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Byron Center

Protestant Reformed Church

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Denominational History

The History of the Protestant Reformed Churches

The Protestant Reformed Churches in America are a denomination of 31 churches and over 7800 members in the United States and Canada. Founded as a separate denomination of Reformed churches in 1924, the PRC stand in the tradition of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Their origin as a denomination was the doctrinal controversy over "common grace" within the Christian Reformed Church in the early 1920s, occasioned by that church's adoption of the doctrine of common grace as official church dogma. The result of the controversy was that several ministers with their congregations were put out of the Christian Reformed Church. These men then established the Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC) on the basis of the truth of God's sovereign, particular grace in Jesus Christ as taught in Scripture.


Foremost among the founders of the PRC was Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965), long-time pastor in the First Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI; prolific author; professor of theology at the Protestant Reformed Seminary for 40 years; and outstanding theologian. In his book, A Half Century of Theology (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1977), the well-known Dutch theologian G.C. Berkouwer, acknowledged that "the unquestionably sharp theological thought of the American theologian Herman Hoeksema played an important role" in his theological development. In fact, Berkouwer chose Hoeksema as his "dialogue partner" (p. 98). The "dialogue," however, was profound disagreement, particularly Berkouwer's disagreement with Hoeksema's staunch adherence to the Reformed doctrine of predestination.


Congregations are located throughout the United States, especially in the Midwest but also extending to Colorado, California, and Washington state in the west. Additionally, we have three congregations in Canada, two in Alberta, Canada (Edmonton and Lacombe) and one in Ontario (Wingham).


Holding the Presbyterian form of church government, the denomination is organized in two classes, Classis East and Classis West (the eastern border of Illinois being the boundary), which meet two or three times a year, and in a Synod, which meets annually in June. Without detracting from the principle of the binding authority of the major assemblies, the Protestant Reformed churches emphasize that each congregation is self-governing by a body of elders chosen out of the congregation (the "autonomy of the local congregation"). Hence, the name of the denomination -- not "Church" (singular), but "Churches" (plural).


The churches endured a severe, internal, doctrinal controversy in the early 1950s in defense of the unconditionality of the covenant of grace (sovereign, particular grace applied to the covenant). As a result of this struggle, the denomination was reduced in size. However, at the present time there is stability and steady growth, lovely activity, and peace for these churches.


*Source: http://www.prca.org/prc.html#history