Synod of New York and Philadelphia Minutes, 1758-1786 [manuscript] "A Pastoral Letter &c" .
PHS Call number: V F BX 8951 .A3 1758-1786, c.2
A printed transcript of the minutes is available for students (Minutes of the Presbyterian Church in America 1706-1788. Guy S. Klett, editor. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Historical Society, 1976; PHS Call number: BX 8951 .A3 1706-1788, K5, 1976). See pages 320-329 (original manuscript volume) or pages 543-546 (printed transcript).
In the spring of 1775, the Synod of New York and Philadelphia, the national governing body of American Presbyterians, circulated a pastoral letter among its members to prepare them for the war ahead. Signed May 22nd, the letter was written a little over a month after Paul Revere’s ride and the battles of Lexington and Concord, when war with England seemed increasingly likely.
1. Who is the author of this document? How might it help us understand our topic better?
2. Why does the Synod choose to address Presbyterian congregations at this time (page 543 in transcript; page 320 in manuscript)?
3. Why might the Synod want to emphasize that they “have not been instrumental in inflaming the minds of the people, or urging them to acts of violence and disorder (page 544 in transcript; page 324 in manuscript)? Why is that important given the historical context?
4. According to the Synod, why should people show respect for and allegiance to King George III (pages 544-545 in transcript; pages 325-326 in manuscript)?
5. The Synod, in its second piece of advice to its congregations, advises that “mutual esteem be preserved” between different religious denominations (page 545 in transcript; pages 326-327 in manuscript). Was religious toleration of this type common at the time?
6. What is the Synod’s overall attitude toward the outbreak of war against England?