Old things (past) should be considered past

Chapter IV

© Gerardo C.C. Oberman


1. Introduction

"The South American republics are white fields for the harvest; there are wide and promising meadows waiting for the evangelical sower. But, time is short and precious and what must be done must be done quickly... On all sides there is a need for workers". This was written in zondagsschool RosarioNovember of 1894276, just a year after the Hollandsche Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk277 of Rosario sent its first letter to the teachers at the Theological School of Kampen.

South America was a continent in which the cross had arrived in hand with the sword. Conquest and evangelization were inseparable phenomena for many years. Catholicism took on shape by being transformed into the official religion in most of the new Republics which, at the beginning of the 19th century, were emerging in emancipated America. That is to say, the religion that represented the unique and holy truth and which, furthermore, enjoyed all of the concessions granted by the State in matters of worship (subsidies, influence on religious matters, etc.).

On the other hand, as we have already seen in chapter II, Protestantism was an isolated phenomenon in Argentina. The number of parishioners was very small in each of the denominations, its assimilation into society was still a future matter and ecumenism was an unknown word278. Catholicism and the secularism espoused by the liberals also "swallowed up" many, mainly youths, who when they left their countries still declared themselves to be Protestants but who within a few months of residing in the new land, without controversy of any kind, in absolute anonymity, did not hesitate to pass over to the category of "without religion". Because of all of this, as the quotation with which we decided to open this chapter makes so clear, South America was a continent that was crying for the evangelical presence.

2. The faith of the immigrants

Among the Dutch who between 1888-90 emigrated to Argentina there were also many Protestants. "Among the colonists who arrived from Holland there were Gereformeerden, of the Hervormd Kerkgenootschap, of the Christelijk Geref. Kerk, of the Oud-Geref. Kerk (many of these were from Zeeland), etc."279. P. van Zeijl reports that in a group of 906 Dutch families that entered the country, 608 were Protestants, 225 Catholics, 62 did not declare their religious affiliation or it was not registered and another 11 belonged to other confessions of faith or were not believers280. This 67.1% declared Protestants is a little greater than the Protestant average in Holland of that time. The percentage of Protestants in Holland in 1889 (including Lutherans who constituted 9.46% of the total population) was 62.36%, while the percentage of Roman Catholics, for their part, reached 35.4%281. This difference of percentages can be explained by the fact that the great majority of the immigrants came from the classic Protestant provinces: Friesland, Groningen, Drente (in the north) and Zeeland (in the south)282. Moreover, these provinces, as we saw, were those that suffered more on account of the agrarian depression.

The newly arrived immigrants were dispersed throughout the country, some to areas already populated in which they could be integrated somehow into the rhythm of established life. But many times the trip ended in remote areas. Thus they ended up lost in almost unpopulated areas, sometimes without another human being within a hundred kilometers with whom to communicate. Those who had brought a Bible might perhaps read a portion each day, if time and weariness permitted it. Those who hadn't, probably contented themselves by singing some known psalm or reciting from memory some biblical passage.

There is a strange case that we do not want to fail to mention, because it illustrates to a certain degree the classic Reformed independence and their responsibility to keep the faith alive, even preaching the Word to others. The story refers to the Verbeek family, originally sent to Chaco by the migrant authorities. "Oupichi" Verbeek (Opoetje? = Granny) had a very good relationship with the natives of the area, who were wrongly called Indians. She walked kilometers in the forest to cure the natives of their diseases, to assist in complex child births, etc. The natives, in turn, taught her to use the herbs of the fields as medicines. "Uncle Cornelio worked as a kind of pastor and had a small chapel in the middle of the countryside. Religious ceremonies were held there on weekends at which time he also customarily did baptisms. Everybody called him "holy man" (Heilig Man)." Cornelio Verbeek was murdered for giving protection to a group of natives who had survived a slaughter in their village. Incited to rebellion by some Frenchmen who wanted to end up with their lands, they were murdered by the police. From an airplane, surrounded in a forest, they were machine gunned. Only a few of 220 inhabitants of the village survived, and these Cornelio Verbeek healed and hid283. This was for those days an unusual interpretation of obedience to the evangelical precept of love for one's neighbor. Cornelio Verbeek was a Protestant, probably of the Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk. Before emigrating the family lived in Haarlemermeer284.

Another strange event that occurred in the middle of the pampas is the one which we transcribe here: "One day my grandfather was traveling on horseback in the middle of a field when a terrible storm was unleashed. At one point his horse escaped and he was left there, alone, all sense of direction lost.... In the midst of this desperate situation he prayed to God for help and promised him that, if he saved his life, he would serve him for the rest of his life. Immediately afterwards he lost consciousness. When he came to, his horse was grazing beside him. This was the moment of conversion in his life. After approximately 13 years in Argentina he decided to return to Holland. He wanted his children to receive a Christian education and attend church"285. Rural Argentina stretches infinitely and there it is possible for the strangest things to happen. In these solitary lands Diego Zijlstra would also write years afterwards his already cited memoirs, titled: Like lambs without a Shepherd286.

In the large cities the situation was different. Some, mainly youths, as we said upon beginning this chapter, did not hesitate to repudiate their faith, abandoning themselves to the novel adventures offered by Argentine society: dances, drunkenness, etc. "The young have been won over by the world", repeatedly stresses Van Lonkhuijzen in one of his letters to the Representatives287. This judgment on an ethical/moral plane hides rather a reality on the ethnic/cultural dimension. In Holland a confession of faith based on Calvinist principles was a distinctive feature of their Dutch being. Here, in a Roman Catholic country par excellence, that was no longer a formal "requirement". To discover this was for many a release.

Others, nevertheless, after some years of solitary navigation on the waters of confusion, decided to form a Reformed community together. If in Holland they had been on opposite sides, that had to play a secondary role here and now. As we will see immediately, it was impossible to avoid all the conflicts between the different currents, but that was the only way of moving ahead. They had to work "against Catholicism and the bastard Protestantism"288, in addition to safeguarding as much as is possible their cultural identity. Not as a demonstration of a presumed superiority but as a defense against an environment that was unknown and hostile to them. Integration is not always an easy process and, naturally, it is never achieved immediately. With this we do not intend to justify the perpetual isolation of the different ethnic groups that come to Argentina, but to explain this original situation, which is indeed legitimate.

Even though in Buenos Aires and in Rosario, Protestantism had been present for several years there is, according to the Dutch, "no community based on the pure principles of the ancient and proven Truth"289. Since most of the Dutch who came to Argentina professed their faith according to the Reformed canons, it is striking that in order to form a denominational community they found so few followers and had to face so many criticisms from their fellow countrymen290.

Considering that according to the Census of 1895 only 38 Dutch (23 men and 15 women) had married persons of other nationalities291, it isn't possible for us to speak of a dissolution of the Dutch community either, something that might have been able to explain, from that side, the lack of followers that the Reformed church experienced. We believe that the explanation can be found in what we were expounding above. Many felt themselves here "freed" from the chains of a too-demanding church, from the heavy dogmas of faith that they could not carry, from the prison of culturally imposed religion. For others, on the other hand, what was oppressive was the situation which it fell to them to live in here, and faith functioned like a liberating balm.

There had early been contacts with churches in Holland. An example is the letter sent by a so-called Smits, who was probably the same one that we cite below as a member of the Reformed community in Rosario, and others to their church in Warffum/Den Andel. In the letter he mentions the need to have Christian teaching and requests the shipment of 100 catechisms. The consistory decides to take up a collection in the congregation to buy the books and send them (books were sent in the amount of 15 guilders)292. Also toward the end of 1893, when the request for help from the church in Rosario had already been made public, we have a letter from Pastor P. Postema, the pastor in Warffum, published in the Christian bulletin De Bezuin, in which he makes reference to the letters which they used to receive from Argentina in said congregation293.

3. A Hollandsche Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk in Rosario

The first "official" contact of immigrants residing in Argentina with the churches in Holland occurs in 1893294 in Rosario, a city at that time of more than fifty thousand inhabitants. As an example of the situation of the Reformed in Argentina at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, we will try to reconstruct the histories of this community in Rosario and that of the community in Buenos Aires. In the General Introduction we have already clarified why we limit ourselves to the study of these two communities.

To that city of Rosario came with the passage of the years an ever increasing number of immigrants, among them many Dutch, who doubtlessly changed the dynamics of life in the city. According to the Second National Census of 1895, the department of Rosario had 107,959 inhabitants, of which 49,629 were foreign, that is to say 46%. But perhaps the most interesting thing is that in the group from 18 to 50 years of age, foreign men were double the number of Argentines (23,619 compared to 10,910)295. That same Census counts 405 Dutch (237 men and 168 women) living in all of the province of Santa Fe, though we assume the majority probably lived in the city of Rosario296. According to the data that we took from a letter sent to Holland by a group of Dutch in Rosario that same year we know that the number of Dutch (of Protestant tradition) in the city reached 250 persons (40 families, they say below)297. Some years later, in 1908, Van Lonkhuijzen mentions that there were in Rosario between 600 and 700 persons who were from Holland298. This would indicate that the urban settlements continued to grow with the arrival of frustrated colonists. The shortage of adequate housing compels the immigrants to find housing in whatever way they can in increasingly precarious tenement houses. The situation in Rosario, in this sense, is not much different from that in Buenos Aires.

These men and women were the first to form a community of faith with roots in the Reformed Church and also the first to establish official contact with the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland and later with the Hollandsche Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk in the United States of North America. To solve the puzzle of the preliminary process and of the subsequent development of this Reformed community it seems to us a good idea to divide their short history into periods and subperiods, which we could outline in the following way:

I. Independent period

I.1 1889-1892, organization of the group. Evangelical Association

I.2 1893-1897, organization of church; contacts with Holland and pastoral search; division of the group

I.3 1897-1901, ordination of A. Struis. "Struis" Period; reunification of the group

I.4 1901-1908, Struis to Buenos Aires. Abandonment, forgetfulness

II. Period under "tutelage"

II.1 1908-1916, Van Lonkhuijzen organizes an Evangelical Association under supervision of Buenos Aires

II.2 1916-1919, reorganization of the church, new projects

II.3 1919-1920, new divisions, agony and death299

I. Independent period

I.1 The group is organized

From the beginning there was among the Dutch of the Reformed tradition in Rosario the need for certain activities of a spiritual order. This was extremely difficult, but not impossible, in a largely Catholic country where people were required to work also on Sundays, and in which distances were not at all comparable to those in tiny Holland300. Evidence of this is that already in 1889 they had organized an Evangelische Vereniging Emmanuel (Evangelical Association Emmanuel)301, whose central objective was "the proclamation of the Gospel among the Dutch." It was directed by a president who had the absolute confidence of the members of the Association but who, when the time seemed right, fled with the collected funds, leaving the Association without funds and completely discredited in the eyes of the rest of the Dutch and the community as a whole. Nevertheless, the evangelization work and the meetings continued.

I.2 Organization of the Church. Pastoral search. Divisions

At one point a group chose to establish a church guided by Reformed principles. But another group thought that was not yet the opportune moment. Was this a manifestation perhaps of two currents or opposing theological traditions? Notwithstanding the marked difference in criteria, the church with the name Hollandsche Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk, was finally organized on June 23, 1893302. But this does not mean that from then on everything functioned harmoniously. The groups ended up separating. Some remained faithful to the church and others became "dissenters"303. According to the opinion of the latter the recently constituted church "was not able to or, until now, refused to apply church discipline and has not been able to develop beyond its present monotonous existence. Between its various leaders there is nothing but fights and divisions and members of the consistory accuse each other of being liars." According to them the number of Dutch of Reformed tradition in Rosario was greater than 250 souls, of which only 50 felt identified with the new church. The rest settled for meeting in homes or sought shelter at other "meetings". Holy Supper was taken by only two persons since the majority objected to its being administered by a "Methodist pastor" (the brother-in-law of P. Wiersma?); for this same reason many children weren't baptized either304.

