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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.

April 16, 2021
Lois Stair, General Assembly 183, Rochester, NY, 1971. [Pearl ID: 175778]

“Well, here I am, filled with amazement and gratitude, and standing in need of prayer.” 

Presbyterian Elder Lois Harkrider Stair had just been elected as the first woman to serve as General Assembly moderator of a U.S. Presbyterian denomination. The year was...

February 8, 2021

--originally published in Presbyterian Heritage, Spring 2020

On May 27, 1970, fasting commissioners at the 182nd General Assembly of the UPCUSA in Chicago assigned their meal money—$5,178.60—to the newly created National Committee on the Self-Development of People.

...

January 14, 2021

"As Christians, you expect women to serve the church. Women are the slaves of the church. Women raise money, serve as mistresses to some of you delegates at this convention--"

The speaker from the Chicago Women's Liberation Union was interrupted by noise among the delegates to the 182nd General Assembly. She went on, and was interrupted again.

"We arrange flowers, serve dinners, teach Sunday school, pour coffee, sing in the choir, and care for children while men attend conventions like this. If you will be quiet, I will continue. Your behavior is very...

December 30, 2020

--By Richard W. Reifsnyder

When the church re-elected J. Herbert Nelson as Stated Clerk of the General Assembly in 2020, there was no doubt of the strong visible leadership they expected him to exercise. Despite the humble title, the Clerk was the “Head of Communion,” charged with “constitutional and spiritual leadership for the life and witness of the church” and the “chief ecumenical officer” who “speaks to and for the church in...

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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