continuous readings of books of the Bible from one Sunday to the next. The word “lectionary” can either refer to a simple table of readings or a book that includes the full texts of the scriptures for each day.

The Revised Common Lectionary, prepared in 1992 by the ecumenical Consultation on Common Texts, is modeled on its precursors, the Common Lectionary (1983) and the Roman Catholic Lectionary for Mass (1969). The Revised Common Lectionary is now used by many of the major denominations in North America. This lectionary provides for a broadly representative sample of Old and New Testament texts and themes, while taking into account the seasons and festivals of the Christian year. If you would like to learn more about the lectionary, check out http://www.presbyterianmission.org/.

What does polity mean?

Polity is the system of rules that govern a church. There are 3 basic types: congregational, episcopal, and presbyterian.

Ok, what does Presbyterian Polity mean?

Presbyterian refers not to our doctrine, but how we govern ourselves. The word “Presbyterian comes from “Presbyter” an English word derived from the Greek word “presbuteros” referring to teaching and ruling elders in the church. Each church is governed by a group of presbyters elected by the congregation and known as Session.