The Reformed churches are a group of Protestant Christian denominations connected by a common Calvinist system of doctrine.
The Dutch Reformed churches have suffered numerous splits, and there have been some subsequent partial re-unions. Currently there are at least nine existing denominations, including (between brackets the Dutch abbreviation):
Since the Reformation the Netherlands, as one of the few countries in the world, could be characterised as a mainly Calvinist state. Until the first half of the 20th century, a majority of the Dutch (about 55%) were Reformed and a large minority (35-40%) were Catholic. Because of large-scale secularisation during the 20th century, these percentages dropped dramatically. Today only 15-20% of the Dutch (about 2.5 million people) is Reformed, while 25-30% is Catholic. About 45% is non-religious. Today many orthodox-reformed Christians in the Netherlands cooperate with Evangelicals in organizations such as the 'Evangelische Omroep' (Evangelical Broadcasting Company), the 'Evangelische Hogeschool' (Evangelical College), and the political party 'ChristenUnie' (ChristianUnion)
Dutch emigrants and missionaries brought Reformed churches to many other countries outside Europe, including Canada, United States, South Africa, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.
The Swiss Reformed Churches were started in Zurich by Huldrych Zwingli and spread within a few years to Basle (Johannes Oecolampadius), Berne (Berchtold Haller and Niklaus Manuel), St. Gall (Joachim Vadian), to cities in Southern Germany and via Alsace (Martin Bucer) to France. After the early death of Zwingli in 1531, his work was continued by Heinrich Bullinger, the author of the Second Helvetic Confession. The French-speaking cities Neuchatel, Geneva and Lausanne changed to the Reformation ten years later under William Farel and John Calvin coming from France. The Zwingli and Calvin branches each had their theological distinctions, but in 1549 under the lead of Bullinger and Calvin they came to a common agreement in the Consensus Tigurinus (Zurich Consent), and 1566 in the Second Helvetic Confession. Organizationally, the Reformed Churches in Switzerland remained separate units until today (the Reformed Church of the Canton Zurich, the Reformed Church of the Canton Berne, etc.), the German part more in the Zwingli tradition, in the French part more in the Calvin tradition. Today they are members of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches. They are governed synodically and their relation to the respective canton (in Switzerland, there are no church-state regulations on country-level) ranges from independent to close collaboration, depending on historical developments. A distinctive of the Swiss Reformed churches in Zwingli tradition is their historically almost symbiotic link to the state (cantons) which is only loosening gradually in the present.
There are small conservative churches like Evangelical Reformed Church (Westminster Confession)and the Lausanne Free Church.
A total of 2.4 million Swiss are members of a Reformed church, according to the 2000 census, which corresponds with 33% of the population. The past decades show a rapid decline in this proportion, coming from 46% in 1970.
The Reformed Church in Hungary, Transylvania and southern Slovakia is one of the largest branches of the Reformed movement. The Reformed Church is the second largest church in Hungary, it has 4 seminaries in the country (Debrecen, Papa, Budapest, Sarospatak). The Hungarian Reformed Church adopted the Heidelberg Catechism and the Second Helvetic Confession as a definition of their teaching, together the Ecumenical creeds of the Christian Church: Athanasian Creed, Nicene Creed, Chalcedon, and the common creed ("Apostles' Creed"). The Hungarians organised the reformed church in 1557 in the Synod of Csenger and adopted the Second Helvetic Confession in 1567 in Debrecen.
The Hungarian Reformed Church maintains educational institutions, almost 80 primary schools, 28 high schools, 47 nurseries and several vocational schools and the Bethesda Hospital. There are diaconal institutions and conference centres.
In 2001, more than 1.6 million people in Hungary identified as members of the Hungarian Reformed Church. Of that number, about 600,000 are considered active members, in 1,249 congregations. The HRC has 27 presbyteries, four districts and a General Synod. In Romania, 700,000 people identified as Reformed in 800 congregations, nearly all of them ethnic Hungarians living in Transylvania.
There is the more theologically conservative Reformed Presbyterian Church of Central and Eastern Europe, which has approximately 25 congregations in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine. Like the mainline Hungarian Reformed church, from which it split in 1997, the church adheres to the Second Helvetic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism, but it has also adopted the Westminster Confession, and Shorter and Larger Catechisms.
The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Central and Eastern Europe maintains the Károlyi Gáspár Institute of Theology and Missions, located in Miskolc, Hungary.
There is a mission church of the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches in Diósd, near Budapest.
Reformed Christian Church in Slovakia was part of the Reformed Church in Hungary until the end of World War I. In 1993 a Theological Seminary was opened in Komárno. Cathechial schools are in Kosice and Komarno. In Slovakia, 110,000 Calvinists were recorded.
