A selection of the news about activities, developments and synod-declarations of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands.
News and Columns
The World Council of Churches (WCC) was founded on August 23rd 1948 in the “New Church” (Nieuwe Kerk) in Amsterdam. Coming August this event will be 70 years ago.
Dr. René de Reuver (1959) has been appointed by the general synod to be the new secretary of the general synod of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands.
The general synod has accepted the policy proposals in the report ‘Church 2025: one step further’.
‘The church seems a distant and strange institution for many of our contemporaries, so now is an especially good time to rediscover what lies at the heart of the church and get back to basics’, the secretary of the general synod of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, dr. Arjan Plaisier, said.
Christmas stress and Jesus, that’s the theme for the Christmas commercial of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands this year.
'Deep Calls Unto Deep' is the English title of Arjan Plaisier’s book 'Overvloed and Overgave'. Dr. Arjan Plaisier is general secretary of the synod of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands.
Wise, prudent, balanced but also courageous, this is how Arjan Plaisier describes Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel’s style.
Hours ahead, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is already packed. Special seats have been set apart for survivors (hibakusha) and the bereaved.
As we get off the train in Hiroshima, we are welcomed by sign boards with origami cranes. Immediately, our thoughts are fixed on the girl Sadako Sasaki, who was two years old when the bomb hit Hiroshima.
Upon October 31st the average Dutchman will think of Halloween. Should there be anything more to experience on this day? Yes, on that day the Reformation or Church reform is commemorated.
If the ocean warms up three degrees, the fish will leave the tropical sea and seek refuge elsewhere. An article of one week ago.
On May 4th we hear the stories of how the war disappeared. We will repeat them, every year, for a hundred years maybe and for a hundred years we will weep.
And once more a Bible translation came onto the market which touches you so directly that you get wide awake, you really come alive. It is the Bible in common language.
The Netherlands are at war with IS. We will supply F-16 jet fighters to fire on the IS positions in North Iraq. Is this declaration of war justified?
Very occasionally soccer news attracts my attention. This has hardly ever to do with the results of the soccer matches. I do however find it intriguing to notice what sports and top sports do to people.
'Where are we, as a church, now the world seems to be on fire? A regular question for the Protestant Church in the Netherlands', thus synod moderator Karin van den Broeke starts her Comment on Time
In Gaza a horrible battle is raging. Rockets on Israel, fired by Hamas, every day anew.
The Dutch Reformed Church has indicated the desire to become a member of the World Council of Churches once more. A membership she withdrew from in the eighties because there were profound differences of opinion on Apartheid in South-Africa.
'It is going fast with ISIS in Iraq', was what I heard on the radio yesterday. An ominous sentence. Stories we hear about the hard battle of jihadists and images we see of barbarous executions arouse feelings of disgust and fear.
The future lies with the robot. Before long a robot can make sandwiches, tap beer and serve coffee.
The recognition of the rights of entrenched children in the Netherlands was preceded by a battle that went on for years.
Recently the British Bible Society took up the plan to put a great inflatable whale on the bank of the Thames. It costs a few quid, but then you have something really worthwhile.
Last week the Protestant Church published numbers. The statistical annual report was presented. Of course CPB could not stay behind and turned up with 'Believing within and outside context'.
While watching The Passion Arjan Plaisier was moved by a girl from Syria talking about her faith.
Common feeling says in majority: 'more severe penalties'. But what is really the purpose of penalties?
On the eve of Lent there is 'good news' in the Netherlands. CPB has estimated that in 2014 Dutch economy will increase a little more than expected.
As it became apparent that the released paedophile Benno L. had found accommodation in Leiden it produced an assembly of furious citizens. Among them parents of young children, but also elderly people.
Euthanasia literally means: good death. Thus the word was once used: the art of good death. Dying is human fate. It was about good dying. At peace with God. At peace with fellow men.
Imagine to have an opinion, which is suddenly 'out of date'. One can hardly get a more destructive judgement. No matter how well founded your opinion seemed to be, suddenly you are out. Because your opinion is no longer of this time. Discussion closed. Adjust or become inactivated.
