Presbyterian churches are governed by a democratic system which divides authority between four church levels. The governance structure was set up by John Knox, founder of the Presbyterian Church as a branch of the larger reform church movement in the 16th century.
- Our congregation is part of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, a group of approximately 1000 congregation, which has a General Assembly once a year to determine major questions of faith and church policy. It is chaired by a Moderator elected for one year. All questions are decided by a vote of delegates representing individual churches and the two other subordinate levels.
- Synods are regional bodies which determine some issues of administration and policy. There are eight regional Synods in the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Knox is part of the Synod of Quebec and Eastern Ontario.
- The Presbytery is a local body representing churches within an accessible geographic area. Presbyteries have significant responsibilities relating to the spiritual, financial and administrative health of the churches within their bounds. Presbyteries are composed of equal numbers of clergy and lay church representatives. All questions are decided by vote. Knox is part of the Presbytery of Ottawa.
- Individuals churches are largely responsible for their own affairs, set their own priorities and budgets, and within rules set by the Presbyterian Church in Canada, call a Minister they believe meets their specific spiritual needs. The ruling elders, or Kirk Session, are ultimately responsible for all local church matters except the content of the worship service, which is the responsibility of the Minister.
- Churches have a number of central committees, including one responsible for finance and maintenance, and others responsible for such matters as fund-raising (Stewardship), and others covering all the churches internal and outreach activities. Elders are elected by a vote of church members, and the annual budget must be approved by members of the congregation.