Welcome to Ulster Worldly, a blog about the history of Presbyterianism. Many of these stories come from my own family, many others come from my own denomination.

Tim Hopper
Raleigh, NC

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Recent Posts

History of the OPC Uganda Mission with David Okken

Karamoja by Rod Waddington (CC BY-SA 2.0 license)

On June 10, 2021, Mr. Matthew Ezzell interviewed my pastor Rev. David Okken about his 17 years on the mission field in Karamoja, Uganda with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The audio of the interview is available below.

You can also download mp3 file directly or search for “Ulster Worldly” in your podcast app of choice.

Posted on by Tim Hopper

Where the Churches Are Now?

In the late 1970s, the Presbyterian Church in America began the consider what would become an invitation to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod to be organically joined and received with the PCA. The RPCES would join the PCA in 1982.

A few years ago, I came across a pamphlet from 1979 at pcahistory.org that included the map below of how the PCA, OPC, and RPCES were geographically distributed at the time.

Where the Churches Are Now

This geographically is inextricably linked to the history of these three denominations; it is interesting to consider how this distribution developed, and how it has evolved in the last 40 years.

Posted on by Tim Hopper

Questions I’m Asking

I’ve run the Twitter account @pres_history for the last 5 years. I mostly use it to tweet posts from Today in OPC History and This Day in Presbyterian History, but I occasionally share other things I’m discovering and questions I’m asking.

Since Twitter tends to be ephimeral, I compiled a list of question I’ve asked over the last 3 years; most of them I still don’t have answers for.

  • What are good sources on this history of church music in American presbyterianism?
  • What was the first hymnal to include the Westminster Confession in the back?
  • Who was the first PCUSA General Assembly moderator that wasn’t of Scottish descent?
  • What seminary did the Associated Reformed Church have in 1796? (It was in NYC.)
  • Is there demographic research on the ecclesiastical affiliations of Scots who migrated to Ulster in the 17th century?
  • Does anyone know of a list of RPCES ministers who were received into the PCA?
  • What was the relationship of Francis Makemie and the Church of Scotland?
  • Can anyone recommend sources on the history of Canadian presbyterianism?
  • Does anyone know anything about J. Gresham Machen’s study guide to Galatians?
  • Is there a reliable source for membership numbers of American presbyterianism prior to 1925?
  • What are good sources on the debates over Isaac Watts’ hymnal in presbyterian churches in the American South?
  • Is there a good source on the history of the publication of the red Trinity Hymnal somewhere? .
  • Is anyone aware of any historical research on early American churches meeting in brush arbors?
  • Starting to put together a timeline of the theonomy movement from the 70s to 90s. What are the key events? And what are the best sources on this topic?`
  • Are you aware of other historical (vs polemical) sources on the topic of political dessent in the RPCNA (beyond the RPCNA Synod Minutes)?
  • I’m interested in the history of Presbyterianism in York County, SC. If anyone knows of good resources please pass them along.
  • I’ve been trying to find biographical information on early Free Church of Scotland minister John G. Lorimer with 0 success. If anyone has any tips, please let me know.
  • If anyone has ideas of how to get access to Machen’s articles from the PCUSA “The Presbyterian” magazine, I’m all ears.
  • What is a good source on understanding the 17th century struggles over church government and worship in the Church of England? With answers!
  • What was the relationship between the 17th-century Ulster presbyteries and the Church of Scotland?
  • What are the best sources on they history of the Covenanter and Seceder churches in America?
Posted on by Tim Hopper

Elizabeth Adamson

A godly wife is edified and comforted in her death by the ministry of John Knox.

A godly wife is edified and comforted in her death by the ministry of John Knox.   Read More

Posted on by Tim Hopper

The Deaconship

My edited and newly typeset version of John G. Lorimer’s work The Deaconship is now available in paperback on Amazon. Lorimer was a Church of Scotland minister who joined the Free Church of Scotland when it formed in 1843.

The book includes a forward from Dr. C. Nick Willborn of Covenant PCA in Oak Ridge, TN:

​This little book also sets forth practical good the office can accomplish when rightly distinguished from the office of elder and fully honored through the recognition of and ordination of biblically qualified men. In this area, his work is reminiscent of Samuel Miller’s work on the eldership, especially in his chapter on the distinction between elders and deacons. Although the historical contexts in which Miller and Lorimer wrote are somewhat different, the astute reader will soon realize the abiding benefit this little book can be for the church today due to its historical and biblical faithfulness. With all this in mind, it is a worthy study for students, elders and deacons who love the church as Christ’s beloved bride and wish to serve her faithfully.

Posted on by Tim Hopper

Machen and the Regulative Principle

From Darryl Hart and John Muether’s 1997 article entitled “J. G. Machen and the Regulative Principle”:

Machen [in 1926] opposed Presbyterian support for Prohibition, however, not because he approved of drunkenness or preferred unpopularity. Rather he did so for important theological–even Reformed–reasons. In a statement defending his position (never published again because of the damage his friends believed it would have done) Machen argued that the church had no legitimate rationale for taking a side in this political question. Aside from the question of the relations between church and state, he believed that the church was bound by the Word of God and so all of its declarations and resolutions had to have clear Scriptural warrant. The Bible did not, however, provide support for Prohibition. It taught the idea of temperance, that is, moderate consumption of alcohol and the other good things of God’s creation. This meant that Scripture forbade inebriation. But even here the Bible did not give directions to government officials for abolishing drunkenness. Should this be a matter for the federal government to regulate or should states and local governments? Was legislation the best way to shape public sentiment or was an educational program more effective? Was regulation of private citizens’ behavior even a proper concern of the state? The Bible did not answer these and various other questions. So, Machen concluded, the church had no business meddling in the politics of Prohibition or any other matter where Scripture did not speak.

Read the full article here.

Posted on by Tim Hopper

Machen’s Magazines

The most recent issue of the OPC magazine New Horizons features an article by historian and OPC ruling elder D.G. Hart entitled Machen’s Magazines.

Harts starts, “To claim that the Orthodox Presbyterian Church would not exist if not for a magazine is a bit of a stretch but has enough proximity to historical circumstances to be plausible.” He goes on to discuss The Presbyterian, Christianity Today, The Presbyterian, and New Horizons, each of which were used to inform “ordinary readers about the details and significance of the church struggle.”

Read the whole article for yourself.

Posted on by Tim Hopper