The following continued within the structure of the church that was organized: W. Helder ("kerkmeester and deacon"), P. Olthoff ("elder instructor"), A. Struis ("elder instructor"), J. Hoogstra ("deacon"), C. van Poepelen, B. G. Harmstra, F. Helder, L. Bos, J. Nieuwenhuize, J. ver Hage (all members). These are the names to which we have had access. Certainly there would have been more.305

Among the dissenters we mention P. Wiersma (who had been an elder), J. Okker, J.J. van IJseldijk ("the three oldest in age"), H. Verhagen, S. Postma, D. Postma, J.G. Bergenthuin, J. Leegstra, J. van Lame, J. Loonstra, R Pouwels, Widow van C. ver Hage, M. Meijia, C.J. Smits, C. ver Hage, A.L. Visser, A. Buijs, C. Caster, H. Broekema, D.P.L. Vogel, A.R de Vries, W. Kole, J. Pouwels, F. Hemkes. G. de Rus, among others.

As of 1893 the church begins official contacts with the Professors of the Theological School at Kampen306. Taking into account the name with which they baptize the emerging church and the contact sought with the Theological School of Kampen, which was until 1892 Christelijk Gereformeerd, perhaps we could deduce that the "official" group was composed for the most part of members of that denomination which emerged after the Afscheiding (Secession) of 1834307. Those who immigrated between 1888-90 had no reason to know that in June of 1892 the unification between the Christelijk Gereformeerde Kerk (Secession of 1834) and the Nederduitsch Gereformeerde Kerk (Doleantie of 1886) had taken place. In a letter of 1907 the brothers in Buenos Aires ask: "But, Dr. A. Kuyper belongs to our Geref. Kerken, doesn't he?"308.

According to the letters from the group that constituted the church, things were different. "Some time ago elder Wiersma began to express his hatred toward the elder instructor of the congregation, brother Struis. Only God knows why...." "The aforesaid Wiersma has carried the matter to such a point that, not satisfied to ventilate his quarrels with the church and the council on the streets of Ascalón, he now throws himself into the arms of the Catholics, Independent Evangelicals and those who are none other than detractors from God"309. They also mention that "P. Wiersma, at the head of 5 other members of the congregation and three independent evangelicals", wrote a letter to the Synod of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland, which he must have had signed "by persons who, unless for some exceptions, are enemies of the cross"310. The division between these two groups of Dutchmen was furious.

There was a third group that from the beginning of their stay in the country did not have serious problems in affiliating and participating with other evangelical churches, like the Methodist Church or that of the Free Brethren. Marinus Nieuwenhuize was, for example, a very active leader in the church of the Free Brethren in Rosario311.

Nevertheless, within the group that expressed a certain religious anxiety, the majority felt that only Calvinism incarnated the pure doctrine of the church, and that any other movement was an enemy of evangelical truth312.

Problems? Yes, but no more than those which in Holland some years before had arisen as a consequence of the Doleantie of 1886 and the Vereniging (Unification) of 1892.

The Commissie voor Correspondentie met Buitenlandse Kerken313, to whom the teachers of the Theological School of Kampen had referred the subsequent contact with the Reformed in  Argentina314, are concerned about "the conflict raised in the bosom of the Dutch community..., by which the unity of the congregation as well as the necessary joint work for the sake of a just regulation of their matters are threatened" and send immediately letters to both groups requesting more information. The dissenting group is asked to provide more explanations than the "official" group315. Of the dissenting group, however, we hear no more. In the Minutes of the Synod of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland of 1896, it is noted that the letter from the Representatives "was indeed answered by the consistory but not by the dissenting brethren"316. We find no new references to this "mysterious" group of people in the Minutes of the meetings of the Representatives either. It isn't until a letter of 1898, as we will see presently, that we hear something of them again.

What can we say with respect to the support received from Holland? The teachers at Kampen had already published around the end of December of 1893 a notice in De Bezuin, citing the very words of the brothers in Rosario: "Of the abundance that they have there (in Holland) we would wish to have only some crumbs". They were asking for Statenbijbels and common bibles, hymnals, Reformed confession books, and also some economic contribution for the shipment of these things317. Four months later they had already received gifts of several Bibles and books, and separately a total of 273.83 guilders. Of that quantity a little would be used to buy "articles of the faith" and "distinguished sermons," and a small amount to cover the shipping expenses. The rest, 204.60 guilders, would be sent to the brothers in Rosario318. In fact they received the books in Rosario, among them "confessional and liturgical books" from J.H. Donner319, and an amount a little larger than promised: 211.75 guilders320.

What were the theological bases of this Reformed community in Rosario? Let's let them answer for themselves: "To remain faithful to the confession of the Fathers and to all that the Holy Word, the eternal and unchanging word of God, teaches us, as well as to abide in all ways by the formulas of unity, by our confession of faith, by the Heidelberg catechism, and by the Church Order approved by the Synod of Dordt, carried out in the years 1618 and 1619; to guide our religious services according to the ancient liturgy of the church"321.

If there was no theologian in their midst we must at least recognize that they had paid good attention in their catechism classes. This group of persons met twice on Sundays. In the morning they heard the reading of a sermon sent from Holland. In the afternoon the worship service was led by the elder instructor, A. Struis. The number of members of the church grew to thirty, but "the number of those who attend our worship services is much greater"322. Once a week there was catechism and 4 times a week, at night, classes were given for the children. That is to say, it was not a church in which there was no life of faith. Exactly the opposite. All they wanted was to have their own pastor, their spiritual guide.

In that sense all their hopes were placed in the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland. From them they hoped for the provision of a pastor or teacher to direct the brothers in the exile community. But the very Synod of 1896 to which we referred above resolved that the church in Rosario should seek help from the sister churches in North America. This was despite the positive recommendations of the Representatives and of the Provincial Synod of Zeeland, which asked them "to pay special attention to the contact with the churches in Argentina." "Finally, with respect to the church in Rosario, your commission considers (Corresp. met Buit. Kerken, G.O.) that they need to be helped with urgency. But, since its members chose America as their second homeland, they themselves should seek the help they need there"323. This is a strange argument to reject a plea for help. Abraham Kuyper himself requests of the representatives of the Reformed Church of Noord-Amerika, Rev. George S. Bishop and Rev. Balster van Ess, both present at this Synod, "that the Reformed Church of Noord-Amerika seek the opportunity to offer help in the area of church life to the transplanted from our midst who settled in Argentina"324. It also seems strange that precisely in the Synod that has passed on to history as the Synod on Missions (Zending), Argentina should be written off so quickly and without major consideration as a potential terrain for the mission. This was a great shortcoming of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland.

I.3 Ordination of Andreas Struis. Reunification of the group

Notwithstanding the discouragement and regret that the decision of the Synod produced in the people in Rosario325, they did not lower their sights and they kept going ahead. The contacts with Holland continued, at the same time that relations with the United States of North America began. As an interim solution, until the much-hoped-for pastor/teacher might arrive, the Reformed in Rosario opted for following the recommendation that they had already received some time earlier from the teachers at the Theological School in Kampen. "We would give you the following advice: that the consistory, solemnly, ordain according to the formulas and by the laying on of hands, one of the elders who at present leads the church, giving him thus the key to be able to impart the sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Supper. This has been done before in other Reformed Churches in times of need"326. That is how Andreas Struis, at the outset an "elder instructor," was ordained pastor with the laying on of hands by the other elders of the congregation. This occurred on Sunday, March 14, 1897, Easter Sunday. That same day the first 6 children were baptized327.

In one of the written testimonies collected among the descendants of the first members of this church, we read the following: "at first they rented a house that was the home of the pastor, and church was held in his living room. Each member brought a caned chair, with square seat and back. All were the same, I suppose that they had them made in the same place. Mr. Bergenthuin had a carpentry shop, in which my grandfather Pauwels worked. I deduce that they were made there. (..) I do not know the place in which this house was located. My grandparents Pauwels lived on the corner of Santiago Street and Tucumán, for which reason I would think that said house would be in the vicinity"328.

Another of the persons consulted, a descendant of Pastor Struis, tells us that "they congregated in a home (meeting room?) that they pointed out to me, which was located at what is now Salta Avenue 2300. On the opposite side there is now a Christian Evangelical Church (Free Brethren). Many of the families lived in the neighborhood (Salta and Balcarce, Jujuy and Balcarce, etc.)"329. That house of worship of the Free Brethren, located at Salta 2339, was inaugurated on November 15, 1908. Several Dutch families collaborated in its construction. Among them were those of Pauwels and Nieuwenhuize330.

In a letter of 1898 it says that "the leader" of the dissenting group, P. Wiersma, had returned to the fold. He had attended the worship service of the first of January of that year, declaring that he was "in total agreement" with his brothers331. From later documents of the congregation in Rosario we can deduce that the friction between the "official" group and Wiersma, who without a doubt was the vehicle of the ideas of another group, was constant in the life of that community332. But, around 1898 we can say that the group is again united.

Meanwhile, the exchange of correspondence between the consistory of the Hollandsche Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk of Rosario with Holland, on the one hand, and with the United States of North America, on the other, continued at least until 1898. The people in Rosario insisted that they be sent a pastor or teacher. Activities were carried on as usual, but A. Struis was a worker like anyone else and had to see to his daily sustenance. This prevented him from devoting himself 100% to the task of leading the church, something that the Reformed in Rosario considered all-important.

Those responsible for the contact with the brothers in Rosario in the United States were Pastors J. Wyngaarden and J. Groen (Secretary of the Domestic Mission Board [Inw. Zendings Board]), both of the Hollandsche Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk in Noord-Amerika (not of the Reformed Church of which Kuyper had requested collaboration). As early as 1896, immediately after the decision of the Synod of Middelburg was made known, the epistolary exchange between the group in Rosario and the aforesaid pastors began. In 1898 they received the request that they send a "servant of the Word"333. The Synod of the Hollandsche Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk gathered that same year in that country of the north felt that the task in Argentina was too large for it to take on the entire responsibility. Holland also should collaborate. With this going and coming of subtleties the years went by.

1.4 Struis to Buenos Aires. Abandonment, forgetfulness

From documents and letters of the church in Buenos Aires334 we know that around the end of 1901 A. Struis was called as pastor to that city. He did not hesitate in accepting the offer. As opposed to what was happening in Rosario, which was economically a very weak community, Buenos Aires offered him a salary in exchange for his dedication to the church. For a long time after that, the Reformed community in Rosario remained without a pastor335, alone and abandoned to its fate. Except for sporadic visits by their ex-pastor, they had to get along as best they could336.

In 1904 embers of the by then almost extinct fire of hope began to burn again. The Synod of the Hollandsche Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk of the United States of North America decided to send a pastor to Argentina, for the term of one year, so that he might organize the different Reformed communities into a Classis (district) and tie them then to the Synod of his church337. Though, to tell the truth, this decision was made after news arrived of other groups of lambs lost on the Argentine pampas and not in direct response to demands of the group in Rosario.

Pastor A.J. Brink was to take upon himself the responsibility of visiting the disseminated. He was a man of 39, married, with a solid theological preparation338, who might well have provided a solution to the needs of the Reformed in Argentina, "but, all types of disputes prevented the fulfillment of the synodal resolution"339. That same Brink comments in one of the cited letters to the elder Benning of the church in Buenos Aires that he felt that the decision of the Synod of his church did not answer the expectations of the Reformed scattered in Argentina. But he, in turn, didn't feel capable either of assuming the responsibility of remaining for a period longer than a year in Argentina340. Solution: a contribution of 400 dollars was sent to the brothers in Argentina (during two years)341. But said contribution was not intended for Rosario. From the reading of the synodal Minutes of the GKN and other documents of that period it seems that the interest had been centered on other areas and very probably that amount may have been destined for the development of these new groups342. The letters of Pastor Brink were also directed to the brothers in Buenos Aires and in them one already sees the interest in the "300 South African colonists" who had arrived in Argentina343 and other Reformed scattered about Tres Arroyos, Chacabuco and Junín344.

