Wednesday 22 March 2023

Strict Protestant churches ignored calls for online services, no singing

Photo: Johan van Buren

Dozens of Protestant churches in the Netherlands have ignored official advice and held services for more than 30 worshippers over the past six months.

In total, some 75% of churches which are part of the orthodox ‘reformist’ strand of Protestantism ignored the call to limit numbers, according to research by the Nederlands Dagblad,  a staunchly Christian newspaper.

In total, 100 churches took part in the research and 50 said they had allowed more than 100 worshippers to take part in services. Nine in 10 of the churches also allowed singing, which also went against the official recommendations.

In mid December, the church umbrella organisation CIO recommended that services be held online, with only officials present in the building itself. Last week, the CIO relaxed that advice, saying it would now be responsible to allow churches with capacity for 300 worshippers to fill 10% of their seats.

At the end of March two fundamentalist Protestant churches hit the headlines after saying they would ignore the guidelines out of concern for their congregations’ spiritual welfare.

The decision by the churches on the former island of Urk and in the Zuid-Holland town of Krimpen aan de Ijssel led to confrontations between churchgoers and journalists.

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.

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