We are celebrating our 75th anniversary as British Council in the Netherlands in 2020-21 by sharing 75 personal stories from people who have a special connection to both the UK and the Netherlands. Read the 75 NL-UK stories and join us in celebrating our 75th anniversary. Expand the box below to read the full story by Joost Röselaers. New stories will be added in the months to come.

Joost Röselaers

Are you sure about this?

From 2013 to 2017 I was a minister of the Dutch Church in London. The Church is located at Austin Friars in the City of London. It was founded in 1550 thanks to a Royal Charter granted by Kind Edward VI to Protestant refugees living in London. This Charter gave the Dutch Church the same privileges as the Church of England.

One of these privileges was the right to conduct church weddings in our church. When the British government allowed same-sex weddings by law, the Church of England hierarchy banned their priests from undertaking those weddings. But the Council of the Dutch Church found out that we were able to conduct such ceremonies because of a loophole. Indeed, the Dutch Church minister was not banned from undertaking a same-sex wedding.

In 2016 a lovely couple called John and John, well known by members of our congregation, asked if they could get married in our church. The Church Council invited a leading member of the Church of England to discuss this wedding. It was all very polite. When we left the church, he looked at me very intrusively and asked: ‘Joost, are you sure about this?’ I thanked him for the interest and didn’t give it any more attention. It was only after the wedding that I’d understood that this was not just a polite question. It was indeed full of concerns. But I was sure about it, and thankfully it didn’t compromise our excellent relations with the Church of England.

Joost Röselaers