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Presbyterianism is a kind of Protestant Christianity. It was started in Scotland by John Knox during the 16th century. It became powerful in England during the Civil War. Today there are Presbyterian churches across the world.
Presbyterians (followers of Presbyterianism) believe that the Bible is the most important thing in their church because it was given to humans by God and has no errors in it. They believe that God has control over everything and has chosen to make some people follow Jesus Christ but not others, and that only followers of Jesus may get into heaven. (See Calvinism)
Presbyterian churches may be led by men called Ministers, Rectors or Elders. Some Presbyterian churches have women as elders. "Presbyter" means "elder" and they rule in committees.
There is no overall leader and there are no bishops in the Presbyterian tradition. On Sunday, the Bible, which they consider the 'Word of God', is read and a sermon preached by the minister is at the heart of a morning worship service, which also includes group singings of some worship songs.
Around the world
There are Presbyterian churches on every continent except Antarctica, but they do not always agree with each other. There have been many splits ("schisms") caused by various disagreements: some about what they believe, some about how they should be organised. In some cases these splits have been healed but many have not.
In Scotland, where Presbyterianism started, there are at least seven different groups ("denominations"); there are three main groups in England, one in Wales and five in Northern Ireland.
There are dozens of different groups in North America, almost all in the USA. They arrived during the 17th century, mostly from Scotland and already disagreeing with each other. Most countries in South America have had Presbyterian churches since the 19th century.
At least 23 countries in Africa have Presbyterian churches, also since the 19th century.
In Asia, the Korea Presbyterian Church was started through the mission of the Presbyterian Church (USA). After Korean independence, the division was formed afresh as 'Presbyterian Church in Korea (KoRyuPa)' advocating the views of Dutch Reformed churches. In 2012 a new General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Korea declared authentic historical succession of John Knox.