Presbyterian Church In The U.S

Popularly known as the Southern Presbyterian Church, it shares a common history and heritage with the larger nationwide Presbyterian Church. The southern presbyteries comprised more than a third of the Old School branch of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, and did not renounce their connection with it until the Old School assembly, meeting in Philadelphia (May 1861), adopted resolutions pledging the church's support to the Federal Union, even although most of the Southern states had already seceded and civil war had begun. The first assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States met in Augusta, Georgia (4 December), and was organized by commissioners from forty-seven Southern presbyteries. The United Synod of the South, comprising twenty-one presbyteries, was formed in 1858 by those who broke with New School Presbyterians.

The whole South suffered severely during the war. After the war the present name was adopted. Some of the early growth-slow during Reconstruction but substantial and steady thereafter-came by union of the southern branches of the New School and Old School in 1864. In 1969 there were some 4,000 churches, 4,593 ministers, and nearly a million communicants, primarily in urban areas, contributing a total of nearly $134 million. The assembly holds membership in the World Alliance of Reformed Churches,* the National and World Councils of Churches, and the Consultation on Church Union. Union with the Reformed Church in America was defeated by that body in 1969. Union with the northern and United Presbyterians was defeated in 1954; another plan of union with the northern body is now being studied in draft form.

For the greater part of its history the denomination has been somewhat homogeneous and committed to Calvinistic orthodoxy, strict subscription to the Westminster Standards, scriptural authority and inerrancy, jure divino Presbyterianism, and the exclusively spiritual mission of the church. Increasing internal tension developed after 1935, as the leadership has tended to modify its position on these and other theological, social, and ecumenical issues. Recent years have witnessed a proliferation of dissenting conservative groups who pledge to maintain a continuing Southern Church despite efforts by the leadership to carry the denomination into church unions and to draft a new confession of faith. In late 1973 some members withdrew from the denomination to form a new, separate body, now called the Presbyterian Church of America.

T.C. Johnson, History of the Southern Presbyterian Church (1894); R.C. Reed, History of the Presbyterian Churches of the World (1905); H.A. White, Southern Presbyterian Leaders (1911); J.M. Wells, Southern Presbyterian Worthies (1936); T.W. Street, The Story of Southern Presbyterians (1960); M.H. Smith, Studies in Southern Presbyterian Theology (1962); E.T. Thompson, Presbyterians in the South (2 vols., 1963-72).