f The Wittenberg Door: Today in Church History: J. Gresham Machen and the Formation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Today in Church History: J. Gresham Machen and the Formation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church

On June 11, 1936, at the meeting of the Presbyterian Constitutional Covenant Union in the New Century Club in Philadelphia, the Presbyterian Church of America was formed. (In 1939, its name was changed to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.)

Convening shortly after the 148th General Assembly denied J. Gresham Machen's appeal and upheld the verdict of the Presbytery of New Brunswick which suspended him from the ministry, the Covenant Union passed an Act of Association to establish the new church. The first article read:

In order to continue what we believe to be the true spiritual succession of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., which we hold to have been abandoned by the present organization of that body, and to make clear to all the world that we have no connection with the organization bearing that name, we a company of ministers and ruling elders, having been removed from that organization in contravention (as we believe) of its constitution, or having severed our connection with it, or coming as ministers or ruling elders from other ecclesiastical bodies holding the Reformed Faith, do hereby associate ourselves together with all Christian people who do and will adhere to us, in a body to be known and styled as the Presbyterian Church of America.

Machen reported on the inaugural General Assembly in the Presbyterian Guardian: "On Thursday, June 11, 1936, the hopes of many long years were realized. We became members, at last, of a true Presbyterian Church; we recovered, at last, the blessing of true Christian fellowship. What a joyous moment it was! How the long years of struggle seemed to sink into nothingness compared with the peace and joy that filled our hearts!"

- John Muether



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