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The Reformed Church of France ( , ÉRF) is a denomination in Francemarker (originally Calvinist). It is the original, and largest, Protestant denomination in France.

The church is a member of the Protestant Federation of France (Fédération protestante de France), the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the World Council of Churchesmarker.

The church has approximately 350,000 members, distributed in a somewhat unequal fashion throughout French metropolitan territory with the exception of Alsace-Moselle and the Pays de Montbéliard. The church consists of 400 parishes, organised in 50 presbyteries (consistoires) and eight administrative regions.


Background to formation of the Reformed Church of France

Emerging from the Reformation in the 16th century, the reformed Churches were organised in a non-official, undercover fashion. The first national synod was held in 1559, its first formal confession of faith (The La Rochelle confession) in 1571. Recognised and restricted by the Edict of Nantes in 1598, the last official synod met in 1659, subsequently the church was suppressed by the Edict of Fontainebleau (revocation of the Edict of Nantes) in 1685.

The revocation of the Edict of Nantes began a period of systematic state persecution (known as the Desert (in French, Désert), an allusion to the sufferings of the Hebrews when they wandered in to wilderness following the flight from Egypt) coupled with mass emigration to other European countries and North America (in French, les pays de Refuge). The aftermath of the French Revolution began a period of toleration and legalisation. In 1802, the church was recognised in accordance with the Organic Articles (les Articles organiques) which followed Napoleon Bonaparte's concordat with the Roman Catholic Church. This permitted a local and non-national organisation of the church, which did not reflect the traditional organisation, (synods, participation of lay members in the pastoral organisation of the Church etc.)

In the 19th century, the Awakening (le Réveil) and other religious movements influenced French and European Protestantism, this was also accompanied by division within French Protestantism. At the time of the promulgation of the Separation of Church and State in 1905, there were no less than four groupings of the Reformed Church: the Evangelical Reformed Churches (les Églises réformées évangéliques), the United Reformed Churches (les Églises réformées unies), the Free Reformed Churches (les Églises réformées libres) and the Methodist Church (l'Église méthodiste).

The Reformed Church of France today

The horrors of the First World War combined with new departures in theology (in particular the thought of Karl Barth) allowed for a partial restoration of a national grouping: the Reformed Church of France (French: L’Eglise Réformée de France, ÉRF). This grouping is the largest of the four French Protestant grouping and is in full communion with the other three (which are also members of the World Council of Churchesmarker): the Evangelical Lutheran Church of France (l'Église évangélique luthérienne de France) and the two Protestant churches of Alsace-Lorraine.


The 30th General Synod held 1872-1873 was the first national synod held in 213 years. The General Synod arrived at a new confession of faith, the main principles of which were rejected by an important minority. The 'official' practice of the reformed faith in France distanced itself from stricter Calvinist interpretations. The current Reformed Church adopted liberal currents in reformist theology including, pietism, neo-Lutheranism, Methodism, social Christianity etc. The opportunities, substance and limits of theological pluralism are set out in the 1936 Declaration of Faith (which is read at the opening of all synods, adherence to which is required of all pastors licensed to preach and the laity who express membership of the Reformed church)

Organisations & Relations

The church is organised according to a Presbyterian synodal system, with an annual national Synod, composed mainly of representatives from each of the eight administrative regions with equal numbers of clergy and laity in attendance. The president of the National Council (Conseil national) is elected every three years by the Synod. The current president is pastor Marcel Manoël.

Sister denominations & Fraternal Relations

The Reformed Church in France is also involved in the work of other Protestant churches in France, through its membership of the Protestant Federation of France (Fédération protestante de France)

In 2005, Pope Benedict sent a message to the national synod of the Reformed Church of France, which thanked the Pontiff for this “gesture of consideration.”


In common with other churches, the Reformed Church in France operates a missionary service (le Défap). The mission service supports reformed churches in Africa and Oceania, primarily those arising from the work of the now defunct Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (Société des missions évangéliques de Paris)

Theological Seminaries

Training for the ministry takes place in the Institut Protestant de Théologie, which forms part of the Protestant theology faculties of the Universities of Paris and Montpellier.

Universities, Colleges, and Schools

The church also operates a distance education programme for lay members: Théovie.


recently, the Huguenot cross was not an official symbol of the Reformed Church of France, rather it has served as a sign of popular recognition. The official logo of the former reformed churches is the 'burning bush'. The new logo of the Reformed Church of France is a stylised representation of the burning bush with the Huguenot cross as an insert, and the Latin phrase "Flagror Non Consumor" (Burned, yet not Consumed) taken from Exodus 3:2b - ...and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

Terminology & Acronyms

See also


External links

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