PE dominee leaving church on bitter-sweet note

heinrichandliesl
Heinrich and Liesl Alberts.

When Heinrich Alberts preaches his last sermon at Hoogland Dutch Reformed Church, Port Elizabeth on Sunday it will be a bitter-sweet time.

He will be sad that he has to leave the church he has loved and led for over seven years and his ministry in the Dutch Reformed church because of doctrinal differences with the denomination over baptism.

He will be excited about the new, independent church, Pharos Gemeente, which he will be launching in PE the following Sunday.

For the past two months Heinrich has been completing his term of employment at Hoogland but barred from preaching and serving in public ministry.

He says while it is unfortunately not possible to plant his new church out of Hoogland he aims to maintain good relations with his old church.

“That is my heart for Sunday when I give my last sermon. I want to bless Hoogland because it was always good to me and was my spiritual home. It will be an awkward, very sad day for me. But it is also very exciting.”

Burnout and renewal
Asked about what led to his dismissal from the DRC in which he was ordained in 1991, Heinrich traces the beginnings back to a time in 2000 when he experienced burnout and renewal. He says that while pastoring a DRC congregation in Algoa Park he burned out from working hard in the flesh rather than by the power of the Holy Spirit. His church board responded graciously and he went on retreat to George where a spiritual mentor led him through pertinent scriptures and he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

He did not feel different when he got back to PE but his wife, Liesl, who had recently experienced the baptism of the Spirit told him there was a difference in his preaching. Later he did have a wonderful encounter with the Holy Spirit but in hindsight he believes God was preparing him for this season when he anticipates ministering to people who are hungry for more intimacy with God but held back by intellectual mindsets.

Heinrich says after his personal renewal, Liesl wanted to be baptised as an adult believer but said she would wait for him to want it too.

Baptised
“Within a year the Lord worked in my heart and I was baptised,” he says. Thereafter, in 2001, he baptised Liesl. They were now believing something that was contrary to the doctrine of the DRC which practices infant baptism and also baptises older people who have not previously been baptised. Heinrich says he wanted to promote diversity regarding baptism in the DRC and realised that to have a voice he would need to stay in the denomination.

He shared his beliefs with some colleagues who expressed understanding and even support for his views. But for years he sacrificed what he believed about baptism in the hope of being a change agent. In 2010, however, during a mission trip in Egypt, four members of Hoogland spontaneously asked him to baptise them, which he did, in the Mediterranean Sea at Alexandria. He felt free to do so because they were not at Hoogland or in SA.

Back in PE he told colleagues about what happened in Egypt. Nine months later, unexpectedly, the matter was raised in a meeting with the Moderator and in December that year the church council asked him for a oral undertaking not to baptise members again.

During a mission trip to Israel in 2014 with a diverse group of people from different church backgrounds he participated as people, including a DRC candidate minister who was about to be ordained, celebrated their baptism — be it infant baptism or believer’s baptism. They were transparent about the event and even shared photos on Facebook.

Suspended
Later, back in SA, to his surprise, a complaint was laid against him over what happened in Israel and he was suspended for three months. The candidate minister’s ordination was revoked but was successfully reinstated after two weeks.

Heinrich says he wanted to appeal his suspension but on the advice of colleagues he submitted a legal document to last year’s DRC General Synod, motivating the introduction of a dual baptism practice (infant and adult believers) as is practiced by some denominations. His proposal was overwhelmingly rejected and he was subsequently advised his services in the DRC would end as he was officially in dissonance with the Church.

Looking ahead, Heinrich is excited about the journey. Pharos Gemeente will meet at 9am on Sundays in the hall of M T R Smit Children’s Haven in Circular Drive. In addition to renting the hall the church will also bless the haven by taking on its hall and entertainment areas as special development projects. During informal, pre-launch services over the past three weeks about 180 to 200 people have attended. Liesl preached the message while Heinrich was still employed at Hoogland — and she set a high standard, he says.

He says Pharos (which means lighthouse) will be positioned between mainline churches and charismatic/pentecostal churches. It will focus on good teaching and the heartfelt vision statement is ‘Every member a active disciple’. The language medium is Afrikaans but a number of English speaking people have attended informal services, so they already have an exciting language challenge, says Heinrich.

More information is available on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pharosgemeente/ and Heinrich can be contacted at heinrich@pharosgemeente.co.za or 073 886 1273.