By now the Synod of the GKN gathered in Arnhem in 1902 receives news from Reformed people in Tres Arroyos. The Synod of the GKN that in 1905 is held in Utrecht is informed of the situation of the brothers in Buenos Aires and the matter of Tres Arroyos is again discussed. But in neither of these synodal meetings is the decision so awaited in Argentina made: the sending of a pastor or teacher who will devote himself to the pastoring of the scattered flock. The Synod of Arnhem only gives a mandate to the Representatives to analyze the situation of the "disseminated" in the area of Tres Arroyos in order to make a decision later345.

Rosario went out of fashion. Of Rosario we hear very little more. Rosario fell into oblivion. After the letter of February 2, 1898 cited above, there is a period of silence of more than ten years.

II. Period under "tutelage"

II.1 Van Lonkhuijzen organizes an Evangelical Association

Finally, in April of 1908, after a visit that they received from Pastor J. van Lonkhuijzen, sent especially to Argentina by the churches in Holland, the Reformed in Rosario write a letter to the church in Buenos Aires announcing that March 24 of that year there had been organized there a "Nederlandsche Vereniging voor Evangelisatie" in whose statute, in article 6, their relationship to the church in Buenos Aires was explicitly established. Rosario ceases to be independent and comes under the tutelage of the Church in Buenos Aires. It is because of this that, in the same document, they request that the congregation in Buenos Aires relinquish their pastor to them once a month346.  Members of the executive commission of the aforesaid Association were Van Lonkhuijzen himself, who was serving as president; the Dutch vice-consul in Rosario and member of the Scottish Presbyterian Church, G.J. van Oppen, vice-president; J.J. van Yseldijk, secretary; J.G. Bergenthuin, treasurer; and Messrs. J. Verhagen, J. Lanser and Broomans, voters.

That same year, in a letter written by C. de Boe and F. Benning from Buenos Aires, we read: "In Rosario the Reformed Church is still in the making. An Evangelisatie Vereniging was organized there, due to the various currents in the center of the group of Christian Dutchmen (Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Methodists, Reformed, etc.). (...) Pastor Van Lonkhuijzen is on the verge of visiting that place again to complete his work there and to see if the situation is now matured so as to be able to organize a Church"347. Let us recall what we said above about the Dutch who collaborated in the construction of the church of the Free Brethren, of which they were members.

Van Lonkhuijzen did not recognize that there was in Rosario a church already organized in 1893. Nor did he see the possibility of instituting it in one of his short visits to that locality during his stay in Argentina. All he did was organize the Evangelisatie Vereniging, mentioned above, "under the supervision of the consistory in Buenos Aires ". Why did Van Lonkhuijzen think that the situation was not ripe for the organization of a church? Because of "the various currents in the center of the group"? Weren't there differences like this in Tres Arroyos when, after a heated meeting, he organized there a church with 17 members?348

"For Rosario (...) it is impossible to do anything yet", it says simply in the synodal minutes of the GKN of 1911349. After almost 20 years of struggle trying to obtain a little support in Holland as well as in the United States of North America, that was the response that they received to their requests: Nothing!.

Nevertheless, in Rosario activities went on just the same. By turns they continued on Sundays reading sermons by, among others, Hoekstra, Sillevis, Smit, Gispen, Spurgeon350. In this way the group subsisted for another 8 years: (1908-1916).

II.2 Reorganization of the Church. New projects

On May 6, 1916, in a meeting of members led by H. Hoogendorp, who was at that time a teacher in the Dutch School of Buenos Aires and sent to Rosario as a commissioner of the Classis Buenos Aires351, it is decided in two to three months to elect again elders and deacons and again to take up collections. That is to say, in practice, to reorganize the church. This occurs as a matter of fact on July 6. "The Gereformeerde Kerk of Rosario, organized on July 6, 1916, with Pastor Rijper representing the Classis Buenos Aires, starts today a new minutes book, declaring expired all the previous reports, minutes and other documents"352. We find the best statement about the reorganization of the church in Rosario in a letter of 10 pages that Pastor Sj. Rijper sends to the Classis Buenos Aires. The worship services of the day of organization were attended in the morning by 48 persons, in the evening by 61 persons; at the worship service of the afternoon the attendance had been a little larger than at the evening worship service353.

They meet at that time at the home of brother M. Helder, located at 12th Street 1767. To the originating group are added now several members, among others: W. Rekers, A. Reinders, C. Verhagen, Hakkers, Otto, Hekkema, J. Thobokholt, Schrueder, van der Groef.

Sjouke Rijper zijn vrouw Anna Sjouke Rijper aan de studie
Sjouke Rijper zijn vrouw Anna Sjouke aan de studie
Foto's met dank aan kleinzoon Sjouke Rijper

Anyone would think that, as of this point, the church would finally begin to function. After one year we can read in many letters that, at the urging of Pastor Sj. Rijper from Tres Arroyos, the brothers in Rosario are thinking about beginning with a school. For that purpose they write to the Representatives of the United States of North America and of Holland354. They also communicate their decisions to the Consulate355. But, again we lose the thread of this topic for lack of later correspondence. It is impossible to comprehend well the reasons for the continuous stumblings of this community. While around 1917-18 in Tres Arroyos there were scarcely any people that attended the worship services356, in Rosario there were at each worship service between "50 and 55 worshipers"357. Certainly the lack of a pastor to guide them played a fundamental role in this whole matter. If they had had their own spiritual guide or their own teacher, today we could still speak of a Reformed church in Rosario.

What a blessing a leader would have been to that church, marked by internal divisions and fights among the brothers. A pastor or a teacher or simply a genuine accompaniment might have been able to guide the situation, a pastor might have been able to build on the good stones, he might have been able to.... But at this point 100 years have gone by and we cannot reconstruct history. We can and we must learn from it so as not to make the same mistakes in the future.

II.3 New divisions. Agony and death

Rosario does not fail to be a ghost in the history of the Reformed Churches in Argentina. A church that emerged mysteriously and that in a even greater mystery disappeared without leaving visible tracks back there in the '20s358. In fact, the last minutes to which we have had access corresponds to the meeting of members held on August 16, 1919. In it the decision is made "to drop" (roijeren) three members: J. van Poepelen (until months before, president of the consistory), A. Reinders (until months before, secretary of the consistory) and W. Reekers359. Previously, in the meeting of April 12, 1919, they had been censured in accordance with article 80 of the Church Order. Undoubtedly, it was this new disagreement between the members of the small community in Rosario that motivated the subsequent and definitive dissolution of the congregation. In the minutes of the meeting of the consistory of the church in Buenos Aires of November 2, 1920, we read that they received a visit from brother Helder from Rosario. The situation of the group in Rosario is considered "very lamentable".

On June 27, 1922, Pastor Sonneveldt sends from Comodoro Rivadavia a confidential letter to Messrs. Reinders and M. Helder (Rosario), trying to put an end to the "sinful division" that existed there. Regrettably we have not had access to this letter nor do we know how it was received. On the basis of the subsequent development of events we deduce that it did not produce the desired effect360.

Finally, in the meeting of the Classis Buenos Aires carried out on February 15 and 16, 1923, the situation of the group in Rosario is dealt with at length. The representatives from Rosario, still in official representation of their church, had asked if there was not a capable person who might wish to go to serve the congregation, in the hope that said person could revive the work in that place. But, after much discussion they give up on that possibility. In point VII of the minutes of that meeting we read: "In Rosario it is no longer possible to speak of a congregation (gemeente). They are only holding, under the leadership of some brothers, worship services on the Lord's day". Pastor A.C. Sonneveldt, present at the Classis meeting, described the situation in Rosario in the following words: "Rosario could have been a flourishing community. But...jealousy and reciprocal envying were the principal causes of the current disorder"361.

W.L. Villalpando also thinks that the church in Rosario owes its disappearance to "quarrels", but adds an element also pointed out by us: that of the "lack of attention"362.

We know that some meetings in private homes continued to be held on into the '50s and that sporadically they were visited by representatives of the consistory in Buenos Aires363. A new sign of the interest of a group of men and women in being true to their faith. However, "it is no longer possible to speak of a congregation...."

In time many of the adherents to the Reformed tradition went on to join other groups and churches: Methodists, Baptists, Waldensians, Free Brethren, the Salvation Army. This is small consolation if we consider what this community could have been. However, this is also an undeniable sign of the faith of a group of persons who, notwithstanding their own denominational failures, are capable of adding their effort and their gifts to the great work of the Kingdom. As L. Sartori wrote to us: "the Dutch seed gave some fruits (and will give yet more) for the glory of God"364.

We know, for example, that C. Leegstra and Jacobo van der Meulen were important pillars in the emergence of the Methodist Church in Arroyito (Rosario). Van der Meulen, a lay preacher, was the one who was responsible for the first sermon in that church365. These two persons separated afterwards from the Methodist Church in Arroyito and went on to form part of the Baptist Church in Arroyito, as co-founders366.

Mrs. Gertruida Verhagen de Raineri tells us in her testimony that "the following families joined the Church of the Free Brethren: my parents Marinus Verhagen and Itje Pauwels, my uncle Enrique Pauwels, and brothers Mariano and Pedro Nieuwenhuize. Joining the Methodist Church were Helder, Leegstra, IJseldijk, my uncle Cornelis Verhagen and his wife Francisca Hoogstra, and the Hoogstra family"367. Luis Sartori agrees with the preceding testimony and adds the following data. Mrs. María Struis de Steeg, invited by a neighbor, has joined the Methodist Church in Arroyito. Pedro Nieuwenhuize joined the Evangelical Christian Church in Barrio Sarmiento (north of Arroyito)368. Pouwels was a member of the Baptist Church in Arroyito "and some 40 years ago built the benches for our Church". Bergenthuin must also have been a member of the Methodist Church in Arroyito. Martin Helder and his wife Petrona (Ver Hoogen?) were also members of this church. Other Dutch descendants, like the children and grandchildren of Reckers, joined the Salvation Army. At least two were pastors of the Lutheran Church (the son of María Reckers de Acedo: Samuel; and Roberto Leegstra, son of Isidro Leegstra)369.

We owe at least one more debt to this first Reformed community in Argentina. It was this group that attracted the attention of Holland and the United States of North America to these lands. Although some want to see there the beginnings of our dependency, this contact was good, because without the help from Holland (and from the United States of North America, to a lesser degree) it would not have been possible to establish the first Reformed churches in Argentina. They were too weak economically and theologically and needed the support, both financial and human, of the sister churches.

To what should we attribute the disappearance of this Reformed community in Rosario? We could find a first hypothesis, as we said above, in the personal disagreements between the antagonistic groups that made up the congregation. Thirty years of discussions, fights and constant frustrations is a long time. Thirty years waiting for the arrival of a pastor to guide them is too long a time. Thirty years clamoring for accompaniment is wearing. The spirit and energies become defused. The first enthusiasm disappears. And thus also the arms that support the structure of the church lose their strength, and it stumbles and falls...

Another hypothesis, perhaps more reasonable, is that only a small group of Dutchmen felt the need to express and live their faith within a Reformed structure370. Most of the Dutch living in Rosario probably had no intention of participating in any religious activity. Nor did they have an interest in their children being educated in a Dutch school which, certainly, would have a denominational tinge.De Hollandsche Stem of 1913 tells us that it was not possible to organize a church nor to begin with a school in Rosario, due to the limited economic capacity of the interested group371. Another group did not hesitate to be affiliated with already established evangelical churches. And the group that attempted to be true to their Reformed principles did not have the support nor the necessary resources to fulfill their ideal. Their dreams, their ideals and their efforts were lost, forever, in the shadows of forgetfulness.

4. The coming of Pastor J. van Lonkhuijzen

J. van LonkhuizenThe desired support of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland was translated finally into the coming of a pastor and doctor in theology, J. van Lonkhuijzen, to Argentina (to Buenos Aires, in reality). This happened early in 1908.

