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1. of, relating to, or designating Church government by presbyters or lay elders
2. an upholder of this type of Church government


of or relating to any of various Protestant Churches governed by presbyters or lay elders and adhering to various modified forms of Calvinism


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The Presbyterian Church, although divided into many denominations, traces its ancestry back to the Protestant Reformation (see Christianity, Development of). It began with Martin Luther, but some twenty years after he posted his famous Ninetyfive Theses, John Calvin (see Calvin, John, and Jacobus Arminius) laid the basis for the theology that shapes the various Presbyterian churches existing today. John Knox studied with Calvin and took his theology first to Geneva and then, after a political exile, back to Scotland, where the first Presbyterian Church was formed.

Presbyterian doesn't refer to theology as much as it does to church polity. There isn't a lot of theological difference, for instance, between Presbyterians and Congregationalists (see Congregationalism). But there is a world of difference in the way the political hierarchy of the two churches work. Presbyterians are set up, politically, much the same way as the representative government of the United States. Individual churches elect representatives (presbyters) who represent them at a higher level (the presbytery). The presbytery owns the church buildings and has a say in who ministers to the local congregations. It, in turn, is responsible to the synod, elected from the various presbyteries. The presbytery does not go so far as to appoint bishops or individual ministers. The local church session has a lot of say in those matters. The highest elected body is the assembly, which serves the same kind of function as the U.S. Congress. So the Presbyterian political organization of representative government is somewhere in between an Episcopal system and a Congregationalist system.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is the largest denomination in the United States. But theological differences, mostly involving biblical interpretation, have led to other denominations, such as the Presbyterian Church in America, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

The Presbyterian Church is perhaps best known for its use of the Westminster Catechism, still widely used in confirmation classes.

References in periodicals archive ?
The way the Presbyterian and Methodist congregations in Boissevain effected amalgamation demonstrates the challenges involved in merging two religious communities.
Stuff Presbyterian Seminarians Say" is perhaps better titled "Stuff Presbyterian Seminary Students Say if They Are Under 35 and Graduated Within the Last 10 Years," but still.
William Henderson Shurley, a Presbyterian pastor in Titusville and a coordinator of the exchange.
Presbyterian Healthcare Services announced today that it is partnering with T-Systems, a multinational information and communications technology company that will provide Information Technology (IT) data center operations and related IT technical services.
She does this by astute contextualization and careful reading and analysis of neglected treatises and newly recovered manuscripts related especially to Walter Travers, hitherto best known as a presbyterian opponent of Richard Hooker.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) passed a historic measure on May 10 allowing openly gay men and women in same-sex relationships to be ordained as clergy.
MINNEAPOLIS * In a whirlwind of activity, the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to lift a ban on partnered gay clergy, but turned down a bid to expand its definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.
Washington -- PNN -- this week it was announced that the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship would partner with a number of European Jewish groups who are planning to sail to Gaza to break the Israeli blockade.
While Wood was 'reared a Presbyterian in Victoria and Tasmania.
City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo said Wednesday that officials at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital have refused to turn over records and cooperate in the city's investigation into recent allegations that a paraplegic patient was dumped on Skid Row.
In the April 11 issue your reporter stated in an article titled "A Presbyterian Victory" that "[Jane] Spahr, 63, the first in her denomination to be tried for officiating at same-sex unions, was acquitted by a judicial commission of charges relating to her blessing of two lesbian couples.
Ottati (an Elder in the Presbyterian Church USA and the M.

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