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Presbyterianism is a branch of Protestant Christianity that typically adheres to the Calvinist theological tradition and whose congregations are organized according to a Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures, and the necessity of grace through faith in Christ. Presbyterianism originated primarily in Scotland. Scotland ensured Presbyterian "church government" in the Acts of Union in 1707 which created the kingdom of Great Britain. In fact, most Presbyterians found in England can trace a Scottish connection, and the Presbyterian denomination was also taken to North America mostly by Scots and Scots-Irish immigrants. The Presbyterian denominations in Scotland hold to the theology of Calvin and his immediate successors, although there is a range of theological views within contemporary Presbyterianism.
Modern Presbyterianism traces its institutional roots back to the Scottish Reformation. Local congregations are governed by Sessions made up of representatives of the congregation, a conciliar approach which is found at other levels of decision-making (Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly). Theoretically, there are no bishops in Presbyterianism; however, some groups in Eastern Europe, and in ecumenical groups, do have bishops. The office of elder is another distinctive mark of Presbyterianism: these are specially ordained non-clergy called ruling elders and ministers of Word and Sacrament called teaching elders who take part in local pastoral care and decision making at all levels. The office of deacon is geared toward the care of members, their families, and the surrounding community. In some congregations active elders and deacons serve a three-year term that is renewable for a second three-year term and then rotate off for at least a year. The offices of pastor, elder, and deacon all commence with ordination; once a person is ordained, he holds that title for the rest of his life. An individual may serve as both an elder and a deacon.
The roots of Presbyterianism lie in the European Reformation of the 16th century, with the example of John Calvin's Geneva being particularly influential. Most Reformed churches who trace their history back to Scotland are either Presbyterian or Congregationalist in government. In the twentieth century, some Presbyterians played an important role in the Ecumenical Movement, including the World Council of Churches. Many Presbyterian denominations have found ways of working together with other Reformed denominations and Christians of other traditions, especially in the World Communion of Reformed Churches. Some Presbyterian churches have entered into unions with other churches, such as Congregationalists, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Methodists.
Presbyterian denominations derive their name from the Greek word presbýteros (πρεσβύτερος), "elder." (Presbyterian church in Acts 14:23, 20:17, Titus 1:5).
The earliest Christian church consisted of Jews in the 1st century who had known Jesus Christ and heard his teachings. It gradually grew and spread from the Middle East to other parts of the world, though not without controversy and hardship among its supporters.
During the 4th century, after more than 300 years of repression and sometimes fierce persecution under various Roman emperors, the church became established as a political as well as a spiritual power under the Emperor Constantine. Theological and political disagreements, however, served to widen the rift between members of the eastern (Greek-speaking) and western (Latin-speaking) branches of the church. Eventually the western portions of Europe came under the religious and political authority of the Roman Catholic Church. Eastern Europe and parts of Asia came under the authority of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
In western Europe, the authority of the Roman Catholic Church remained largely unquestioned until the Renaissance in the 15th century. The invention of the printing press in Germany around 1440 made it possible for common people to have access to printed materials including the Bible. The public availability of the Bible encouraged private devotion away from the structure of the Roman Catholic Church. Printed materials also served to expose the populace to religious thinkers who had begun to question the authority and integrity of the Church. One such figure, Martin Luther, a German Augustinian friar and professor, enumerated this dissent in his 95 Theses. In 1517, Luther famously posted his grievances on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This moment is said to have marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, a theological movement intended to reform the Church. As the Catholic Church resisted the reformers, the Church split and different theological movements bore different denominations. Presbyterianism was especially influenced by the French/Swiss theologian, John Calvin, who is credited with the development of Reformed theology and the work of John Knox, a Scotsman who studied with Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland and brought his teachings back to Scotland. The Presbyterian church traces its ancestry back primarily to England and Scotland. In August 1560 the Scottish Parliament adopted the Protestant Confession of Faith as the creed of the Scottish Kingdom. In December 1560, the First Book of Discipline was published, outlining important doctrinal issues but also establishing regulations for church government, including the creation of ten ecclesiastical districts with pointed superintendents which later became known as presbyteries.
