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International Collaboration

"Sharing the Reformed Tradition"
Free University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
November 1996
One aspect of the Institute's work is collaboration with fellow scholars and other institutes and groups with related missions, not only within the United States, but internationally, especially in the Netherlands. This reciprocity was fostered in this academic year through two conferences, at each of which Dr. Bruins, Dr. Swierenga, Dr. Hans Krabbendam and Dr. George Harinck were featured speakers. Dr. Krabbendam, a former student of Dr. Swierenga, is a member of the staff of the Roosevelt Study Center, Middelburg, Zeeland Province, the Netherlands; Dr. Harinck's work is with the Historical Documentation Center at the Free University of Amsterdam.

"Pioneers for Jesus Christ": Dutch Protestant Colonization in North America as an Act of Faith
...At first Dutch authorities tried to check the Separatist movement by levying stiff fines on dissenting clerics and banning worship services. Some employers refused to hire Separatists. Such harassment created an emigration mentality and when the potato blight struck in 1845 and 1846, entire congregations of Separatists departed en masse for the United States. The "Groote Trek" was led by a half-dozen Seceder clergymen, notably Albertus C. Van Raalte and Hendrik P. Scholte, who each took about a thousand followers to Holland, Michigan, and Pella, Iowa, respectively. Other thousands of Seceders soon joined them. In the years from 1846 through 1850, eighty of every one thousand Seceders departed from the fatherland, compared to only four per thousand Hervormde Kerk adherents. These people had a remarkable impact on the American Dutch Reformed community, especially when one considers the fact that they were only a minor part of the much larger migration from the Netherlands in the last half of the nineteenth century.

excerpted from a speech given by Robert P. Swierenga, published in Sharing the Reformed Tradition: The Dutch-North American Exchange, 1846-1996, p. 41.

"A Plant of American Origin: Fit for Dutch Soil?":
American Protestantism and the Dutch Reformed
Temperance Effort, 1835-1935
...Dutch Christians saw the drinking problem foremost as a mental problem. Therefore their expectations for legal measures were not high, except as instruments to reduce temptation. Many Christians discovered that temperance advanced all those issues important to them: Sabbath observance, prayer, living to the honor of God, and the coming of God's Kingdom. The most receptive to the Anglo Saxon temperance movement were those who were involved in evangelism and missions, such as Adama van Scheltema and J. L. de Jonge, who were willing to make personal sacrifices. This confirms the connection between revivalist leanings and temperance activities.

excerpted from a speech given by Hans Krabbendam, published in Sharing the Reformed Tradition: The Dutch-North American Exchange, 1846-1996, p. 73


In November, Dr. Bruins and Dr. Swierenga traveled to the Netherlands to take part in a lecture series sponsored by the Free University of Amsterdam and the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg. Dr. Jacobson had earlier assisted in conference preparations by editing the English translations of several papers written by the Dutch scholars.

"An American Moses": Albertus C. Van Raalte
as Immigrant Leader
...Van Raalte was not the installed pastor of the Holland congregation because there was no classis to install him. This was likely the case for the other pastors also. For that reason and others, the congregations of the colony formed the Classis of Holland on April 23, 1848. The agenda of the meeting included important issues which reflected Van Raalte's background in the Netherlands. One was accepting the Kerkelijk Handboekje of 1840 for the church order to be followed. Another was the decision to allow elders and deacons to serve repeated terms, a departure from the Dordt church order that had caused the Churches Under the Cross to leave the Afscheiding movement. The third key item was to give the churches the freedom to celebrate festival days as they saw fit.

excerpted from a speech given by Elton J. Bruins, published in Sharing the Reformed Tradition: The Dutch-North American Exchange, 1846-1996, p. 25.


In their introduction to the collected speeches, "Sharing the Reformed Tradition," Dr. Harinck and Dr. Krabbendam note (p. 9) that sharing "implies foremost communication; [but] in a stronger sense sharing means participation, and the examples in this book explain that the Reformed not only talked to, wrote, and visited one another, but they joined in projects and campaigns. Sometime these contacts even generated an emotional response, either of exultation or of frustration. "

Other lectures given at the Netherlands conference included "Abraham Kuyper, American History, and the Tensions of Neo-Calvinism," by James Bratt; "The Gospel Hymns in the Low Countries," by Jan Smelink; and "The Place of the Church in Society: Views of Dutch and American Ministers in Canada in the 1950s," by Aileen Van Ginkel.

Valentijn Hepp in America:
Attempts at International Exchange in the 1920s
...[Hepp] regularly informed his Dutch audience about his experiences in De Reformatie, in a series describing his travel impressions, titled "Through America." How different the circumstances were compared to the times of Kuyper was shown by the many difficulties Hepp had to overcome before he was able to disembark in New York. He described his experience at the American consulate at Amsterdam and on Ellis Island, New York, how the tight rules of the 1921 Immigration Law blocked the way to America for numerous recent immigration groups. By portraying America's immigration laws as a symbol of distrust of foreigners, he showed that the new world was no longer ahead of the old world, but followed the same self-protective ways.

excerpted from a speech given by George Harinck, published in Sharing the Reformed Tradition: The Dutch-North American Exchange, 1846-1996, p. 124.


"The Sesquicentennial of Dutch Immigration:
150 years of Ethnic Heritage"
Holland, Michigan, June 1997
In the spring of 1997, Dr. Krabbendam and Dr. Harinck were guests of the Institute when they visited Holland, Michigan, to participate in the biennial conference of the Association for the Advancement of Dutch American Studies. The theme of the conference, held at Hope College on June 12 and 13, was "The Sesquicentennial of Dutch Immigration: 150 years of Ethnic Heritage." Planned and coordinated by Larry J. Wagenaar, AADAS president, the conference was co-sponsored by the Joint Archives of Holland at Hope College and the A. C. Van Raalte Institute. Keynote speaker for the conference was storyteller James C. Schaap, who presented "First Bride," an original story written for the occasion.

The 17 AADAS conference addresses included talks by Drs. Bruins and Swierenga who, respectively, discussed Albertus Van Raalte's role as leader of the emigration, and the development of rivalry between Van Raalte and Hendrik Scholte. Dr. Krabbendam spoke on "Cornelius Vander Meulen: Leader or Follower?"; Dr. Harinck's presentation was titled "'Calvinism Isn't the Only Truth': Herman Bavinck's Impressions of the USA in 1892."

Contacts with Dr. Krabbendam and Dr. Harinck have greatly enhanced our work at the Institute. We hope that the pattern of collegiality established in this international exchange will be a model for interactions with other groups who share our interests and goals.

The Archive and Documentation Center of the Reformed Churches (Geereformde Kerken, "Vrijgemaakt") at Kampen in the Netherlands, under the directorship of Dr. George Harinck, has sponsored a series of lectures by internationally known scholars in the area of Dutch religious history. Drs. Bruins, Swierenga, and Kennedy have each recently contributed to this lecture series.

Dr. Swierenga's address, given in March, 1996, described research which has been conducted on Dutch Protestant immigration to the United States, and suggested future directions for such research. In November, 1996, Dr. Bruins discussed the founding of Albertus Van Raalte's Holland Colony in Michigan, and de Kolonie's early years. Dr. Kennedy spoke, in June, 1997, on the effects of Dutch social change during the 1960s. This topic was the subject of his doctoral dissertation, published in the Netherlands under the title Nieuw Babylon in Aanbouw: Nederland in de Jaren Zestig, now in its second edition. Publication in the United States in an English translation is being explored.