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DRC denomination changes name to Christian Reformed Church

Sri Lankan parliament adopts proposal

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - After several years of waiting, the Sri Lankan Parliament has passed a bill officially changing the name of the Dutch Reformed Church to the Christian Reformed Church. The church had requested a name change, hoping to have it passed by its 350th anniversary in 1992. However, it needed a private members motion in Parliament to make the change legal, and such motions are considered only rarely.

The DRC wanted a new name to give itself a clearer identity. During the Dutch occupation (1653-1796) the church was the spiritual home for the colonials and for Dutch colonial descendents known as Burghers, who mostly were employed as civil servants. In the last few decades, however, as the Burgher community declined through immigration to the U.S.A., U.K., Canada and Australia, the church expanded into both the Sinhalese and the Tamil communities in Sri Lanka. Sunday services now are held in those languages as well as English.

Because Christians are a small minority in Sri Lanka, the DRC felt it would be more effective to use the word Christian in its name instead of Dutch. The leaders appreciate their heritage and roots. Sri Lanka’s Christian Reformed leader, Roshan Mendis, in announcing the name change, thanked God for the church’s 'Dutch' roots and for the faith of their Dutch forefathers and mothers. He expressed his trust in the Lord to lead them in this 'life changing moment.'

Burghers as a community in Sri Lanka now number less than 40,000 people. Worldwide their number is estimated at about 100,000. A Ceylon judge defined the Burghers as a group in 1883. One of the best known Burgher-descendents is English-born award-winning Canadian author Michael Ondaatje.