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1536 - John Calvin, a French lawyer, publishes the "Institutes" in which he presents a vision of God in his majesty, of Christ as prophet, priest, and king, of the Holy Spirit as the giver of faith, of the Bible as the final authority, and of the church as the holy people of God. Calvin was a great logician and systematizer, but not an innovator in the doctrine of the reformation. He is often associated with the doctrines of predestination and election, but his thinking was consistent with other reformers.
1537 - Presbyterianism is the name given to one of the groups of ecclesiastical bodies that represent the features of Protestantism emphasized by French lawyer John Calvin.
1540 - John Knox, a Catholic priest, but follower of John Calvin, converted to the Protestant faith when a fellow-reformer was burnt at the stake by order of the Cardinal. Knox was among those who seized the Cardinal's home, St. Andrew's Castle in Edinburgh.
1547 - French troops re-captured the castle. Knox and his fellow Protestants were taken to France as prisoners.
1549 - The English Government managed to negotiate for Knox's release.
1553 - Knox was forced to escape to Europe after Queen Mary declared England a Catholic country, eventually arriving in Geneva.
1559 - Knox returns to England.
1560 Scotland's parliament adopted a confession of faith drawn up by Knox and established the Church of Scotland on a Presbyterian basis. Knox and others drove Mary Stuart, a Roman Catholic, out of Scotland.
1642-1651 - During the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell, a Congregationalist, purged the Parliament of all Presbyterians.
1706 - Eight Presbyterian ministers met in Philadelphia and formed the Presbytery of Philadelphia, the first Presbyterian presbytery in the New World.
1776 - 12 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were Presbyterian.
1776 - One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the Rev. John Witherspoon, was a Presbyterian minister and the president of Princeton University from 1768-1793.
1788 - The Synod met in Philadelphia to form the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA).
1876 - The Presbyterian Church of England was formed by a merger of factions from English and Scottish congregations.
1958 - The PCUSA and the United Presbyterian Church of North America unite to form the UPCUSA, the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country.
1983 - The United Presbyterian Church USA in the North and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S., in the South merged
into the Presbyterian Church (USA) (www.pcusa.org/). Other denominations such as the Presbyterian Church in America (www.pcanet.org/), a more conservative group,
are still separate.)
1992 - The Special Committee to Study Human Sexuality published a 200-page report "Keeping Body and Soul Together: Sexuality, Spirituality, and Social Justice". This report which proposed relaxed views of pre-marital sex, homosexuality and other contentious issues and created a lot of controversy within the church getting national media attention. It was ultimately voted down.
See more in social issues below.
2. Membership in ECO as of Aug, 2014
3. Fellowship Community is an "umbrella organization" that includes members of the PC(USA), members of ECO, and brothers and sisters in Christ beyond these two denominations. They were started with churches concerned about the health of the PC(USA) as a denomination. In 2012 they launched the new Reformed body, ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.
Social issues in the Presbyterian Church:
Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA):
The PCUSA, the largest Presbyterian domination with over 2 million members, has wrestled with these issues for some time.
A Brief History of the Presbyterian Church in this Country at the Presbyterian Historical Society.
Presbyterian 101 -- Mission and Ministry -- General Assembly Mission Council (GAMC)
Family Tree of Presbyterian Denomination
Presbyterians in America: A Timeline