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Ethics and Community

Community Organization

Reformed churches are designed to share leadership between ordained clergy and lay people (elders and deacons). Each Congregationalist church is independent. Presbyterian churches have regional and national governing bodies that consist of elected representatives.


Reformed churches do not have priests, but ministers. This is because all Christians have equal status in God's eyes, there is no special class of Christians. But some people's gifts are well suited to the tasks of preaching and pastoral care, and these people are "called" to the ministry.

Principles of Moral Thought and Action

Reformed Christians do not expect perfection from Christians, but do expect effort and improvement. Moral principles are derived from scripture, but there is diversity on what scripture requires.

Vision for Society

Reformed visions for society tend to take the tone of cautious optimism, based on the belief that humans are depraved (even the saved ones), but that God will provide for enough order and morality in the world to allow the Church to preach and celebrate the sacraments.

Gender and Sexuality

Like other Protestant denominations, Reformed churches are divided on questions of gender and sexuality. European churches tend to be more liberal than American ones. In the U.S., Reformed churches tend to have a conservative wing that wants to limit the role of women and prohibit homosexual acts, and a liberal wing that wants to push for total equality.