Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Voice in the Wilderness: A History of the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church in Texas. By R. Douglas Brackenridge. (San Antonio:
Trinity University Press, 1968. Pp xi+ 1g. Maps, bibliography,
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in 18o6 by
three ministers who were former members of Cumberland Pres-
bytery. This presbytery had been dissolved by the Presbyterian
Synod of Kentucky on the grounds that it had ordained ministers
lacking the proper educational qualifications and that it had rejected
the "fatalism" of the Westminster Confession of Faith. As an out-
growth of the second "Great American Revival," Cumberland Pres-
byterianism spread rapidly through the expanding West.
One of its most determined and colorful evangelists was Sumner
Bacon, a sceptic, ex-soldier, and wanderer, who was converted at a
Cumberland revival in Arkansas. An odd figure, lacking the necessary
educational qualifications and many of the natural graces, Bacon-
long denied ordination-came to Texas, which was then a Mexican
province. He was the first Presbyterian and one of the earliest
evangelists of any denomination to venture into the area. Preaching
whenever and however he found an opportunity, despite the gov-
ernment ban against Protestantism and facing the difficulties and
the dangers of the raw frontier, Bacon, by sheer grit, persistence,
and strength of character, laid the foundations of the Cumberland
Church in the future state of Texas.
The new denomination grew, not phenomenally but steadily.
It spread its churches broadly, established schools (one of which
survived to become Trinity University, which is now in San Antonio),
weathered the Civil War, and by 19o6 had more churches and min-
isters in Texas than any other Presbyterian body. In that year, cele-
brating the centennial of its birth, the Cumberland Presbyterian
Church united with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., more
often referred to in the South as the Northern Presbyterian Church.
Brackenridge has given us a well-written, carefully researched, fully
documented, and easily read account of this church in Texas down
to the time of merger. This may be contrasted with the earlier and
briefer account of Thomas H. Campbell, which gives more atten-
tion to particular congregations and brings the story to a more
recent date. Dr. Brackenridge tells us something about the agonies
of decision, and about the bitter differences which arose within the
denomination as a whole in connecrion) with the union of 1906,
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117147/. Accessed March 6, 2015.