|Presbyterian Church of Brazil|
|Moderator||Rev. Roberto Brasileiro|
President of the Supreme Council
|Associations||World Reformed Fellowship|
|Founder||Rev. Ashbel Green Simonton|
|Origin||August 12th, 1859 |
Rio de Janeiro
|Branched from||Presbyterian Church in the United States|
The Presbyterian Church of Brazil (Portuguese: Igreja Presbiteriana do Brasil, or IPB) is an Evangelical Protestant Christian denomination in Brazil. Oldest of the Reformed family of Protestantism in Brazil. It is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country, having an estimate 649,510 members, 4,475 ordained ministers and 5,068 churches and parishes. It is also the only Presbyterian denomination in Brazil present in all 26 States and the Federal District. It was founded by the American missionary Rev. Ashbel Green Simonton, who also oversaw the formal organization of the first congregation (Presbyterian Church of Rio de Janeiro) and the first Presbytery (Presbytery of Rio de Janeiro). Although the Presbyterian Church of Rio de Janeiro was only formally organized in January 1863, and the Brazilian church only left the jurisdiction of the joint missions board of the American churches in 1888, when the Synod was formed, the denomination considers the date of Simonton's arrival in Brazil, August 12, 1859, as its foundation date.
Brazilian Presbyterianism owes its origin largely to the efforts of Rev. Ashbel Green Simonton (1833-1867). Born in West Hanover, Pennsylvania, he studied in New Jersey and initially considered becoming a professor, or a lawyer. Due to the influence of a religious revival in 1855, however, he entered Princeton Theological Seminary. A sermon preached by Professor Charles Hodge made him consider becoming a missionary, and three years later he volunteered to PCUSA's Missions Board, naming Brazil as his preferred destination. Two months after being ordained, he embarked to Brazil, where he arrived on August 12, 1859, at the age of 26. In April 1860, Simonton celebrated his first service in Portuguese. In January 1862, the first converts professed their faith and the Presbyterian Church of Rio de Janeiro was formally organized. He also founded the first Protestant Brazilian newspaper (Imprensa Evangélica, 1864) and oversaw the creation of the first Presbytery (Presbytery of Rio de Janeiro, 1865) and Seminary (1867). Simonton died of yellow fever at age 34, in 1867.
Other missionaries assisted Simonton in the early years of the Brazilian mission: Rev. Alexander Latimer Blackford (1829 Martins Ferry OH - May 1890, Atlanta), who oversaw the creation of the churches in São Paulo and Brotas, and Rev. Blackford was the first president of the Presbytery of Rio de Janeiro; Rev. Francis J. C. Schneider, who preached among German immigrants in Rio Claro, taught at the Rio de Janeiro Seminary and was also a missionary at the State of Bahia; and Rev. George W. Chamberlain (Waterford PA, 1839 - Salvador 19023) who remained at São Paulo and was a pioneer of founding the Presbyterian church in Brazil, taught in McKenzie Theological Seminary. He died in 1902 because of cancer. Only four students graduated at the Rio de Janeiro Seminary, and were very effective ministers: Revs. Antônio Bandeira Trajano, Miguel Gonçalves Torres, Modesto Perestrelo Barros de Carvalhosa and Antônio Pedro de Cerqueira Leite. The only other churches created in this first decade were the ones in Lorena, Borda da Mata, Pouso Alegre and Sorocaba, most of these due to the efforts of Rev. José Manoel da Conceição (1822-1873), former Roman Catholic priest and the first Brazilian to be ordained a Protestant minister (1865).
In 1869, the first missionaries from PCUS, the southern-based Presbyterian Church in the United States, arrived in Brazil: Revs. George Nash Morton and Edward Lane, who settled in Campinas, where many American expatriates had immigrated to during the American Civil War. The church in Campinas, and also the famous, albeit short-lived International College, were founded in 1870. The PCUS missionaries pioneered the preaching of the Reformed faith in the Mogiana region, western Minas Gerais, the Triângulo Mineiro and southern Goiás, mostly due to the tireless efforts of Rev. John Boyle. In the modern era, PCUS missionaries were also among the first to preach the Reformed faith in northeastern and northern Brazil (from Alagoas up to Amazonas). Among the leaders in northern Brazil were John Rockwell Smith and, he founded the Presbyterian Church in Recife and Belmiro Cézar de Araújo, one of the earliest leaders of the whole denominations.
Meanwhile, the PCUSA missionaries extended their reach to Bahia and Sergipe. The church of Rio de Janeiro consecrated its first sanctuary in 1874, and a congregation in Nova Friburgo, a Swiss and German immigrant enclave, was founded. New congregations were also established in the States of São Paulo, Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul, and, in the city of São Paulo, the American School was founded. In 1865 the Presbytery of Rio de Janeiro was created with 39 pastors. In 1888 a Synod was formed in Brazil, the head was Rev. Alexander Latimer Blackford between 1888 and 1891. The General Assembly formed in 1910 and the Supreme Council in 1937.
