Presbyterian Church

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The Presbyterian Church is a denomination of Christian Protestantism based on the teachings of John Calvin which traces its institutional roots to the Scottish Reformation, espcially as led by John Knox. There are many separate institutional entities ranging from the Church of Scotland to the {whatever the Koreans are} who belong to this denominational lineage.

History of Presbyterianism

The Greek word presbyteros literally means "elder."

Characteristics of Presbyterians

Presbyterians distinguish themselves from other denominations by both doctrine and institutional organization, or as they prefer to call it 'church order'. The origins of the Presbyterian churches were in Calvinism, which is no longer actively taught by some of the contemporary branches. Many of the branches of Presbyteriansim split from larger groups over differences in interpretation and application of Calvin's theology, especially on predestination and the Elect.

Presbyterian church order is based on two congregationally elected bodies, the Elders and the Deacons. Elders are typically in charge of relations with the larger denomination, doctrine, membership in the particular congregation, and relations between the pastor and the congregation. Pastors typically serve at the will of the Elders (though usually with confirmation by congregational referenda). Deacons are typically in charge of the financial affairs of the congregation. Each congregation elects representatives to a local assembly, often called a presbytery. A presbyteries elect representatives to a broader regional synod, and the synods elect representatives to the 'general assembly of a particular Presbyterian church. This congregation/presbytery/synod/general assembly schema is based on the larger Presbyterian churches; some of the smaller bodies skip one of the steps between congregation and general assembly.

Varieties of Presbyterians

Even before the Scots Presbyterians left Scotland there were divisions in the larger Presbyterian family. In America, because of doctrinal differences in the past, Presbyterian churches often overlap, with congregations of many different Presbyterian groups in any one city.

See also: Dutch Reformed Church