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Presbyterian comes from the Greek word "πρεσβευτης": (presbuteros) and means something like ambassador or elder. This word comes from "πρεσβυς" which means aged, old, (old) venerable, respected, honored, (ge) important, sublime, worthy; One finds this term, with this meaning, several times in the Bible. Presbyterian and Reformed churches are led by elders or elders. According to this principle, the Presbyterians got their name. Elders or ward leaders can be clergy or lay, and in most Presbyterian churches today, they can be men or women. Martin Luther, a German priest and professor, started the Protestant Reformation in Wittenburg (Germany) in 1517 with his 95 theses. Twenty years later, the theologian, John Calvin, refined this new way of thinking. John Knox, a Scot who studied with Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland, introduced Calvin's teaching in Scotland. New Reformed communities developed in England, Holland and France. The Presbyterian Church originated mainly in Scotland and England. When Francis Mackemie emigrated from Ireland to the USA in 1683, he brought this teaching to the "New World". In 1706 the first American presbyters began to organize themselves near Philadelphia. Up until the 19th century, Great Britain, Holland and North America were among the strongholds of the Presbyterians. Due to widespread, lively missionary activity, Presbyterian or Reformed churches were founded on all continents after 1800. Currently, the English-speaking members of these churches are in the minority, but there are large Presbyterian and Reformed church communities in Asia, Africa, Latin America and many other parts of the world. The Bible is recognized as the ultimate authority for the Church and for the individual believer. The standardization of the theological teaching and practice of the church is called the "confessional church". A number of confessional writings were written between the 16th and 20th centuries. The most important early confessional writings were the first Confessio Helvetica (1536), the Scots Confession (1560), the Confessio Belgica (1561), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), the second Confessio Helvetica (1566), the canon of the Synod of Dort ( 1619) and the Westminster Confession and Small Catechism (1647). Two examples of recent confessional formulations are the Barmer Theological Declaration, issued in 1934 by the Evangelical Church in Germany, and the 1967 Confession, adopted by the United Presbyterian Church in the United States. The most influential creed, especially for the Anglo-American Presbyterian churches, was the Westminster Confession. As with Luther, the number of Christian sacraments is limited to two: baptism (both infant and adult baptism) and the Lord's Supper. An essential difference to Luther is the understanding of the essence of the Lord's Supper. Characteristic of Calvin's theology is the trust in the word of the Bible, interpreted with the help of the Holy Spirit, as well as the emphasis on the rule of God and the inability of people to obtain salvation through their own action. The preaching of the word occupies a large space in the congregations.



Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Presbyterian Church of Ireland
Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales
Presbyterian Church of Scotland