- a GROUP of PROTESTANT CHURCHES arising out of the CALVINIST REFORMATION distinguished by their form of CHURCH GOVERNMENT based on PRESBYTERS or ELDERS and a series of Church courts. The lowest court is that of the local Congregation. Above it are district and eventually National courts known as Presbyteries. Above these is the SYNOD. Finally there is the General Assembly or National Synod. Each court consists of Elders and Ministers who appoint new Ministers and determine the policy of both local CONGREGATIONS and the Church as a whole. The two other major methods of Church government are CONGREGATIONAL and EPISCOPAL. Presbyterianism first appeared in Scotland in the late sixteenth century and spread throughout the world. Today there are over 120 independent Presbyterian Churches loosely united in the WORLD ALLIANCE OF REFORMED CHURCHES. Apart from their distinct method of Church Government, they accept CALVINIST CREEDS the most important of which are the WESTMINSTER CONFESSION, the HELVETIC CONFESSION and the HEIDELBERG CATECHISM.
Concise dictionary of Religion. 2012.
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