The UPCNA’s Henderson Institute

Posted at This Day in Presbyterian History:

This Day in Presbyterian History is hosted by the PCA Historical Center, but we have tried to be somewhat ecumenical with this blog, looking at people and events in different denominations as opportunity permits. One denomination that I don’t remember having touched on is the United Presbyterian Church of North America (UPCNA). Officially formed in 1858, one historian noted that this denomination was “the result of several unions;” that “its antecedents are more numerous and fragmentary than those of most churches.” But to keep it simple, the UPCNA was formed by the merger of the Associate Presbyterian Church and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Numerically they were strongest in Pennsylvania, Ohio and throughout the midwestern states.

At its formation, the UPCNA issued a Testimony [pictured at right], which was a doctrinal statement consisting of eighteen articles, designed to set out the character and nature of the denomination. Notable among these articles was Article 14, which states,
We declare, That slaveholding human beings is involuntary bondage, and considering and treating them as property, and subject to be bought and sold—is a violation of the law of God, and contrary both to the letter and spirit of Christianity.
The “argument and illustration” supporting this Article continues for several pages and is too lengthy to reproduce here, but the conclusion was that no slaveholder could be a member in good standing in the UPCNA. In this conviction, the UPCNA followed the Reformed Presbyterians who took that same stand in 1802. And both these denominations lived out their principles in various practical ways.


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