The Nyssic Presbyterian Church, or Nyssic Church, is a reformed church under the Calvinist tradition which follows a Presbyterian style of governance and is the national church of Noronica. As in much of the old Noronnican literature stemming from the Nyssic language, many in the Noronnican Isles refer to the church as the 'Kirch' (kerr-ch). The Nyssic Church was formed in 1534, formed from both the Christian beliefs slowly being adopted around the Noronnican Isles and from dying ancient pagan beliefs.
Christianity was originally deemed to be extremely dangerous to the pagan culture, due to its focus on human reverence and its monotheistic design. This proved to be an issue for the many, including monarchs who maintained a policy of outlawing the religion and punishing it worshippers. However, as tensions grew and Christian worshippers grew in size, laws became relaxed and soon Christianity had a foothold within the Noronnican Isles.
Due to Gaelitic influence, the early form of worshipped Christianity in Noronica was Catholicism. This was maintained for centuries and Catholic influence grew on domestic and foreign rulers. The Noronnican theological scholar Thomas Trystan, in 1528, denounced the Catholic faith and advocated reformation alongside other nations in the Western Isles. He specifically advocated a Calvinist style of reformation. It took years for this to take effect, but soon his followers grew in size and unified under the 'Trystanian Movement'. This movement took to the fore in 1532, when protests sparked across the country to attempt to remove the corrupt influence of Catholic officials and bring about more equal governance of the religion. Upon the success of the uprising, the Nyssic Presbyterian Church was formed and recognised as the official church of Noronica.
The Nyssic Church is moderated by two referees who preside as joint chairmen of the National General Assembly which meets to vote and decide upon various religious matters including the inclusion of female ministers which was accepted in 1969. The Church recognises further administrative divisions within the country, as Noronica is split into parishes which are led by a minister and their group of Presbyters, (elders).
A key tenet of the Nyssic Church is the practice of worship by oneself and connecting oneself to God through silent worship. Rather than large gestures of grandiose love and adoration for God, one should connect and confide in God and should not broadcast oneself to be a better proponent of Christian beliefs than another. The inspiration for this belief is the idea that Jesus Christ and the many other figures of the Christian faith were instructed or bestowed knowledge by God in solitude.
This may seem contradictory to the practice of attending church to listen and take part in a congregation of fellow worshippers, yet it is also encouraged to share ministries from their own personal reflections with one another so as to develop and cherish each other's spiritual beliefs.
Meetings for God are an excellent example for this belief, as while the congregation meets, for a large part of the period of time spent in church, they are sat in silence for reflection and prayer. If one feels compelled to speak or provide a ministry, they are encouraged to do so by standing and addressing the congregation.
The ministers still provide a service, especially in times of special religious significance such as Christmas, yet they are not the sole focus of the church. They handle many matters, but what is considered as a successful Meeting for God consists of many ministries from multiple sources, taking inspiration perhaps from the minister's service.
On a rather extreme level, some churches still provide an old custom of sheltering oneself during worship. Should a person wish to fully disconnect, they may use a provided divider for their seat. While this may seem rather overzealous, if one is new to the faith, one might find the practice of worshipping together in silence awkward so they would take to using a divider.
Pantheism and Nature
Nature has been a highly important part of Noronnican faiths throughout history. Evidence garnered from archaeological findings have all pointed towards a great reverence for nature's power and the belief that worship of nature would yield boons whereas the careless or malicious handling of it would end in suffering. It was believed that the pagan gods were immersed in nature, their being sown into the very fabric of reality.
This belief continued as Christianity took hold in the Noronnican Isles. A central principle of the Nyssic Church is that of pantheism, where God and the universe are closely tied. Some older churches incorporated open spaces, where some chambers had walls but no ceilings, so as to connect worship with the outdoors. This practice continues in modern churches, where they use glass roofs to allow a view of the outside without opening the church to the effects of the weather.
Members of the congregation elected to administrate, handle finance and aid new members of the congregation of a parish church or cathedral. Specific roles may be designated.
Congregation & Courts
Ministers are ordained men and women who give sermons and hold services for congregations. They also serve as referees for courts.
Meets once a year to legislate on Church law and to permit appointments of officials. Electors are usually randomly chosen parish ministers accompanied by a prebyter.
Appointed for life as the two chairmen of the General Assembly. They are usually elected from the list of cathedral ministers.
The Head of State's representative in the church. They have no vote and serve purely for ceremonial purposes.
Meetings play a pivotal role in how the Nyssic Church functions. They can range from normal church services to presbyter meetings to financial meetings to annual legislative meetings. Meetings are held in every church institution in varying degrees of importance. The most observed is, of course, the Meeting for God, which is held every Sunday for members of the congregation to worship.
Meeting for God
The Meeting for God is a period of worship typically in the morning where members of the congregation come to worship God and partake in a church service. A typical service lasts about an hour, with one half being a normal church service and the other being a period of silent reflective worship.
