A church that has remained a beacon of witnessing and service for more than a century will celebrate 138 years.

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America will host its 138th General Assembly at 8:30 a.m. Monday, June 4. The General Assembly is the national governing body of the CPCA.

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America is the first and only African American denomination in the United States that is of the Presbyterian form of government. Its rich heritage grew out of the Great Revival. Freed African American slaves founded the CPCA during the mid-1800s.

In 1864, desiring to worship their God freely and independently, the founders said they were guided by the Holy Spirit to form the Colored Cumberland Presbyterian denomination. Those founders were the Rev. James Edmond Weir, the Rev. Lewis Neal, the Rev. Samuel Funbanks, Bro. Hamp Jones and the Rev. Pink Price. The founders believed and practiced the “Whosoever will doctrine,” which is based on Revelations 22:16-17, and believes “Whosoever will seek after Jesus Christ may know Him and be saved.”

The Cumberland Presbyterian Handbook states, “Cumberland Presbyterians recognize that the church is the people of God who serve God in this world though Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.” It further states, “We believe that God created the church for special purposes: to be a community of love, to proclaim the gospel through worship and sacraments, to reach out to those who have not experienced God’s grace in Christ, to enable deeds of service and mercy in the world, and to minister to the needs of persons and promote social righteousness.”

138th General Assembly

The National CPCA  Convention will open with worship and observance of Holy Communion at 8:30 a.m. Monday, June 4, at Madkins Chapel CPA, located at 2403 Oakwood Road in Huntsville.

Business sessions, luncheons, banquets, youth activities and missions will take place at Embassy Suites, located at 800 Monroe Street in Huntsville.

The Tennessee Valley Presbytery is the host presbytery and is comprised of eight churches. The churches are located in Lawrence, Morgan, Limestone and Lauderdale Counties.

Tennessee Valley Presbytery

The Tennessee Valley Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America was constituted Sunday, Sept. 29, 1985, after a mandate by the General Assembly. “The presbytery is the primary governing unit, which is composed of clergy and elected leaders (elders) in a specific geographical area,” according to the handbook. Alabama Fork CPCA, Antioch CPCA, Elkmont CPCA, Hills Chapel CPCA, and St. James CPCA were transferred from the Huntsville Presbytery. Additionally, Macedonia CPCA, Mt. Olive CPCA and Rock Springs CPCA were transferred from the Florence Presbytery. These eight churches formed the Tennessee Valley Presbytery. Founding officers, who devoted much prayer, travel, finances and time, were the Rev. Theodore Bone, the Rev. Oscar Edmonds, the Rev. Charlie Nelson, Elder Olivia Bush and Elder George Jackson. Numerous others played vital roles in the formation.

Three of the eight churches are located in Limestone County including Alabama Fork Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, located at Alabama 127 in Elkmont, with the Rev. Anthony Fletcher as pastor; Antioch Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, located at 923 Brownsferry Street in Athens, with the Rev. Robert L. Rice as pastor; and Elkmont Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, located at 18900 West Church Street in Elkmont, with the Rev. Clint Scales as pastor.

For more information, contact Dr. G. Lynne Herring, administrative director, at 256-536-7481 or cpcaga@aol.com, or Venessa Edmonds, publicity co-chair, at 256-340-4854 or venedmon@hotmail.com, or Cleo Scales, publicity co-chair, at 256-874-2927 or cscales62@bellsouth.net.

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