Deliberately I have put this heading on top of this comment. Although I am aware that persecutions of Christians is an uneasy phrasing.
Secretary of the General Synod Arjan Plaisier: 'We have rung out another year, the 'year of our Lord' 2013.\r\n\r\nNew Year's Eve inspires us to bury what was not good and continue what was. We have received a year as valuable time of life. At the end of it we regret the time we have lost and rejoice on the time well spent. \r\n
'O Come All Ye Faithful' it sounds this time of year, over and over again.
In our culture there is a lot of attention for food and drink. The number of television programs on food increases enormously. In the bookshops the number of cookbooks is still climbing. In the newspapers there are cuisine columns in variety. Food is not just putting something in a cooking pot, oh no, it has become an almost religious matter.
Cabinet: 'The Netherlands should remain both merchant and pastor' was the headline of Het Financieele Dagblad (The Financial Newspaper) recently.
Hurray! The European Committee of Social Rights made a preliminary ruling. The Dutch government is being called upon to provide people without refugee status with the basic means of existence: food, clothing and shelter.
Autumn has started. Those living in Zeeland notice how everything is different than a few months ago. During summer green and yellow fields alternate with one and other.
October 15th at 8 pm the internet church Mijnkerk.nl (mijn kerk = my church) of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands will officially 'open her doors'. This will not be done in the traditional manner with a religious service of at least one hour, but by a crowdsourcing online church worship, something which has never been done before. \r\n
Arjan Plaisier:Joris Luyendijk wrote alarming articles on the banking world. His conclusion: it could happen again. And worse.
Dr. Arjan Plaisier: ' This will be a story on a country and a church far away. It is about India.'
Last Sunday, September 1st, the 100th wake was held at the Detention Center in Rotterdam. A wake, as it is held at several places in the country.
Dr. Arjan Plaisier: It seems to be inevitable that the United States together with France and Great Britain will perform an attack on the regime of Assad in Syria. Especially France can hardly wait.
What would we think of a commercial which advises us to steal? What would we as citizens feel about a commercial which calls upon us to steal from the government? What would the government feel about a commercial which incites to rob her? These are rhetorical questions to which we know the answers.
The Leuenberg Agreement is forty years old. Moderator of the general synod Karin van den Broeke on the actual meaning of this ecumenical document.
What should be done about rejected asylum seekers?
Last Tuesday and Wednesday about 50 Christians met for a 24-hour retreat in Helvoirt. It was the kick-off of the Nederlands Christelijk Forum (Dutch Christian Panel).
For days it has dominated the news: the stolen examination papers at the Islamic school Ibn Ghaldoun in Rotterdam.
The ministers of the EU did not reach an agreement on continuation of the arms embargo for Syria.
The government is also moralizer. Just imagine that the government would not be engaged in the standards in society. Almost every decision a government makes is a moral decision as well. What else is governing about? Behind the decisions is a vision on society and this is moral too.
Granted. The inauguration functioned primarily as a beautiful, slightly moving and binding moment in our society.
On April 26th the general synod of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands discussed the continuation document on the so called Islam Memorandum 'Integrity and Respect'.
The ban on scornful blasphemy has been removed from the penal code. It was in there since 1932. Especially during the last decades the article has been inactive. Recently the discussion on the subject woke up and now the article has been removed.
Recently Onno van Schayck, Professor of Preventive Medicine, left as director of research institute Caphri after having spoken about a healing upon prayer.
A new pope! After the extraordinary step Benedict XVI took, namely to admit that he did not have the strength anymore to lead a world-church, all kind of speculations started. Which of the present cardinals is papabile? Which profile should this pope meet?\r\n\r\n
The new digital revolution is already announcing itself. Glasses, the so-called Google Glass, some kind of telephone which is attached to a spectacle frame. The images stream in and with miniscule nods you can make decisions. And thus our digital enlightenment proceeds.
Pope Benedict XVI has announced his abdication. It is courageous and wise to resign during his life. A short reaction is appropriate.
