10 July 2003

Whither the former UPCNA?

The United Presbyterian Church in North America (UPCNA) was a stronghold of Reformed confessional identity for the century after 1858, and was made up of seceding and covenanter groups with roots in Scotland. It was headquartered in Pittsburgh and its geographic strength was in western Pennsylvania. In 1958 it entered into organic union with the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA), thereby forming the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (UPCUSA), the largest Reformed body in the US.

Here is an interesting essay by a New York pastor, the Rev. Albert Rhodes Stuart: "Diminishing Distinctives: A Study of the Ingestion of the United Presbyterian Church of North America by the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America." Both of these bodies are now part of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

However, due to liberalizing developments in the latter, a self-styled confessing movement has arisen and local congregations are signing up across the country. Look at the map and see where its support base is: Pennsylvania, which has far more confessing congregations than any other state. Could the end of the 1958 union be shaping up at the beginning of the 21st century? It seems the UPCNA never really died; it simply became part of the confessional wing of the PC(USA).

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