In the 1920s, Ralph Norton, founder of the Belgian Gospel Mission, said that if revival came to the churches of Belgium, those churches could be instrumental in reaching much of the world with the Gospel. His wish is yet to come true. But the signs are there. (Belgium, a country of 10 million people, ethnically and linguistically comprises Flemings, most of whom live in the northwest and speak a language similar to Dutch, and Walloons, French-speakers from the southeast.)
On New Year’s Day the United Protestant Church of Belgium (UPCB) was formed. “This United Church is not a federation, but a new church,” explained Wilfred Hoyois, one of its two vice-presidents. “It is a uniting together of two [Walloon] churches, the Protestant Church of Belgium and the Reformed Church of Belgium, and the Flemish Reformed Church.” Their combined total membership of about 40,000 represents just over half of the Protestants in this predominantly Roman Catholic country. The first of these churches was itself a result of the union in 1969 of the Evangelical Protestant Church of Belgium and the Belgian Methodist Church. (The denomination formed from Belgian Gospel Mission-founded churches and Pentecostal and Brethren groups are among the Protestants who elected to remain outside of the UPCB.)
The UPCB is not a state church, as is the Anglican Church in England; nevertheless, official government recognition is only accorded to local Protestant churches and leaders that are nominated by the UPCB. Government recognition means that the government pays the pastor a stipend. Protestant teachers of religion in Belgian schools, formerly nominated by the Protestant Church of Belgium, must now be nominated by the UPCB. (The ...1
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