- Protestantism came to Australia along with Church of England chaplains assigned to tend to the religious need of the original colonists, most of whom were convicts. Rev. Richard Johnson sailed with the first fleet of ships to Australia in 1788, which brought 1,100 convicts, soldiers, and settlers to what is now Sydney Rev. Samuel Mars-den arrived five years later; he played a commanding role through the end of the 1820s, though he was joined after the turn of the century by Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, and Methodists. New settlers swelled the ranks of the Church of England most of all; the church also benefited from Australia's status as part of a global network of British colonies. Methodists were the second-largest group through the 19th century.In 1824, the Anglicans were reorganized as an archdeanery in the Diocese of Calcutta. The first archdeacon, Thomas Scott, arrived in 1825. He was succeeded in 1829 by William Grant Broughton. In 1836, Broughton was consecrated as bishop with jurisdiction over the entire country. During his tenure, the land was divided into several dioceses.Methodists, Presbyterians, and Congregation-alists all established work early in the 19th century.The Methodists formed their Australian conference in 1855, which divided into multiple conferences in 1873. Several Methodist groups that had split from the main body over the years merged back into the Methodist Church in 1902.Presbyterians organized a synod aligned with the Church of Scotland in 1840. Almost immediately the split then occurring in Scotland was imported to Australia; the synod split into two factions over issues of congregational vs. synod and state power. Presbyterians representing other Presbyterian bodies in Great Britain also came to Australia, but most Australian Presbyterians merged into the Presbyterian Church of Australia in 1901.Congregationalists came to Australia as a part of the larger movement by the London Missionary Society to evangelize throughout the South Pacific.In the 1970s, all three churches began to seek unity. In 1977, they merged into the Uniting Church of Australia (though a third of the Presbyterians refused to adhere). The Uniting Church remains the third-largest in Australia after Roman Catholics and Anglicans. The Lutheran Church, which had begun work in 1838, did not join in the merger.In the 20th century, Australia became home to the same kind of religious pluralism that was common to most Western countries, with more than 100 different Protestant and Free Church groups. Among the more interesting are the Two-by-twos or Go-Preachers, who oppose denominationalism to such a degree that they refuse to have a name for the group. The movement was founded in England by William Irvine (1863-1947). Irvine appointed itinerant ministers to travel in pairs, just as Jesus had done with his disciples. In the early years of the 20th century, he began to preach that the end of the dispensation of grace would come in 1914. His followers rejected that idea and with it Irvine as general overseer. Since that time, the movement has had a collective leadership in each country. It has been particularly successful in Australia, relative to the size of the population, and now counts more than 100,000 members.Australia was for many years the home of John Alexander Dowie (1847-1907), who as a Congregational minister in 1875 began a divine healing ministry. Three years later, he resigned from the church to start an independent movement. He was an important independent religious voice in Australia through the 1880s, in spite of unsuccessful attempt at politics. In 1888, he moved his flamboyant and controversial ministry to the United States, where he founded the Christian Catholic Church.Australian Pentecostalism had but the slimmest of ties to the movement in the United States. In 1906, Methodist Sarah Jane "Jeannie" Lancaster (1858-1934) received some Pentecostal literature from England, which directed her attention to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. She had an intense experience in 1908 that included speaking in tongues. The following year she opened the Good News Hall in North Melbourne, from where Pentecostalism spread across the country. Those associated with her took the name Apostolic Faith Mission. Today, the largest Pentecostal movement is the Assemblies of God, which counts more than 100,000 adherents, but numerous Charismatic revival movements have been launched in the last generation, a few of which, such as the Christian Life Churches, International and the Christian outreach Center have become international movements.Many of the older Protestant churches are members of the National Council of Churches in Australia, which is affiliated with the World Council of Churches. More conservative groups are affiliated with the Australian Evangelical Alliance, which is in turn a member of the Evangelical Fellowship of the South Pacific and the World Evangelical Alliance.Further reading:■ I. Breward, A History of the Australian Churches (St. Leonards, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 1993)■ I. Gillman, Many Faiths, One Nation: A Guide to the Major Faiths and Denominations in Australia (Sydney: Collins, 1988)■ R. A. Humphries and R. S. Ward, eds., Religious Bodies in Australia: A Comprehensive Guide (Wantirna, Australia: New Melbourne Press, 1995)■ S. Piggin, Evangelical Christianity in Australia: Spirit, Word, and World (New York: oxford university Press, 1996).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.