The Dutch Reformed Church was the dominant religion in the city of New Amsterdam and throughout the rest of the Dutch colony of New Netherland during the 1600’s …when my great grandparents (x6), Abraham Martensen Klock and Tryntje Alberts Klock lived in New Amsterdam (NYC today). Records show that Abraham & Tryntje were both church members and their 4 children were all baptized in the Dutch Reformed Church.
Note: The Klocks appear to have changed their name to Clock by the 3rd generation in America ….John Clock in the early 1700’s. Probably it occurred soon after the British took over the old Dutch colony. And the English version of our name just made more sense.
ABRAHAM & TRYNTJE CHILDREN’S BAPTISM RECORDS*:
-Sarah Klock baptized Dec 10, 1651
-Tryntje Klock baptized Sept 26, 1654 (NOTE: Tryntje is the Dutch version of “Catherine”)
-Marten Klock baptized Sept 19, 1656
-Albertus Klock baptized Sept 16, 1660 …..my great grandfather (x5)
Undoubtably the Dutch Reformed Church had a very significant impact on the earliest Clocks who came to America. How long their descendants continued to be part of that church is unknown. What we do know is that down the road, during the 1700’s, our branch of the Clocks eventually turned to the Presbyterian Church. But in the late 1820’s Jacob Wilkie Clock (my great grandfather) converted to the young, upstart Methodist Church. He devoted the remaining 60 years of his life to it, as a minister. So did his son, Wilkie.
(*The above information was located by Karon Clock Lemming in “The Baptismal Records of the Dutch Reform Church of New Amsterdam 1639-1730”. Great job, Karon. Amazing!)
Reformed Church in America
The RCA began in 1628. The early settlers in the Dutch colony of New Netherland held informal meetings for worship until Jonas Michaelius organized the first Dutch Reformed congregation inNew Amsterdam, now New York City, in 1628 called the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church, now the Marble Collegiate Church. During Dutch rule, the Reformed Church was the established church of the colony and was under the authority of the classis of Amsterdam.
Even after the British captured the colony in 1664, all Dutch Reformed ministers were still trained in the Netherlands, and services in the Reformed Church remained in the Dutch language until 1764. (Dutch language use faded thereafter until the new wave of Dutch immigration in the mid-19th century, which prompted a temporary revival of it.) In 1747, the church in the Netherlands gave permission to form an assembly in America which in 1754 declared itself independent of the classis of Amsterdam. This American classis secured a charter in 1766 for Queens College (now Rutgers University) in New Jersey.
The Dutch-speaking community prospered in the former New Netherland as farmers and traders, dominating New York CIty, the Hudson Valley and parts of New Jersey and maintaining a significant presence in southeastern Pennsylvania, southwestern Connecticut, and Long Island.
In the early 18th century, nearly 3,000 Palatine German refugees came to New York. Most worked first in English camps along the Hudson River to pay off their passage (paid by Queen Anne‘s government) before they were allowed land in the Schoharie and Mohawk Valleys. There they created numerous German-speakingLutheran and Reformed churches, such as those at Fort Herkimer and German Flatts. They used German as the language in their churches and schools for nearly 100 years and recruited some of their ministers from Germany. By the early 20th century, most of their churches had joined the RCA.
During the American Revolution a bitter internal struggle broke out in the Dutch church, with lines of division which followed ecclesiastical battles that had gone on for twenty years between the “coetus” and “conferentie” factions. A spirit of amnesty made possible the church’s survival after the war. The divisiveness was also healed when the church immersed itself in an intensive foreign missions program in the early 19th century.
In 1792, a formal constitution was adopted; in 1794 the Reformed Church held its first general synod; and in 1867 formally adopted the name “Reformed Church in America”. In the nineteenth century, in New York and New Jersey, the descendants of the original Dutch settlers struggled to preserve their European standards and traditions while developing a taste for revivalism and an American identity.
Some members owned slaves—the most famous of whom was Sojourner Truth–and the church was not supportive of abolitionism. In rural areas ministers preached in Dutch until about 1830-1850, then switched to English and dropped old Dutch clothing and customs. Although some ministers favored revivals, generally the church did not support either the First or the Second Great Awakening, which created much evangelical fervor.