After long discussions and meetings within the bosom of the Commissie voor Correspondentie met Buitenlandsche Kerken an agreement was reached with young Van Lonkhuijzen372, pastor in Aarlanderveen, one of the many pastors that responded to the notice that the Representatives had placed in De Bezuin and De Heraut of August 3, 1906373. Direct contact was established with the congregation in Buenos Aires by a certain "evangelist H. Meijering, resident of Schagen, Province Noord-Holland", who had heard of the needs of the Reformed in Argentina and was prepared to place himself at their service "with the condition that we send to him 300 guilders for the expenses of the trip"374.

The brothers in Buenos Aires requested advice from the Representatives. From a subsequent letter from them, we deduce that the recommendation of the "Deputaten" was negative. In it the Reformed in Buenos Aires say that "it seems that we were dealing with the wrong person (...), but we are happy to have fallen into the arms of the Geref. Kerk, and we hope, indeed, we believe, that you will collaborate insofar as possible in sending us a teacher or a missionary". So sure were they that, together with the last letter, they enclosed a check for 300 guilders to pay for the trip of the person who would be sent (Cheque No. 08129)375. The list of candidates was long and there was on their part genuine interest and a sense of vocation that compelled them to face the unknown. But the debate was to go on for almost two more years376.

Judging from the correspondence that they sustained with the Representatives one can conclude that the greatest interest in going to Argentina was shown by Pastors Taal and Van Lonkhuijzen, in that order. The Representatives resolve "after some considerations, to send in principle Pastor Van Lonkhuijzen to the church in Buenos Aires "377. The pastor of Aarlanderveen accepted the invitation of the Representatives and declared himself prepared to serve the church in Buenos Aires for a term of "two years" and even to consider the extension of the contract after the period had expired. His congregation gave him three months of "verlof" (leave) in case Van Lonkhuijzen did not find the situation as it was described by the brothers in their letters. For his part, Van Lonkhuijzen requests that the Representatives, upon his return from Argentina, help him find again a congregation to serve378. A month later Van Lonkhuijzen writes to the Representatives that he would only be prepared to go to Buenos Aires "if no one else is found more competent to take on the undertaking"379.

What is the reason for so sudden a change of heart? "Pastor Van Lonkhuijzen allowed himself to be intimidated by a man that returned from Argentina approximately in 1889!(...) I can not be more in favor of him. But, who then? (...) Might not Taal be our man?" writes Van der Linden to his Representatives and colleagues in a circular letter. "In my judgment we cannot talk any more about Pr. v. L. ", notes Van Schelven. Lindeboom adds: "therefore I support the motion to negotiate with Pr. T."380. Attention was then directed toward the contact with Pastor Taal, who showed so much interest in his letters in going to serve the brothers in Buenos Aires. In a letter written to Van der Linden Pastor Taal mentions his interest in going to see the ship on which perhaps he might travel to Buenos Aires, the "Rijland"381. Mid-1907 his presumed trip to Argentina was published as fact in several church bulletins, something that compelled the Representatives to issue an official and public denial in the press382.

In the interim the Reformed in Buenos Aires had sent to Pastor Van der Linden a letter in which they advised him that "after long discussions", they decided not to proceed with the call of Pastor Taal because they could not satisfy the requirements that the Representatives demanded: a collection of 500/600 guilders, guarantees for the family of Taal (adequate housing, etc.), the assumption of responsibility to cover the expenses of eventual illnesses, etc. It seemed to them more prudent, in view of the weak economic situation of the congregation, to send a single pastor383. Taal recognizes the same thing in a simple note, written some months afterwards and sent to Van der Linden. With a note of disappointment he writes there: "if I were single things would be different", and he adds, as if to definitely close the topic: "I for my part consider this matter closed"384.

The Representatives, for their part, are obliged to begin again the contact with Van Lonkhuijzen, trying to overcome in him the fear of the great insecurity, the lack of real guarantees and the high risks that the enterprise involved. These were the problems that militated most against the departure of one of these interested parties to Argentina. This the Representatives themselves recognize in their report to the Synod of 1908385.

Finally, toward the end of December of 1907, Van Lonkhuijzen decides to accept in fact the "call" of the church in Buenos Aires. He writes: "In response to the call received from Argentina and which I received through the good offices of the Representatives, I hereby inform you that I have in the eyes of the Lord the necessary will, in accordance with the letter from Buenos Aires of November 1, of this year, to accept the call. May the Lord be with me and bless my steps". He indicates as well that he will leave on the steamship Zaanland which would depart from Amsterdam on January 8386. To the brothers in Buenos Aires Van Lonkhuijzen writes: "After a short but deep meditation I have decided (... ) in the name of the Lord to go to you to analyze and put in order your affairs, to preach to you and to others the Word of the Gospel, and then, after more or less a year, to return to my country to submit a report so that I or someone else might go to serve you for a longer time"387. In fact Pastor Van Lonkhuijzen departed for Argentina on January 11, 1908, after preaching for the last time to his congregation on January 5, with his suitcases full of books, Bibles, "formulas of unity", etc., etc.388.

On the other side of the ocean anxious, expectant brothers awaited him. After years of correspondence and patience the hour was finally arriving in which the promised help was to be translated in fact into a being of flesh and blood. "Sunday, February 9, was a happy day for our congregation. A day that was the response to our many prayers to God. During long years we had begged for a pastor from Holland. (...) And, behold, God moved the heart of Pastor J. van Lonkhuijzen, who touched by the spiritual needs of the Dutch colony here, left his flourishing community, his work there and his country. At least for a year he left all that to come to aid the oppressed Zion.

Having arrived on February 7 he was already the following Sunday in the pulpit. His sermon was based on Hebrews 12:1-3, and he exhorted us to walk the road of faith with happiness, our gaze fixed on Jesus, the consummation of the faith, which keeps us on our feet and gives us strength to fight the battle of the Lord. When the worship service was finished, elder F. Benning took the floor, and spoke of the response to his prayers and pleas. Many in the congregation could not conceal their tears of gratitude, now that they could hear the Gospel again in their native language. May God bless the work that Van Lonkhuijzen will accomplish among us and other Dutch colonies, whom, for a time, we will be able to call our pastor..."389. This long paragraph in certain ways sums up the happiness and the emotion with which the brothers in Buenos Aires received this (short) visit.

Pastor Van Lonkhuijzen stayed only seven months in our country. He departed on his return to Holland on August 24 of that same 1908, leaving behind an organized Dutch community. He had organized a church in Buenos Aires, a church in Tres Arroyos on April 27, 1908 (see General Introduction), an Evangelisatie Vereniging in Rosario (see point 3 of this same chapter). He organized the churches into a Classis and left them a Church Order that he himself, based on the Church Order of Dordrecht, had conceived390. In Holland he would, in fact, work diligently to fulfil his assignment. But he had laid the foundation for a Dutch School in Buenos Aires and another in Tres Arroyos, which would have the support of the mother church in Holland and of the Dutch government itself (see below).

Perhaps it might have been necessary, as the Representatives advised him and asked him to do, that he stay a bit longer in this country. What's more, the Representatives were convinced that so short a stay in this country was only going to result in a detriment to the desired objective391. The organizational structure that he helped to build was still very feeble. Furthermore, it was still not guaranteed that some other person who could continue the work would be sent. Pastor A.C. Sonneveldt would not arrive, as we shall see below, until a year and a half later. But, as Van Lonkhuijzen insists repeatedly as early as in his first letter written from Buenos Aires to the Representatives, to continue the work in Buenos Aires a person of much patience and much meekness was required392, and those were not the greatest virtues of Van Lonkhuijzen. The Synod of the GKN of 1908 also questions Van Lonkhuijzen about his somewhat hasty return, to which he responds that his task has already been completed and that "new energies" are needed, mainly teachers who can help to solidify the incipient union within the Dutch community393.

Van Lonkhuijzen was an enterprising man, a man of action. And, in consideration of what we mentioned a few paragraphs earlier, we should recognize that he did accomplish something. Why, in spite of the suggestions of the Representatives and of the insistent request of the people in Argentina, did he not stay longer? We believe that Van Lonkhuijzen threw himself with too much intensity into the organization of the Reformed community in Argentina and that overwhelming task sapped his strength. He should have adapted himself a little more to the times. After 15 years of waiting the Reformed Dutch living in Argentina would have by then armed themselves with sufficient patience so as to permit Van Lonkhuijzen to act with greater serenity. Without a doubt if he had stayed longer certain things could have developed in a different way. The organization of the church in Tres Arroyos could have been put off a bit, it might have been possible to provide a good accompaniment for the Reformed in Rosario, the matter of the Dutch School in Buenos Aires could have been resolved.

Van Lonkhuijzen felt overwhelmed by the task that still lay before him and he didn't feel capable or prepared to face it. Even so, his brief visit laid down the foundation upon which others were able to continue building, it again fed the hopes of the lost sheep and brought about a rebirth of enthusiasm. And that is already of unquestionable merit. Furthermore, once having returned to Holland, the intensive propagandistic campaign that he undertook on behalf of the Reformed scattered throughout Argentina, both in his own country and in the United States of North America, had very positive results.

Soon a new teacher and Pastor, A.C. Sonneveldt, would go to Argentina (Buenos Aires). And he would not stay just a few months. During almost 50 years this great man would serve the Reformed Churches in Argentina.

5. A second Reformed community in Buenos Aires

We have mentioned repeatedly the church in Buenos Aires.

What do we know about it? Certainly much more than about the church in Rosario. The church in Buenos Aires still exists and many of the descendants of the founders of the congregation say that they are knowledgeable about its history. In some instances that is so, but most of them are completely ignorant of their own roots. Therefore it is not out of place for us to devote some pages to this Reformed community.

Just as in the case in Rosario, here also it is possible to divide the evolution of the history of this group into periods, to wit:

I. 1893/4-1900, Organizational period

I.1 1893/4-1897, Formation of the group. First consistory

I.2 1900, Organization of the church

II. 1901-1905/6, Struis at the head of the congregation

II.1 1901, Call of Pr. A. Struis. Struis period

II.2 December 1904-January 1906, Pluis/Struis conflict.   Resignation of Struis

III. 1906-1908, First period of waiting

III.1 Attendance declines for lack of attention

IV. February 1908-August 1908, Presence of Van Lonkhuijzen

V. 1908-1910, Second period of waiting

VI. 1910...., New period: presence of Pr. Sonneveldt394 (developed in section PROJECTIONS)

I. Organizational period

I.1 Formation of the group. Election of the first consistory

The organization at a community level of the Dutch in Buenos Aires seems have occurred early. As early as 1889, as we saw in the previous chapter395, a "Vereniging van Weldadigheid ten steun aan behoefte Nederlanders in Buenos-Aires" was organized. Also the Wilhelmina Association, emerges in these first years of their presence in Argentina.

But it was not until 1893-1894 that a group of persons of faith believed it necessary to organize the brothers who, like them, felt in their lives a spiritual vacuum396. "The death of a son of C. Nieuwenhuizen, who died without having been baptized, the parents nevertheless consoled by the promise in Acts 2:37ss, (...) was the motive that permitted the reappearance of the Christian element from among the Dutch"397. In spite of the jeers of many, the group of some 16 persons including J. Banninga, H. Bruins, H. van der Tuin, L. de Jonge, S. Hemkes, K. Pluis, Bergempas, Dekker, and the already appointed C. Nieuwenhuizen, gathered the last Saturday of July in 1894 in a building at Alvarado Street 1590, where at that time a Dutch Academy was functioning398. At this meeting it was decided where and when the religious services would be held and what would be read in them. S. Hemkes was to be responsible for the reading of the sermons and C. Nieuwenhuize of the prayers. The first worship service, held in that very meeting place, was attended by some 30 persons. As the weeks went by the number of the faithful grew.

