To understand any church, it is necessary to know something of its history. A brief review of its history will give a sense of how it stands in relationship to the multitude of Christian churches found on the Canadian and North American scene. Like nearly every other Christian church in North America, this requires going back to the Europe of the sixteenth century and the developments that took place which radically changed the face of Christianity.
The Synod of Dordrecht
The First Secession
The Second Secession
The Third Secession
This Synod, which included delegates from many different counties in Europe, had to deal with the teachings of Jacob Arminius. His attempt to inject a more man-centered emphasis into the matter of salvation was refuted and the sovereignty of God's grace was maintained.
In this year, a number of ministers and members were expelled or departed from the Dutch Reformed Church. This Church had drifted away from its biblical and confessional basis. It had adopted a hierarchical form of church government which left no room for the autonomy of the local church. As a result, the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands were established and laid claim to being the continuation of the true Reformed Church.
In 1886 there was a second expulsion out of the Dutch Reformed Church. The causes can be traced once again to biblical deviance and hierarchy. This movement was led by the well-known theologian and statesman Dr. Abraham Kuyper.
In 1892 the Churches of the First and Second Secession merged and became the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands.
In 1944 another Secession (or Liberation) took place under the leadership of Dr. K. Schilder and Dr. S. Greijdanus. The causes related once again to doctrine and church government. The Synod of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands made certain disputed views regarding the covenant and baptism binding on all ministers and members. When certain ministers, elders and deacons refused to conform, they were deposed and excommunicated.
Those who were expelled, and those who departed of their own accord, formed the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands.
After World War II there was a massive immigration from the Netherlands to North America, especially to Canada. When members of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (also called Liberated) arrived, they first took up contact with already existing churches of Reformed persuasion in the hope that they could join with them. That hope soon disappeared when it became clear that one of those churches, the Protestant Reformed Church, expected the newly arrived immigrants to accept a disputable doctrinal statement relating to election and the covenant. This they refused to do.
The other Reformed church under consideration was the Christian Reformed Church; however, joining with it also proved impossible when it became clear that this Church sided with those in the Netherlands who had earlier expelled the newly arrived immigrants.
The consequence was that on April 16, 1950, the first Canadian Reformed Church was instituted in Coaldale, Alberta. It was soon followed by churches in Edmonton, Neerlandia, Orangeville, New Westminster, and elsewhere.
OUR CHURCH TODAY.
As the Canadian Reformed Churches move into the 21st centruy, they are continuing to experience further growth and development. The number of local churches now number 54. They are to be found in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario, as well as in the American states of Washington, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Colorado.