The North American Presbyterian And Reforaied Council -- By: John H. Kromminga

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 42:1 (Fall 1979)
Article: The North American Presbyterian And Reforaied Council
Author: John H. Kromminga


The North American Presbyterian And Reforaied Council

John H. Kromminga

The following article arises out of a request for a treatment of some aspect of the relations of Presbyterian and continental Reformed churches in America. The aspect chosen for discussion is the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC), an organization which came into existence in 1975. As background to this treatment, passing notice will be given to the general relations of churches of these types with each other. Then NAPARC will be described in terms of its origin, constitution, and accomplishments.1 The reflections which follow will concentrate on what this kind of interaction says about the character of the participating churches. The concreteness of the interaction described may compensate in part for the limitations in the scope of this article.

In sketching the general background of the relations of Presbyterian and Reformed churches with each other, mention may be made of direct one-to-one relationships between churches, of mergers between denominations, and of joint participation in inter-church organizations. Nothing can be said about the first of these, because the data for a general survey of these relationships are beyond the scope of this article. Reference will be made to merger proposals and inter-church organizations. Both of these have significance for NAPARC, and the latter organization itself is a type of inter-church cooperation.

The United States has witnessed relatively little activity by way of mergers between Presbyterian and Reformed denomina-

tions. There have been instances of absorption of congregations by a denomination of a different kind, but these have meant something else, and something less, than the emergence of a new identity. It might be argued that the emergence of the United Church of Christ represents the kind of Presbyterian-Reformed merger presently under consideration. The former Reformed Church in the United States does indeed represent a continental Reformed tradition. But the nearest approach to a Presbyterian tradition in that merger is the former Congregational Church, which hardly establishes the “Presbyterian” character of this merger. Besides, in this merger churches of other kinds were included. The latter comment will apply also to the Church of Christ Uniting (COCU) if it materializes in a new denomination.

A few Presbyterian-Reformed mergers have been considered in recent years, but none of them has come to completion. Within the past decade the Reformed Church of America and the Presbyterian Church in the United States discussed union with each other, as did also ...

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