Netherlands Reformed Congregations

Netherlands Reformed Congregations

Kalamazoo Netherlands Reformed Congregation
Classification Protestant
Orientation Dutch Reformed
Theology conservative Calvinist
Polity Presbyterian
Region United States, Canada and Bolivia
Founder Gerrit Hendrik Kersten
Origin 1907[1]
Branched from Reformed Congregations in the Netherlands
Separations 1967 some members formed the Reformed Congregations in North America & in 1993 groups from a number of congregations left to form the Heritage Reformed Congregations
Congregations 27[2]
Members 10.790 (2014)[3]
Official website

The Netherlands Reformed Congregations, is a conservative denomination with congregations in Canada, the United States and Bolivia. It is affiliated with the Reformed Congregations (Gereformeerde Gemeenten) in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands Reformed Congregations aim to remain true to inerrant Scripture (the Bible) and its Reformed heritage as expounded in the denomination’s doctrinal standards: Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Canons of Dort. They are also in agreement with the Westminster Standards.

Basic beliefs and doctrines

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The Netherlands Reformed Congregations hold to infant baptism but believe that although being baptized, each child still carries the personal necessity of being born again by the inward work of the Holy Spirit. Baptism places a child into an external (or outward) relationship to the covenant of grace, just as the Israelites who passed through the Red Sea were outwardly part of God's covenant people. Like the Israelites, baptized children have many of the outward benefits of the children of God. Until they are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, however, they remain outside of the saving benefits of covenant of grace.

Bible version

The church services are conducted using exclusively the Authorised Version (King James) of the Bible. Almost all of the songs sung during the worship service are based on the book of Psalms.

Worship and Liturgical forms

In keeping with the Dutch Reformed traditions most of the liturgical forms used are translations of the Dutch forms edited by Petrus Dathenus (1531-1588) and used during the Reformation times. Most of the member churches have services two or three times per Sunday. The topic for one service per week is based on one of the 52 Lord's Days from The Heidelberg Catechism. The worship starts with a prayer, followed by singing of a Psalm. In addition to reading a part of the Scripture, the 10 Commandments are read during the Sunday morning service and the Apostles' Creed is read during the Sunday evening service. The pastor or an elder then prays with, and on behalf of the congregation. Following the prayer and the singing of a song adapted from the Psalms, the pastor delivers (preaches) the sermon. After the sermon, there is a closing prayer and more singing from the Psalter. The worship service ends with the pastor pronouncing the prayer for divine blessing from God upon the congregation, usually in the words of Numbers 6:24-26. During worship the congregation remains silent and respectful. Women wear headcoverings in accordance with 1 Corinthians 11.[4] The intention of preaching a topical sermon guided by the Heidelberg Catechism is so that each of the various doctrines taught within Scripture will be covered at least once every year. The Netherlands Reformed Church recognizes two Sacraments: Holy Baptism and Lord's Supper. Children of members are usually baptized in the weeks or months following birth. The Lord's Supper, on the other hand, is usually held about four or five times per year although this may vary among individual churches. Only members who are (1) truly repentant for their sins, (2) have fled to Jesus Christ for salvation, and (3) are purposed from the heart to live in true thankfulness to God, are welcome to participate.[5]

Creeds and confessions

The church subscribes to the Three Forms of Unity which are as follows:

The church adheres to the five Solae of the Protestant Reformation.


Before emigration to North America

Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Barendrecht

This church originated in 1830 before the emigration to the United States, when a small group in the Netherlands called the Reformed Congregations (Gereformeerde Gemeenten) broke away from the state church.[8]

Emigration to North America

Distancing themselves from their fellow secessionists of Albertus van Raalte and his associates Cornelius Vander Meulen and Hendrik Scholte due to doctrinal disputes, they led their own emigration first to South Holland, Illinois, in 1865 and then to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1870.[9]

Post emigration

1972 status

In 1972, there were fourteen Netherlands Reformed Congregations in the United States, most still conducting their services half in Dutch and half in English, with over five thousand members.

1993 church split

In 1993 there was a split in the Netherlands Reformed Congregations resulting in a new denomination by Joel Beeke called the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregations, which was renamed the Heritage Reformed Congregations in 2005. The two denominations, although split, continue to co-operate with the running of Christian schools founded by the NRC.

As of 2008 the Heritage Reformed Congregations has five churches in the United States and five in Canada. The denomination is one of the "governing denominations" of the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary,[10] and consists out of the following congregations.[11]

Current status

In 2001 there were 26 churches and 9395 members in Canada and the United States. In 2014 the church has 27 congregations and 10,790 members. Currently there are 3 Classis. In Bolivia there are also congregations in Rincon, Santa Cruz and Loma Alta[12]


The NRC consists of these congregations:

Recent status

The Netherlands Reformed Congregations in North America continue to have close relations with their sister churches (the Gereformeerde Gemeenten) in the Netherlands. The church services in North America are now mostly conducted in the English language, with some services still in the Dutch language.[13]

Mission fields

The Netherlands Reformed Congregations is involved in mission work in the Loma Alta, Santa Cruz, and Tarija area of Bolivia.


Sunday school and catechism classes

In general the churches hold Sunday School and Catechism classes for the youth of the congregation. These classes may be held after the Sunday morning service.

Elementary/high schools

Netherlands Reformed Christian Educational Association consists of twelve[14] schools throughout the United States and Canada, with approximately 3,100 students as of the 2006-2007 school year.


Magazines and articles


See also


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