Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Presbyterian Church of Brazil

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Classification  Protestant
Theology  Evangelical Reformed
Association  World Reformed Fellowship
Number of members  1,011,300
Orientation  conservative Calvinist
Polity  Presbyterian
Founder  Ashbel Green Simonton
Presbyterian Church of Brazil
Moderator  Rev. Roberto Brasileiro President of the Supreme Council
Associations  World Reformed Fellowship
Branched from  Presbyterian Church in the United States
Separations  Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil

Presbyterian church of brazil 150 years hymn a mighty fortress

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 1,011,300 members, 8,315 ordained ministers and 5,015 churches and 5,392 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 jusrisdiction 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.


Ben o inef vel

The beginnings and first decades

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:

Article 7. The Service of Public Worship is a religious act, through which the people of God worships their Lord, comes into communion with Him, making confession of sins and seeking, through the mediation of Jesus Christ, forgiveness, sanctification of life and spiritual growth. It is an appropriate occasion for the proclamation of the redeeming message of Christ's Gospel and the indoctrination and fellowship of the saints. Article 8. The Service of Public Worship is ordinarily [composed] of the reading of the Word of God, preaching, sacred singing, prayer and offerings. The ministration of the Sacraments, when performed during the Service, is part of it.

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.

  • Old-school conservatives, the most common tendency, tend to favour a service order freely based in Isaiah, chapter 6: ascription of praise Confession of sins, adoration, Offertory, reading and preaching of Scripture, ministration of the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper and Benediction. Pertinent traditional hymns and/or modern praise choruses may be inserted before, during or after each part of the service, and the Adoration section is often replaced by a selection of praise and worship choruses led by a modern music band. Old-school conservatives usually eschew the use of responsive liturgies, set forms of prayer, creeds, the Church Year and lectionaries (save for the commemoration of Christmas and Easter) and distinctive dress for ministers and church officials, save for rare ministers who choose to wear the Geneva robe, without stoles.
  • Evangelical Charismatics, fastest growing group, favor a contemporary, free-form liturgy. Structurally, it is composed of three or four parts: praise and worship songs, reading and preaching of Scripture, the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper and Benediction. Most other acts of worship are more or less organically included in the praise and worship time, led by the church's minister or the leading vocalist of the praise band. A second selection of praise and worship songs may be included after the sermon, especially if an altar call is to take place or if the Sacraments are to be ministered. Evangelical Charismatics may or may not adopt, along with the order of service, Pentecostal practices such as communal, simultaneous prayer in loud voice and glossolalia.
  • Neo-orthodox Conservatives are a group consisting mostly of young ministers of a more academical background, usually in small congregations, who conduct experiments into bringing the IPB toward a more mainline position. They seek to establish a greater catholicity in the Presbyterian worship practice, recovering the use of responsive liturgies, litanies, set forms of intercession and prayer, the observance of the Church Year and use of the Revised Common Lectionary. Their ministers are usually more inclined to wear distinctive garb, such as clerical shirts, Geneva robes or even albs, with stoles. Even though they are fond of traditional hymnody, they usually also employ praise choruses within the context of the service order. Even though the practical implementation of such a project usually faces some resistance and requires a certain degree of compromise, their ideal liturgy is something close to PC(U.S.A.)'s The Service for the Lord's Day.
  • Puritans, the smallest group within the IPB, choose to lead their worship according to the Westminster Directory of Public Worship, instead of the Principles of Liturgy. The order of worship is usually close to the one practiced by Old-school Conservatives, save for three differences: the only music employed in public worship are metric Psalms sung congregationally, a capella; women are not allowed to speak, teach or pray in public services nor Sunday School, except if there be no men present; and no feast of the Church Year is ever observed, not even Christmas and Easter.
  • 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:

    1. Manual do Culto ("Worship Handbook"), a non-official compilation of orders of service done by Rev. Modesto Carvalhosa de Perestrello to serve as a guide to lay leaders in the early 20th century, published by Cultura Cristã, IPB's publishing branch.
    2. Manual Litúrgico ("Liturgical Handbook"), an expansion of Manual do Culto with alternate forms and biblical readings.
    3. The Independent Presbyterian Church's Manual do Culto, which is an abbreviated translation of PC(USA)'s 1993 Book of Common Worship.


    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 representatic 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.

    Church planting

    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.

    Twenty years ago the Presbyterian denomination begun a strong and successful evangelistic work in the main cities.

    Interchurch relationships

    Presbyterian church in Brazil is a member church of the World Reformed Fellowship.

    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.

  • Apostles Creed
  • Westminster Confession
  • Westminster Larger Catechism
  • Westminster Shorter Catechism
  • Theological Seminaries

  • Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Brasilia
  • Presbyterian Theological Seminary in the South - Campinas
  • Rev. Jose Manoel da Conceicao Presbyterian Theological Seminary in São Paulo
  • Rev. Ashbel Green Simonton Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Rio de Janeiro
  • Presbyterian Theological Seminary in the North - Recife
  • Presbyterian theological Seminary in the Northeast - Teresina
  • Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Central Brazil - Goiania
  • extension of Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Central Brazil in Ji-Parana
  • Rev. Danoel Nicodemos Eller Presbyterian Seminary - Belo Horizonte
  • 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.


  • JMN - Junta de Missões Nacionais (Board of National Missions) - founded in 1940 and has 185 missionaries to plant churches in Brazil.
  • APMT - Agência Presbiteriana de Missões Transculturais - international missions with 30 missionaries abroad. Mission fields are in Bolivia, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Timor and Romania.
  • Missão Evangélica Caiuá
  • Education

  • Mackenzie Presbyterian Institution
  • Gammon Presbyterian Institution
  • Eduardo Lane Bible Institution
  • Augusto Arújo Bible Institution
  • References

    Presbyterian Church of Brazil Wikipedia