Presbyterians have always been interested in education, have built
hospitals and opened settlement houses for the underprivileged.
REFORMED CHURCHES IN AMERICA.Reformed churches were
already thriving in America at the time the English seized New Amsterdam
from the Dutch in 1664. As early as 1614, an unorganized membership had
developed in New York, along the Hudson River, in the area of Fort Orange
(Albany). The American Revolution had little effect upon the Reformed
church in America except to offer the Dutchmen a chance to settle matters
with the English. Government of the Church stands midway between the
episcopal and presbyterian forms. Worship tends to lean toward liturgical
forms, and an optional liturgy maybe used. Baptism and the Lords Supper
are the two recognized sacraments of the Reformed church in America.
Reformed churches tend to adhere to a conservative Calvinist theology.
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.The first Roman Catholic
parish in America was established in St. Augustine, FL, in 1565. The
first Roman Catholic diocese in the United States was established in
Baltimore, Maryland, in 1789. By 1977, nearly 50 million people, or 23% of
the American population, identified themselves as Roman Catholic.
The governing body of the Roman Catholic Church is headed by the
sovereign pontiff, or pope. The Sacred College, also called the College of
Cardinals, is the supreme council of the church. Its members are cardinal
bishops, cardinal priests, and cardinal deacons. Its most important duty is to
elect a new pope when a pope dies. About 20 lower congregations carry on
the central administration of the church. The diocese is the district over
which a bishop has ecclesiastical authority. The dioceses are made up of
parishes. A parish is the ecclesiastical unit or area committed to one priest.
The Roman Catholic Church believes in a body of priests who link God
and man in a special way. The priests perform the function of offering a
sacrifice for the living and for the dead. They also administer the sacraments.
These priests are set aside by the bishops, who are believed to be the direct
successors of the apostles. The church demands celibacy of the priesthood.
The Roman Catholic Church is that body of Christians which accepts the
pope as its head on earth. It looks upon him as the representative of Christ
and as the successor of Saint Peter in a direct line. It believes that special
powers given by Christ to Peter have descended to the pope. It also believes
that the pope is infallible in all matters of faith and morals by virtue of his
The Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the
Creed of Constantinople, set forth the basic doctrines and beliefs of the
Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church accepts the Bible,
both the Old and New Testaments, as the word of God. It accepts as its rule
of faith the entire body of truths delivered by Jesus Christ to the apostles
and their successors,
The sacraments of the church are of utmost importance to Roman
Catholics. The church teaches that Jesus Christ directly instituted the seven
sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme
Unction, Holy Orders, and Marriage. (The sacraments are described in the
section pertaining to church services and liturgies.) An individual can receive
three of the sacramentsBaptism, Confirmation, and Holy Ordersonly