Church in staunchly Protestant Urk opens its doors to 500 worshippers

Advertising an online church service. Photo:
Advertising an online church service. Photo:

A church on the staunchly Protestant former island of Urk has said it will open its doors fully to worshippers again out of concern for their ‘spiritual welfare’.

The Sion church has room for 500 people and since Sunday, everyone without symptoms has been welcome, without the need to wear face masks or keep to the 1.5 metre distance rule.

‘It is not that we know better or that we don’t listen to the government. We want to be obedient to government, while following God’s teaching,’ church elder Hessel Snoek told Trouw.

In addition, infection rates on Urk have come down and there are no cases of coronavirus within the church community, he said.

The government has not set limits on how many people can visit a church service, but advises a maximum of 30 and no singing.

In December, figures from public health institute RIVM showed that nine of the 10 biggest coronavirus hotbeds in the Netherlands were classified as Christian council areas.

Fundamentalist Protestant party SGP won an absolute majority of the votes in Urk in last week’s general election – a rare event in a country with such a fragmented political system.

The SGP believes the country should be governed ‘entirely on the basis of the ordinances of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures’ and does not think women should play an active role in politics.

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