NETHERLANDS: Membership Up,
New Leaders Elected in Year-end Meetings
Wim Altink, a pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in The Hague, Netherlands, is the new president of the church in that country, one of Europe’s most secular, “postmodern” nations. A longtime local church pastor, Altink succeeds Reinder Bruinsma, veteran church leader, who announced his retirement.
NORTH SEA BAPTISM: Wim Altink, at left in photo, baptizes a 17-year-old in the chilly waters of the North Sea in March 2004. A longtime local church pastor, Altink is now president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Netherlands.Two other leadership changes were announced: Gerard Frenk, who has served for 15 years as Sabbath school director and secretary of the Ministerial Association, is the new general secretary, while J. Andre Amsen was elected treasurer.
During the past five years, membership in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Netherlands has increased nearly 5 percent, and from baptisms, not immigration, local church leaders announced during recent leadership meetings. Total Adventist Church membership stands at approximately 5,000 in a nation of 16.6 million people.
A key item was the adoption of a statement about “Unity in Diversity in the Dutch Adventist Church.” The document went through an intense preparatory process and is intended to offer guidelines as to how a constructive dialogue can be fostered in the midst of considerable diversity in theological viewpoints and ethical standpoints. In recent years the Dutch church has become increasingly multicultural and multiethnic. Church leadership has stimulated a proactive approach to facing these challenges, recognizing the possibilities for enhanced growth and mutual enrichment.
Sixteen recommendations were processed by the Plans Committee and were approved on the floor by the 170 delegates. The recommendations covered a wide range of issues from evangelism and youth work to an innovative approach for using the Internet for both internal communication and also for training.
In remarks at the closing ceremony, Bruinsma briefly referred to the words Moses spoke to his successor about expecting total support from God. Altink urged delegates to focus on the importance of the church community as a force of healing in the world.
—AW Staff, with reporting from the Netherlands Union