Frequently Asked Questions
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The PC(USA) Structure and Governing Bodies The governing bodies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are: sessions, presbyteries, synods and the General Assembly. All levels are conducted by Presbyters.
(from Greek presbyteros, “elder”), an elected officer or minister within the governing structure. Many who signed the Declaration of Independence were Presbyterian and one can see the influence with our governmental structure.
Beginning at the church level. The session governs a particular congregation. It is made up of elders elected by the congregation, plus all the installed pastors on the staff, including pastors, co-pastors, and associate pastors. The session is responsible for all decisions regarding the program and policies of its congregation, except for the two powers reserved for the congregation: the election of officers, including the pastoral staff, and the buying, selling, and/or mortgaging of church property. The constitution (Book of Order & Book of Confessions) spells out 19 specific duties for the session. The session is composed of elders elected for specific terms of service as well as the installed pastor(s) and associate pastor(s). It is presided over by the moderator, who is the pastor or a minister member of the Presbytery when the pastor is not available. The session elects its own clerk, who is called “Clerk of the Session.” The clerk of the session must be an elder, but not necessarily one serving currently on the session. The session elects the clerk for such term as it shall determine.
The Presbytery is the governing body that has jurisdiction over the sessions of all Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations within its bounds and all its minister members. It is composed of “all the churches and ministers of the Word and Sacrament within a certain district”. There are presently 173 Presbyteries. When the presbytery meets, its members include: – all ministers of the Word and Sacrament who are members of the presbytery, – all elders commissioned by their sessions to attend that meeting – any elder elected moderator of the presbytery for the duration of his or her term. The presbytery has the power to “ordain, receive, dismiss, install, remove, and discipline ministers.” It is the prerogative of the presbytery both to establish the relationship between a congregation and a minister and to dissolve a relationship when necessary. The presbytery participates in the deliberations of synod and of the General Assembly by electing commissioners to serve as members of these governing bodies at their meetings. It also hears and receives reports from the commissioners when they return from the meetings. Further, the Book of Order specifies that the presbytery is responsible for insuring that the orders of these governing bodies are carried out within the presbytery.
The Synod (there are 16 synods) is the governing body that has oversight of the life and mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) within a specific geographic region that includes at least three presbyteries. Synods are regional in nature, enabling the presbyteries within their region to discover, design, and implement ministries that are common to the area. Depending on a number of things, including population and the number of churches in the region, a synod’s boundaries may be one or more states. Each synod must be composed of at least three presbyteries. The synod has the power to “organize new presbyteries and to divide, unite, or otherwise combine presbyteries or portions of presbyteries previously existing.” This includes the opportunity to organize non-geographic presbyteries to serve the needs of racial ethnic or immigrant congregations. Synods are also charged to “develop and provide resources as needed to facilitate the mission of its presbyteries.” Synods will often offer programs that facilitate leadership training, campus ministry, or other kinds of ministry that transcend the bounds of their presbyteries. Responsibilities to the General Assembly: The synod has limited responsibilities with regard to the General Assembly. They do not elect commissioners to the General Assembly, Presbyteries do. However, synods are charged with seeing that the orders of the General Assembly are communicated and carried out within the synod. Synods, like presbyteries, are responsible for proposing to the General Assembly “such measures that may be of common concern to the mission of the whole church.” This responsibility enables the synod to be a communication link between the presbyteries and the General Assembly. Not only does synod facilitate the General Assembly’s understanding of the concerns of the presbyteries, but it also assures the presbyteries of what the General Assembly has decided.
The General Assembly is the most inclusive governing body in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It is made up of equal numbers of ministers and elders elected by the presbyteries, and it also has a number of Advisory Delegates–such as Youth Advisory Delegates, Theological Seminary Advisory Delegates, Ecumenical Advisory Delegates, and Missionary Advisory Delegates-who have voice but not vote on the floor of the Assembly. This body meets every 2 years. The Constitution lists 24 specific responsibilities of the General Assembly, including programs and ministries of evangelization, service, and prophetic witness. These programs should foster diversity and balance within the mission of the whole church. The General Assembly also has the right and duty to establish the administrative systems needed to carry out this mission. The General Assembly is responsible for missions to the whole world. Other governing bodies may engage in projects elsewhere in this country or overseas, but the Assembly coordinates the overall national and international mission program of the church.
A Kirk is the Scottish name for a church, and the blessing is called a “Kirkin”. The Tartan, with its famous plaid weave, is the symbol of a particular Scottish family (or clan). Each family has a personalized pattern and color scheme. Historically, smaller families often did not have their own tartan, but instead adopted the tartan of a larger clan. They would also support that clan in battle. Today, the tartan has evolved, and plaids can represent nations, states, organizations, businesses, societies, and even individuals. But foremost, the tartan stands as a symbol of a Family.
The tartans at First Presbyterian Church of Darien symbolize the Scottish roots of this church, the church’s pride in family heritage, and their unity as a church family. During the Kirkin of the Tartans, the tartans are presented by the tartan bearers, and the church requests blessings on them and all families represented there. “Bless, we pray, these tartans – that they may be to us and to all people a token of the faith of our fathers and a sign of our service to You.”
