SINCE THE REFORMATION, many different Protestant churches have been founded, all stressing the Bible as the source of their beliefs, and many advocating that salvation comes by God’s grace, which is given to the believer through faith. Protestant churches range from huge international organizations, such as the Methodist, Anglican, and Lutheran churches to smaller groups like the Quakers, Shakers, and Seventh Day Adventists.
PURE AND SIMPLE
Protestant church buildings, like the one pictured above, tend to be plain with little of the decoration so common in Catholic and Orthodox interiors. The seats are arranged so that everyone can hear the sermons and readings.
The Puritans were 17th-century English Protestants who wanted to cleanse the church of elements that they saw as Catholic, or “Popish” such as vestments and bishops. Puritans, who stood out because of their plain clothes, were persecuted at home, so many moved abroad.
The Quakers worship in unadorned buildings called meeting houses. A typical Quaker meeting is simple and does not follow a set pattern. There are periods of meditation and silence until the Holy Spirit moves one or more of those present to speak or pray.
FRIENDS OF SOCIETY
The Quakers, originally called the Religious Society of Friends, were founded during the 17th century in England by George Fox. They have no Creed, no sacraments, and their ministers are not ordained. Quakers are committed to peace, equality, and other social improvements, and played a major role in the abolition of slavery.
THE VOYAGE OF THE MAYFLOWER
In 1620, a group of Puritans from England and Holland sailed to America on the Mayflower. After a hard voyage, the group, later known as the Pilgrims, landed in Massachusetts, USA. Here they set up Plymouth Colony, a community where they could live and worship in their own way without fear of persecution.
The first Methodist churches were founded by the British preacher John Wesley in the mid-18th century. Since then, Methodism has spread all over the world. With independent branches like the Methodist Episcopal church in North America, Methodism has grown to become one of the largest Protestant groups.
Wesley was originally an Anglican clergyman who preached outside so that large numbers of people could hear him. He toured widely, preaching in both Britain and North America. This led to the founding of Methodist churches groups of Christians who aimed to achieve holiness through the “method” laid down in the Bible.
Worship in Methodist churches follows a pattern similar to that in Anglican and other Protestant churches, with hymns, prayers, Bible-readings, a sermon, and the recital of the Creed. Within this framework, individuals in some churches stand up to affirm their faith with a joyful voice.
THE SIMPLE LIFE
The Shaker movement reached its peak in the 19th century, and now there are very few Shakers. Members follow a simple lifestyle; they dress plainly, avoid alcohol and tobacco, and live in communities set apart from the outside world. Shakers are famous for their simple, well-made furniture that seems to sum up their way of life.
Methodist minister William Booth founded the Salvation Army in the late-19th century, and it has since become a worldwide organization. The Salvation Army is famous for its outdoor preaching, its tuneful music, and its work to help the poor and needy. It preaches a Bible-based Christianity centered on the immortality of the soul and salvation by faith through grace.
RESPECT YOUR ELDERS
There are a number of Presbyterian churches around the world, and they share one key feature they are governed by presbyters, or elders, who may be either ministers or lay people. This kind of organization was based on the ideas of reformer John Calvin. Worship is simple and centres on preaching and as shown in this 19th-century painting study of the scriptures.
SOLDIERS OF GOD
The Salvation Army is organized along military lines. It is led by a “general”, other church leaders are known as “officers”, and members, or “soldiers”, wear a distinctive uniform. Those who enroll sign a declaration of faith known as the “Articles of War”. All members are entitled to bear the organization’s red shield.
THE HOLY LIFE
Founded by a follower of the reformer Zwingli, Mennonites aim to live a life of holiness, set apart from the world in selfcontained communities. They are pacifists, and they carry out relief work in many parts of the world.
Seventh Day Adventists, like this couple in Mozambique, believe that the time will come when they will be taken to Heaven for 1,000 years while Satan rules on Earth. At the end of this time, Jesus will return, destroy Satan, and create a new Earth. Adventists operate schools and a network of hospitals and clinics.
All Christians consider the work of evangelism, or spreading the Gospel, to be part of their faith. Many Protestants, like these in Guatemala, are very active evangelists. They often worship and preach outdoors, so their congregations are not limited by the size of a church building, and everyone who passes by can hear their message.