One Sunday, the person in charge of the readings forgot his "book of sermons"... It was Nieuwenhuizen who drew the potatoes from the fire by improvising a sermon based on the text of Revelation 3:20a: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock". His simple way of expounding the text transformed him almost automatically into an "elder instructor," though the first consistory wasn't chosen until 1897399. There brother Nieuwenhuizen was installed in fact in the above-mentioned position, accompanied as elder by C. de Boe, who had joined the community in 1895. The latter exercised said charge for several consecutive terms.

The children were baptized in those days by Pastor Stephenson, a pastor who came from South Africa and who was working in the area of Quilmes400. Thanks to the organized work and the effort and the will of its members, the church grew. Toward end of the century it had a relatively large number of faithful. Some 150 persons formed part of the group.

The members of this church were mostly poor Dutch, having arrived with the unsuccessful immigration of 1888-90, who had taken up residence in the areas of Avellaneda, Barracas, and the Boca401. There they worked in cold-storage plants, tanneries, factories, or in activities tied to construction.

I.2 The church is organized

Around 1900 the changes began. We said that the congregation consisted of some 150 sympathizers and that it was already necessary that a pastor take charge of it so that, as was proper, they could have access to the sacraments. Help was requested from Holland in the persons of Pastor J. Duursema in Uithuizen and Pastor J. de Koning in Krabbendijke. All that they were "able" to do was to recommend that they get in touch with "an A. Struis, who was authorized, with the blessing of Holland, to impart the Sacraments". Notwithstanding certain doubts as to the legitimacy of the ordination of brother Struis, they got in touch with him and, during a trip of three weeks by him to Buenos Aires in 1900, the church was finally organized with 24 members. This happened probably on July 9 of that year402.

II. Pastor Struis at the head of the congregation

II.1 The call of Pastor Struis

In 1901 the congregation extends an official call to Pastor Struis, who accepts it and moves to Buenos Aires403. "Things weren't going very well for him in Rosario," writes afterwards Van Lonkhuijzen, who nevertheless adds that "in the first years of "Pastor" Struis one saw a flourishing in the congregation. There was life and many activities were developed: youth meetings, women's meetings, song meetings, etc."404. A. Struis leads the congregation for a four-year period, until his resignation on January 1, 1906405. Why? We will see that shortly. What is certain is that the church in Buenos Aires, pastored by A. Struis was a live church, in which activities multiplied. The slim minutes book of the congregation that covers the period from December 30, 1901, to December 12, 1905406, written in almost illegible handwriting and with many spelling mistakes, scarcely tells us more than what is necessary.

But, that is precisely the best sign that things in the congregation were going well. It tells us that there were two Sunday worship services in which the preaching was based as much on the Bible as on the Heidelberg Catechism, that there were catechism and confessions of faith, that there were bible studies, that Holy Supper was celebrated regularly, that there was a singing group. As Rullman says, these minutes are a "very instructive source"407. The congregation also defines the first work years of Pastor Struis in their midst positively. "During three long years we enjoyed, thanks to God's goodness, a wonderful church communion", wrote the members of the consistory to the Representatives408. For his service to the church brother Struis received a salary of 50$ per month. This after a raise of 7$ that was granted to him in mid-1904409.

II.2 Pluis/Struis conflict. Resignation of A. Struis

The straw that broke the camel's back was no more than a simple domestic conflict that ended by causing a division in the bosom of the church. Or, perhaps, this tenement-house spat was nothing more than the reflection of a division that already existed but of which nobody talked, because there were many who questioned from the beginning the legal authority of A. Struis as "pastor" of the congregation410. What happened actually? Elder F. Benning, who was appointed by the consistory to report "faithful to the truth" the events to the Representatives, who "had become aware of a rumor," the letter from R. H(oogstra) to his cousin/nephew in Holland, which we cited above, needs 7 pages to explain only "the principal causes" of the sad history. Let us then look at it.

The church had a facility for church use at Azara Street 1298. Beside it lived Pastor Struis who, having had a verbal confrontation with the owner, decided to move. They found a new premises for the church, Azara Street 1336 ("where the church is located now" = 1907), and the pastor was to live there as well with his family. Since the rent was too high they decided to sublet one of the rooms to one of the members of the church, ex-deacon Pluis411. Things seemed to go well, until December 19, 1904. That day the wife of brother Pluis was hanging a white bedspread that she had just washed on the clothesline, when the cord broke under the weight of the wet cloth. At that moment the wife of Pastor Struis appears and must face the ill humor of the other woman. It was a fleeting discussion, we would say. That's what elder Benning, who that night happened to be paying a visit there, thought too. However, he left with a strange sensation, wondering if those could be the fruits of the Holy Supper that had been celebrated the day before.

The Pluis family, meanwhile, moved. But Pastor Struis, who knows what words these two women may have exchanged, was totally beside himself and took the problem "out the door", so that soon the entire Dutch community was abreast of what had happened. As a finishing touch, after some visits from the consistory, Mrs. Pluis recognized with tears her error while Mr. and Mrs. Struis showed no remorse at all. On January 6, 1905, there was a meeting of members and against all the advice and requests of the consistory Pastor Struis brought the matter to the attention of those present. An elder stood up and told the pastor that it would have been better had the matter been dealt with within the confines of the consistory and not so openly.

That innocent intervention served to light the fuse of a bomb that would explode before long. Struis began to shout and in a totally inappropriate tone said "that he no longer wanted to eat Dutch bread, that in view of the poor salary of 600$ that he received ("plus his housing free of charge")412 he preferred to go back to work, etc.; and that he would still serve the congregation for some three months and then he would leave". However, Struis continued working in the congregation for more than three months. His behavior was very strange and the atmosphere could be cut with a knife because of the tension that existed. The sacrament of Baptism was administered but not that of the Holy Supper and when the latter was finally imparted at the beginning of September, in the hope that spirits were calmer, the attendance was minimal.

The luke-warm intervention of the consistory in all of this leaves quite a bit to be desired. There was no application of discipline, not even an accompaniment to the involved parties that would make possible the overcoming of the conflict. According to R Hoogstra, a supporter of Struis, Pastor Struis insisted repeatedly on his request that the matter be cleared up definitively, censuring those who might be found guilty. But, the consistory systematically refused to deal with the matter. The discussion reached such a point that, in a consistory meeting held in October of 1905, the entire consistory declares that they were "illegal" (onwettig). "And not only they but also the pastor and the church and all its members.... The pastor, feeling indeed called by God and designated by Dr. Bavinck, of Kampen, and he himself having organized the congregation in 1899, requests in his capacity as "legal" pastor that they throw him out, which was denied him. For this reason he felt obliged to resign"413.

One Sunday, from the pulpit and without having discussed it before with the consistory, the pastor announced that now indeed, definitely, he would leave the congregation as of January 1, 1906. He preached his last sermon on December 31, 1905, and it was based on Ecclesiastes 12:13-14: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil".

Again according to Hoogstra, after the resignation of Struis some members of the community outlined the need of a congregational assembly. Once the first objections of the consistory had been overcome the assembly was held and, in a vote with a difference of 2 votes, the congregation was declared vacant414. It was the culmination of a long process of fragmentation in the bosom of the community. Some continued reading sermons and awaiting the coming of a pastor from Holland. Some followed Struis and others, woefully, abandoned the church.

According to official sources Pastor Struis must have received a revelation: he was to continue preaching, something he did at his home next door 20 meters distant to the church. "Three women members and two men, aside from his family" followed. What should we call him now, Pastor Struis?. He also continued preaching and baptizing415 in the area of Tres Arroyos416.

With the arrival of Van Lonkhuijzen, the consistory of the church, after seeking all possible roads to reconciliation with A. Struis and after reiterated invitations to abandon his rebellious attitude, decided, "based on the articles 12, 15 and 80 (deliberate abandonment of his service and public schism), to dismiss him definitively from his practice and also to take from him his membership in this church". They would continue visiting his followers in the hope that they might decide to return to the fold417.

III. First period of waiting

With the pulpit now unoccupied, the consistory immediately got in touch with the sister churches in the United States of North America and Holland to request that they send a "Servant of the Word."

Why do they repeatedly come back to this same request? Might they not have been able to attend one of the other churches of Protestant tradition in Buenos Aires? "There are plenty of places to worship here. But, a little sermon of 20 minutes, much singing, euphoric shouts of glory, peace, peace without danger, we are saved. In a word, Satan brings us his message there. If today we already had a pastor, our congregation would acquire totally different characteristics. With the Word correctly preached and with access to the sacraments our community would soon grow"418. No, for them the one truth was the Reformed truth.

Of the never-received help from the Hollandsche Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk in the United States of North America, a member of the church writes ironically: "Many letters were exchanged until, finally, about two years ago an article appeared in De Wachter in which it was said that it was no longer possible to keep telling the little child: "go quietly and cover yourself." But, in spite of those beautiful words the little child still has not received yet a single small wrap, in spite of the fact that he had already lain down safe in the maternal arms of said church. Now the little child has finally realized that he cannot expect help from the princes"419. We already saw that in the United States of North America they were only concerned about the problems--the climate, the uncertainties of travel, the costs required by the initiative. In summary, there were only excuses420.

From Holland also all they could do was hope and beg for help. Perhaps it might have arrived before they established contacts with the Nederlandsche Hervormde Kerk (ambassador Van Riet was Hervormd and had good contacts in Holland). But then elder F. Benning wrote: "Our people are mostly Reformed (Gereformeerd), and it is practically impossible for us to come to that"421. After long letters that explained over and over again how they planned to pay the salary of the person that they were requesting and his trip, what the situation of the congregation actually was, etc., etc., the help from Holland would be fulfilled finally in 1908, as we saw above, in the person of Pastor J. van Lonkhuijzen.

During the period of the vacancy the congregation was again guided by the elders, who read sermons each Sunday, until the arrival of Pastor Van Lonkhuijzen breathed new life into the weakened flock. The reading of sermons was another of the excuses used by many Dutchmen for leaving the fold422.

IV. Presence of Van Lonkhuijzen. His contribution to the Church in Buenos Aires

Pastor J. van Lonkhuijzen arrives in early February of 1908 and on February 8 he already holds his first meeting with the consistory of the church in Buenos Aires423. Van Lonkhuijzen arrived at an opportune time, because patience was running out in Buenos Aires. "The sending of a pastor is diluted even more than what we had thought", "in Holland so many pastors, so many servants of the Word, of wise counsel, and here, in Buenos Aires, nothing!"424.

The newly arrived pastor had to try to unify the parties separated in the conflict that took place during 1905. He had to mediate between the Struis camp and the Pluis camp425. According to the analysis of Van Lonkhuijzen, A. Struis began to behave "like a despot". According to Van Lonkhuijzen, Struis was a man without education, who scarcely knew how to write, who was not familiar with the Church Order of the church426. In fine, what Van Lonkhuijzen means is that A. Struis was a very difficult person. And with that he claims to justify a little the root of the problems that occurred one after another during the time that the former led the congregation in Buenos Aires.

As we said above the situation of conflict caused many brothers and sisters, extremely aggrieved, to stop attending church. The faith experience became diluted and this became evident, mainly, among the youth. "The young people are nearly all trapped in the nets of the world..., in carnival and dancing"427. Elder C. de Boe had 15 children, of whom only 4 continued to attend church. In short, all that was left was a group of some 25 members participating in the congregation, plus a group of some 30 children. Upon analyzing the situation of the congregation when he arrives in Argentina, Van Lonkhuijzen recalls woefully the 150 members that there were at one time, plus some 20 catechumens, and he cannot excuse the fact that Holland or the United States of North America didn't send a pastor seven years before, when they might actually have been able to do something. "Then there would have been a flourishing church here."428.

