Choose or lose 3
DJ Bolt and T Bolt-Slager
30-05-15 (Dutch version at 16-05-15)
In the previous instalment of this series we tried to explain in detail why it is no longer an option or even allowed to remain in the GKv federation of churches. We have been talking about this with our own consistory. Meanwhile we attended a consistory meeting which dealt with part of our appeal. The discussion is expected to be finalized shortly and we will know how to proceed.
At this moment another important question arises: where do we find a new church community that we can responsibly join? Our Confession says that 'we ought to discern diligently and very carefully, by the Word of God, what is the true church—for all sects in the world today claim for themselves the name of "the church".' We have tried to observe this rule by way of a series of meetings with ministers and others in the GKv, The Reformed Churches (DGK) and Reformed Churches Netherlands (GKN). Of the last two we spoke to almost every minister. Also during the past years we have (ir)regularly attended worship services in the two separated church groups.
In this and the next instalment(s) we will present information and impressions, and motivate the choice we have made. We wish to point out that this article is not being published on behalf of the editorial board of een in waarheid, but as a personal report of findings and reasons for a choice.
For your information, we'll first give a brief introduction of the two individual federations.
The Reformed Churches (restored)
At this moment the federation of The Reformed Churches (restored) (DGK) consists of twelve congregations, of which three are so-called ward-congregations. These have been marked with an asterisk:
- Amersfoort *
- Assen *
- Bergentheim / Bruchterveld (N-E)
- Berkel and Rodenrijs / Bergschenhoek (S-W)
- Dalfsen (S-W)
- Emmen (N-E)
- Ermelo *
- Groningen (N-E)
- Hasselt (S-W)
- Mariënberg (N-E)
- Opeinde (N-E)
- Zwolle (S-W)
The federation was established in 2003/04 and is estimated to have about 1,200 members. Ministers in active service are: Rev. M. Dijkstra, Rev. E. Heres, Rev. C. Koster, and Rev. S. de Marie. There are two emeritus ministers: Rev. G. Blijdorp and Dr. P. van Gurp.
Student M. A. Sneep hopes to complete his studies by the middle of this year and then be eligible for call. One student is doing preparatory training.
The basis of DGK is: the whole of Scripture, as confessed in the ecumenical and Reformed Confessions. The churches seek unity with all those who subscribe to this foundation in word and deed.
The federation is organised after the Church Order of Dordrecht, even though, in view of the limited size of this church group, not everything in that Church Order can be realised. There are two Classes: North East and South West - see the markings N-E and S-W in the above list of congregations. A general synod is convened once every three years. The current Synod of Groningen (2014) is expected to be closed shortly.
DGK have a sister relation with the Liberated Reformed Church at Abbotsford (BC, Canada), a group that has separated from the Canadian Reformed Churches.
The churches have established their own pastor training, with four teachers. If necessary training is purchased elsewhere.
Church magazine De Bazuin is published fortnightly.
More information can be found on website www.gereformeerde-kerken-hersteld.nl
Reformed Churches The Netherlands
This federation (GKN) consists at this moment of ten congregations, of which five are so-called ward-congregations. These have been marked with an asterisk:
- Assen De Vaste Rots / Boerakker *
- Boerakker *
- Ede-Veenendaal *
- Goes *
- Kampen Ichthus
- Twente *
The federation was established in 2009 after the deposition of rev. E. Hoogendoorn by the synod of Zwolle-Zuid. Included are several offshoots from the DGK federation. GKN have an estimated 800 members.
There are three ministers in active service: Rev. L. Heres, Rev. E. Hoogendoorn, Rev. R. van der Wolf; and two emeriti: prof. dr. J. Douma and prof. drs. JP Lettinga. Br. D. Brinkman is preparing for the ministry and studying at the theological college in Apeldoorn (CGK).
These churches want to live out of and in accordance with Scripture alone, and know themselves called to maintain the unity of the church with all those who are standing and want to stand on the foundation of Holy Scripture and the Reformed confessions in the recognition that the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the only Head of the Church, His congregation of all times and places  .
The federation has a National Assembly which meets every three months and to which each consistory delegates three members. The presidency is staffed by the calling church.
Within the federation a monthly magazine Weerklank is published.
More information can be found on website www.gereformeerdekerkennederland.nl
During March and April of this year we had some fifteen conversations with members and ministers from GKv, DGK and GKN, for the main purpose of gathering information to enable a responsible choice for future church life, for ourselves, but also to possibly provide advice to others.
We talked about the following matters:
- Church Choice
We were warmly welcomed everywhere and we could talk frank and free. We first explained what we wanted to achieve with these meetings, namely to prepare for a responsible church choice and provide a public advice of that nature.
We could ask distinguishing questions on which, we think, we received genuine answers. Of course, in this article we do not offer extensive reports of the conversations. Our interests lie with the main points such as they can be deduced from the meetings.
To gain an insight in the history of the church groups, we further read some brochures that were published in DGK and GKN:
The reformation of the church and the gospel of free grace,
published by the Reformed Church in Zwolle (GKN).
Rebuttal, and a serious call for reflection and return,
published by The Reformed Church (restored) in Zwolle (DGK).
- Christ's congregation in Bergentheim / Bruchterveld torn and preserved, published by The Reformed Church (restored) at Bergentheim / Bruchterveld
These publications give an impression of the troubles and struggles in a young federation that has to find its form in a tiring development.
Next time we hope to evaluate a few things.
To be continued
 From 'Brief presentation’ of the GKN.