Among the early church fathers, it was noted that the offices of elder and bishop were identical, and were not differentiated until later, and that plurality of elders was the norm for church government. St. Jerome (347-420) "In Epistle Titus", vol. iv, said, "Elder is identical with bishop; and before the urging of the devil gave rise to factionalism in religion, so much that it was being said among the people, 'I am of Paul, I of Apollos, I of Cephas', the churches were governed by a joint council of elders. After it was... decreed throughout the world that one chosen from among the presbyters should be placed over the others." This observation was also made by Chrysostom (349-407) in "Homilia i, in Phil. i, 1" and Theodoret (393-457) in "Interpret ad. Phil. iii", 445.
Presbyterianism was first described in detail by Martin Bucer of Strasbourg, who believed that the early Christian church implemented presbyterian polity. The first modern implementation was by the Geneva church under the leadership of John Calvin in 1541.
Presbyterians distinguish themselves from other denominations by doctrine, institutional organization (or "church order") and worship; often using a "Book of Order" to regulate common practice and order. The origins of the Presbyterian churches were in Calvinism. Many branches of Presbyterianism are remnants of previous splits from larger groups. Some of the splits have been due to doctrinal controversy, while some have been caused by disagreement concerning the degree to which those ordained to church office should be required to agree with the Westminster Confession of Faith, which historically serves as an important confessional document - second only to the Bible, yet directing particularities in the standardization and translation of the Bible - in Presbyterian churches.
Presbyterians place great importance upon education and lifelong learning. Continuous study of the scriptures, theological writings, and understanding and interpretation of church doctrine are embodied in several statements of faith and catechisms formally adopted by various branches of the church, often referred to as 'subordinate standards'. It is generally considered that the point of such learning is to enable one to put one's faith into practice; some Presbyterians generally exhibit their faith in action as well as words, by generosity, hospitality, and the constant pursuit of social justice and reform, as well as proclaiming the gospel of Christ.
Presbyterian government is by councils (known as courts) of elders. Teaching and ruling elders are ordained and convene in the lowest council known as a session or consistory responsible for the discipline, nurture, and mission of the local congregation. Teaching elders (pastors) have responsibility for teaching, worship, and performing sacraments. Pastors are called by individual congregations. A congregation issues a call for the pastor's service, but this call must be ratified by the local presbytery.
Ruling elders are usually laymen (and laywomen in some denominations) who are elected by the congregation and ordained to serve with the teaching elders, assuming responsibility for nurture and leadership of the congregation. Often, especially in larger congregations, the elders delegate the practicalities of buildings, finance, and temporal ministry to the needy in the congregation to a distinct group of officers (sometimes called deacons, which are ordained in some denominations). This group may variously be known as a 'Deacon Board', 'Board of Deacons' 'Diaconate', or 'Deacons' Court'. These are sometimes known as "presbyters" to the full congregation.
Above the sessions exist presbyteries, which have area responsibilities. These are composed of teaching elders and ruling elders from each of the constituent congregations. The presbytery sends representatives to a broader regional or national assembly, generally known as the General Assembly, although an intermediate level of a synod sometimes exists. This congregation / presbytery / synod / general assembly schema is based on the historical structure of the larger Presbyterian churches, such as the Church of Scotland or the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); some bodies, such as the Presbyterian Church in America and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, skip one of the steps between congregation and General Assembly, and usually the step skipped is the Synod. The Church of Scotland has now abolished the Synod.
Presbyterianism is historically a confessional tradition. This has two implications. The obvious one is that confessional churches express their faith in the form of "confessions of faith," which have some level of authoritative status. However this is based on a more subtle point: In confessional churches, theology is not solely an individual matter. While individuals are encouraged to understand Scripture, and may challenge the current institutional understanding, theology is carried out by the community as a whole. It is this community understanding of theology that is expressed in confessions.
However, there has arisen a spectrum of approaches to "confessionalism". The manner of subscription, or the degree to which the official standards establish the actual doctrine of the church, turns out to be a practical matter. That is, the decisions rendered in ordination and in the courts of the church largely determine what the church means, representing the whole, by its adherence to the doctrinal standard.
