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What is Presbyterianism?

In brief: What is Presbyterianism?

Presbyterianism is part of the Protestant Reformation movement of the 16th Century which sought to purify the church of false teachings and practices which had, over the centuries obscured what the Bible says about Christ and what it means to follow Him.  John Knox (1514 – 1572) was the person accredited to have started the Presbyterian movement in Scotland.  Presently in NSW, the Presbyterian Church (PCNSW), and to a larger extend, the Presbyterian denomination owed much of her heritage to this Reformation movement.


The word ‘Presbyterian’ comes from the Greek word πρεσβύτερος (presbyteros) which is the equivalent to our modern-day term for minister, pastor or elder.  Presbyterian Churches in NSW are governed by a group of such elders. This collective group of elders within the individual church is called a 'session'.  The minister or pastor is often called the ‘teaching elder’ while the rest of the elders are called ‘ruling elders’.  Together, they as the session look after and make decisions regarding the spiritual well-being and growth of the local church (congregation).

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