Christian Reformed Churches of Australia

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Christian Reformed Churches Of Australia
Christian Reformed Churches of Australia logo.png
Christian Reformed Churches Of Australia Logo
Classification Protestant
Theology Reformed
Polity Presbyterian
Associations World Communion of Reformed Churches[1]
Region Australia
Origin 1951
Sydney NSW
Branched from Reformed Churches in the Netherlands
Congregations 53
Members 9,000[2]
Official website http://www.crca.org.au

The Christian Reformed Churches of Australia (CRCA), formerly known as the Reformed Churches of Australia (RCA) is a Christian denomination established in Australia belonging to the Reformed/Presbyterian tradition.

Background[edit]

This denomination has its roots in the European Reformation of the 15th and 16th centuries, affirming the beliefs that God grants salvation by grace alone, in Christ alone and through faith alone.[3][4][5]

The denomination is part of the worldwide family of reformed churches which came into being at the time of the Reformation, and declared themselves reformed from the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church at that time. Whereas Martin Luther was the champion of the Reformation in Germany, John Calvin was the champion of the Reformation in Switzerland, the Netherlands and northern Europe. It is John Calvin's understanding of the Bible, as spelled out in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, that forms the doctrinal basis of the various reformed churches.[3][4][5]

This doctrinal basis is further summarized in the three Confessions to which the continental reformed churches adhere:[3][4][5]

And by the Confession to which the Presbyterian churches adhere:[3][4][5]

History[edit]

This denomination was established by post-World War II Dutch migrants in 1951. Many of the migrants had been members of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands. They had no desire to start new congregations in their new home, and had been advised to seek the pastoral care of the Scottish Free Presbyterians (i.e. the Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia) upon their arrival in Australia.[6] The differences between the culture of the Australian-Scottish Presbyterians and the Reformed Netherlanders was a hindrance, but the real problem was the liturgical restrictions where no instrumental accompaniment was allowed and only psalms were sung. The Dutch migrants struggled to find churches in Australia which embraced and upheld Biblical and Reformed theology, with a national profile that could enfold these new settlers, and was governed according to reformed tradition.[7] For these reasons, in December 1951, they organised a separate denomination, initially composed of Reformed Churches in Sydney, Penguin and Melbourne.[7] The new denomination held their first Synod in June 1952 in premises owned by the Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia at East St Kilda. By 1955, some dozen congregations were formed in all Australian states, and the denomination, then named the Reformed Churches of Australia, grew to around 10,500 by the early 1990s, when it was renamed the Christian Reformed Churches Of Australia.

Currently there is an active membership of around 9000 [8] in over fifty churches spread throughout Australia. This steady decline is due to a desire to assimilate in their new country, welcome changes in the Anglican and Presbyterian Churches in some states bringing these denominations theologically closer, and certain aspects of generational change. Numerous South African immigrants in the last decade have slowed this trend, as have converts from other denominations. From exclusively Dutch beginnings, the CRCA is now a culturally diverse group, reflecting the character of Australian society, and is seeking to proclaim the Christian message in a contemporary and relevant way.[3][4][5]

The denomination has been instrumental in the establishment of many Christian schools, including the Illawarra Christian School, Sutherland Shire Christian School, Tyndale Christian School (New South Wales), Calvin Christian School Kingston Tasmania, and Covenant College (ACT). It is actively engaged in Christian missions both within Australia and abroad. One of these is The NSW THING. They have established their own theological college, the Reformed Theological College in Geelong, Victoria. They also own Wedderburn Christian Campsite, a Christian camp site in the outskirts of Sydney. They also support SWIM Solomon Islands, which is a missionary outreach in the Solomon Islands.[3][4][5] The CRCA also produces a denominational magazine titled "Trowel And Sword"[9]

Since 2000, the CRCA has adopted a fourfold mission statement to remind and empower its member churches to set and focus on their primary goal of equipping God's people for the service of God both within and beyond itself.[10] The four tasks are headed: Pray, Multiply, Train and Align.

Structure[edit]

The basic unit is the local church, which is governed by the local session as elected by the congregation. All sessions within a geographical area (typically on a state-basis) meet every three months as a classis.

Nationally, delegates meet every three years as a Synod. The synod deals only with issues raised by a classis. Therefore, all synodical issues were originally raised by a session, brought to a classis, before coming to the synod.[11] At synod, policies for the church are formulated, directions considered, and new ways forward explored. In between synodical meetings the financial commitments of the member churches are administered by a Synodical Board of Management, while all other matters affecting the church as a whole are looked after by the Synodical Interim Committee.[12]

Permanent committees of synod include:

Notable members[edit]

Senator Eric Abetz is a member of the Kingston Christian Reformed Church .[4]

Local congregations[edit]

The local congregations of this denomination are found in most states and territories of Australia, of which the following is an exhaustive list (May 2008):[3]

Australian Capital Territory

New South Wales

Queensland

South Australia

Tasmania

Victoria

Western Australia

References[edit]

  1. ^ www.wcrc.ch/node/164
  2. ^ http://www.crckingston.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=3&Itemid=10
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Christian Reformed Churches of Australia - accessed 22 April 2010
  4. ^ a b c d e f g A Church en Route: 40 Years Reformed Churches of Australia by J.W. Deenick (ed), Reformed Churches Publishing House, Geelong (Vic) 1991.
  5. ^ a b c d e f *Religious Bodies in Australia: A Comprehensive Guide (3rd ed) by Rowland Ward and Robert Humphreys, New Melbourne Press, Melbourne (Vic) 1995.
  6. ^ http://www.crcperth.org.au/HistCRCA.htm
  7. ^ a b http://www.crca.org.au/AboutUs/WhoWeAre/History
  8. ^ http://www.crca.org.au/AboutUs/WhoWeAre
  9. ^ http://www.trowelandsword.org.au/
  10. ^ http://ministryformation.com.au/the-four-fold-task.html
  11. ^ a b http://www.crcperth.org.au/Govt.htm
  12. ^ http://www.redlandscrc.org.au

External links[edit]