Reformed Church in America
The Reformed Church in America is a member of the Presbyterian/Reformed family of churches. Founded by the Dutch in New Amsterdam in 1628, it is one of the nation's oldest denominations. Many ethnic, social and religious backgrounds are represented among its 205,000 communicant member in 960 congregations throughout the United States and Canada.
The crest of the Reformed Church in America reflects its heritage in Western Europe. It was adapted from the coat of arms of William, Prince of Orange, the Netherlands. The Latin motto Nisi Dominus Frusta means "Without the Lord, all is in vain," and Eendracht Maakt Macht is tanslated "Unity makes strength.
The logo of the Reformed Church in America depicts the cross and the body of Christ. The cross points to Jesus, the one whose life reveals the love of God and whose Spirit brings hope of life over death.The human figure symbolizes the body of Christ, a diverse and inclusive community of believers growing in faith and witnessing to the gospel in word and deed. The graceful, outstretched arms suggest growth and optimism.
The subtle intersection of cross and figure suggests the covenant promise made by Jesus before his ascension.
Women have always played a vital role in the RCA. Their contributions began with such activities as initiating and supporting missions in North America and around the world, and serving as missionaries. Today they are missionaries, teachers, study leaders, volunteers, elders, deacons, and pastors. Denominational approval of the ordination of women as elders and deacons came in 1972, though women had been ordained to those offices beginning in 1970. The first woman RCA minister was ordained in 1973, and ordination to the office of minister was opened to all women by an act of General Synod in 1979.
Today, women continue their involvement in the Reformed Church in many kinds of ministries. Dozens of women are ordained ministers in the RCA, serving as pastors and specialized ministers, pursuing graduate work, and serving elsewhere without charge. Nearly 40 percent of the students in RCA seminaries are women, and many women have been sent as delegates to General Synod.
In 2000, the RCA assembled for Mission 2000, a whole-church event that aimed to discern and direct the denomination's role in mission into the twenty-first century. The RCA's Statement of Mission and Vision, introduced in 1997, spells out the calling of the church, and the Pentecost Letter, written at Mission 2000, exhorts the many congregations of the RCA to go forth into their communities and make a difference there for Christ.
Emphasis on mission continues, at home as well as overseas. The "Discipling All Nations" paper talks about the need for and methods of ministering to people around the world in this new century. Urban ministries focus on churches and people who live in cities around North America, charged with the reminder that, as cities grow into population centers, the future of the church depends on how it touches the lives of people in the cities.
The mutual-mission initiative, new in 2002, acknowledges the North American church's need to learn from the strong and developing church in the Southern Hemisphere and elsewhere in the world. This initiative will foster exchanges of people, knowledge, and understanding between the long-established North American churches and their younger, innovative, growing counterparts in Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Reformed and always reforming, the RCA has moved into the twenty-first century, rooted and established in careful theology and committed to grow as the Spirit leads.