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The Presbyterian Church of Australia is the largest Presbyterian denomination in Australia. (The larger Uniting Church in Australia includes some congregations that were formerly Presbyterian).


Presbyterian Christianity came to Australia with the arrival of Presbyterians from different Presbyterian denominations in Great Britainmarker at the end of the 18th century.

The Presbyterian Church of Australia was formed when Presbyterian Churches from various Australian states federated in 1901. The churches that formed the Presbyterian Church of Australia were the Presbyterian Churches of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia. These state churches were incorporated by Act of Parliament for property holding purposes.

Church Union

In 1977 two-thirds of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, the Congregational Union of Australia, and the Methodist Church of Australasia joined to form the Uniting Church in Australia. Much of the third that did not join the Uniting Church did not agree with its liberal views, although a number remained because of cultural connections.

The Presbyterian Church of Australia’s official web site stated that the church has over 50,000 adults and children within its communion, more than 600 ministers, deaconesses and theological students, and 740 congregations.

At the last Commonwealth census (2001) nearly 720,000 people describes themselves as being Presbyterian. This makes Presbyterianism Australia’s fourth largest denomination, although not all Presbyterians are members of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. See also List of Presbyterian Denominations in Australia.

Church organisations

The Presbyterian Church of Australia’s missionary organisation is Mission Partners, formerly the Australia Presbyterian World Mission. This organisation has more than 170 cross-cultural missionaries.

The Presbyterian Church of Australia has established Arabic, Chinese, Cook Islandsmarker, Indonesianmarker, Japanese, Korean, Samoanmarker and Sudanesemarker congregations, as well as a Deaf Presbyterian Church.

The Presbyterian Inland Mission continues the work of the Australian Inland Mission founded by John Flynn in 1912. Padres patrol outback Queenslandmarker, New South Walesmarker, South Australiamarker and Western Australiamarker, and hopes to expand into the Northern Territorymarker and Tasmaniamarker when resources become available.

The Presbyterian Church of Australia publishes the monthly Australian Presbyterian magazine, and provides social and educational services.


The following schools have links with or are run by the Presbyterian Church of Australia. The closeness and formality of association varies.

Australian Capital Territory

New South Wales


The following schools in Queensland are conducted by
the Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association.


Theological colleges

The Presbyterian Church operates the Presbyterian Theological Centre in Sydney, the Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne and Prezra, a Bible college in Adelaidemarker, and the Queensland Theological College (formerly the Consortium of Reformed Colleges) in Brisbane.


The Presbyterian Church operates the Reformers Bookshop in Sydney (as a joint venture with Stanmore Baptist Church) and the PTC Media Centre - part of the Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne.


Crest of the Presbyterian Church of Australia

Ministers and elders of the Presbyterian Church of Australia are required to agree to the Westminster Confession of Faith as their subordinate authority under the Bible.

"Along with other true Christian churches, the Presbyterian Church believes that the Bible is the infallible Word of God.

As a result of this commitment to the Bible, we uphold the historic Christian faith.

  • We believe in one God in the Trinity of the three persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
  • We affirm the real historical events of Christ’s birth, life, death, resurrection and future return. We look to Him for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
  • We submit to the Scriptures as the final authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
  • We seek to live in obedience to the Great Commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself’; and we endeavour to fulfil the Great Commission: ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.’

The Presbyterian Church is a Reformed and Evangelical denomination whose understanding of Christianity is set out in the Westminster Confession of Faith. So we stress, as the Bible does, God’s initiative in people becoming Christian believers. This stance does not lead to a lessening of human responsibility before God nor does it take away from the importance of mission and evangelism, but rather establishes the conditions under which true human response to Christ can take place.

The Presbyterian Church does not claim to be the only true church. We see ourselves as forming one small part of the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ and we seek to have fellowship wherever we can with fellow Christians who share with us a common loyalty to ‘the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude verse 3)."

(Welcome to the Presbyterian Church, GAA Christian Education Committee of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.)

Church government

The Presbyterian Church of Australia is ruled, under God, by elders, or presbyters. Presbyterian churches recognise two types of elders: teaching elders (ministers) and ruling elders. These elders meet at a local level in the Kirk Session. Only ordained ministers may preside at communion, or the Lord’s Supper, except in the rare circumstance where the presbytery licenses a ruling elder to do so. Likewise, only a minister can administer baptism. A board or committee of management handles the material concerns of the local congregation. Deacons may also be elected to provide practical care.

The minister and an elder from each parish have a seat at their regional presbytery and at their state's general assembly. The General Assembly of Australia (GA of A), composed of commissioners from each presbytery and state assembly, meets every three years. Every year each state's general assembly elects a moderator, while the General Assembly of Australia elects a moderator general for a three year term.

Notable Australian Presbyterians


This is an incomplete list of the 600 or so congregregations of this denomination.

See also

External links

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