Presbuteros, the Greek word meaning elder, is used seventy-two times in the New Testament and provides the name for the Presbyterian family of churches – which includes the Reformed churches of the world. Both "Presbyterian" and "Reformed" are synonymous with churches that trace their origins to John Calvin (1509-1564).
Elders need not be elderly but men and women of wisdom, faith, action, and integrity. When they meet together, with the pastor(s) in a local church, they are called the "session." Their duty is to guide and direct the ministries of the congregation in accordance with Presbyterian beliefs and practices, as led by the holy spirit.
Today’s Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was created by the 1983 reunion of the two largest branches of American Presbyterianism, separated since the Civil War -- the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (mostly in the south) and the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (mostly in the north).
Presently, we have more than 2.7 million members in the fifty states and Puerto Rico, with approximately 20,500 ordained ministers and 117,700 elders. These members belong to 11,450 congregations, which work together for mission and education as 171 regional presbyteries and sixteen synods (each covering several states). Nationally, the general assembly oversees the spiritual and material life of the denomination. Internationally, our mission workers are in 71 countries, with mission partnerships in many more.
In America, the first presbytery was organized in 1706, the first synod in 1717; and the first General Assembly was held in 1789. Several congregations in the eastern United States have existed since the 1640s or 1650s.
Wauwatosa Presbyterian Church is a member of the Presbytery of Milwaukee in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.