Van Lonkhuijzen was deeply concerned with organizing the Dutch community in Buenos Aires, even trying to integrate the "wealthy" into the church and to interest them in the creation of a Dutch School. In a public notice dated April 15, 1908 and signed by the General Consul (gezant=minister plenipotentiary) Van Riet, by the Consul, H.E. Jongewaard de Boer, by the president of the Wilhelmina Society and other influential Dutchmen429, appreciation is expressed for the visit of the Dutch pastor and it is believed that his stay in Argentina must contribute to a greater unity in the colony. To reach that objective it is necessary to strengthen the church and organize a Dutch school. In order to discuss the matter all the members of the Dutch collectivity were invited to participate in a discussion after a worship service, at 1400 hours [2 PM] in the meeting rooms of the Duitsch-Evangelische Kerk, located at Esmeralda Street No 166, on April 19, the first day of Easter. Said meeting was a failure since the well-off Dutchmen did not share the Christian orientation that Van Lonkhuijzen wanted to give to the projected School.

Nevertheless, the Reformed did not lower their sights and, with the support and the encouragement of Van Lonkhuijzen, they decided to go ahead with the initiative. Subsequent conversations with the "wealthy" made it possible to arrive at an agreement: a Dutch school with a non-confessional Christian orientation would be organized, that is to say, not tied directly to the church430. A mixed commission was created, composed of two members of the consistory and two members of the Wilhelmina Society who worked arduously in the elaboration of what would eventually be the by-laws of the Nederlandsche School in Buenos-Aires. In said by-laws it states clearly that the school is an initiative of the consistory of the Nederlandsche Gereformeerde Kerk of Buenos Aires (article 3) and that it in turn delegates the administration of the school to a commission of 5 members431, of whom at least two should be members of the consistory. The remaining members do not necessarily have to be members of the church, but the consistory is empowered to veto their names with the support of the Commission (article 6).

The teaching, as we said, will not be confessional but it will have a Christian orientation. The children of parents who so request will have confessional classes during the hour of catechism (article 4). The teacher would be appointed by the superintendent, that is to say: Van Lonkhuijzen, in agreement with the consistory and the Commission of the school (article 5). The teacher and the Commission would be responsible for establishing the plan of studies as well as the schedules for classes, vacations, etc. (article 8). The intention was that all children of Dutchmen without regard to their social status and even others, should have access to this school (article 2). To guarantee this, scholarships were offered to those of lesser means and it was hoped that the wealthy would pay for their children's study (article 9). Furthermore, a group of donors would be created who would be expected to commit themselves to giving a minimum of 60$ per year (article 10). A project in which we can glimpse the diplomatic vein in Van Lonkhuijzen, who was able to overcome the initial objections of the wealthiest Dutch.

V. Second period of waiting

When Van Lonkhuijzen departed on his return trip to Holland, the brothers in Buenos Aires sent with him a long letter to the Representatives, with the request that that missive be referred to the Synod, which would be held in August of that same year. The presence of Van Lonkhuijzen and elder F. Benning432 at that synodal meeting assured that certain decisions were made in favor of the churches in Argentina.

The church, meanwhile, was transformed, in the words of the very members of the consistory, into a lees Kerk (reader church). The lack of a pastor forced them to return to the system of the reading sermons. But their first period of waiting had already accustomed them to this. Furthermore, the new pastor would not delay in arriving.... It was only two years.

The plans with respect to the organization of a Dutch School went forward in this period. Other ethnic communities, like the Germans, already had their own schools, supported by the German State, their own churches with pastors sent from Germany. Would it not be possible to do the same within the Dutch community? A school of their own, their own place of worship and a pastor-teacher sent from Holland? It couldn't be that difficult. Since his return to Holland, Van Lonkhuijzen had begun a campaign to gather funds, a campaign that was even extended to the United States of North America433.

Since the unconditional support of the "wealthy of Belgrano" was not available because of disagreements concerning the Christian orientation that it was intended to give to the school434, funds had to be sought from other sources. The Dutch government committed a subsidy of 2400 guilders for a Dutch School in Buenos Aires and 1600 guilders for another school in Tres Arroyos; the Gereformeerde Kerken for their part also committed their support sending (the fruits of collections) 1750 guilders to Buenos Aires and 1735.19 guilders to Tres Arroyos. These latter contributions were intended for the construction of "premises" of their own435. Brother Benning, who, as we have already said, had traveled to Holland with Van Lonkhuijzen in 1908 "to collect money both here and in North America"436, returned to Argentina with 4000 guilders organ!437.

In Argentina, meanwhile, problems began to emerge again. Taking advantage of the fact that Van Lonkhuijzen was on the other side of the ocean, the wealthy Dutch, the majority on the school commission, tried to impose their position438. We are not going to list here the comings and goings that preceded the organization of the school because it would take us too much time. Let us say only that the school began to operate with 16 pupils at the time of the arrival of Pastor A. C. Sonneveldt439 and that a year and a half later it had 60 pupils440. In a photo taken of the pupils of the Nederlandsche School at Buenos Aires in 1917 (see addenda), we count 28 pupils (12 girls and the rest boys). The school operated with many ups and downs until 1922. From 1922 until 1929 they continued offering evening courses. As of 1929 we hear nothing more of a Dutch school in Buenos Aires441.

The church, meanwhile, with the arrival of Van Lonkhuijzen gathered new strength. He better organized its activities, he stimulated the drafting of a Church Order (later questioned), he put it in more direct touch with the larger sister churches in the United States of North America and in Holland. And when he left, he promised them that he would busy himself with sending them a pastor. This promise and above all the indubitable faith in the sovereign purposes of God, always faithful to his people, kept alive the hope of the Reformed in Buenos Aires. And that hope was not in vain. A little more than two years after the departure of Van Lonkhuijzen, toward the end of 1910, Pastor A.C. Sonneveldt will arrive, a man who will define a completely new stage in the life of the Reformed Churches in Argentina.

A little before this took place, by mid-1910 and perhaps anticipating the beginning of a more active life in the bosom of the Dutch community in Buenos Aires, the Vereniging Juliana emerges, an association whose objectives were, according to the article 3 of its by-laws: a) to organize lectures of general interest once a month; b) to try to keep the language alive; c) to work conjointly with other associations whose ends did not contradict its own and d) to strengthen the racial communion among the Dutch people. The participants in this initiative were W. van Driel, president; J.C. Pronk, vice-president; Arn. Francken, secretary; J. van Schie, treasurer; H. Pluis, C. de Boe, F. Smith, J. Vandermeulen, W.C. Pieterson, J. Wijnberg, members. We believe that this association was dissolved in 1912442.

Nor do we want to fail to mention the constitution around 1897 of a Hollandsche Begrafenisverenigin (literally Dutch Interment Association), whose name was De Goede Hoop (The Good Hope). From its inception, and for many years, the figure of C. de Boe stood out at the head of this Association443.

As opposed to what happened with the church in Rosario, the Reformed community in Buenos Aires benefitted from its strategic geographical position. Buenos Aires had always been unitary, centralist. And that is also noticeable in the life of the church.

276 D. Broek, "Het verwaarloosde vasteland", pp. 170-172.

277 Dutch Christian Reformed Church. This is the original name. Then in letters and documents we find variations of the name. "Hollandsche Gereformeerde Kerk", "Christelijk Gereformeerde Kerk". In Buenos Aires the same thing will happen. Sometimes called "Hollandsche Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk", Other times "Christelijk Gereformeerde Gemeente" or "Gereformeerde Kerk", etc. It seems that after the arrival of Pastor Van Lonkhuijzen, who reorganized the church in Buenos Aires and organized the church in Tres Arroyos, the original name "Hollandsche Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk" was transformed into "Nederlandsche Gereformeerde Kerk". Why not directly "Gereformeerde Kerk"?

278 Though J.A.C. Rullman, op.cit., p. 23, suggests "an early ecumenism... and, as if it were little, 'van chrisstelijke gereformeerde zijde' (this means, of the more conservative sector of the Reformed wing)" with respect to the Baptists in Tres Arroyos.

279 Preamble to the book of minutes of the consistory meetings of the Hollandsche Gereformeerde Kerk of Buenos Aires, I, 8 Febr. 1908-12 Mei 1912. It is not easy to explain to the reader the differences between the different groups mentioned. All are of Reformed tradition but they have been dividing with the passage of the years. At the end of this work we attach a table in which one can see the times at which these divisions occurred.

280 Op.cit., p. 21.

281 H. Knippenberg, op.cit., pp. 266-279.

282 Ibid., p. 61

283 Cited letter from Ana Verbeek de Barbato to her family in Holland, Rosario, January 21, 1982.

284 Christian Reformed Church, strongly rooted in the area of the Haarlemermeer.

285 "Strijd om het bestaan", statement about Age van der Heide, native of Friesland, written especially for us by his grandson, A. van der Heide, Uithuizen, summer of 1992.

286 Cf. also "Diego Zijlstra", by Lidia Slebos de Zijlstra.

287 Buenos Aires, March 12, 1908.

288 Letter from the consistory of the Hollandsche Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk of Rosario to the teachers of the Theologische School of Kampen, Rosario, November 1, 1893.

289 Letter from the consistory of the Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk of Rosario to the Dutch Pastor J. v.d. Linden, Rosario, July 2, 1894.

290 The lack of followers of these initiatives does not permits us, however, to assert that the Dutch who arrived en masse in the country at the end of the past century "did not include Christian communities, but rather families that shared minimally a certain religious tradition tinged vaguely with pantheistic conceptions". Educational Commission of the IRA, Iglesia-Identidad, p. 13. It is certain that communities of organized faith (such as had been the case of the Dutch emigration to the United States of North America some decades before) did not arrive in the country, but it is not true that those who came here did not live their faith in some way.

291 On the topic of "mixed" marriages "mixed", see the article by C. Silberstein, "Inmigración y selección matrimonial: El caso de los italianos en Rosario (1870-1910)".

292 Minutes book of the consistory of the Christelijk Gereformeerde Kerk of Warffum September 1870-August 1892, p. 204, meeting of June 4, 1890, article 5. It can be consulted in the Rijksarchief of Groningen.

293 December 29, 1893.

294 Letter from the Consistory of the Hollandsche Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk of Rosario to the teachers of the Theologische School of Kampen, Rosario, November 1, 1893. See a copy of this letter in addenda, at end of this work. The letters that we cite from here on, unless otherwise indicated, can be consulted in the Archive of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland.

295 Segundo Censo..., Cuadros IIb, III, IVb, pp. 158-162. Cf. also M.A. de Marco-O.L. Ensinck, Historia de Rosario, p. 281.

296 Ibid., Cuadro VIII, p. 168.

297 Letter from a group of Dutch living in Rosario to the Synod of Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland, Rosario, July 9, 1895.

298 J. van Lonkhuijzen, op.cit., p. 167. We have written to the Consulate in Rosario requesting a confirmation of this figure as well as other complementary statistical materials. When we were finishing the preparation of this work we had only received a telephone call from the vice-consul in Rosario, who could not give us more data.

299 We thank Prof. A.Zorzin for his suggestion regarding the division into periods.

300 Argentina has a area of 2,776,889 km2. That is some 75 times larger than Holland (+/- 34,000 km2).

301 Datum taken from the letter of July 9, 1895 + addendum sent to the Synod of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland and already cited in a preceding note. In it a group of Dutchmen lists their points of disagreement with the brothers of the "Hollandsche Chr. Geref. Kerk" of Rosario.

302 Cf. the letter of November 1, 1893 to the teachers of the Theologische School of Kampen.

303 The Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland recognized and supported the organization of the Hollandsche Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk in Rosario. Those who separate from it and question it automatically become "dissenters". The use of the term does not imply, in any way, the expression of a value judgment in favor of the "official" group.

304 All this according to the letter of July 9, 1895, from the dissident group.

305 The reader will observe that many times the surnames of the persons appear written in different ways. We have copied them just as we found them in the documents that we consulted. The most typical case is probably that of Nieuwenhuijze (original) which will appear as Nieuwenhuize, Nieuwenhuizen, Nieuwenhuijzen.