The Reformed Church in Romania consist of 2 districtes in Romania. These districtes are the :
In Transylvania the Reformed faith took root in the 16th century. In 1564 a Synod was held in Nagyenyed when the Reformed and Lutheran church separated. This date is the founding date of the Transylvanian Reformed Church. Partium was an adjected part of Transylvania it was a separated geographical area, the Hungarian-transylvanian princes ruled this part too. In this land was founded the Kiralyhagomellek Reformed District. Transylvania was part of Hungary till 1920. The Confessions of these churches are the Apostles Creed, the Heidelberg Catechism. In the church buildings especially in smaller villages the men and women sitting separated and the children and those who were not yet married were sitting in the church choir or gallery. The believers are predominantly (95%) Hungarian so the worship language is also Hungarian. It has 800 congregations and 700,000 members.
A Romanian mission of the United Reformed Churches in North America was founded in Bucharest in 2016.
The German Reformed Church (Reformierte Kirche) forms, together with German Lutheran and united Protestant churches, the umbrella named Evangelical Church in Germany (German: Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland) or EKD. The member churches of EKD were formerly the Protestant state churches in German states before the separation of religion and state in 1919. EKD represents, alongside Catholicism, Germany's "mainstream" religious bodies.
The German Reformed Church, unusually, does not trace its origins back to Zwingli or Calvin, but rather to Philipp Melanchthon, Luther's best friend and closest ally. After Melanchthon's death in 1560, extremist Lutherans (from whom Luther had previously distanced himself) accused Melanchthon's successors in the "Philippist" cause of Crypto-Calvinism and mercilessly persecuted and sometimes killed them in several states, especially Saxony. Other states, such as Hesse(-Cassel), remained openly Philippist and Reformed. Only during the time of Calvin (1509–1564) himself did genuinely Calvinist influences enter the German Reformed faith; even today, it remains more Philippist than Calvinist.
In the German Empire (1871–1918) some states were Lutheran, some Reformed. King Frederick William III of Prussia united both major Protestant confessions in his domains into the Prussian Union of churches in 1817, allowing congregations to maintain Lutheran or Reformed confession, or declare their union, also in Bremen (1877), Hesse-Cassel (1817), and Hesse-Darmstadt (1832) Reformed and Lutherans form a union merely in administration. Some states saw unions of Reformed and Lutherans to a united confession, such as Anhalt (1820 in Anhalt-Bernburg, 1827 in Anhalt-Dessau, and 1880 in Anhalt-Köthen), Baden (1821), Nassau (1817) and Bavarian Palatinate (1848), while Lutherans in other states (Bavaria proper, Hamburg, Hanover, Lübeck, the Mecklenburgs, Oldenburg, Saxon Duchies, Saxony, Schaumburg-Lippe, Schleswig-Holstein, and Württemberg) did not followed suit.
The German Reformed Church's finest hour arguably occurred during the Third Reich (1933–1945): although by far not all Reformed clergy and their flocks opposed the Nazis, the Reformed Church dominated the Confessing Church resistance against Hitler — partially, it has been said[ by whom? ], because Reformed congregations had fewer hierarchy- and state-centered perspectives than the Lutherans.
As of 2009 [update] German Protestants come in four different guises, all under one national umbrella, but differentiated by region (Landeskirche, usually regions smaller than the states):
In Germany As of 2009 [update] roughly 25 million Germans (less than one-third of the entire population, slightly more than half of German Christians) are Protestant. Of these, less than 2 million are Reformed. The main coordinating body for Reformed churches in Germany is the Reformed Alliance in Germany.
Smaller, separate denominations include the Evangelical Old-Reformed Church in Lower Saxony, the Union of Evangelical Reformed Churches in Germany, and the episcopally governed Free Reformed Churches of Germany.
In France, the Reformed Protestants were called Huguenots. The Reformed Church of France survived under persecution from 1559 until the Edict of Nantes (1598), the effect of which was to establish regions in which Protestants could live unmolested. These areas became centers of political resistance under which the Reformed church was protected until 1628, when La Rochelle, the Protestant center of resistance to Louis XIII, was overrun by a French army blockade. After the Protestant resistance failed, the Reformed Church of France reorganized, and was guaranteed toleration under the Edict of Nantes until the final revocation of toleration in 1685 (Edict of Fontainebleau). The periods of persecution scattered French Reformed refugees to England, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Africa (especially South Africa) and America. Louis XVI granted an edict of toleration. Freedom of religion came with the French Revolution. Napoleon organized state controlled French Reformed church with the Organic Articles in 1802. A free (meaning, not state controlled) synod of the Reformed Church emerged in 1848 and survives in small numbers to the present time. The French refugees established French Reformed churches in the Latin countries and in America.
