On Monday evening, 13 October 1834, the church council of the reformed congregation in Ulrum (in north-west Groningen), led by Rev. Hendrik de Cock, decided to separate the Dutch Reformed Church. The next day a large number of members of the congregation, including Rev. De Cock and the church council, came together in the cooperage inn of the widow Koster-Hulshoff. There 137 people signed the “Act of Separation or Reciprocation”. This event marked the beginning of the separation.
De Cock writes, until well into the night, about an official separation. There is no way back, he sees. He has known for a good week that he will no longer be an officially recognized minister since the ‘no pourparlers’ of the Provincial Church Board. But now that he has seen for the umpteenth time how he and his supporters are being thwarted in the faith, he has taken the plunge. The true Reformed people then have to say goodbye to the Reformed Church. It is a decision that he has long hesitated about.
The entire Monday Hendrik scrapes the text and in the evening he convenes the church council. That evening he reads the Act of Separation or Recurrence . Return, because this act means a return to the faith of the fathers and separation, because the Reformed leave the Reformed Church. The elders and deacons of the church council are happy: now they are free to organize their own services and to listen again to their own pastor, who can preach the old doctrine without hindrance. The five male brothers of the church council unanimously write their name under the Act, and they decide to submit the document to the rest of the congregation the following evening. The Separation of the Reformed became a fact on October 13, 1834.
The Act of Separation.
October 14, 1834: Signing
On Tuesday evening, October 14, more than 150 people gathered at the inn of widow Koster. Hendrik de Cock urges those present to silence and kneels. All follow his example; from the old orthodox Beukema to his own wife. He prays and begs, “Lord, if Your face does not go along, then do not pull us up from here.” Henry asks God’s blessing on the Separation. He then tells what the church council has done the day before and asks the congregation if they also want to sign the Act. “It’s not about following me,” he tells people, “but the experimental, reformed doctrine.”
The Acte is on the table and Hendrik invites his church members to place their signature. For a moment it is quiet and nobody is moving. But then the first ones come forward. Soon the congregation members stand in line. Those who cannot write, sign their initials or have their name noted down. One hundred forty-four people sign that evening, eight refuse. Among them the two church guardians who manage the church building. Seven of the signatories will later revoke their decision.