43 Comments

  1. Heinrich behold I will do a new thing, shall you not know it! You are standing up for what you believe in the face of adversity. Go in His strength!! Shalom

    • Assie Van der Westhuizen

      Heinrich, be encouraged; He Who started the work in your inner man, is the same One Who promised: “Under no circumstance and in no way whatsoever will I ever leave you nor forsake you”.

  2. I find it strange that the DRC will tolerate any kind of strange belief, and outright heresy right in it’s own colleges – but still won’t accede to the baptism of believers.

    • Assie Van der Westhuizen

      Sadly to behold, but it seems that tradition is still reigning. May God bless them and open their spiritual eyes!

      • Mike Guest (B.Th.)

        Yes, strange that the DRC accepts homosexuality, which is totally unscriptural, while they do not accept believer’s baptism by immersion which is Scriptural!
        As an ex member of the DRC I had the same problem and left for the same reason.

  3. I will never forget how, when on a DRC church youth camp many years ago, we were asked to stop singing choruses- accompanied by ghuitar- that sounded too “pro-Charismatic” (example “Come bless the Lord, all ye children of the Lord”). On the same camp nothing was said to youngsters who were playing anti-Christian”Black Sabbath” music!

  4. And soon the DRC will change their mind about this as well, and all the poor souls will be required to just accept the ….’sorry we were wrong’…..

  5. Sterkte en wysheid, Heinrich & Liesl! Die Heer is met & in julle. We are praying for you,
    Erroll & Melanie Mulder.

  6. jenny van niekerk

    Jy het ons volle ondersteuning Heinrich, ons kom kuier graag!

  7. Henrich, may the Lord bless you and your family. You’re a man of integrity, a modern day Daniel and I salute you for not compromising what you belief in, even if it means loosing your home and salary. Thank you for baptizing me in Egypt, it was the most special day of my life. Cannot wait for everything the Lord has in store for our new congregation! You and Liesl makes an awesome team.

  8. Ek sien uit na die toekoms vir julle.
    Sien uit daarna om te sien hoe dit groei.Julle het my blessings.

  9. Die Here se seën julle toegebid in hierdie nuwe bediening waartoe Hy julle geroep het. ‘n Groot kragtige deur het vir julle oopgegaan …

  10. The irony is that his church sends him to get refreshed. He has a life-changing encounter with Jesus and receives the Holy Spirit, the very reason Jesus had to go back, so that each believer has Him manifested in our lives. God speaks to Heinrich through His Word and Spirit and opens his eyes to the biblical water baptism – again, which every believer (not infant) chooses to obey by faith after giving their life to Jesus, thus truly letting go of the old man and putting on the new nature of Christ. He returns a new man, not of the flesh but born again of the very Spirit of God, and his own church suspends him. Well done on Liesl for standing by his side and wanting what he’s received. God has given you a platform and I pray that you will stand strong and not deviate from the Word and leading of the Spirit, living only for an audience of One. May He use you for those around you who have ears to hear and hearts after the truth to be set free from religion, man-made traditions and intellect and instead start a revival in PE where they will again worship Him in spirit and truth. If you, the reader, are still turning a blind eye on many biblical doctrines like these and just happily going through the motions of attending church in the flesh and see no change, you have to wonder: what made Heinrich change so drastically, knowing the consequences and what his own congregation will say, even to the point of going against elderly instructions and baptising others? Just like Peter, God’s Holy Spirit has come upon him and he is compelled to obey, irrespective of the price he’ll pay. Like Peter and Paul and many others, and pray that he will become more bold and on fire for the Lord than ever before, without compromise (that includes a “dual-baptism”) Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 2:28, Acts 8:37, Romans 5:3-5, Romans 6:3-5, 2 Corinthians 5:17, John 4:23, John 8:31-32, 2 Timothy 4:3, Matthew 15:6-9, John 3:1-8, Matthew 7:21-22

    • Wie is ons om te besluit wat die Here doen is reg of verkeerd. Ons bid en praat vernuwing, maar wanneer God dit begin bewerkstellig en dit nie heeltemaal in ons beperkte raamwerk pas nie oordeel ons dit wat ons juis nie verstaan nie. Christus het vir elkeen van ons uitgestuur om lief te he soos Hy het…en ek dink ons as Hooglanders het gefaal. Anders is beslis nie noodwendig verkeerd nie en daar is genoeg ruimte vir elkeen van ons in God se huis…lede van een liggaam…mens amputeer nie ‘n gesonde toon net oor hy anders is nie. Dit kon voorwaar nie maklik vir Heinrich en sy gesin gewees het nie, maar om gehoorsaam aan God te wees is voorwaar genade. Liesl, Heinrich Gods rykste seen word julle toegebid.

