First Presbytery Formed in Philadelphia
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Founder
Francis Makemie
Time Period
1706
Description
While individual Presbyterians and isolated Presbyterian churches in the colonies appeared as early as the 1640s, there was no denominational structure in the colonies until 1706, and Presbyterianism requires a presbytery. Given Francis Makemie's struggle against the authorities in New York and religious intolerance in Congregational Massachusetts, Philadelphia offered a welcoming location for Presbyterian immigrants, as Pennsylvania was founded on the basis of religious tolerance.

Makemie and a handful of other ministers formed the presbytery, naming Makemie as its first moderator. By 1707, the presbytery had ordained several ministers and planted a church in New Jersey.

The Philadelphia Presbytery continued to play a central role in American Presbyterianism throughout the 18th century. It was the home presbytery for William Tennent's "Log College," which would eventually turn into Princeton University. It also was the site of the Synod of 1729, where the Westminster Confession of Faith was adopted.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Presbyterian Religious Events and People in American History
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Presbyterian Religious Events and People in American History
Religious Groups
Presbyterian-Reformed Family: Other ARDA Links

Biographies
Makemie, Francis
Photographs

First Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia PA- Internet Archive- from History of the Presbytery of Philadelphia by Alfred Nevin

Minute Book of the 1706 General Presbytery, first page- Hathi Trust

Francis Makemie monument- Internet Archive- from Mackemieland Memorials by L. P. Bowen

First American Presbytery, stained glass design- Library of Congress, Lamb Studios Archive
Book/Journal Source(s)
Hart, D.G. and John R. Muether, 2007. Seeking a Better Country: 300 Years of American Presbyterianism. P & R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ.
Web Page Contributor
Paul Matzko
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History

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