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News, events, updates, and tidbits from the Presbyterian Historical Society. Use tags to read related articles or sort by author for similar posts written by PHS staff members and volunteers.

December 7, 2021 to December 8, 2021

Newspapers advertised the sermon to be delivered June 21, 1903, a Sunday evening. Crowds gathered outside Olivet Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware, to hear Robert A. Elwood warm to his theme, "Should the murderer of Helen Bishop be lynched?"

On June 16, seventeen year old Bishop had been assaulted on a rural roadside near Price's Corner; she died of a neck wound the next day. Late on the 17th a local Black farm worker, George White, was arrested for the murder. Police allegedly found a bloody knife in his possession. There were no eyewitnesses to the attack....

November 11, 2021

In November of 1956 the young pastor Joseph Metz Rollins delivered a sermon called "Faithful to Christ's Command." The Southern church (the PCUS denomination) that paid most of his salary had moved to rescind support, calling his congregation "nothing but a headquarters for integration." Metz, already working nights as a hospital orderly, was threatened with poverty. He asked his church to take up the cross with him.

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September 6, 2021
Roanoke Virginia, 1891, First Presbyterian Church, upper right. and approximate location of lynching, lower left, via Library of Congress

In September of 1893, in Roanoke, Virginia, a Black man named Thomas Smith was accused of assaulting and robbing a white woman, run down by a lynch mob, and hanged and mutilated from a hickory tree at the corner of Mountain Avenue and Franklin Road. Following the lynching, the pastor of First Presbyterian Church, William...

October 5, 2020

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is committed to taking a continued stand for equity and equality for all God’s people. Seeking to be a faithful witness to the need to stand and bear witness in issues of justice, the Presbyterian Voting Campaign has been created to engage, educate, and motivate people to exercise their right to vote, especially those who are a part of marginalized communities.

To support this effort, the Presbyterian Historical Society is sharing some of our resources, blogs, exhibits, and...

August 19, 2020

In 1970 the UPCUSA Council on Church and Race issued a $10,000 grant to the legal defense fund of Angela Davis, occasioning a furore inside the denomination that many Presbyterians remain reluctant to mention out loud to this day. In light of the tumult, a group of Black ministers contributed $10,000 of their own back to COCAR, to make the denomination whole.

In September 1972, following the UPCUSA General...

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