The 27th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is slated to meet in Louisville, Kentucky, June 15-18, 1999. This will mark the first time that the Assembly of the relatively young denomination will be meeting in the Bluegrass State.
Hosting the week-long event will be Great Lakes Presbytery, a judicatory which stretches from the southern half of Michigan through most of Ohio and Indiana and into eastern Kentucky.
Although this will be the first PCA Assembly in Kentucky, the state and its largest city have been witness to significant events in American Presbyterianism. The Second Great Awakening started at a revival meeting in Kentucky, and the Presbyterian Church, particularly in Kentucky, was profoundly affected.
It was here on the frontier of the early nineteenth century that the Cumberland Presbyterian Church began. Founded in 1806 because of objection to formal educational requirements for Presbyterian ministers, the theology of the Cumberland Church also represented a compromise between a strict Calvinism and a more moderate, even Arminian, brand of doctrine.
Kentucky, a "border state" during the War for Southern Independence, was recognized by the Confederacy as one of the thirteen stars in her flag. The Presbyterian Synod of Kentucky remained with the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America during the War; but within a few years, the Synod had split, with the majority joining the Southern Presbyterian Church.
Out of that division came disputes of church property, including the famous 1867 Walnut Street Presbyterian Church court case, which was ultimately determined by the Supreme Court of the United States. The landmark Supreme Court ruling, which vested property in the (Northern) denomination, was a triumph for the forces of centralism. It also affected church property cases for several generations. A century later, two Southern Presbyterian congregations in Savannah, Georgia, blunted the force of the Walnut Street decision, in their successful efforts to withdraw from the parent denomination and retain their property.
One of the first congregations of the first PCA presbytery was First Presbyterian Church in downtown Louisville. A ruling elder of First Church was the initial stated clerk of Vanguard Presbytery.
Today, Louisville is home to the PCA's liberal counterpart, the headquarters of the Presbyterian Church (U. S. A.) having relocated to Kentucky from New York City. Other manifestations of liberal Presbyterianism may be found at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
In 1985, First Presbyterian withdrew from the PCA; the congregation no longer exists, and its historic building is now occupied by an independent church. The only PCA presence in the Louisville area is Community Presbyterian Church, organized in 1992; and a Korean Presbyterian mission.