About Our Name
Our church name often causes confusion because of the changing definitions of certain words such as “evangelical” and “reformed.” Different names were used for our congregation from its founding through the mid 1800’s. Some of those names included: the “Reformed Congregation,” “German Reformed,” and “Dutch Reformed.”
In 1839 the congregation adopted a constitution with the name “Evangelical Reformed Church” and in 1848 a charter was applied for, received, and recorded May 18, 1848 in the name of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Frederick. Still, the congregation was often referred to as the German Reformed Church or the Reformed Church.
In the mid-1800’s “Evangelical” was a term used to describe a pietistic movement within some of the German churches that came to the United States. When Frederick William III united the Lutheran and Reformed churches, the new name given to the merged churches was Evangelical. Some of the Germans settling in the mid-western part of our country gave the name Evangelical to their congregations and formed the Evangelical Synod of North America, one of the predecessor denominations of the United Church of Christ. “Evangelical” continues to be the generic term for Protestant that is used broadly throughout Germany today.
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.
“Reformed” was a term used to describe one group that emerged from the Protestant Reformation in Europe. In our tradition, we claim that the church is reformed and reforming. We are always open to new expressions of God at work in our midst for we believe God is still speaking.
“United Church of Christ” was the name adopted in 1957 by the union of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches of the United States in order to express more fully the oneness in Christ of the churches composing it.