Larry Quelwen (46) and Gertjan Hendrickmann (44), both members of the executive committee, are confident about the future of the Dutch Reformed churches. They see the unification of NGK and GKv as a blessing, which they have gratefully welcomed.
Gertjan is pleased that unification is “finally” a reality. “The word liberation may sound a little too heavy, but I feel like we’ve been touched for so long by all sorts of things. Sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but that makes it sound like liberation. Plus, there’s a deep gratitude for being alone.”
Larry also recognizes Jertgan’s first feeling in some form. … when the Advisory Committee was revived after a long break, there was a new impetus and a will to come together indeed. National developments have helped us tremendously. But in the past, in my opinion, local barriers were erected unnecessarily.”
Shortly after announcing that the consolidation would become a reality on May 1, 2023, Larry wrote a blog. In it I suggested—nothing is yet known about the name—that I would like the church to be called NGK. I pointed out: How nice it would be for the largest group to bear the name of the smaller group. A very nice gesture. In this sense I think: Beautiful. But on the other hand I have my doubts : Because what do you say to the outside world with that name? Then you should have chosen something completely different.”
Gertjan Hendrickmann: On the one hand, I regret choosing that name. I would have preferred that we had left the past completely behind and that a name unrelated to the two churches had been chosen. Unfortunately, the beautiful names have already been taken. On the other hand, I say: What is the name? The most important thing is what we will do as a church in the future.”
You regularly read the term: unity in diversity. Gertjan points out that this should become the strength of the Dutch Reformed Churches. “This applies to every community and certainly to the church. This also keeps the church alive. If you magnify the differences, it will divide people. Get to know who people are, that they can have different opinions. Give each other space in this. And stick to the core.” In which you’re church with each other. You’re probably very strong. Locally, we’ve made a strong effort to answer the question: How do you get people to meet each other.”
Larry: Well, all over the world, you see many forms of how people experience their faith. In the GKv it was sometimes in the past too veiny to want to do it the same way. Give the soul space. I am convinced that the soul stirs up different things in one place than in another. without one being better than the other. Let this happen.”
Things have already been taken up together by local churches, such as summer evening services. Gertjan and Larry see a lot of possibilities. Gertjan: Ideas are enough, but sometimes it takes time and everything has to fit. We have of course already made great strides in terms of sharing platforms and common services.” Larry adds: “The GKv and NGK have worked together more locally in recent years than the GKv churches have done in the previous period.”
When asked what they thought of the strength of each other’s church, Gertjan said: “I think we should respect the GKv’s decisiveness, with the help of manpower. There are people with knowledge walking around, people with great organizational talent. That’s what’s coming out now. Just look at the journals.” Produced by Nord Corporation”.
Larry: Well, I feel like Westerkerk is a pretty close community. That’s how I see it from afar. What I sometimes envied in the past was that the liturgical innovations of the NGK were faster than ours. If ten years ago I had to take a fresh look at the church I would attend, it probably wouldn’t have been the GKv church. This would have been the PKN or NGK at that time. In recent years, much has changed for the better in the field of liturgy within the GKv. By the way, I never seriously considered switching, and always felt called to dedicate myself to the GKv.
Larry and Gertjan are confident about the future within the Dutch Reformed churches. Gertjan: I see that as a starting point. This allows us to mean more to each other in our village, not only as believers, but also to people outside the church. We do that quite a bit. It’s very simple, but we don’t do it. In business we call that inside. We can be very busy with all kinds of internal committees and ignore that there are also people outside the municipality who are experiencing difficulties.”
Larry: “Looking abroad is very important, and then to other churches too. Now that we are starting to integrate both nationally and locally, the pursuit of contact with others does not stop. Now is the time to strengthen ties with the local PKN Gerformerde party. There is already the possibility of chancel exchange. This gives church members a signal that you recognize each other as the Church of Christ. We have to keep looking for contacts, doing things together. We should also keep striving to connect with the CGK and the Reformed Church, although this is a bit more complicated.”
To the question of how the church remains so vital, according to Larry, there is only one possible answer: As a church, stay focused on the fact that you, as an entire congregation, continue to follow Jesus as his disciples and continue to see God. The Word as the Word of God, with room for differences of interpretation, is where the essence of the Gospel remains: Jesus is Lord and rose, standing.
Gertjan: ,, That’s where the key lies. And as Larry says, give space to the things that don’t eat into the heart of the gospel. People are different, and everyone’s beliefs are different. Don’t try to put people in chains. Many things hinder fear. Make room for new developments and new ideas. Don’t hit the brakes in advance. Let the Apostles’ Creed be our foundation, and give space to go beyond it.”
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