Dutch Denominations Reunite after Decades
On May 1, two Reformed denominations in the Netherlands reunited after more than a half-century of separation. Dr. Zachary King, general secretary of the CRCNA, visited there to participate in a service of reunion May 12 as an ecumenical guest and to share a blessing.
The CRCNA has had an ecumenical relationship with one of these denominations - the Nederlands Gereformeerde Kerken (NGK - Netherlands Reformed Churches) - for many years. It classifies this relationship as a “church in communion.”
The NGK split from the Gereformeerde Kerken Vrijgemaakt (GKV - Reformed Churches Liberated) in 1967.
"The presenting conflict between the Reformed Churches Liberated and the pastors who formed the nucleus of the Netherlands Reformed Churches back in 1967 had to do with the identity of the ‘true church,’” explained King. “The Netherlands Reformed Churches pastors were more open on this matter, which led to a separation from the Reformed Churches (Liberated), which had a fairly exclusivist position on its identity.”
While the CRCNA has never had an official relationship with the GKV, Rev. William Koopmans (chair of the CRCNA’s Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee) was invited to and participated in the GKV synod in 2020.
In addition, Rev. Rinze IJbema from the GKV and Rev. Mark Reitkirk from the NGK both participated at Synod 2022 of the CRCNA as ecumenical delegates. They reported at the time that the two Netherlands denominations had been growing more closely together and had plans to reunite.
“Conversations about union between the Reformed Churches Liberated and the Netherlands Reformed Churches were ongoing for many years, but in the second decade of the new millennium, these conversations became concrete,” said King.
This included working together on a church order, merging their denominational agencies, and figuring out pastor pension programs and other administrative details. As of May 1, the two denominations are now united as a new entity.
“The new name of the denomination is the Nederlandse Gereformeerde Kerken (Reformed Churches in the Netherlands),” said King. “This new body is comparable to the CRCNA in terms of membership and number of churches.”
King visited the Netherlands to participate in a service of reunion May 12 at the Jacobikerk in Utretch. Jolene Vos-Camy, a French professor from Calvin University, also attended the proceedings.
During the service King had the opportunity to present a blessing to the members and leaders of the new denomination.
“I was able to bless the members, the elders and deacons, and the pastors in their fellowship, in their ministry to local communities, and in their mission work around the world,” he said.
King reported to the CRCNA’s Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee that with this newly reunited denomination there may be more opportunities for the CRCNA to discuss other partnerships in mission, relief, and community development.