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Colonial Period (1607-1763)

Colonial America took root in Virginia in 1607 and gained momentum when the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts. By 1760, there were two million settlers.

King Philip's War (1675-1676)

For 14 months (1675-1676), Indians raided settlements and colonialists launched counterattacks. It ended after King Philip, the chief of the Wampanoag Indian tribe, was assassinated.

First Presbytery Formed in Philadelphia (1706)

The formation of a presbytery in Philadelphia in 1706 brought official Presbyterianism to the colonies.

William Tennent's "Log College" (1727)

In 1727, William Tennent's "Log College" became the first seminary in North America.

Adopting Act of Westminster Confession (1729)

By adopting the Westminster Confession of Faith (1729) as its doctrinal standard, American Presbyterianism moved a step closer to becoming a fully regularized denomination.

The First Great Awakening (1733-1770)

The First Great Awakening (1730s-1770s) was a series of religious revivals that propelled the expansion of evangelical denominations in the colonies.

Synod of 1737 and the Old Side-New Side Controversy (1737)

The Synod of 1737, which restricted itinerancy and tightened ordination standards, launched the Old Side-New Side Controversy, which divided American Presbyterianism for two decades.

Gilbert Tennent Preaches "The Dangers of an Unconverted Ministry" (3/8/1740)

Gilbert Tennent's 1740 sermon, "The Dangers of an Unconverted Ministry," helped spark the Old Side-New Side division among American Presbyterians.

Princeton University Founded (1746)

New Light Presbyterians founded Princeton University in 1746 as one of the first national colleges in America.

Life of David Brainerd Published (1749)

Jonathan Edwards published The Life of David Brainerd (1749) to promote evangelical theology during the First Great Awakening.

Hanover Presbytery Organized in Virginia (10/3/1755)

The 1755 founding of Hanover Presbytery in Virginia highlighted the rapid expansion of evangelicalism in the South during the First Great Awakening.

The Plan of Union of 1758 (5/29/1758)

The Plan of Union in 1758 ended the Old Side-New Side controversy among American Presbyterians.

Scottish Covenanters Form First Presbytery in Pennsylvania (1774)

Expatriates from dissident Scottish Presbyterians formed a presbytery in central Pennsylvania in 1774.

American Revolution (4/19/1775-9/3/1783)

When the first shots were fired in 1775, the Colonies didn’t even have a military. Eight years later, the United States had defeated England.

Formation of the Associate Reformed Presbytery, or "Seceders" (1782)

The Associate Reformed Presbytery, formed in Philadelphia in 1782, represented Scottish immigrants from the "seceder" tradition in the Church of Scotland.

Founding Period (1783-1791)

With independence won, the United States of America began creating a new government during the Founding Period (1783-1791), including the selection of the first president.

First General Assembly of the PCUSA (5/21/1789)

In 1789, American Presbyterians created the General Assembly and adopted a new name, the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (i.e., PCUSA).

The Second Great Awakening (1790-1840)

The Second Great Awakening(s) (1790s-1840s) fueled the rise of an evangelical Protestant majority in antebellum America, giving rise to new denominations and social reform organizations.

Westward and Southern Expansion (1790-1848)

The United States of America began pushing beyond the boundaries of its original 13 states, until its holdings spanned from sea to sea (1790-1848).

The Plan of Union of 1801 (1801)

In 1801, the Plan of Union united the Presbyterians and the Congregationalists in efforts to evangelize the Midwest.

Cane Ridge Camp Meeting (1801)

Barton Stone organized the Cane Ridge camp meeting (1801), the largest and most famous religious revival of the Second Great Awakening.

First African Presbyterian Church Organized (1807)

In May 1807, John Gloucester organized the first African American Presbyterian Church.

American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (1810)

In 1810, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions formed in order to send Congregationalist and Presbyterian missionaries all over the world.

Cumberland Presbyterian Church (2/4/1810)

In 1810, the Cumberland Presbytery formed as a response to ordination and theological differences with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

War of 1812 (1812-1815)

The War of 1812 (1812-1815) is often called the second American Revolutionary War, because it again pitted America against Britain.

George Bourne Dismissed for His Opposition to Slavery (1815)

Presbyterian minister George Bourne lost his pastor position in 1815 for advocating the immediate emancipation of the slaves.

American Bible Society Founded (1816)

The American Bible Society (est. 1816) is a faith-based voluntary society that distributes millions of Bibles throughout the country.

The American Sunday School Union (1817)

In 1817, the American Sunday School Union formed as a faith-based voluntary society to spread education and knowledge of the Bible throughout the country.

Charles Finney's Rochester Revival (9/1/1830-3/1/1831)

Charles Finney's Rochester Revival (1830-1831) played a foundational role for the more widespread revivalism and conversions of the 1830s and 1840s.

Trial of Albert Barnes (1835)

The trial of Presbyterian minister Albert Barnes regarding his unorthodox theology in 1835 increased tensions between Old School and New School Presbyterians.

New School-Old School Controversy Splits the General Assembly (1837)

The New School-Old School controversy, driven by theological differences during the Second Great Awakening, split the mainstream of American Presbyterianism in 1837.

