Swiss Reformed Church
The Reformed branch of Protestantism
Reformation in Switzerland
The Protestant Reformation in Switzerland was promoted initially by Huldrych Zwingli, who gained the support of the magistrate and population of Zürich in the 1520s. It led to significant changes in civil life and state matters in Zürich and spread to several other cantons of the Old Swiss...

 in Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 was started in Zürich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

 by Huldrych Zwingli
Huldrych Zwingli
Ulrich Zwingli was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. Born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system, he attended the University of Vienna and the University of Basel, a scholarly centre of humanism...

 and spread within a few years to Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

 (Johannes Oecolampadius
Johannes Oecolampadius
Johannes Œcolampadius was a German religious reformer. His real name was Hussgen or Heussgen .-Life:He was born in Weinsberg, then part of the Electoral Palatinate...

), Bern (Berchtold Haller
Berchtold Haller
Berchtold Haller was a German protestant reformer born at Aldingen in Württemberg. He was the reformer of the city of Bern, Switzerland....

 and Niklaus Manuel
Niklaus Manuel
Niklaus Manuel , was a Swiss dramaturg, painter, engraver and statesman.-Biography:He was a gifted artist who made highly realistic etchings and became known locally for his satirical plays...

), St. Gall (Joachim Vadian
Joachim Vadian
Joachim Vadian , born as Joachim von Watt, was a Swiss Humanist and scholar and also mayor and reformer in St. Gallen.-Biography:...

), to cities in southern Germany and via Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

 (Martin Bucer
Martin Bucer
Martin Bucer was a Protestant reformer based in Strasbourg who influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices. Bucer was originally a member of the Dominican Order, but after meeting and being influenced by Martin Luther in 1518 he arranged for his monastic vows to be annulled...

) to France.

Since 1920, the Swiss Reformed Churches have been organized in 26 member churches of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches
Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches
The Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches is a federation of 26 member churches — 24 cantonal churches and two free churches . The SEK-FEPS is not a church in a theological understanding, because every member is independent with their own theological and formal organisation...

. In the 2000 Swiss census, 33% of Swiss population were reported as registered members in a reformed cantonal church.


After the early death of Zwingli in 1531, his work was continued by Heinrich Bullinger
Heinrich Bullinger
Heinrich Bullinger was a Swiss reformer, the successor of Huldrych Zwingli as head of the Zurich church and pastor at Grossmünster...

, the author of the Second Helvetic Confession. The French-speaking cities Neuchâtel, Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

 and Lausanne
Lausanne is a city in Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and is the capital of the canton of Vaud. The seat of the district of Lausanne, the city is situated on the shores of Lake Geneva . It faces the French town of Évian-les-Bains, with the Jura mountains to its north-west...

 changed to the Reformation ten years later under William Farel
William Farel
William Farel , né Guilhem Farel, 1489 in Gap, Dauphiné, in south-eastern France, was a French evangelist, and a founder of the Reformed Church in the cantons of Neuchâtel, Berne, Geneva, and Vaud in Switzerland...

 and John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 coming from France. The Zwingli and Calvin branches had each their theological distinctions, but in 1549 under the lead of Bullinger and Calvin they came to a common agreement in the Consensus Tigurinus
Consensus Tigurinus
The Consensus Tigurinus or Consensus of Zurich was a document intended to bring unity to the Protestant churches on their doctrines of the sacraments, particularly the Lord's Supper...

 (Zürich Consent), and 1566 in the Second Helvetic Confession.

A distinctive feature of the Swiss Reformed churches in the Zwinglian tradition is their historically almost symbiotic link to the state (cantons), which is only loosening gradually in the present.

In 1920 the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches
Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches
The Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches is a federation of 26 member churches — 24 cantonal churches and two free churches . The SEK-FEPS is not a church in a theological understanding, because every member is independent with their own theological and formal organisation...

 (, , - SEK-FEPS), with 22 member churches — 20 cantonal churches and 2 free churches (Free Church of Geneva and the Evangelical-Methodist Church of Switzerland), to serve as a legal umbrella before the federal government and represent the church in International relations.

Organization and membership

Organizationally, the Reformed Churches in Switzerland remain separate, cantonal units. The German churches are more in the Zwinglian tradition; the French more in the Calvinist
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

 tradition. They are governed synodically and their relation to the respective canton (in Switzerland, there are no church-state regulations at a national level) ranges from independent to close collaboration, depending on historical developments.

Other Protestant confessions

While the vast majority of Protestants in Switzerland adhere to a Reformed confession (Zwinglian or Calvinist), an Anabaptist
Anabaptists are Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation of 16th-century Europe, and their direct descendants, particularly the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites....

 minority has been present in Switzerland since the Swiss Reformation, organized in the Swiss Mennonite Conference
Swiss Mennonite Conference
The Swiss Mennonite Conference is an Anabaptist Christian body in Switzerland....

 (since 1810) and the Baptist Church (since 1849). A minority Lutheran community has been present since the 19th century, with a Lutheran congregation founded in Basel by immigrant Germans in 1893.During the 20th century, other Lutheran congregations have been founded by immigrants from other nations, a Danish-Lutheran
Church of Denmark
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, Church of Denmark or Danish National Church, is the state church and largest denomination in Denmark and Greenland...

  congregation in 1947 and a Swedish-Lutheran
Church of Sweden
The Church of Sweden is the largest Christian church in Sweden. The church professes the Lutheran faith and is a member of the Porvoo Communion. With 6,589,769 baptized members, it is the largest Lutheran church in the world, although combined, there are more Lutherans in the member churches of...

 one in 1961. Pentecostal Protestantism reached Switzerland from the United States
Protestantism in the United States
-Mainline vs. Evangelical:In typical usage, the term mainline is contrasted with evangelical. Theologically conservative critics accuse the mainline churches of "the substitution of leftist social action for Christian evangelizing, and the disappearance of biblical theology," and maintain that "All...

 in the early 20th century, and is organized in the Schweizer Pfingstmission
Schweizer Pfingstmission
The Swiss Pentecostal Mission is an umbrella organization of Pentecostal congregations in Switzerland and the Swiss affiliate of the Assemblies of God, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world....

 (since 1925).

As of 2000, minor Protestant confessions in Switzerland were reported as New Apostolic Church
New Apostolic Church
The New Apostolic Church is a chiliastic church, converted to Protestantism as a free church from the Catholic Apostolic Church. The church has existed since 1879 in Germany and since 1897 in the Netherlands...

 (0.38% of population), Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

 (0.28%), Methodists (0.12%), other (1.44%).

External links

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