Netherlands Union Conerence
The history of church in the Netherlands
The first Seventh-day Adventists were converts from a small group of Seventh Day Baptists in East-Groningen, the extreme North-eastern corner of the country. For about a decade the Sabbath issue had been a subject of discussion in some Baptist churches in the Netherlands. M J van der Schuur, the elder of the Baptist church in ‘t Zand, a small village near the town of Delfziji, with his family and a few others, began to keep the Sabbath. While there were still considering whether to join the Seventh Day Baptists, they heard about the existence of another Sabbath-keeping movement: Seventh-day Adventism.
In September 1887, L. R. Conradi, the leader of Adventism in Central Europe, visited them. As a result of his visit, five people decided to become Adventists. The Review and Herald edition of 29 October 1890 states that they ‘signed the covenant’, which probably means that they were admitted to membership without (re)baptism. Two years later another visit by Conradi to the Netherlands resulted in nine more Baptists ‘signing the covenant’.
The undisputed pioneer of Dutch Adventism was Reinhold G. Kilingbeil (1868-1928). The son of German immigrants to America, he accepted Adventist beliefs at an early age. After having finished his theological training in Battle Creek, Michigan, USA, he was sent in 1893 by the General Conference to Europe to work as an evangelist, first – only briefly – in Germany, and the in Holland. There he began his work by selling English books in Rotterdam harbour, while learning the Dutch language.
Klingbeil was not the only Adventist in Rotterdam. Two young Adventists from South Africa had also made that city their home. Soon they found a few other people, with whom they met regularly for Bible study. This small group financed the first edition of Ellen G. White’s classic Steps to Christ in Dutch. A baptism of seven people in the Maas river was the first concrete result. The founding of Adventist churches in Rotterdam and Amsterdam in 1896, and a little later in Den Helder and Utrecht, must largely be credited to the efforts of Klingbeil.