Dutch Baptist Identity (1845–2021): A Multi-Coloured Robe

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Teun van der Leer Arjen Stellingwerf


Dutch Baptist history is relatively short. In 1845 the first Baptist Church was founded in Gasselternijveen (Drenthe). During the 176 years of its existence, Baptist life has displayed different colours as it has responded to its environment and as the community has swayed back and forth between ‘movement’ and ‘institution’. This becomes visible in the different historical phases that are described in this article. A variety of influences emerge, such as the pillarisation and de-pillarisation in Dutch society, revival movements, and ecumenical engagement. An important factor in the colouration of the community is the Baptist Seminary, which since its inception in 1958 has worked closely with the local churches, and whose successive rectors have helped shape the community. At the beginning of the third decade of the twenty-first century, the Dutch Baptist Union is about to merge with the CAMA churches and functions in a broad network of evangelical and ecumenical churches, educational institutions, and organisations.

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Author Biographies

Teun van der Leer

Teun van der Leer was rector of the Dutch Baptist Seminary from 2007 to 2019 and is a tutor and researcher at the Baptist Seminary, and since 2020, pastor of Cama Church Woerden.

Arjen Stellingwerf

Arjen Stellingwerf was pastor of Pernis Baptist Church from 2017 to 2021, is a teacher of religion at a secondary school, and a researcher of nineteenth-century congregationalism in the Netherlands.