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Minutes of Presbytery

James Dodson

 The bush burning but not consumed symbolizing the martyr character of the Presbyterian church.

The bush burning but not consumed symbolizing the martyr character of the Presbyterian church.


“It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith and cases of conscience, to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of His Church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in His Word.”—Westminster Assembly, The Confession of Faith, XXXI.3. (1647).

“Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”—Phil. 3:16.




1840.-1840-Reformed Presbytery.-These are the first minutes published by Robert Lusk and David Steele after the split earlier in the year. These minutes are notable for providing a compendium of charges against the Old Lights and their systemic defection from the testimony of the Covenanter church.

1841.-1841-Reformed Presbytery.-In these minutes the Presbytery take up the issue of ecclesiastical relations with some discussion of the place of the Auchensaugh renovation. There are several other interesting theological questions addressed including whether or not fear of hell is a Gospel motive to believe in Christ.

1842.—April.-1842, April-Reformed Presbytery.-At this meeting, the Presbytery turns itself to the question of the wording of the terms of communion in light of the 1807 wording. It is followed the proposed revision of terms for use by the Presbytery. There is also a general overview of the decline in matters of faith and practice presented in a declaration of Causes of Fasting.

1842.—October.-1842, October-Reformed Presbytery.-This meeting begins with several interesting matters of order and discipline in the church. Once more, they take up and discuss the question of terms of communion.

1843.-1843-Reformed Presbytery.-At this meeting the term testimony is discussed with concern for it being restored to its original meaning. The Causes of Fasting and Causes of Thanksgiving are filled with many issues that still bear consideration. This meeting also takes up the fifth and sixth terms of communion.

1844.—May.-1844, May-Reformed Presbytery.-The presbytery discusses the idea of the witnessing church. Besides some more mundane church business, they also review the terms of communion before they are to be approved for adoption.

1844.—October.-1844, October-Reformed Presbytery.-At this meeting, the question of if or how to retain Reformation Principle Exhibited is moved. Herein are contained the Causes of Fasting for the year with a number of reflections on those who are the chief actors in the declinings enumerated. Also, there are Causes of Thanksgiving which have several interesting considerations on societal changes underway.

1844.—November.-1844, November-Reformed Presbytery.-This short session consists of the moderation of a unanimous call from the Miami, Ohio, congregation to Rev. Robert Lusk.  It was accepted upon certain conditions.

1845.-1845-Reformed Presbytery.-Most of these minutes is devoted to trying to ascertain the value of retaining “Reformation Principles Exhibited” in the terms of communion. Several corrections are suggested for various chapters and sections designed to make it more acceptable.

  • With the death of Rev. Robert Lusk, Presbytery was dissolved.
  • 1846.—General Correspondence.
  • 1847-53.—General Correspondence.—Missing.
  • With the accession of Rev. James J. Peoples, Presbytery was re-constituted.

1854.—June.-1854, June-Reformed Presbytery.-This session represents the re-constituting of the Reformed Presbytery with J. J. Peoples being added to the Presbytery. Also, James F. Fulton is taken under care in preparation for the ministry.

1854.—October.-1854, October-Reformed Presbytery.-This session sets forth the various Causes for Fasting and Thanksgiving. They also appoint a day to be held within the church for each.

1855.-1855-Reformed Presbytery.-Presbytery, in these minutes, is concerned with the progress of Mr. J.F. Fulton in his studies for ministry. It contains several recommendations to see him advance.

1856.-1856-Reformed Presbytery.-During this session, the Presbytery sets forth a number of Causes of Fasting and Thanksgiving several of which pertain to the burning issue of slavery.

1857.—June.-1857, June-Reformed Presbytery.-The substance of these minutes concerns the preparation of Mr. J.F. Fulton for the ministry.

1857.—October.-1857, October-Reformed Presbytery.-This session takes up the preparation of Mr. Fulton, whose absence is not sustained, and the further trials set for him. It also sets forth the Causes of Fasting and Thanksgiving for the year.

1858.—May.-1858, May-Reformed Presbytery.-This session contains the call for Mr. Steele to become pastor of the Hill Prairie congregation, in Illinois. It contains Causes of Fasting and Thanksgiving. The former note the failure of the Second Great Awakening along with the curse of slavery.

