Protestant Church in the Netherlands
Protestant Church in the Netherlands logo
Logo of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands
Classification Protestant
Orientation Calvinist;
Mainstream Reformed (Neo-Calvinist);
(Lutheran congregations)
Polity A mixture of Presbyterian and Congregationalist church governance practised within the reformed congregations under the one PKN synod and a separate Episcopal polity practised by the Lutheran congregations with a special autonomous synod and these are joined together in a Federal union with each other under the one united PKN Synod.
Associations World Council of Churches,
World Alliance of Reformed Churches,
Lutheran World Federation
Origin 1 May 2004
Separated from Merger of the Dutch Reformed Church, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Separations 2004 Restored Reformed Church and Continued Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (did not participate in the merger)
Congregations ca. 2,000
Members ca. 2,300,000 (2004)
WesterkerkAmsterdam20041002 CopyrightKaihsuTai

Westerkerk in Amsterdam.

The Protestant Church in the Netherlands (Dutch: Protestantse Kerk in Nederland, abbreviated PKN) came into being on 1 May 2004 as a merger of the Dutch Reformed Church (Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk, NHK), the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland, GKN) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Evangelisch-Lutherse Kerk in het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden). Since 1961 the churches have been going through an organizational process to this end.

At the time of its formation, the PKN consisted of roughly 2,000 congregations with a membership of some 2,300,000, about 15% of the Dutch population. After the Roman Catholic Church, it is the second largest church body in the Netherlands. The PKN has four different types of congregations:

  1. Protestant Congregations are local congregations from different church bodies that have merged.
  2. Dutch Reformed congregations
  3. Reformed Churches (congregations of the former Reformed Churches in the Netherlands)
  4. Lutheran congregations (congregations of the former Evangelical-Lutheran Church)

Lutheran congregations are special in that they are federated in a separate Lutheran Synod, which is an autonomous synod within the PKN. The Lutheran Synod also has representatives in the PKN Synod.

The PKN is a denomination which contains both liberal and conservative movements. Local congregations have far-reaching powers concerning "controversial" matters (such as whether or not women are admitted as members of the congregation's consistory or admittance to holy communion).

Congregations staying out of the merger

Some congregations and members in the Dutch Reformed Church did not agree with the merger and have separated. They have organized themselves in the Hersteld Hervormde Kerk ("Restored Reformed Church"), or HHK. Estimations of their membership vary from 35,000 up to 70,000 people in about 120 local congregations. They disagree with the pluralism of the merged church which maintains, as they see it, contradicting Reformed and Lutheran confessions. This group also considers same-sex marriages and female clergy unbiblical.

Only those congregations belonging to the former Reformed Churches in the Netherlands have the legal right to secede from the PKN without losing its property and church during a transition period of 10 years. Five congregations have so far decided to form the Voortgezette Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland ("Continued Reformed Churches in the Netherlands") with about 3,400 members. Two congregations have joined one of the other smaller reformed churches in the Netherlands. Some minorities within congregations that joined the PKN decided to leave the church and associated themselves individually with one of the other reformed churches.

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