Church Organization
Tridentine Catholicism
Church Organization

Calvinist Church Organization

Calvinism emerged in the urban setting of the reformations in STRASSBURG and GENEVA, with that of ZÜRICH as a predecessor. These cities were politically autonomous, and, in the process of the reformation, usurped ecclesiastic autonomy as well (in that regard, they had previously been subject to church authorities beyond the control of the city council).
The Calvinist church organization was designed for a setting of self-governing urban communities; therefore it does not foresee any permanent authorities to which the individual community is subjected - no equivalent to bishops, superintendents, archbishops, popes.

Calvin adopted for Geneva the model he found in Strassburg, introduced by MARTIN BUCER - church offices divided in 4 categories : (1) the PASTORS whose responsibility was to preach, (2) the DOCTORS whose responsibility it was to teach, (3) the PRESBYTERS or ELDERS, elected laymen who in cooperation with the preachers formed the CONSISTORY, a body which was to supervise the ethical conduct, the lifestyle of the parishioners, and (4) the DEACONS charged with caring for the poor etc.

Questions relating to Calvinist doctrine were to be decided by SYNODS, mostly on a national basis. The most important Synod in Calvinist history was the SYNOD OF DORDT (= Dordrecht, Netherlands, 1618-1619).

Church Order of the Reformed Dutch Churches, from The Roll Family Windmill

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on January 10th 2003, last revised on March 22nd 2005

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