In the 16th century Reformed theology established itself slowly in France. It faced persecution from the Roman Catholic majority until Protestant King Henry IV came to power. French Protestantism enjoyed sustained growth until the Edict of Nantes was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685. This led thousands of French Protestants, or Huguenots, to flee to other European countries or America. After the French revolution of 1789, French Protestants, including the Eglise Réformée de France (Reformed Church of France) were able to regain their full rights.
Today the Reformed Church of France (ERF) has a membership that numbers 350,000 — about 0.5 percent of the French population. The Church has 400 congregations with 360 pastors, 26 percent of whom are women and 15 percent of whom are from countries other than France.
The local ERF churches are organized around two main ministry foci: (1) congregational life, e.g. worship, biblical and theological formation and (2) witness through diaconal activities.
The principal symbol of the Reformed Church of France, established in 1905, is the Huguenot Cross, composed of a four-petal lily of France in the form of a Maltese cross. The four petals represent the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Connecting the four petals are four fleurs-de-lis, the symbol of France. Representing the Spirit, a dove hangs from the lower petal on a ring of gold.
Reformed Church of France
Learn more about France
Visit the BBC country profile.
See the 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 279