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Major Christian Denominations. An Introduction. What is a denomination?. The word denomination refers to an identifiable sub-group within a particular religion. . Denominations in Australia. Catholics make up 26.6% of the Australian population

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What is a denomination
What is a denomination?

The word denomination refers to an identifiable sub-group within a particular religion.

Denominations in australia
Denominations in Australia

  • Catholics make up 26.6% of the Australian population

  • Most follow the Roman rite but a minority follow the Eastern rites (still in line with the Holy See in Rome)

    • These include Maronites, Melkites and Chaldaeans

  • In line from the original Apostolic Church

  • Current leader, Pope Benedict XVI is successor of St Peter whom Jesus placed in charge of the Church.

  • 1.196 billion Catholics around the world!

Denominations in australia1
Denominations in Australia

  • Anglicansmake up 20.7% of Australia’s population

  • This Church was founded during the Reformation in England under the influence of King Henry VIII

    • 1527-1603

    • Henry threw away Papal rule and made himself the ruler of his own Church

  • It was the first Christian Church established in Australia (because of it’s links to England)

Denominations in australia2
Denominations in Australia

  • Anglicans make up a wide variety of members and hold a broad spectrum (varying) of views on all sorts of issues.

  • Every four years the hierarchy of clergy have a meeting, known as the General Synod.

    • This is presided over by the Anglican Archbishop; also known as the Archbishop of Canterbury

  • Acknowledge Baptism and Eucharist as the two great sacraments but others seen as ‘sacramental ministries of grace’

Denominations in australia3
Denominations in Australia

  • Protestant Churches

    • This is an ‘umbrella’ term for the various denominations that trace their heritage to the Protestant Reformation.

  • Examples of Protestant Churches include:

    • Uniting Church

    • Baptist Church

    • Presbyterian

    • Pentecostal (Hillsong is a Pentecostal church)

Denominations in australia4
Denominations in Australia

  • Uniting Church in Australia

    • Was formed in 1977 after the majority of people from three different denominations came together

    • Congregationalists, Methodists and Presbyterians were the denominations

    • They make up 6.7% of Australia’s population

    • Baptism and Holy Communion celebrated as sacraments

Denominations in australia5
Denominations in Australia

  • Presbyterians make up 3.4% of Australia’s population

  • Trace their heritage back to 16th century reformers Zwingli, Calvin and Knox (all part of the Reformation)

  • Observe Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (generally, Holy Communion is celebrated four times a year)

  • Their worship (mass) involves a variety of practices and can vary but has a set form for sacraments such as weddings or funerals.

Denominations in australia6
Denominations in Australia

  • Baptists make up 1.6% of Australia’s population

    • Have a large presence in parts of the United States

  • Emerged from England in 1609

  • Baptism and Communion are recognised as religious rituals but are not seen as sacraments

  • Worship tends to be informal with non-structure services in mass. Main emphasis on preaching

  • Each Church is seen as being independent but coordinated by a Superintendent (in charge of a state)

Denominations in australia7
Denominations in Australia

  • Lutheran Church makes up 1.3% of Australia’s population

  • Established in Germany under the influence of Martin Luther during the Reformation

  • Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are two sacraments celebrated

  • The Book of Concord and the Bible form the basis of worship

  • Organised into parishes, zones and districts

Denominations in australia8
Denominations in Australia

  • Eastern Orthodox Churches make up 2.8% of the Australian population.

    • Examples include Coptic Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Lebanese Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox etc.

  • Trace their heritage back to the Apostolic Church and continue to practice ancient liturgical and spiritual traditions

  • Share much in common with the Catholic Church but are separated by some differences in key beliefs

  • Priests may marry or remain single, but those who do not marry are usually expected to become monks before their ordination


  • Ecumenism refers to relations between different Christian churches who are working towards unity and reunion.

  • Pope John Paul II in 1995 wrote a encyclical (special document) titled ‘That All May Be One’ which emphasizes that ecumenism “is an organic part of the Church’s life and work…”


  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official text of the teachings of the Catholic Church.

  • Even within the Catechism it states clearly certain requirements crucial to ecumenism:

    • Renewal of our own Church

    • Dialogue with other churches

    • Sharing in prayer together

    • Cooperation between Christians in service to society

    • Knowledge of other Christian churches