Presbyterian Church Denomination

Overview of the Presbyterian Church

Presbyterian Church
Martin Leigh / Getty Images

Number of Worldwide Members

Presbyterian churches or Reformed churches make up one of the largest branches of Protestant Christianity today with a worldwide membership of about 75 million.

Presbyterian Church Founding

The roots of the Presbyterian Church trace back to John Calvin, a 16th-century French theologian, and minister, who led the Reformation in Geneva, Switzerland beginning in 1536. For more about Presbyterian history visit Presbyterian Denomination - Brief History.

Prominent Presbyterian Church Founders:

John Calvin, John Knox.

Geography

Presbyterian or Reformed churches are found predominately in the United States, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and France.

Presbyterian Church Governing Body

The name "Presbyterian" comes from the word "presbyter" meaning "elder." Presbyterian churches have a representational form of church government, in which authority is given to elected lay leaders (elders). These lay elders work together with the church's ordained minister. The governing body of an individual Presbyterian congregation is called a session. Several sessions constitute a presbytery, several presbyteries make up a synod, and the General Assembly oversees the entire denomination.

Sacred or Distinguishing Text

The Bible, the Second Helvetic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Westminster Confession of Faith.

Notable Presbyterians

Reverend John Witherspoon, Mark Twain, John Glenn, Ronald Reagan.

Presbyterian Church Beliefs and Practices

Presbyterian beliefs are rooted in the doctrines expressed by John Calvin, with emphasis on themes such as justification by faith, the priesthood of all believers, and the importance of the Bible. Also notable in the Presbyterian faith is Calvin's strong belief in the sovereignty of God.

For more about what Presbyterians believe, visit Presbyterian Denomination - Beliefs and Practices.

Presbyterian Resources

More Presbyterian Resources

(Sources: ReligiousTolerance.org, ReligionFacts.com, AllRefer.com, and the Religious Movements Web site of the University of Virginia.)