Seeing that we are a small but growing federation of fifty-four churches, you may not have heard of us; however we would like to introduce ourselves to you in the hope that you may come to know who we are and what we stand for.
Who are we?
Our name succinctly describes us.
We are Canadian meaning that God has placed us in this beautiful country with the calling to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, to live as respectable citizens and to promote the coming of His kingdom.
We are Reformed, meaning that our roots reach back to the great Reformation of the 16th Century, when God caused His church to return to the fundamentals of the Christian faith, namely; Scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone.
We are Church meaning that we are a gathering and a community of people who believe in and worship a Triune God, namely God the Father who has created us and continues to sustain us, God the Son who has redeemed us and is our Mediator, and God the Holy Spirit who renews us so that we can live for Him.
Our churches are relatively new to the North American continent, the first church being instituted in 1950. Despite our relatively brief presence here, we have a long history that goes back to Europe, to Asia, to Israel, in fact to the very beginning of time.
When God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans, he made him into a nation for himself, from which the Saviour would come. When the Saviour Jesus Christ came, his own did not receive him, so that before his Ascension, he commissioned his disciples to go to all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thus the church was no longer solely in Israel, but spread into all of what is now known as Asia, and eventually into Europe. In time, however, Scripture no longer was solely authouritive, but was placed on par with, and soon in second place to, man’s decree.
The Great Reformation
In the 16th Century, God sent men such as Martin Luther in Germany, Urich Zwingli in Switzerland, John Calvin in France, and John Knox in Scotland to bring the church back to living under the Divine Word of God. This great Reformation impacted many parts of Europe, including the Netherlands, the country from which many members in our churches trace their roots. It was not long before a Synod was held in this country to deal with a new teaching.
The Synod of Dordrecht 1618-19
This synod, which included delegates from many different countries in Europe, had to deal with the teachings of Jacob Arminius. His attempt to inject a man-centered emphasis on the matter of salvation was refuted by this renowned Synod, giving the sovereignty of God’s grace it’s rightful place.
The First Secession of 1834
For many years, the state of the Netherlands had jurisdiction over the church. When this church deviated from its biblical and confessional basis, a number of ministers voiced their concerns against the hierarchical form of church government, a system which left no room for the autonomy of the local church. When these ministers were either expelled from the Dutch Reformed Church, or departed on their own, they established the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands, laying claim to the continuation of the true, Reformed church.
The Second Secession of 1886
Fifty-two years later, the issues of the first secession were still plaguing the state Church. The well-known theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper led a second exodus out of the Dutch Reformed Church for similar reasons as the first. In 1892, he also played a key role in the subsequent union of the two churches who had seceded.
The Third Secession of 1944
If you don’t know your history, you are bound to repeat it. This was the case in the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands. Despite having left the Dutch Reformed Church for errors related to the doctrine and government of the Church, K. Schilder and Dr. S. Greijdanus had to confront the churches of the similar errors. This time, the Synod of the Reformed churches made their dubious view of the covenant and baptism binding on all ministers and members. Those who were expelled or departed of their own accord, came together as a new federation, the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (Liberated).
Church History and World History are often intertwined. The third secession in the Netherlands occurred while WWII was raging. When the war was over, there was a massive immigration to North America and Australia from the Netherlands. Immigrants from the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (Liberated) took up contact with existing churches of the Reformed persuasion, in the hope of worshipping together. That hope soon disappeared. The Protestant Reformed Church expected the immigrants to accept a disputable doctrinal statement relating to election and the covenant. This they refused to do. What’s more, the Christian Reformed Church took sides with those in the Netherlands who had earlier expelled these newly arrived immigrants, making it impossible to be bonded in a federation.
As a consequence of this ecclesiastical climate in North America, the first Canadian Reformed Church was instituted on April 16, 1950 in Coaldale, Alberta. It was soon followed by churches in Edmonton, Neerlandia, Orangeville, New Westminster, Chatham, and elsewhere.
On September 14, 1952, the first church service of the Canadian Reformed Church of Smithville was held, and in 1953 it was the first church of the federation to have its own church building. In 1970, a “daughter” congregation was born in Lincoln, alleviating the healthy problem of too many members for the building. Fifteen years later, the church was bursting at the seams again, necessitating a congregation to form in the hamlet of Attercliffe.
God blessed this new congregation with steady growth. After eighteen years, it was necessary for another church to grow out of Attercliffe. On August 10, 2003, the Canadian Reformed Church of Dunnville instituted.