Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland
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|Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland|
The official logo of the Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland.
|Associations||Irish Council of Churches, European Liberal Protestant Network, International Association for Religious Freedom|
|Region||Northern Ireland, Ireland|
|Merger of||Presbytery of Antrim with Remonstrant Synod of Ulster|
The Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland derives its liberal Christian identity from those early 18th century Presbyterian ministers who refused to subscribe at their ordination to the Westminster Confession, a standard Reformed (Calvinist) statement of faith; and who formed, in 1725, the Presbytery of Antrim. A similar phenomenon led to the creation of the Remonstrant Synod of Ulster in 1830. The two bodies created the Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland (NSPCI) in 1910. The Synod of Munster became part of the NSPCI in 1935.
Some Non-subscribing Presbyterians have close contact with the Unitarians and are happy to be identified as such, although the two denominations are separate and independent bodies. Other Non-Subscribing Presbyterians (or 'Non-Subscribers' as they are often known) may be Trinitarian, but all are committed to a gentle, thoughtful and non-creedal Christianity. Most continue to maintain a strong commitment to the worship of God, the person of Christ, and to the centrality of Scripture. This is in accordance with 'The Constitution and Code of Discipline' (1997) of the denomination, which states:
'That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the rule of Christian Faith and Duty under the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ' and
'That it is the inalienable right of every Christian to search these records of Divine Truth for his own instruction and guidance, to form his own opinions with regard to what they teach and to worship God in sincerity, agreeably to the dictates of his own conscience, without privation, penalty or inconvenience by his fellow-men.'
The Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church is therefore best defined as a non-creedal Christian Church, which maintains a great emphasis on individual conscience in matters of Christian faith. Whilst it continues, for historic reasons, an Accord with the Unitarian General Assembly it does not share the latter's 'post-Christian' outlook and remains firmly part of the Christian family of faith. In common with most Protestant churches they affirm the two Biblical Sacraments of the Lord's Supper (Communion) and Baptism. This is usually conducted in accordance with Matthew 28.
The Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland is a founder of, and active within the Irish Council of Churches, and the European Liberal Protestant Network (ELPN).
Today, the denomination has thirty-four congregations (thirty-three churches) on the island of Ireland, divided into three Presbyteries, with a total of about four thousand members. The denomination currently has twenty one ministers on its roll with both women and men serving as ministers. The NSCPI is also a member of the International Association for Religious Freedom. It has also recorded year on year growth for the last three years (source: General Synod Annual Reports).
Statement of uniting principles
The Non-subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland has a statement of uniting principles which are:
“We declare allegiance to the principle that:
- the teaching of Christ must take precedence over the doctrines of a later time, and
- Christian unity is to be sought, not in the uniformity of creed but in a common standard of duty and adherence to the commandments set out in the Bible.
- is governed by the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible
- asserts and upholds the right of each and every individual to search these scriptural records for themselves and to use reason and personal conscience to discover God’s Divine Truth
- removes Human Tests and Confessions of Faith that restrict private judgement and prevent free enquiry
- upholds the beautiful simplicity of the great commandments as defined by Jesus Christ: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind” and “You must love your neighbour as yourself.”
The church is divided into three groups, the Presbytery of Antrim with 17 churches, the Presbytery of Bangor with 11 churches, and the Synod of Munster with 5 churches. Currently the only two congregations from the Republic of Ireland are in the Synod of Munster and they are the Cork Unitarian church and the Dublin Unitarian church.
Other Presbyterian denominations in Ireland
- Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster
- Presbyterian Church in Ireland
- Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland
- Evangelical Presbyterian Church
- The Encyclopædia Britannica 1926 "In 1910 the Antrim Presbytery, Remonstrant Synod and Synod of Munster were united as the General Synod of the non-subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland. They have 38 congregations and some mission stations."
- See "Our Faith" NSPCI, http://www.nspresbyterian.org/pages/faith.htm
- A Short History of the Non- Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland by John Campbell (Belfast, 1914).
- 'The Constitution and Code of Discipline' of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland (Carrickfergus, 1997), published by the General Synod of the NSPCI