Christian Reformed Church in North America

The Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) is a bi-national denomination in Canada and the United States. As of 2004 it had 747 congregations and ministries in the US and 256 in Canada - three of which are in Saskatchewan. The CRCNA entered Saskatchewan first during the opening up of the prairies between 1905 and 1912. Immigrants of Dutch descent, arriving direct from Holland or by way of the mid-western US, were gathered in the colonies of Edam and Cramersburg (in the Leader/Cabri area). They brought with them their Christian faith, drawn from the Calvinist branch of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. The flow of immigration was short-lived, however, as the prairie hardships were intense. A Reformed congregation in Cramersburg lasted from 1912 to 1923, when the last remaining deacon moved back to the US because of sustained drought. The Dutch population of Edam assimilated into the Anglo-Canadian culture quite rapidly, joining the Presbyterian Church and lending strength to the newly formed United Church of Canada from the 1920s onward. When Dutch immigration resumed after World War II, those arriving settled mostly in Saskatoon and Regina, or were placed as workers on farms in the vicinity. The CRCNA Synod, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, assigned itinerant ministers to serve the immigrant groups, and congregations were established in the two cities in 1952 and 1954. Both congregations grew through continued immigration from the Netherlands and other parts of Canada; they have also suffered from extensive out-migration, and currently number about 100 persons each.

The main focus of the Christian Reformed Church is to bring the Christian message into the neighbourhoods and communities it serves. This denomination has also been instrumental in establishing Christian schools, which have far outpaced their founding churches in influence within their communities. Reformed Christians have had an abiding concern for the disadvantaged: they give consistent support to alleviating world hunger through the federal Canada Food Grains Bank, and through active participation in refugee aid and resettlement programs. There has also been a deep concern for Aboriginal Canadians: the Indian Métis Christian Fellowship in Regina, a ministry of the CRCNA started in 1978, has been a leader in combining Christian faith with cultural integrity in a Native context. It is also at the forefront of addressing awareness and justice issues in the inner-city sex trade, and partners with Aboriginal groups and government to seek social, family and individual healing in Aboriginal settings.

Charles Kooger