After years of meeting to worship in their mother tongue, what had been announced as the last scheduled Dutch-language service in Hamilton, Ont., was held on November 15. But because of all the interest expressed and double the usual turnout, organizers are reconsidering their decision.
A group from Ancaster Christian Reformed Church organized the monthly services for the past 27 years so local immigrants could worship in Dutch, hearing Scripture and singing songs in the language that for many attendees would always be their native language. The services were not only a space to worship in Dutch, but also a place of social interaction. As the only service of its kind in the area, worshipers came from all over the Golden Horseshoe region, with one person driving over an hour from Buffalo, N.Y.
For this final regular service, the pews were filled as over 150 attendees worshiped with songs from the Johannes de Heer hymnal. They filled the sanctuary with laughter as Rev. John Klomps told several stories of how certain words in English and Dutch/ Frisian were easily confused by early immigrants.
At the close of the service, Rev. Klomps presented Phil and Freddie Muys with a gift to express appreciation for their 27 years involved in this ministry. Over the years, they made announcements, created song visuals, coordinated with ministers and organists, and taped and sent out DVDs of the services to those who could no longer attend. Their dedication to this ministry was appreciated by many over the years, and the Muyses enjoyed it. “I made so many friends over the years, from Dunnville and Simcoe to Burlington. It’s been a real blessing,” said Phil Muys.
Declining attendance, a smaller number of available pastors, and only a few organizers to do the planning contributed to the decision to end the services. But when the announcement of a final service was made in September, organizers received calls expressing their disappointment, and attendance at the October service doubled. For that reason, a few services may be organized for the coming year. No dates are set.