Presbyterian churches

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The Presbyterian churches ( Greek πρεσβύτερος presbyteros for "older", "the elder"; cf. priest < presbyter ) are the largest branch of the Reformed churches with origins in Scotland .

The Presbyterian churches are derived from Calvinism , as represented by the Scottish reformers John Knox and Andrew Melville (1545-1622). Their special hallmark is Presbyterianism , a certain type of church constitution that they share with other Reformed churches. In general, Reformed churches with Scottish roots are called Presbyterian , those with roots in mainland Europe are called Reformed .


The Presbyterian churches follow the tradition of the theology of Reformed and Calvinist influences. They emphasize the authority of the Bible , the sovereignty of God as testified in the New Testament , and justification within the Trinitarian doctrine of grace through the God-Man Jesus Christ . The Westminster Confession of 1646 is the recognized creed in many churches .

There is a wide spectrum between strict Calvinism and liberal Reformed orientation among the Presbyterian churches today.

Presbyterian churches usually practice infant baptism . The Christian Lord's Supper is seen as a memorial service. The services are sober and verbose. The ordination of women is generally practiced in the larger churches, but not in more conservative churches.


The Presbyterian churches are part of the ecumenical movement . Like the other Reformed churches, they belong to the world community of Reformed Churches . Most Presbyterian churches are also members of the World Council of Churches .

Many Presbyterian churches are in full communion with other Lutheran or Reformed churches . However, such a decision is made by the individual church.


There are significant Presbyterian churches in the entire English-speaking area, but also in Asia ( Republic of Korea , Republic of China (Taiwan) - especially among the indigenous peoples of Taiwan ), Vanuatu and Africa .

United Kingdom

There is no single Church of Presbyterians in the UK. Each of the four parts of the country has its own forms of organization:

  • The Presbyterian Church of Wales ( Presbyterian Church of Wales ), composed of the most Welsh, is originally from Calvinistic Methodists founded the church and has taken a unique development.

United States

Presbyterian emigrants from England and Scotland came to the USA as early as the 17th century. Today the Presbyterian Church (USA) is the largest Presbyterian church with more than two million members. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church is also counted among the Mainline Churches . There are also smaller churches (including Presbyterian Church in America , Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America , Evangelical Presbyterian Church ) that are more evangelical in character.


Presbyterians, mostly of Scottish descent, played an important role in Canada's political and religious life during the 19th and 20th centuries. Two-thirds of Presbyterians gathered in the United Church of Canada , which was formed in 1925 from an alliance with Congregationalists and a Methodist Church . It has (as of 2008) around 2.5 million followers. The minority remained in the Presbyterian Church of Canada , founded in 1875 , to which 409,830 members belonged after the 2001 census.


In 1977, in Australia, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Methodists formed the Uniting Church in Australia . About a third of the parishioners did not join the union and remained in the Presbyterian Church of Australia .

New Zealand

In New Zealand, various branches of the Church of Scotland were formed from 1840 by Scottish immigrants and from 1843 the Free Church of Scotland . Despite efforts to find a common church from 1861 onwards, it was not until 1901 that all Presbyterians in the country came together under the leadership of James Gibb to form the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand .

See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Isolde Friebel, Heinrich Handel: Great Britain, Volume II, Economy and Society. C. H. Beck, Munich, 1982, pp. 269, 270, 274 and 275
  2. ^ Presbyterian Church - Consolidation . Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand , accessed December 21, 2011 .