Levels of Government in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
This governing body consists of active elders and pastors, co-pastors, and associate pastors. The session is responsible for the government and mission of a particular church.
A geographical grouping of particular churches, a presbytery meets at least twice a year and often more frequently. This governing body consists of all ministers and elders appointed from each congregation within its bounds and is responsible for the government and mission of each church in its area.
A geographical grouping of presbyteries, a synod meets at least biennially. Its commissioners are ministers and elders elected from
the presbyteries within its boundaries. The synod is responsible for the mission of the churches in its region.
This is the most inclusive governing body of the church. It meets annually in varying locations across the United States. Equal numbers of ministers and elders from each presbytery are elected as commissioners. In keeping with the Presbyterian belief that God alone is Lord of the conscience, commissioners to the General Assembly are not asked to represent a particular viewpoint, but are expected to seek the mind of Christ in all deliberations. The Assembly considers and votes on amendments to the Book of Order and the Book of Confessions. It also sets the budget for the denomination, considers special reports and papers on timely issues confronting Presbyterians, and commissions missionaries for their work on behalf of the church.