400 years - Dordrecht Synod

monday 4 feb 2019

On 13 November 2018, it will be 400 years ago that the Dordrecht Synod started. This international, protestant gathering took six months and had no less than 180 sessions. Important home-bred and foreign preachers and theologians met in Dordrecht. This meant that almost the entire European Calvinistic family was represented. Only the seats reserved for the French Huguenots remained empty. Their Catholic king did not allow them to participate.

When a twelve-year truce was announced during the Eighty Years' War (1568-1648), the slumbering political and religious conflicts became clearly apparent. Stadtholder Maurits put political affairs in order. His opponent Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was arrested and later sentenced to death. The States-General ordered a Synod to be held to decide how to bring order to the theological conflict between the remonstrants and the contra-remonstrants, which had run out of control. The Synod was supposed to bring clarity about the future of the Calvinist church in the young Republic of the United Netherlands. In those days, politics and religion were closely linked.

Dordrecht was given the honourable task of organising the Synod. Since then, the name of the city has been linked with this international event. Many people in Dordrecht and in the Netherlands have no idea of the importance of the 1618-1619 Synod of Dordrecht. In addition to the major changes within Protestantism, the Synod also had a major influence on Dutch culture and even on its language. The Synod influenced not only the Dutch 'Calvinistic polder country', but also North America, South Africa and Indonesia. Even today, at a distance of 10,000 kilometres from the Netherlands, the Synod is still very alive in Dordt College (Iowa) in the United States! Exactly 400 years since it started, we will celebrate this event with the 'Ode aan de Synode' (Ode to the Synod). In a period of half a year, numerous events, exhibitions and activities will be organised around this theme. They will let you see and experience the influence the Synod had and still has on Dutch society.

Werk, bid & bewonder // campagnebeeld_werk_bid__bewonder.jpg (444 K)Work, pray, admire
The exhibition 'Werk, bid en bewonder' (Work, pray and admire), that starts in November 2018 in the Dordrechts Museum, lets you familiarise yourself with 'the Calvinist'. Discover that there is more than the cliché of the Dutch being sober, stingy, strict and hard working. The focus is not so much on religion, but on the people behind it. Who were the Calvinists in the Golden (17th) Century and in the centuries that followed? This story is told via unique and exceptional works of art and historical objects, mostly from private collections. These include a large number of extraordinary Dutch 'Statenbijbels' (States Bibles), most of which have never or hardly ever been previously exhibited. But also a spectacular work from Ferdinand Bol and many other masterpieces will be on display to the public for only this event. In addition, Ahmet Polat, photographer and video artist, gives the exhibition a contemporary feel.

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