OUR MISSION

Why Italy?
We tend to think of Italy as a vacation destination, not a mission field. It is a country rich in history, culture, and cuisine. It is the land of the ancient Romans, the birthplace of the Renaissance, and the fashion capital of the world. But when it comes to the gospel, Italy is impoverished and bleak.

Brunelleschi Dome

The Need
Christianity played a prominent role in Italy’s past. Beautiful churches and cathedrals still dot the horizon throughout the country. Today, however, one is hard-pressed to find a church that preaches God’s Word faithfully. There are no Reformed or Presbyterian denominations in Italy. Unlike European countries such as Germany, Switzerland and England, Italy did not enjoy the light of the Reformation beyond the first half of the sixteenth century. Although the Reformation thrived in Italy during the 1520s and 1530s, it was decisively crushed by the Roman Inquisition in 1542. Since that time, the country has languished under Roman Catholicism. Today, more than 70% of Italy’s population is nominally Roman Catholic and with no understanding of the gospel. The rest of the population is a mixture of paganism, Pentecostalism, and Islam. Less than 1% of the population identifies as Protestant. Consequently, Italy is a spiritually dark place to live.

DuomoMilano

To put this situation in perspective, consider this comparison between it and the state of California:

California Italy
  • Area: 164,000 square miles
  • Population: 37,000,000
  • Over 200 established NAPARC churches (URCNA, OPC, PCA, RCUS, etc.), not including church plants
  • Area: 116,000 square miles
  • Population: over 60,000,000
  • 1 established confessional church with pastor, elders, and deacons
  • 2 church plants
  • 2 Presbyterian missionaries

Presently, there is one small established church in Milan, one church plant in Turin, one church plant in Perugia, and a couple of Presbyterian missionaries laboring in other parts of the country (Verona and Viterbo).

Italy map

Who are we?
Reformation Italy is a mission work dedicated to preaching the gospel and planting confessional Reformed churches in Italy. It is overseen by Christ United Reformed Church in Santee, CA.

Our History
In 2009, a pastor of a small Baptist church in Milan, Italy asked the leadership of Christ URC for advice on how his congregation could make the transition to being Reformed and the possibility of establishing a federation of confessional Reformed churches in Italy. Christ URC has known this pastor, Rev. Andrea Ferrari, since 2006, when they began supporting an Italian translation ministry that published Reformed books into the Italian language. At Rev. Ferrari’s request, Pastor Michael Brown was sent by the elders of Christ URC to Milan in 2009 on a fact-finding mission to meet the congregation, teach classes on covenant theology, and answer their questions about Reformed ecclesiology, the Three Forms of Unity, and the URCNA.

Church Service

In 2010, after much thoughtful reflection and prayer, the Consistory of Christ URC made the commitment to become involved in this mission.  Pastor Ferrari traveled to the United States and sustained a rigorous examination by Classis Southwest. The Consistory of Christ URC then ordained him as a missionary pastor to labor in Milan and establish a Reformed federation of churches in Italy. The church in Milan subsequently adopted the Three Forms of Unity and URCNA Church Order, and has since existed as an established Reformed church with elders and deacons.

Andrea ordination

Since 2009, Rev. Brown has made annual visits to the Milan church to encourage the saints and help Rev. Ferrari in his missionary labors. He has learned the Italian language sufficiently to preach and teach without a translator. He and Pastor Ferrari have labored side by side for the maturity of the church in Milan as well as future mission works in the country that could be part of Chiese Riformate in Italia (CRI: the Reformed Churches in Italy).

CERF 1

In 2015, Pastors Ferrari and Brown met with groups in the cities of Turin (northern Italy) and Perugia (central Italy) who desire to plant Reformed churches in their hometowns and be part of CRI in the future. The work in Turin is a small church pastored by Rev. Ivan Forte. These brothers and sisters in Christ came out of Pentecostalism together and have joyfully embraced the Reformed confessions. Since 2015, Pastor Ferrari has made monthly visits to the church to mentor them and help develop leaders.

Torino 1

The work in Perugia is a core group without a pastor. They have joined the church in Milan and submitted to its leadership. However, they must worship each Sunday via Skype, since Perugia is about 4 to 5 hours south of Milan. Pastor Ferrari faithfully visits this group every eight weeks, preaching and serving them the Lord’s Supper. In the summer of 2017, Pastor Ferrari and his wife Cristina lived in Perugia for three months so that the core group could have pastoral care and the sacraments. During the same period, Pastor Brown labored in Milan, which allowed Pastor Ferrari to go. This was a great encouragement to the core group in Perugia. They long for the day when they will finally have a pastor of their own.

Perugiagroup

The Goal of Our Mission
Our objective is to establish a healthy indigenous denomination of Reformed Churches in Italy (CRI):

  1. That is fully committed to the Three Forms of Unity;
  2. That is self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating;
  3. That no longer needs the services of URCNA foreign missionaries;
  4. With whom the URCNA may have fraternal relations.

Milan 10

The Plan for Our Mission
In order to reach our goal of establishing a healthy, indigenous denomination of Reformed churches, we must plant a minimum of three congregations that are self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating. To reach this goal, our plan is to send Pastor Ferrari to Perugia to labor as a pastor and church planter and Pastor Brown to Milan to serve as a pastor and missionary with the goal of establishing the Reformed Churches in Italy. Our desire is to work with the advice of URCNA Classis Southwest and help of the URCNA Missions Committee.

Primo e Secondo in Romania

Why do we believe that Pastors Ferrari and Brown are uniquely qualified for this task?
We believe that Pastor Ferrari is the right fit for the challenging task of planting a church in Perugia. With twenty years of experience in the pastorate, he is well equipped to tend to the many needs of a new congregation. Being an Italian national, he knows and understands the culture and geography of Perugia. Moreover, he has bonded well with the core group since 2015, and especially during his three months of ministry in the summer of 2017. We believe that a man of his caliber and experience is necessary for the success of this mission.

Likewise, we believe that Pastor Brown is well suited for missionary work in Milan. He has known the congregation personally for more than eight years, having made seven trips and spending many months cumulatively among them, preaching, teaching, and providing pastoral care. He has worked for years to learn the Italian language well enough to preach and lead worship. Along with 14 years of pastoral experience, he also knows about church-planting, having planted Christ URC between 2003-2006. In 2010, Synod appointed him to be chairman of a study committee on missions, in which he helped write mission policies for the URCNA. In 2012, Synod appointed him to be chairman of the newly constituted URCNA Missions Committee. He helped write a church-planting book for the URCNA, which was adopted at Synod 2014. Rev. Brown still serves on the Missions Committee today while he pastors Christ URC.

Because the church in Milan needs to function as a model and mother of sorts to the other church-plants in Italy, we believe it is crucial that a seasoned pastor with knowledge of Reformed polity and experience in missions serve alongside Pastor Ferrari in Italy.

Me and Andrea

This is an exciting time to be alive and, by God’s grace, bringing the gospel and the light of the Reformation to the country of Italy. Having received so much, it is an enormous privilege for us to participate in the planting of churches where there are few. May God fill our sails with wind so that we never tire of making disciples of all nations!

Milan 13

 

 

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