Our Story

Our Vision and Values

Grounded in the biblical image for human community, as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, we challenge and support congregations to be thriving faith communities by facilitating competent leadership and resourcing to energize ministry and mission.

As Christians, guided by the principles of love, trust, open communication, and genuine relationships, we value each other as sisters and brothers in faith in all our varied theological understandings. Therefore, we relish respectful discussions of differing opinions as a necessary part of discerning the will of God.

-Adopted November, 2017

What is Blackhawk Presbytery?

The Presbytery of Blackhawk is a middle-governing body of the Presbyterian Church (USA.) A presbytery is a corporate expression of the church consisting of all the churches and ministers of the Word and Sacrament within a certain district.

Blackhawk Presbytery comprises 68 congregations in large and small communities in northern Illinois. The presbytery is both rural and urban, with areas of declining population and areas of lively growth. Building on the strength of our congregations and our members, Blackhawk Presbytery is reaching out to create faith communities and ministries that reflect today’s missional needs. Blackhawk Presbytery is a member of the higher governing body, the Synod of Lincoln Trails of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

What does it mean to be PC(USA)?

Presbyterians trace their history to the 16th century and the Protestant Reformation. Our heritage, and much of what we believe, began with the French lawyer John Calvin (1509-1564), whose writings crystallized much of the Reformed thinking that came before him. Calvin did much of his writing from Geneva, Switzerland. From there, the Reformed movement spread to other parts of Europe and the British Isles. 

Many of the early Presbyterians in America came from England, Scotland and Ireland. The first American Presbytery was organized at Philadelphia in 1706. The first General Assembly was held in the same city in 1789 and was convened by the Rev. John Witherspoon, the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Learn more about the Presbyterian denomination, Presbyterian beliefs, and Presbyterian governance or polity.

Blackhawk History

“In a major restructure of Presbytery boundaries in the state of Illinois, The Presbytery of Blackhawk was officially organized on January 11, 1972…. Ninety-eight churches and 110 ministers were the first members of the Presbytery. These churches held a membership of 34,163 communicants. In 1972, Blackhawk churches ranged in size from 32 to 1444 members with 15 congregations counting over 500 members…. Over the years, congregations have dissolved, merged, left the denomination and in a few cases, organized.” (Please read “A Brief History of the Presbytery of Blackhawk” for an interesting look at the changes and highlights over the years.)

Land and Name Acknowledgement

Blackhawk Presbytery is spread over much of Northern Illinois. This is what once was home to many native peoples and tribes. That includes the: Bodwéwadmi (Potawatomi), Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Kaskaskia, Peoria, Sauk and Meskwaki, Ho-Chunk (Winnebago), Myaamia (pronounced mjɑːmia), and the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (pronounced oh-chey-tee shah-koh-ween). Our very name originates from Chief Black Hawk, a Sauk leader and warrior who lived in the northwest part of our area between 1767 and 1838.

Our Presbytery acknowledges this territory’s significance for the Indigenous peoples who lived, and still reside, upon this land. We want to be honest about the ways our religious tradition has been used to colonize, to abuse, and to oppress people. And we intend to continue to look for opportunities for true reconciliation. Please read our full statement of acknowledgement, and visit the resource page devoted to deepening knowledge, understanding and action.