What is Reformation Italy?
Reformation Italy is a website designed to inform English-speaking Christians about the mission work of establishing Le Chiese Riformate in Italia (The Reformed Churches in Italy). This mission work is overseen by Christ United Reformed Church (URCNA) in Santee, CA, with the advice of the churches in Classis Southwest, and served by Rev. Andrea Ferrari, a URCNA missionary and the pastor of Chiesa Evangelica Riformata ‘Filadelfia’ (CERF). CERF is the only confessional Reformed church in Milan, and the only known church in Italy that confesses the Three Forms of Unity.
Why is this mission work necessary?
Italy is a country in desperate need of true and faithful churches of Jesus Christ. Although Christianity has a rich history in Italy, the fact is that today there are fewer evangelical Christians in Italy than in India or China. No confessional Reformed denominations exist in Italy. Although the Protestant Reformation gained some footing in the early sixteenth century, producing reformers such as Peter Martyr Vermigli, Paolo Vergerio, and Bernadino Ochino, it was quickly crushed by Rome’s violent Inquisition. Today, the country is nominally Roman Catholic. Of its more than sixty million citizens, more than fifty-eight million were baptized into the Roman Church. After that, the ecclesiastical landscape consists mainly of charismatic and Brethren churches. Not even the remaining Waldensian Church in Italy can be considered a Reformed presence. In 1975, it merged with the Italian Methodist Church and the Baptist Union, and is now a member of the World Council of Churches. Aside from CERF, there is not a single congregation in Italy that confesses the Three Forms of Unity. Rome did its work effectively in the sixteenth and seventeenth centries. As Christians of the Reformation tradition, we are compelled to ask, “Where is the Gospel being preached each week in Italy?” While there are some Baptist congregations in the country that preach the Gospel, there is no distinctively Reformed witness.
To put this in perspective, compare Italy to California. California has a population of less than 37,000,000 in a geographical area of nearly 164,000 square miles. Italy, on the other hand, has a population of more than 60,000,000 within an area of about 116,000 square miles. It is smaller than California in its geographical size, yet almost twice as large in population. What is staggering, however, is that California possesses over 180 confessional Reformed or Presbyterian churches which are members of NAPARC, while Italy has only one established church that holds to the same standards.
Or compare San Diego to Milan. San Diego County has a population of just over 3,000,000 in a geographical area of 4,261 square miles. The Milan Metropolitan Area has a population of over 7,400,000 in a geographical area of about 4,633 square miles. San Diego County has 29 NAPARC churches, while Milan has one that meets the same criteria.
In light of these statistics, Christ United Reformed Church has called and commissioned Andrea Ferrari to the long-term mission work of planting confessional Reformed churches in Italy. By God’s grace, the light of the Reformation has not yet been fully extinguished in this fair land.
Pastor Ferrari is a missionary and pastor ordained in the United Reformed Churches in North America. He was born and raised in Milan, and serves as pastor of Chiesa Evangelica Riformata ‘Filadelfia’ (CERF) in Milan (Novate), Italy.
Rev. Ferrari has served two congregations previous to his call as a URCNA missionary. First, as the pastor of an Assemblies of God congregation in Sicily, and later as the pastor of an independent Reformed Baptist church in Milan. The latter was reconstituted on May 2, 2010, as Chiesa Evangelica Riformata ‘Filadelfia’ (CERF) – a fully Reformed church which confesses the Three Forms of Unity and uses the URCNA Church Order. Rev. Ferrari’s entrance into the URCNA was by a colloquium doctum administered by Classis Southwest. His ministry is overseen by the Consistory of Christ United Reformed Church in Santee, CA with the advice of Classis Southwest.
He possesses theological degrees from three institutions: a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Assemblies of God Bible Institute in Italy (1992), a Master of Philosophy from the University of Wales (2004), and another Masters degree (Dottore Magistrale) from the University of Milan (2007). He is the author of John Diodati’s Doctrine of Holy Scripture (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2006), as well as numerous articles published in theological journals and magazines.
Andrea and his wife Cristina were married in 1992 and have two sons, Simone (Simon) and Danielle (Daniel). They live in Bollate, Milan. When he is not studying, preparing sermons, preaching or teaching, Andrea enjoys cooking for his family, and hiking in the Italian Alps.
Pastor Brown serves as pastor of Christ United Reformed Church in Santee, CA. He was ordained as a minister of Word and sacraments in the United Reformed Churches of North America on September 19, 2004. He is a two-time graduate of Westminster Seminary California, holding both a Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Historical Theology.
A former church planter, Rev. Brown serves on the URCNA Missions Committee, where he helped author the church-planting manual for his denomination, How to Plant a Reformed Church. He has a deep interest in Italian culture, language, and history, and a passion to see Reformed churches planted in Italy.
He is the co-author of Sacred Bond: Covenant Theology Explored (Reformed Fellowship, 2012), the editor and contributing author of Called to Serve: Essays for Elders and Deacons (Reformed Fellowship, 2007), and author of Christ and the Condition: The Covenant Theology of Samuel Petto (Reformation Heritage, 2012). He has also published articles in magazines such as Table Talk, Modern Reformation, Banner of Truth, and The Outlook, and academic papers on historical theology in The Confessional Presbyterian Journal, Mid-America Theological Journal, Reformed Baptist Theological Review, Puritan Reformed Journal, and the Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology.
Mike and his wife Janie were married in 1990 and have four children. They live in San Diego, CA. When he is not reading, writing, preaching, or teaching, you can often find him cooking and eating Italian food, coaching his son’s baseball team, or suffering perennial disappointment cheering for the San Diego Padres.