Murders of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman (11/29/1847)

In 1847, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, early missionaries to the Oregon territory, were killed by the Cayuse Indians in a widely publicized massacre.

First Wave of Feminism (1848-1920)

The 72-year struggle to grant women the right to vote evolved as the central theme of the first wave of American feminism (1848-1920).

Civil War (1861-1865)

The Civil War (1861-1865) was fought between the U.S. government and 11 southern states. The Union prevailed, slaves were freed, and nearly 700,000 people died.

Freedmen's Aid Society (1861)

In the 1860s, the Freedmen’s Aid Society formed with the goal of increasing educational opportunities for blacks in the American South.

Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (1861)

The Civil War divided northern and southern Presbyterians, leading those in the South to secede and form the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. in 1861.

Reconstruction and Industrialization (1865-1890)

During the Reconstruction and Industrialization period (1865-1890), the South struggled to recover after the Civil War. Meanwhile, United States was emerging as an industrial giant.

Reunification of New School and Old School Presbyterians (1869)

After 30 years of division between New School and Old School Presbyterians, the factions reunited in 1869.

Cumberland Presbyterian Church of America Founded (1874)

In 1874, former slaves in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church founded an independent denomination, later named the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of America.

Jim Crow Laws (1890-1965)

Abolition freed the slaves, but blacks were kept segregated from whites in the South through local and state regulations known as Jim Crow laws (1890-1965).

Trial of Charles Augustus Briggs (1892-1893)

The 1892 heresy trial of theologian Charles Augustus Briggs anticipated the fundamentalist-modernist controversy in the Presbyterian Church twenty years later.

World War I (1914-1919)

World War I (1914-1919) began in Europe, but grew into an unprecedented global conflict with 65 million troops. It was called the Great War.

Prohibition (1920-1933)

The 18th amendment made the manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcohol illegal in the United States for 13 years (1920-1933).

Christianity and Liberalism Published (1923)

John Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism (1923) challenged the cultural shift toward modernist interpretations of the Bible within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Great Depression (1929-1939)

The Great Depression (1929-1939) brought the biggest economic upheaval in U.S. history. Millions of people were unemployed, banks/businesses failed, and there was sweeping poverty.

Sarah Dickson Becomes First Female Presbyterian Elder (6/2/1930)

On June 2, 1930, Sarah Dickson became the first female elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Orthodox Presbyterian Church Founded (1936)

In 1936, discontented conservative Presbyterians left the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America to form the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Bible Presbyterian Church (5/1/1937)

The Bible Presbyterian Church, led by Carl McIntire in 1937, was the product of division between Presbyterian traditionalists and fundamentalists in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

World War II (1939-1945)

With the rise of Adolf Hitler, Germany began annexing neighboring countries, leading to the second World War (1939-1945) and the deadliest conflict in world history.

Cold War (1947-1991)

The antagonistic relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, known as the Cold War (1947-1991), lasted for nearly half a century.

Vietnam War (1955-1975)

America’s two-decade involvement in the Vietnam War (1955-1975) was costly and divisive. It claimed more than 58,000 U.S. lives and cost 140 billion dollars.

Margaret Towner Ordained in PCUSA (10/24/1956)

Margaret Towner's ordination in 1956 was the culmination of a long struggle for gender equality in the Presbyterian Church USA.

Merger of UPCNA and PCUSA (1958)

The merger of the UPCNA and the PCUSA in 1958 created the largest Presbyterian denomination in America, but was followed by controversy and dissension.

Rise of Equal Rights Movements (1962)

The social justice movements of the 1960s were infectious, giving rise to women, racial minorities, and LGBT groups seeking equal rights in the United States.

UPCUSA Confession of 1967 (1967)

The 1967 Confession added calls for racial and social reconciliation, but conservatives in the United Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) accused it of hedging on essential doctrines.

Presbyterian Church v. Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church (1/27/1969)

In 1969, this Supreme Court case prohibited the government from interfering in doctrinal disputes between churches.

Presbyterian Church in America (1973)

In 1973, conservative Presbyterians dissatisfied with the liberal tendencies of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. left to form the Presbyterian Church in America.

Evangelical Presbyterian Church (1981)

In 1981, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church became the third major conservative denomination to split off from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A).

Merger of UPCUSA and PCUS (1983)

In 1983, the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the Presbyterian Church in the United States merged to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Eugene Peterson's The Message Published (1993)

In 1993, Eugene Peterson began publishing sections of The Message (Bible), which translated the Christian Bible into modern everyday language.

9/11 (9/11/2001)

On September 11, 2001 ("9/11"), al-Qaeda terrorists crashed two planes into the Twin Towers and one into the Pentagon. More than 3,000 people died.

PCUSA Approves Gay/Lesbian Ordination (7/8/2010)

On July 8, 2010, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved the ordination of "openly"/partnered gay and lesbian members. Many conservative members left the denomination thereafter.

PCUSA Allows Same-Sex Marriage (6/19/2014)

On June 19, 2014, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) passed an amendment to allow pastor to perform same-sex marriages.


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