Presbyterian Church in Ireland

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The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has its origins in Scottish migrations to Ulster in the early seventeenth century during the reign of James I of England. The Presbytery of Ulster was created in 1642 by chaplains of the Scottish army. Under Cromwell church membership grew, but after the Restoration, nonconforming ministers were removed from parishes of the Established Church. Fortunately Presbyterianism was able to continue in spite of this pressure and persecution. From the 1690s, Presbyterian congregations were organised into the Synod of Ulster and enjoyed a level of religious freedom, but suffered continuing economic hardship and legal disabilities under the penal laws. Many Presbyterians strove to bring about reform and hence during the eighteenth century Presbyterians were involved in the United Irishmen. Tensions arose within the Synod of Ulster during this period which continued to linger into the nineteenth century. Eventually obligatory subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith was reintroduced which facilitated the union of the Synod of Ulster with the Seceders in 1840 to create the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. The united church has been active locally and internationally since then, seeing special growth during the Ulster revival of 1859. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland currently has over 240,000 members belonging to 545 congregations across 19 Presbyteries throughout the whole of Ireland.