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Reformed Churches.

1. Beginnings of Ref. chs. may be traced to Switz., Fr., Holland, Scot., and Eng. The name “Ref.,” in gen. use by the end of the 16th c., was given esp. to followers of J. Calvin,* H. Zwingli,* M. Bucer,* J. H. Bullinger,* and J. Oecolampadius,* to help distinguish them from followers of M. Luther,* who came to be called Lutheran* in the 1520s, esp. after the Colloquy of Marburg 1529 (see also 3; Lutheran Confessions, A 2). Since the Arminian controversy (see Arminianism) the Ref. are divided into Calvinistic (see Calvinism) and Arminian Ref. The term “Ref.” is used commonly of Calvinists, rarely of Arminians. Calvinists are commonly known in Scot. and Eng. as Presbyterians (see Presbyterian Churches, 1–2), on the Continent (esp. Switz., Holland, Fr., and parts of Ger.) as Ref. In its stricter sense, then, “Ref.” denotes continental Calvinistic chs. The main difference bet. Presb. and Ref. chs. is in nomenclature: Presbs. speak of session*, presbytery,* assembly (see also Polity, Ecclesiastical, 7); Ref. speak of consistory,* classis,* synod. See also Presbyterian Churches, 3; Switzerland, 2–6.

2. Ref. Ch. in the Netherlands.* Forerunners of the Reformation in the Neth. include R. Agricola* and Wessel.* See also Erasmus, Desiderius. Some of M. Luther's early writings were well received in the Neth., but the main Reformation movement followed Ref. lines, often under severe persecution. The congs. worshiped at first as “The Chs. of the Neth. under the Cross.” Organization began under leadership of Menno* Simons. Tr. hymns of T. Beza* and C. Marot* became popular. The Belgic Confession (see also Reformed Confessions, C 1) was adopted by a syn. at Antwerp 1566 and later syns. (see also Dordrecht, Synods of). Her scholars and theologians, schools and univs., zeal and martyr spirit gave the Ref. ch. in the Neth. a lead position among Ref. chs. on the Continent and the religious liberty that she achieved attracted many who were persecuted in other lands (see also Robinson, John; United Church of Christ, I A 1 ). See also Marnix, Philip van.

3. Ref. Ch. in Ger.. The Ref. Ch. was est. in Ger. largely as a result of the controversy concerning the Lord's Supper (see 1). During the Crypto-Calvinistic* Controversy the Palatinate became Ref. (see also Frederick III [1515–76]. Brandenburg became Ref. under John* Sigismund. For developments from 1817 see Prussian Union.

4. Ref. Chs. in Am..

a. Ref. Ch. in the US. See e; United Church of Christ, II A.

b. Ref. Ch. in Am. (also called The Ref. Prot. Dutch Ch. in N. Am.; The Prot. Dutch Ch. in N. Am.; Dutch Ref. Ch.). Est. as Ref. Prot. Dutch Ch. by immigrants from the Neth., who formed the colony of New Netherland. Its first Comforters of the Sick included Sebastian Jansen Krol (Bastiaen Crol) and Jan Huyck. First minister: Jonas Michaelius (1584–after 1637; b. Grootebroek, Holland; educ. Leiden; minister Brabant and Holland 1605–25; miss. W. Afr. 1625–27; to New Amsterdam, New Neth., via Holland 1628; founded Collegiate Ch., NYC, and Ref. Prot. Dutch Ch. ca. 1628; returned to Holland 1632). The cong. consisted of Walloons and Dutch and was organized with at least 50 communicant mems. The 1st ch. was built at New Amsterdam 1633. At first the work was in charge of the Syn. of Holland. But the question of authority led to controversy ca. the middle of the 17th c. and independence became the issue in the latter part of the c. Under leadership of T. J. Frelinghuysen* Queen's Coll. (see also Protestant Education in the United States) was founded 1766 at New Brunswick, New Jersey The Ref. Dutch Ch. in the USA (or The Dutch Ref. Ch. in N. Am.; both names were in use 1792) expanded in New York and New Jersey It was inc. 1819 as The Ref. Prot. Dutch Church. Ca. the middle of the 19th c. there was a large Dutch immigration, including whole congs. with their pastors, who settled in the North and Midwest, beginning in Michigan and Iowa In 1867 the name of the ch. was changed to The Reformed Church in America. “The doctrinal standards of the Reformed Church in America are the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of the Synod of Dort. The church is thus a distinctively Calvinistic body. It has a liturgy for optional use in public worship, with forms of prayer. Some parts of the liturgy, as those for the administration of baptism and the Lord's Supper and for the ordination of ministers, elders, and deacons, are obligatory; the forms of prayer, the marriage service, etc., are not obligatory. Children are 'baptized as heirs of the Kingdom of God and of His Covenant”; adults are baptized (by sprinkling or immersion, as preferred) on profession of repentance for sin and faith in Christ. All baptized persons are considered members of the church, are under its care, and are subject to its government and discipline. No subscription to a specific form of words being required, admission to communion and full membership is on confession of faith before the elders and minister” (U. S. Dept. of Commerce, Religious Bodies: 1936, II, Part 2 [Washington, 1941], 1506).

c. Christian Ref. Ch. in N. Am.. Organized 1857 Holland Michigan, by congs. and ministers who withdrew from the Ref. Prot. Dutch Ch. for reasons of doctrine and discipline. Names adopted: 1859 Holland Ref. Ch.; 1861 True Dutch Ref.; 1880 Holland Christian Ref. Ch. in Am.; 1890 Christian Ref. Ch. in Am.; 1904 Christian Ref. Ch. Creeds: Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dordrecht (see Reformed Confessions, C 1–2, D 2). Besides Calvin Coll. and Theol. Sem., Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Dordt Coll., Sioux Center, Iowa, it supports a system of Christian elementary schools.

d. Hung. Ref. Ch. in Am.. The Ref. Ch. of Hung. organized a Hung. Ref. Ch. in New York 1904. Work among Hung. Ref. in US had been begun by others 1891. The Ref. Ch. in Hung. transferred jurisdiction of its US chs. to the Ref. Ch. in the US by 1921 agreement at Tiffin, Ohio; but some congs., refused to accept the agreement and organized the Free Magyar Ref. Ch. in Am. at Duquesne, Pennsylvania, 1924. Name changed 1958 to Hung. Ref. Ch. in Am. See also Union Movements, 7.

e. Ref. Ch. in the US. The Eureka Classis, organized South Dakota 1910, continued as the Ref. Ch. in the US when most of the parent body (Hung. Ref. Ch. in Am.; see d) merged into the Ev. and Ref. Ch. 1934 (see United Church of Christ, II A).

f. Prot. Ref. Chs. in Am.. Organized 1926 Grand Rapids, Michigan, by a group that separated from the Christian Ref. Ch. (see c); creeds: Belgic Conf., Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dordrecht (see Reformed Confessions, C 1–2, D 2). They stand for particular grace, for the elect only. FEM


Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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