Half-Way Covenant

Half-Way Covenant, a doctrinal decision of the Congregational churches in New England. The first generation of Congregationalists had decided that only adults with personal experience of conversion were eligible to full membership but that children shared in the covenant of their parents and therefore should be admitted to all the privileges of the church except the Lord's Supper. The question arose (c.1650) whether this privilege should be extended to the children of these children, even though the parents of the second generation may have confessed no experience that brought them into full communion. It was proposed (1657) and adopted (1662) by a church synod that the privileges should be extended. The measure, to which the nickname Half-Way Covenant became attached, provoked much controversy and was never adopted by all the churches. Portions of many congregations seceded to form new settlements, among them Newark, N.J.

See R. G. Pope, Half-Way Covenant (1969).

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