The Presbyterian Church and How We Function

Lely Presbyterian Church is a member of Peace River Presbytery. Peace River Presbytery is a geographical area that stretches from below Tampa Bay to Naples and includes 37 churches. The Executive Presbyter is Rev. Dr. Melanna Scruggs. Her work focuses on resourcing churches, walking with churches through transition, and carrying forth actions by Presbytery.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is part of the Reformed Tradition and came to the the shores of America from Scotland before there was a United States of America. You can find more at

The PCUSA believes in shared responsibility and reducing the amount of power and authority that can rest in one individual. That is the major reason the Book of Order (our form of government) opens with, “Jesus Christ is Head of the Church….” That statement removes any doubt that there is no allegiance to kings, queens, or rulers. Jesus Christ is Head of the Church.

Clergy are known as Teaching Elders. Elders on Session, the governing body of the local church, are referred to as Ruling Elders. As the Pastor (Teaching Elder) is called by the congregation (along with the Presbytery) the Ppastor is elected by the congregation to serve the congregation; Elders are elected by the congregation at an annual meeting who normally serve for a three-year term, with a limit of two terms before having to take a year off before being re-elected.

Local Presbyterian Churches are governed by the Session, comprised of Ruling Elders elected by the Congregation and moderated by the Pastor. The session approves the budget, policies, programs, and is the ruling body of the local congregation.

The same is true for the Presbytery. Each church elects elders to attend Presbytery and vote on issues, policies, budget, etc. At Presbytery, you will find an equal number of elders to clergy. The Book of Order mandates parity at such meetings.

This is also true for the synod (16 Synods), and General Assembly, based in Louisville, KY.

Please note that the General Assembly at the National Level, often takes positions that may not represent the convictions or positions of the local congregation. When that occurs, the local Session often conveys concerns to the Presbytery through a variety of means.

The Presbyterian Church follows representative government model.

The same is true for Deacons. The Deacons embrace a ministry of compassion and sympathy. Lely’s Board of Deacons is comprised of nine Deacons who focus on the care and support of members, guests, and friends of Lely Presbyterian church.