The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is governed by councils, which “exist to help congregations and the church as a whole be more faithful participants in the mission of Christ.”
The councils of the church are the session, the presbytery, the synod and the General Assembly. The session is the council for the congregation and is composed of ruling elders, elected by the congregation to active service, as well as all installed pastors and associate pastors.
The session is responsible for governing the congregation and guiding its witness to the sovereign activity of God in the world so that the congregation is and becomes a community of faith, hope, love and witness. In seeking to help the congregation be and become this community, the session has an important role as it engages in prayerful discernment and attends to how God’s Spirit may be at work in the congregation and in the broader community. Along these lines, we recognize that ruling elders are provided “with particular gifts to share in discernment of God’s Spirit and governance of God’s people” and that “together with teaching elders, exercise leadership, government, spiritual discernment and discipline and have responsibilities for the life of a congregation as well as the whole church.”