Some Presbyterian traditions adopt only the Westminster Confession of Faith as the doctrinal standard to which teaching elders are required to subscribe, in contrast to the Larger and Shorter catechisms, which are approved for use in instruction. Many Presbyterian denominations, especially in North America, have adopted all of the Westminster Standards as their standard of doctrine which is subordinate to the Bible. These documents are Calvinistic in their doctrinal orientation, although some versions of the Confession and the catechisms are more overtly Calvinist than some other, later American revisions. The Presbyterian Church in Canada retains the Westminster Confession of Faith in its original form, while admitting the historical period in which it was written should be understood when it is read.
The Westminster Confession is 'The principal subordinate standard of the Church of Scotland' but 'with due regard to liberty of opinion in points which do not enter into the substance of the Faith' (V). This formulation represents many years of struggle over the extent to which the confession reflects the Word of God and the struggle of conscience of those who came to believe it did not fully do so (e.g., William Robertson Smith). Some Presbyterian Churches, such as the Free Church of Scotland, have no such 'conscience clause'.
The Presbyterian Church USA has adopted the Book of Confessions, which reflects the inclusion of other Reformed confessions in addition to the Westminster documents. These other documents include ancient creedal statements (the Nicene Creed, the Apostles' Creed), 16th century Reformed confessions (the Scots Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Second Helvetic Confession, all of which were written before Calvinism had developed as a particular strand of Reformed doctrine), and 20th century documents (The Theological Declaration of Barmen, Confession of 1967 and A Brief Statement of Faith).
The Presbyterian Church in Canada developed the confessional document Living Faith  and retains it as a subordinate standard of the denomination. It is confessional in format, yet like the Westminster Confession, draws attention back to original Bible text.
Presbyterians in Ireland who rejected Calvinism and the Westminster Confessions formed the Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland.
Presbyterian Denominations who trace their heritage to the British Isles usually organise their church services inspired by the principles in the Directory of Public Worship, developed by the Westminster Assembly in the 1640s. This directory documented Reformed worship practices and theology adopted and developed over the preceding century by British Puritans, initially guided by John Calvin and John Knox. It was enacted as law by the Scottish Parliament, and became one of the foundational documents of Presbyterian church legislation elsewhere.
Historically, the driving principle in the development of the standards of Presbyterian worship is the Regulative principle of worship, which specifies that (in worship), what is not commanded is forbidden.
Presbyterians traditionally have held the Worship position that there are only two sacraments:
Over subsequent centuries, many Presbyterian churches modified these prescriptions by introducing non-biblical hymns, instrumental accompaniment and ceremonial vestments in worship. Still, there is not one fixed "Presbyterian" worship style. Although there are set services for the "Lord's Day", one can find a service to be evangelical and even revivalist in tone (especially in some conservative denominations), or strongly liturgical, approximating the practices of Lutheranism or Anglicanism (especially where Scottish tradition is esteemed),[clarification needed] or semi-formal, allowing for a balance of hymns, preaching, and congregational participation (favored by probably most American Presbyterians).
Among the Paleo-orthodoxy and emerging church movements in Protestant and evangelical churches, which includes many Presbyterians, clergy are moving away from the traditional black Geneva gown to such vestments as the alb and chasuble, but also cassock and surplice (typically a full length Old English style surplice which resembles the Celtic alb, an ungirdled liturgical tunic of the old Gallican Rite), which some, particularly those identifying, with the Liturgical Renewal Movement, hold to be more ancient and representative of a more ecumenical past.
Early Presbyterians were careful to distinguish between the "church," which referred the members, and the "meeting house," which was the building in which the church met. Until the late 19th century, very few Presbyterians ever referred to their buildings as "churches." Presbyterians believed that meeting-houses (now called churches) are buildings to support the worship of God. The decor in some instances was austere so as not to detract from worship. Early Presbyterian meeting-houses were extremely plain. No stained glass, no elaborate furnishings, and no images were to be found in the meeting-house. The pulpit, often raised so as only to be accessible by a staircase, was the centerpiece of the building. In the late 19th century a gradual shift began to occur. Prosperous congregations built imposing churches, such as Fourth Presbyterian in Chicago, Madison Avenue Presbyterian and Fifth Avenue Presbyterian in New York City, Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA, East Liberty Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA, First Presbyterian in Dallas, House of Hope Presbyterian Church in Saint Paul, Minnesota and many others. Usually a Presbyterian church will not have statues of saints, nor the ornate altar more typical of a Roman Catholic church. In a Presbyterian (Reformed Church) one will not usually find a Crucifix hanging behind the Chancel. However, one may find stained glass windows that depict the crucifixion, behind a chancel.
