Reformed Church in the United States

The Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS) is a denomination from the German Reformed Tradition. The RCUS began in 1747, follows the Three Forms of Unity, and is dedicated to promoting Biblical Christianity throughout the world.

History

The RCUS began as many Germans immigrated to America and gathered in local congregations. The first church constitution can be dated back to 1725 and was written by John Philip Boehm who served many churches. In 1747 the German Reformed Coetus formed under the guidance of Rev. Michael Schlatter. The Coetus adopted the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort in 1748. The German Coetus in America stood under the authority of the Holland Classis of the Dutch Reformed Church. This relationship dissolved peacefully in 1793 as the Coetus became the German Reformed Classis. At some unknown point after 1793 the Classis dropped the Canons of Dort and the Belgic Confession and the only standard was the Heidelberg Catechism.

In 1820 the Synod of the RCUS voted to establish a theological seminary, but nothing would come of the effort until 1825 when Dr. Lewis Mayer became the only professor of the RCUS seminary. In 1837 the seminary relocated to Mercersburg Pennsylvania. In 1840 it called John Nevin to be a teacher at the seminary and in 1844 Philip Schaff was also made a professor. The seminary would then become a source of major contention as Schaff and Nevin became the fathers of what is known as Mercersburg Theology.

In 1934 the RCUS General Synod voted to merge with the Evangelical Lutheran Church. This action was objected to by the Eureka Classis, a synod formed on the basis of language in 1910, and made up primarily of German-Russian immigrants. When the two churches met together and officially merged in 1940 the Eureka Classis declared itself to be the continuing RCUS. The rest of the denomination formed the new Evangelical and Reformed Church (E&R). In 1957 the E&R merged with the Congregational Christian Churches to form the United Churches of Christ.

The Eureka Classis continued on despite a lack of ministers gathering new churches and new ministers slowly. In 1953 the RCUS Eureka Classis began to send it men to Westminster Seminary for training. This led to a formal relationship with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1960. In 1968 men and churches from the General Association of Regular Baptists joined the RCUS. A new constitution was passed in 1985 that allowed the formation of a Synod. This was done officially in 1986 as the Eureka Classis was dissolved and the Synod of the RCUS formed again. This synod contained four Classes: Northern Plains, Western, South Central, and Covenant East. In 1995 the Belgic Confession and Canons of Dort were again officially added as standards making the RCUS a Three Forms of Unity church once again.

The RCUS is a member denomination of the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC) and the International Council of Reformed Churches (ICRC).

Resources

  • You Shall Be My People. edited by Rev. Norman Hoeflinger and Rev. Robert Grossmann.