In 1849, two years after the City of Syracuse incorporated and 20 years before the founding of Syracuse University, sons and daughters of Scotch Irish immigrants organized our church as a congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, dedicated to witness to God’s redeeming love for sinners, to Christ’s kingdom in which creation is restored and reconciled to its Creator, and to the authority and relevance of God’s written Word for every aspect of life.
Reformed Presbyterians took an early stand against slavery. Syracuse was a hub of abolitionist activity, and the founders of our church were active participants in the movement. We continue to be a voice for the dignity of all human beings as bearers of God’s image. In 1865 at the end of the Civil War, our bell was raised to the steeple. It is still rung every Sunday to call our community to worship the Lord and rejoice in the freedom God gives us in Jesus Christ.
In the 1970s and 80s, God revived our church with growth and outward focus. Syracuse RP has been used in the planting of churches throughout Central New York. By God’s grace, we continue the heritage handed down to us of exalting Christ and proclaiming His gospel.
On special occasions in both the Old and New Testaments, believers covenanted together that they would obey the Lord. At the time of the Reformation, believers in Scotland adopted this practice for mutual protection and for the advancement of biblical Christianity. On at least three occasions — 1581, 1638, and 1643 — the entire nation covenanted in this way.
These covenants embraced the whole orb of Christian faith and experience, emphasizing such great themes as repentance, grace, and obedience. They also maintained that the King (or the State) cannot govern the Church, and that the State itself must recognize the supreme kingship of Christ. The Reformed believers, known as Covenanters (from their support of the covenants), insisted on “the crown rights of King Jesus,” which brought them into conflict with those who supported “the divine right of kings.”
The blue banner bearing the motto “For Christ’s Crown and Covenant” originated as a battle flag for these Covenanters. It first appeared in 1639 with the Covenanter army under General Alexander Leslie, First Earl of Leven. During the period of most intense persecution (1660-1668), some 18,000 men, women, and children died in battle, were executed, killed without process of law, or exiled, for their faithfulness to “Christ’s Crown and Covenant.”
Since the end of “the killing time,” the Blue Banner has continued to serve as a symbol of the Reformed faith. The Reformed Presbyterian Church is the continuation of the Covenanter church in Scotland, and treasures the testimony and heritage which God has given to it. The banner itself has no theological significance, but serves as a reminder of our commitment to the great truths of the Word of God.