For some reason we still expect changes to come from the rulers of the world: from leaders, from politicians, from governments, from armies, from banks or international financial institutions. Obviously power is important if you want to make changes. But the actual movement often starts elsewhere.
Again the call for morality sounds loud and clear. This time it is coming from the chairman of the PvdA (Partij van de Arbeid – Labour party) Hans Spekman and PvdA-Minister Ronald Plasterk.
Rev. Karin van den Broeke has been elected new moderator of the general synod of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands. She was elected for a period of five years. Rev. Van den Broeke succeeds Rev. Peter Verhoeff.
Ecumenism remains to be a thrilling matter. Recently I learned that the Vatican made an application to be allowed to use the extension catholic exclusively for the Roman-Catholic Church in the digital communication.
Arjan Plaisier: It is clear: starting 2016 no public money will go to the ideological broadcasting companies anymore.
In his Comment on Time moderator Peter Verhoeff enters into the merits of the news that thousands of Dutchmen have no health insurance because they fundamentally oppose insurances.
Arjan Plaisier comments on media-headlines: 'Will Protestant Church abolish hell?
At 8, 9 and 10 november the General Synod of the Protestant Church has its bi-annual meeting. One of the items they discuss is the question: what is the Christian message for a world in which the views about work are changing rapidly?
The Committee Income Tax proposes to abolish donations-rebate for charities. This is because of the simplicity of a pre-completed tax return-form.
The governing-agreement of VVD and PvdA came about rapidly. Obviously there is chemistry between the negotiators and especially between Rutte and Samsom.
Saturday, October 6th, about 3000 people went to the Mailiveld (alarge stretch of grass in The Hague) for the gathering ‘We make the choice for unity’. Secretary Plaisier was attending too.
Dr. De Leede and Dr. Stark have investigated sermons, and made a number of drastic conclusions based on 20 in depth soundings. Dr Arjan Plaisier secretary of the general synod, gives his scomment.
In the Netherlands there were elections on September 13th for the parliament. General secretary Plaisier reflects on the outcome.
Finally we can. The Telegraaf was triumphant: 130 kilometres: A2, we are on our way!!! Everyone is welcome to have his/her fun as far as I am concerned, but I was a little surprised to notice that an increase of maximum speed could provoke such great emotions.
On September 12th we are allowed to vote once more. How will we vote? Steady voting conduct is a relic, so it could go anywhere...
Ecumenism runs in the blood of the Protestant Church. The Protestant Church herself is the result of a church-union. Wherever possible we want to stimulate ecumenism at home and abroad. Ecumenism is exciting, because it is about the unity for which Jesus Christ calls us. It is exciting, because ecumenism is always on the move and there are always new ecumenical impulses originating.
Saying that it is not a happy marriage: church and football is the euphemism of the week, chair of the synod Peter Verhoeff thinks: it is a pity.
The tolerance-coalition is over, after that a spring-consent has been agreed and in the mean time the parties are warming-up for the new elections. In CDA-circles the question has come up if there is a need to look back first. I think that will be necessary, but not only by the CDA (1).\r\n
"Come Holy Spirit, renew your church"\r\n\r\nThis prayer sounded at the start of the Protestant Church. In this prayer echoed the realization we can only be church through the power of the Holy Spirit. After eight years this awareness only increased. Without the Holy Spirit the church machinery will crack and finally come to a full stop. Therefore we pray: Come Holy Spirit, renew your church.\r\n
In a few days time we received several alarming messages from international organizations about attacks on churches, Christian organizations and people. Nigeria, Kenya and Sudan, South-East-Asia and the Middle East were mentioned. Burning churches, a bomb attack, murder, a destroyed bible school… and so on and so on.\r\n\r\n
For many people it is a must every year: attending a performance of the Passion according to St. Matthew. The great opus of Bach is obviously indestructible. I don’t have the opportunity to attend a life-performance every year, but I do listen to a CD recording. And each year I get carried away. Supporting is the story, narrated by the evangelist. And what this story means becomes evident in the arias and the choir parts. All of this immersed in music, music which has made itself entirely subservient to this great Passion story. Music which may very well be the absolute climax of classical music.
