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 By: Praxedis Bouwman – 24.04.2009

[The Netherlands] Synod of Protestant Church in the Netherlands Elected Peter Verhoeff as Praeses

The synod of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PCN) has elected her new praeses for the next four years: rev. Peter Verhoeff (46). He is the successor of rev. Gerrit de Fijter who presided the synod for the last two years. Verhoeff is the third chair of the PCN synod since the merging of three churches –Dutch reformed; reformed; Lutheran- in May 2004.

Peter Verhoeff
The choice of Verhoeff is surprising, he was not the official candidate of the Board of Directors of the synod. A group of fifty people proposed Verhoeff, as oppositional candidate of the Board. During the elections this group was supported by dozens of others in the synod. For Dutch synod habits it was an unusual procedure, normally the synod approves the proposals of the Board of Directors. The new praeses is a representative of the more enlightened Dutch reformed wing in the Protestant Church in the Netherlands. He is a recognised advocate of women ordination and full acceptance of homosexuality.  

Verhoeff has been member of the synod since 2006 as a representative of his clerical region in the north-western part of the Netherlands. He is serving as a pastor of the protestant congregation of the city of Alkmaar. Verhoeff studied theology in Leiden, was pastor in a congregation in the Eastern part of the Netherlands, and as from 2000 in Alkmaar. In previous years Verhoeff held several governing positions in his region, but also was the chair of a opposing group of pastors, called ‘On good rumour’. Next to that his name can be found in many minutes of meetings of the PCN synod. Although he diminished his sharpness during those meetings, he still was one of the most clear members in this governing body.

As from his election Verhoeff is presiding the now synod meeting. He started with the words: ‘nobody can cut me off because of running out of speaking time’. Another statement the new praeses made is that one praeses will not change the whole policy of the church.

Verhoeff and the current secretary-general, Arjan Plaisier (since July 2008) are the two ‘faces’ of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands in the next years.

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