Elders/Presbyters and their minister meet to discuss important issues in the parish such as births and deaths, and they also meet to discuss administrative issues for their church.
The General Assembly meets every year to decide on church issues on a national level.
Meeting for Prayer
Held for multiple occasions such as a christening, marriage or funeral, a meeting for prayer is held by the presbyters, (and members of the congregation if they wish) during a Sunday Meeting for God or before the event.
Noronnican Churches have always been a mix of various styles, some of them being small and rather simplistic, whereas others are grand monumental pieces of architecture. This dichotomy of designs shows just how dramatic the changes in religion in the Noronnican Isles were. Many ancient pagan temples were stripped bare after Catholicism became the norm in Noronica, yet some Nyssic Presbyterian Churches were built on top of or around existing sites to show the unity of religious beliefs.
After the Reformation period, churches became smaller and many were designed to have intentionally open chambers so as to worship amongst the natural elements. Churches were also designed in a circular manner so as to allow the practice of sitting in a semi-circle during a service. The cross design was incorporated akin to many other cultures' church designs.
Underneath many churches contain burial chambers of some of the more important figures in the community. Local Clan Laerds were buried in these chambers, alongside prestigious families. This was part of the adoption of ancient practices as, in pagan belief, if a person was buried underground in ancient burrows or tumuli, they would be closer to the Gods. This practice has since stopped, yet churches maintain the chambers so as to protect the deceased. Famous churches such as Gwynon Cathedral, contain vast intricate underground burial complexes, seeing as many Noronnican monarchs were buried there. That being said, monarchs are still buried in these caverns, the last being Overlady Victoria who was given the right to be buried in such a manner by Overlord Tytus despite her forced abdication.
The circular design of the floor plan is found in every church, as it fosters an equal relationship with every member of the congregation including the minister. During a period of reflective worship, the minister, choir and congregation all sit in a semi-circle to join one another in a united period of silent worship.
Christening, Marriage and Funerals
The Nyssic Church takes baptism very seriously, and sometimes actively seeks new parents in communities, (less so in urban areas) to ask if they wish for their newborn child to be christened in their parish church. The Minister and Presbyters oversee these ceremonies, holding a meeting for prayer beforehand to bless the newborn child coming into the Lord's care. The proceedings are generally the same for adult baptism, but it is usually a faster process with multiple adults partaking in the ceremony.
Marriages are conducted usually outside with the family members and congregation, (if the couple so choose). The marriage is then moderated by a minister, who in this instance acts with the blessing of the referees of the Nyssic Church to marry the couple. A meeting for prayer can be held if the couple wishes, yet some see this as infringing upon a family-only right to celebrate.
Funerals are also moderated by ministers, who undertakes funerary proceedings and aids the family of the deceased through the process. In the Nyssic Church, cremations and burials are commonplace, as both are viewed as enabling the soul to have a closeness to nature and therefore God. Cremations are controversial topics in some rural communities, who see the destruction of the body as disallowing the soul to connect with nature, whereas others see it as natural seeing as the ashes are sown into the earth during proceedings.
The Nyssic Church is unique in that it provides its own piece of theological literature alongside prayer and hymn books. This book is called the Book of Moral Advice. Originally written in 1549, the book contains advice for worshippers to further their own connection with God and their fellow man. It stresses that it is not designed to provide compulsory rules and laws as is the practice of the commandments, instead it provides advice as a teacher would give to their students to live a life of peace and love.
The Book of Moral Advice discusses several areas of one's life, from work ethic to family. It is not intended for any gender or age, intended instead to be picked up by anyone from any walks of life. Some of its views have been dampened throughout its history, as while the first edition contains rather hardline views, later versions have strived to be much more accepting and open to other faiths and beliefs, to allow anyone to take advice from it. This has caused a rift in some communities, as some still maintain the values of the first edition.
During Meeting for God, the Bible and the Book of Moral Advice are placed on a table in the centre of the semi-circle, where all are invited to pick up either and read them during their worship. It is not encouraged to do so while a minister is conducting a sermon or while a hymn is being sung, yet there are no rules against it.
Other scriptures used by the Nyssic Church are; a common prayer book which incorporates several prayers from various Christian communities and some adapted ancient Nyssic prayers, and a hymn book which is in its 5th edition.
Church Endorsed Programs & Organisations
Christian Homeless Program
Program to encourage every church to contain bedding and supplies within church grounds to provide the homeless a bed for the night and supplies.
Nyssic Church Relief Aid
An NGO working around the Isles to provide support and first aid to crisis areas and impoverished countries.
Nyssic Church Against Domestic Violence
An organisation within the church to provide support for victims of abuse in the Noronnican Isles.
Nyssic Christian Education
An NGO working to provide opportunities for children around the Isles to have access to proper education and a violence-free commute to school.