In a rather painful way we are finding out these days that we can not do as we please in our part of Europe.
On February 14th it is Valentine’s Day once more. I write this comment not to urge you to run off to the shop and buy presents in order to rekindle or save your marriage or relationship.
Suddenly it was there. That is how it is with fashionable words. Nobody knows who was the first to use it.
Who is man? The other day the Jacobi church in Utrecht filled up with people for a public debate on this topic. Two scholars crossed swords with each other: Dick Swaab and Herman van Praag.
According to research of the Sociaal Cultureel Planbureau (SCP – Social Cultural Planning organisation) a majority of the Dutch population has a gloomy disposition about their economical prospects.
After earlier preliminary reports the committee Deetman published her final report on sexual abuse of minors in the Roman Catholic Church.
The upcoming days it will become clear what decisions will be made by Europe’s political leaders in view of the financial crisis. The indebtedness of mainly the southern countries of Europe,
With 84 votes in favour and 58 votes against the Chamber of Deputies has accepted a motion of GroenLinks to make legal regulations that registrars can not refuse to join homosexuals in matrimony.
Rev. Vlietstra of the Hersteld Hervormde Gemeente (=Restored Reformed Congregation) at Katwijk became national news this week because he was supposed to have advised parents to hit a ‘sinful’ child.
The hype around Mauro is over. The church should not take part in a hype. Not with this hype either. It looked too much like scoring over Mauro’s back. It was too close to populism. However, the church is involved in the subject ‘asylum’. How could it be otherwise?
In his book ‘God does not exist and Jesus is his Son’ rev. Hendrikse writes about his thoughts regarding the origin of Christian religion and about the value of the range of ideas which has been preserved in the Christian church through all ages.
The Protestant Church in the Netherlands wants to make clear that there is ‘more’ than what occurs in daily life, ‘more than our possibilities and impossibilities, more than the dull repetition of moves’. This is the key-note of the new vision memorandum ‘The heartbeat of life’ which was presented by the synod board of the Protestant Church to the general synod, a key-note full of ‘faith, hope and love’.
Jan-Gerd Heetderks: 'To many ‘Europe’ seems to have become a dirty word...'
The new vision memorandum 'The heartbeat of life' of the Protestant Church wants to make clear that there is ‘more’ than what occurs in daily life.
Dr. Arjan Plaisier: 'Sunday is different from other days... The light is different, the heart may open up.'
Chairman Peter Verhoeff: 'September 11th - Even after ten years it is still difficult to really comprehend the impact of this particular day.'
Secretary Arjan Plaisier: 'The worst would be that the soul has died even before the church building is abandoned. God forbid.'\r\n
Secretary Arjan Plaisier: 'We have the obligation to bring the fate of our persecuted brothers and sisters in publicity.'
Secretary Arjan Plaisier: 'A society needs a common good. Without it she perishes.'
Secretary Arjan Plaisier: 'When a secular majority looks down upon the retarded pious and outdated opinions, they will one day have to do with only the echo of their own voice.'
Recently Germany and Switzerland decided to abandon nuclear energy. In 2022 the last plant will be closed. Of course these decisions can not be seen apart from the disaster in Fukushima. Some judge the intended closing to be very wise. Others call it sheer panic.
From May 16th till May 20th 2011 eight members of the Jewish community and eight representatives of the Protestant Church met in Nes Ammim on account of the tensions which arose last year in the relationship between the Jewish community and the Protestant Church. Nes Amim is a place in Israel where an important contribution is made out of a Christian inspiration to the dialogue between the religions in the land Israel.
It did not come to pass. The world did not pass away last Saturday. An American minister thought this would happen and made his announcement heard by means of an expensive advertising campaign, in the Railway stations in the Netherlands as well.
The enormous reductions on the budgets of organizations for development cooperation have been accepted almost silently. Obviously there is a broad opinion in our society that we can cut back a little here.