Reformed Church


The Reformed churches are a group of Christian Protestant Denominations formally characterized by a similar Calvinist system of doctrine, historically related to the churches which first arose especially in the Swiss Reformation led by Huldrych Zwingli and soon afterward appeared in nations throughout Western and Central Europe. Each nation in which the Reformed movement was originally established had its own church government. Several of these national churches have expanded to worldwide denominations and most have experienced splits into multiple denominations. Commitment to teaching the original Calvinism usually continues to be reflected in their official definitions of doctrine, but in some cases is no longer necessarily typical of these churches.

Calvinism (sometimes called the Reformed tradition, the Reformed faith, or Reformed theology) is a theological system and an approach to the Christian life that emphasizes the rule of God over all things. It was developed by theologians such as Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger, Peter Martyr Vermigli, and Huldrych Zwingli and influenced English reformers such as Thomas Cranmer and John Jewel, but it bears the name of the French reformer John Calvin because of his preeminent influence on it and because of his role in the confessional and ecclesiastical debates throughout the 16th century. Today, this term also refers to the doctrines and practices of the Reformed churches of which Calvin was an early leader.

The Reformed Church in Russia

Since 1763, people of the Reformed faith have appeared in the Volga region, and since 1804, in the Black Sea area. In the Volga region, a total of about 2,000 people of the Reformed faith were settled primarily in the German colonies of NorkaMesser, and Balzer. By 1910, there were nearly 70,000 people of the Reformed faith in the Volga region. However, Lutheran historiography considers that the number of people of the Reformed faith in the Volga region was underestimated.

Among the first Protestant pastors the church chronicles, with some distinctions in the spelling of surnames, the name Fabricius from Sarepta, ?ger from RosenheimCattaneo from Norka, ??n from Katharinenstadt (North), ?tt? from Beideck, Flitnner from Frank, Litzac from Warenburg, Lundberg from Bettinger, Buck from Katharinenstadt (South), Gimer from Galka, Gunther from Stephan, and Ahlbaum from Frank. In various archival and other sources there are surnames of several other clerics - Gerving, ???s etc. These pastors, to the extent possible, provided religious services for all of the Volga settlers.

The clergy is respected and honored among the colonists. Many pastors were fine doctors, agriculturists, and poets. For example, Johann Baptist Cattaneo, a Reformed pastor from Norka in the Volga region, was known not only serving in the German colonies, but also among nomads, such as the Kalmyks, as a skilled therapist and surgeon. Up to 1819, he lead 16 amputations of hands and legs, 277 operations for cancer and other tumours and made more than 8,000 inoculations against smallpox. With his versatile knowledge he helped the colonists with questions about beekeeping, cultivation of plants, and agriculture.

Translation from the Kazan Reformed Church website courtesy of Alexander Schreiber, Moscow.

The Reformed Church in America

Until the arrival of large numbers of ethnic German speakers from South Russia and the Volga, the activity of the Reformed Church in America would have been limited to a small band of traveling pastors and the congregations that they'd formed in the Middle West.

Many congregations of the former German Congregational and German Brethren groups are now affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC).


Kazan Reformed Church [Russian]

Chrystal, William G., "German Congregationalism." (online)