History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was born on the heels of the “Great Revival of 1800” in Dickson, Tennessee. The name Cumberland derives from the geographical area where the church was founded on the Cumberland Plateau.
Today there are Cumberland Presbyterian (CP) churches throughout the United States (most concentrated in the South), Japan, Hong Kong, Laos, South Korea, Liberia, and throughout South America.
At the time the church was formed, Cumberland Presbyterian doctrine was cutting edge. Much like the Baptist tradition, CP’s believe in a “whosoever will” doctrine of faith. We believe that Christ came and died for all people, not just the “predestined” or a “chosen” few, and that God calls all persons into relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, His only son, by way of God’s Holy Spirit. Simply stated, we are all loved by God, and we all have an equal opportunity to receive the eternal salvation and rich blessings that God freely offers each person who will follow Jesus Christ.
We administer the sacrament of baptism by sprinkling rather than full-body immersion, and we believe that one baptism is sufficient for a life-time.
We also differ from congregational government churches in that we elect leadership. Ours is like that of all other Presbyterians, as well as quite similar to our United Methodist brothers and sisters. Our form of church government, like our name, comes from the Greek word “presbyter” which means “elder.” Therefore, we elect leaders who serve for specific terms, and who make the decisions of the church rather than the whole congregation doing so. This also means that there is typically only one congregational meeting per year for the purpose of electing lay leadership
When comparing CP’s with other Presbyterian denominations, one must bear in mind that the differences are extremely subtle.
The Cumberland Presbyterians were the first main-line denomination to ordain women as clergy. The CP church also ordains women, who are found to possess the gifts and talents for ministry, as Elders and Deacons. There are many references in the Bible where this was the case, and those instances are found in both the Old and New Testaments.
The CP church holds to a median theology (thought and reflection upon God and the Holy Scriptures), wherein it might be said that we are neither far to the right nor far to the left in our faith and practice of the worship of God. There are countless absolute truths for living the life of faith found in the scriptures, yet we believe that there is still much to learn. Thus, we believe strongly in Bible study, as well as seeking and sharing Biblical knowledge from and with other Christians.
Lastly, but certainly not least, Cumberland Presbyterians practice above all the two Greatest Commandments taught by Jesus Himself, “Love God, Love Neighbor." It is that simple!