News and Columns

A selection of the news about activities, developments  and  synod-declarations of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands.

    Jubilee 70 years World Council of Churches

    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.

    Church 2025: one step further

    The general synod has accepted the policy proposals in the report ‘Church 2025: one step further’.

    Major changes characterize future of Protestant Church in the Netherlands

    ‘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.

    Jesus as a Shelf Stacker

    Christmas stress and Jesus, that’s the theme for the Christmas commercial of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands this year.

    'Struck by the poetic force'

    '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.

    Grande Dame Angela Merkel

    Wise, prudent, balanced but also courageous, this is how Arjan Plaisier describes Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel’s style.

    Hiroshima: We will never do this again

    Hours ahead, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is already packed. Special seats have been set apart for survivors (hibakusha) and the bereaved.

    The cranes are welcoming us

    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.

    October 31st

    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.

    Micah Sunday

    If the ocean warms up three degrees, the fish will leave the tropical sea and seek refuge elsewhere. An article of one week ago.

    Flag half-mast for the victims

    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.

    The Bible in common language

    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

    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?

    Marco van Basten's strong move

    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.

    Hand to the plough!

    '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

    Change through listening together to the Word of God

    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.

    Comment on time - Our own battle against Jihad

    '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.

    Comment on time - God in the public domain

    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.

    Comment on time - Once more 'God in the Netherlands'

    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'.

    Good News during Lent

    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.

    Comment on time - Leiden and Kiev

    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.

    Comment on time - Euthanasia

    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.

    Comment on time - Out of date

    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.

    Comment on time - On New Year's Eve

    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

    Column on time - Food and drink

    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.

    Comment on time - Compassion for strangers

    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.

    Comment on time: Quote – Goot – Quiet 500

    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.

    Internet Church opens with online church service

    October 15th at 8 pm the internet church (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

    Comment on time - Apocalypse now

    Arjan Plaisier:Joris Luyendijk wrote alarming articles on the banking world. His conclusion: it could happen again. And worse.

    Comment on time - Syria

    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.

    Comment on time - Second Love

    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.

    Comment on time: Dutch Christian Panel

    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).

    Comment on time: Ibn Ghaldoun

    For days it has dominated the news: the stolen examination papers at the Islamic school Ibn Ghaldoun in Rotterdam.

    Comment on time: the government as moralizer

    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.

    Comment on time: Inauguration

    Granted. The inauguration functioned primarily as a beautiful, slightly moving and binding moment in our society.

    Comment on time: Scornful Blasphemy

    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.

    Comment on time: Miracles?

    Recently Onno van Schayck, Professor of Preventive Medicine, left as director of research institute Caphri after having spoken about a healing upon prayer.

    Comment on time: A new Pope

    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

    Comment on time - Digital glasses

    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.

    Comment on time: Pope Benedict XVI

    Pope Benedict XVI has announced his abdication. It is courageous and wise to resign during his life. A short reaction is appropriate.

    Comment on time: Making a difference

    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.

    Comment on time: Morality

    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 new moderator general synod

    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.

    Comment on time: Who is catholic?

    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.

    Comment on time: No Insurance

    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.

    We and our work

    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?

    Comment on time: Delivering a sermon

    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.

    Comment on time: The voter has spoken

    In the Netherlands there were elections on September 13th for the parliament. General secretary Plaisier reflects on the outcome.

    Comment on time: Peter Verhoeff about 130 kilometres/hour

    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.

    Comment on time: Ecumenism in the Netherlands

    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.

    Comment on time: Football

    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.

    Comment on time: Should we look back on the ‘experiment’?

    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

    Pentecost Message 2012

    "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

    Comment on time: 'Incidents'

    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

    Comment on time: St. Matthew Passion and The Passion

    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.

    Comment on time: St Valentine's Day     

    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.

    Comment on time: Compassion

    Suddenly it was there. That is how it is with fashionable words. Nobody knows who was the first to use it.

    Comment on time: Who is man?          

    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.

    Comment on time: Gloomy disposition   

    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.

    Comment on time: Sustainable investing   

    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,

    Comment on time: The objection-registrar   

    With 84 votes in favour and 58 votes against the Chamber of Deputies has accepted a motion of GroenLinks[1] to make legal regulations that registrars can not refuse to join homosexuals in matrimony.

    Comment on time: Hitting  

    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.

    Comment on time: Asylum  

    The hype around Mauro[1] 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?

    Protestant Church: There is more

    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’.

    Comment on time: Europe

    Jan-Gerd Heetderks: 'To many ‘Europe’ seems to have become a dirty word...'

    'The heartbeat of life'

    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.

    Comment on time: Ten years 9/11

    Chairman Peter Verhoeff: 'September 11th - Even after ten years it is still difficult to really comprehend the impact of this particular day.'

    Comment on time: Church closure

    Secretary Arjan Plaisier: 'The worst would be that the soul has died even before the church building is abandoned. God forbid.'\r\n

    Persecution of christians

    Secretary Arjan Plaisier: 'We have the obligation to bring the fate of our persecuted brothers and sisters in publicity.'

    Comment on time: Free speech

    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.'

    Comment on time: Nuclear energy

    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.

    Comment on time: Encounter and dialogue

    From May 16th till May 20th 2011 eight members of the Jewish community and eight representatives of the Protestant Church[1] met in Nes Ammim on account of the tensions which arose last year in the relationship between the Jewish community and the Protestant Church.[2] 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.

    Comment on time: Tomorrow the world will pass away

    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.

    Comment on time: More than being touched

    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.