The Reformed Christian's guide to Reformed Churches
As a traveler I often find it hard, while on my journeys, to find a church that embraces one of the Reformed Confessions. I assume others have the same challenge, so in an effort to help each other out I am starting this thread.
For the sake of clarity, a Reformed Church is one that requires that pastors, elders and deacons subscribe, with minimal exceptions, to one of the following Confessions:
-Three Forms of Unity:
o Heidelberg Catechism (1563)
o Belgic Confession (1566)
o Canons of Dordt (1619)
-Gallic Confession (1559)
o Second Helvetic Confession (1566)
o Theological Declaration of Barmen (1934)
-Scots Confession (1560)
o Westminster Confession of Faith (1646)
o Westminster Shorter Catechism (1649)
o Westminster Larger Catechism (1649)
-Savoy Declaration (1658)
-London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689)
While there are many denominations that are Reformed in name but no longer require a high degree of subscription to one of the confessions, I realize that there may well be churches inside of those denominations that maintain a high level of subscription. If you are aware of such a congregation, please feel free to submit it for inclusion in this list.
I invite everyone's participation, but in an effort to have some sense of organization I will lock down the first several posts for what I hope will be future growth.
If you would like to nominate a church please post the name of the church, provide a link, and maybe a few pithy comments.
From Wikipedia: The Reformed churches are a group of Protestant denominations characterized by Calvinist doctrines. They are descended from the Swiss Reformation led initially by Huldrych Zwingli and soon spread to the rest of Northern Europe. They were the major Protestant rival to the Lutheran churches. Several of these national or specific language based churches later expanded to worldwide denominations.
Mrs Flies and I are life-long RCA members. We are a small denomination (~300,000 in the U.S. and Canada), but are the oldest Protestant denomination in North America with a continuous presence. We came with the Dutch explorers. The church leaders in the Netherlands understood that the New World needed ordained clergy and a seminary of its own. As a matter of fact, they established the first university in the New World (Rutgers) and the first seminary (New Brunswick Theological Seminary). The oldest physical pulpit in North America is in the First Church in Albany (NY -- near ALB) and dates back to 1659. The oldest congregations were the Collegiate Churches in NYC -- the surviving one being the Marble Collegiate Church.
You will find congregations in areas primarily settled by the Dutch. The first settlements were in the Hudson Valley, NYC, Philadelphia area, and NJ. The second migration in the mid-1800s was in the midwest -- Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, some of MN, etc. The third migration was internal, when midwest Dutch dairy farmers moved to what is now Long Beach, Downey, and Paramount, CA. (Ever heard of Long Beach referred to as "Iowa By The Sea?")
Members have included two Presidents (Martin Van Buren and Theodore Roosevelt), many Members of Congress (Everett Dirksen being just one), a Founding Father and Revolutionary War commander (General Phillip Schuyler), Lucille Ball, Harry Smith (CBS), Steve Bell (ABC), Kyle Korver (Chicago Bulls), and, Geronimo. Noteworthy clergy include Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, and Bill Hybels (Willowcreek Community Church) (Bill started out in a sister denomination, the Christian Reformed Church).
These days, you will find very conservative RCA congregations made up of primarily Dutch people and you will find congregations as diverse as the U.S. and Canada. Some read a few Qs & As from the Heidleberg every Sunday morning. Some are very small in membership in rural areas. In contrast, the largest church in the RCA is the Crystal Cathedral.
To find a congregation in the U.S. or Canada, simply visit our web site: http://www.rca.org.
Three churches I can personally recommend (having been members) are:
The church we presently attend: Monocacy Valley Church, Frederick, MD (BWI, IAD, DCA): http://www.mvcnow.org. Come visit us if you are ever in the Frederick area. I'm usually up front playing the keyboard in the worship band.
I'll end with a quote from probably one of the best earthly theology ever written by humans:
Heidleberg Catechism, Question 1:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?
A. That I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who with his precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, wherefore by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him