One hundred eighty-five years ago, on October 13, 1834, two elders and three deacons in the small Reformed church in Ulrum, the Netherlands, signed their names to the Act of Secession, or Return. Their actions sparked an uproar in the national Dutch Reformed Church. And as a result, the men and their families faced intense persecution, not only from the church they left, but also from the political authorities in the Netherlands. They, and others who joined them, were forced to house soldiers in their homes. They were forbidden to meet in groups larger than twenty people. When they met, they were fined large amounts, and imprisoned when they couldn’t pay.
But this movement, known as the Afscheiding (Separation), continued to grow, and its members continued to meet. Why would they put themselves at such risks? They gathered to hear the preaching of their faithful pastor, Hendrik de Cock, the man the state church had driven out. They gathered out of love for the truth. They couldn’t stay in a church that had departed from the authority of scripture and the creeds—so they separated.
Learn more about this history and about Hendrik de Cock’s faithful stand in 1834: Hendrik de Cock’s Return to the True Church by Marvin Kamps.