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How It All Began

On St. Patrick's Day 1951 a new biblical witness was born in the village of Crossgar, County Down, Northern Ireland. As a result of the high-handed actions of the Presbytery of Down, the elders of the local Presbyterian church were prohibited from using their church hall for a gospel mission. When the elders refused to acquiesce in the decision, they were immediately suspended. All this took place less than twentyfour hours before the mission was due to commence. Those elders had no doubt as to their duty. They could not go back to their church without denying or compromising the gospel. That was something they refused to do. So they decided to leave a denomination that had no difficulty permitting dances and parties of various kinds in its church halls but that, in this case, banned the gospel of Jesus Christ.

They proceeded with the help of Rev. Ian R. K. Paisley, their guest evangelist, to form the Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster. The Crossgar people were quickly joined by Dr. Paisley's independent congregation. In the months that followed two more congregations sprang up as the result of Dr. Paisley's evangelism and secessions from the Irish Presbyterian Church. The new church grew throughout the years until its witness was worldwide.


The new church was Presbyterian in doctrine and government, though it departed from usual Presbyterian policy by recognizing that baptism is variously understood by good men equally committed to Scripture. This being so, the Free Presbyterian Church believed that Christians should not be kept apart by their acceptance or rejection of the historic Presbyterian view of infant baptism--all, however, rejecting the error of baptismal regeneration. It was called Free Presbyterian to indicate its liberty from any affiliation with a liberal church hierarchy or organization.


The church was unashamedly Protestant. It gladly identified with the great Protestant Reformation. Throughout its history it has stood opposed to the ecumenical movement's efforts to promote union with the Church of Rome, because that church still holds to every dogma that caused the Reformation in the first place. In theology the church is Reformed. It stands foursquare in the great Geneva tradition of Calvin, Knox, the English and American Puritans, and some of the most used revival preachers in history.


The church has always tied its Calvinism to evangelism. It is a praying church with a burden for the salvation of sinners. Its growth has been through unremitting evangelistic outreach, preaching the gospel "in season, out of season."


Great prayer meetings have been the secret of the church's life. We do not merely pay lip service to prayer. We recognize that we have a long way to go in the experience of power in prayer, but we are seeking to follow on to know the Lord and to learn to pray in a way that will be gloriously effective.


Today there are some 100 Free Presbyterian churches and extensions in various parts of the world--in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, Canada, Australia, and the United States. We also have missionary works in Spain, India, Kenya, Liberia, and the West Indies. In 2005, for their better government, the congregations of North America were formed into an autonomous presbytery as The Free Presbyterian Church of North America. The Ulster and North American presbyteries, however, maintain a fraternal relationship resulting in an international Free Presbyterian Church family. The spirit of family fellowship among all these far-flung congregations is deep and sweet. We hope you will sense that as you visit one of our local churches.

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