Each year, Presbyterians across the globe acknowledge Heritage Sunday, a day to reflect on and celebrate the vast and lengthy history of the faith. Heritage Sunday always falls on the Sunday closest to May 21—the opening date of the inaugural General Assembly in the United States in 1789. This year, Heritage Sunday will fall on the same date: May 21, 2023.
The Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS) assembles bulletin inserts to commemorate Heritage Sunday, with a new topic or theme for each year. In 2022, PHS shared the story of the Rev. Fahed Abu-Akel, Moderator of the 214th General Assembly. The year before, the society remembered Ruling Elder Lois Stair, the first woman General Assembly moderator. Visitors to the PHS website can access past Heritage Sunday inserts back to 2001.
For Heritage Sunday 2023, PHS has created an insert commemorating the 1983 Presbyterian Reunion. Forty years ago, the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (PCUS) and United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA) were reunited after 122 years of separation, forming the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Since the 1700s, church divisions had occurred because of disagreements over theology and social issues. In 1983, the long-anticipated reunion of the UPCUSA and the PCUS brought an end to a schism that had lasted since the Civil War.
PHS has highlighted news footage from the Atlanta event, which is available in the above video and accessible alongside the bulletin inserts on the Heritage Sunday webpage: history.pcusa.org/hs. The video can also be found on the Society’s YouTube channel.
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