Fresh immigration from the Netherlands in the mid-19th century led to the development of the Church in the Midwest. Hope College and Western Theological Seminary were founded in Holland, Michigan; Central College at Pella, Iowa; and Northwestern College at Orange City, Iowa. In the 1857 Secession, a group of more conservative members in Michigan led by Gijsbert Haan separated from the Reformed Church and organized the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), and other churches followed. In 1882 another group of churches left for the CRCNA, mirroring developments in the church in the Netherlands.
Post-World War II
After 1945, the Church expanded in Canada which was the destination of a large group of Dutch emigrants. Between 1949 and 1958, the Church opened 120 churches among non-Dutch suburban communities.
Like other mainline denominations, the Church has experienced a declining membership during the last thirty years. In 2010, the total membership was 250,000, down from about 300,000 in 2000, and about 360,000 in 1980. In the last thirty years, the Church has lost more than 1/2 of its membership.
The Reformed Church is generally opposed to abortion rights. The official stance, approved by the General Synod in 1973, affirms that: “We believe the Bible teaches the sanctity of human life. Men are given the precious gift of life from God and are created in the image of God. Therefore, we believe, in principle, that abortion ought not to be practiced at all. However, in this complex society, where many times one form of evil is pitted against another form of evil, there could be exceptions. It is our Christian conviction that abortion performed for personal reasons to insure individual convenience ought not to be permitted.
The Reformed Church opposes euthanasia. A fundamental conviction Christians have is that they do not belong to themselves. Life, despite its circumstances, is a gift from God, and each individual is its steward… Contemporary arguments for the ‘right’ to assistance to commit suicide are based on ideas of each individual’s autonomy over his or her life. Christians cannot claim such autonomy; Christians acknowledge that they belong to God.
The Reformed Church also condemns the death penalty. The General Synod in 2000 expressed seven reasons why the Church opposes it:
- Capital punishment is incompatible with the Spirit of Christ and the ethic of love.
- Capital punishment is of doubtful value as a deterrent.
- Capital punishment results in inequities of application.
- Capital punishment is a method open to irremediable mistakes. The increasing number of innocent defendants being found on death row is a clear sign that the process for sentencing people to death is fraught with fundamental errors.
- Capital punishment ignores corporate and community guilt.
- Capital punishment perpetuates the concepts of vengeance and retaliation.
- Capital punishment ignores the entire concept of rehabilitation. The Christian faith should be concerned not with retribution, but with redemption. Any method which closes the door to all forgiveness, and to any hope of redemption, cannot stand the test of our faith.
The General synod resolution expressed is will “to urge members of the Reformed Church in America to contact their elected officials, urging them to advocate for the abolition of capital punishment and to call for an immediate moratorium on executions.”
Colleges and seminaries
The Dimnent Chapel at Hope College, in Holland, Michigan
- Central College, Pella, Iowa
- Hope College, Holland, Michigan
- Northwestern College, Orange City, Iowa
Certification agencies 
- For students who do not attend or receive their Master of Divinity degree from one of the two seminaries operated by the Reformed Church in America, they are certified and credentialed for ministry in the Reformed Church in America through the Ministerial Formation Certification Agency in Paramount, California.
John Scudder, Sr., a Dutch Reformed minister, started a family of missionaries in India in 1819
- Vern Den Herder, professional football player in the NFL (1972 undefeated Miami Dolphins)
- Everett Dirksen, senator
- Jack Hanna, American zoologist
- Peter Hoekstra, Congressman
- Evel Knievel, motorcycle stuntman and daredevil
- Kyle Korver, professional basketball player in the NBA
- Francis D. “Hap” Moran, professional football player New York Giants, Deacon and Elder in the Reformed Church in America
- Jim Nantz, TV sportscaster
- Norman Vincent Peale, preacher
- Theodore Roosevelt, American President
- Albert Janse Ryckman, Mayor of Albany, New York (1702–1703), Captain of the Albany Militia, prominent Albany brewmaster of the late seventeenth century; deacon in the Dutch Reformed Church
- John Scudder, Sr., missionary
- Philip Schuyler, a leader of the American Revolution
- Martin Van Buren, American President
- The Reverend Clark V. Poling, one of the Four Chaplains
(KCL & BMC)