United States of America - (América del Norte)

Información sobre United States of America

Washington D.C.
9809155 kilómetros cuadrados
Protestant 56%, Roman Catholic 28%, Jewish 2%, other 4%, none 10% (1989)
Cristianos (%)
Protestantes (%)
Reformados (%)

Since the time of its beginnings within European colonialism, the United States has been a place for religious refugees. It nurtured a basic principle of religious freedom, which in the beginning meant local autonomy for several varieties of Christianity. The vast majority of its 260 million people are believers in God, and nearly every variety of Christian expression is found in the USA. The wide diversity of churches reflects the many ethnic communities who have migrated to the USA and retained the church expression of the former homeland. In recent years, Christian cultural dominance has begun to fade, and secularism has pushed Christian life farther into the realm of private conviction only.
A Ref presence came with some of the first European settlers, the Puritans. Dissatisfied with the Church of England, the Puritans fled England under persecution, resided briefly in the Netherlands, and then made their way to America to establish a separate community in Massachusetts. Broadly Calvinist in orientation, some of the Puritans moved toward forming Presb churches, while most formed Congreg churches.
A second substantial immigration came from Scotland, where the church under the leadership of John Knox was more exclusively Calvinistic. Significant numbers came after 1714 and settled in the mid-Atlantic coastal area of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. The first presbytery was established in Philadelphia in 1706. The first General Assembly of Presb met in 1789, just as the new nation was formally established.
There were a few presbyteries that did not join the General Assembly. They were known as the Associate Synod and the Associate Reformed Synod. In 1858 these two joined to become the United Presbyterian Church of North America. In 1958 this church merged with the Presbyterian Church USA (the northern Presb), and became part of the United Presbyterian Church in the USA in its formation in 1983.
In the mid-19th century the main course of Presbyterianism was influenced by revivalism. At Yale University Nathaniel Taylor defended the “New School,” which was a combination of Enlightenment ideas with revivalist methods. The “Old School” became those characterized by stricter adherence to the Westminster Confession. Some persons in the New School, such as Charles Finney, finally left Presbyterianism for a generic American evangelicalism. Others picked up the strand of Enlightenment thought in the New School and became part of the modernist movement. As for the Old School, some of those embraced ideas of fundamentalism arising in the early 20th century and formed a hybrid fundamentalist Presbyterianism.
While the lines are not continuous, one can still characterize some Presb as Old School. Those holding a fairly strict adherence to the Westminster Confession include the Associate Reformed Presb, the Orthodox Presb, the Ref Presb, the Bible Presb, the Evangelical Presb, the Presbyterian Church of America, and several of the smaller groups that have split from these. Within the larger Presbyterian Church (USA), which dwarfs all the others, there has been a history of strong post-Enlightenment leadership, but recently several minority organizations representing more evangelical and conservative traditions have been exerting enormous influence.
There was an early Ref presence in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (1624), which later became New York. These settlers formed the Reformed Church in America (RCA), which slowly spread westward. Additional waves of immigrants beginning in the mid-19th century brought new forms of Reformed Christianity as well as the legacy of the European schisms. An early example is the Christian Reformed Church, whose members had suffered persecution and ostracism when they had tried to reform the Dutch mother church. Following the split in the Netherlands in 1834, immigrants from among the seceders who had settled in the American Midwest could not accept what they saw in the eastern churches of the RCA, and created a separate church in 1857.
In later years new denominations of Ref churches were founded by later immigrants. As the Dutch churches continued to divide, in 1892 and 1944, the immigrants from these new splits kept apart in America (and Canada) as well. Churches such as the American Reformed, the Free Reformed, and Netherlands Reformed Congregations were founded by these immigrant groups from different Dutch traditions.
Other divisions native to North America have come mainly from groups breaking away from the Christian Reformed Church. The first, in 1924, was with the Protestant Reformed Church. Then in the 1960s and 1970s, individual congregations left, some of them forming the Orthodox Christian Reformed after 1979. The largest splits from the Christian Reformed Church have come in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with the breakaway of Koreans in 1991 to form the Christian Presbyterians, and the formation of the Alliance of Reformed Churches and the United Reformed Church from other CRC dissidents.
The movement of European settlers westward led to the formation of some new churches. The settlers required cooperation and flexibility in their church lives, while those staying in the East wanted purity of doctrine and the training offered in the eastern seminaries. Some new Presb groups as well as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) were products of this westward movement. The Ameican Civil War of 1861-1865 was another major divider, and southern and northern branches of Presbyterianism persisted for more than a century after the war.
Several other groups of immigrants have formed churches related to their national churches. Immigrant German Ref founded the Reformed Church in the US, and there is a congregation of recent Lithuanian immigrants. Koreans and Hungarians have also formed several ethnic Ref and Presb churches among immigrants and refugees in the twentieth century. Some Koreans maintained links with their mother church, remaining part of the national synods in Korea.





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