The first Reformed churches in France produced the Gallic Confession and French Reformed confession of faith, which served as models for the Belgic Confession of Faith (1563).
Today, about 300,000 people are members of the Reformed Church of France (now United Protestant Church of France). There is also the smaller Protestant Reformed Church of Alsace and Lorraine and the more conservative National Union of Protestant Reformed Evangelical Churches of France (the name of the denomination was changed in 2009).
The Malagazy Protestant Church in France is a Reformed denomination whose members come from Madagascar. The Union of Free Evangelical Churches in France is another denomination.
The churches with Presbyterian traditions in the United Kingdom have the Westminster Confession of Faith as one of their important confessional documents.
In Wales there are the Union of Welsh Independents which is another congregational body. The Presbyterian Church of Wales is one of the biggest Christian denomination in Wales.
In Scotland presbyterianism was established in 1560 by John Knox who studied in Geneva and planted Calvinism in his home country. The presbyterian churches in the USA, Canada, Australia trace their origin back primarily from Scotland.
In Ulster, Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland spread the reformed faith in the 17th century.
A group of churches called Newfrontiers began in England and also exists elsewhere in the world. This group tends to hold to Reformed theology, but is also Charismatic in its experience.
Historically, the Church of England was considered a Reformed church.Several continental Reformed theologians moved to England to aid with the doctrinal and liturgical developments there, including Martin Bucer, Peter Martyr, and Jan Łaski. Especially Calvinistic distinctions of the Church of England include the division of the Ten Commandments after the Reformed numbering (rather than the Lutheran or Roman Catholic division), the iconoclastic reforms of Edward VI and Elizabeth I, and the Eucharistic doctrine of Receptionism. The Church of England so took part in the Synod of Dort, and monarchs since the Glorious Revolution have sworn in the coronation oath to protect the “true profession of the Gospel, and the Protestant Reformed religion established by law.”
However, the ascendency of William Laud to the archbishopric saw a periodic suppression of pro-Calvinist clergymen under Charles I, and the Oxford Movement of the 19th century sought to further distance the Church of England from its Calvinistic ties. Because of the political success of Anglo-Catholicism there have been a few conservative Reformed movements which have left the Church of England:
The Waldensian Evangelical Church is an Italian historical Protestant denomination.
After Protestant Reformation, the small church absorbed Calvinist theology - under the influence of Guillaume Farel- and became the Italian branch of Reformed churches.
In 1975 the Waldensian Church (45,000 members circa, plus some 15,000 affiliates in Argentina and Uruguay) joined forces with the Italian Methodist Church (5,000) to form the Union of Methodist and Waldensian Churches. It is member both of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and of the World Methodist Council, due to its nature of united church.
The Evangelical Reformed Baptist Churches in Italy is Reformed baptistic denomination in Italy. This network of churches recover the Reformed tradition like Pietro Martire Vermigli and Girolamo Zanchi. A member of the World Reformed Fellowship.
70-75% of Transcarpathian Hungarians are followers of the reformed faith. Transcarpathian Reformed Church has 3 diocese with about 120,000 - 140,000 members. It maintains schools and this church is the oldest Protestant community in Ukraine established in the 16th century. A member of the World Communion of Reformed Churches.
This church was started by missionaries of the Presbyterian Church in America and has 12 congregations and missions with 11 ordained national pastors; it maintains a Reformed seminary in Kiev.
Most Presbyterian denominations share same name, the Presbyteian Church in Korea, tracing back their history to the United Presbyterian Assembly. There are 15 million Protestants in South Korea, about 9 millions are Presbyterians and there are more than 100 Presbyterian denominations. Before the Korean War Presbyterians were very strong in North Korea, many fled to South, and established their own Presbyterian denominations.The Presbyterian Churches are by far the largest Protestant churches with well over 20 000 congregations. For more information see Presbyterianism in South Korea.
The various Reformed churches of Nigeria formed the Reformed Ecumenical Council of Nigeria in 1991 to further cooperation.
According to the census of 2001, more than 3.2 million people recorded themselves as Reformed. This however is fast decline compared to the 1996 census, when still 3.9 million people were Reformed. Particularly amongst black and coloured people the Reformed churches lost many members, while the number of Reformed whites remained status quo due to mass emigration.
The General Synod is the title of the governing body of some church organizations.
Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition within Protestantism, which traces its origins to Great Britain, particularly Scotland.
