The ERQ is a small federation of churches in the Canadian province of Quebec ministering to the French-speaking people of that area.
French Reformers, also called Huguenots, had much to do with the founding of Canada. Huguenot settlers desired to establish a colony that would be loyal to the French throne where they would be free to worship God as Reformed Christians. It is interesting that the first governor of New France (Quebec) in 1540 was a Huguenot. While the Edict of Nantes issued by Henry IV had granted the Huguenots rights and protections in France, a Roman Catholic nation, its revocation in 1685 by Louis XIV took away those rights and protections. As a result, Huguenot refugees fled France and came to Québec. Persecution followed them there until the British took New France in 1759 and allowed religious liberty.
In the early nineteenth century Swiss missionaries arrived and brought organization to the Reformed faith. Churches were formed, with twenty-five congregations and schools in the Presbyterian Church in Canada by the late nineteenth century. However, the interest of the Swiss mission turned to western Canada, and from 1912 on, the congregations in Québec declined until there were only three congregations in 1975.
The Reformed Church of Québec came into existence officially on November 6, 1988. Some of the congregations had been independent, and some had been linked to denominations such as the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Presbyterian Church in America, and the Christian Reformed Church. There were nine founding congregations scattered throughout different parts of Québec.
The ERQ consists of five congregations with about three hundred total members. The church adheres to the Three Forms of Unity, the Heidelberg Catechism, the La Rochelle Confession of Faith, and the Westminster Standards. It also accepts the ecumenical creeds. The ERQ strives to remain confessionally Reformed.
The ERQ is a member of NAPARC and the World Reformed Fellowship. Although officially independent from this denomination, Farel Reformed Theological Seminary has strong personal ties to the Reformed Church of Quebec.
The ERQ has accepted the invitation of the URCNA to enter into phase 2 of ecclesiastical fellowship. Moving forward to phase 3, church union, however, is not recommended any time in the future for two reasons: First, the ERQ is a French-speaking federation in a French-speaking culture. The ERQ has no intention of transitioning to the English language. Language barriers are a natural boundary that hinders the kind of close cooperation and contact needed to function together well in one federation. Second, the denomination’s representative at NAPARC 2011 explained that the majority of their leaders and members have no desire for merger with any other group for fear they would lose their unique identity. The URCNA continues to encourage those classes and congregations in geographic proximity to ERQ congregations to continue the exchange of fraternal delegates and to engage in other ecumenical activities that may be available.
Further information can be found on the ERQ website at www.erq.qc.ca