Tag Archives: Gereformeerde Kerk Vrijgemaakt Marum

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to make this announcement:  “We announce to the congregation gathered here present this afternoon that van der Land has withdrawn himself from the discipline of the church and with this he has ceased being a member of the Reformed Church.”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  Instead, they went the easy way and announced him as having withdrawn.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…


Klaas van der Land’s Liberation Story (2)

Klaas van der Land at his home in Edmonton.

I hated church history in school.  There were reasons for that — one of them was the textbook, another was the teaching style.  One day I came home from school and Opa and Oma were visiting.  Opa asked me about my day.  I told him straight up that it was terrible.  He asked why.  I said, “We had church history.  And I hate church history!”  That was one of the few times I’ve seen Opa blow his top.  There was fire in his eyes as the words shot out, “Vat do you mean you hate church history?  Dat is zo important!”  He reamed me out, but to little effect.  I continued hating church history through my school years.  I didn’t understand until later why Opa got so passionate about this subject.

As mentioned yesterday, my Opa van der Land experienced a momentous event in church history, the Liberation of 1944.  In his small corner of the Netherlands, he was a leader in this event.  Sadly, I didn’t realize that until after having a meaningful conversation with Opa became impossible.  His last few years saw him struggling with worsening dementia and by the time I cared about church history, he couldn’t talk about that, or much else of anything for that matter.

Eventually, some of his personal effects relating to this period came into my possession.  With these items, I can piece together a little bit of the story.  For example, how did Opa come to his Liberated convictions?  There are a couple of clues.  One is a booklet by Dr. Seakle Greijdanus.  It was published on cheap wartime paper in 1944.

From the postmark, we learn that it was sent to him in 1944, probably from the city of Groningen.  Someone peeled off the stamp, so we don’t have the full name of the place of origin, nor the full date.  It was sent to Klaas van der Land the store keeper in Nuis via the post office in Niebert (a village next to Nuis).  But who sent it and the background behind its sending is a mystery.

The pamphlet itself was written by Greijdanus, a close colleague of Klaas Schilder at the seminary in Kampen.  The title comes from Acts 7:1,2 “Are then these things so?  And he said….listen now.”  However, it’s not an exposition of Acts 7:1,2 but an explanation of the events surrounding the suspension of Klaas Schilder and what happened with the autocratic synods.  I would imagine that this pamphlet was influential in my Opa’s thinking about these things.

There were also two local ministers who appear in the documents I have.  As I mentioned yesterday, Marum’s pastor was underground hiding from the Nazis and so out of the picture.  He wasn’t supportive of the Liberation anyway.  However, to the north of Marum was the village of Kornhorn.  Rev. E.H. Woldring had been serving there since 1922.  It was his first congregation.  By 1945, he was 61 years old — a veteran pastor who followed the Liberation.  Some 20 km to the northeast of Marum was Rev. H. Bouma in Niezijl.  Niezijl was his first congregation and he was just 28 years old in 1945.  He too became Liberated.  He would later author a book translated into English as Secession, Doleantie and Union: 1834-1892.  The veteran pastor Woldring and the greenhorn pastor Bouma supported my Opa and the other Liberated believers in Marum.  After the Liberation happened, Woldring and Bouma took turns leading the worship services for them.  I’m inclined to think that these pastors probably had something to do with shaping my Opa’s convictions as well.  Especially with the absence of Marum’s pastor, it’s quite conceivable that Woldring and Bouma occasionally led the services in the church there before the Liberation — and that’s likely where the connection was forged.

More tomorrow…


Klaas van der Land’s Liberation Story (1)

In my last post, I concluded with a brief reference to my maternal grandfather’s involvement in the Liberation of 1944 (75 years ago).  I’m going to follow up and explore that a little further in a couple of blog posts.  I have a few primary source items in my possession that shed some light on what happened with the Liberation in a sleepy corner of the province of Groningen.

Marum is where my mother was born.  It’s right on the border with Friesland — in fact, my Opa was fluent in Frisian.  I visited there in 2004.  My grandparents owned and operated a small shop in the neighbouring village of Nuis.  However, they attended the Reformed Church in Marum.

I have a 1977 Yearbook from the Liberated Reformed Church in Marum.  It came into my possession after my grandfather died.  I believe he received it in the course of some correspondence with Rev. W. Scherff.  He was apparently doing some research about the Liberation in Marum (the church he was serving at the time) and wrote to my grandfather in Canada.  This Yearbook contains an outline of the history of that church.  Please note the entry for October 21, 1945:

Translation:  “Deacon Klaas van der Land liberates himself.  Different people do that after him.  They find ecclesiastical shelter in Kornhorn [another village to the north of Marum].  Church services are started (in the community hall) under the oversight of the consistory in Kornhorn.  The church here was re-instituted on January 12, 1947.”

You might be wondering how a deacon ended up leading the Liberation in this small church.  For example, where did the pastor stand?  The pastor was Rev. S. van Wouwe.  Because of the Second World War, he was out of the picture.  He was what they called an “onderduiker.”  The Nazis had a keen interest in arresting pastors critical of the Third Reich.  Van Wouwe must have been one of those.  He was forced “underground.”  However, even after the war, he didn’t go with the Liberation.  In fact, none of the other office bearers in Marum did either.  Klaas van der Land was completely on his own in terms of leadership.  I don’t know what the size of the congregation was at that time, but we do know that it was a mere 15 communicant members who went with the Liberation in Marum.  According to the 1977 Yearbook, the Marum congregation had grown to 153 members total.

More next time…