Synod of New York and Philadelphia

The Occom Circle

Synod of New York and Philadelphia

Name (variant)

Synod of New York; Synod of Philadelphia


New York and Philadelphia


The Synod of New York and Philadelphia was the governing body of the Presbyterian Church in the mid-Atlantic region, including New York and New England. It worked closely with other Presbyterian organizations in the region, including the New York (and, after 1769, New Jersey) Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and the College of New Jersey. Like those organizations, the Synod was a potential source of funding for missionaries involved in Indian ministry, although it tended to support primarily Presbyterian efforts (e.g., John Brainerd’s long ministry among the Delaware). For a period of time, the New York and Pennsylvania synods existed independently. In 1745, the Presbyteries of New York, New Brunswick, and Newcastle split from the Synod of Philadelphia over tensions resulting from the First Great Awakening, a transatlantic evangelical movement that spanned roughly 1734 until 1742. As within the Congregationalist church, the major points of contention were focused on 1) itinerant ministry and 2) qualifications for new ministers (namely, whether a college degree or demonstration of new birth was more important in a minister). The two synods reunified in 1758 as the Synod of New York and Philadelphia, although the member presbyteries continued to disagree over many of the same issues. The fact that these disagreements continued may be why writers often refer to the Synod of New York or the Synod of Philadelphia in letters from the 1760s and 1770s, even though the two synods were nominally reunified.


Brainerd, Thomas. The Life of John Brainerd, the Brother of David Brainerd and his Successor as Missionary to the Indians of New Jersey. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Publication Committee 1865. Gillett, E. H. History of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, Vol 1. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1873 (Revised Edition). Accessed via Haithi Trust. Love, Deloss. Samson Occom and the Christian Indians of New England. Pilgrim Press 1899. Webster, Richard. A History of the Presbyterian Church in America, From its Origin Until the Year 1760. Philadelphia: Joseph M. Wilson, 1857. Accessed via GoogleBooks.