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History of the Presbytery
Presbyterians have been arriving in New England since before 1640. Among the earliest Presbyterians to arrive in this region were: some of the Puritans; slaves transported and sold in America by Cromwell’s government for fidelity to their oaths of allegiance to Charles II; French Huguenots who settled in Rhode Island and Massachusetts; and Scots and Scotch-Irish who settled in Worcester, Massachusetts. Early New England presbyteries included the Presbytery of Londonderry, the Presbytery of Boston, the Presbytery of Salem, the Presbytery of Grafton, and the Presbytery of the Eastward.
In 1801 the General Assembly decided that there should be no Presbyterian Churches in our region, conceding Southern New England to the Congregationalist churches. In 1839 Presbyterians in Thompsonville, Connecticut approached a presbytery in New York to be organized as a Presbyterian church under its jurisdiction. In 1846 Presbyterians in Fall River, Massachusetts organized as a Presbyterian church. In 1848 Presbyterians in Providence, Rhode Island approached Boston Presbytery to be organized as a church.
When the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America formed the Synod of New England in 1912 (from constituent churches and ministers of the Synod of New York), it also created four New England presbyteries: a new Presbytery of Boston, substantially smaller than its predecessor of the same name, the Presbytery of Newburyport, the Presbytery of Connecticut Valley (created primarily from constituent churches and ministers of the Presbytery of Westchester), and the Presbytery of Providence (created primarily from constituents of the former Presbytery of Boston). The 1958 merger with the United Presbyterian Church of North America resulted in the dissolution of that denomination’s Presbytery of Boston and some minor boundary changes in Southern New England.
Following the absorption of the Synod of New England into the Synod of the Northeast, the Presbytery of Connecticut Valley and the Presbytery of Providence united in 1977 to create the Presbytery of Southern New England. At its formation, the Presbytery consisted of 34 churches, 141 ministers, with 13,329 active members. Since its charter, the Presbytery has organized five new congregations and has created two congregations by mergers. At the beginning of 2018, the Presbytery consisted of 27 churches, 151 ministers, and 7091 active members.
Presbyterians in Southern New England have a long history of churches worshiping in languages other than English. In 1936 there was a Ukrainian Presbyterian Church in Hartford, Connecticut. One of the congregations in our Presbytery finds its origins in Presbyterian faith in Syria and continues their worship and gathering to this day in Fall River, MA. We have a Portuguese-language fellowship on Cape Cod and two Korean-language congregations. Many immigrants find their home in our congregations and we are proud to be an international Presbytery that is open and welcoming to all. To that end, our Presbytery passed the following resolution on Sanctuary in 2017.
Click here to view PSNE’s Sanctuary/Immigration webpage for resources.
Click here to view Presbytery’s Sanctuary Policy approved at the May 6, 2017 Presbytery meeting.