John Knox (1505–1572), a Scot who had spent time studying under Calvin in Geneva, returned to Scotland and urged his countrymen to reform the Church in line with Calvinist doctrines. After a period of religious convulsion and political conflict culminating in a victory for the Protestant party at the Siege of Leith the authority of the Church of Rome was abolished in favour of Reformation by the legislation of the Scottish Reformation Parliament in 1560. The Church was eventually organised by Andrew Melville along Presbyterian lines to become the national Church of Scotland.
The Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the Acts of Union 1707 between Scotland and England guaranteed the Church of Scotland's form of government. However, legislation by the United Kingdom parliament allowing patronage led to splits in the Church, and finally the Disruption of 1843 led to the formation of the Free Church of Scotland. Further splits took place, especially over theological issues, but most Presbyterians in Scotland were reunited by 1929 union of the established Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland.
The Presbyterian denominations in Scotland today are the Church of Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland, the United Free Church of Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the Associated Presbyterian Church (Associated Presbyterian Churches), and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
Within Scotland the term kirk is usually used to refer to a local Presbyterian church. Informally the term 'The Kirk' refers to the Church of Scotland.
In England, Presbyterianism was established in secret in 1592. Thomas Cartwright is thought to be the first Presbyterian in England. Cartwright's controversial lectures at Cambridge University condemning the episcopal hierarchy of the Elizabethan Church led to his deprivation of his post by Archbishop John Whitgift and his emigration abroad. In 1647, by an act of the Long Parliament under the control of Puritans, the Church of England permitted Presbyterianism. The re-establishment of the monarchy in 1660 brought the return of Episcopal church government in England (and in Scotland for a short time); but the Presbyterian church in England continued in non-conformity, outside of the established church. In 1719 a major split, the Salter's Hall controversy, occurred; with the majority siding with nontrinitarian views. Thomas Bradbury published several sermons bearing on the controversy, and in 1719, "An answer to the reproaches cast on the dissenting ministers who subscribed their belief of the Eternal Trinity.". By the 18th century many English Presbyterian congregations had become Unitarian in doctrine.
A number of new Presbyterian Churches were founded by Scottish immigrants to England in the 19th century and later. Following the 'Disruption' in 1843 many of those linked to the Church of Scotland eventually joined what became the Presbyterian Church of England in 1876. Some, that is Crown Court (Covent Garden, London), St Andrew's (Stepney, London) and Swallow Street (London), did not join the English denomination, which is why there are Church of Scotland congregations in England such as those at Crown Court, and St Columba's, Pont Street (Knightsbridge) in London.
In 1972, the Presbyterian Church of England (PCofE) united with the Congregational Church in England and Wales to form the United Reformed Church (URC). Among the congregations the PCofE brought to the URC were Tunley (Lancashire), Aston Tirrold (Oxfordshire) and John Knox Presbyterian Church, Stepney, London (now part of Stepney Meeting House URC) - these are among the sole survivors today of the English Presbyterian churches of the 17th century. The URC also has a presence in Scotland, mostly of former Congregationalist Churches. Two former Presbyterian congregations, St Columba's, Cambridge (founded in 1879), and St Columba's, Oxford (founded as a chaplaincy by the PCofE and the Church of Scotland in 1908 and as a congregation of the PCofE in 1929), continue as congregations of the URC and university chaplaincies of the Church of Scotland.
In recent years a number of smaller denominations adopting Presbyterian forms of church government have organised in England, including the International Presbyterian Church planted by evangelical theologian Francis Schaeffer of L'Abri Fellowship in the 1970s, and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales founded in the North of England in the late 1980s.
