Reformed Churches of New Zealand

Reformed Churches of New Zealand is a Reformed Christian denomination in New Zealand. The denomination is constituted of 19 member churches, the first eight of which were formed in 1953. Total membership as of 2007 stands at 3,332.

Form of doctrine

The doctrine of the Reformed Churches of New Zealand is expressed in the four confessions of faith to which it subscribes. These are the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Belgic Confession (1566), Canons of Dort (1619) (known collectively as the "Three Forms of Unity"), and the Westminster Confession of Faith. Also recognised are the Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed and Athanasian Creed, all of which summarise the churches' doctrines.

The Reformed Churches of New Zealand are one of the few Reformed churches internationally to subscribe to both the Three Forms of Unity (common among Reformed churches with origins in the European continent, especially the Netherlands) and the Westminster Confession of Faith (common among Reformed or Presbyterian churches with origins in the British Isles).

Form of governance

The Reformed Churches of New Zealand hold to the system of Presbyterian church governance. Each church has a ruling Session composed of elders, one of whom is the church’s minister (also known as the "teaching elder"). Churches which have no minister are said to be vacant. Each church also has deacons who are charged with maintaining the temporal well-being of church members and with alleviating social distress. In larger churches deacons meet in their own Deacons’ Courts, while in smaller churches they meet together with the rest of the Session. Only men are eligible to serve in the offices of minister, elder, and deacon.

Churches belong to one of three regional Presbyteries which meet three times per year to discuss matters of common interest and to provide mutual oversight. Churches also meet in General Synod once every three years to discuss matters of joint interest and to manage activities pertaining to the denomination. Rights of appeal are available to presbytery and synod.

Constituent churches

"Church""Year Formed""Current Minister"
Auckland Presbytery
Reformed Church of Avondale1964"vacant"
Reformed Presbyterian Church of Bucklands Beach1953Dirk Van Garderen
Reformed Church of Hamilton [] 1953Michael Willemse
Reformed Church of Hukanui2002Reinier Noppers
Reformed Church of Mangere [] 1964Sjirk Bajema
Reformed Church of North Shore1980John Rogers
Reformed Church of Pukekohe1989John Haverland
Wellington Presbytery
Reformed Church of Foxton [] 1984Pieter van Huyssteen
Reformed Church of Hastings [] 1960Bruce Hoyt
Reformed Church of Masterton1987Peter Kloosterman
Reformed Church of Palmerston North [] (including a group in Wanganui) [] 1953Michael Flinn "vacant"
Reformed Church of Silverstream1967Paul Archbald
Reformed Church of Wainuiomata1975Leo de Vos
Reformed Church of Wellington1953Andrew Nugteren
Christchurch Presbytery
Reformed Church of Bishopdale1982Robert van Wichen
Reformed Church of Christchurch [] 1953"vacant"
Reformed Church of Dovedale2001Andre Holtslag
Reformed Church of Dunedin [] (including a group in Oamaru & Timaru)1955"vacant"
Reformed Church of Nelson1953"vacant"

Ecumenical contacts

The Reformed Churches of New Zealand is a member of the International Conference of Reformed Churches [] . Sister-church relationships are held with churches abroad which hold to similar doctrine and practice.
*Sister churches:
**Christian Reformed Churches of Australia []
**Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia []
**Orthodox Presbyterian Church, USA []
**Canadian and American Reformed Churches []
**Reformed Church in South Africa (Die Gereformeerde Kerke in Suid-Afrika) []
**Christian Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (De Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland) []
** [Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (Liberated)|Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (Liberated) (Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland [Vrijgemaakt] )] []

*Other churches with which contact is had:
**Grace Presbyterian Church of New Zealand []
**Free Reformed Churches of Australia []
**United Reformed Churches in North America []


Reformed churches have their origins in the 16th-century Protestant Reformation. In the late 1940s migrants from the Netherlands settling in New Zealand expected to find their spiritual homes in existing churches of Reformed persuasion. Instead they found departures from Reformed doctrine and practice that they could not overlook. Discussions were begun in Auckland in 1951 with a view to establishing an indigenous Reformed denomination. A minister from the Netherlands, Rev J W Deenick, arrived in 1952 to support the fledgling group. The Reformed Churches of New Zealand were officially established in 1953 at a synod in Wellington where churches from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch were represented. By the end of that year further churches in Bucklands Beach, Hamilton, Nelson and Palmerston North were established. A further 12 member churches have since been formed.

