Presbyterians emerged out of the Protestant Reformation through the teachings of John Calvin. The Scotsman, John Knox (ca. 1513-1572), after spending 5 years in Geneva under Calvin’s tutelage, returned to Scotland and thoroughly reformed the church according to Calvin’s theology (Reformed) and church government (Presbyterian). The Scottish Presbyterians influenced the Puritan party in England. Both groups were instrumental in getting British Parliament to convene the Westminster Assembly in 1643 for the purpose of reforming the Anglican Church according to Presbyterian principles. Out of this Assembly came the Westminster Confession (1647) and the Shorter and Longer Catechisms, as new doctrinal standards for the church.

When the monarchy was restored in England in 1660, many Puritans and Scottish Presbyterians resettled in America. The first Presbyterian presbytery in America (association of local congregations) was formed in 1706 in Philadelphia. King George III of England called the American Revolution, “that Presbyterian revolt.” The Constitution of both the Presbyterian Church and United States were written in the same year.  Presbyterian principles of governance greatly influenced the framing of the Constitution of the United States.


For an in-depth history of St. John's please read about our first 100 years at: A History of St. John's Presbyterian Church 1883 - 1983 (PDF 4.47MB).