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Presbyterianism

Presbyterianism in Europe

Calvinism first influenced the Protestant churches of Geneva and of the Huguenots. In the Netherlands the Protestant church was Presbyterian in government but not independent of the state until the middle of the 19th cent. By the mid-16th cent., Presbyterian sentiment was strong in England and Scotland. The English Presbyterians were never numerous after Oliver Cromwell's time; in 1876 various branches united to form the Presbyterian Church of England. In 1972 this church merged with the Congregational Church in England and Wales to become the United Reformed Church in Great Britain, now with an estimated 150,000 adult members (1997). The Church of Scotland (see Scotland, Church of), founded in 1557 under the leadership of John Knox, is the only Presbyterian state church established by law; however, it maintains the traditional independence from the state. There are an estimated 641,000 members (1997). Presbyterianism in Northern Ireland began early in the 17th cent. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland (1840) is the principal body; it has an estimated 300,000 members (1997). The largest Protestant church of Wales, the Calvinistic Methodist Church (also called the Presbyterian Church of Wales), has an estimated 45,700 members (1998). The World Presbyterian Alliance merged with the International Congregational Council in 1970 to form the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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