of the Evangelical Reformed Church in Poland!!!
We are an enthusiastic church of about 4000 members in all corners of our country, grouped in nine parishes and eight other places of worship. Established in the 16th century we have shared our nation’s happy and tragic moments. Our members have Polish, Czech, German, Scottish, Huguenot, Lithuanian, Swiss, Lithuanian, Ukrainian and other roots. We hope to serve as witnesses of Christ’s Gospel and God’s love also in the third millenium. If you plan on visiting Poland or living here a bit longer, we hope that you will find time to worship and grow with us!
Characteristics of our Church
The characteristics of the Evangelical Reformed Church can be summarized by these key words:
Christian. We declare ourselves to be part of the Body of Christ?the Christian church. We continue the witness to the reality and power of the crucified and risen Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.
Reformed. Our denominations arose from the tradition of the Protestant Reformers: We confess the authority of one God. We affirm the primacy of the Scriptures, the doctrine of justification by faith, the priesthood of all believers, and the principle of Christian freedom. We celebrate two sacraments: baptism and the Lord’s Supper .
Evangelical. The primary task of the church is the proclamation of the Gospel or (in Greek) evangel. The Gospel literally means the ”Good News” of God’s love revealed with power in Jesus Christ. This proclamation is the heart of the daily and Sunday worship. We gather for the worship of God. In Europe, ”evangelical” did not suggest, as it does in the United States today, a kind of religious conservatism or fundamentalism, but simply ”of the Gospel”
We are a member church of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and World Council of Churches. Among our well established friends we have the Eglise Reformée de France, the Church of Scotland, the Presbyterian Church in the USA, the Dutch Uniting Protestant Churches, the Presbyterian Church of Canada and many others. In Poland we have traditional, cordial relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Augsburg Confession, as well as with the Polish Methodist Church. We are devoted to ecumenism and dialogue, and we are proud to say that we were one of the founding members of the Polish Ecumenical Council.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) When were you founded?
The Polish Reformed church was founded in 1551 in Southern Poland. In the course of time it existed in three entities, sometimes simultaneously: The Greater Poland Brethren (till 1817), the Lesser Poland Brethren (till 1849), and the Lithuanian Brethren (till 1939). In 1849 the Warsaw Brethren was formed which continued the tradition of the first two above-mentioned Brethren. After World War II it was reorganized as the Polish Evangelical Reformed Church which continues to-day the rich tradition of Polish Reformed Christianity.
2) How many members do you have?
We lack precise statistics, but we normally speak of c. 4000 members grouped in 9 congregations and eight other places of worship. On an average Sunday there is c. 800 attendants in churches across Poland. The parishes vary greatly in size from Warsaw (c. 400 members), through Łódź (ca.120 members) to Pstrążna (14 members). We are a tiny minority in a population of 38 million Poles.
3) Are you a growing or declining church?
We are a stable Church. The past 100 years have not been too good to us in terms of numbers. Our Church like the whole Polish nation suffered enormous losses during World War II: from ca. 30,000 members and 25 parishes, we were reduced to 5000 members and eight parishes in 1951. Communism also took its toll and many of our members (primarily of Czech and German origin) have emigrated. That trend has been brought to an end in 1980s and 1990s when many looking for Christ found their way to our Church. Since then we are slightly increasing in numbers but the negative population growth of the Polish society is an important factor.
4) Do you ordain women clergy?
Yes. In 1991 we have voted to allow women to be eligible for ordained ministry. We were the first Polish Protestant denomination to do so, since the Methodists went back on their earlier decision and the Lutherans refuse to ordain women priests (they ordain women deacons). In September 2003 we have ordained the Rev. Wiera Jelinek as the first minister to serve in the Zelów congregation. Women were allowed to vote in all church affairs in 1918, and the first woman-president (Prof. Zofia Lejmbach) of the Consistory was elected in 1961.
5) What is the structure of your church?
We have a synodal structure. The most important work is done in parishes that are being run by presbyters. The parishes elect delegates to the Synod that meets every year and makes the most important decisions concerning our Church including the election of the Church Consistory that runs the affairs in-between synods.
6) Do practice infant or adult baptism?
Like all main-stream Protestants we practice both. Members of our church are encouraged to bring their children to be baptized. Adult people wishing to join are community and who have not been baptized are asked to do so.
7) How often do you celebrate the Lord’s Supper?
This varies from congregation to congregation but normally once every month, plus on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Pentecost and Ascension Day.
8) Are you an ?open and affirming church”?
The Polish Evangelical Reformed Church holds what some call ?traditional” and others ?conservative” views regarding human sexuality. Opinion on these matters may differ depending on whom you talk to. However, both ’conservatives’ and ’liberals’ will agree that no matter our skin color, ethnicity, gender, political opinion or sexual orientation we are all welcome in God’s House and called to live His Word.
9) Do you have any missionaries?
No. Being a small church we do not send missionaries abroad. We do pray for other churches sending them and for the work they are doing spreading the Gospel around the World.
10) Do you have any congregations abroad?
Not anymore. From the 17th to the 19th century there was a Polish Reformed congregation in Konigsberg, Prussia. From 1913 till 1941 there was also a Polish Presbyterian congregation in Baltimore, Maryland. Finally, following the end of World War II the Polish reformed refugees in the West established a Reformed congregation in London. It existed till the beginning of the 1990s when it disbanded.
11) Are you supported by American Presbyterians?
No and we never were. Though we are not rich in terms of money, we try to be self supportive. Of course, from time to time certain projects are founded by our brothers and sisters from Switzerland, Scotland, Germany United States and Canada.
12) What are your relationships with the Polish government?
During Communism our Church as a whole, and certain pastors in particular, were known and vocal opponents of the totalitarian regime. In Poland the 1997 Constitution stipulates separation of the state and church. Our relationship is regulated by a special Act of Parliament. Today, we pray that the leaders of our Nation may be granted God’s wisdom do to good, to help the weak and venerable and to seek peace and prosperity for the whole of humankind.
Where to find us
We have nine parishes and eight other places were we worship regularly. Though all services are conducted in Polish, you are very welcome to join us. If you happen to come, do let our pastors know that you are a visitor, and they will try to accommodate you in any way they can. Click on the images above of congregations to find out more about them.
“Joint Statement of Polish Protestant Bishops concerning the potential war in Iraq”
During a meeting on the 29th January 2003 in Warsaw, the leaders of Polish Protestant Churches have issued a following statement:
Worried by the looming war of the US with Iraq, a war that might draw other nations into it, we as bishops of the Protestant Churches in Poland feel a necessity to publicly address this issue. We remind all Christians and people of good will that war is irreconcilable with the teachings and life of Christ. We reject war as an instrument of international conflict resolution and demand that all disputes be solved in a peaceful manner on the international level.
Justified self-defense from e.g. terrorism can not be a justification for a pre-emptive attack on another country, until all legal means of conflict resolution had been used.
We are of the opinion that in all government priorities universal human values should overweigh military goals, and thus we oppose all militarization of social life creating a psychosis of danger and a virtual need for defense.
We condemn production, possession and use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons by any country in the World.
In consequence, we advocate voluntary, universal and complete demilitarization conducted under strict and effective international control.
We condemn all evil done by mad leaders to their nations and remind to all the words of Saint Paul ”Overcome evil with good” (Romans 12, 21)”
Warsaw, 29 January 2003
(-) The Rt. Hon. Bp. E. Puślecki
The Methodist Church
(-) The Rt. Hon. Bp. J. Jagucki
The Lutheran Church
(-) The Rt. Hon. M. Izdebski
The Reformed Church