Cumberland Presbyterians, a denomination of Christians which took its rise during the religious revival in Kentucky and Tennessee in 1801-'3. So great was the excitement, and so vast were the multitudes who came from all parts of the country to the camp meetings, that it was found impossible to supply the demand for ministers, and laymen were appointed to preach by the presbytery of Transylvania. Their reception, however, was strenuously opposed by some of the clergy, and they were refused ordination. A new presbytery which was formed in 1803 in the southern part of the state, denominated the Cumberland presbytery, subsequently received them and granted them ordination, at the same time taking on trial as licentiates others of similar qualifications. The action of the presbytery in this matter was reviewed by the synod of Kentucky, which denied its validity, and appointed a commission to examine the newly ordained ministers both in regard to their attainments and the doctrines which they held. The result was, that the course pursued by the Cumberland presbytery was condemned, and the sentence of the synod was confirmed by the general assembly of the Presbyterian church.
The presbytery, demurring to this decision, withdrew from the jurisdiction of the general assembly, and in 1810 organized a distinct and separate body, which has since that time been known as the Cumberland Presbyterian church. Their progress as an independent church was marked with great success, so that in 1813 they formed a synod and adopted articles of religion and a form of church government. In doctrine they occupy a sort of middle ground between Calvinism and Arminianism. They reject the doctrine of eternal, unconditional election and reprobation, and believe in the universality of the atonement and the final conservation of the saints. Their government is presbyterian in form, embracing the session, presbytery, synod, and general assembly, all of which are constituted in the same manner as those of the Presbyterian church. Though they have local pastors, they have adopted the itinerant system of the Methodists. By this system of circuits and stations their ministers have spread themselves over the west and south, and even to California. Their general assembly had in 1873 under its supervision 24 synods, 105 presbyteries, about 1,100 ministers, 1,950 congregations, 125,000 communicants, and 300 probationers for the ministry.
They had five colleges, viz.: Cumberland university (with a theological school), at Lebanon, Tenn.; Waynes-burg college, at Waynesburg, Pa.; McGee college, at College Mound, Mo.; Lincoln university, at Lincoln, 111.; and Sonoma college, at Sonoma, Cal.; also a number of seminaries. Religious journals were published in their interest at Nashville (three), St. Louis, Tehua-cana, Tex., and San Francisco.