United Reformed Churches in North America
|United Reformed Churches in North America|
|Abbreviation||URCNA, URC, or URCs|
|Associations||North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council, International Conference of Reformed Churches|
|Region||United States and Canada|
|Separated from||Christian Reformed Church in North America|
|Absorbed||Orthodox Christian Reformed Churches (2008)|
The United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA) is a theologically conservative federation of Reformed churches, that was founded in 1996 in Lynwood, Illinois, with many churches having left the Christian Reformed Church in North America.
The United Reformed Churches trace their roots back to the earlier Protestant movements in Europe, and to the Reformed churches in Belgium and the Netherlands. From 1618 to 1619 the international Reformed churches, with representatives from several countries, met at the Synod of Dort in the Netherlands and there collectively stated their faith, summarizing biblical teachings in the Canons of the Council of Dordrecht. Along with the Canons of Dordt the URCNA also holds the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism as doctrinal standards. These documents are collectively known as "The Three Forms of Unity". The United Reformed Church also subscribe the Ecumenical Creeds (Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed). A fundamental doctrine they describe is forensic justification, according to which Christ offers a double benefit: one's sin is imputed to Christ and he suffers for it on the cross, while His perfect obedience is credited to believers who receive its benefits, including eternal life.
In the 1980s a sizable group within the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) felt that the denomination was moving away from the truths of the Reformation. This group grew considerably in the 1990s. The Christian Reformed Alliance was formed in 1990 which become The Alliance of Reformed Churches two years later. In 1994 about 62 churches met to discuss solution to the problem. Some of them had already left the CRC, while some had never been part of that denomination.
The URCNA was founded as a federation of Reformed churches in 1996 at Lynwood, Illinois CRC. Most of the members that founded the URCNA left the CRCNA, due to disagreement on several issues like women's ordination and evolution cases, and conservative reformed believers were concerned that the Christian Reformed Churches were departing from Scriptural teaching to accommodate modern social trends. Some 36 churches with 7,600 members joined the federative unity and held their first Synod and adopted the name The United Reformed Churches in North America. They wanted to claim back their original, confessional Reformed roots. In 1997 the synod in St. Catharines adopted the church Order based on the Church Order of Dort. Currently there are 8 classes (regional groups of congregations) in the URCNA. At least once every three years elder and pastor delegates gather for a synodical meeting.
URCNA churches can be found in 22 US states, mostly in the Upper Midwest (Iowa and Michigan) and California, and in six Canadian Provinces mostly in Ontario and Alberta. As of 2008, the churches have grown, mostly through additional members leaving the CRCNA in the late 1990s, to approximately 105 congregations spread across the United States and Canada, with 22,495 members, 146 ministers, and 9 Classes (Michigan, Central US, Eastern US, Southwest US, Pacific Northwest, Southern Ontario, Ontario East, Southwestern Ontario, Western Canada).
The URCNA supports several mission work in the USA and Canada and foreign missions in such as Reformed Mission in Trinidad, India, Mexico, Honduras, the Philippines, Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea. For the URCNA mission work in Italy.
Training of ministers
The United Reformed Churches do not have a denominational seminary or college; rather, Candidates for Ministry are extensively examined by their Calling Church and Classis regardless of seminary prior to their ordination or installation. Most of the ministers of the URCNA have been trained at Calvin Theological Seminary (Grand Rapids, Michigan), Mid-America Reformed Seminary (Dyer, Indiana), or Westminster Seminary in California (Escondido, California) but the number of other seminaries represented is growing.
The URCNA is currently pursuing "Federative Unity" with the Canadian and American Reformed Churches. Organic union was being pursued with the Canadian and American Churches in 2010. The Orthodox Christian Reformed Churches, another breakaway from the Christian Reformed Church, voted to join the URCNA in 2008 upon the latter's invitation.
The URCNA has dialogue with the Reformed Churches of New Zealand, Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Korean American Presbyterian Church, Canadian and American Reformed Churches and other confessional Reformed churches. It is a member of the International Conference of Reformed Churches and the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council.
- Bill Konynenbelt (2010). "Directory of the United Reformed Churches in North America" (PDF). United Reformed Churches in North America. p. 10. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- www.urcna.org/What We Believe
- Bill Konynenbelt. "Directory of the United Reformed Churches in North America" (PDF). United Reformed Churches in North America. p. 3. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
- www.urcna.org/Foreign Missions