Presbyterian Church emerged from the crucible of persecution in 17th
Century Scotland. The Covenanters of that time, though struggling as
a minority against a ruthlessly tyrannical government, nevertheless
did not lose their vision of a national, united and reformed church
in the British Isles, under the authority of Christ the head and king
of the church. The 'National Covenant of Scotland' and the 'Solemn
League and Covenant of England, Ireland and Scotland' were intended
to bring about this uniformity, but persecution and division ended
any practical implementation of their dream.
successors of those Covenanters never gave up their aspirations.
Today the Reformed Presbyterian Church can be found worshipping
witnessing in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland,
Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Sudan and the United States of
America. These bodies still hold to the headship of Christ over
the nations and over Church. There are other denominations and
fellowships in Ireland, Scotland, North America and even Cyprus,
which in a large part also owe their origins to Reformed Presbyterianism.
Presbyterian Church in Ireland
The Irish Church
today still holds to the descending obligation of those 17th Century
Covenants, as well as adhering to the Westminster Standards, the
denomination's summary of Biblical doctrine and practice. The
Reformed Presbyterian Church is Calvinistic in its theology,
Presbyterian in its government and follows the simplicity of the
synagogue in its worship rather than the complexity of the Temple
which has been fulfilled in Christ. In that sense she is possibly
more aware of the Christian Church's indebtedness to its Hebrew
heritage than many contemporary Christians and she still highly
values the 'Older Testament' of God's self-revelation, recognising
that the idea of Christ's covenant is the glue that cements both
Testaments in an unbreakable bond.
None of this
should be taken to imply that the Reformed Presbyterian Church lives
in the past. She honours the past and learns from it, but she is
aware of the need for on-going witness and reformation in line with
the biblical principles referred to above. To mention but three examples:
engages in various kinds of missionary, evangelistic and social work.
As with the
Reformers, she encourages the use of Bibles and Psalters in
contemporary English - the 'vulgar language' (Westminster Confession
of Faith 1:8) that is the language commonly spoken by the people.
also takes a keen interest in all matters which affect the spiritual
and moral life of the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Presbyterian Church is a small family of like-minded believers - but
it still has the big vision of its founders. The 17th Century
Covenanters had an influence on the Reformed branch of Christianity
which exceeded what might be expected considering their comparatively
small numbers, (their contribution to the Westminster Assembly is a
case in point). We, their modern successors, must have no less an
influence. The Reformed Presbyterian Church does not claim to be
perfect. We do not have all the truth and we can learn from others,
but surely the modern Christian Church still needs the principles we
espouse. She still needs to acknowledge her Saviour and Lord in all
His Kingly fullness.
There are at
present 37 congregations, 5 in counties Monaghan and Donegal and the
remainder in Northern Ireland. These total approximately 2,500
communicant members, with up to 1,500 covenant children and adherents
in addition. This is a stronger community than bare numbers might
suggest, as most of those belonging to the church show a high level
of commitment. In contrast to some larger bodies, there are few
of Reformed Presbyterians (still often called Covenanters) has
generally followed the pattern of the original Scots settlement, with
most congregations in counties Antrim, Londonderry and Down. For much
of her history, therefore, the church has been rural in membership
and orientation. This has been changing in recent years, with
significant numerical growth in the Greater Belfast area resulting in
the formation of several new congregations. A recovery of confidence
in the relevance of the church's message is leading to a more active
and fruitful church expansion programme.
are typically simple in design, with a central pulpit, under which is
a communion table, symbolising the supreme importance of the Word of
God. A widespread building programme has done a great deal to improve
the range of classroom, hall and kitchen facilities.
acknowledgements to Rev. Barry J.
Galbraith. (Moderator of Synod 2010) in
Covenanters in Ireland - A history of the Congregations)"
History of Faughan Congregation - Ministers
of Faughan Congregation