Reformed Church In America

Known also as the Dutch Reformed Church,* this was one of the continental groups transplanted to the United States. It came with the original Dutch settlers to New Amsterdam, but the first congregation was not organized by Jonas Michaelius until 1628. During the seventeenth century it received much strength from the flow of Dutch to the colony, but it remained dependent on the church in the Netherlands for its ministers. The change to English rule in 1664 had little effect on the church, and the harmony between the church in the colonies and the classis of Amsterdam prevailed until after 1700.

With the arrival of T.J. Frelinghuysen* in 1720 and the Great Awakening,* tension developed between opponents and proponents of the revival. Frelinghuysen and his group felt that the church in the colonies should not be dependent on the Netherlands and should train its own ministers. As a result, the classis of Amsterdam finally agreed to the creation of a subordinate assembly, or coetus, which in 1770 obtained a charter for and organized Queen's College (now Rutgers) which after the revolution emerged as a college for the training of Christian ministers. Hope College in Michigan was chartered in 1866. In 1794 a general synod based on the Constitution of 1792 was formed from the various particular synods. During the nineteenth century the church expanded westward to Illinois, Michigan, and the Pacific coast and Canada. In 1867 it became known as the Reformed Church in America. It is Calvinistic in theology and Presbyterian in government.