306 Dr. H. Bavinck was at that time Rector of this Theological School and C. Mulder secretary of the faculty.

307 J. Nieuwenhuize, cofounder of this congregation, belonged in fact to the Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk. On the 'small farm' of one of his 'forebears', Boudewijn Nieuwenhuijze, the first worship service of the 'secessionists' was celebrated in 1835 in the province of Zeeland. That service was led by Pastor Budding. Cf. letter from Mrs. N. Minnée-Nieuwenhuize, Hoedekenskerke, 14-07-1992. Archive of the author.

308 Letter from F. Benning, secretary of the consistory of the Chr. Geref. Kerk of Buenos Aires, to Pastor Van der Linden, secretary of the Representatives, Buenos Aires, March 13, 1907. Sometimes the letters are addressed to Pastor Van der Linden and other times in the name of the commission.

309 Letter from the consistory of the Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk of Rosario to Pastor J. van d. Linden, Rosario, July 9, 1895.

310 Letter from the consistory of the Holl. Chr. Ger. Kerk of Rosario to the Synod of the GKN, Rosario, July 9, 1895.

311 Information provided by his granddaughter, Mrs. Noemí Nieuwenhuize de Miguez. The brother of Marinus, C. Nieuwenhuize, on the contrary, was one of those who insisted most on the organization of a church with Reformed tradition in Buenos Aires.

312 Even in the minute of a meeting of the consistory of the Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk of Rosario, carried out on January 9, 1917, article 5, speaking of the Methodist pastor, brother-in-law of P. Wiersma, the former is referred to as an "adversary" of the congregation. Let us recall also that the citations above about the "bastard Protestantism" and the lack of churches that reflect the pure truth (= Calvinism), were taken from letters sent to Holland by the group in Rosario.

313 Made up of  the following representatives: Prof. L. Lindeboom, Pastor F. Lion Cachet, Mrs. A.W. Schippers and Pastor Js. van der Linden, all appointed by the Synod of the GKN of 1892. Later the following were incorporated: Pastor B. van Schelven and Prof. D.K Wielinga. Data taken from the book of minutes of this commission. Pastor Lion Cachet was one of the most outstanding persons in the Dutch missionary area of those days.

314 Minutes of the meetings of the Teachers Association of the Theologische Hoogeschool of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland, in Kampen, Vl.A.1, 22 Juni 1893-14 Sept. 1896, meeting of Decembeer 7, 1893, article 4. It can be consulted in the Gemeentearchief of Kampen.

The Representatives acknowledged the existence of this church in their meeting of April 5, 1894. See Minutes of the meetings of the Deputaten voor Correspondentie met Buitenlandsche Kerken, April 5, 1894, article 5. All the minutes of this commission can be consulted in the Archive of theGereformeerde Kerken in Nederland, in Leusden.

315 Letters of August 9, 1895, Rotterdam, signed by Pastor Lion Cachet.

316 Minute of the Synod of the GKN, held in 1896 in Middelburg, p. 84.

317 De Bazuin, Friday, December 15, 1893, front page.

318 De Bazuin, Friday, April 27, 1894.

319 Minutes of the Teachers Association the Theologische School of the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland, in Kampen, meeting of March 16, 1894, article 9. Later exegetic and dogmatic books would be sent there. Among others by Klinkenberg (?) and Brakel. Cf. Minutes of the meetings of the Representatives, meeting of January 11, 1900.

320 Letter from the consistory of the Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk of Rosario, Rosario, July 2, 1894.

321 Letter of November 1, 1893.

322 Data taken from the letter that the brothers of the church of Rosario send to Pastor J. van der Linden, Rosario, July 2, 1894.

323 Minute of the Synod of the GKN held in 1896, Middelburg, p. 88.

324 Idem, p. 37.

325 "Having read the resolutions taken by the General Synod, held in Middelburg (1896), we can do no less than express our disappointment". Cf. letter from the consistory of the Holl. Geref. Kerk of Rosario to the Representatives, Rosario, April 28, 1897.

326 Letter from the teachers of the Theologische School of the GKN, in Kampen, to the consistory of the Holl. Chr. Ger. Gemeente of Rosario, Kampen, December 23, 1893. Cf. also the Minutes of the Professors Association, meeting of May 17, 1894, article 3: "...that they, in their current situation, can do no less than lay their hands by means of the elders upon the brother elected to lead the church".

327 Ibidem. Cf. also the Minute of the Synod of the GKN held in Groningen in 1899, p. 160. There the name of A. Struis (A. Thuys) is mistakenly cited.

328 Letter from Mrs. Gertruida Verhagen de Raineri, member of the Methodist Church of Arroyito (Rosario). Born in Rosario on 10-09-04, daughter of Marinus Cornelis Verhagen and Itje Pauwels. Rosario, November 8, 1993. On the basis of the content of the letter of September 25, 1993, we doubt whether the church to which Mrs. de Raineri refers is the same as the one to which we are referring. It is probable that a group of Dutch, about which we have no information, may have gathered independently of the "Reformed" group, even with their own Dutch pastor.

329 Letter from Mr. Luis J. Sartori, great-grandson of Pastor Struis and Mrs. Alicia ven der Poel, grandson of María Struis de Steeg. Rosario, September 7, 1993. Archive of the author.

330 Letter from Gertrudis V. de Raineri, Rosario, September 25, 1993. Archive of the author.

331 Letter from the consistory of the Holl. Geref. Kerk of Rosario to the Representatives, Rosario, February 2, 1898.

332 Cf. Book of minutes of the Nederlandsche Gereformeerde Kerk of Rosario de Santa Fe, July 1916-August 1919. See especially the mutual accusations in the meeting of January 9, 1917. There Wiersma was destined to lose. However, Wiersma had been one of the elders elected when the community was again organized in 1916 and, a year and half after the recently cited meeting, on October 19, 1918, Wiersma is distinguished as "the indicated person" to occupy for a new period the post of elder. Not only is he elected to the position but becomes the president of the consistory of the local church. It is his signature that closes the last book of minutes -to which we have had access- of said community.

333 Minute, 1898, p. 86ff. Taken by H. Beets in his book De Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk in Noord Amerika, pp. 382-383.

334 We will occupy ourselves below with the community in Buenos Aires. See point 5.

335 In reality A. Struis was the only one pastor of the community in Rosario in its almost thirty-year history.

336 We have news of at least one visit that A. Struis made to the congregation in Rosario between July 17 and 24, 1904. Cf. Minutes book of the Hollandsche Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk of Buenos Aires, meeting of July 14, 1904.

337 Minute of the Synod of the Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk of North America, 1904, p. 20. Taken from the cited book of H. Beets, pp. 382-383. Cf. also Minute of the Representatives, meeting of May 4, 1905. See also the letter from Rev. A J. Brink to elder F. Benning, Orange City, Iowa, November 22, 1904. In it he reports the intentions of the American church. "You already know perhaps what the Synod decided: to try to organize those disseminated in the Argentine Republic in the best possible way into congregations; to form with those congregations a Classis; and to bind that Classis to ourChr. Geref. Kerk". This letter can be consulted in the archives of the IRA in Buenos Aires.

338 Cf. letter from Rev. A J. Brink to elder F. Benning, Orange City, August 16, 1904. Accessible in the archive of the IRA in Buenos Aires.

339 Cf. Beets, op.cit., pp. 382-383. Cf. also article by Mae Rooy "A Cry in the wildernis", in : The Banner, July 16, 1971. There she writes: "A Mr. J Broens, not a member of the church but evidently a prominent man, writes from Buenos Aires a letter of seven pages in response to a request for information. In it he declares that, in his opinion, a pastor who preaches in Dutch will be like a voice in the desert, and he predicts pessimistically that the 'form of the Reformed worship service will never produce here more than a dent. The population as a group is too typically southern, too carefree (alegre = lighthearted)'", p. 15.

For the Representatives, the thing that prevented the synodal decision from being executed was the complexity of the trip. From the United States of North America on could travel to Argentina only by way of Europe!, cf. letter from the Representatives, to Pastor Van Lonkhuijzen, The Hague. June 10, 1908.

340 Cf. letter of November 22, 1904. General archives IRA.

341 Commentary of Pastor P.Jonker van Paterson, delegate of the Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk van Noord-Amerika in the Synod of the GKN celebrated in 1908. Cf. Minute of the Synod of the GKN 1908, pp. 37 and 246. See also letter from the Representatives for South America of the Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk of the United States of North America to their peers in Holland, New Eva (Michigan), September 27, 1909.

342 In a letter dated in June of 1913 from the Representatives for South America of the church of the United States of North America (Michigan) to Pastor Sonneveldt, it is clarified that the $400.-, that at this time is still being sent, should be divided equally between the church in Tres Arroyos and that in Buenos Aires. Nothing is said of Rosario.

343 Cf. letter of August 16, 1904.

344 Cf. letter of November 22, 1904.

345 Minute of the Synod of the GKN, held in Arnhem in 1902. p. 35, (article 50).

346 Letter of April 1, 1908, signed by the secretary J. J. van Yseldijk.

347 Letter from the consistory of the Nederlandsche Gereformeerde Kerk of Buenos Aires to the Representatives, Buenos Aires, July 2, 1908.

348 Cf. General Introduction.

349 Cf. Minute of the Synod of the GKN, celebrated in 1911, p. 200.

350 Cf. Minute of the Synod of the GKN, held in Amsterdam in 1908. p. 266.

351 The Classis discusses heatedly and finally authorizes the organization of the church in Rosario in its meeting of July 1-3, 1916, held in Buenos Aires. Cf. the corresponding minute. Archives of the IRA in Buenos Aires.

352 Cf. Book of minutes of the Nederlandsche Gereformeerde Kerk of Rosario de Santa Fe. We have been able to track in Holland, for benefit of History, part of that unpublished material that many considered lost or irrecoverable.

353 Letter of July 15, 1916, Tres Arroyos.

354 Rosario, April 2, 1917. Written by "representatives of the Nederlandsche Gereformeerde Kerk and of the recently organized Schoolvereeniging of Rosario de Santa Fe".

355 See letter from M. Bovenkerk and W. Helder (members of the Administration of the School) to W.G.E d'Artillae Brill, General Consul of Holland in Argentina. Rosario, March 30, 1917.

356 "The setback was notorious. Slow, but sure". In the church in Tres Arroyos there were only 13 families which added up to a total of 22 members by confession of faith and 44 by baptism. The worship services were attended by 17 persons. In San Cayetano there were 5 families: 10 members by confession and 12 by baptism. 5 or 6 persons attended the religious services. Cf. letter from the church in Tres Arroyos to the Representatives in the United States of North America, November 1, 1918.

357 Quarterly report sent to the meeting of the Classis Buenos Aires, Rosario, January 31, 1917.

358 Cf. Benthem, T. van, op.cit., p. 45.

359 Rekels?, cf. minute of the meeting of April 12, 1919.

360 Cf. notebook titled Correspondentie Deputaten en Kerken. General Archives of the IRA, Buenos Aires.

361 It can be consulted in the General Archive of the IRA, Buenos Aires.

362 Las Iglesias del trasplante. Protestantismo de inmigración en La Argentina, p. 129, point 6.3.

363 Cf. Minutes book of the consistory of the Nederlandsche Gereformeerde Kerk of Buenos Aires, October 28, November 27, 1957, meeting of November 27, 1957 .

364 Letter. Rosario, September 7, 1993.

365 Cf. A.G. Tallon, op.cit., p. 83.

366 Letter from Mr. Luis Sartori, Rosario, September 7, 1993.

367 Rosario, November 8, 1993.

368 It agrees with data provided by Mrs. Noemí Nieuwenhuize de Miguez.

369 Data taken from the letter from Mr. Luis Sartori, Rosario, September 7, 1993.

370 We can deduce this, for example, from a conversation held with Mrs. Noemí Nieuwenhuijze de Miguez, granddaughter of two of the first Dutch immigrants that arrived in Rosario: Marinus Nieuwenhuijze, married to a Wiersma.

