Pastor Ferrari is ordained and installed as a URCNA Minister
of Word and Sacraments and a missionary to Italy.
Christ URC is involved in mission work in Milan, Italy. On January 24, 2010, the Consistory ordained and installed Rev. Andrea Ferrari as Minister of Word and Sacrament, with the specific calling as a missionary-pastor to establish a federation of Reformed churches modeled after the United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA). Rev. Ferrari presently serves as the pastor of a small congregation in Milan, which confesses the Three Forms of Unity and uses an Italian translation of the URCNA Church Order.
In Italy, there are no known churches which confess the Three Forms of Unity and function with a Reformed ecclesiology. This is a country in which the Protestant Reformation initially took off, producing Reformers such as Peter Martyr Vermigli and John Diodati, but where it was subsequently crushed by the Inquisition. Today, the ecclesiastical landscape in Italy is primarily Roman Catholic, along with a large number of charismatic (mainly Assemblies of God) and Brethren churches. The remaining Waldensian Church has for a long time been very liberal. In recent years, it merged with Methodist churches and joined the World Council of Churches. Solid, Reformed churches that proclaim the Gospel and administer the sacraments each week in reverent worship services are a very rare thing in Italy. Ferrari and the church in Milan are very unique.
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 almost 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, though, is that California possesses over 180 confessional Reformed or Presbyterian churches (NAPARC), but Italy has less than five.
Moreover, Milan itself is a very large city. Its larger metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of 7.4 million, making it the largest in Italy, and the fifth largest in the entire European Union. Obviously, the opportunities for evangelism, outreach, and growth are immense.
Many have asked how the relationship between Rev. Ferrari and the URCNA came about. This relationship began in 2006 when Christ URC began supporting Alfa e Omega, a small group of translators who publish Reformed material into Italian. One of their translators is CURC member and noted author Simonetta Carr. Simonetta introduced Rev. Michael Brown (pastor of Christ URC) to Ferrari, who at the time was a confessional Reformed Baptist. In October 2006, Ferrari visited Christ URC to give a presentation on the work of Alfa e Omega. Christ URC began supporting Alfa e Omega because of the worthy titles they publish, titles which have never before been in the Italian language. These include Geerhardus Vos’ Biblical Theology, B.B. Warfield’s, Person and Work of Christ, and Calvin’s commentary on Genesis, just to name a few.
Since 2006, Rev. Ferrari visited Christ URC three times, on each occasion staying with Pastor Brown and his family in their home. In 2007 and 2008, Ferrari and Brown began to discuss ecclesiology and the nature of baptism. This was mainly provoked by Ferrari’s deep concern for the ecclesial structure in Reformed Baptist churches. Experiencing firsthand the problems that can arise in a church when there is no Consistory, Classis, or Synod to hold the pastor and congregation accountable or to which they can turn for advice in disciplinary cases, Ferrari began to question seriously what kind of churches he hoped to see established in his native land. After much discussion and study of covenant theology and ecclesiology, Ferrari eventually came to a Reformed position on the doctrine of baptism.
In February 2009, while visiting Christ URC, Ferrari met with our Consistory and asked for advice concerning the establishment of a federation of Reformed churches in Italy, modeled after the URCNA. Explaining that no confessional Reformed or Presbyterian denominations exist in Italy, he asked for our help.
After making inquiries into the mission work of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church of America and determining that nothing solid regarding Italy exists in either of these confessional denominations (although two American missionaries affiliated with the PCA live in Italy, both of whom Ferrari knows and has a good relationship with), the Consistory decided to send Rev. Brown to Milan to meet the congregation and see the work firsthand in order to gather more information.
In June 2009, Rev. Brown traveled to Milan, Italy, where he preached, taught, and enjoyed remarkable Christian fellowship with the saints there. Ferrari and he spent many hours in conversation and thinking through the various options and possibilities before them, as well as seeking wisdom from our Lord in prayer. Upon Rev. Brown’s return from that trip, the Consistory made the commitment to respond to Rev. Ferrari’s request and help him establish a federation of Reformed churches in his country.
Rev. Ferrari signing the URCNA Form of Subscription.
In light of the present situation in Milan and the spiritual needs of Italy, the Consistory of Christ URC and Classis Southwest believed the most conducive and beneficial option for the good of Christ’s Church was to ordain Ferrari as a Minister of Word and Sacrament. They recognized that this would provide him with ecclesiastical oversight, accountability, and formal communion with a larger body of churches until the Reformed Churches in Italy are established.
Ferrari sustained his colloquium doctum by Classis Southwest on Tuesday, January 19, 2010. The delegates were deeply impressed with the theological clarity and pastoral sensitivity he demonstrated in his exam.
The congregation in Milan (Chiesa Evangelica Riformata ‘Filadelfia’) is a mature group of believers in extraordinary circumstances. They take God’s Word seriously and heartily desire to be faithful to it. They are very hungry for the preaching of the gospel and sound Reformed teaching. As well, their demonstration of Christian love and willingness to be inconvenienced for one another is remarkable.
Pastor Ferrari has been a careful and faithful shepherd to this small flock of Christ’s sheep. He preaches twice each Lord’s Day and teaches the Heidelberg Catechism to the adults and children. On a weekly basis he also teaches a midweek study at the church, meets with prospective new members, and leads an in-depth study of the URCNA Church Order (which he translated into Italian) for men being groomed as elders and deacons.
This mission work needs your help, both in prayer and financial support. Please pray that the Lord would make many disciples though the ministry of his Word in Italy. Pray that Italy might soon see the establishment of strong federation of confessional, Reformed churches. Pray that the Lord would continue to bless the labors of Pastor Ferrari and provide for the Ferrari family.
If you are interested in supporting this mission work financially – whether with a one-time gift or monthly support – please contact Mr. Andrew Young. Even the smallest amount will be received with gratitude to you and to the Lord of the harvest, as we are in great need to raise funds for the provision of Rev. Ferrari and his family.
It is with hearts desiring to be obedient to our Lord’s command to go and make disciples of all nations that our Consistory, with the advice of Classis Southwest, has taken up this mission work. We believe this is a unique opportunity to bring the Gospel and the Reformation to a country that desperately needs it. Please keep this work in your prayers.