The existence of presbyteries within the APC follows the teaching of Scripture that the office of a teaching elder, or presbyter, is the highest office to which men are appointed in the church. Since there is equality among men appointed to this office, it follows in Scripture, and from necessity, that teaching elders ought to meet together to pray, consult and make decisions concerning the affairs of the church.
The New Testament supports the union of several congregations under one Presbyterian government, within reasonable geographical limits. Presbyterian government consists of all the teaching elders or pastors of the district, assisted by representatives of the whole ruling eldership.
Consequently, APC presbyteries consist of ordained ministers and elders representing each church within stated geographical bounds. The APC currently has Canadian and Scottish presbyteries. The Scottish Presbytery meets regularly during the year and decisions are made regarding matters such as employment, training, finances and mission. Much of the presbytery’s work is apportioned to committees that report back to presbytery on a regular basis.
Sometimes presbyteries are called by special appointment. There are two types. An in hunc effectum meeting may be called to address a special matter of business that arises from a regular presbytery meeting. The time and date of the meeting must be set at the previous ordinary meeting. A pro re nata meeting may be arranged in between regular meetings and attends to business that has arisen unexpectedly.
Along with conducting the ordinary business of the church, presbytery also provides an opportunity for the reading of the word, its preaching, the singing of Psalms and prayer. It plays an important part in the life of the church and provides for ministers and elders a regular time to gather together from their various congregations for fellowship.
Presbyteries meet together at the APC General Assembly which is scheduled annually in May. Again this presents an opportunity for prayer, praise, the reading and preaching of God’s word. Representatives from other Christian denominations are often invited to address the Assembly.