We are Presbyterian – the word ‘presbyterian’ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘elder’, so our name reflects how we govern ourselves: through an elected body of elders. Ours is a connectional church: each Presbyterian congregation is connected to others in a local geographic region called a presbytery. In our case the local region is called the Presbytery of Yukon and includes six churches on Alaska’s North Slope, two on St. Lawrence Island, four in the Interior, with the rest found in the Mat-Su valley and Anchorage.
Presbyteries are connected through Synods: ours is the Synod of Alaska-Northwest, covering presbyteries in Alaska and Washington and a small section of western Idaho. Rev. Cartland currently serves as the Moderator of the Synod. All the Synods together make up the General Assembly, the largest connectional group in the PC(USA). The denomination is headquartered in Louisville, KY and has 1.8 million members in 10,000 congregations.
We are Reformed – the Reformed tradition holds seriously to the authority of Scripture and the Lordship of Christ in all of life. We proclaim and teach the sovereignty of God in all things and the absolute necessity of salvation by grace alone through faith. The Holy Spirit reveals Christ through God’s Word, convicts us the reality of sin and our need for salvation through Christ alone, and works in our hearts to form and shape us into the body of Christ.
The Reformers, who lived in the 16th century, left us a legacy of understanding ‘the priesthood of all believers’ – that all persons are created in God’s image and are given unique gifts with which to serve God and God’s people. The church is the primary way that service is made visible, and the primary way that God’s Kingdom is made visible to the world.