REFORMED CHURCH, CHRISTIAN: A denomination which originated in Michigan in 1857 when four congregations led by Rev. K. Vanden-Bosch withdrew from the Reformed (Dutch) Church (q.v.) with which the Hollanders who had settled in western Michigan in 1847 had united in 1849. This withdrawal was caused by dissatisfaction with the teaching and practise of the Reformed Church. The True Holland Reformed Church, as the new denomination was called, increased but slowly and not without struggling until 1882, when it received a welcome accession of half a dozen Michigan congregations which had left the Reformed Church because of the refusal of its general synod to legislate against freemasonry. In 1890 the True Reformed Dutch Church located in New Jersey and New York united with the Christian Reformed Church. This body had left the Reformed Church in 1822 claiming it had become corrupt in doctrine and discipline (see REFORMED [DUTCH] CHURCH, II., 7). However, while the Christian Reformed Church (so named since 1890) originated in these secessions from the Reformed Church, the great majority of its membership never belonged to that denomination, but joined after the separations alluded to had occurred, coming direct from the Netherlands, almost exclusively from the "Christian Reformed Church" (now "Reformed Churches") of HoIland (q.v.).
Largely because of the strong emigration tide the Christian Reformed Church in America has increased very rapidly during the last two or three decades. From a mere handful of members in Michigan in 1857, it has grown into a denomination numbering, in 1910, 75,905 souls, nearly 29,000 communicants, and 193 congregations, located in nearly every one of the northern states of the Union, from ocean to ocean. In Canada also a foothold has been obtained. The church is the strongest in Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, and New Jersey. In Grand Rapids, Mich., its theological seminary and John Calvin College is located, numbering 200 students and 12 professors. This institution, started on a small scale in 1876, trained nearly all of the 140 Christian Reformed ministers now in active service. Over half a dozen of them labor in home-mission work, chiefly among the scattered Hollanders in the United States. Mission work is carried on also among the Navaho and Zuni Indians in New Mexico. Rehoboth, near Gallup, N. M., is the principal station. The Chicago Hebrew Mission is largely supported by this denomination. Most of the congregations as yet speak Dutch; half a dozen, German; about twenty use the English language exclusively, in public worship. The Psalms constitute the chief manual of praise. The Banner, founded in 1866 and now published in Grand Rapids, Mich., is the American weekly devoted to the church and its principles. The standards are the Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Canons of Dort, and to these loyal adherence is given. Members of secret societies are excluded. The government is presbyterial, based on the constitution of Dort, 1618-19. In accordance therewith each congregation is ruled by a consistory composed of elders and deacons, presided over by the pastor. Representatives of these in a given district form a classis, meeting from two to four times each year. Six delegates from each classis (at present there are twelve of these bodies) meet biennially as a synod. This synod, the highest church court, maintains fraternal relations with the stricter Calvinistic churches of America, Europe, and South Africa. The Christian Reformed Church lays much stress on catechetical instruction and house-to-house visitation, and favors Christian primary schools. Nearly all congregations maintain Sunday-schools and young people's societies.