United and uniting churches

A united church, also called a uniting church, is a church formed from the merger or other form of church union of two or more different Protestant Christian denominations.[1]

Glass window in the town church of Wiesloch (Stadtkirche Wiesloch) with Martin Luther and John Calvin commemorating the 1821 union of Lutheran and Reformed churches in the Grand Duchy of Baden.

Historically, unions of Protestant churches were enforced by the state, usually in order to have a stricter control over the religious sphere of its people, but also other organizational reasons. As modern Christian ecumenism progresses, unions between various Protestant traditions are becoming more and more common,[2] resulting in a growing number of united and uniting churches.

Examples include the United Church of Canada (1925), the Church of North India (1970), the Uniting Church in Australia (1977), the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (2004), and the United Protestant Church of France (2013).[3][4][5][6]

Since the mid-20th century, and the rise of secularism worldwide, mainline Protestantism has shrunk.[7][8][9][10] Among others, Reformed (Calvinist), Anglican, and Lutheran churches have merged, often creating large nationwide denominations.[1] In some countries, Methodist and/or Congregational denominations have also merged. The phenomenon is much less common among evangelical, nondenominational and charismatic churches as new ones arise and many of them remain independent of each other.

Perhaps the oldest official united church is found in Germany, where the Evangelical Church in Germany is a federation of Lutheran, United (Prussian Union) and Reformed churches, a union dating back to 1817. The first of the series of unions was at a synod in Idstein to form the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau in August 1817, commemorated in naming the church of Idstein Unionskirche one hundred years later.[11][12]

Around the world, each united or uniting church comprises a different mix of predecessor Protestant denominations.[1] Trends are visible, however, as most united and uniting churches have one or more predecessors with heritage in the Reformed tradition and many are members of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

Conciliar movementEdit

In the 1950s and 1960s an ecumenical spirit emerged in many churches in the United States, leading to a conciliar movement known in some circles as Conciliarity. A product of this movement was the Consultation on Church Union (COCU). The COCU disbanded formally in 2002 but moved into the Churches Uniting in Christ movement.[13]

United and uniting churches around the worldEdit

Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau (founded in 1817) is a United Protestant member church under the Evangelical Church in Germany's umbrella.
Unionskirche in Idstein held by the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau. It commemorates the union of Lutheran and Reformed Protestants in the Duchy of Nassau in August 1817, the first of its kind and a month before the Prussian Union in September of the same year.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "United and Uniting churches — World Council of Churches". www.oikoumene.org. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  2. ^ Haire, James (2017-03-06). Wainwright, Geoffrey; McPartlan, Paul (eds.). "United and Uniting Churches". The Oxford Handbook of Ecumenical Studies. pp. 431–440. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199600847.013.30. ISBN 978-0-19-960084-7. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  3. ^ a b France, Eglise protestante unie de. "La création de l'Église protestante unie de France". Eglise protestante unie de France (in French). Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  4. ^ "United Protestant Church of France — World Council of Churches". www.oikoumene.org. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  5. ^ "Three-way PKN union drastically changes Dutch denominational landscape » The Windmill news articles » goDutch". www.godutch.com. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  6. ^ a b "Protestant Church in the Netherlands — World Council of Churches". www.oikoumene.org. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  7. ^ "Mainline Protestants make up shrinking number of U.S. adults". Pew Research Center. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  8. ^ "American Religion Statistics: Trends in U.S. Religious Affiliations". Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. 2015-05-12. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  9. ^ "Amid Evangelical decline, growing split between young Christians and church elders". Christian Science Monitor. 2017-10-10. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  10. ^ Burge, Ryan P. "Evangelicals Show No Decline, Despite Trump and Nones". News & Reporting. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  11. ^ "Staatlicher Dirigismus und neue Gläubigkeit (Die Kirche im Herzogtum Nassau)" (in German). Nassau-info.de.
  12. ^ Block, Mathew (2017-10-05). "Remembering the 200th anniversary of the forced union of Lutheran and Reformed churches in Prussia". International Lutheran Council. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  13. ^ Lahutsky, Nadia (Winter 2003). "The Union of Christians and Disciples in 1832 and COCU/CUIC". Discipliana. 63 (4): 120. ISSN 0732-9881.
  14. ^ "UCA - Our History". nswact.uca.org.au. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  15. ^ "Our History". Church of Bangladesh. 2012-01-29. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  16. ^ "United Protestant Church of Belgium".
  17. ^ "A Brief History | The United Church of Canada". United-church.ca. Archived from the original on 2013-05-11. Retrieved 2013-05-21.
  18. ^ Archa, Tomáš Pilát. "Českobratrská církev evangelická". www.e-cirkev.cz. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  19. ^ The Union of Protestant Churches of Alsace and Lorraine is not an actual united church, but a union of churches, even if the differences are quite faint in the field.
  20. ^ "Evangelical Church in Germany". www.ekd.de. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  21. ^ CNI. "History – CNI". Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  22. ^ "CSI SYNOD". www.csisynod.com. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  23. ^ "Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) — World Council of Churches". www.oikoumene.org. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  24. ^ "United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands — World Council of Churches". www.oikoumene.org. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  25. ^ "A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE KYODAN - The United Church of Christ in Japan" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  26. ^ "Kiribati Uniting Church — World Council of Churches". www.oikoumene.org. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  27. ^ "United Church in Papua New Guinea — World Council of Churches". www.oikoumene.org. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  28. ^ Office, Anglican Communion. "Anglican Communion: Member Church". Anglican Communion Website. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  29. ^ "Our Story". Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  30. ^ Norwood B. Tye, Journeying with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines: A History (Quezon City: United Church of Christ in the Philippines, 1994), 246-247
  31. ^ Guillermo Manuel, "A Study of the Movement for Union and Closer Cooperation Among the Protestant Churches of the Philippines," p. 54.
  32. ^ "Intro till EFK - Evangeliska Frikyrkan (EFK)". www.efk.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  33. ^ "Uniting Church in Sweden — World Council of Churches". www.oikoumene.org. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  34. ^ "ประวัติศาสตร์ – The Church of Christ in Thailand" (in Thai). Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  35. ^ "About us". The United Reformed Church. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  36. ^ "Our History – United Free Church of Scotland". Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  37. ^ "About Us". United Church of Christ. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  38. ^ "History". The United Methodist Church. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  39. ^ "History of Unitarian Universalism | UUA.org". www.uua.org. Retrieved 2020-09-04.