A united church, also called a uniting church, is a church formed from the merger or other form of union of two or more different Protestant denominations.
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) was a fellowship of more than 200 churches with roots in the 16th-century Reformation, and particularly in the theology of John Calvin. Its headquarters was in Geneva, Switzerland. They are now merged into the World Communion of Reformed Churches.
The Christian Conference of Asia is a regional ecumenical organisation representing 15 National Councils and over 100 denominations (churches) in New Zealand, Australia, Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, East Timor, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Laos, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand.
Exclusive psalmody is the practice of singing only the biblical Psalms in congregational singing as worship. Today it is practised by several Protestant, especially Reformed denominations. Hymns besides the Psalms have been composed by Christians since the earliest days of the church, but psalms were preferred by the early church and used almost exclusively until the end of the fourth century. During the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther and many other reformers, including those associated with the Reformed tradition, used hymns as well as psalms, but John Calvin preferred the Psalms and they were the only music allowed for worship in Geneva. This became the norm for the next 200 years of Reformed worship. Hymnody became acceptable again for the Reformed in the middle of the nineteenth century, though several denominations, notably the Reformed Presbyterians, continue the practice of exclusive psalmody.
The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) is the largest association of Reformed churches in the world. It has 233 member denominations in 110 countries, together claiming 100 million people, thus being the third largest Christian communion in the world after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. This ecumenical Christian body was formed in June 2010 by the union of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC).
Protestantism is one of the six approved religions in Indonesia, the others being Islam, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. It constitutes the bulk of Christianity in Indonesia, which is the second largest religion in the country after Islam. According to CIA statistic, in 2000 5.7% of the population of Indonesia were Protestant. A nationwide census of 2010 noted almost 7% (16,530,000) of the population considering themselves Protestant, largest in Southeast Asia.
The Indonesian Christian Church is an Indonesian Church of Presbyterian denomination. The church's theology is Calvinist.
The Presbyterian Church of Brazil is an Evangelical Protestant Christian denomination in Brazil. Oldest of the Reformed family of Protestantism in Brazil. It is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country, having an estimate 1,011,300 members, 8,315 ordained ministers and 5,015 churches and 5,392 parishes. It is also the only Presbyterian denomination in Brazil present in all 26 States and the Federal District. It was founded by the American missionary Rev. Ashbel Green Simonton, who also oversaw the formal organization of the first congregation and the first Presbytery. Although the Presbyterian Church of Rio de Janeiro was only formally organized in January 1863, and the Brazilian church only left the jurisdiction of the joint missions board of the American churches in 1888, when the Synod was formed, the denomination considers the date of Simonton's arrival in Brazil, August 12, 1859, as its foundation date.
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines is a Christian denomination in the Philippines. Established in its present form in Malate, Manila, it resulted from the merger of the Evangelical Church of the Philippines, the Philippine Methodist Church, the Disciples of Christ, the United Evangelical Church and several independent congregations.
The Presbyterian Church of the Philippines (PCP), officially The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Philippines, is a growing evangelical, Bible-based Reformed church in the Philippines. It was officially founded in 1987 and the General Assembly was organized in September 1996.
The Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola is a Reformed Christian denomination in Angola.
The Evangelical Church of the River Plate is a United, Protestant denomination with congregations in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. It is named after the Río de la Plata Basin, where the majority of its congregations are located. The IERP was affiliated with the Evangelical Church in Germany from 1934–1965, when it became independent. The church ordains women as ministers and supported civil unions and same-sex marriage. It has approximately 27,500 members.
The Evangelical Presbyterian Church of East Timor is a Reformed Presbyterian denomination in East Timor with 14 churches and 3 chapels. It has 3,500 members and 9 pastors - 6 full-time 3 part- time pastors and 6 evangelists. The church is supported by the Presbyterian Church of Australia, and sister church relationship was also formed between these denominations. It held the foundational Synod in 2011. Contacts with the Christian Presbyterian Church in Portugal was also established and mission trip was made in East Timor on August 2012.
The United Evangelical Church of Christ ; commonly the Unida Church, Unida Christian Church or Unida Evangelical Church) is an evangelical Protestant denomination in the Philippines founded in 1932.
The Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Bolivia or the Iglesia Evangélica Presbiteriana en Bolivia was founded by Korean missionaries in 1983, especially Chong-Moo Park who organised congregations in La Paz and El Alto. He invited other Korean missionaries. Other churches were established. The church's counterpart is the Presbyterian Church in Korea (TongHap). It had 1,500 members and 12 congregations in 2004. The denomination subscribes the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Apostles Creed. This church is a member of the World Communion of Reformed Churches.