The most important activity of a non-profit association is to involve its members in achieving the objectives set. For our association the same applies. Our members are regularly informed about the activities planned throughout the year. The association board accounts for these activities at the yearly General Members Meeting, where the members decide on that.
Most activities involve collaboration with other stakeholders in and around the Great Church and other organizations in Dordrecht, such as the Dordrecht Museum. Lectures, cultural and musical activities and excursions are the result of these collaborations.
The most important activities are:
The Annual General Members Meeting
The Friends organize a Members’ Meeting every year. The board then reports on the policy pursued, reports on the activities and the financial state of our achieved activities. In almost all the years the costs of the activities remain limited, so that there is a positive result at the end of the year. In this context there are sufficient resources available for initiatives planned for the next year in which the objectives of our association can be pursued. In the same meeting board members are (re)elected for the vacancies available. One of the highlights of this yearly meeting is a presentation related to the Grote Kerk hold by a special guest.
Around the theme, Grote Kerk is of us All, Prof. Dr. Van Lieburg hold a lecture at the 2014 Members’ Meeting on ‘House of the Lord as public property’. The Grote Kerk of Dordrecht is primarily a church. Most other church buildings with such a long history are no longer there.
In 2015, Mrs. E.M. van Noortwijk who was responsible for the renewal of the Synod exhibition inside the Dordrechts museum, held a lecture on the renewal of the Synod exhibition in the Grote Kerk. The wish for this revival in the Grote Kerk has been expressed many years earlier as part of the preparation for the Synod commemoration in 2018. The Friends supported the implementation of this project. The attendees at the yearly Members’ Meeting made many suggestions that were included in this initiative.
As a result of our efforts to maintain a good relationship with the Municipality of Dordrecht, former mayor, A.A.M. Brok, held a lecture in 2016 wherein he gave his vision on the motto of the association: ‘The Great Church belongs to All of us’.
It is also a wish of the Friends to show how the Grote Kerk looked before the Reformation. In 2017, Mrs. Dr. M. Eekhout held a lecture in which she discussed historic church interiors and that of the Grote Kerk in particular.
In 2018, the year in which the Synod commemoration commenced, Prof. Dr. J. C. Kennedy gave a lecture on the international influence of the Synod. In his speech he emphasized that ‘Dordt’ is one of the most important intellectual export products of the Netherlands.
The Friends prefer to host the annual Members’meeting in the Grote Kerk, in the Wijkzaal. However, because the interest in the annual meeting has increased the last few years and also because the church is somewhat cold this time of the year since 2017, the Members’ Annual Meeting takes place in the Dordrecht Museum.
The Friends give financial support to the Music Group of the Grote Kerk in Dordrecht for the organ concert series in the summer on Wednesday evening, with top organists playing in the Grote Kerk. The Music Group offered free access to these concerts for our members until 2018. From 2018 our members receive a substantial discount on the entrance fee and pay only 2 euros per concert
The Friends promote and support each year the Carillon concert series on every Thursday evening in the months of July and August. Not only the carillons of the Grote Kerk and Stadshuis are participating in this concert series but among others, also the water musician, Reinier Sijpkens, blazer musicians from the Residentie Orchestra and the tower players from Jubal are involved. Russian musicians, Vladimir Skliarenko and Elena Lelchuk are regularly invited, as well as local musicians such as, Gerard de Wit and Alisa van Dijk. For this kind of concerts taking place in the hall of the tower of the Grote Kerk, the limit of the maximum permissible number of visitors is always reached.
The carillon summer season is always concluded with a family day. These kind of events around the Grote Kerk have increased the interest of the little ones among us and their number has increased in the past years giving another dynamic to the event.
In addition to the organizational and promotional support for these concerts, which are organized by city carillonneur, Boudewijn Zwart, the Friends have also successfully fought against abolishing the municipal subsidy for these concerts.
In 2015, the Friends supported several May 1940 and 1945 commemorations in the Grote Kerk, 70 and 75 years later.
The Foundation Bijzondere Concerten, with publicity and financial support from the Friends on May 4, 2015, had Mozart’s Requiem performed with great interest by Merwe’s Oratorium Association. In preparation for this performance Rob Landman discussed the requiem of Mozart in the Tower Hall and Gideon Bodden performed works by Mozart on the Carillon.
Wim Anceau organized the 75th anniversary of the bombing of the Moerdijk bridges. The orchestra of the Royal Netherlands Air Force performed appropriate music beautifully in the Grote Kerk. At this commemoration, the Friends have given publicity and financial support.
As part of the Beeldenstorm commemoration in 2016, Muziektheater Hollands Diep organized an Beeldenstorm performance in the Grote Kerk. When this performance did not threaten to go, the Friends granted support because not going ahead would be a great artistic loss and the Grote Kerk would miss out on very substantial income. The repeated execution has finally become a great success.
In 2017, Rob Landman organized a historic concert about Willem Kes together with Dordrecht musicians and music associations. Willem Kes was, after his Dordtse period, the first chief conductor of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra. The director of this orchestra was present at the commemoration in the Grote Kerk.
Finally we mention the CD recording with organist Arjan Versluis in which improvisations are recorded on the Bach organ and vocal parts.