1858.—August.-1858, August-Reformed Presbytery-This session takes up the licensing of James F. Fulton to preach and the call to pulpit supply in several congregations which were without regular ministry.

1859.-1859-Reformed Presbytery.-Besides taking several issues of pulpit appointments throughout the scattered congregations, this session sets forth Causes of Fasting and Thanksgiving for the year. In these the Presbytery laments the push for degenerative ecclesiastical union (with the newly formed United Presbyterian Church in view) and firm purpose to press the pleading for the doctrines of “historical testimony” and “occasional hearing.”

1860.-1860-Reformed Presbytery.-The Presbytery is asked to consider certain civil engagements. The Causes of Fasting and Thanksgiving are given with continued concern for the spirit of ecclesiastical union without a commensurate measure of concern for witness to the truth.

1861.-1861-Reformed Presbytery.-After reporting on various ministerial employments, the Presbytery sets forth Causes of Fasting and Thanksgiving. Of interest is the condemnation of open communion and the chronicling of the increasing laxity amongst Protestant bodies.

  • 1862.—Missing.
  • 1863.—Missing—Part of a report is found in the Minutes of 1864. The accompanying wording suggests these minutes may not have been published and may be lost.

1864.-1864-Reformed Presbytery.-This Presbytery meeting was called early in preparation for Mr. Steele’s trip to Britain. The Causes of Fasting include a concern for rising rates of “mixed marriages” and a condemnation of promiscuous dancing. The Causes of Thanksgiving register thanks for contending parties in America and Britain. This marks the beginning of the fraternal relations with John Cunningham and those associated with him, in Britain.

1865.-1865-Reformed Presbytery.-This includes some of Mr. Steele’s report concerning his mission to Britain. The issue of some members contributing money to avoid the military draft is taken up and such voluntary participation is condemned. The Causes of Fasting continue to chronicle the spiritual decline among the churches and the horrible national judgments (i.e., the American “Civil” war). The Causes of Thanksgiving note the impending end of slavery.

1866.-1866-Reformed Presbytery.-This session includes much correspondence with the Old Dissenters and Dr. John Cunningham from Britain. The Causes for Fasting include observations on the corruption of worship and the decline of vital religion. The Causes for Thanksgiving include the establishing of fraternal relations with those in Britain. There is much about faithful testimony bearing in these minutes.

1867.-1867-Reformed Presbytery.-These minutes include correspondence from John Cunningham in which, after thanking them for cordial fellowship, speaks of the growth of infidelity and its effects on the church as well as the progress of the Mediatorial reign of Christ. The Causes of Fasting contain many instructive points (e.g., asserting that faithful Bible translations are inspired); and the Causes of Thanksgiving have several reflections on the end of the American Civil war.

1868.-1868-Reformed Presbytery.-These minutes contain correspondence from John Cunningham and the Old Wigtonshire Societies expressing their warm approbation of the Presbytery’s previous warnings against incorporating acts with immoral civil governments (i.e., voting for amendments, etc.). It contains additional clarification on the Presbytery’s position on paying of taxes (a subject taken up several times in the previous five years). It also contains a Testimony against several prevailing sins with much time spent on corruptions in worship.

1869.-1869-Reformed Presbytery.-This session contains the beginning of the controversy with J.J. Peoples and the initial response of the Presbytery. In the Causes of Fasting there are many evils denounced including those irregularities of marriage and their sad consequences. The Causes of Thanksgiving note many of the improvements following the revolutions amongst the nations.

  • 1870.—Missing.
  • 1871.—Missing.
  • 1872.—Presbytery did not meet.

1873.-1873-Reformed Presbytery.-These minutes are notable for the accession of John McAuley to the Presbytery. The Causes of Fasting describe the various Romish movements in the churches (with a number of comments on Christmas keeping) and also expose the corruption covenant renewals amongst professing Reformed Presbyterian bodies. The Causes of Thanksgiving are filled with observations on the continuance of a witness for the truth.

  • 1874.—Presbytery did not meet.