  11. Sterkte vir Sondag se afskeidspreek en ons bid die Here se rykste seen vir julle toe met die opbou van Pharos.

  12. Heinrich baptised our son 20 years ago in Algoa Park where my parents were attending church! He portrayed Gods love and did as he believed at the time! Now he has experienced a change in believe and is going for and doing what he believes. I honour both him and Liesl for standing strong in their faith God took us through this same path 10 years ago and I believe they are doing what is right We are still human though and it was very sad when we moved on to anothet congregation but I know God will bless them for being obedient! Heinrich I would love to attend Pharos when visiting PE some time!

  13. En so het die liefde verdwyn en die oordeel het gebly . Ween vir my volk daar het nie n jota verander in hulle denkwyse in die jare wat ek op aarde is . Hulle tree altyd op asof hulle en net hulle toegaan tot God en die hiernamals het

  14. Wat n hartseer dag vir ons in Hoogland! Heinrich, jy is n man van integriteit en staan vas by jou beginsels – saam met Liesel en jul kinders is julle n gesin wat Jesus ken en LEEF – n voorbeeld vir ons almal! Staan vas…..God sal voorsien i elke behoefte!

  15. So unbelieveable sad how the DRC keep loosing believers, instead of winning lives for Jesus. Blessings in ubandance to you and your family.

  16. Liewe Heinrich & Liesl
    Wat ‘n enorme uitdaging & geleentheid! Ons bid vir die Here se seen oorvloedig oor julle elke tree op hierdie nuwe pad. Sterkte met alles wat julle aanpak! Groete uit WA, Vlam & Wilma Kotze

  17. Thrilled that you are not leaving town and that you are able to continue making a valuable contribution to church unity in NM Bay.

  18. Heinrich en Liesl God verwag gehoorsaamheid van Sy kinders. Ek is deur dieselfde drif na 76 jaar in NGK omdat ek gehoorsaam was en my laat doop het. Sterkte en seen vir julle. Ek sal kom kuier.

  19. Dis so jammer die kerk skeur al weer. Ek skaam my so vir die Kerk dat ek dit nie meer as die liggaam van enigiets goed kan sien nie, veral nie van iemand goddeliks nie. Asof die doop belangrik is…. Dit word nie verniet babamelkies genoem in die Bybel nie. Wat ‘n skande op die naam van enigiets goddeliks.

  20. Heinrich en Liezl ek bid julle al die sterkte en krag toe van Ons Vader. Ek weet julle gaan nog diep spore trap. Kan nie wag om by Pharo Gemeente te kan kom nie.

  21. Daar is by my geen twyfel dat die Here GROOT dinge deur julle gaan doen nie!!!! Lief vir julle.

  22. Hierdie is nie n maklike pad om te gaan nie. .maar dit is n pad van geen kompromie en daarvoor salueer ek hierdie Herderspaar.. Ondersteun hulle met gebed en finansies en fisiese hulp.. Ons het dit vir n aantal jare gedoen en dit is baie harde werk.. Geestelik sowel as fisies.. Maar so opwindend … ek praat uit ondervinding.. Ons Heer trek voor hul uit. en is ook hulle agterhoede en Sy hand is op hul kop..

  23. Ek eer julle vir julle besluite as ‘n voormalige NG lidmaat nou in ‘n Evangeliese gemeente. Mag julle bediening van Krag tot Krag gaan.

  24. Hallo Heinrich en Liezl wat mense dink en doen beteken niks Ons Hemelse Vader se staan op vir my op aarde en ek staan in vir julle in die hier namaals God seen julle in julle nuwe beroep en doen voort om die werk van ons VADER voor te sit in waarheid Onthou dit is ons Hemelse Vader wt Pharos se deure oop gemaak het Voorspoed en seen vir julle in Jesus naam

  25. Heirich jy is n wonderlike mens. So bly jy het gestaan by jou woord en wat jy doen. Die NG Kerk is lankal te verouderd en hou nie tred met vandag nie. Geen wonder die NG Kerke loop leeg nie. Alle sukses voorentoe. Die Here sal jou Seen.