There are also lectures organized in the Klockhuys and the tower of the Grote Kerk. Rob Landman gave a lecture about historical sound carriers; Cor Ardesch gave a lecture on church music in postmodern times, Jan Rietveld on the Synod of Dordrecht. Gideon Bodden gave a lecture about the art of clock casting and Jos Bregman about the bells of the Grote Kerk. Lianne de Munck and Gerard van den Heijkant of Wheel of Art have given a presentation in the Torenhal about art and beauty in combination with Picture and Word as a writer / poet and photographer.
Organist, carillonneur and music theorist Gijbert Kok has given a presentation with music about the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. Camille Saint-Saëns gave an organ concert in the Grote Kerk on 5 June 1897.
With Vereniging Oud Dordt (VOD) a lecture was organized by Prof. dr. Dr. J. Pollmann in the Grote Kerk who was very interesting and busy.
Most publications about the Grote Kerk are made financially possible by the Friends. With the sale in the store income for the preservation of the Grote Kerk is realized. For the Friends the Guides of the Great Church are crucial and therefore the Friends have funded the booklet: The Guide to the Guide of the Great Church, written by Herman van Duinen.
In preparation for the Synod commemoration, the Friends have written the English and German translation of the book about the Synod of Dordt by Prof. Dr. F. van Lieburg initiated at the Historical Platform Dordrecht.
Several churches in Canada and the United States have been contacted and many hundreds of copies have been ordered. It is heart-warming to notice that the name Dordt also attracts a lot of interest abroad.
The website is pre-eminently a means to realize the objective of making the Great Church known. With great efforts by the responsible board members and help from professional web developers, the splendor of the Grote Kerk can be shown, the historical stories can be read and the music can be heard. The Grote Kerk of Dordrecht is beautifully presented on computer, Smart Phone or Tablet via this website. The website is also largely accessible in English.
The friends have made great efforts to develop the website in collaboration with other parties within the Grote Kerk. In addition, we actively use social media.
In recent years, the Friends have worked together with the Exhibition Committee of the Grote Kerk, the Reformation Institute Dordrecht (RID) and the Dordrechts Museum for the renewal of the Synod exhibition in the Grote Kerk. As already mentioned, the Friends at the Members’ Meeting were the first to get an insight into the plans and were able to submit suggestions that were mostly taken over in the new Synod exhibition.
On 17 September 2015 the Synod Exhibition in the Grote Kerk was opened with lectures by the chairman of the RID, Mr. James Kennedy and by Mr. Peter Schoon, director of the museums in Dordrecht. Liesbeth van Noortwijk gave an explanation of the exhibition.
Even before the opening, the Friends and the Dordrechts Museum Association organized a meeting for members of both associations organized around the Synod Exhibition in the Grote Kerk and in the Court.
In the Grote Kerk, exhibitions are organized by the Exhibition Committee of the Grote Kerk. At the request of that committee, the Friends regularly support these exhibitions whether financially, as with the Sjef Hutschemaker exhibition on the Psalms or the two exhibitions on the theme Icons.
Dordrecht's main landmark
The Friends attach great importance to good consultation between the Grote Kerk and the public authorities. Together with the Coordination committee of the Foundation for the Conservation of the Grote Kerk, the Friends consulted with officials and alderman of the municipality of Dordrecht about the Grote Kerk as one of the main attractions of Dordrecht in 2016.
How can the Church be made more attractive in synergy with Dordrecht’s other attractions? One point of concern is to keep the accessibility of the Grote Kerk affordable for the general public. Due to the fall in interest rates, the facilities for maintenance to the Church are in the long run threatening to be insufficient. In doing so, careful consideration has been given to the separation of Church and State and that the Church is owned by the Religious community and primarily a house of God; in itself something exceptional for such a beautiful old monument in the Netherlands.
As a result, a visitation was carried out in June 2016 by representatives of the Dordrechts Museum and the municipality of Dordrecht, from which valuable recommendations were made to make the Church a monument more attractive to visitors. The most important conclusion is: Visitors to the Grote Kerk receive a lot and different information and can therefore lose their orientation in the church. Advice: Choose and explain clearly the story of the church and the monument. In 2017, the recommendations were further elaborated, so that the result is visible at Synod’s commemoration. In 2018 there will also be a media tour in which the story lines of the Grote Kerk will be presented.
Over 40 years around the end of August in early September, the Friends organize an excursion to one or more places and churches. In recent years, the Grote of St. Michaëlskerk, the newly restored St. Joriskerk in Amersfoort and churches in Roermond and Weert were visited in Zwolle. Churches abroad are also visited as visited in Kalkar, Xanten, Mechelen, Halle and Antwerp.
In addition to churches and places, other interesting things were visited, such as a Westmalle brewery or the National Military Museum at the former Soesterberg airbase.
Excursions with the Beiaard Kring and the Nederlandse Klokkenspel Vereniging are also organized. In 2014, the church (towers) and carillons of Barneveld, Garderen and Ede were visited, where the Beiaard and the organs were played. There was also a special concert in the evening in the Old Church of Ede. In 2016 a carillon excursion to Deventer and Bathem was organized
With the Association Friends of the Duyschotorgel in 2015 organized an excursion to the organ of the Bavo in Haarlem where even on that world famous organ could be played.