The history of Presbyterianism in Ireland can be traced back to 1613.
In 1613: Edward Brice became the first Presbyterian Minister in Ireland.
In 1642: The First Presbytery in Ulster was set up in the town of Carrickfergus.
In 1725: The First Non–Subscribing Presbytery was formed. Antrim Presbytery stood alone in defence of the sufficiency of Scripture and the supremacy of the teaching of Jesus Christ on all questions of Faith and Duty.
In 1829: The second and better known controversy over the principle of non–subscription within the Synod of Ulster brought to the forefront two men of outstanding character and ability. Dr. Henry Cooke commanded the support of the subscribers; Dr. Henry Montgomery was the champion of those who espoused the non–subscribing principle. These two men propounded and defended their respective conservative and liberal principles. Dr. Henry Montgomery, Minister of Dunmurry, led three presbyteries; Armagh, Bangor and Templepatrick, representing seventeen congregations out of the Synod of Ulster and formed the Remonstrant Synod in 1830.
In 1910: The Remonstrant Synod and the Presbytery of Antrim drew closer together and eventually, in 1910, they united to form the General Synod of the Non–Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland.
The first Non–Subscribing Presbytery was formed in 1725 and our most notable historical leader, Dr. Henry Montgomery, took a leading part in the controversy in the 1820’s that led to the formation of the Non–Subscribing Remonstrant Synod of Ulster. Our Church refuses to impose compulsory subscription to any man–made creed, including the Westminster Confession of Faith, in respect of a person’s Christian faith. Our ethos is ‘faith guided by reason and conscience’ and we advocate liberal and tolerant Christianity.
What does “Non–Subscribing” mean?
It means that we are not bound by compulsory subscription to man–made creeds and doctrines of Faith. 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 Holy Bible.
Faith Guided by Reason and Conscience
Our Faith is governed by the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bibleasserts 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 Truthremoves 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”
Liberal Christian thought
The Non–Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland is a small but significant denomination with a historical witness to liberal Christianity. Although a separate denomination in its own right, it has no exact parallel with any other church outside Ireland and may best be understood in relation to Irish Presbyterianism, within which tradition it had its origins and with which it still retains a deep affinity.
Respect for all
We belong to a friendly church which regards all people with respect. Ministers of other churches are, by our constitution, welcome to join in Communion and to occupy our pulpits.Agreement among Christians of every detail of doctrine is not necessary to the acceptable practice of faith and true unity is to be sought, not in the uniformity of creed but in a common standard of righteousness and obedience to the commandments which Christ has laid down.
In the Non–Subscribing Presbyterian Church respect for all is reflected in the diverse character of the Ministers and their congregations as well as the unique expression of each person’s Faith.
The principles of free enquiry and love of liberty have bound the leaders together over the years to minister to the spiritual wants of the many and aid the spread of true religion and just freedom among succeeding generations of worshippers.
We believe that it is the inalienable right of every Christian to search the Scriptures and, with prayerful consideration, to seek the will of God through lives of discipleship.
How are we governed?
The government of the church is Presbyterian and democratic. There are three Presbyteries under control of a General Synod. There are approximately 4000 members from the 33 congregations across Ireland with 31 of the congregations in the north.
The Sunday worship in most churches would be traditional with Bible readings, hymns, prayer and sermon. There are many other special services covering the Christian year and most congregations are involved in community services and activities. During the week, individual congregations will have their own planned activities ranging from Bible Study to Bowling, and from Women’s league to Irish Language classes.
How to find out more
Details about the denomination including events and services can be found on our central website or individual congregation websites
Address: The Non–Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland, c/o Clerk of Synod, Rev. Robert McKee, Bellahill House, 10 Dalways Bawn Road, Carrickfergus, BT38 9BY, Northern Ireland