Theonomy Debate

As with many other conservative Calvinist churches, the Reformed Churches of New Zealand were convulsed by controversy over theonomy, a theocratic theology that is otherwise known as Christian Reconstructionism, whose chief proponents were the late Rousas John Rushdoony, Greg Bahnsen and Gary North. In the early eighties, several Reformed Church of New Zealand trainees attended the Reformed Theological Seminary, where Greg Bahnsen was a lecturer, and were exposed to his theology.

Richard Flinn was a proponent of this theology, especially during New Zealand's debate over homosexual law reform in 1985/86, where he advocated the death penalty for homosexuality, which had not existed in the British Commonwealth since the nineteenth century. Flinn was minister at the North Shore Reformed Church, where he published The Isachaarian Report, and acolytes also produced Family Alert, and ran an organisation called Women of the Reformed Church. Flinn later left the North Shore Reformed Church under unexplained circumstances. The General Synod of the Reformed Church debated the issue in 1989, and reached no firm conclusions, therefore proponents of theonomy are not excluded from membership.


The churches hold worship services twice each Sunday and generally on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Ascension Day and New Year's Eve. Preaching from the Bible is the central element of worship. Preaching is by ordained ministers, or alternatively sermons written by an ordained minister may be read by a lay male Session appointee when a minister is not available. Sung praise and corporate prayer are the next most significant elements of worship. The Christian Reformed Church in North America's "Psalter Hymnal" is the main source of hymnody, however the compilation and evaluation of a denominational psalter/hymnal is currently in progress. The singing of the Psalms features strongly in the hymnody. Corporate confession of sin and the assurance of God's pardon are an integral part of Sunday morning worship, while in the second service one of the creeds is usually recited in unison.

The sacrament of the Lord's Supper (or Holy Communion) is celebrated at least three-monthly. The sacrament of baptism is administered to new converts and to the infant children of church members.

List of synods

No.YearVenueModerator and General AdjunctClerks
11953WellingtonR E Dijkstra, Wellington J W Deenick, Auckland1: A van Gelder
21953AucklandJ W Deenick, Auckland E Dijkstra, Wellington1: Th Althuis
31954WellingtonE Dijkstra, Wellington J A Scarrow, Bucklands Beach1: A van Gelder 2: F Channing
41955ChristchurchB Boelens, Christchurch J W Deenick, Auckland1: F Channing 2: P G van Dam
51957HamiltonJ W Deenick, Auckland E Dijkstra, Wellington1: W In’t Veld 2: J Kleinjan St: F Channing
61957Dunedin J A Scarrow, Bucklands Beach R J Venema, Dunedin1: H van der Pols 2: P G van Dam St: F Channing
71961WellingtonR J Venema, Bucklands Beach J W Deenick, Auckland1: P G van Dam 2: W van Rij St: R J Venema
81962WellingtonS Cooper, Christchurch P H Pellicaan, Dunedin1: D G Vanderpyl 2: R O Zorn, Hamilton St: R O Zorn, Hamilton
91964Wellington R O Zorn, Hamilton P van der Schaaf, Christchurch1: A I de Graaf, Wellington 2: F Channing, Nelson St: R O Zorn, Hamilton
101965Christchurch G I Williamson, Mangere P H Pellicaan, Dunedin1: A I de Graaf, Wellington 2: F Channing, Nelson St: R O Zorn, Hamilton
111967Avondale H L Hoving, Silverstream R O Zorn, Hamilton1: A I de Graaf, Wellington 2: T E Tyson, Bucklands Beach St: C J Reitsma, Wellington
121969Nelson C J Reitsma, Wellington T E Tyson, Bucklands Beach1: D G Vanderpyl 2: F Channing, Nelson St: D G Vanderpyl
131971Wellington H L Hoving, Silverstream/ Wainuiomata A W Palmer, Mangere1: W Wiersma, Christchurch 2: F W Kroon, Bucklands Beach St: D G Vanderpyl

