Dutch Reformed Church commemorates 360 years in Sri Lanka

By Revd. S. E. Faber
Dutch Reformed Church in Ceylon

History records that in the 17th Century the Dutch began their political work around the Indian Ocean. Then their headquarters were Batavia or present Indunisia. During this time the Portuguese had the power about commercial and spices. Yet the Dutch won over them and got the commercial power into their hands.

According to ancient records in 1638 when king Rajasinghe the 2nd was ruling Sri Lanka from Kandy, the Dutch discussed with him and came to an agreement. In this way the Dutch got the power of the cinnamon and other commercial which grew nicely in the island of Sri Lanka. Also King Rajasinghe promised to pay the cost (for war expenses etc) to drive away Portuguese from the Land of Sri Lanka.

As a result of this in year 1639 the Dutch won over Trincomalee and Batticaloa from the Portuguese and handed over to the Sinhala Rule. In 1640 they won over Galle which is a very beautiful area in the South and Negombo from the Portugese. But they refused handing over Galle and Negombo to the rule of the King in Kandy. As King Rajasinghe did not pay the cost of the war expenses the Dutch proclaimed that they cannot give over the areas to the rule of King Rajasinghe. In this manner the Dutch got hold of the coastal areas of Sri Lanka.

After a very hard fight in 1656, the Dutch got hold of Colombo and in 1658 got hold of Jaffna. They were able to spread their navigational power in the whole of the Indian Ocean and got hold of the power of commerce into their hands. As time went on Dutch society was able to get hold stable in the island.

It is recorded that although in year 1640 Galle was captured, the first reformed worship service was held on 6th of October on 1642 in Utreckt by Revd. Anthonius Hornhovius.

In this way the Reformed faith spread through the island. To spread education they established schools in association to the churches. They introduced home, schools and church Concept to the society.

The Dutch donated many valuable things to the society and Sri Lankan culture. They introduced registration of Birth, Death, Marriages, that every child must go to Schools, Printing, Carvings, Canal, transport system, Roman Dutch Law, which are existing till the present.

Other valuable services which can be accepted are social service centres to serve persecuted people, hospitals, refugee homes, Hendala Leprosy hospital etc.

On October 6, 2002 it is 360 years since the Dutch Reformed Church was born. This Reformed Church which was along colouring pages of our history at present hold their services in Sinhala Tamil and English while there are churches throughout Sri Lanka, at present churches that are older than 250 years are in Galle, Matara, Wolvendaal and Kalpitiya. Galle and Matara fort are live relics which proclaim a valuable History.

The "motto" of the church is "Spes Est Regerminat." which is a Latin saying which means "Therefore if a tree is cut down there is a hope that the branches and roots will sprout again. This is mentioned in the Holy Bible Job 14:7. The Latin motto is "Again there is a hope that it will sprout again"

Let us go forward thinking about this motto on this day that we commemorate the 360 years. Let us remember all the Priests and Believers who served in the Reformed vineyard up to now.

Let us also remember the present President Revd. Charles N. Janze and the Ministers and the other lay and ordained leaders well wishes and God who granted His Grace and mercy for the church to go forward.

We join and wish that as long as Sri Lanka exist the Dutch Reformed Church will in this way go forward and be a blessing to our society.