In September 1888, the Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Brazil was formally created, and thus the Church became autonomous from both American churches. The Synod comprised three presbyteries (Rio de Janeiro, Campinas-Oeste de Minas and Pernambuco), 20 missionaries, 12 native ministers and about 60 churches. Veteran Rev. A. L. Blackford was its first Moderator. The Synod created the Presbyterian Seminary, elected its first two professors and divided the Campinas-Oeste de Minas Presbytery in two: São Paulo and Minas.
The church enjoyed a major expansion during the last years of the 19th century, with many new missionaries, Brazilian ministers, churches and schools. However, a crisis halted this progress. The Synod and the New York Missions Board had different priorities; whilst the former wanted more resources for the evangelistic work and the installation of the Seminary, the latter preferred an emphasis on education, especially through Mackenzie College. At the same time there was some attrition between Rev. Eduardo Carlos Pereira and the Schoolmasters of Mackenzie College, Horace M. Lane and William A. Waddell.
Rev. Eduardo C. Pereira adopted some radical postures, losing even the support of many of his Brazilian colleagues. A newspaper battle ensued, between Pereira's O Estandarte and Álvaro Reis's O Puritano. In 1900 the United Presbyterian Church of São Paulo was formed, consisting mostly of people who left Pereira's church. By the same time, a new problem made matters even more complicated: the Freemasonry controversy.
In March 1902, Pereira began divulging his five-point Platform on the missionary, educational and Masonic matters. After a year of heated argument, the crisis came to its closure on July 31, 1903, during the Synod meeting. After having his proposals rejected, Pereira and his colleagues withdrew from the Synod and founded the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil.
In 1956 the Fundamentalist Presbyterian Church was formed under the influence of Karl McIntosh and the Bible Presbyterian Church USA, has over 20 congregations and 1800 members.
United Presbyterian Church in Brazil was formed in 1978, has 48 churches and 3,466 members in 8 presbyteries. A member church of the World Communion of Reformed Churches.
General rules regarding the church's public worship practices are laid in the Principles of Liturgy (PL), which stand as a Directory of Worship. Articles 7 and 8 of the PL read:
The Constitution of the Church states that overseeing the liturgy and worship practices of the local congregation is the responsibility and private prerogative of the Minister of Word and Sacraments, who is free to arrange the elements of the service as he deems more edifying to the congregation, so long as worship practices don't come into conflict with the church's doctrinal standards.
In a short essay, Rev. Christian S. Bittencourt, former Professor of Theology of Worship at the Rio de Janeiro Presbyterian Theological Seminary, has stated that there are at least four distinct liturgical groups in Brazilian Presbyterianism: Old-school Conservatives, Evangelical Charismatics, Ultra-puritans and Neo-orthodox Conservatives.
The IPB has no official liturgy akin to PC (U.S.A.)'s Book of Common Worship. In more solemn occasions, such as weddings and funerals, when ministers of all four liturgical groups find it necessary to use a set liturgy, they usually employ one of three resources:
The Presbyterian Church in Brazil is a religious community made up of members who adopt the faith and practice of the Bible and the doctrine of the Westminster Confession of Faith and has a representative or democratic church government. The congregations are governed by ruling elders, teaching elders and deacons. The next level is the presbytery where delegates from local churches can discuss current issues. Synod is the next organisation form, the Presbyterian Church in Brazil has more than 64 synods.
The highest court is the General Assembly. The church is represented out of court by the President of the Supreme Council which elected directly in and anonymous vote. The current President of the Supreme Council is Rev. Roberto Brasileiro Silva.
The Igreja Presbiteriana do Brasil (IPB) is committed to church planting. The IBD is particularizing newly planted congregations at the rate of one per week.
The PCB does not belong to the World Communion of Reformed Churches.
The IPB suspended its membership of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in 1973, but in 1998 it reactivated its membership. In 2006 the Presbyterian Church in Brazil disaffiliated from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches due to theological differences.
The church has fraternal relations with 17 Presbyterian Churches in the United States, South America, Africa, Europe and Asia.
The Presbyterian Church in Brazil is a socially, theologically conservative denomination. The church teaches that life begins at conception, and abortion is a sin. According to the Scriptures, homosexual lifestyle is sinful and marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman. Officers, teaching elders, ruling elders and deacons in the denominations are men only. The Presbyterian Church in Brazil severed all ties with first the United Presbyterian Church in the USA, and later the Southern Presbyterian Church.
The Rev. Jose Manuel da Conceicao Theological Seminary was founded in 1980, it was an extension of the Presbyterian Seminary in the South and named after Rev. Jose Manoel da Conceicao the first Brazilian Protestant pastor ordained by the presbyterian church. The Seminary recognise the Westminster Confession of Faith, Shorter and Larger Catechism.
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