Presbyterianism refers to many different Christian churches adhering to the Calvinist theological tradition within Protestantism, and organized according to a characteristic Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures, and the necessity of grace through faith in Christ.
Presbyterianism originated primarily in Scotland and was confirmed as the means of Church Government in Scotland by the Acts of Union in 1707. Most Presbyterians found in England can trace a Scottish connection and the denomination was taken to North America by Scots and Scots-Irish immigrants. The Presbyterian denominations in Scotland hold to the theology of Calvin and his immediate successors, although there is a range of theological views within contemporary Presbyterianism.
Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa
In the year 1806 Britain sent the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders Regiment to the Cape as an occupying force. These Scottish soldiers were an unusually devout group of Presbyterians. Although they had no chaplain or minister of their own, they formed themselves into "The Calvinist Society" which met every week for prayer, Bible study and public worship. They continued their religious activities until 1814, always inviting oassing missionaries to preach for them.
In 1812 the Rev George Thom arrived at the Cape. He was a Presbyterian minister on his way to India as a missionary with the London Missionary Society (LMS). After meeting with the Calvinist Society he decided to stay at the Cape and the first Presbyterian Church was established there. In 1814 the Scottish regiment was withdrawn from the Cape and the Presbyterian congregation was almost totally depleted. In 1818 the Rev George Thom resigned his charge and the first Presbyterian Church virtually came to an end.
The setback was only temporary. In 1824 the once more growing number of Presbyterians re-established the congregation and built a church. Completed in 1827, it stands to this day in Cape Town and is known as "the Mother Church" of the Presbyterians in Southern Africa. The Rev John Adamson arrived from Scotland in 1827 to be the first minister of St Andrew's as the congregation is called. He served as their minister until 1841.
Mission work in the Eastern Cape. In 1821 the Glasgow Missionary Society sent its first missionaries to work on the Eastern Frontier. The first two were the Rev John Bennie and the Rev William Thomson. They were soon followed by others. In 1824 they established at Incehra a mission station which they named Lovedale after the Rev Dr Love. In later years, under the leadership of the Rev Dr James Stewart, Lovedale was to become the most famous of Presbyterian institutions in South Africa and the African springboard for the equally famous Presbyterian Mission and Institution in the North, namely, Livingstonia on the shores of Lake Nyasa (now Lake Malawi).
As early as 1823 a Presbytery was formed and churches spread rapidly throughout the whole Eastern Frontier. In due course the work was divided into three Presbyteries: Kaffraria, Mankazana and Transkei.
The first church was built at Glen Lynden in 1828.
As building type
A building designed for public worship by members of the Presbyterian community.