Tennent, Gilbert

Tennent, Gilbert,

1703–64, American Presbyterian clergyman, leading preacher of the Great AwakeningGreat Awakening,
series of religious revivals that swept over the American colonies about the middle of the 18th cent. It resulted in doctrinal changes and influenced social and political thought. In New England it was started (1734) by the rousing preaching of Jonathan Edwards.
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, b. Ireland; son of William Tennent. He moved with his parents to Pennsylvania c.1718. Installed as pastor at New Brunswick, N.J., in 1726, he soon became the leader of a revival movement among the Presbyterians in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. A friend of George WhitefieldWhitefield, George,
1714–70, English evangelistic preacher, leader of the Calvinistic Methodist Church. At Oxford, which he entered in 1732, he joined the Methodist group led by John Wesley and Charles Wesley.
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, Tennent made (1740–41) an evangelistic tour in New England. Opposition to the revival from conservatives in the Presbyterian Church led to a schism (1741–58). Tennent led the "New Side" but later used his influence to heal the breach. He was interested in the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) and in 1753 he went to Great Britain with Samuel DaviesDavies, Samuel
, 1723–61, American Presbyterian clergyman, b. New Castle co., Del. Ordained as an evangelist, he went in 1747 to Hanover co., Va., where he was soon the center of a revival that became part of the movement known as the Great Awakening.
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 to secure funds for the college.
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Tennent, Gilbert

(1703–64) Protestant evangelist; born in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. He emigrated to America with his father about 1718 and entered the ministry in 1725. A fiery, persuasive preacher, he helped foment the religious revival known as the Great Awakening, during which he traveled through the northern colonies with English evangelist George Whitefield. His dismissive views on the pastorate and on the church as an institution provoked a schism among New Jersey Presbyterians in the 1740s. Mellowing in later years, when he served in Philadelphia, he helped to heal the breach he had largely created.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.