On the 16th of September we are celebrating our 375 anniversary with an International Lunch.
The 375th Anniversary Service on Sunday 16th September at the usual time of 10.30am. This will be followed by an International Lunch for everyone, at the conclusion of which we’ll have a short Service of Praise in the Church to round off our celebration.
We’re delighted to be able to welcome the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, to preach at this service. In addition we’ll have a number of invited guests – including the oldest surviving minister of the Scots Kirk who was minister here from 1963 until 1971.
A warm invitation is extended to everyone – including past members and those who’ve had some connection with us over the years – to come along on 16th September to be part of our celebration of this event in our congregation’s life. May we all take the opportunity to make ourselves known to someone we don’t know and to share our stories about the Scots International Church Rotterdam.
1643 – 2018 : 375 years in Rotterdam
In the early part of the 17th century there were many Scottish merchants in the Netherlands, as well as sailors and soldiers and, increasingly, Protestants fleeing persecution in Scotland. As Rotterdam gained in importance as a port, so the number of Scots increased and by 1642 they were requesting the city magistrates to be allowed to found a Scottish Congregation in the city.
The magistrates petitioned the States General and after only 5 days they granted the petition and undertook to pay part of the minister’s stipend. The magistrates were instructed to find a suitable building and eventually secured the use of a warehouse in Wijnstraat. Meanwhile the Presbytery of Edinburgh had been asked to appoint a minister to the new congregation and in August 1643 the Rev Alexander Petrie preached before the congregation. On 13th September two Elders and two Deacons were appointed and the Scottish Kirk was formally established.
For most of the following two centuries the Scots Kirk was as much concerned with the education and care of the Scottish community as it was with their worship and spiritual life, establishing both a school and a poor house. The congregation itself grew enormously and by 1694 exceeded 1,000. The city magistrates were (as Rev Robert Fleming wrote) “so kind as to pass an act for the building of a new, large and convenient Church from the foundation, on the south end of the street called Schiedam-Dijk, and vulgarly, from the many Scots Inhabitants there, the Scots-Dijk.” Thus in 1697 the new Scots Kirk on the Vasteland was dedicated and remained the congregation’s home until it was destroyed in the German bombing of Rotterdam in May 1940.
During the War the congregation was much depleted and there was no minister (he having returned to Scotland on the last ship to sail from Hook of Holland). The Dutch Reformed Church took the Scots Kirk under its wing and, after the War, there was some reluctance on the part of the Church of Scotland to re-establish the Rotterdam congregation but, eventually, it was agreed the Rev Muir Haddow would go and assess the situation. In fact, he remained for some 7 years and oversaw the building of a new Church on Schiedamse Vest – the building which the congregation still occupies. In 1996 the congregation changed its name to ‘The Scots International Church Rotterdam’ in order to reflect what had by then become a hugely international community, sharing worship in the Presbyterian tradition and English language.
Today the congregation is part of the International Presbytery of the Church of Scotland – a Presbytery covering some 12 congregations in Europe and 2 beyond. On 16th September 2018 we will mark our 375 years with a special Anniversary Service at which the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Right Rev Susan Brown, will preach. But we also look forward to the next chapter in our history!