A Post-Reformation Model of Worship: The Westminster Directory

In 1643, following the outbreak of civil war in England between the Puritan-controlled Parliament and the Anglican King Charles I, Parliament commissioned 150 ministers and lay leaders to draft a new confession, catechism, worship service, and form of government for England. Although this body, later known as the Westminster Assembly of Divines, was predominantly Presbyterian, almost a dozen Congregationalists were invited. This body produced the first Westminster Directory.

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A Post-Reformation Model of Worship: John Cotton’s New England Congregational Worship

In his book The Way of the Churches of Christ in New England, John Cotton, a leading Congregational pastor of the first generation of American colonists, provided a detailed description of worship practices in New England. Although conclusive evidence is lacking, it appears that English Congregationalists used the same basic order.

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Congregational Worship in the Post-Reformation Period

Congregational worship was influenced by the radical wing of Puritanism, which stressed worship shaped by biblical teaching alone. Worship was stripped to its New Testament essentials, centering on the exposition of the Word and the observance of the sacraments. Customs and features of worship not expressed in Scripture were dropped.

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