Reformed churchesThe Reformed churches are a group of Protestant denominations historically related by a similar Zwinglian or Calvinist system of doctrine but organizationally independent. Each of the nations in which the Reformed movement was established had originally its own church government. Several of these local churches have expanded to worldwide denominations and most have experienced splits into multiple denominations. Commitment to teaching the original Calvinism usually continues to be reflected in their official definitions of doctrine, but in some cases is no longer necessarily typical of these churches. A 1999 survey found 746 Reformed denominations worldwide.
Reformed doctrine is expressed in various creeds. A few creeds are shared by many denominations. Different denominations use different creeds, usually based on historical reasons. Some of the common creeds are (with year of writing): the Scots Confession (1560), Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Second Helvetic Confession (1566), Belgic Confession (1566), Canons of Dordt (1619), Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), and the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1649). More recent confessions and creeds are shared by fewer denominations.
Contrary to Lutheran, Anglican or Methodist churches with episcopal structures, Reformed churches have mainly three forms of church government:
- Presbyterian, e.g. Presbyterians
- Synodal, e.g. Swiss Reformed Churches
- Congregational, e.g. Congregationalist Churches
Continental Reformed churches
The Reformed branch of Protestantism was started in Zurich by Huldrych Zwingli and spread within a few years to Basle (Johannes Oekolampadius), 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 1531, his work was continued by Heinrich Bullinger, the author of the Second Helvetic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism. The French-speaking cities Neuchatel, Geneva and Lausanne changed to the Reformation ten years later later under William Farel and Jean Calvin coming from France. The Zwingli and Calvin branches had each their theological distinctions, but got 1549 under the lead of Bullinger and Calvin to a common agreement in the Consensus Tigurinus, 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. 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.
- Hungarian Reformed Church
- Reformed Church of France
- German Reformed Church
- Reformed churches in the Netherlands
- Reformed Church in the Netherlands (NHK)
- Christian Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (CGKN)
- Reformed Church in the Netherlands (GKN)
- Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (Liberated)
- Reformed Congregations (GG)
- Reformed Congregrations in the Netherlands (GGN)
- Waldensian Church (Italy)
Reformed churches in Britain and IrelandThe churches with presbyterian traditions in the United Kingdom have the Westminster Confession of Faith as one of their important confessional documents.
- United Reformed Church in the United Kingdom is the result of the union of Presbyterian and Congregational churches.
- The Presbyterian churches in Scotland
- The Presbyterian Church in Ireland serves the whole of the island.
Reformed churches in the United States of America and Canada (and Old World counterparts)
- Associate Reformed Presbyterians (Scot-Irish Presbyterians)
- Canadian and American Reformed Churches (Dutch Reformed - Liberated)
- Christian Presbyterian Church
- Christian Reformed Church in North America (Dutch Reformed - GKN)
- The CRC is a conservative/evangelical denomination founded by Dutch immigrants in the nineteenth century in West Michigan.
- Free Reformed Churches in North America - (Dutch Reformed - CGKN)
- Heritage Netherlands Reformed Church
- Netherlands Reformed Church - (Dutch Reformed - CGKN)
- Orthodox Christian Reformed Church (Dutch Reformed - GKN)
- Presbyterian Church of Canada
- The Presbyterian Church of Canada split from a larger group of the same name that voted to join the United Church of Canada in 1925
- Presbyterian Church (USA) (Anglo-Scot Presbyterians and Congregationalists)
- Protestant Reformed Church (Dutch Reformed - GKN)
- One of the most conservative Reformed/Calvinist denominations in the world, the PRC separated from the CRC in the 1920s in a schism over the issue of common grace.
- Reformed Church in the United States (German Reformed)
- Reformed Church in America (Dutch Reformed - NHK)
- The RCA is a liberal/evangelical denomination formed by Dutch immigrants during colonial times.
- Reformed Congregations of North America
- Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (Scottish Covenanters)
- United Reformed Churches in North America (Dutch Reformed - GKN)
- United Church of Canada (Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists)
- United Church of Christ (Independents, Lutheran, German Reformed) a congregational union of various union churches
The Presbyterian Church (USA) has split a number of times in its history. Many of these historic splits have been resolved. From the continuing branch churches, some have split in turn. Only some of the continuing branches from the main bodies are listed here, with the year of their separation.
- Orthodox Presbyterian Church (1936 from the Northern PCUSA)
- Bible Presbyterian Church (1937 from the OPC)
- Presbyterian Church in America (1973 from the Southern PCUS)
- Evangelical Presbyterian Church (1980 from Northern UPC and Southern PCUS)
Reformed churches in KoreaThe Korean Presbyterian Church which formed the primary body of the Presbyterian General Assembly (the Reformed Church in Korea) was established by missionaries of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and Canadian and Australian Presbyterians. It is not to be confused with the much more conservative Presbyterian Church in Korea (Kosin), whose seminary is not recognized by the General Assembly.
Reformed churches in Nigeria (and founding counterparts)
The various Reformed churches of Nigeria formed the Reformed Ecumenical Council of Nigeria in 1991 to further cooperation.
International organizations of Reformed churches