In Wales Presbyterianism is represented by the Presbyterian Church of Wales, which was originally composed largely of Calvinistic Methodists who accepted Calvinist theology rather than the Arminianism of the Wesleyan Methodists. They broke off from the Church of England in 1811, ordaining their own ministers. They were originally known as the Calvinist Methodist connexion and in the 1920s it became alternatively known as the Presbyterian Church of Wales.
Presbyterianism is the largest Protestant denomination in Northern Ireland and the second largest on the island of Ireland (after the Anglican Church of Ireland), and was brought by Scottish plantation settlers to Ulster who had been strongly encouraged to emigrate by James VI of Scotland, later James I of England. An estimated 100,000 Scottish Presbyterians moved to the northern counties of Ireland between 1607 and the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The Presbytery of Ulster was formed in 1642 separately from the established Anglican Church. Presbyterians, along with Roman Catholics in Ulster and the rest of Ireland, suffered under the discriminatory Penal Laws until they were revoked in the early 19th century. Presbyterianism is represented in Ireland by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, the Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
In France, Presbyterianism is represented by the Eglise Reformée de France, and Presbyterianism is the largest Protestant denomination in France. There are also Lutherans and Evangelicals. In France, people usually say Protestant (which is a common term for all Reformed Christians). The word Calviniste may be used to differentiate from Lutherans, but the word Presbyterian is not used at all. The logo is a Huguenot Cross (Croix Huguenote) with the burning bush.
There is also an Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) in central Paris The Scots Kirk, Paris which is English-speaking, and is attended by many nationalities. It maintains close links with the Church of Scotland in Scotland itself, as well as with l'Eglise Reformée de France.
The origins of the Waldensian Evangelical Church lie in the medieval Waldensian movement for religious reform. The Waldensians adopted Calvinist theology during the Reformation and became the Italian branch of the Reformed churches. In 1975 the Waldensian Church joined with the Italian Methodist Church to form the Union of Waldensian and Methodist Churches, which is a member of the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the World Methodist Council.
In Hungary, the largest Protestant denomination is represented by Reformed Church in Hungary, which is a Calvinist strand, established in 1567, Debrecen. Their confessional documents are the following:The Heidelberg Catechism, The Second Helvetian Confession. It is numerically the second-largest denomination in Hungary (15.9% of total population).
In Romania, there is an important Hungarian minority (according to 2011 census, the number of Hungarians throughout the Romanian territory is of 1.27 million inhabitants representing 6.7% of the total population) of which some 600,000 people (3.15% of total population) are reformed, belonging to the Reformed Church in Romania.
Even before Presbyterianism spread with immigrants abroad from Scotland, there were divisions in the larger Presbyterian family. Some later rejoined only to separate again. In what some interpret as rueful self-reproach, some Presbyterians refer to the divided Presbyterian churches as the "Split P's".
In the United States, because of past or current doctrinal differences, Presbyterian churches often overlap, with congregations of many different Presbyterian groups in any one place. The largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) or PC(USA). Other Presbyterian bodies in the United States include the Presbyterian Church in America, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, the Bible Presbyterian Church, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP Synod), the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, the Westminster Presbyterian Church in the United States (WPCUS), The Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO), and the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States (RPCUS). The Free Presbyterian Church of North America was an anti-slavery presbyterian denomination established through the work of Rev. John Rankin of Ripley, Ohio.
The territory within about a 50-mile (80 km) radius of Charlotte, North Carolina, is historically the greatest concentration of Presbyterianism in the Southern United States, while an almost identical geographic area around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, contains probably the largest number of Presbyterians in the entire nation.
The PC (USA), beginning with its predecessor bodies, has, in common with other so-called "mainline" Protestant denominations, experienced a significant decline in members in recent years. Some estimates have placed that loss at nearly half in the last forty years.
In Canada, the largest Presbyterian denomination – and indeed the largest Protestant denomination – was the Presbyterian Church in Canada, formed in 1875 with the merger of four regional groups. In 1925, the United Church of Canada was formed by the majority of Presbyterians combining with the Methodist Church, Canada, and the Congregational Union of Canada. A sizable minority of Canadian Presbyterians, primarily in southern Ontario but also throughout the entire nation, withdrew, and reconstituted themselves as a non-concurring continuing Presbyterian body. They regained use of the original name in 1939.
