Church Leadership

Elders on Session

Session is responsible for the mission and government of the church. Session is comprised of installed elders and the pastors. Members of Program Staff and the Clerk of Session attend session meetings regularly. Elders are elected by the congregation for a three-year term to serve on Session. Elders are assigned to a particular area of ministry and then work to develop teams of volunteers who work together to discern and implement God’s plans for our church. Session meets the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) uses a representative form of government. Each individual church in it is governed by a session. A session is made up of the pastor(s) of the church and elders who are elected by and from the congregation. The number of elders on a session is determined by the size of the church. Elders are ordinarily elected to serve on a session for a three year term and a third of the session is elected each year (so, a third of the session changes each year).

In May 1866 the first Protestant sermon in the Livermore Valley was preached to several pioneering families in the valley by Rev. W. W. Brier, an iterant pastor.  This small group of faithful worshipers grew until in 1871 the First Presbyterian Church was established in Livermore.
After meeting in the schoolhouse, the Exchange Hall and various other buildings in the center of town, the first permanent building was dedicated in July of 1874 with 11 communicant members.  Our historical chapel on the corner of 4th and K Streets has been in constant use since its dedication.

The congregation outgrew the campus consisting of the chapel, fellowship hall and classrooms by 1960. With three worship services Sunday mornings, a Sunday school and youth groups of several hundred children, and a growing ministry, the congregation needed more space.

With a leap of faith, and the decision to stay located in downtown Livermore, the homes on the block were purchased, the land cleared and our present Sanctuary and education buildings were built and dedicated in 1965. They served the congregation and community well until in 2002 - 2003 a major renovation was done to the campus to enable us to continue our vital and energetic ministry in our community and the world.

The congregation has been dedicated to spreading the love of God through service to the community and throughout the world for 140 years.

To learn more about the history of our congregation, a book, 125 Years:  A History of the First Presbyterian Church, Livermore, California 1871 – 1996 is available in our church office.

The History of the Presbyterian Church
Martin Luther and John Calvin were the two most influential 16th century reformers responsible for the birth and establishment of Protestantism. Luther was excommunicated from the Church of Rome in 1520 when he refused to deny his convictions and concerns about what he felt were seriously destructive tendencies, errors, and excesses in her theology and practice.

John Calvin, a pious Roman Catholic in Paris, was converted to the Protestant view in 1533. He had to flee France, taking refuge in Basal, Switzerland. He wrote the basic document of the Reformed Faith: "The Institutes of the Christian Religion." It is still considered by many to be the greatest theological work ever produced. Traveling to Geneva, Calvin became the mind and heart of the "Reformed Church," of which our Presbyterian Church is but one of several.

John Knox, a powerful Scotch reformer, had to flee Roman Catholic England, taking refuge in Switzerland. While at Geneva he caught the vision and genius of Calvin in both his conception and grasp of the Christian faith, and in his understanding of the real function and place of the Church. In 1559 Knox returned to Scotland to rejoin the Protestant forces in their struggle for freedom. In 1560 the Scottish Parliament officially proclaimed the Reformed faith to be the religion of Scotland. Knox was asked to prepare a confession of faith and a system of government for the church. It was adopted by the Church of Scotland, which in 1560 became the "Presbyterian Church" (taken from the Greek word, "Presbyter", meaning elder.)

In 1643, the English Parliament called an assembly of church leaders in Westminster. They met for four years and drafted the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, a Directory of Worship, a Book of Discipline, and a Presbyterian form of Church Government. With the latter three divisions having been revised several times, these works comprise the Constitution of the United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.

Presbyterians were among the first American colonizers. The first permanent Presbyterian Church was organized in Long Island in 1640. The first Presbytery was organized in Philadelphia on 1705, and the first Synod in 1716. Presbyterians followed the westward movement, establishing churches on every frontier.

After much growth and organization, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. was organized in 1789. In 1858 the United Presbyterian Church of North America was formed by the union of the Associate (Presbyterian) Synod and the General Synod of the Associate Reformed Church.

Then on May 28, 1958, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one hundred years later, the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. was created by the union of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the United Presbyterian Church of North America.

In 1983 the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (often known as the Southern Branch) and the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (often called the Northern Branch) were reunited and became the current Presbyterian Church (USA). Our national offices are in Louisville, Kentucky.

We believe that faith is a journey and that ours is a church that embraces people wherever they are on that journey!  We celebrate the reality that our community of faith is made up of people who have different perspectives and life experiences, and are united in our desire to understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

We believe in the reality, power and love of a personal God. We have a firm commitment to follow God in the way that Jesus of Nazareth has shown us in his life, death, and resurrection. We see Jesus as the incarnation of the love of the living God. But we do not feel great pressure to make everyone else adhere to our particular doctrine (approach) before we agree to pray with them, work with them, and learn from them.

