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What is a Cumberland Presbyterian?

Most Christians sing vVctory in Jesus and The Old Rugged Cross.  What makes a Cumberland Presbyterian unique?
Most Christians sing vVctory in Jesus and The Old Rugged Cross. What makes a Cumberland Presbyterian unique?
Tom Spence

What is a Cumberland Presbyterian?

Don’t be alarmed if you don’t know but don’t leave this page until you have at least a basic understanding.

There are about 100,000 Cumberland Presbyterians walking this earth at this moment. That number fluctuates as do the rolls of most denominations, though when the roll is called up yonder, expect to see a host of Cumberlands.

Just over two centuries ago the Presbyterian Church in these United States decided to prove that despite a well organized system of church government, it could become gridlocked and dysfunctional with the best of denominations.

Presbyteries and Synods were doing their best to do their worst at addressing the issues of the day. Among these issues were the education of pastors and evangelizing the frontier. The short story is that on 4 February 1810, three Presbyterian ministers formed their own Presbytery, but the Presbyterians did not recognize the new body.

Why yes, it does sound like a miniature reformation of the reformed church. Luther never set out to break away from the Roman Catholic Church; yet, we know the history and the proliferation of Christian denominations over the past five to six centuries when that church did not want to reform.

So the Cumberland Presbyterian Church (CPC) came into being and burst onto the American frontier. There is more history, mystery, and expansion, but the CPC was here to stay and made a huge impact upon this nation.

The CPC was among the first to ordain women ministers and has now expanded its work overseas.

So just what make the CPC different?

In some instances you may see no difference from other Presbyterians or Baptists or Pentecostals. If everyone is out doing God’s work of bringing life and light and hope to this world by proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, most folks never notice the name on the outside of the church building.

If everyone is working together as the Body of Christ should work, then differences are advantageous. Not everyone can be an eye or an ear or an appendix. Paul should have included the appendix in his description of the Body of Christ just so someone could teach a seminary class on it.

Many parts, one body.

Many gifts, one Spirit.

Cumberland Presbyterians (often just called CP’s) are a part of the church. Yes, that is the church of which Christ is the head.

CP’s are a unique part. This column seeks to give some insight and inspiration in understanding and applying God’s word. It will be seasoned with a healthy dose of Cumberland Presbyterian.

One way to get to know what Cumberlands believe is to read the Confession of Faith for Cumberland Presbyterians.


Does anyone other than ministers and sometimes elders read such bodies of work these days?

Usually not. That very assessment led Pastor Tom to preach the Confession of Faith over the course of most of a year. People seldom study this little blue book, but when it happens to be full of good news and is preached from the supporting scriptures, suddenly it is an easy thing.

If you want to know a little bit more about Cumberland Presbyterians, then give A Homiletic Journey Through the Confession of Faith a try.

Want a taste of something else?

Try Working Day Wisdom for a journey through the Proverbs.

What is the message of the New Testament? Try Jesus is Lord.

Humor? Really? Try You might be a pastor…

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