Klaas van der Land’s Liberation Story (3)

See here for part 1 and here for part 2.

It seems my Opa harboured anti-synodical sentiments for a while.  He evidently didn’t keep them to himself, either.  In October of 1945, he was called on the carpet before a consistory meeting in Marum.  He tells the story briefly in a document from the archives of Reformed Church (Liberated) in Marum.  The translation is mine:

Declaration of br. deacon van der Land regarding his suspension

I was asked whether or not I could perform my office.  To this I answered that I was chosen by God and the congregation to the office and I hoped to perform it to the end of my term.

And that I would no more recognize a consistory which agrees with the binding of the Synod, for, as I see it, the Synod was not entitled to do this.

Further, I was asked whether I knew that I had placed myself under the discipline of the church, which I had promised at my installation as an office bearer.  To this I answered that I cannot place myself under them, when they have condemned ministers of the Word and office bearers who bring the Word according to the sense and meaning of the Holy Spirit.  They could not understand that I certainly could not continue in the communion of saints with them, nor celebrate the Lord’s Supper with them.  To this I replied that I could not find rest with the idea of sitting at the table with brothers who condemn me in their hearts — after all, when they condemn the concerned, they condemn me also.  Those who are concerned have always been my brothers.

Consequently, they decided to make this announcement:  “We announce to the congregation gathered here present this afternoon that van der Land has withdrawn himself from the discipline of the church and with this he has ceased being a member of the Reformed Church.”

The announcement about his withdrawal was made on Sunday October 21, 1945.

There are a couple of interesting things from this statement.  First, it appears that prior to this meeting he had already been suspended as a deacon.  So he was under discipline as an office bearer.  Second, it’s unusual that the suspension didn’t proceed to deposition.  Instead, they went the easy way and announced him as having withdrawn.  The process of discipline was short-circuited.  I wonder if they would have followed that route if their pastor had been at the helm.

Following the announcement, Klaas van der Land sent two letters.  The first (dated October 25, 1945) was sent to the consistory.  He complained that their decision was unjust.  He respectfully asked them to rescind their decision.  They didn’t.

After hearing that they would not back down, Opa sent a letter to all the members of the Reformed Church at Marum.  He informed them of what had transpired.  He told them that, from his perspective, he had not withdrawn from the church.  He had not abandoned his office.  He called the other congregation members to join him in liberating themselves from the unscriptural binding being imposed on them.

On Sunday October 28, 1945, the first gathering of Liberated believers took place at my Opa and Oma’s house in Nuis.  There were five present — three brothers and two sisters.  Rev. H. Bouma from Niezijl read with them from Romans 9:1-13 and led in prayer.  He explained the struggle in the churches.  They decided to distribute literature and then organize an information evening.  The meeting concluded in prayer.

The next gathering was on Sunday November 11, 1945, again at Opa and Oma’s house.  This time thirteen were present — ten brothers and three sisters.  Both Rev. Bouma and Rev. Woldring were also present.  They gave encouragement to those present.  They made further arrangements for another information evening.  After that evening (which took place on November 22), they would begin worship services at the Community Hall in Marum under the supervision of the church in Kornhorn.   That’s what happened.

Opa and Oma only stayed in the Marum area for a few more years.  In 1951, they immigrated to Canada.  First settling in the Peace River area in Alberta, eventually they found their way to Edmonton.  There they found a whole new bunch of church struggles amongst the Liberated immigrants.  But that’s a completely different story…

About Wes Bredenhof

Pastor of the Free Reformed Church, Launceston, Tasmania. View all posts by Wes Bredenhof

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