Presbyterian Church Hierarchy

In the United States, the main Protestant Christian denomination is called the Presbyterian Church. It is well known for its high level of tolerance. The Church hierarchy is in the paths of democracy. A session governs the church which is made up of elderly people elected by the entire congregation. So it is a representative form of government that rules the Presbyterian Church and is better known as the Presbyterian Polity. The four levels of government are: Session, Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly.

Presbyterian Church HierarchySession

The pastors of the Church and the elected elders make up the Session. The nominating committee nominates these elders and the congregation then elects them. After the election, the elders undergo training and preparation for this ministry and need to appear for a test to prove the knowledge acquired on the doctrine, government and personal faith. Once they pass this they are ceremoniously ordained and installed. A pastor moderates the session meetings and a clerk records the minutes.

The job of the Session is to guide and direct the ministry of the local church and undertakes the responsibility of spiritual and fiduciary leadership. Matters like the budget, personal matters are the responsibilities of the session. They also work as an ecclesiastical court to sort out disciplinary charges against the church members. They oversee the work of the deacons too who are a ministry board but don’t have the authority to govern.


All the congregations and the Ministers of Word and Sacrament within the same geographic area form the Presbytery who has the authority to ordain church members to install teaching Elders. They also authorise over many affairs of the   local congregations. The ultimate authority to establish, dissolute or merge congregations lies with the Presbytery. They meet atleast twice a year.


Many presbyteries within the same geographical area form a Synod, the minimum should be three. Their main responsibility is to develop and implement the mission of the Church within the region and facilitate communication between the Synod and the General Assembly.

General Assembly

The highest governing body of the PC is the General Assembly. Their main agenda is to prioritise the work of the Church, develop overall objectives and work out a comprehensive strategy, provide essential program functions to foster balance and diversity within the Church and to establish and administer ministries of service, witness, development and growth on a national and worldwide basis.

A moderator who is elected by the GA presides over the general meetings. A stated clerk who is elected for a period of four years carries on with the ecclesiastical work of the Church.