Reformed Church to Join With Evangelical Synod

Transcribed by Janet Schwarze

A new denomination of more than 600,000 members bore of "a union of the mind and the heart" becomes a reality on June 27, 1933.


On that day at Cleveland, Ohio, the Reformed Church in the United States unites with the Evangelical Synod of North America in a new denomination to be known as the Evangelical and Reformed Church.


The Reformed Church in the United States had its beginning as a denomination in Philadelphia and vicinity.  The pioneers came from 1700 to 1770 from Germany to Pennsylvania with Philadelphia as the distributing center.  Both denominations are descendants of the Reformation in the 16th century.  The original Reformers were Martin Luther of Wittenberg, Germany and Ulric Zwingli, of Zurich, Switzerland.  Each church had the name "German" in its original title.  A considerable element in each church is of German-Swiss stock.


The Reformed Church traces its origin to Zwingli.  It has a representative form of church government.


One of the leaders of the Evangelical Synod describes its government as a "blending" of Congregational and Presbyterical elements" with a touch of the Episcopal as a sort of unwritten law".


The Rev. Dr. George W. Richards, president of the Reformed Church Theological Seminary of Lancaster, PA., says: "If there ever was reason to expect a real union of mind and heart, as well as of judicatories and institutions, between two churches in American Protestantism, one has a right to expect it from the union that is to be consummated between these two churches.


Source: Clark Co. Press, Oct. 26, 1933


Research Notes:


The Reformed (Dutch) Church is the oldest "Presbyterian organization" in America, originating in an unorganized form as early as 1614 and organized more formally in 1794. Doctrinal differences led to the secession of a group of Dutch immigrants who formed the Christian Reformed Church in 1847. Others became Presbyterians, particularly in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is one of three core areas of Dutch Protestantism in U.S.

The Reformed (German) Church came to Wisconsin through Pennsylvania where it had been formed in 1793. Wisconsin's first German Reformed Church was organized among the Swiss of New Glarus in 1840 but its next and ultimately strongest foothold would take root among immigrants from Lippe-Detmond in Sheboygan County. The establishment of the Sheboygan Classis, or church district, followed by the opening of the theological school, Mission House, in 1864, made the area the central hub of the Reformed Church in the West. The Reformed Church also began working among the Winnebago Indians, enrolling children in the Mission school and gathering adults for preaching sessions. In the 20th century, the college and seminary branches of Mission House separated and Mission House College became Lakeland College. The seminary merged with Yankton Theological School to form United Theological Seminary in Minneapolis-St Paul in 1962.


[Source: Wisconsin's Cultural Resources Study Units, Wisconsin Historical Society]



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