white and black sunken ship
white and black sunken ship

As of May 1, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated) no longer exist.  In the Netherlands they were known as the Gereformeerde Kerken – Vrijgemaakt (GKV).  As of May 1, the GKV merged with the Nederlands Gereformeerde Kerken to form a new federation of churches.  The new federation is called the Nederlandse (note the extra ‘e’) Gereformeerde Kerken (Dutch Reformed Churches).

The 1930s and 1940s were a tumultuous time for the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (GKN).  They were racked by controversy over the teachings of Abraham Kuyper.  When synods began binding office bearers to some of those teachings, that sparked the Vrijmaking, the Liberation of 1944.  The Liberated churches claimed to be the legitimate continuation of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands.    

Both the Canadian Reformed Churches and the Free Reformed Churches of Australia were established by Dutch immigrants from the GKV.  For many years, the GKV was considered to be the beloved “mother church.”  However, in 2017 the GKV decided to open all the offices of the church to women and that was the beginning of the end for ecumenical relations with the CanRC and FRCA (and many others).  In 2022, the GKV suffered the humiliation of being expelled from the International Conference of Reformed Churches over their decision concerning women in office.

While they were alienating themselves from confessionally orthodox Reformed and Presbyterian churches around the world, they were also courting and being courted by the Nederlands Gereformeerde Kerken (Netherlands Reformed Churches).  The NGK were the product of a schism in the GKV in 1967.  Those who formed the NGK wanted more ecumenical openness than was acceptable in the GKV of the time.  Over time, the NGK became progressively less confessionally Reformed.  In 1995 they opened the office of deacon to women, and by 2011 women were also serving as pastors.  The 2017 decision of the GKV paved the way for a merger, or reunification, with the NGK.

According to news reports, only three GKV congregations did not join the merger:  Urk, Capelle aan den IJssel-Noord, and Vroomshoop.  However, over the last number of years the GKV also lost members to churches like the Gereformeerde Kerken Nederland and the Gereformeerde Kerken (Hersteld).  These churches are also in discussions about a merger. 

In the meantime, the last chapter has been written for the GKV’s history.  Sadly, it did not end well.