The Kingdom of Belgium
The World Convention is currently building a global reference for the nearly 180 countries and territories where we know there are Christian – Churches of Christ – Disciples of Christ congregations. Rather than wait for comprehensive, complete information we are putting up details that we readily have available. If you can correct or add to this information, please contact us with details at firstname.lastname@example.org Reference for further information will be in the form of web sites and mailing addresses.
The Kingdom of Belgium is a federal constitutional monarchy with two legislative bodies, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The monarchs are King Albert II and Queen Paola. Belgium is a small, densely populated country on the North Sea bounded by France, Germany and the Netherlands. For more than 2,000 years the area was dominated by a succession of foreign powers. In 1830 the Belgians declared their independence and installed Leopold I as King. The country’s population is divided into two main groups, the Flemings are the larger group and live mostly in the north and speak Dutch. The south is inhabited by the French-speaking Walloons. Religiously speaking the population is approximately 75% Roman Catholic and 25% Protestant. Brussels is the capital and is headquarters for the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations (NATO).
A strong presence of American a cappella Churches of Christ began in about 1947 when S. F. Timmerman planted a French-speaking congregation in Brugge, which later moved to Verviers. Since 1970 this congregation has been served by Belgian Jean-Marie Frerot. From 1965-1970 a Bible training school also existed here, under the leadership of Don Taylor. Other congregations were planted in Liege (1951), Charleroi (early 1960s), suburban Brussels (1953) which moved to Mons in the 1970s. Other congregations have also been established in Brussels. Both English and French services are conducted in Brussels.
In the Flemish north Roy Davison began working in Oostende in 1961 and Roeselare in about 1966. Other congregations were formed in Brugge, Merksem, and Leuven. Among the evangelistic methods employed in Belgium have been the Let’s Start Talking project, distribution of literature, and the use of Canadian students and two-year apprenticeship programs. In about 1980 Belgian Arnold Huyghebaert returned to Belgium to minister after studying in America. A number of other American missionaries have served in Belgium under the sponsorship of several American congregations. A correspondence school, Ecole du Maitre (School of the Master), is also providing leadership training for future generations.
Henki and Mary E. Boonaerts work with the Belgium for Christ Mission in Opglabbeek. The Boonaerts are supported by the American Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. A Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) presence has been felt in the American Protestant Church in Antwerp through Disciples minister Walter Taylor.
Of special note in regarding the history of the Movement and Belgium is the story of the Democratic Republic of Congo. From 1885 to 1908 King Leopold of Belgium exploited the country as his own private domain. After international condemnation of his brutality the country became a colony of Belgium until becoming independent in 1965. For a time it was known as the Republic of Zaire. The American Disciples have had a strong presence in this nation for more than one hundred years with an estimated population of 800,000 members in the church.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Lynn, Mac, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.
Ecole du Maitre