On the website of DGK Mariënberg, a Justification has been published in Dutch. On this website, an English version of this Justification is provided below.
De Gereformeerde Kerk (DGK) Mariënberg and environs
Our help is in the name of the Lord Who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)
Consistory of De Gereformeerde Kerk (DGK) Mariënberg and environs
c/o J.D.Plaggenmars (clerk)
Dominee P.H. Wolfertstraat 17
7692 AH Mariënberg
To: Consistories and church members of De Gereformeerde Kerken (DGK)(restored)
Consistory and church members of the sister-church at Abbotsford
Mariënberg, 26 May 2018
Esteemed brothers and sisters,
On 31 August 2017 De Gereformeerde Kerk at Mariënberg (and environs) was placed outside the church federation by Classis North-East. This was confirmed by General Synod on 16 December 2017. With this writing the consistory of DGK Mariënberg turns to you, brothers and sisters, because it wishes to hold on to you, to serve the Lord together with you, in the unity of the true faith.
Disclosure of matters
On 16 December 2017 General Synod Lansingerland 2017-2018 issued a Publication with unfounded accusations against the church at Mariënberg. It is alleged that in this church (among other things) there is independentism, consistoriocracy and sectarianism.
In the call “Return to the firm foundation of the true church!” dated 15 January 2018 the consistory of Mariënberg made an urgent appeal to the consistories and members of DGK (and the sister-church at Abbotsford) to return to the firm foundation of God’s Word. In this ‘Call’ a description is given of the actual course of events regarding the dealings and decisions made by ecclesiastical assemblies.
It is sad to note that from the church federation of DGK the unfounded accusations are still being upheld. Accusations that, so consistory has noticed, have raised questions with many members of the church federation.
Therefore the consistory again would like to give further disclosure of matters. This information can be obtained upon request from the clerk of DGK Mariënberg. Also in this letter, the consistory will give a short account of the course of events in the church federation.
Church Federation: gift and command from Christ
It is, contrary to what the GS-Publication implies, the heartfelt conviction of the consistory of DGK Mariënberg that the church federation is not an ‘incidental something’, but that it is a gift and a command from Christ. Just as the communion of saints within a local church is formed because its members use their gifts “for the benefit and well-being of the other members” (HC, Lord’s Day 21), in the same manner the churches in the federation may also be of ‘assistance and help’ to each other.
However, to its sorrow, the consistory of DGK Mariënberg must determine that the communion in the federation has been seriously put under pressure by several major assemblies, and was finally broken by the General Synod. General Synod even rejected the request from DGK Mariënberg for an open discussion (with the so-called ‘committee of good services’). A discussion could only take place under certain conditions.
Spiritual church government
In order to truly remain on the Reformed federative church path, it is necessary, before anything else, that there is a spiritual church government “in the manner that our Lord has taught us in His Word” (Art. 30, Belgic Confession). In the congregation of Christ everything must be done “in good order” (Art. 1, Church Order). The ecclesiastical assemblies therefore must deal with matters “in an ecclesiastical manner” (Art. 30, Church Order), which means that in their dealings and decisions they show that they are truly church of Christ.
It is this ecclesiastical manner that, to an important extent, has been lacking in the dealings and decisions of Classis North-East. This has already become apparent in the manner in which Classis dealt with certain matters. Classis dealt with matters without having had any appeal or request from the churches that were submitted in the lawful manner. Classis has subsequently been continued several times with new matters added to the agenda.
It is also very questionable to what extent a well-considered decision-making can take place when the majority of the delegates have not been able to prepare properly and there was no listening to the side of the consistory of DGK Mariënberg. The communion of the federated churches should surely be characterized by carefulness and patience.
A spiritual church government according to Art 30, Belgic Confession, also means that it is the task of the office bearers to govern the congregation through the preaching of the Word, the administration of the sacraments and the exercise of discipline. Sadly the consistory had to conclude that Classis North-East persistently intruded into what ‘belongs to the offices’. Classis has, among other things, made decisions concerning administration of the sacraments, the status of the minister and an extraordinary church visitation. They were decisions with which DGK Mariënberg could not agree and which were made without sound preparation and without listening to the consistory’s side. This is a serious infringement of the church life in DGK Mariënberg, in which clearly the Reformed church government was fundamentally at stake (Art. 74, Church Order – Book of Praise 1984).
Classis North-East even went so far that it – outside of consistory and with accusations against consistory –by means of a letter directed itself directly to all members of the church at Mariënberg. In its letter Classis accused the consistory of continually speaking untruths. An unchanged attitude of consistory, so Classis stated, would lead to “huge ecclesiastical consequences”.
Placed outside the church federation
The incorrect dealings, un-churchly decisions and accusations by Classis necessitated consistory to appeal to the body of appeal (Classis South-West) whilst the cooperation within Classis North-East had been made impossible. In this manner the consistory attempted to uphold the true unity of the church, according to Scripture, Confession and Church Order. The delegates from DGK Mariënberg made clear mention of this at the Classis meeting of 31 August 2017, according to Art. 44 of the Church Order (‘censure at major assemblies’ – Book of Praise 1984).
You will be familiar with what followed, namely that DGK Mariënberg was placed outside the church federation that very same evening. This decision has now also been confirmed by the churches in its most major ecclesiastical assembly – the General Synod. In the attached document ‘A Short Summary – about the continuation of the church of Mariënberg’ the continuation of the church of Christ at Mariënberg is discussed in more detail.
Thankfulness and longing
Brothers and sisters, you will understand that the past year and a half has been a deeply drastic period for the church of Mariënberg. The consistory believes however, that it would do injustice to the Lord, the faithful God of the Covenant, if it would end with this conclusion. The firm foundation of God remains standing (2 Timothy 2:19) and this gives reason for great thankfulness. It therefore has made the consistory thankful and humble – this is not our own merit, but it is pure grace – that the majority of the church members at Mariënberg did not revoke their once-given promise before God and His holy congregation. There is especially thankfulness that the faithful preaching of the Word could be continued and is still being continued.
Brothers and sisters, the consistory would also like to speak out a longing toward you. A longing to be able to serve the Lord in unity of the true faith. A longing to bow together under the yoke of Christ, Who has assured us, ‘My yoke is easy and My burden is light’ (Matthew 11:30; Art. 28, Belgic Confession). The consistory heartily calls out to you: ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord, for thrones are set there for judgment’ (Psalm 122:1,5).
If you have any further questions about this letter, do not hesitate to contact the consistory.
With hearty brotherly greetings,
-A short summary: ‘De Gereformeerde Kerk (DGK) at Mariënberg and environs continued in 2017’.
-Further information can be obtained upon request from the secretary of DGK Mariënberg and environs.