Our history goes back to the Reformation in the 1500’s
It can be said that our history goes back to first church and indeed the dawn of time, when God called people to be reconciled to Him. The word ‘Presbyterian’ comes from the Greek biblical word ‘presbyter’ which can be translated ‘bishop’ or more helpfully – ‘elder’. So the name ‘Presbyterian’ simply reflects the way the Church is organised. We are Protestant, Evangelical and Reformed.
The Presbyterian Church is based on a system of governance by Presbyters, or Church Elders (which includes the minister as an elder). The Presbyterian church is seen by many to be quite democratic in that congregations select elders and ‘call’ their minister. The only head of the Church is Jesus Christ who sovereignly raises up leaders to shepherd.
The Australian Macquarie Dictionary defines the term; “Church government by presbyters, or elders who are equal in rank, consisting of ministers (teaching elders) and layman (ruling elders).” Congregations are under the jurisdiction of a Presbytery to which they belong in their district.
When James Cook landed in Australian for the first time in 1776 he was sure to have had some Presbyterians in his crew. The First Fleet landed in 1788 with John Hunter, a former candidate for the Church of Scotland ministry as captain of the fleet flagship HMS Sirius. Since then the Presbyterian church has grown to be the fourth largest (according to the 2001 census) of Christian worship in Australia.
Presbyterianism has spread through much of the world mainly due to the work of Scottish missionaries.
The Presbyterian Church of Australia in NSW is constitutionally part of the Presbyterian Church of Australia and linked with the historical work of the Holy Spirit in the reformation of the Church of Scotland in the 16th century led by John Knox, the founder of Presbyterianism. In Australia we can trace our beginnings to the banks of the Hawkesbury River near Sydney in 1803.
Illustrations: Above – John Knox and George Whitefield, Middle: Ebenezer Church, the oldest in Australia, Below: Mary Slessor, missionary.
The Supreme Standard of the Church is the Word of God contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. The Subordinate Standard of the Church is the Westminster Confession of Faith read in light of the Declaratory Statement.