Form of Government
We are part of a connectional church – meaning we belong to a larger body of Christian believers, the Presbyterian Church (USA). We submit and are accountable to the will of the whole, national congregation. Every two years this governing body meets, with representatives from every area, to consider new recommendations, amendments, etc. We believe that where two or more are gathered in Christ’s name, Christ is there with us. We trust that together we are more equipped and able to listen for God’s will than on our own.
On a local level, our church is part of an area governing body, the Presbytery of the James. This Presbytery spans central Virginia and meets 3 times a year to govern the churches in this area. The Presbytery submits and is accountable to the larger governing body of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
In our Forest Hill Presbyterian congregation, members of the church elect leaders in a representative democracy to make decisions on behalf of the congregation. This governing body is called the Session. It has 3 classes, each with three year terms. So folks are always cycling off the Session, so that new folks can be elected to serve on it. We also have Trustees who are accountable to the Session and empowered to oversee financial matters related to the church’s assets, building and endowment.
In all levels of church government, we follow processes designed to protect the rights of minorities while we agree to submit to the will of the whole. We seek in all things to work decently and in order, that everyone might have equal opportunity to make their voice heard, with dignity and respect.
Mission and Outreach
Jesus of Nazareth gave for us an example of one who cared for everyone, even and especially those marginalized and ostracized from community and even the religious community. We follow Christ’s example, seeking to love, provide, and care for those who find themselves on the edges.
We believe that everything we have is a gift from God, and that we are called to be good stewards of all God’s gifts – as everything truly belongs to God anyway. Therefore we come together to discern how we might respond in gratitude to God through the giving of our time and resources, etc. in the love and service of neighbors near and far.
We recognize that our assets belong to God, so we continually ask how we might be better stewards of God’s good gifts to us. For this reason we rent our space at subsidized rates, that we might make better use of our building and that we might support and empower community groups doing vital work.
In addition to being good stewards, Christ called us to make disciples. We believe God’s heart is for everyone. Therefore, we look for opportunities to serve our neighbors. For this reason we built the dog park. We recognized the need for a dog park in our community and tried to respond in faith. We also built the labyrinth to serve as an invitation to the community to prayer and communion with God.
We hope in all things to be a light to the community, pointing to God’s love for every person and working for justice and reconciliation in our communities.