Praying for Home-Grown Laborers

Instructive words for our own day from B. W. McDonnold’s History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church:

“There is a wonderful difference between the growth of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the two States to which this chapter is devoted. In Indiana there are now (1885) but three presbyteries; in Illinois there are ten. There is one thing indicated both by recent statistics and by this early history which may help to explain the difference. In Illinois from the beginning there was a vigorous struggle to raise up a home supply of preachers. Fast-days were appointed on which all the congregations joined in prayer that God would call and send forth men of his own choosing to preach the gospel. God answered these prayers, as he will do today in all our frontier presbyteries if, instead of clamoring for more preachers to come from the older States, they will ask God to call their own sons into the work.”

Historical note: The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was formed in 1810 by Presbyterians ejected from the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. in the Cumberland River valley of Kentucky who loosened the requirements of subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith. In particular, the denomination effectively rejected the reformed doctrine of predestination.

Though less than complete, the following words recently spoken to me by an old Cumberland elder are a memorable summary of their doctrine: “Cumberland Presbyterians believe in election, too. We believe that in this election, God has cast a vote for you, Satan has cast a vote for you, and YOU cast the deciding vote!”

Cumberland Presbyterians embraced the methodology of revivalism of the Second Great Awakening, required less education for ministers, and vigorously sought to evangelize the American frontier. The majority of the denomination merged with the PCUSA in 1906 after the PCUSA revised the Westminster Confession of Faith in 1903.

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