371 Herdenkingsnummer 1813-1913, Buenos Aires, p. 22. In a letter from the group in Rosario to the Representatives in the United States of North America and Holland we read: "there are almost no wealthy within the colony in Rosario, and fewer at the present time". But in that same letter they say: "that the Dutch community in Rosario is quite important in number". Rosario, April 2, 1917.

372 J. van Lonkhuijzen, born in 1873. Pastor in Wilnis, 1899; Aarlanderveen, 1902; Delegate to the "Reformed Churches in Argentina (South America)", 1908; Rijswijk (Z-H), 1909. (Then he went on to serve the Christian Reformed Church in the United States of North America, 1911). Zierikzee, 1928. Retired in 1939. Died in 1943. Cf.Gemeenten en Predikanten van de Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland, pp. 332-333.

373 They were Pastors A. Taal of Krimpen a/d Lek, F.W.J. Wolf of Vrouwenpolder, J. Sybrandy of Krabbendijke (who later -letter 30/10/06- would withdraw his application) and C. Stadig of Den Helder. Later Pastors A. Bolwijn of Linschoten, J.L. Jaspers, of Ijsselstein, A. H. op 't Holt of Nunspeet are added to the list. Data taken from the letters that these persons sent to the Representatives and from the minutes of the meetings of the Representatives. The meeting of November 16, 1906 was devoted exclusively to the topic of the churches in Argentina. Archives GKN in Leusden.

Representative L. Lindeboom also had in "mind" Pastor H. Meulink of Meliskerke, because he thought that they should send to Buenos Aires a young pastor, "single, who would have some years of church experience", cf. circular letter from the Representatives dated 18/06/06. If our eyes do not deceive us we believe we can decipher from one of the letters (26/12/06) to which we have had access, that Pastor G. Renting, of Winterswijk, also declares that he is prepared to assist temporarily the brothers in Buenos Aires.

374 Letter from the consistory of the Hollandsche Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk of Buenos Aires to the Representatives, Buenos Aires, June 1, 1906.

375 Letter from the consistory of the Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk of Buenos Aires to the Representatives, Buenos Aires, September 20, 1906.

376 From a letter sent by Pastor J. van der Linden to the consistory of the Reformed Church of Buenos Aires July 28, 1906, we deduce that the intentions of the Representatives were also oriented toward a rapid response to the request of the Churches in Buenos Aires.

377 Minutes of the meetings of the Representatives, meeting of November 16, 1906.

378 Letters from Pastor Van Lonkhuijzen to the Representatives, Aarlanderveen, December 7 and 12, 1906.

379 Letter to the Representatives, Aarlanderveen, January 19, 1907.

380 Circular letter of January 21, 1907.

381 Krimpen aan de Lek. April 26, 1907.

382 De Heraut, Sunday, June 2, 1907.

383 Buenos Aires, May 3, 1907.

384 Krimpen aan de Lek, December 13, 1907.

385 Cf. Minute of the Synod of the GKN of 1908, p. 245: "The situation there was too insecure for the pastors and their families".

386 Letter to the Representatives, Aarlanderveen, December 20, 1907. Cf. also his letter to the Representatives of December 22, 1907, and the Minute of the Synod of the GKN of 1908, pp. 245-246.

387 Letter from Pastor J. van Lonkhuijzen to the consistory of the Geref. Gemeente of Buenos Aires, without date, though almost certainly late December, 1907. Cf. also Minute of the synod of GKN, 1908, pp. 244-246.

388 Cf. letters from Pastor B. van Schelven to his Representatives and colleagues, Amsterdam, January 7 and 11, 1908.

389 Letter from the consistory of the Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk of Buenos Aires to De Bazuin and De Heraut, Buenos Aires, February 11,

390 Cf. J.A.C. Rullman, op.cit., p. 37.

391 Letter from the Representatives to Pastor Van Lonkhuijzen, The Hague, June 10, 1908.

392 March 12, 1908.

393 Cf. Minute of the Synod of GKN, 1908, article 124, pp. 69-70.

394 This plan is also based on the suggestion of Prof. A. Zorzin.

395 See paragraph 5.3.

396 On the basis of the letter which on June 1, 1906 the brothers in Buenos Aires send to Pastor Joh. van der Linden, we know that in Buenos Aires there were in those years about 1800 Dutch.

397 Anonymous article on the history of the young Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires. July 9, 1925, 4 pages. See also the letter from the consistory of the Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk of Buenos Aires to Pastor J. v.d. Linden, Buenos Aires, June 1, 1906.

398 We have not found in the course of our investigation any other reference to this Dutch School.

399 Before the 'official' organization of the church?

400 Cf. the document cited above. Also Sonneveld, E. Pluis de, "90 años de la Iglesia Reformada de Buenos Aires", pp. 6-8.

401 Of the 863 Dutch who according to the Census of 1896 were living in Buenos Aires (451 men and 412 women) the great majority lived in the areas mentioned. Cf. P. van Zeijl, op.cit., p. 45.

402 The commemorative event on the occasion of the silver anniversary of the Church was held on that date. Cf. "Programma van de feestelijke herdenking van het 25-jarig bestaan der Nederlandsche Gereformeerde Kerk in Buenos Aires", July 9, 1925.

403 Cf. letter from the consistory of the Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk of Buenos Aires to Pastor J. van der Linden, Buenos Aires, June 1, 1906.

404 Letter to the Representatives, Buenos Aires, March 12, 1908.

405 Cf. letter from the consistory of the Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk of Buenos Aires to the Representatives, Buenos Aires. June 1, 1906.

406 Minutes book of the Holl. Christl. Gereform. Kerk of Buenos Aires, December 30, 1901-December 12, 1905.

407 Op.cit., p. 23.

408 Buenos Aires, June 1, 1906.

409 Cf. the cited minutes book three notes above, meeting of June 13, 1904.

410 Ibid.

411 We presume that the reference is to B. Pluis since K Pluis was (in 1906) still a deacon.

412 We should recall that Pastor Struis had worked (he worked on ships) for several years in Rosario without collecting a cent. He was not -in my humble opinion- at all a materialist. Though Van Lonkhuijzen in his letter to the Representatives, Buenos Aires, March 12, 1908, says: "Struis received here many benefits (he had arrived practically naked)".

413 Letter to his "beloved nephew/cousin" in Holland, Buenos Aires, April 8, 1907.

414 Letter of April 8, 1907.

415 "Is this baptism valid?, the brothers of Tres Arroyos ask later at the Synod of the GKN of 1908. Cf. Minute..., p. 266. The response of the Synod is that every baptism administered by Struis until his dismissal is valid. article 124, p. 69.

416 For the data concerning this issue Struis-Pluis cf. letter from the consistory of the Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk of Buenos Aires to the Representatives, Buenos Aires, June 25, 1907. Also letter from Van Lonkhuijzen to the Representatives, Buenos Aires, March 12, 1908.

Rullman, J.A.C. op.cit., p. 22 considers that the persons who were ordained in the period we could call pre-Van Lonkhuijzen, "were not pastors". Among them, obviously, A. Struis.

417 Letter from the consistory of the Ned. Geref. Kerk of Buenos Aires to the Representatives, with the request to send this letter on to the Synod, Buenos Aires, july 2, 1908. Cf. also Minute of the Synod of the GKN, 1908, article 124, pp. 69-70. The reconciliation with brother A. Struis took place in December, of 1913. Cf. minute of the meeting of the consistory of the church in Buenos Aires of the December 19, 1913, point. 1.

418 Letter from the group in Buenos Aires to the Representatives, Buenos Aires, without date. Written between March and June of 1907.

419 Letter from R H(oogstra) to his "Very dear nephew/cousin", Buenos Aires, April 8, 1907.

420 Cf. Mae Rooy, op.cit., p. 15. "In 1906 the Synod decided not to extend the call to another person for reasons related to salary, duration of service, vacations, and the discussion as to which classical committee on domestic missions would have the responsibility to coordinate the work".

421 Letter from the consistory of the Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk of Buenos Aires to Pastor J. v.d. Linden, Buenos Aires, June 16, 1906.

422 Letter sent by Arnoldo Francken to Pastor A.C. Sonneveldt, who was still in Holland, Avellaneda, without date (certainly the first months of 1910).

423 Cf. Minutes of the meetings of the consistory of the Hollandsche Gereformeerde Kerk of Buenos-Aires, I, 8 Febr. 1908-9 Mei 1912, minute of the meeting celebrated on February 8, 1908, an open meeting with the reading of Psalm 68:10.

424 Cf. letters from the consistory of the Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk of Buenos Aires to Pastor J. v.d. Linden, Buenos Aires, March 13, 1907, and another that must have been written between March and June of that same year.

425 This is how Rullman refers to the two camps in his cited book, p. 25. "The reconciliation (between these two groups) took place in 1913", p. 31.

426 Letter from Van Lonkhuijzen to the Representatives, Buenos Aires, March 12, 1908.

427 Cf. letter from Pastor Van Lonkhuijzen to the Representatives, Buenos Aires, March 12, 1908. This letter, which we have already cited frequently, is one of the most valuable sources concerning the situation of the Church in Buenos Aires at that time.

428 Ibid.

429 Van Lonkhuijzen mentions in one of his letters to the Representatives, Buenos Aires, March 12, 1908, that he has received "much friendship and support" from the wealthy Dutch.

430 Data taken from addenda to the Minute of the Synod of the GKN collected in 1908, pp. 265-267.

431 Dirks, president; Christmann, secretary; van Hattem, treasurer; F. Benning and C. de Boe, voters. These last were the representatives of the church on the Commission.

432 An outline of the trajectory followed by elder F. Benning, during 35 years as a member of the consistory- we can find it in Palabra Fiel, Year I, no. 4, September, 1960, p. 8. See also an "In Memorian" in Ecos Reformados, Year II, no. 21, p. 5.

433 Cf. letter from Van Lonkhuijzen to the Synod of the Holl. Chr. Geref. Kerk van Noord-Amerika. Minute of the Synod of that church gathered in 1908, p 79. Also letter from Van Lonkhuijzen to the consistory of the church in Buenos Aires, Iowa, June 27, 1911. In it he suggests to the brothers in Buenos Aires that they write to the United States to request money for the construction of a place of worship and to cover other needs because "here there are wealthy churches" and because "here there is sufficient money".

434 "The wealthy Dutch refused to work according to the Christian orientation advocated by Pastor Van Lonkhuijzen". Minute of the Synod of the GKN, 1908, p. 265. Cf. also J.A.C. Rullman, op.cit., pp. 32-34.

435 Cf. Minute of the Synod of the GKN, 1911, pp. 200-201.

436 Cf. Minutes of the Representatives, meeting of the president and the secretary, held on August 10, 1908.

437 J.A.C. Rullman, op.cit., p. 38.

438 See, for example, the minute of the meeting of this Commission held on January 11, 1909.

439 It opened its doors on December 12, 1910. Cf.De Hollandsche Stem, p. 79.

440 Letters of Sj. Rijper to H.H. Hoogendorp, Amsterdam, October 9 and 11, 1912. According to the article of De Hollandsche Stem cited in the preceding note the number of children reached 53 pupils in late 1912. According to a report of 8 pages on the school, written for the Dutch ambassador in the Argentina at the beginning of 1914, the number of pupils that the school had during 1913 was 32, Buenos Aires, March 12, 1914. On February 16, 1916 the school reopened its doors with 52 registered pupils, cf. letter to the Representatives in Holland and in the United States of North America, Buenos Aires, April 10, 1916.

441 J.A.C. Rullman, op.cit., p. 47.

442 The first meeting, in which the initiative was discussed, took place on April 27, 1910, but the bylaws were approved in a meeting held on June 25 of that same year. Cf. Actas y Reglamento de la Vereeniging "Juliana", 27 April 1910 tot 19 Februari 1912. Archives of the IRA, Buenos Aires.

443 Nederland, 14 Januari 1922.

Read more?