We take the Bible seriously - not necessarily literally. We love and value a traditional approach to worship, which includes thoughtful preaching, excellent music, prayer, the reading of the scriptures, and the reverence of the Sacraments. We value the authority of our leadership that is made up of laity [men and women volunteering their time and talents], staff and clergy.


The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) uses a representative form of government. Each individual church in it is governed by a session. A session is made up of the pastor(s) of the church and elders who are elected by and from the congregation. The number of elders on a session is determined by the size of the church. Elders are ordinarily elected to serve on a session for a three year term and a third of the session is elected each year (so, a third of the session changes each year). The session is responsible for the mission and government of its church.

The regional governing body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is the presbytery. A presbytery consists of the ministers in its area plus an equal number of elder commissioners elected by the sessions of its churches. There are currently 172 presbyteries in the United States. A presbytery is responsible for the mission and government of the Church throughout its geographical region. This consists of many things, including working with churches to call pastors, developing regional strategies for mission and ministry, and coordinating the ministries of its churches. It is interesting to note that commissioners to presbyteries and other governing bodies are not bound to vote as they believe those who elected them would want them to vote. Rather, they are bound to vote their consciences. This acknowledges that the Holy Spirit works among us and frees our commissioners to respond to the working of the Spirit through them.

The General Assembly is the national governing body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The General Assembly meets every two years to consider and legislate matters of national significance to the Church. Presbyteries elect an equal number of minister and elder commissioners to represent them at each General Assembly. One of the primary responsibilities of the General Assembly is to consider and vote on amendments to the Church's constitution. (For an eyewitness account of the 218th General Assembly, click here.)

The constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) is made up of 2 volumes, the Book of Confessions and the Book of Order. The first of these contains confessional statements of the Church from throughout the ages. The earliest confession in the book is "The Apostles’ Creed" which has its roots in the second century. The latest is "A Brief Statement of Faith" which was written just a few years ago. The confessions guide the Church in its faith and practice, although they are subordinate to the Bible. The Book of Order defines the Church's form of government, contains directions and recommendations for worship, and provides rules for dealing with people or governing bodies who choose to break the 'laws' of the Church.

There is a fourth level of governing bodies in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that stands alongside the other three; namely, the synods.
The United States is divided into 15 synods, each of which is made up of the presbyteries in its area. The synods stand alongside the other three levels of governing bodies in that presbyteries elect commissioners to the synods, but the synods do not have any direct
representation in the General Assembly. The synods are responsible for various administrative functions and have jurisdiction over the churches in their areas.

It is no coincidence, by the way, that there are several similarities between the Presbyterian form of government and that of the United States. Several Presbyterians were instrumental in the formation of the United States government. John Witherspoon, for example, was a Presbyterian minister.

The regional governing body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is the Presbytery.  A presbytery is responsible for the mission and government of the Church throughout its geographical region. This consists of many things, including working with churches to call pastors, developing regional strategies for mission and ministry, and coordinating the ministries of its churches. It is interesting to note that commissioners to presbyteries and other governing bodies are not bound to vote as they believe those who elected them would want them to vote. Rather, they are bound to vote their consciences. This acknowledges that the Holy Spirit works among us and frees our commissioners to respond to the working of the Spirit through them.

The General Assembly is the national governing body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The General Assembly meets annually to consider and legislate matters of national significance to the Church. Presbyteries elect an equal number of minister and elder commissioners to represent them at each General Assembly. One of the primary responsibilities of the General Assembly is to consider and vote on amendments to the Church's constitution.

The constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) is made up of 2 volumes, the Book of Confessions and the Book of Order. The first of these contains confessional statements of the Church from throughout the ages. The earliest confession in the book is "The Apostles' Creed" which has its roots in the second century. The latest is "A Brief Statement of Faith" which was written just a few years ago. The confessions guide the Church in its faith and practice, although they are subordinate to the Bible. The Book of Order defines the Church's form of government, contains directions and recommendations for worship, and provides rules for dealing with people or governing bodies who choose to break the 'laws' of the Church.

There is a fourth level of governing bodies in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that stands alongside the other three; namely, the synods. The United States is divided into 15 synods, each of which is made up of the presbyteries in its area. The synods stand alongside the other three levels of governing bodies in that presbyteries elect commissioners to the synods, but the synods do not have any direct representation in the General Assembly. The synods are responsible for various administrative functions and have jurisdiction over the churches in their areas.

It is no coincidence, by the way, that there are several similarities between the Presbyterian form of government and that of the United States. Several Presbyterians were instrumental in the formation of the United States government. John Witherspoon, for example, was a Presbyterian minister.