Presbyterian churches across the nation will kick off their bicentennial celebration Sunday with a satellite broadcast of the General Assembly meeting in St. Louis.
The church was founded in 200 years ago this month when John Witherspoon called the first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church to order in Philadelphia. About 30 other men were in the room.The actual term Presbyterian is derived from the Greek adjective presbuteros, which means older or elder. Presbuteros in the New Testament of the Bible is a Greek translation of an older Hebrew noun literally meaning gray beard. In Old Testament times that word describes the elders who were ordinarily older men.
Times have changed for the church throughout the years because not only do women participate in the General Assembly, they are also pastors of the church.
Pastor Charles Kriner of the First Presbyterian Church in Ogden will honor the bicentennial this month by taping the General Assembly celebration broadcast and showing it to his members June 26.
Kriner's parish will honor the bicentennial again this fall as the local church celebrates its 100th anniversary. Ogden Presbyterians first met in September 1888.
The church has about three million parishioners nationwide and officials hope to boost its membership roll this year because, like most Protestant churches in this country, they are losing members.
Kriner said Presbyterians are usually upper middle class, college educated people who are now having fewer children. As a result, the church is losing members because the older parishioners are dying and younger members are having smaller families. The Utah economy has also contributed to the decline, as people leave the state to find better jobs, he said.