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All Dutch church groups share in ministerial shortages

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

UTRECHT – A recent study suggests that nearly all church federations, but especially those rooted in the experiential camp, suffer from ministerial shortages. Some denominations increasingly rely on kerkelijk werkers (called hbo-theologen), individuals who followed semi-college training but are short of the entrance requirements for formal and extensive theological education expected of those seeking a ministerial charge. The number of ministers in the federations of Old Reformed Congregations (OGG) and Reformed Congregations in the Netherlands (GGiN) is minimal, while the 158 Reformed Congregations (GG) jointly have less than 60 ministers. The 118 congregations of the Restored Reformed Church denomination (HHK), that declined to join the 2003 merger of the Netherlands Reformed Church (NHK) with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (GKNs) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELK), have one minister for every two congregations (but have many students in their seminary program). The Christian Reformed Churches (CGK, not aligned with CRC in NA) fare a bit better with 131 serving ministers in 182 local churches. The 91 Netherlands Reformed Churches (NGK) have 15 vacancies, while the federation of the Reformed Churches-liberated (GKNv) have 67 vacancies in their 270 local churches. The Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) counted 215 vacancies last year among the about 1,800 congregations. While mergers of congregations (hervormd –NHK- with gereformeerd -GKNs) in the PKN have lowered its total number of vacancies, the same could happen in the GKNv which increasingly shares ministerial responsibilities with neighbouring CGKs.