141974Silverstream W Wiersma, Christchurch W A Davies, Bucklands Beach1: D G Vanderpyl 2: H L Hoving, Invercargill St: D G Vanderpyl
151977Hamilton G I Williamson, Silverstream A W Palmer, Mangere1: M Schwarz, Hamilton 2: L Reurich, Hastings St: D G Vanderpyl
161980Palmerston North M Schwarz, Hamilton J Goris, Avondale1: J C Williams, Nelson 2: L Reurich, Kerepehi/ Tokoroa St: D G Vanderpyl
171983Christchurch P D Stadt, Christchurch J E de Graaf, Bishopdale1: B U Kuipers, Palmerston North 2: C A R Larsen, Dunedin St: D G Vanderpyl
181986Mangere D J van Garderen, Bishopdale P R Flinn, North Shore1: B Hoyt, Silverstream 2: L Draijer, Nelson St: D G Vanderpyl
191989Silverstream W Wiersma, Hamilton B Kroon, Christchurch1: J A Haverland, Bucklands Beach 2: D van der Vecht, Avondale St: D G Vanderpyl
201992 Bishopdale W Wiersma, Hamilton J A Haverland, Bishopdale1: M A Flinn, Pukekohe 2: B Hoyt, Masterton St: J Ploeg
211995Avondale J A Haverland, Bishopdale M A Flinn, Pukekohe1: B Hoyt, Hastings 2: W Walraven, Silverstream St: J Ploeg
221998Wainuiomata J A Haverland, Bishopdale G H Milne, Wainuiomata1: B Hoyt, Hastings 2: M A Flinn, Pukekohe St: B Hoyt, Hastings
232001Palmerston North M A Flinn, Dovedale M Capill, Bucklands Beach1: S Bajema, Mangere 2: J van Rensburg, Bucklands Beach St: B Hoyt, Hastings
242002Christchurch W Wiersma, Hamilton J A Haverland, Bishopdale1: B Hoyt, Hastings 2: W Walraven, Silverstream St: B Hoyt, Hastings
252005Hamilton J A Haverland, Pukekohe M A Flinn, Dovedale1: B Hoyt, Hastings 2: R de Vries, Christchurch St: B Hoyt, Hastings
262008Hastings J H Rogers, North Shore D J van Garderen, Bucklands Beach1: P van der Wel, Hamilton 2: A Nugteren, Wellington St: B Hoyt, Hastings

Latest synodical appointments

*Standing committees
**Church Extension Committee
**Church Order Committee
**Emeritus Fund and Long Service Leave Fund Committee
**Education Resource Committee
**Inter-Church Relations Committee
**Overseas Mission Board
**National Diaconate Committee
**National Publications Committee
**Reformed Theological College and Student Assistance Committee
*Study committees
**Committee to Update Forms and Confessions
**Psalm and Hymnody Selection Committee
**Sexual Abuse Study Committee
**Who May Preach Study Committee
*Other appointments
**Stated Clerk
**Synodical Treasurer
**Deputies to the Reformed Theological College
**Synodical Archivist
**Year Book Editor
**Synodical Liaison to Calvinist Cadet Corps

Further reading

*John Haverland: "Theonomy: What Have We Learned?" in Dirk Vanderpyl (ed) Trust and Obey: A History of the Reformed Churches of New Zealand: Hamilton: Reformed Church Publishing Society: 1994.

External links

* [ Reformed Churches of New Zealand]

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