  26. Leer die mense van n verhouding met n leifdevolle Vader. Dit gaan nie oor reels nakom nie, maar oor ons identiteit in Christus. Ons word nie deur ons eie werke gered nie maar deur wat Christus vir ons gedoen het. Sterkte daar

  27. Ons wens julle die allerbeste toe. Baie seën op julle werk. Ons sien julle volgende naweek as ons gespaar bly. Liefde-groete

  28. As mens kyk na die gaos waarin SA en die wereld is oor die mens wat hul wegdraai van God, het ons die Woord en soos dit in die Woord staan, wat ons moet doen. Kerke het mensgemaakte reels en regulasies. Die hel sluk daagliks duisende siele in wat verlore gaan. Waarom dit oorkom as mens die lewe in oorvloed kan hê. Ons moet ons toelaat dat God en alleenlik God ons toerus in Sy Woord vir ons elke daagse lewenswyse. Shalom

  29. Ons is ook deur dieselfde proses en kyk nie terug nie!!! En julle sal die waarheid ken en die waarheid maak jou vry!!!

  30. Dankbaar dat jy toelaat dat die Here julle as egpaar gebruik en dat jy nie kerke teen mekaar afspeel nie. Wel baie hartseer dat dit in ‘n dinamiese Gemeente gebeur wat waar gelowiges tog die Here in opregtheid probeer dien. MAg ons as gelowiges bly saamstaan om die Here se koninkryk te vestig al is ons verskillende gemeentes / denominasies. Kom ons dien Hom in opregtheid, al is daar klein verskille in oortuigings wat nie die pad na Vader/Seun/HG oop en toesluit nie. GOd ken ons harte en ons opregtheid van Liefde vir Hom.

  31. Mag God jou en jou familie seën in hierdie nuwe begin! Julle neem ń besluit in die geloof en die Heilige Gees sal julle nie alleen laat nie! Dit is jammer dat Religion in die pad staan van Relationship!

  32. God cries when we argue about ecumenical symbols, His Word is the water we should be washed in, it fills us with His Spirit and makes us whole and able to share the Word.

  33. It is quite ironic that they asked you to leave because of believer’s baptism. Just a week before your last sermon, I preached a funeral message in that very same church (Hoogland), me being a Baptist Pastor (Lorraine Baptist Church) who belives in believer’s baptism.

  34. Waar in die Bybel se dit dat mens nie twee keer gedoop kan word nie? Maar die “Kerkraad” kan besluit oor gay verhoudings, iets wat glad nie deur God goedgekeur word nie???!!! Ek dink die kerk mis die punt – God laat nie met Hom spot nie.

  35. Ek moes ook N G Kerk verlaat omdat ek my laat doop het. Die sinode het dit versoek tensy ek belei ek het n fout begaan. Die Heilige Gees het my gelei om aan Hom meer gehoorsaam te wees as mense! Baie sterkte aan julle!

  36. Elizabeth van der Westhuizen

    I PRAY THAT THE CHURCHES WHO OPPOSE BAPTISM OF BELIEVERS IN JESUS CHRIST,TO OPEN THEIR EYES TO THE TRUTH. Baptism is a ceremonial burial and resurrection into a new creation in Christ. It is total emmersion. We cannot bury the dead by a sprinkling of sand. We dedicate our infants to God but have to REPENT AND BELIEVE IN JESUS MESSIAH BEFORE BEING BAPTISED. Pray earnestly,in love,for the scales to be removed from their eyes so that the blind do not lead the blind into the ditch.

  37. Ek ondersteun julle ten volle! en bid julle die seën van ons Hemelse Vader toe op julle bediening. ‘Julle sal krag ontvang wanneer die Heilige Gees oor julle kom…’

  38. Bravo!! God works in wonderful ways. He led you into accepting His truths and not church doctrines. We pray for you and that you will remain strong in the faith. This is just the beginning pastor. God will from now on lead you, I believe, to accept all His commandmensts, which also includes the 7th day Sabbath. I am residing in Korea since 1999 and hope to return to PE in the near future with my Korean family. You have courage, because you have accepted the baptism with the Holy Spirit and we pray that God will soon reveal all His truths to you and your dear family. May He, the creator of all things, be with you and your wife as you procaim His Gospel to the ignorant. Gods richest blessing in your new ministry.
    Johann and Korean family.

  39. Vasbyt Heinrich! God is in control!