The city of Dordrecht in The Netherlands at the river the Merwede, is one of the oldest of the country, officially founded in 1220 by Duke William I.
The first divine service of the young reformed church was on June 25,1572. The following year Prince William of Orange came to have the Holy Supper with them. The “grote Kerk” in the picture became famous because Dordrecht was a center for synods and many related meetings of the reformed churches. The founding and organization of churches, nomination of ministers, founding of a university in Leyden, were all discussed in Dordrecht.
On November 18, 1618 came the most important Synod of Dordrecht, with delegations from England, Germany, Switzerland and France. Also 18 representatives of the government (Prince Maurits of Orange) took part in the discussions.
On May 6, 1619, the Canons and the Catechism were made public. The Remonstrants were sent away. A new translation of the Bible was suggested.
The church is completely made of bricks and the building started in 1280. The tower was made a century later and never completed (too expensive). In 1457 the church was destroyed by fire, but was rebuilt. The tower was carefully restored in 1953.
The population is statistically divided into mainly State Reformed (Nederlands Hervormd) and yet 10 percent Synodal Reformed (Synodaal Gereformeerd), but shrinking in numbers. They are united with the Lutheran Church in what they call “samen op weg” (together on our way), with a modernist character. A conservative part has left and has joined the Liberated Reformed Church (Gereformeerde kerk vrijgemaakt), which is the only church in The Netherlands with a growing number of members for several years. However, a small part of them has separated and formed the Netherlands Reformed Church (Nederlands Gereformeerde kerk). The “grote kerk” remains a symbol of a glorious past in the Reformed Churches. ❖
J.P. de Klerk is a journalist and author from the Protestant Reformed Church of New Zealand.