Are we the “Dutch” Church?
“Hi, my name is Peter. I just moved into town.”
“Nice to meet you. What brings you to Carman?”
“I’m a pastor over at the Canadian Reformed Church.”
“Oh, so you’re the new pastor of the Dutch church?”
“Dutch church?? Well, not really…”
So went the first of many conversations in my first few weeks in town. That reaction got me thinking about our identity – are we the “Dutch” church? If people in Carman think that way, they may have the impression that our church is only for Dutch people, that if you’re not Dutch then you’re not welcome – but nothing could be further from the truth!
On the one hand, I can see how folks might think of us as the “Dutch” church. After all, most of our members are indeed of Dutch descent. If you check our phone directory you will see many Dutch names. If you listen to our senior members talk you may well detect a Dutch accent.
People may also have noticed many of our Dutch habits. For example, we like to “have coffee” with each other on a regular basis, especially on Sundays after church. Many of us love to plant vegetable gardens as well as flower gardens – tulips remain a favourite. We still like some Dutch treats like Gouda cheese, kale, and chocolate sprinkles. And in church, right before the sermon starts, everyone will pop a peppermint in their mouth! We can’t ignore our Dutch heritage, nor do we wish to. We are very thankful for what God has given us in it.
But that’s not the whole picture. Our church has existed in Carman for over 50 years. The original Dutch-speaking immigrants have raised up two Canadian generations and they now make up the bulk of our membership. English is our first language and used exclusively in our worship services. Most under 50 can’t even speak Dutch anymore (I wish I could!). If you worship with us, you’ll hear the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed in clear, plain English.
And that’s what really should stand out about us. As a church, we’re not promoters of Dutch culture but we’re followers of Christ! Dutch is not a requirement to be a member – all you need is true faith in the Lord Jesus. If you’re interested in worshiping God, in hearing the Bible preached, in forgiveness of sins, it doesn’t matter what background you’re from – you’re more than welcome in our midst!
We’re not the Dutch church – we’re the Reformed church. That really tells you what we we’re all about. “Reformed” simply means: constantly going back to the Bible and founding our beliefs and practices, our faith and lifestyle on God’s Holy Word. We are sinful people with a tendency to do things our own way, to become deformed as a church. Going back to the Bible day after day, week after week to check that deformation and promote reformation to God’s glory - that’s our goal. And by God’s grace we may attain it. Won’t you join us?