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."
EMPHASIS ON PRAYER
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.
AN INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP
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.