Cumberland Presbyterian Church
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Founder
Finis Ewing, Samuel King, Samuel McAdow
Time Period
2/4/1810
Description
After the revivals at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, the number of Presbyterian converts on the Western frontier swelled. Facing a shortage of ministers, some congregations within the newly organized Synod of Kentucky ordained uneducated ministers in violation of the denomination's rules. The synod responded by censuring the group, but the General Assembly rejected the motion.

In response to tension over ordination, as well as theological differences, Finis Ewing, Samuel King, and Samuel McAdow formed the Cumberland Presbytery on February 4, 1810 in Kentucky. The Cumberland Presbytery formed an alternative synod in 1813 and the two Kentucky synods co-existed uneasily until 1825 when the denomination formally revoked recognition of the Cumberland group. In 1829, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, with presbyteries throughout the South, created its own General Assembly.

As of 2008, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church lists more than 78,000 members, more than half reside in Kentucky or Tennessee.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Presbyterian Religious Events and People in American History
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Presbyterian Religious Events and People in American History
Narrative
After the revivals at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, the number of Presbyterian converts on the Western frontier swelled. Even before the revivals, American Presbyterianism faced a shortage of qualified ministers. On the frontier, the problem was even worse with very few candidates who had the necessary formal education. Some congregations within the newly organized Synod of Kentucky ordained uneducated ministers in violation of the denomination's rules. The synod responded by censuring the group, but the General Assembly rejected the motion. In response to tension over ordination, as well as theological differences, Finis Ewing, Samuel King, and Samuel McAdow formed the Cumberland Presbytery on February 4, 1810 in Kentucky. The Cumberland Presbytery formed an alternative synod in 1813 and the two Kentucky synods co-existed uneasily until 1825, when the denomination formally revoked recognition of the Cumberland group. In 1829, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, with presbyteries throughout the South, created its own General Assembly.

In keeping with the broader theological trends associated with the Second Great Awakening, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church held to an Arminian view of human will and divine election, that all people are offered the free choice to accept or reject salvation. Accordingly, the church adopted a revised version of the Westminster Confession of Faith. By the early 20th century the divide between Cumberland's theology and that of broader Presbyterianism had narrowed. In 1906, a majority of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church's congregations reunited with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), although a significant minority remained separate. As of 2008, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church had more than 78,000 members, more than half reside in Kentucky or Tennessee.

Religious Groups
Presbyterian-Reformed Family: Other ARDA Links

Photographs

Old Log House, where the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized- Hathi Trust- from Why I am a Cumberland Presbyterian by A. N. Eshman

Finis Ewing portrait- Hathi Trust- from The Life and Times of Rev. Finis Ewing by F. R. Cossitt

General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1906- Hathi Trust- from Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society, vol 3 (1906)

First Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Dallas- Hathi Trust- from History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Texas by Thomas H. Campbell
Book/Journal Source(s)
Ahlstrom, Sydney, 2004. A Religious History of the American People. New Haven: Yale University Press.
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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