Presbyterianism arrived in Latin America in the 19th century.
The biggest Presbyterian church is the National Presbyterian Church in Mexico (Iglesia Nacional Presbiteriana de México), which has around 2,500,000 members and associates and 3000 congregations, but there are other small denominations like the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Mexico which was founded in 1875 by the Associate Reformed Church in North America. The Independent Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Mexico, the National Conservative Presbyterian Church in Mexico are existing churches in the Reformed tradition.
In Brazil, the Presbyterian Church of Brazil (Igreja Presbiteriana do Brasil) totals approximately 788,553 members; other Presbyterian churches (Independents, United, Conservatives, Renovated, etc.) in this nation have around 350,000 members. Renewed Presbyterian Church in Brazil was influenced by the charismatic movement and has about 131000 members as of 2011.www.iprb.org.br/inic.htm Conservative Presbyterian Church was founded in 1940 and has eight presbyteries.www.ipcb.org.br Fundamentalist Presbyterian church in Brazil was influenced by Karl McIntosh and The Bible Presbyterian church USA has around 1800 members. Independent Presbyterian Church in Brasil was founded in 1903 by Pastor Pereira, has 500 congregations and 75000 members. United Presbyterian Church in Brazil has around 4000 members. There are also ethnic Korean Presbyterian churches in the country. The Evangelical Reformed Church in Brazil has Dutch origin. The Reformed Churches in Brazil was recently founded by the Canadian Reformed Churches with the Reformed Church in the Netherlands (liberated). Congregational churches are also present in the country which are also part of the Calvinistic tradition in Latin America.
There are probably more than four million members of Presbyterian churches in all of Latin America. Presbyterian churches are also present in Peru, Bolivia, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Argentina and others, but with few members. The Presbyterian Church in Belize has 14 churches and church plants and there is a Reformed Seminary founded in 2004. Some Latin Americans in North America are active in the Presbyterian Cursillo Movement.
Presbyterianism arrived in Africa in the 19th century through the work of Scottish missionaries and founded churches such as St Michael and All Angels Church, Blantyre, Malawi. The church has grown extensively and now has a presence in at least 23 countries in the region.
African Presbyterian churches often incorporate diaconal ministries, including social services, emergency relief, and the operation of mission hospitals. A number of partnerships exist between presbyteries in Africa and the PC(USA), including specific connections with Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Ghana and Zambia. For example, the Lackawanna Presbytery, located in Northeastern Pennsylvania, has a partnership with a presbytery in Ghana. Also, Southminster Presbyterian Church, located near Pittsburgh, has partnerships with churches in Malawi and Kenya. The Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, western Africa is also healthy and strong in mostly the southern states of this nation, strong density in the south-eastern states of this country. Beginning from Cross River state, the nearby coastal states, Rivers state, Lagos state to Ebonyi and Abia States. The missionary expedition of Mary Slessor and Hope Waddel and their group in the mid 18th century in this coastal regions of the ten British colony has brought about the beginning and the flourishing of this church in these areas.
In Malawi there is the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Malawi has 150 congregations and 17000-20000 members. It was the mission of the Free Presbyterian church of Scotland. The Restored Reformed Church works with RPCM. Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Malawi is an existing small church.
In Southern Africa is a major base of Reformed and Presbyterian Churches.
In addition also there are a number of Presbyterian Churches in north Africa, the most known is the Nile Synod in Egypt and a recently founded synod for Sudan.
Presbyterian Churches are the biggest and by far the most influential Protestant denominations in South Korea, with close to 20,000 churches affiliated with the two largest Presbyterian denominations in the country.
Most of the Korean Presbyterian denominations share the same name in Korean, 대한예수교장로회 (literally means the Presbyterian Church of Korea or PCK), tracing its roots to the United Presbyterian Assembly before its long history of disputes and schisms. And another notable Presbyterian denomination in Korea is 한국기독교장로회 (The Presbyterian church in the Republic of Korea or PROK), which is one of the staunchest members of the World Council of Churches. All major seminaries associated with each denomination claim heritage from the Pyung Yang Theological Seminary, therefore, not only Jangsin University and Chongsin University which are related to PCK but also Hanshin University of PROK all celebrated the 100th class in 2007, 100 years from the first graduates of Pyung Yang Theological Seminary.
