Canadian and American Reformed Churches

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Canadian and American Reformed Churches
Classification Protestant
Theology Orthodox Reformed
Governance Presbyterian
Associations International Conference of Reformed Churches, North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council
Origin 16 April 1950
Lethbridge, Alberta (Canada)
Branched from Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated)
Congregations 55
Members 17,729
Statistics as of December 2012[1]

The Canadian and American Reformed Churches (CanRC) are a federation of over fifty Protestant Christian churches in Canada and the US, with historical roots in the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands, and doctrinal roots in the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation. Its emphasis is on Biblical, Christ-centered, covenantal, redemptive-historical preaching and teaching, and holy living as a response of gratitude to the gospel.

Basic beliefs and doctrine

Members of the Canadian and American Reformed Churches believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God and the authoritative rule for all of life. The heart of the preaching and teaching in these churches is that Jesus of Nazareth is both true man and true God and is the long-awaited Messiah who suffered and died for the sins of God's people, and that this demands a thankful response of faith and obedience. Like other Reformed churches, they teach that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, follow Reformed (Calvinist) theology, and have adopted the Three Forms of Unity (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Canons of Dort) as their doctrinal standards.[2] Upon public profession of faith, members are understood to subscribe to these confessions as faithfully summarizing the doctrine of the Bible. The member churches believe they are part of the one true church of God, distinguished by the marks of the true church.[3]


The Canadian and American Reformed Churches are rooted in the Protestant Reformation, especially as it developed in the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and came to Canada via post Second World War Dutch immigrants.

The Canadian Reformed Churches were founded by members of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated) who immigrated to Canada following World War II. These Dutch immigrants first made contact with already-existing Reformed churches in Canada, especially the Protestant Reformed Churches in America (PRC) and the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), in the hope that they could join with them. This was not possible, however, due to theological differences with the PRC, and the fact that the CRCNA sympathized with the churches which expelled the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated) in 1944.[4][5]

The first Canadian Reformed congregation was instituted in Lethbridge, Alberta, on April 16, 1950. The same year, churches were instituted in Edmonton and Neerlandia, Alberta; Orangeville, Ontario; and New Westminster, British Columbia. Currently there are over 54 congregations, which can be found in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, as well as in the American states of Washington, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Colorado.[6]

Church government

Believing that the government of the church must be regulated by the Bible, the Canadian Reformed Churches practice a traditionally Reformed "bottom-up" polity, as opposed to a "top-down" model of church government. This approach to church polity reflects their continental Reformed roots. It is both anti-hierarchical and anti-independent, promoting both the autonomy of the local church and the need to cooperate within a federation.

Only male members who have made profession of faith and may be considered to meet the conditions as set forth in Holy Scripture (e.g., in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1) shall be eligible for office. Females are restricted from all levels of government. This includes pastors, elders and deacons.[7]

The government of the Canadian Reformed Churches is based on the church order adopted by the Synod of Dort (1618–1619). The federation is divided into eight classical regions, with two annual regional synods and a general synod every three years.


Foreign missions: the churches in Hamilton and Cloverdale are involved in mission in Brazil. The church at Toronto is involved in mission in Papua New Guinea. The church in Smithville, Ontario, has a missionary in West Timor.

Native missions: a program of outreach was established in Smithers, British Columbia, among the First Nations.

Canadian and American Reformed Churches are involved in evangelism and home missions in the US and Canada. A radio ministry was established recently.[8]

Ecumenical relations

The Canadian Reformed Churches also have "ecclesiastical fellowship" with a number of Reformed and Presbyterian church federations, including the following:

The Americas:


Organic unity was being pursued with the United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA). Although close fellowship is maintained, the quest for organizational unity slowed down in 2010. The Canadian Reformed Churches are members of the International Conference of Reformed Churches (ICRC) and the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC).

Theological education

Maintaining the principle that theological education must be maintained by the churches and for the churches, the federation operates the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary, which is located in Hamilton, Ontario.


External links