Also included in the service is the Flowers of the Forest ceremony, where people are invited to come up and place a white rose on a wreath in honor of a loved one lost recently. The Wreath Bearer announces each name as their loved one comes up to place the flower on the wreath.
The bagpiper, Tim Akins, played music before, during, and after the service including the well-recognized Highland Cathedral, Amazing Grace, and Scotland the Brave. The Piper and the bag pipes are a common symbol of Scotland and its culture. Historically, the Piper was a testament to the power and wealth of the Chief of a Clan. In battle, the Piper remained close to his Chief, inspiring the Chief, and hence his warriors, with music to “stir their brave hearts.” If the battle went wrong, Pipers were not slain, they were captured and the Piper was treated as an honored guest until his Clan could raise his ransom. It is an emerging tradition that at a Kirkin of the Tartans, a piper will play “Amazing Grace.”
We want you to be comfortable at First Presbyterian, and you will see a variety of styles including a coat & tie on some men, dresses or skirts as well as pants for women, jeans and sandals for others. The most important part of coming to church is being present in your heart and mind, and not a specific style of dress.
First Presbyterian Church is located at 403 Jackson Street in historic Darien, Georgia, which is two blocks east of US Highway 17. Please use the map below to guide you to our beautiful campus.
Our warm and welcoming traditional worship service begins at 11:00 AM in the Sanctuary. This service of approximately one hour features scripture, a Bible-based sermon, hymns, announcements and prayer requests, fellowship, and responsive prayers. Communion is served on the first Sunday of the month as well as Christmas Eve and Maundy Thursday during Lent.
On the last Sunday of each month, a congregational luncheon is held after the service in the fellowship hall. All are welcome to come, as there is always plenty of food and fellowship there. It is a good way to meet our congregants and get to know them better.
All Christians are welcome to take communion with us at First Presbyterian Church of Darien. Communion is usually offered by intinction, with individual packets of the bread and juice handed to congregants as they come in, along with the bulletins, but occasionally there will be a service to include a common loaf and cup. If you are unable to come forward to receive the elements, the elements will be brought to you where you are sitting, just advise an elder or usher. For those not comfortable with a common loaf and cup type of communion, the intinction packets will still be available. Also, no one is required to take communion.
Though we are currently without a pastor, spiritual care is still available to serve the congregation and community whenever a need arises. If you need to speak with a care team member, simply call the church office (912-437-3006) or speak to any elder.
First Presbyterian Church offers an adult class on Sunday mornings from 9:30 to 10:30 AM. The adults meet in large Sunday School room at the rear of the sanctuary, with coffee provided. Each lesson uses scripture to guide our discussion and to reveal one of God’s timeless principles for living a joyous, obedient Christian life. Each lesson stands on its own and doesn’t require any knowledge from previous lessons. All are welcome to come and learn, and there are books available if you wish to have one. After class, there is time for socializing before the 11:00 service.
The Men’s’ bible study meets on Saturday mornings at 10:00 for study and fellowship in the large Sunday School room at the rear of the sanctuary. The Women’s Bible study meets in the same location on Tuesday mornings at 11:00. Each group lasts approximately one hour and often encompasses discussion of prayer requests, ideas for service projects, and true fellowship among the members. Also, the Presbyterian Women’s Group has recently restarted and is looking for folks to participate.
Each month the women of the church celebrate that month’s birthdays by going out to lunch at a local restaurant and covering the cost of the birthday girls’ meals. It’s a fun time to fellowship and get together informally!
There is an entrance to the church building which is handicap accessible. All of the education building and the fellowship hall entrances are handicap accessible including the main office, the kitchen, choir room, and restrooms.
There is ample free parking all around the campus, including several handicapped spaces, adjacent to the sidewalks to the buildings.
Yes! We welcome children of all ages to attend. We have a nursery in the education building if needed but hope that your children will stay through the service with you and visually experience the worship by adults firsthand.
Baptism is the sacrament of entrance into the community of faith. Presbyterians baptize adults, on their profession of faith, and infants of adult members. Children are baptized as infants in response to God’s love for them and will speak for themselves when they attend Confirmation Class at around age fourteen. Baptism is celebrated in the community of faith and during a time of worship. Parents must be people of faith.
Funeral and memorial services are conducted for members of First Presbyterian Church and for others if a pastor is available. Visitations can also take place either in the sanctuary or the fellowship hall. Please contact the church office for more information.
First Presbyterian believes that membership is part of a person’s faith journey. Membership allows an individual to vote at congregational meetings and to hold office within the church. One does not have to be a member to participate in any other aspects of church life nor to receive pastoral care. New Members are accepted on a profession of faith and baptism, transfer from another church, or reaffirmation of the faith. Official recognition of new members takes place during a regular worship service. For more information contact the church at 912-437-3006, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or speak to any elder.