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The Cumberland Presbyterian Church

is a Presbyterian body formed during the
Great Revival of 1800.

The revival caused disagreement within the Presbyterian Church (USA) both over the mechanics of the revival and over allowances the pro-revival faction was willing to make in order to secure ministers for its rapidly expanding following.

In two presbyteries, Springfield and Cumberland, the pro-revival faction dominated. These presbyteries, Cumberland in particular, believed that that the revival to be an extraordinary circumstance which allowed for exceptions to both educational requirements for ordination and the required subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith. Both Springfield and Cumberland Presbyteries were members of Kentucky Synod of the Presbyterian Church (USA). In Kentucky Synod the faction opposed to the revival dominated. This anti-revival faction took steps to curtail the activities of the revival oriented presbyteries. Frustrated, Springfield Presbytery withdrew from the Presbyterian Church in 1803. In 1804, in order to discipline her ministers, Kentucky Synod dissolved Cumberland Presbytery.

On February 4, 1810, at the home of Rev. Samuel McAdow near present day Dickson, Tennessee, McAdow, Rev. Finis Ewing, and Rev. Samuel King reorganized Cumberland Presbytery, previously dissolved by Kentucky Synod of the Presbyterian Church (USA). These disaffected Presbyterian ministers did not intend to found an independent Presbyterian body. They felt that they would have greater success resolving their differences with Kentucky Synod as an organized body than as individuals. They also felt that the organization of a presbytery would better enable them to serve their congregations.Growing rapidly, Cumberland Presbytery became Cumberland Synod in 1813 and, in 1829, when a General Assembly was established, the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination.

Cumberland Presbyterian congregations are located throughout the United States as well as in several other countries (Japan, Hong Kong, Colombia, etc.) but are primarily located in the American South, with strong concentrations in Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri, southern Illinois, Arkansas, and Texas. The Cumberland Presbyterian denomination has a socially progressive tradition. Cumberland Presbyterians were among the first denominations to admit women to their educational institutions and to accept them in leadership roles including the ordained clergy.

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church denomination was founded in 1810 in Dickson county, Tennessee (near Nashville), by a group of Presbyterians who were heading west to settle the frontier.

Born out of the early 1800’s Great Revival with a desire to go out and reach all that need Christ, the denomination has retained that “whosever will come” approach to evangelism and outreach.

The denomination has approximately 670 congregations worldwide, with ministries in 18 countries. The largest concentration of churches is in Tennessee, followed by Alabama, Texas, Kentucky and Arkansas.

Click here for more information about our theology and polity.

* Adapted from the tract "Who Are Cumberland Presbyterians?

by T. V. Warnick and Morris Pepper.



Presbyterian Church Foundation

Our Historical Foundation

It is the responsibility of the Historical Library & Archives to house, preserve, protect, and maintain the records of the Cumberland Presbyterian Churches so that present and future church members, administrators, historians, and other researchers may have access to them.