Korean Presbyterian denominations are active in evangelism and many of its missionaries are being sent overseas, being the second biggest missionary sender in the world after the United States. GSM, the missionary body of the "Hapdong" General Assembly of Presbyterian Churches of Korea, is the single largest Presbyterian missionary organization in the Korea.
In Oryu-dong, Pyungkang Cheil is one of the largest Christian churches in South Korea. Another congregation in Seoul, Myungsung Presbyterian Church, claims to be the largest Presbyterian Church in the world. In addition there are many Korean-American Presbyterians in the United States, either with their own church sites or sharing space in pre-existing churches as is the case in Australia, New Zealand and even Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia with Korean immigration.
In Taiwan, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan has been an important supporter of the use of Taiwanese languages in services as a consequence of its advocacy of vernacular scriptures and worship services. (Mandarin Chinese has become dominant since the Nationalists fled to the island in 1949.)
In the mainly Christian Indian state of Mizoram, the Presbyterian denomination is the largest denomination; it was brought to the region with missionaries from Wales in 1894. Prior to Mizoram, the Welsh Presbyterians (missionaries) started venturing into the north-east of India through the Khasi Hills (presently located within the state of Meghalaya in India) and established Presbyterian churches all over the Khasi Hills from 1840s onwards. Hence there is a strong presence of Presbyterians in Shillong (the present capital of Meghalaya) and the areas adjoining it. The Welsh missionaries built their first church in Cherrapunji (aka Sohra) in 1846. Presbyterians participated in the mergers that resulted in the Church of North India and the Church of South India.
In Australia, Presbyterianism is the fourth largest denomination of Christianity, with nearly 600,000 Australians claiming to be Presbyterian in the 2006 Commonwealth Census. Presbyterian churches were founded in each colony, some with links to the Church of Scotland and others to the Free Church, including a number founded by John Dunmore Lang. Some of these bodies merged in the 1860s. In 1901 the churches linked to the Church of Scotland in each state joined together forming the Presbyterian Church of Australia but retaining their state assemblies.
In 1977, two thirds of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, along with the Congregational Union of Australia and the Methodist Church of Australasia, combined to form the Uniting Church in Australia. The majority of the other third did not join due to disagreement with the Uniting Church's liberal views, though a portion remained due to cultural attachment. For example, although the Presbyterian Church of Australia reinstated the ban on the ordination of women to the ministry in 1991, one of the two women ordained prior to that date has kept her position in the denomination and is currently the Senior Minister of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Canberra.
In New Zealand, Presbyterian is the dominant denomination in Otago and Southland due largely to the rich Scottish and to a lesser extent Ulster-Scots heritage in the region. The area around Christchurch, Canterbury, is dominated philosophically by the Anglican (Episcopalian) denomination.
Originally there were two branches of Presbyterianism in New Zealand, the northern Presbyterian church which existed in the North Island and the parts of the South Island north of the Waitaki River, and the Synod of Otago and Southland, founded by Free Church settlers in southern South Island. The two churches merged in 1901, forming what is now the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.
The Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu is the largest denomination in the country, with approximately one-third of the population of Vanuatu members of the church. The PCV was taken to Vanuatu by missionaries from Scotland. The PCV (Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu) is headed by a moderator with offices in Port Vila. The PCV is particularly strong in the provinces of Tafea, Shefa, and Malampa. The Province of Sanma is mainly Presbyterian with a strong Roman Catholic minority in the Francophone areas of the province. There are some Presbyterian people, but no organised Presbyterian churches in Penama and Torba, both of which are traditionally Anglican. Vanuatu is the only country in the South Pacific with a significant Presbyterian heritage and membership. The PCV is a founding member of the Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC). The PCV runs many primary schools and Onesua secondary school. Although the church has lost members to American fundamentalists, the church is still strong, especially in the rural villages.
Clergy, or theologians:
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